Age ain’t nothin’ but a number … right? Well, in general, sure. But what about in fashion?
Don’t panic, I’m not referring to your waist size ladies. I am, however, directly speaking about your age. “What does age have to do with fashion,” you may be asking, but it actually should help determine how you choose to express your fashion forward side in public.
Yes, 20-somethings, you do have a lot of leeway in your expression, but you should always try to keep it classy, not skanky. Yes, I just told you not to be skanky. Trust me, I’ve seen so many young women who think simply because they are young-ER this gives them full license to wear next to no clothing and they believe it’s “fashionable.”
News flash: dressing like a call girl is NOT fashionable, it is laughable. You can be sexy and still be classy, so even though you’re only 22, you can keep some of your, umm, unmentionables unmentioned and still be sexy.
Other than that, you have much more freedom in your 20s to express your sense of fashion than as the number starts to creep on upward. You may still wear your short shorts and your mini-skirts, and more revealing numbers because at this point in your lives, it’s still all about fun. And let’s be honest, clothes are fun. But just remember, what you wear today might be on your best friend’s Facebook page forever (possibly). Just a thought.
Your 30s: be polished
Okay, 30-somethings, listen up: it is time to put away the mini-skirts and the short shorts and the overly revealing tops. Face it: you’re a grown-up now. But don’t think this means it’s time to start wearing black and brown sweaters and no-shape pants, that is definitely not the case (actually, that’s not the case for any age group).
In your 30s, you still want to keep that young, fresh feeling alive in your fashion world, but you need to add some class to that repertoire of yours. A good word to describe your fashion thoughts as a 30-year-old is polish; be fashion forward but do it in a polished, put-together manner.
Tone down those short-shorts of yours and try on a pair of city shorts (or as they were formerly known, bermuda shorts). City shorts still show off those beautiful legs, but keep the things covered that should be covered.
Target brand Mossimo has denim bermuda/city shorts in dark blue, medium blue and white for $20, and you will still look plenty appealing while keeping yourself covered.
Ahhh, the sundress. One of my favorite parts about spring and summer is that I could probably wear a sundress or dress of some type, every day and have no problem at all with it. But, as a fellow 30-something (32 in November, yikes), it is time to make sure that hemline is brought much lower than in the days of my 20s.
No more micromini dresses, ladies, keep your hems to mid-thigh and you are ready to go. And really, mid-thigh still allows you to stay cool, and show off those great legs too.
You’re in luck, because the maxi dress is still around, so with those long, flowing sundresses out there, you’ll have no issue with your skirt being too short.
Again, Target’s Mossimo brand has a great selection of sundresses for spring and summer, with many different hemlines to choose from. A very fashion forward choice right now is a high-low hemline (higher cut in the front then lower/longer in the back), and they have an adorable high-low racerback maxi dress in pink, grey and navy for $28.
This cut is great for you in your 30s because it still has a fun, edgy feel but doesn’t leave you feeling like the world can see what color underwear you chose for the day.
Overall, my fellow 30-somethings, keep yourself classy and put together and you can keep your personal style completely in tact as you age.
Your 40s: you still got it
Fourty. Over the hill, right? Honestly, I used to think 30 was a terrifying age, and I have come to embrace my 30s, so hey, 40 can’t be too bad, can it?
To my followers in their 40s, you have nothing to fear, you CAN be fashion forward, but you absolutely can NOT be shopping with your teenager in the juniors’ department. And no, I don’t care that you can still fit into their clothing.
Trust me, you look ridiculous to others. So, let’s get you in the right style for your fashion age group. Believe me, you don’t have to give up style simply because you’re getting older; like I said before, you can keep yourself fashion forward and stylish if you put some thought into it, no matter what your age.
A lot of the rules for your 40s flow over from your 30s, with just a little bit more interest in the classic silhouettes and colors, instead of the “of the moment” colors and shapes. Let’s think Catherine Zeta-Jones here. Gorgeous, stylish and very fashion forward in her 40s, and she does it in a classic way.
