Of course you can dress any which way you like. But we know that some of you worry that you look too young, or you feel that you may be trying too hard to stay young. We’ve also been getting questions on how to avoid appearing older than you are. So here are some of our guidelines on how to dress after 40.

Please note that these are just GENERAL guidelines and some of our own personal preferences. They certainly don’t apply to everyone.

However, we do believe in dressing to your strengths and taking your body shape and style personality into account. So, if you would like to have some guidelines on how to dress after 40, then you can find them below.

How can I look chic at 40?

Take a look at our top style tips (below) to find the most stylish outfits for you. It’s all about getting your essentials right, thinking timeless rather than trendy, and working out what is most flattering for your body type.

Cathy in bomber jacket and cargo jeans | 40plusstyle.com

Cathy @themiddlepageblog above (read her style interview here)

She is wearings a top and a bomber jacket from Anthropologie and a pair of cargo jeans from EVEREVE (another option here). Check out this similar bag (another option here), booties, belt and sunglasses to complete the look.

How to reinvent your look at 40?

Whether you’re thinking about adding a little extra oomph to your existing looks or you want to completely transform your style, the guidelines below will give you the inspiration you need.

HOW TO DRESS AFTER 40 – WHAT ARE SOME OF THE THINGS YOU SHOULD AVOID?

Below are a few general guidelines on what to avoid doing in terms of style after 40, style over 50 or any age above.

1. DON’T BUY CLOTHES THAT DO NOT FLATTER YOU, EVEN IF THEY ARE ON TREND THIS SEASON.

You may be tempted by a new trend but, when thinking about how to dress after 40, it’s wise to be picky. Only choose those that suit your personality and your your body type. You can find guides on dressing all the different body types in these articles:

How to dress over 40 - Sylvia wears a print dress | 40plusstyle.com

Where to shop the best midi dresses: COS, Nordstrom. Shoes: Fly London (similar). Bag: similar

2. TRY NOT TO BE TOO MATCHY-MATCHY OR TOO POLISHED

It’s nice to mix things up and be a bit more playful. A two-piece suit will quickly look old. Better to mix that jacket with another skirt or pants and look effortlessly chic. You could wear your blazer with jeans, for example, like in the look below.

How to dress after 40 - jeans and blazer outfit | 40plusstyle.com

J.Crew Linen Blend Helena BlazerBoden Short Sleeve Wrap TopPAIGE Leenah Wide-Leg JeansVagabond Shoemakers Cassie Leather BootiesTory Burch Small Ella Bio ToteBalenciaga Loop Earrings

3.  AVOID BUYING FABRICS THAT LOOK CHEAP (OR ARE CHEAP AND POORLY MADE) AS THEY ARE USUALLY NOT FLATTERING OR WILL NOT LAST 

As a young woman, you may have looked cute in a flimsy, poorly made t-shirt but as a woman over 40, you need something with a bit more substance.

You can see some characteristics of fabrics here. We also have a list of recommended shops here. Best to buy only the clothes that you love and that have a chance to last.

Look for beautiful natural fabrics like silk, cotton, linen and cashmere and you will enjoy them for years to come. Think about your purchase in terms of cost per wear rather than initial price.

Avoid fabrics that don’t drape well or cling.

Silk shirt and wide leg pants | 40plusstyle.com

Eileen Fisher Classic Collar Easy ShirtFavorite Daughter The Agnes Pleat Front Wide Leg PantsFranco Sarto Tracy Slingback PumpsTory Burch Small Ella Bio ToteTory Burch Kira Imitation Pearl Layered Necklace

4. WEARING TIGHT AND TIGHT TOGETHER

Of course there are many exceptions but in general tighter items like leggings look better when they are combined with wide pieces like a tunic or wider shirt.

That also applies to skirts. Aim to have either a tight skirt with a loser top or vice versa. You could wear a loose, tunic style shirt with leggings or your skinny jeans. Or choose wide pants and a tighter-fitting top.

