Wednesday Bubble: “Age-appropriate” dress for women over 50?

Posted by on Aug 11, 2010 in appearance | 29 comments

Don’t know about you but I’m no dummy. Nor do I want to look like anyone else. So, when I ran across a post the other day claiming that women over 50 should be dressing age-appropiately, I just about lost it. Who’s a dummy?

In the author’s opinion:

  • Wearing jeans sends a message that you are trying to recapture one’s youth; even boot cut jeans are inappropriate.
  • Shorts shouldn’t be worn because they send a message that the woman over 50 is trying to look young and hip. Rather, capris are more age-appropriate and flattering.
  • Women over 50 should not wear tank tops in public.
  • Short skirts should not be worn by women over age 35. Rather, knee length is appropriate.

What planet is this woman living on? Moreover, what decade is she living in?

Women over 50 should wear what they feel comfortable wearing. Personally, I am not an advocate of tube tops (who is?), butt cracks, tummy rolls or writing across the ass. Yet, I feel that self-expression is just that — self expression — and I don’t want anyone telling me or anyone else what to wear when, where or how. Like many women my age, I work out regularly and am in great shape. I wear low-cut jeans, tank tops and shorts both at home and in public. I am not trying to make any statement other than this is me and this is how I feel comfortable.

When I think “fifty and older,” I think of Madonna, Meryl Streep and Lauren Hutton, women who have excelled at self-expression and breaking societal rules about age and appearance, rules that don’t apply equally to their male counterparts. When I think “fifty and older,” I think about forced invisibility in the workplace and in society and about ways to counter that. However, when I think “older than fifty,” I do not think old maid, marm, has-been, washed up, ancient or dead.

Ageism is a slippery slope and it’s time that women stop being told that they are supposed to act and dress a certain way based on decade old myths. Seriously, wake up. This is the 21st Century.  And in this century, fifty is the NEW, well, fifty.

I’ve got a message for the author: self expression is important, no matter one’s age. Let’s put aside the “should’s” and bring women out of the dark ages.


  1. 8-11-2010

    I’m with you, Liz. To each her own. And, anyway, what if the — completely age-appropriate! — message that a given 50 woman wants to send is “I’m sexy and worth paying attention to”?

    • 8-11-2010

      So true Tim. I guess that what troubles me most is the perpetuation of the stereotypes, that women become has-beens as they age and hence, invisible. Frankly, the older I get, the less I buy into the rules. Thanks for commenting.

  2. 8-11-2010

    No “boot leg jeans”? Crazy. I can’t STAND these type of articles. I recently read in a women’s magazine that women over 40 should abandon foundation. Hey, I still get acne on occasion.
    Great post Liz. Well said!

    • 8-11-2010

      Abandon hope to all the enter here [the 40s]. How about a lot less do’s/don’ts and a lot more, love and express yourself? Thanks for the comment Lisa!

  3. 8-11-2010

    Well said sista!

    It is the same thing for us curvy women. We are told to wear this or that color, cover this, hide that, blah, blah, blah. While I follow some general fashion principles, such as not not wearing white-white before Easter, it is MY choice. If others don’t, then so be it, it is their choice…funny how that works, grown folks get to do what they want…because they’re GROWN.

    • 8-11-2010

      It’s so funny. You think you move out of one set of principles and get thrust into another. Like you say, Shannon, we are grownups and should be able to make our own decisions, including what we wear.

    • 8-11-2010

      Here here! Trendsetters don’t follow rules.

      • 8-11-2010

        Couldn’t have said it better Nina! Thanks!

  4. 8-11-2010

    Great, timely post, Liz. Last night on the news, I was watching a story about how women over 40 are pretty-much has-beens… What decade is that person living in? I break all those rules and I can.

    I believe that the best way a woman over 30, 40, 50, etc. should dress is in a way she feels most comfortable with. “Rules”…. I’ve always been about breaking them anyway.

    • 8-11-2010

      Lori, has been at 40? Wow, that means that we are both over the has been phase and entering dead! It’s about time to stop objectifying women. So far as I am concerned, the fact that the original post was written by a woman makes it even worse.

  5. 8-11-2010

    I’m a few years shy of 60 and have about 12 pair of jeans, boot cut and otherwise, in my current rotation. And I look damn good in them, if I do say so myself. I also wear short skirts, which flatter my short stature. I’m not trying to be “hip” (a word that has almost no meaning these days), I’m simply trying to be exactly who I am.

    Who is this arbiter of 50+ fashion and where is she getting her screwball ideas?

