What kind of clothes do women over 40 want? The ultimate wish list!

by Sylvia

What clothes do women over 40 want

Many of my readers keep telling me that they can’t find the clothes they are searching for. On the other hand designers have contacted me to give them advice on the kind of clothes women over 40 would like to buy. So I thought it would be a good idea to create the ultimate wishlist of clothes attributes that women over 40 find very important. Perhaps it may inspire designers and will help you all to find the clothes that flatter you and make you smile!

I will start off this list, but please let me know what kind of clothes attributes you are looking for. Which kind of clothes can you not find enough of in the shops?

These are the kind of clothes attributes I believe women over 40 are looking for

1. Dresses with sleeves

Great dresses with sleeves are not so easy to find and many women over 40 like to cover up their arms.

For summer give us sleeves of all lengths, short, 3/4 and full that are sheer and breezy for warmer weather.

2. Drapes on all the right places

A personal favorite. Great drape dresses are flattering to many women as they can cover up their tummy area in very stylish ways.

3. Skirts and dresses of knee length

This is one of the most flattering lengths for women over 40 and we need more choice!

4. Pants with a higher rise

No, we don’t want mum jeans, but jeans that are cut too low just give us muffin tops and are uncomfortable!

5. Button down shirts that fit our increasing bust line

Button down shirts are great classic, versatile garments to own, but they are no good when they don’t fit properly.

6. Great tunics

Tunics are great for covering up bellies and to wear with skinnies or leggings. We want more stylish, modern, colourful tunics.

7. Wider sleeves on coats, blouses and dresses

We get more practical as we get older. Our coats still need to fit over a full outfit, which means the sleeves should be wide enough to accommodate for several layers. The same goes for blouses and dresses; the sleeves need to fit our arms.

8. Mid heel shoes

I already devoted one whole article to this. We need more fashionable mid heel shoes that are comfortable as well as beautiful!

9. Affordable clothes in quality fabrics

Although we may have been able to pull of cheaper synthetic fabrics when we were younger, we look much better now with quality fabrics like good cotton, silk, wool and linen for summer. We need quality fabrics for all sizes!

10. Stretch (elastine)

We want to get more comfortable in our clothes and a bit of stretch in our blouses and pants is always welcome.

11. Colour

I was shocked by the vast amount of pure black greeting me in the stores this season. Very few of us will look good with mostly black outfits. Give us more variety in colour please.

12. Fashionable clothing in bigger sizes

Not all of us will maintain a svelte figure, but we still want to look hip and modern. So please don’t stop producing at size 10!

13. Substantial fabrics.

Enough with the tissue-thin cotton and wispy, see-through cashmere! Give us clothes that don’t cling to our bulges or require multiple layers of underclothing to look good. We would also love to have more classic well-structured dresses.

14. Skirts in something other than a pencil cut

Pencil cut skirts, while sexy, can be uncomfortable and unflattering. A-lines, pleats, circles, wraps, dirndls, etc., have all been missing from the scene for a long time.

15. Hosiery options

We know we’re not supposed to wear nude-colored hose, so we either go bare-legged, and freeze and expose the world to our spider veins, or we wear black tights. How about something different?

16. Control panels for our tummies

Many of us have soft bellies after pregnancy or just as a result of getting older. We would like a little help in the area bellow the belly button.

17. Versatile underwear in many sizes

Bras, smaller cup, but larger around.. 44B, 46B, 46c. Also no line panties in larger sizes like 2x and 3x. We do not want grannie panties!

18. Shapewear in many varieties and colours

We want shapewear that is comfortable and wearable. It would be great if it came in multiple colours so it would be more fun to wear and we could match it with our bras.

19. Modest V-necks

We like V-necks but we don’t want them cut so low. V-necks are very flattering but many of us don’t like to show a lot of cleavage.

20. Show us a variety of models

In addition to all these clothes wishes, show us the clothes on models of different ages, shapes and sizes.  As commenter TC points out this would  ensure higher waists, wider sleeves, more mid-length skirts and lusher fabrics. Just what we all need!

