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Midlife Fashion: Take 3 Trends From Aging to Ageless

“When women over 40 wear things that are too young or too matronly, they place themselves at a visual disadvantage.  Their styles age them.  Date them. Most critical, when looking at either approach, the first thing one thinks about is, ‘How Old Is She Anyway?’ Keep in mind that a Timeless look for each trend is about sensibility; a pared down simplicity and elegance.”

– Kendall Farr, Style Evolution, How to Create Ageless Personal Style in Your 40s and Beyond.


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I think we all have them….those moments in life when we were so embarrassed; to think of them now just brings a stomach ache!

After my wake up moment at age 50, I had to learn how to dress all over again.  As I tested and searched for my style, I made a few…well, not so great choices.  One day I selected a jacket with a huge, colorful print on it…tribal and very loud.  I over embellished it with a massive statement necklace featuring a large aluminum plate at the bottom of really big beads…including a bracelet…including long dangly earrings. The message screamed I AM TRYING TOO HARD.

On top of it all, when I entered my son’s basketball game, I tripped over someone’s backpack, hit the floor full out, and the aluminum plate hit with the force of a cymbal.  The entire stands of parents turned to look at me.  Stings even now to write it.  I won’t tell the pink flamingos-all-over-my-capris-moment–not a good day either.  I searched for ways to express my creativity, yet, look ageless.  In retrospect, they were actually aging.

We experiment…we learn…we grow…and we test what works and doesn’t work.  However, as I study ageless dressing, I am confirmed over and over again, less is more.  One of the reasons I like Kendall Farr’s book, Style Evolution (affiliate link) is because she gives very specific advice, including lists of ageless pieces to have in your wardrobe.  I love the section where she takes trends and demonstrates the “timeless”, the “time’s up,” and the “at no time” way to look at them.  Here are examples (More in the book, this is just a taste):

  1. The Little Tweed Jacket

Ageless:  Wear the right proportion jacket for your shape; no shoulder pads; un-matched suits; wear with denim with flats; over a little black dress; sophisticated color mixes

Aging: Big shoulder pads and oversized boxy shape; a matched suit with a dated silhouette; a girly candy color; lots of accessories; heaps of cheap pearls and chains.

  1. Animal Prints

Ageless:  Any truly classic print and uncomplicated silhouette (a pencil skirt, a wrap dress); leopard accessories that harmonize neutrals; swimwear, lingerie or pajamas.

Aging:  baggy silhouettes; any oversized garment (or for that matter, ANY garment) with an animal face or images; a leather bra or bustier worn as outerwear; leopard that is short, tight, and shiny.

  1. Menswear

Ageless:  Pantsuits with classic lines; jackets with nipped waists; blazers and jackets inspired by equestrian/hunting/uniforms; French cuffs with silk knots; feminized versions of men’s brogues and oxfords; Le-smoking inspired tux jackets and pants.

Aging:  A push up bra or corset under a suit jacket (The Gender Bender); mountains of cleavage, cascades of hair extensions with a fedora on top (take note American Idol judges); any menswear look worn by Carrie Bradshaw in Sex in the City.  Fabulous character.  Fabulous costuming.  Unrealistic fashion role model; style void where proportion disappears, full pants hover at the ankle and jackets are too short to meet the top of the pant.


I told you she is specific and does this for other trends.  Even now, I continue to make a few mistakes…I suppose we all do.  This is how we learn and grow. But, I will never interrupt a basketball game again!!


Anyone else have fashion faux pas stories to tell??


By my calculations, this is my 50th column for Midlife Boulevard!  It is such a joy and privilege to be here every week.  Thank you for stopping by the Joy Boutique. I am honored that you are here. Have a wonderful end to your October 2014!

midlife boulevard, columnist, midlife women, middle-age, midlife crisis

Pamela Lutrell

Pamela Lutrell began her blog, over50feeling40, July 2010 with a desire to encourage women over 50 to walk in strength, confidence and joy. Of course, head turning style makes each day fun!

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Darlene Fadem

Wednesday 29th of October 2014

Great advice! Thanks for sharing...I will definitely be checking out that book. P.S. You always look put together and ageless. :-) Darlene


Wednesday 29th of October 2014

Hello Pam...I loved reading your bio at the end of your post...what a fabulous lady you are...and I agree with you this is the best time of life ;) Great advice as always.


Tuesday 28th of October 2014

Excellent Pam, oh my when I think of some things I have worn in the past....yikes!

xoxo, Karena The Arts by Karena


Tuesday 28th of October 2014

Your story is hilarious Pam. I'm sure mortifying, but looking back, don't you have to laugh? Is the necklace the one pictured? These are very good tips for an ageless (as opposed to aging) look. I tend to err on the side of caution, but over the years have participated in many fashion faux pas! I have a clear picture in my mind of what would (to me) be matronly, and I steer far, far from that. Equally clear is the picture of what is trying too hard to look too young and coming off looking foolish. If I look in the mirror and have a smidgeon of doubt, changes are made immediately! I guess they are instincts we develop over time?

Carol Cassara

Tuesday 28th of October 2014

Great post! No matter how I look at it, I am always going to see leopard as an aging print. I have some, of course, but I always see it as in the realm of the midlife woman. Which isn't a bad thing. Now pony prints? A whole different story!

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