How to dress after 40 - tee and wide pants | 40plusstyle.com

Akris Punto Square-Neck BlouseAlice + Olivia Pompey High-Rise Pleat TrousersMICHAEL Michael Kors Townsend Small Top Zip Convertible CrossbodyFranco Sarto Tracy Slingback PumpsBalenciaga Loop Earrings

For more style inspiration on how to wear your pair of loafers, see our article on the best loafers for women over 40.

Tanasha in leather pants and long sleeve top | 40plusstyle.com

Tanasha @letsrecreatethelook above mixes fabrics with her jersey top and leather look pants.

Steal her look with this similar top, pants (another option here), pumps, handbag, earrings and headband.

5. CHECK OUR GUIDELINES FOR THE FOLLOWING ITEMS:

DRESSING OVER 40: WHAT ARE SOME OF THE THINGS YOU SHOULD DO MORE OF?

1. KNOW YOUR STYLE!

Nothing is more important than dressing in a way that pleases and represents you. There’s no such thing as one style of “fashion for older women” that suits everyone.

If you know your style and understand your body you can break any of the rules or add items from the ‘don’t list’ as you please. My style guide will help with that.

Doing our style personality quiz will also give you a better idea of your style.

My style is comfortable, asymmetric, colorful and minimal. I identify the most with architectural and eurochic style personalties.

Sylvia in a colorful dress | 40plusstyle.com

Dress from COS. Other options here and here

2. DETERMINE THE WARDROBE ESSENTIALS THAT ARE UNIQUE TO YOUR STYLE

Not everyone will have the same wardrobe essentials. This will depend on your lifestyle and your style personality.

But having a collection of wardrobe essentials in your closet will make dressing every day so much easier – and more stylish.

Personally, I love to have plenty of asymmetrical items in my closet.

3. HAVE MORE LASTING HIGH QUALITY ITEMS IN YOUR WARDROBE

These vary for each style personality but some important classics are:

Sweater, silk shirt and jeans | 40plusstyle.com

Reformation Garrett Cashmere Cropped Turtleneck SweaterEileen Fisher Classic Collar Easy ShirtPAIGE Leenah Wide-Leg JeansPaul Green Teddy Flats Tory Burch Small Ella Bio ToteDeepa Gurnani Aria Oval Crystal Stud Earrings

Jona in trench coat, sequin top and midi skirt | 40plusstyle.com

Jona @the50plusgirl above wears her trench coat with a leopard print shirt.

Check out this similar sequin top, trench coat, skirt (other options here and here), pumps, handbag (another option here), necklace and sunglasses.

4. LOOK EFFORTLESSLY CHIC

You know how they say that French women look so effortlessly chic. That’s because they appear not to have spent a lot of time on their clothes, yet look amazing.

However, an effortlessly chic look takes time so you want to think carefully about the right combination of items, shoes and accessories.

On the other hand, you don’t want to overdo your look. Don’t add too many accessories, don’t be too matchy-matchy and find the right combination of high end / low end and casual and chic.

Want to know how to create that effortlessly chic look take a look at our article on French style. Or go even more sophisticated and opt for Italian style.

5. Fashion over 40: MIX AND MATCH DESIGNER ITEMS WITH NON-DESIGNER ONES

Even if you have a closet of designer items, it’s a great idea to mix a few designer pieces with high street options. That way, you can affordably add some on-trend clothes and accessories to your closet while keeping your timeless, designer classics part of your outfits too.

How to dress after 40 - mix designer and high street | 40plusstyle.com

Apparis Aria Duster CardiganTory Burch Printed T-Monogram Jersey TeeHudson Jeans Barbara Coated Straight-Leg JeansCOACH Jolene LoaferRebecca Minkoff Julian BackpackSwarovski Stilla Crystal Hoop Drop Earrings

Rita in floral top, jeans and pumps | 40plusstyle.com

Rita @ritapalazzi above (read her style interview here) chooses a colorful designer bag to match the print in her t-shirt.

