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Thursday's Fashion Tips: 10 Things Women Over 40 Shouldn't Wear?

Posted on Jun 12, 2008 at 11:45AM

Fashion pundits across the Internet tend to offer what I think are preposterous and antiquated rules for woman over 40. After perusing list after list of things women should not wear after 40, the following 10 were most often cited:

  1. Black leather
  2. Jackets that hit at mid-thigh
  3. Pleated pants
  4. Electric colors
  5. Capri length pants
  6. Low rise jeans
  7. Plunge V necklines
  8. Mini skirts
  9. Bikinis
  10. Sleeveless anything

Oh, phooey, you fashion pundits.

picture of Demi Moore in a bikini standing on the beach with the water behind her According to the sages of the ages, 45-year-young Demi Moore is violating Rule No. 9, wearing a bikini.

picture of Christy Brinkley wearing a yellow and white halter sun dressLook at 50-year-young Christie Brinkley baring her arms? Oh, the gurus of fashion will be all atwitter.
picture of Kim Catrall in orange low-plunging dress51-year-young Kim Catrall, violating Rule No. 7, looks fabulous in her plunging neckline.

picture of Tina Turner with black and white mini dress on
Ageless 68-years-young Tina Turner strutting her stuff in a mini.


Granted, nobody wants to see yours truly in a mini skirt-- especially my 22-year-old son -- but Kim Catrall, Tina Turner, and Christy Brinkley can certainly pull it off at their age, and that's mostly because they have the right attitude to do it and still look amazing.

In truth, I couldn't walk in their genes, I don't have the nip and tuck funds, and I don't have the guts to resort to Demi's blood sucking leech regimen. But even if I did, a mini skirt would not be my best form of expression. I know what works for me, and I generally stay within my self-imposed parameters, and then add a fabulous handbag in fun fuchsia or a trendy zebra belt to reflect my personality. Accessories and colors are key to my current wardrobe. But that doesn't mean that you shouldn't wear a mini, a bikini, or a sleeveless top or dress.

Brains on Beauty: Quentin Crisp's proverbial advice cuts right to the chase: "Fashion is what you adopt when you don't know who you are." Whether you're 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 or 70, you should work on finding a style that reflects your personality. As seen in Beauty Secrets Revealed: Style, clothes are a social tool and a means of expressing yourself in the world. So dress to showcase the best possible you, whether that's a woman who dares to bare or one who chooses a more classic look.

Last but not least, as you slide down the razor blade of life towards 40, 50, 60, or 70, tailoring can be your best friend. The right fit is more important than the wrong color, Fashion Pundit Rule No. 4. ( Editing Your Wardrobe).

picture of the book Style Statement by Carrie McCarthy and Danielle LaPorteCheck back on Friday to learn more about your style and authenticity. Fabulous and funny Karen Hamilton, publisher of The Best Kept Secret, a weekly newsletter for women 40+, interviews Carrie McCarthy, co-author of Style Statement.

How do you feel about the fashion pundits 10 things women over 40 should not wear?

Other resources: 12 Fashion Essentials: The Basics,Design Your Style with Color, 12 Beauty and Fashion Essentials for 2008 , Hot Celebrities Over 40

Images: Vogue

posted by makyo
Thu, 06/12/2008 - 1:10pm

ok here's the thing: i think for the general public (i.e. women not blessed with incredible genes, bottomless pocketbooks, and/or an ever-present cadre of hair & makeup people) some of these naturally fall out of the rotation as you get older. miniskirts can be tough to pull off at any age, as are bikinis, unless you are built "just so".however, some of these are patently ridiculous. no capris? no tank tops? are we banishing all over-40 women to a land where it never gets hot?

posted by AmyLou
Thu, 06/12/2008 - 3:32pm

Well, I have to say that IMNSHO, I think *no one* should ever wear pleated pants, EVER, no matter what their age, LOL!!I think though, that a lot of these lists are created for women who might *think* they have the genes of Christy, Demi or Tina, but really couldn't ever pull their actual jeans on!Most women over 40 can wear a lot of what was listed, esp. if they know how to dress their body type well!! It's those that don't that make it necessary for lists like this to come out!I say, take it all with a grain of salt and play up your best assets, but re-evaluate every five years. And this goes for everyone, not just women over a certain age!

posted by Anonymous
Thu, 06/12/2008 - 3:35pm

Oh, and I agree with Makyo--tank tops and capris are great hot-weather options for women over 40!! Now, hot shorts and a tube top--that may be a bit much for a 60-year old to pull off!

posted by Girl-Woman
Thu, 06/12/2008 - 4:03pm

LOL. Some menopausal women would love to be banished to a land where it never gets hot. Great comments. I still have Nos. 1,5,6, and 10 hanging in my closet.