What do you think?

These are all the clothes attributes I could come up with sofar, but I’m sure I have forgotten a few. So let me know what you would wish to see more of in the shops and I will add it to the wish list! You never know, this list may just get shared amongst designers. If we want different clothing to what is currently available, we have to let the designers know!

I look forward to reading your wishes!

{ 59 comments… read them below or add one }

1 traceyliz65

I agree with your list completely and can’t think of anything else. My favorite ones you listed are the jeans with higher rise, great tunics and more options for mid heeled shoes.


2 Poppy Buxom

Great list! Here are a few more:

1. Substantial fabrics. Enough with the tissue-thin cotton and wispy, see-through cashmere! Give us clothes that don’t cling to our bulges or require multiple layers of underclothing to look good.

2. Skirts in something other than a pencil cut, which, while sexy, can be uncomfortable and unflattering. A-lines, pleats, circles, wraps, dirndls, etc., have all been missing from the scene for a long time.

3. Hosiery options. We know we’re not supposed to wear nude-colored hose, so we either go bare-legged, and freeze and expose the world to our spider veins, or we wear black tights. How about something different?


3 Sylvia

Great suggestions Poppy. I will add those to the list shortly.


4 Lorena

I don’t see anything wrong in wearing nude hose if the color is almost exact to your skin tone. I had success with it and wear some for special occasions.If the Duchess of Cambridge can do it and look beautiful,so can everybody else too.


5 Practical Paralegalism

I agree, but I can only WISH my bustline was increasing…lol. I don’t mind sleeveless at all as it gives me more layering options, but I would like to see more classic, well-structured dresses, NOT modeled on 30 year olds. I’m discovering that just above knee length is a more flattering skirt for me, but again, I wish retailers would show clothes on older women.


6 Sylvia

Good point! I will add that to the list.


7 Theresa

A little control panel for that post pregnancy bulge. After 3 children I still have the legs and waist but I would like a little help in the area bellow the belly button.


8 Sylvia

Good suggestions Theresa. thanks!


9 Nanne

Hi Sylvia,

Long time no see – it’s a long story but I’m back blogging again:) This is a great list, and I really can’t come up with anything else.


10 Sylvia

How lovely to see you back Nanne. I missed you!


11 Marla

This is a perfect list. Very complete.


12 Greetje

Now this is a list I can appreciate. Yes please, all of the above, including the additions by your readers. I very much agree with Poppy’s “substantial fabric”. That, indeed, makes a lot of difference.
As for high up stretchy jeans… I keep referring to Not Your Daughters Jeans. (They should pay me by now for all my advertising. But they are great.)
And for bulging tummies…. shapewear. Yeah!!!
I like to add to the list: shapewear in more colours than nude, black and white.
If I have a blue bra, I want a blue bodyshaper. If I wear a red bra, I want a red bodyshaper. If you wear them like this, it looks as if you are in a pretty swimsuit. Which is a whole lot better than red bra, white bodyshaper, red briefs… I saw a pretty set by DKNY for a reasonable price with matching lace but still in black.


13 Sylvia

Good suggestions Greetje. I have them to the list.


14 TC

Great list! I’d add that I’d love for all designers to use models on the runway and in the glossies who are older (right through from 30-100+!) and who reflect the different body sizes and types we have! Just because clothes ‘hang well’ on a shrimp of a teen doesn’t mean we are any more likely to buy! Designing for different sizes and shapes is much more commendable (and demonstrates much more talent and skill) than simply designing for a mannequin. I guarantee this would ensure higher waists, wider sleeves, more mid-length skirts and lusher fabrics. Just what we all need!


15 Sylvia

I agree TC. Have added your comments below the list!


16 Fran

Thanks for your list!!! Tunics are my go to tops, love, love them! I would like to see them in natural fabrics as my skin is not so tolerant anymore. I’d like to add bras, smaller cup, but larger around.. 44B, 46B, 46c. Also no line panties in larger sizes like 2x and 3x. I just can’t bring myself to buy “grannie panties”!
Thanks so much!!!!!


