Strangely enough the topic of age appropriateness is one of the most controversial on this site as it always gets the most polarizing reactions. To some women it implies that we need to conform and that the term in itself should be avoided, whereas to others it simply implies that they feel better if they modify their clothing a certain way.

I think both opinions are justified.

Certainly every woman should be able to wear what she wants. No matter her age.

On the other hand I also believe that many women, including myself, feel and look better with some adjustments.

I was curious to see what my 3 blogger friends had to say on the issue. Listen and watch in this short video!

“You cannot dress in certain ways all your life. At one point you are adapting because your body changes or maybe certain clothes are very typical for a 14 year old and it does not suit you any more. On the other hand I’m not so strict with rules.”

Anja, Curly Traveller

“I do not wear certain things because I think it looks desperate…. On the other hand I’m very tolerant, if someone wants to wear a miniskirt and can pull it off by having a confident face, be my guest! ….. (as for myself) I cover a lot of flesh because everything is getting a bit wobbly…”.

“I think our generation and the generation before us are going to change the rules on how old ladies look like.”

Greetje, No Fear Of Fashion

“If I am confident with my body and feel ok with it, guess what, I’m going to wear what I want to wear…. I refuse to let my age dictate pretty much anything in my life.”

Suzanne, Suzanne Carillo

Your answers: Do you believe in age-appropriate dressing and what does it mean to you?

I still find it an interesting topic and I’m always interested how each individual woman feels about those words “age appropriate” and what it means to them. So here are quite a few opinions! Some of the responses are from past interviewees and others from members of my Facebook page, to whom I asked the same question.

From Facebook

Lisa C: “I’m with Iris Apfel when it comes to this tired conversation. If I want to wear hot pink and shocking orange to church, that’s between me and Jesus.”

Linda S: “I don’t want to dress like my thirty-something daughters, and I don’t want to dress like my seventy-something mother. Classics with a little trendy twist are for me. (not to say a little hot pink doesn’t make me happy!)”

Suzanne G: “Classics with a twist”

Essbee B: “Depending on where you’re going. Business things, professional, church…please dress your age. Going out? Everyday? Wear what makes you feel good. Those are my rules for me anyway. “

Charisse T: “I like the feeling of toning down somewhat the older I get. I’m in love with portraying a more mature woman. Besides – hairstyles and fashion for the older woman is abundant and gorgeous. Go for shorter hair and classier fashion. That’s just me.”

Teresa F: ” I do have to admit that I venture into the Junior Department in retail stores. Maybe it’s a Midwest USA thing but shopping can be a challenge. There’s a lot of clothes my mother wouldn’t have worn out there, way too matronly. But if I do purchase something from Juniors’ it’s pretty basic, not over the top teeny bopperish.”

Lorraine M: “I think it should be ‘body appropriate’ rather than age appropriate. And I can work on the body but I can’t do anything about the age!”

Nicole M: “it means that you should not riot your daughter’s closet. Wear the same stuff as she does, but higher quality and make sure she does not riot yours.”

Christy F: “Im 50 and I am in great shape. I would say Classy. Never wear skimpy, save it For the bedroom. Doesnt mean we Cant be Fashion Forward i love Designers Now all about quality,not cheap.”

Jennifer C: “Is there a guide somewhere that states what age appropriate is? Didn’t think so. I dress in comfy, fashionable clothing that has given me the title of “your mom always looks so great and not like my mom” with my daughter’s teenage friends. That doesn’t mean I dress like them…it just means I choose great clothes that are fashion forward and are a great style for me.”

Emmeline T: “Body appropriate, comfy,classic with a twist & not forgetting event- suited.”