posted by Marta
Thu, 06/12/2008 - 4:19pm

If it looks good on you, wear it! Not matter how old you are. I wonder who came up with all these very limiting 'age' rules.

posted by "Tink"
Thu, 06/12/2008 - 5:01pm

What? Why no Capri length pants?? That is just wrong. I am not over 40 yet but I love those things!!!BTW ladies you have been tagged on my blog!! :)Check out a post around June 11th for details.

posted by Nicole
Fri, 06/13/2008 - 11:12am

I always see women over 40 breaking these rules and generally speaking they look fine! Rules were meant to be broken :)

posted by Girl-Woman
Fri, 06/13/2008 - 11:39am

I agree wholeheartedly, Nicole.

posted by Mia Mamasita
Fri, 06/13/2008 - 12:02pm

Pigtails. Pigtails should never be worn by anyone over the age of 5. Braids are okay. Piggie-ponytails sticking out above your ears are a no-no-no.

posted by Anonymous
Tue, 06/17/2008 - 1:02pm

I agree with Nicole. I'm 44 and am guilty of breaking most of the 10 rules. There's no way in Hades I'm giving up capris. I have cottage cheese thighs and I don't care to wear a dress everywhere in the summer. Mini skirts and short shorts are out, so what other choice do I have? Honestly...I don't buy into this idea that a woman needs a movie-star perfect body to wear certain styles, as the list seems to suggest. Even 18year olds don't have perfect bodies, and no one is lecturing them on what they can and cannot wear. Unless you have an issue that is honestly distracting and makes people gag, you should be able to wear whatever you enjoy that hopefully flatters you as well. I know what looks good on me and I don't have the anxiety about style arbiters or catty women thinking I "dress too young" or am "trying to compete" with younger women. My shoulders, slender arms, smooth decolletage and great calves are my assets and I will not hide them just because I'm a certain age.

posted by
Tue, 12/16/2008 - 12:03pm

It's not helpful to include pictures of movie stars when talking about anything related to aging. They pay lots of money for all sorts of cosmetic treatments, have personal trainers and so on. In fact, it's quite harmful to hold these women up as role models. It creates the idea that this is what you're supposed to look like at this age. You can't, unless you're able to pay for it.

posted by
Thu, 01/29/2009 - 7:40am

I think this list is rediculous! I had the body of a 20 year old - fit and firm until age 47! I am still not bad if I do say so myself, body wise anyway. People still say I run like a 15 year old!

Black leather - I wear black leather coats all the time! Nothing wrong with my body and Im 50.

Jackets that hit at mid-thigh - again, no reason not to show off my thighs they are pretty firm, no celulite.. so why not?

Pleated pants - If you have a flat stomach there is no reason not to wear these.. If you have a paunch, please dont. It wont flatter you at all!

Electric colors - Maybe after 40 you cant pull these off from the waiste down, but from the waiste up, there is no reason not to brighten up! (Unless you arent flattered by them that is..

Capri length pants - great legs? then sport them.

Low rise jeans - flat tummy, why not? I dont care for them myself, but that is just me. I think they are too revealing, but that is a personal issue.

Plunge V necklines - unless you have tons of sun spots, sagging boobs and the like, there is not reason not to wear a plunging neck line, unless of course you have a turkey neck, then please dont

Mini skirts - again, flat stomach, great legs... you can do it if you dont feel conscious about it..also you need a tight but for this one! lol

Bikinis - IF your body is great, why not! If you look 80 then dont, if you look 20 body wise, why not?

Sleeveless anything - if your arms are tight and firm, doesnt matter your age, go ahead, unless of course you dont shave your pits, them please dont.

Well, that's my opinion. Hope other girls - women read this.. when are we ever to listen to fashion advice? I havent read any yet that I would follow. Unless of course we are talking about the new trend to wear houndstooth and stipes.. What idiot came up with that one anyway. lol
That is a no-no, I dont care what designer is pushing it! They must have gotten a great deal on that material and will do anything to sell it!

posted by
Tue, 06/09/2009 - 8:32pm

Your kidding me right......... 40 is the new 30....... Most of the woman I meet are starting their life at 40, they look great , happy, smart . 2009 is a new start !!!!!! The future for women will only get better and we look better too. SpankTheSalon.Com

posted by
Sat, 10/03/2009 - 7:01am

Great blog! I'm on the fence about lots of this stuff, b/c I am over 60 but still have it together, I think! (for a 60 year old) Check out my blog for over sixties, I try to rein things in a little!

posted by
Thu, 01/07/2010 - 5:39am

I don't intend to turn in my low-rise pants which are quite flattering when you're curvy.

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