17 Sylvia

Thanks for your suggestions Fran. They have been added to the list!


18 Aileen

I agree with the list Sylvia, it covers so many concerns for lots of us.
To have a beautiful figure in any clothes I agree with Greetje that the answer is structured underwear.
However, I struggle with body shapers and haven’t found any that don’t push the ‘problem’ either to the top of the garment or to the bottom, around the top of my legs. This creates unsightly bulging above it or sausages at the top of my legs and it can be quite painful in those areas where the flesh is squeezed.
I also find them so uncomfortable I can’t eat anything if I’m going out for a meal, which is the only time I’d consider wearing them.
I’ve tried all sorts of sizes as well but can’t find anything that works for me. Does anyone else have this problem fitting into these tight structured underwear?


19 Sylvia

Hi Aileen. I wrote on article on shape wear a while ago and some readers came with good suggestions. You may want to have a look: https://40plusstyle.com/shapewear-do-women-over-40-need-it/


20 Women Who Run It

Thank you! We agree wholeheartedly with all of these! If you do get approached by plus sized retailers, be sure to mention that bigger women need nice fabrics too! Polyester blends still seem to rule and they are just not flattering.


21 Sylvia

Thanks for the feedback. I have included it in the list.


22 Nancy

When I saw the title of this post the very first thing I thought of was mid-heel shoes. It drives me nuts when I see wardrobe compilations for women our age with cute little flats. In my opinion most older women don’t wear flats well (including me.)


23 Sylvia

Good thing it was already included on the list then! I think both flats and heels can look good, but I must admit that I wear more heels now then I ever did before…


24 Seeker

What can I say that hasn’t already been said…. I agree with your list and most of the other suggestions that were made.
Such a relevant issue to talk about, so thank you Sylvia.


25 Sylvia

Thanks Fernanda!


26 Heather

What a great list ! I love all the suggestions and wish designers would take note !
Thanks for all the great ideas. I have pretty much given up with clothes, I rarely find anything I like, I do not mind paying a little more for good quality but often I only see very cheap things or very expensive ones. I would like to see some mid-range, stylish clothes that fit me (5ft 1″ and heavy), but these seem to be rare.


27 Sylvia

Yes, it can be tough. Hope you don’t give up though. It’s worthwhile spending some time and effort into finding something that suits you!


28 Sheri

That list was magnificent! I especially appreciated the “with sleeves” request. Could we add, sleeves of all lengths, short, 3/4 and full that are sheer and breezy for warmer weather?


29 Sylvia

Thanks Sheri will add it.


30 Suzanne

This is seriously one of the best articles I have read in a long time. These ideas cover it all. I wish your list could be sent to every designer. If even a few paid attention what a difference this could make.


31 Sylvia

Thanks Suzanne. Well, the more you all like it, tweet, stumble it or share it in any other way, the more chance it will be noticed by the designers! (subtle hint to everyone…)


32 Cathie

Love all the suggestions on the list and added by your readers. For me it’s wide-enough sleeves, not only on coats, but also on blouses, dresses, button-up shirts, etc. Although I’m fairly small, my arms are no longer thin; most things I try on seem to have sleeves for skinny teenagers’ arms. I really hope that designers listen to our requests.


33 Sylvia

Thanks for your feedback Cathie. I will add it to the list!


34 Ruth

Sleeves at the top of the list! I am so tired of wearing a small or medium in the body and having the sleeves not fit until I go up to an XL! Designers need to remember who has the spending power, and it’s not the teenagers.


35 Heather Fonseca

So true so true! All of it. Great article Sylvia.


36 Rita

All great ideas! I’d like to add V-necks that aren’t so revealing. I almost always have to wear a t-shirt or blouse under every v-neck top/sweater I buy. Part of it is that I’m somewhat short-waisted, but the other part is that I’m not comfortable with showing cleavage. A small v-neck is flattering, though, especially if you are petite.


37 Sylvia

Good point Rita. I have added it to the list!