Get her look with this similar top (another option here), jeans, handbag (another option here), pumps (another option here) and sunglasses.

6. CHOOSE A SKIRT OR DRESS LENGTH THAT’S RIGHT FOR YOU

For many women dresses and skirts that are just above or on top of the knee are a great length for women over 40. Right now longer dresses are very much on trend as well and can be a great style for older women to choose.

Petite women may want to go a bit shorter with their skirt lengths to get the 1/3 – 2/3 silhoutte. Find out more about this rule of thirds in our article on how to wear capris.

Adding a moto jacket to your dress like in the look below is a great way to mix formal and casual in your outfit.

Leather jacket and dress outfit | 40plusstyle.com

Cinq à Sept Zoe Biker JacketNordstrom Satin Midi ShirtdressBernardo Hammond Over-The-Knee BootsCOS The Halo Leather ToteDeepa Gurnani Aria Oval Crystal Stud Earrings

For more inspiration, see this article on the perfect skirt length for women over 40.

7. Don’t neglect your casual wardrobe

It’s easy to be attracted to evening wear on the store rails or online. However, it’s likely that you will actually wear your casual outfits much more.

So, don’t neglect your day-to-day wardrobe. You could choose a drapey cardigan to add style and warmth to a simple jeans and t-shirt outfit. Or add a blazer to casual wear to elevate your look. Look for shirts and tops in beautiful materials and add some texture to your outfits.

Check out some recent articles on casual style:

How to dress after 40: Casual wear- parka, shirt, coated jeans and sneakers | 40plusstyle.com

Sam Edelman Hooded Parka CoatReiss Lorey Colorblocked Silk Satin Shirt – – Hudson Jeans Barbara Coated Straight-Leg JeansCole Haan Grandpro Topspin SneakersRebecca Minkoff Julian BackpackSwarovski Stilla Crystal Hoop Drop Earrings

Adaline casual outfit | 40plusstyle.com

Adaline @sdmomstyles above wears a long cardigan with her tracksuit pants and sneakers.

Recreate her outfit with this similar shirt, coat, joggers, sneakers and shoulder bag.

8. MIX YOUR OWN STYLE WITH A TREND YOU LIKE

Keep updated with the fashion trends and make sure you have a few current items in your wardrobe. For the best style over 40, only pick those trends that work for you!

Striped top, cargo pants and sneakers | 40plusstyle.com

Tanya Taylor Carlita Striped Twist TopVeronica Beard Saul Cargo PantsCole Haan Grandpro Topspin SneakersMICHAEL Michael Kors Townsend Small Top Zip Convertible CrossbodyBalenciaga Loop Earrings

9. Have fun with color

Don’t be afraid of color. Women over 40 benefit from adding more color to their looks. Not only will it enhance your complexion, you also add a bit of pizazz to your style.

Your may like to take inspiration from our color guides.

Choose a bright, modern print blouse and you can wear with your jeans, or dress up with a skirt or by tucking into wide leg pants.

Pritned shirt, satin skirt and pumps | 40plusstyle.com

NIC+ZOE Petal Splash Long-Sleeve BlouseModegal Satin Midi SkirtStuart Weitzman Eva PumpsCult Gaia Caldera Metallic Clutch BagBalenciaga Loop Earrings

How to dress after 40 - have fun with color and color blocking | 40plusstyle.com

Similar top, skirt, sandals, bag, necklace and earrings

10. PLAY WITH ACCESSORIES

Wear accessories like belts, jewelry and scarves. They can make a real difference to your outfit. You could add a statement necklace to a block color top or dress.

COS The Sphere Necklace | 40plusstyle.com

COS The Sphere Necklace

Read our article on how to wear accessories.

11. WEAR HIP AND CURRENT SHOES

These add an instant young and hip vibe to your outfits.

Make sure to choose shoes that you are able to walk in. Mid-high heels can look fabulous. Gold or silver shoes will go with everything.