For example, your hemlines maybe need to drop a little bit, to just above the knee; but be honest, do you really want to compete with your 16 year old to see who can sit down in their dress without showing too much? Mossimo, again, from Target, has a perfect dress to show you how to express a more classic look in your 40s, but still stay fashion forward.
This Mossimo ponte sleeveless, colorblock dress in black and white is very chic and fashion forward. Black and white is a huge trend this year, and the pockets on the front with the feminine v-neck keep your look fresh and flirty, well into your 40s. And at $28 how can you not love it?
Now, what about those heels? Until you hit 50, fashion dictates that you are more than welcome to rock that high heel as much as you want to. And I for one, am extremely happy to hear that, because without my heels, I would be lost. You don’t have to wear the 5-inch heels, but you also shouldn’t be into those kitten heels quite yet either.
Target brand Xhiliration carries a beautiful red, open-toe, 4.5 inch heel with an adorable bow on the side for $30, that will give you a kick of color for that black and white dress I just mentioned.
And, it’s just a really cute shoe. (In fact, I’ll be buying this one for myself.) 40? No problem. Classic and beautiful, you can keep rocking your style, and your heels, for quite awhile.
Your 50s: camouflage
Oh my goodness, you’re in your 50s? Well you better call it a day for fashion and simply wear mom jeans and vests every day. Nope, you won’t get off that easy, ladies! (With all due respect, I assure you. My wonderful mother is in her YOUNG 50s, so I would never disrespect any of you! If I do, I’d never hear the end of it!)
I always have said, no matter what your age, I believe any trend or aspect of fashion can be adapted to fit your style and be completely age appropriate. And in all honesty, dressing in your 50s is not all that different from dressing in your 30s or 40s.
There is one piece that translates into every single age group, and as you age, sometimes you may want to cover certain areas, or as I like to say, “camouflage,” and this great standard works wonders … the blazer. A key piece for any wardrobe but is essential for those women in their 50s.
A blazer can help to hide part of a tummy, or simply dress up a standard t-shirt for a dinner out. Blazers are such key pieces that I’m virtually positive you can find them in stores all year round, regardless of the season. Not only that, but you can find them just about anywhere, which helps to make them a very reasonable staple item for your wardrobe.
Kohl’s has several to choose from, but I like Lauren Conrad’s open front, ponte blazer which is always flattering, no matter your size. This blazer, at $45, comes in black, grey and red, and can be mixed and matched into limitless outfits, year round, no matter the occasion.
Another great piece to have in your wardrobe is a tunic style shirt. Tunics are great with a pair of jeans, but you can also pick out some nicer ones and pair them with a nice pair of pants; in the summer a light, breezy tunic with some white capris is an essential outfit for those cool nights out and about.
Kohl’s Chaps line has a very cute black and white striped tunic, with a slight drawstring waist, which adds to your shape, but still hides whatever you’re trying to keep hidden. At $41, this tunic has kimono sleeves as well, which adds a modern touch to an already great piece.
In your 50s, you can stay in fashion by thinking about styles but not falling on the trend wagon, not overdoing color, and using your accessories to make your wardrobe sparkle.
Your 60s and beyond: elegance
I don’t want to forget my lovely ladies in their 60s and 70s, but I’m just guessing they probably have a style all of their own and they might not want anyone to suggest they change it. So, I’ll simply give you a few tips, just in case you were looking for a change.
Women in this age group always scream elegance to me, and I believe that’s exactly how they should dress. Timeless fashion is the way to go for anyone in this category: tweed suits, trousers and coatdresses are must haves, and in contrasting hues such as black, white and red are the most chic for you as well. Not to mention, this is a time of luxury, and you can definitely spend a little more on fabric and tailoring for yourself as well.
In general, I don’t know if there are any rules you MUST follow at any age when striving to be fashion forward, other than just one: be yourself. If you can’t be happy in your shoes, then buy a different pair.
But never forget you are the only one who has to actually like them. Fashion, at any age, is all about you. So smile, because you are all beautiful, no matter what your number is!
Morone’s column is published on the third Friday of each month.