38 Greetje

Oohh.. forgot about that, how silly of me. I want very nice, smooth basic shirts in all colours with a boat neck or a normal neckline but much higher than average. I have to pay a price for sunbathing: very wrinkly chest. But even if I had not been sitting in the sun, this is a problem area for women getting older. The skin on this part of your body is so thin, that wrinkles will appear sun or no sun. And also right between my breasts. Darn… just when I developed there, I got wrinkly skin in between and could not show them. Probably only just as well. Otherwise I might have become an old flasher haha.


39 Sylvia

Yes another good point Greetje!


40 penny

great suggestions…every thing I have wished for


41 Pat

Love your list. I don’t want to be uncomfortable but I don’t want to look matronly either. I like the height of kitten heels but they’re not really in proportion to the shoe (I wear size 10). And the base of the heel needs to be wider and stronger because my balance is not what it once was. Dresses and tops that do not have or require a belt or a seam at the waist. No need to accentuate a waist that doesn’t exist. Clothing that glides down the body and doesn’t grip it showing off each lump and bump. I’d like to see models who are not longer children who are pear shaped, H-shaped, V-shaped.


42 Sylvia

thanks Pat. All good points!


43 Madelyn

I am short and wear a size 14. I do not wear plus sized clothing but I am plus sized. The plus sized clothing would flatter my plumpish figure but I am not plump enough to fit them. The styles in my size group look terrible on me.

These are all very good suggestions. I would like to add that although I want sleeves in my clothing, I do not want them to extend past my hands.


44 Sandy

Wow, I was so disappointed to read #5′ re: our increasing bustlines! At what age can I expect that to happen, as I am rapidly approaching 52?!


45 Sylvia

It does not happen for everyone Sandy, but for quite a few women it seems to be the case…. Not sure when it starts. Probably around menopause…


46 Sarah

My concern is that when retailers or designers read this list, at least if they are British, they will be thinking that what we’re asking for is more tedious boring M&S type clothes, in portly M&S sizes, whereas I am not big enough to fit most M&S clothes, and even if I were big enough, I can’t imagine anything more depressing than the typical idea of 50+ clothing. Basically, if it’s being worn by people who shop in M&S, I am highly unlikely to want to wear it. It makes me so angry that they don’t even make clothes for normal-BMI slim women like me.

The kind of clothes I prefer to wear do indeed have sleeves (preferably three-quarter-length), but I prefer closely-fitted sleeves, not ones that flap about. I am not keen on draping unless it is more architectural and disciplined in fabrication. (Please no jersey draping for me!) I would like to see dresses made from heavy brocade or very heavy silk with a touch of lycra: I have an aversion to medium-weight fabrics that pull and wrinkle as the wearer moves. For a clear example of hat I mean, take a look at the photo of the two VIP women here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1174612/The-day-Carla-met-match–How-Spains-Princess-upstaged-French-First-Lady.html I love the dress on the left and would love to wear it (and notice that the sleeves are not loose), but the dress on the right is wrinkling badly. I also love just about every dress worn by the Donna character in Suits. Why is it that women my age are deemed to want hideous floral thin polyester dresses in the summer and dreary schoolmarmish attire in the winter? It is all so utterly unappealing.

BTW, my problem with all tops and dresses is that the bust (across the front) is never big enough relative to the shoulder width and the waist. I do wish retailers would sell clothes with enough room in the front. I have just about given up trying to buy dresses off the peg now.

But from my POV, the problem is not so much that retailers ignore women our age, it is more that what they think we want bears no resemblance to anything we’d want to wear. Or at least, to anything I’d want to wear myself. Before midi skirts were back in, the only women wearing midi skirts were Older Women shopping at M&S. I would not be caught dead in a midi skirt then. Now that over-50s are all wearing knee-length skirts the midi is looking a lot more appealing to me (if carefully chosen and worn in a fashion-forward way rather than an out-of-date M&S way). Why must older women dress in such boring, unfashionable ways? Why is that deemed more ‘grown-up’? What about creativity and joy and playfulness and even fashion-forwardness? Why must we ‘grow out of’ all that? It is not that retailers ignore us (M&S caters for Older Women — if you like the kind of dreary stuff older women are supposed to wear), it is that there is such a heavy expectation that women of a certain age must dress in a particular way irrespective of our personalities and wishes. I am not an age, I am an individual, and if anything I am more individualistic in my dress now than I was when I was young and too worried about what other people might think.


