Can women over 40 buy only expensive clothing?

by Sylvia

Can women over 40 wear cheap clothes
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Reeda posted in my forum this week answering my question “Has your dressing changed much after 40″. This is one of the things she said: I’m 44, and I’m perfectly fine looking like a 44-year-old woman. But I still want to express elegance and creativity. I still want to be “on trend.” What’s worked somewhat for me is finding pieces that are of high quality. I think when you are young, you can get away with throw-away fashion that’s going to fall apart after wearing it twice. But on an older woman, cheap (poor quality) clothing just looks tragic.

Although I agree in most part with this comment, there is one problem: I get bored and like to have fun with fashion while not spending a fortune doing so.

So today I did exactly what I should not do, which is to buy VERY trendy clothes at rock bottom prices. I know these clothes will not last me a long time (although most of it is pure cotton so maybe I get lucky with that) and I know that I will probably be tired of them next season but hey, I’ve got a whole new wardrobe capsule for less than $150. Readers of this blog will be able to guess what I bought of course: lots of brights, but let’s get back to the point.

Can a women over 40 (me) buy cheap clothing and still look good?

Would it not be a whole lot better if I stuck to an elegant look and added one expensive trendy piece in a bright colour instead? Like one of those colourful Alldressedup tops in silk that I adore so much. This would look a whole lot more ‘dignified’ and the clothes would possibly last me longer. Problem is a nice top from Alldressedup in silk at full price is about $300. That gets me one top. Although some of these tops have been huge successes (I also bought most of them at huge discounts) they are as risky as any other trendy item and therefore may not get much wear.

Now, I have 2 t-shirts, one dress and 2 trousers for $150, which still gives me about $150 to buy some bright shoes I’ve got my eyes on as well. Granted, these clothes are more casual in nature, although I can still pair them with more expensive clothes to make them more chic. I’m also very careful not to buy artificial fabrics. 4 items are made out of cotton and 1 is viscose, which is the one man-made fabric that is acceptable to me. More about fabrics and polyester tomorrow!

How am I going to wear my cheap clothes?

So this is my plan and why I think I can get away with these cheap clothes. They are mainly for casual situations. Perfect for making schooltrips and going to sport events. However, I can still dress them up for the city as well or when I just want to have a little fun with clothes and be sunny and bright. I’m not going to try and look like a 20 year old but instead dress these bright colours up in a ‘mature’ way. We will have to see if I succeed!

I’m going to keep you in suspense on what clothes I bought and how I will wear them. But next week I will reveal all and show you also how you can easily create your own brights capsule in my new wardrobe planning series. Be sure to subsribe through RSS or email, so you don’t miss anything!

I would love to get your opinion on this as well. Do you buy cheap clothes or do you mainly stick to high quality? Do you think that women over 40 can get away with cheap clothing?

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Heather Fonseca

Oh great topic! I think in some ways your reader is right. I won’t shop at h&m or forever 21 anymore. The clothes are just too youthful and cheaply made. I do wear trendy clothes though, and I buy a lot of them used or on sale. So in some ways I think yes, it’s important to buy good quality clothing as you get older, but it’s also important to let yourself have fun.

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Sylvia

I’ve started shopping at H&M again since the store opened in Singapore not so long ago. But you need to be very picky. Will talk more about my shopping experience on Monday…

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Nanne

Interesting topic! I agree to a certain point with Reeda, in that women over 40 should not dress solely in cheap clothing, but I ‘m perfectly happy to buy some cheaper items. I think it’s a good advice to invest in some quality basics in the best quality that your budget allows for, but when it comes to typically trendy items, I agree with Sylvia that it makes more sense to buy cheaper, as you probably won’t be wearing them for next season so why invest the money. I also don’t find it worth while to spend a lot of money on things like tanks,tees and socks that get worn a lot and needs to be replaced on a regular basis. French women are famous for mixing classic quality pieces with cheaper trend items, and I think that’s part of why they have such great style!

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Sylvia

yes those items are perfect for buying in cheaper stores. I’ve done a fair bit of shopping these last few days but am generally disappointed how few items I feel I can buy in the cheaper stores…

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Tangobabe

As you know, Sylvia, I am a huge fan of H&M. Sure, a part of the collections of H&M, Zara, Forever21, etc. are ‘too young’ for me nowadays. Especially items that are ultra short and ultra tight or that show a lot of skin. But there is enough left that is -in my humble opinion- perfectly fine for women of any age. The quality is not by definition poor. That depends on the item, as you say yourself in your post. 90% of my wardrobe consists still, at age (almost) 56, of ‘cheap’ items and I have no complaints. Look at all the times you featured me on your blog, dressed in H&M!
Fashion gems can be found in the cheaper ranges as well, I think.
Anxious to see what you bought!

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Sylvia

I still find it challenging. My main issue with the cheaper stores is the fabrics. So many synthetics, but more on that tomorrow.

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reeda

I’m flattered that my comment inspired you! I think fabric and workmanship are key here. I see some polyester clothing that looks great and drapes wonderfully. I see other polyester clothing that looks as though it was made out of packing foam. I just find as I get older that I need to pay more attention to quality (which may or may not mean expensive–sometimes you get lucky and find a great bargain on a piece that only looks pricey).

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Sylvia

It’s an interesting topic I believe. You definitely have to put in a bit more thought in how you dress as you get older. I agree that good (quality) items can be found everywhere, and even the more expensive stores have poor quality (or cheap looking) clothing. But for me fabric is very important. More on all this tomorrow and Monday. Thanks for contributing to the forum and inspiring the topic!