Patti: “Only for myself; I don’t pass judgment on others and how they choose to express themselves. For me, the three guidelines are: nothing too tight, too short or too low-cut. And no Hello Kitty either.” (full interview)

Lisa: “I think “age-appropriate” simply means to dress with for respect yourself and your community. There are a million ways to interpret that statement, but there are a million cultures and sub-cultures, and blanket statements just can’t apply everywhere.” (full interview)

Lissy: “I think if something makes a woman feel good about how she looks, then she should wear it.”  (full interview)

Camilla: “I don’t understand that statement. I think you should dress how you feel most comfortable. If you are confident about a certain area show it off. If you have great legs show them off in a shorter dress. If your arms are toned wear a cami etc..” (full interview)

Anja: “Yes, I do. Some things just look childish at a certain point. Also while ageing, parts of your body may become unattractive, like the skin of your upper arms and your inner thighs. I don’t feel like showing these of any longer.
On the other hand people nowadays can keep dressing young, fun and artistic even when they get older. Our grannies tended to look like real grannies. Now, also 60, 70 and 80 year old’s can look cool and hip. Age appropriate does NOT mean old, traditional or boring and that is awesome!” (full interview)

Ann: “‘Age appropriate’ just has so many negative associations for me. I like to think about ‘life style appropriate’. I need clothes with flair for my life choices. I am enjoying the variety of choices I see reflected in the many blogs of the 40 plus women. There’s many options depending on who you are.” (full interview)

Judith: “I dress according to my comfort level and what makes me happy. Self expression and fun are part of the picture. I don’t rely on rules or directives. If a garment or accessory pleases me, that is the criteria that I follow. If the reflection in the mirror makes me smile, out the door I go.” (full interview)

Beverly: “What works for some at 40 may not work for others. I wouldn’t call that age appropriate as much as good styling. I also don’t show a lot of skin. That has more to do with my level of modesty than my age.” (full interview)

Annette: “Yes, I incorporated age appropriate dressing when I was in my late 40ies. I was a German 34/36 (US 4/6) and turned more into a 38 (US 8). I know I shouldn’t complain but my body has changed and I am more careful with bodycon dresses, my skirt length or skinny and low raise jeans. For me age appropriate dressing is twofold: Not desperately trying to look younger but also not to look old and frumpy!” (full interview)

Jeannie: “Yes and no. I used to worry when I first started my blog….always wondering if the outfit was appropriate, but I’ve come to realize that I would never be able to please everyone all of the time. “Age appropriate” is an individual compass. There’s not a set of rules that applies to all women. For me, if I’m happy when I look in the mirror, then it’s my age appropriate.” (full interview)

Melanie: “No. I dress for my mood every day, but I can say I’d rather be dressed as lamb or even a toucan than mutton any day if it makes me feel good. People who don’t like my style can look away, look away! Having said that, I don’t like to see young girls dressed very provocatively. As adults, freedom of choice should be celebrated.” (full interview)

Heather: “No, I don’t believe in dressing for my age. I think women should choose clothes we love that make us feel great, period. There are some trends I avoid now, like school girl looks, head-to-toe neon colors and baby doll dresses, but I’m sure there’s a forty year old woman out there somewhere who can wear them with aplomb.” (full interview)

Catherine: ” I don’t believe in loads of rules for women as they get older where dressing is concerned – I’ve read too many books which dictate how you should dress “age-appropriately”. I love the women featured on the blog Advanced Style; they don’t follow any rules and look amazing! I’ve worked out my own theory – not rules – behind dressing for your age as you get older to get it right:

  1. Dress either classic or edgy, or a mixture of both.
  2. Avoid dressing tarty (meaning cleavage and legs and heels). I want people to notice my fabulous outfit, not that I have too much flesh on show.

I think if you follow these guidelines you can’t go wrong – I actually think older women can often get away with more outrageous clothing than a 20 something because as you get older it’s less about fashion and more about style and knowing what suits you.” (full interview)

Greetje: “Yes and no. To me yes, I want to dress age appropriately. But that is me. If you have the personality for it, you will get away with nearly everything. To me there are two different ‘age appropriately’:

  1. Showing a lot of flesh, which I think is not very clever but it is also a culture thing. This would not be my thing.
  2. Dressing up with lots of attention drawing items, like the women of Lovely! Celebrate Life!” (full interview)

For further reading and discussion you can also have a look at these related articles:

So now it’s your turn! Do you dress age appropriately and what does it mean to you?

Pictured in feature image: the Idiosyncratic Fashionistas


Sylvia is 40+style’s editor-in-chief and has been helping women find their unique style since 2011. An alumni of the School of Color and Design, 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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