47 Sylvia

Thanks for your feedback Sarah. I think it’s still important to shop in lots of places. I certainly will not confine myself to shops that cater to 40+ women only. If you mix and match clothes from different brands and shops, you will often achieve that young and hip yet mature look that certainly I’m still after! 40+Style will continue to feature those kind of looks as well.


48 Ivet

Wow! I did not think about this too much, but reading the list, I wholeheartedly agree with every single point. Especially the lack of colors in the stores! What is it with designers that they cannot come up with flattering and lively colors to wear for us mature women. Just because I am 50+ does not mean that I am about to cover myself up in black head to toe:) And extending the variety to beige and charcoal does not count either! Great list, Sylvia!


49 Sherry Edwards

Wow, great list. I think you’ve said it best. I can’t think of anything else.


50 Susanne

This is a great list! I’d have to say that length of dresses is huge for me. Many styles are way too short. More and more, tummy control is important. Finding shapeware for a 12/14 is difficult. I created pinkandrowe.com to provide quality clothing with respectable design.


51 Sheralyn

The list was perfect, especially with the “extras” added by your readers! I thoroughly agree but I do have one question: just “who” mandated that pantyhose are no longer acceptable?? I live in Texas and no, I don’t want to wear pantyhose in the summer(!) but our winters here are typically mild and when it’s cool outside sheer pantyhose are very flattering, especially for occasions like church. Plus, I’m 65 and my legs, feet and ankles are not something I particularly want to show off! I wish that the designers would realize that we mature gals have the money to spend on nicer clothes if only we could find them.


52 Lorena

I totally agree with you. I live in FL and we go through the same situation but I follow my own style, not what others say is not a trend.


53 Sue

Great list I would add tops that don’t hang from armholes like tent and are not skin tight shapely!


54 Izzy

So impressed with this list. I hope retailers will adjust accordingly, as women our age also have more buying power! Would like to add to quality fabrics: we need natural fibres that will “breathe” during hot flushes. Synthetic tops and dresses turn into an unbearably hot sauna. Also mid heel shoes with tops that do not cut into feet that are more prone to swelling, BUT still look stylish. We do not want granny shoes.


55 Sylvia

Thanks for your feedback Izzy. You may enjoy this post where I offer ideas for arch support shoes. Lots of feedback from readers there as well 🙂


56 Amanda

Great list! Here are so many great options to try. I really like this article so much. Thanks and keep sharing.


57 Amy Barnhart

How about shirts with a waistline. My waist is the only thing on me that’s still small and if a garment doesn’t have curves I look like a linebacker.


58 Cathy Armato

OMG, you’ve hit the nail right on the head with these! Point #1, sleeves, is my biggest frustration – designers, Please allow me to Give You My Money by not making everything sleeveless!! Sleeveless is the Devil, got it?? Lower heels that are thicker would be great – kitten heels are adorable but have poor stability. We’re active women & once we pass 40 most of us have had a foot, ankle, leg injury or two. Have mercy on our hams, please.


59 Jan

Just found your site. Great advise, thanks!
Would like to add my 2 cents worth:
I am 72, overweight, apple shape, big busted, big arms, tummy, but LOVE clothes /jewelry and like to try and look nice and stylish!
Wish designers made more raglan sleeve tops. I have big arms/bust and shoulders are more narrow, works better for me, but also think would work for smaller women also.
Also, being long waisted it is hard to find jeans that the waist doesn’t come to bra.
Desingers, more rise selection please!!
Know it is hard to fit everyone, since we are all sizes, shapes, colors and ALL beautiful!!
Thanks, for letting me express my unprofessional opinion!


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