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Liz Waters

Obviously the suspense is killing me. Very curious as to what you bought. I believe that having a few disposable items of a very trendy nature is great. I am 49 years old and I still like to dress with the trends. In doing so I find that spending a fortune on these items is a waste of money cause they lose their charm very quickly. Spend the big money on the classics and mixed them up with the inexpensive trends and you can’t go wrong. I love your blog. Read it everyday.

Liz

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Sylvia

Thanks for your comment Liz. It’s so nice to hear from my readers. Especially those that read my blog every day. Thanks! So happy you like my blog. Just a few more days and I will reveal all!

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The Style Crone

I always ‘feel’ the clothing at consignment stores, thrift shops and estate sales. Quality stands out and can be attained at a low price. And there’s always the thrill of the hunt.

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Sylvia

Yes, consignment stores can be good. Very difficult here though as there aren’t many good ones. And you have such good taste that you will be able to pick out just the right clothes. Just saw a feature from your visit to New York. How fabulous you look!

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Marie

I agree! I found a really good consignment shop that is very close to where I live. I’ve found more quality pieces there for women over 40 than at Macy’s! (And I love Macy’s.) :)

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Greetje Kamminga

Sometimes I get lucky at H&M although I prefer “sister” store Cos. A little more expensive, but still very affordable and a little more choice in my kind of things.
I think I tend to buy more expensive items because I am not very good at picking out the right items. It is my hobby to find a good combination and present that to the world. My little bit of creativity. I have not been able to find another hobby, no matter how I tried that. But…. I am not really, instinctively good at finding good stuff and knowing what goes with what. Because clothes have my ever lasting interest, people tend to say to me: ” Why not become a stylist? You are so good with clothes.”
No way, really no way. So I hope that in better stores they help me better and have better stuff.

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Sylvia

Interesting reason to go to a better store! Not that familiar with Cos but saw it last year and was impressed by it. I look forward to visiting it again. Had no idea it was ‘related’ to H&M.

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Greetje

Allright… I admit it. I also like and prefer better quality clothes. Because of the materal and the finish. And yes, price is always a problem. At the moment my saving account is crying. Having been on a (self inflicted) budget for half a year seems to have the effect of a pulled back elastic band. As soon as you let it go, you go flying…
I really have to stop now.

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Sylvia

You will probably need to make a choice Greetje. Either go for high quality pieces but have less clothes, or mix cheaper clothes with more expensive ones. Either option can work really well. I’m currently doing the latter (since I have a need for constant variety), but may very well change to fewer, but more expensive clothes later on.

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lissy

I recently did a big closet clean out and was very strict in terms of throwing things out that were too trendy or too young for me. I’m finding that I need to incorporate trends into what will still look good on me. Having said that, I buy both high and low end clothing. I adore Zara and H&M and find that I can mix the lower end items with my higher end stuff.
Lissy

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Sylvia

Yes Zara is a favorite of mine as well. I’ve recently bought some H&M stuff as well, but find them more challenging. It’s all about finding the right balance and being creative!

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paula

No cheap fabrics or construction for me anymore. I even cringe when I see them on teens. That said sometimes you can find something at forever 21, H&M and Zara that will hold up in the wash. But isn’t it funny that now you can look at a garment and visualize it in 2, 3, 4 washings?

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Sylvia

I’ve always been pretty happy with Zara which is my budget go-to store. Never bought at Forever 21 and Have just bought a few H&M pieces. We will see how it goes…

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Amy

I tend to buy workhorse items – like jeans – new, high quality, and certain brands that I know flatter me. I get a certain confidence from these items and don’t want to cheat myself out of that. Pants that don’t fit well make me crazy.
But I get mix-n-match items, like tops of various kinds, at consignment shops or Ross, places like that. Before I shop for them I peruse half a dozen fashion magazines over coffee with a friend, and get an idea of what I want. When I go to these places, I’m looking for inexpensive items to bring my jeans (or whatever) into the present, and the looking takes some effort. But that’s half the fun. And it’s easy and quick to alter these items myself if need be.
So, for example, I’ve recently bought some bright tops that can dress up my favorite jeans. I altered the shapes of a couple of them, so that I could have the fabric and color I wanted.
In a way, not needing to care how you look is one of the freedoms that comes with aging. But for me, schlepping (as my husband would say) is not something that makes me feel better. I need to look my best to feel my best, and most of the time, that’s what I want.

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Sylvia

It sounds to me that you have a very solid and structured approach to shopping Amy. Thanks for adding you input and commenting at 40+Style!

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Greetje

What a good and structured approach Amy has. I wish I could do that. But in my search I see so many other lovely items, that I spend too much.

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Habibi

In a mall and see a lot of women pass by me each day and women who wear brand name teenage clothing like “Gap” “Hollister” are not women I would admire in their dress. I find the African American older women have a lot of class in their dress even if they are a plus size. And women who are in their 60’s & 70’s I see have style in their dress making me want to dress like them and I am middle 40’s. As a Muslim we wear modest clothing and that isn’t to say it can’t be fun.

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Maryellen Sternad

I actually have a very difficult time finding clothing I like. H &M and even Target sometimes have items I like, but then I try them on and they’re sized for teenagers or their construction is just really poor. I wish some of the trendier items would be sized for real women. I’m not overweight but I do have meat on my bones, so I often feel frustrated when. I shop. I also am very casual, so clothing that would actually fit me well is usually too business like or too frumpy! Long live Eddie Bauer!

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Sylvia

I know what you mean Maryellen. It’s definitely tough to find good fitting clothes. I struggle a lot with fabric these days. Everything I like seems to be made of polyester, which is a fabric I don’t want to buy….

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