Kenneth Cole Reaction Nessa Textured Sandals | 40plusstyle.com

Kenneth Cole Reaction Nessa Textured Sandals

If you need more support I have a great list of arch support shoes.

12. Invest in a great pair of flattering jeans

Your jeans can be the mainstay of your closet as they go with so many other things, and can be dressed up or down.

Opt for a style which flatters your figure rather than the latest on-trend jeans shape. Bootcut jeans are back on trend, and tend to suit most body shapes. Classic blue or black will be truly timeless, or add a pop of color with your jeans.

Trench coat, shirt and palazzo jeans | 40plusstyle.com

Mango Belted CoatEileen Fisher Classic Collar Easy ShirtFRAME Le Slim Palazzo JeansStuart Weitzman Eva PumpsCOS The Halo Leather ToteSwarovski Stilla Crystal Hoop Drop Earrings

Also, take a look at the most flattering jeans for every body type.

13. OPTIONAL: USE SHAPEWEAR

If you want to hide some of the bulges, then shapewear definitely helps. I personally only wear it on special occasions.

If you don’t like shapewear, then learning how to skilfully hide with the right clothes will be preferable, like these tips in my article on how to hide your belly.

SKIMS Body Plunge Mid-Thigh Bodysuit | 40plusstyle.com

SKIMS Body Plunge Mid-Thigh Bodysuit

14. WEAR A GOOD BRA

Make sure you wear a good bra and invisible undergarments. A great bra will make sure that there is a clear distance between your chest and your tummy!

Hanro Allure Strapless Convertible T-Shirt Bra | 40plusstyle.com

Hanro Allure Strapless Convertible T-Shirt Bra

More info in my article on how to find the perfect bra.

15. WEAR WHAT MAKES YOU FEEL AMAZING

How to dress after 40: wear what makes you feel amazing | 40plusstyle.com

Similar dress, strappy sandals, necklace and sunglasses.

The most important style “rule” of all is to wear what makes you feel confident. That way, you’ll have a spring in your step and you’ll be ready for whatever the day brings. So, choose what makes you feel great when you look in the mirror before you head out.

WEAR WHAT FEELS RIGHT TO YOU!

I want to emphasize again that these tips on how to dress after 40 are not set in stone and it’s up to you to decide what works best for you. But if you want to look young and hip, then these guidelines can certainly help. 

The more you understand your body and your style, the more you can break these rules as you please.

Below is a capsule wardrobe we created that you can mix and match to create lots of different outfits. You could wear the stripe top with the red jeans, for example, or the long cardigan with the shirtdress. You can wear the bright colors together or create an all-neutral outfit.

How to dress after 40: a capsule wardrobe | 40plusstyle.com

How do i look trendy in my 40s?

If you’re thinking about how to look trendy in your 40s, the best piece of advice we can give is ‘don’t’. Don’t think about looking trendy. Think about developing your own style. You can always add a trend or two to update your outfits, but don’t base your entire outfit around being on-trend.

What should a 40 year old woman wear?

As we’ve been discussing, you should wear whatever makes you feel most confident. There are no hard and fast ‘rules’. Our guidelines are here to help and inspire you to find your own unique style.

shop the items above here:

For all my best tips on how to dress after 40 and a complete style course that will get you looking stylish in no time, I highly recommend my style course.

If you have any further tips then I would love to hear them. Enjoy!

What are your tips on how to dress after 40? Share them below.

Continue reading:

  1. How To Dress Over 40 – My Top 10 Tips
  2. How To Determine Your Body Shape
  3. How To Build Self Confidence And Believe In Yourself – The One Thing That Actually Works

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How to dress after 40 and still look hip | 40plusstyle.com
Sylvia

Sylvia is 40+style’s editor-in-chief and has been helping women find their unique style since 2011. She is devoted to empowering women of any age to look and feel their best. Read more about Sylvia and 40+style on this page.

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