We are not big on “fashion don’ts” around here. Only you know exactly what makes you look and feel your best, what works best for your body and your lifestyle, and what clothing really brings you comfort and happiness. That said, we do love the idea of helping you add to your wardrobe to amplify your personal style and maximize your clothing versatility. Through research (reading about French women), polls (wine with friends on the patio), and extensive visual surveys (browsing Pinterest), we have come up with the seven things you should consider adding to your wardrobe if you are fiftyish or more!
Want to feel like Ingrid Bergman? Get a trench coat. This simple, classic, effortless outerwear piece is always acceptable. You can always throw it on in the rain, but you can just as easily wear a stylish trench coat to cover up a disreputable outfit when you need to run a quick unexpected errand or drape it over your shoulders with eveningwear. Trench coats are now available in myriad iterations of their classic style, with the key features and basic silhouette as the constant. Choose a color and material that work with your wardrobe and the climate in your part of the world, and you may just find your go-to topper for the next 20 years.
Sophisticated ladies do not come home with their high heels in their hands—at least not more than once or twice a year on very festive occasions! Find your ideal, walkable, mid-heel pump or wedge shoe. Something dressy enough to wear anywhere, and comfortable enough to actually wear anywhere. This is a balancing act, but with a little effort and perhaps a cushy foot pad, you can find your ideal all-day pump. Look for a wedge or block heel around two inches high and shop reputable brands that use high-quality materials. Choose a timeless shape, such as a rounded or almond toe, in a reliable neutral that won’t date easily and will complement your existing wardrobe. Now is the time to up your shoe game.
Scarves are so underrated. Scarves appear on this list because they are so intimately associated with the looks worn by sophisticated and well-turned-out women who deeply understand their personal style, and deservedly so. However, scarves can function as almost any garment or accessory if you have a little know-how. Absolutely wear a long rectangle scarf around your neck as your main accessory, or around a low ponytail for flair, but consider some new (or new-to-you) uses for this tried and true wardrobe staple. A square silk scarf around the neck á la Mary Tyler Moore, or fashioned into a bracelet (YouTube tutorials will show you how) are fresh again! Tie your scarf onto your bag, or stuff it into your blazer pocket as the most relaxed form of the pocket square. Use your imagination!
You deserve this. Think about gifting yourself a piece of “put it on and never take it off” jewelry. A tri-color rolling ring, simple diamond pendant, a signet ring, or slim bangle are all good candidates, but you should let your personal taste and style be your guide. When I think about the best-dressed, fully self-actuated women I know, they all have a small, special piece of jewelry that is simply a part of who they are. A piece like this is a way of sharing your taste and your aesthetic without saying a word, and that is a powerful indication that you know who you are and how you want to present yourself. Take your time finding this piece; it should be true love.
50 is the new 40, and 40 is the new 30, so, basically, you’re still in your 20s! But seriously, even if you have worked very hard, simply been blessed with good genes, or some combination thereof to keep your figure trim and firm, the fact is that 50 isn’t 20. Perhaps you can still absolutely rock a bikini and we say more power to you! We also say, get swimwear that fits impeccably, stays where you want it no matter how you move, and is appropriate to your environment and activity. Chasing your grandchildren in the same string bikini you wore 20 years ago is impressive, but also perhaps unnecessary. We are living in a golden age of swimwear, when you can find almost anything you can imagine, from something “itsy-bitsy teeny-weeny” to bathing costumes that feature long-sleeved rash guards and swim capris. Cover as much or as little skin as you want and do it with modern sun-protective materials in designs meant for grown-up women who know how to look their best whether they are swimming laps or lounging at the club pool.
To instantly look chic and pulled-together, wear a blazer. Especially if you have not worked in an environment where suit jackets or blazers were expected, you may not be aware of their magic! Spilled coffee on your shirt? Grab a blazer! Wore an old Duran Duran T-shirt this morning and your Zoom meeting is starting? Grab a blazer! Opened the front door to a blast of cold air when you expected mild weather? Grab a blazer! All of this versatility comes in a wardrobe-workhorse piece that squares your shoulders, defines your waist, and makes you look completely sophisticated and fabulous. If you have gone through life without blazers, get one, and have it tailored if necessary. When you learn what an amazing addition to your clothing repertoire a blazer is, you will immediately want more, and you will definitely thank me!
Stressful sartorial crises are for young women who haven’t absorbed the lessons we have. One big thing you might consider taking care of permanently is having a failsafe evening look in your closet. Your perfect Little Black Dress, a ladies’ tuxedo, a chiffon maxi dress. . . it doesn’t matter what you choose, it matters that it’s there. Consult your own taste and style for this piece, and try to land on something timeless that will last many, many seasons. If you and your partner decide on a last-minute date night and land a reservation at a fabulous restaurant, you’re prepared. If the dress you bought for your niece’s wedding doesn’t come back from the tailor in time, you’re covered. If the holiday party turns out to be a dressy affair when you were expecting a jeans-and-cute-sweater event, you have your look on lock. Preparation is the key to avoiding stress, and we are way too smart and experienced to stress about clothing!
As you come into your own as a mature woman of substance, you may become less interested in clothing as performance, but we hope that you will maintain, or perhaps discover, an interest in clothing as expression. How we dress is a powerful signifier in our culture, and now that you know who you are and what you’re about, you might enjoy sharing clues about your taste, personality, ideas, and priorities through your clothing. We hope you’ll consider adding a few—or all!—of our favorite staples for women over 50 to your wardrobe. We believe these pieces will give you maximum wardrobe versatility, complement almost everyone’s personal style, and make your life easier as well as a little more fun!