Home right arrow Life & Style

What not to wear if you're over 50


After many conversations about what not to wear, we thought it was time to put them all into one place. We've had a few <ahem> controversial tips on a guest post from The Women's Room, which made us question, "What's the real secret to dressing when you're over 50?" Gransnetters reveal their thoughts...



1. Steer clear of old-fashioned styles like pleated or tweed skirts

Want to end up looking like Margaret Thatcher? We thought not. Note that old-fashioned and classic are two completely different kettles of fish - and one of them stinks. Classic white shirt? Excellent choice. Calf-length pleated tartan skirt? Think again. As one gransnetter said:
"Avoid tweed skirt suits teamed with lace-up brogues, A-Line skirts worn on the knee and anything crimplene." 
The trick with longer skirts is how you style them. Brogues and flesh coloured tights are very dating, whereas a comfy pair of sandals or tennis shoes instantly updates a knee or calf-length skirt. Wear it with a plain but well cut t-shirt - and make sure you tuck it into the waistband, otherwise you end up with the old 'sack of spuds' look.
What not to wear: Skirts

Image credits from left to right: shutterstock.com and pinterest.com


Ultimate D-ring belted striped wrap skirt, £29.50, Marks & Spencer

White cotton crew neck t-shirt, £9.90, Uniqlo

Glove Echo white leather trainers, £45, Clarks



2. Choose your coats and jackets wisely

It all depends on body type of course, but do certain styles age you before your time? According to gransnetters, the answer is a resounding 'yes'. Now don't get us wrong. A cosy fleece jacket is great to walk the dogs in. It's when that fleece jacket starts accompanying you on evenings out and lunch with friends that you might want to re-evaluate your wardrobe choices... As gransnetters say:

"Never ever wear fleeces."

When it comes to coats, go for neutral colours that go with everything and take notice of the tailoring and fit. A slightly nipped in waist is a good idea, as is a longer length. Avoid a hooded duffle coat if you're looking for a multi-tasker. All those peg buttons and the boxy shape can look a bit 'school days'.

What not to wear: fleeces

Image credits from left to right: shutterstock.com and pinterest.com 


Isabella belted cardigan, £52 (sale), Boden

Midi Swing Trapeze Coat, £80, ASOS

Sherpa coat, £18.50 (sale), Fifty Plus


3. Hide elasticated waistlines

They're comfy, it's true, but, like bra straps and other functional necessities, best kept under wraps. Happily, hiding the waistline of your trousers or skirt is easily done by wearing a longline top or, if you're after a bit of waist definition, tuck your top in and then pull out just enough to cover the band with (in a cool, slouchy sort of way). Easy as pie. Like this gransnetter says:

"I think elasticated or half-elasticated waistbands are a boon for those of us with less-than-svelte figures - but they must not be visible!"

What not to wear: elasticated waistbands

Image credits from left to right: shutterstock.com and pinterest.com


Tapered leg print trousers, £22.50, Marks and Spencer

Woven Geo Print Hareem Trousers, £25, Fifty Plus

Lottie Linen Trousers, £24-30, Boden


4. Long denim skirts

A favourite in the 80s, but not always the most flattering. Denim skirts are clingy and, in all honesty, can be as uncomfortable as their trouser counterparts, depending on how tight they are. If you're after something long and comfortable, try a maxi or wrap skirt.

"One of the most unattractive styles are long jean skirts...they don't hide a thing. They just make you look large ALL the way down." 

What not to wear: denim skirts 

Image credits from left to right: shutterstock.com and pinterest.com

Try this:

Blue Stripe Tie Waist Skirt, £19.99, New Look

Stripe Tube Jersey Maxi Skirt, £8 (on sale), Simply Be

Mint Velvet Granite suede wrap midi skirt, £179, House of Fraser


5. Loud makeup 

Quite frankly, we're not sure blue eyeshadow and bright orange lipstick works at any age (or in any decade), so let's just agree to steer clear of that particular combo. Luckily, we've got step-by-step makeup tutorials for eyes, lips and face - and there's not a glitter eyeshadow in sight. 



1. Leggings

Recommended almost universally - as are their natural bedfellow, tunics. Confortable and versatile, they're great for everyday casual wear. Just be sure to wear a top or dress that covers your bum and always remember the golden rule: leggings aren't trousers. Read more about how to wear leggings here.

"I wear them all the time. With flat slip ons. With trainers. With walking boots. Anything flat. I'm so pleased they are back in fashion because they are so comfortable. Bliss. And the tunic skims any bulges in the middle."

How to wear leggings

Images via pinterest: Left, middle and right


Leather ponte leggings, £129, Marks and Spencer

Magisculpt firm control ankle-length leggings, £20, Fifty Plus

Heattech leggings, £12.90, Uniqlo


2. Jeans

Some declare they wouldn't wear them past a certain age, but the rest of us are still in thrall. Can you ever be too old for jeans? We, and gransnetters, think not. A pair of well-fitting jeans are like gold dust and once you've found them, you'll never let them go.

"Jeans are our fashion. We grew up with them."

It's useful to have two of three different styles of jeans in your arsenal, for varying occasions and levels of comfort. Girlfriend or boyfriend jeans are great for slouching around the house, or going shopping in, whereas for evenings out or smarter occasions you're better off opting for straight cut or skinny jeans. Check out our guide to finding jeans that really fit, and go in search of your holy grail pair.



Not Your Daughter's Jeans Sheri skinny jeans, £149.95, John Lewis

Shape & Sculpt high waisted straight leg jeans, £45, JD Williams

Verona boyfriend jeans, £32, White Stuff

3. Dresses with sleeves

Wrap dresses, skater dresses, empire line and shirt. These are the dresses we're after - providing they've got sleeves, that is. Quite simply, long sleeves provide great coverage when you're not so keen on displaying your arms to the world. Move over spaghetti straps...

"My dream dress (manufacturers please note) is an empire line, V-neck, 3/4 sleeves in fine jersey - plain or print." 

Long sleeve dresses


Wrap dress, £89.50, Boden

Utility shirt dress, £55, White Stuff

Cynthie woven dress, £69.95, Joules



Shoes, more than anything else, raise the question of comfort versus style. These days, we're not prepared to succumb to the heel dictators except for the most glamorous of parties. But what to wear for a run around the shops? Or a walk in the park?


1. Trainers

A sin against fashion? It depends on the trainers. If we're talking 10-year-old 'used-to-be-white' relics, then yes. Go for proper running shoes if you'll be giving them a run for their money, or fashion trainers for an inexpensive, but comfy, runabout option.

"Trainers are essential wear for jogging, walking fast, running after grandsons and so many other things."

Fashion trainers 


Asics Tiger Gel Lite trainers, £105, John Lewis

Totum slip on trainers, £16, Topshop


2. Crocs - brilliant or bonkers?

There's a deep divide surrounding the issue of Crocs. Some wouldn't go into the garden without them, especially as they're so easy to clean, while others are convinced that they're unremittingly awful. In our minds, not all Crocs are created equal (aesthetically speaking anyway) and luckily the range has expanded to include from rather funky-looking sandals in their trademark bright colours.

"Crocs are just as ugly as Uggs and make any feet look fat and frumpy. Moccasins or penny loafers are much better." 

Crocs and moccasins


Crocs Clio III flat sandals, £19.99-64.81, Amazon

Carvela Mock Moccasin suede flat shoes, £60 (on sale), ASOS


Other things you might like:

cardigan woman
How to wear a cardigan Seven secret makeup tips for over 50s



Images: Shutterstock

Gransnet forums

Log in to search forums