    Hey,lady, June Cleaver called and wants her fashion advice back.

    • 8-11-2010

      Thanks Candace. You are one hot tamale if I may say so myself, especially when you rock those pink boots. And you nailed it: you are simply trying to be who you are. My point exactly. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  6. 8-11-2010

    My mother is 76 and rocks some jeans, tank tops and shorts. Her legs are almost as good as Tina Turners! How about people should dress for their body type, comfort, expression, the climate, and lifestyle?

    • 8-11-2010

      Hell yeah Marla! All that and more!

  7. 8-12-2010

    Ok, I am not 50 … yet. I have purple streaks in my hair right now. Granted, I put them there just for BlogHer – but when I’m 105 I will put purple in my hair again if it makes me smile. Do I think older women look good when they dress like my teen daughter? No, I think they look like they’re trying too hard. Do I really give a shit if it makes them happy? No, I don’t. I will wear jeans for life … why can’t a person wear jeans? I live in Orange County. It’s hot here – I will wear shorts for life. Will I wear shorts and let my 90 year old ass hang out? No, but I didn’t let my ass hang out when I was 20 either. People need to wear what makes them happy and what they feel comfortable in. I just bought some skinny black jeans when I was in NYC and you know what? They look pretty damn hot! : )

    • 8-12-2010

      Twenty-Four AH- you hit the nail. ‘They look pretty damn hot, grin.’ The clothing you bought makes you feel good and look good. Enough said. No explanations required. Purple hair. Fun. Enough said. No explanation required. I am tired to feeling as though as a woman nearing 50 (a bit too quickly I might add), I have to apologize. Apologize for what I wear, for my wrinkles, gray hair, a few sags and for wanting to excel at a career and be compensated appropriately. Apologize for being alive and aging. Apologize. Period. It’s not for me and for anyone else for that matter. Be yourself – that’s what’s so beautiful about you. p.s. enjoy the new jeans!

  8. 8-13-2010

    I try to gently (okay not always to gently) beat this info into my reader’s heads on a weekly basis on my blog “Does this look good on me?” and have a great time doing it.

    It’s never about following what a fashion magazine… put together by twenty-somethings.. is telling you what to do. It’s about finding your personal style. What works for you and you alone. We are all unique!

    Thanks for a thoughtful post.

    • 8-13-2010

      Thank you Sueanne! It’s so true – follow your own fancy, always. Nothing should dictate. Will need to check out your blog for some other valuable tidbits.

  9. 1-10-2011

    I will be 60 February 7, 2011. I am not bragging but my body looks like a woman in her 30’s. I work out most every day. I want to wear fun clothes but feel self-conscious because my face does not look 30. what to do?

    • 1-10-2011

      Mary – brag away! You deserve to. Like you, its my workouts that keep me looking good, along with healthy living. But I say wear what you like and what you feel good in. Your exterior will always reflect your interior. No reason not to wear fun if you feel fun. Go for it!

    • 6-24-2011


      Hey…. You have self confidence already!!! Attitude, fitness and faith. Perfect combo for self confidence. There are many out there who are not “hotties”… either have a nice bod…average looks or average bod….good looks and they put it all to use. Personality is the key and how you come across to others. Read my post… others are gonna talk yeah….. but oh well! Go out have fun…. relax!!!! Once you do it will all start to happen. Keep the faith girl. And keep doing what your doing you may be getting older…. but what is the saying the older you get the better you get. Many young girls probably envy you and hope they are at 60 like you are. Looking good and spreading the word!!!!!


  10. 6-21-2011

    Hello all! I like this forum, i organize many interesting people on this forum.!!!

    Large Community, respect all!

  11. 6-24-2011

    I am with you sista…….!!! What convent does this woman reside at? I will be 51 in Sept. and I am told I look early to mid 40s. I spent 13 years with the Marines and one of my jobs was Asst. Weight Control/Training NCO. Believe me I know all about exercise and diet (though I admit I love some junk food). I to love tank tops… cut off jean shorts and the like. I do not wear what shows my tummey though some of my shirts/tops breeze the top of my jeans/capris. Now, if I had sideboards and flab no I would redirect what I wear but again what I feel I look good in and can wear. To also include some short (not the 14″ and shorter) and long skirts as well. It is all about how you feel and look…. you look in the mirror the image that startes back at you is the one you have to answer to.

    I have learned through the years when those who make the snide/negative remarks they do they are insecure, or jealous or can’t wear whatever due to weight or just wants to rant or all the above. If those people look around at EVERY AGE GROUP they will see that those even in their 20-30 and 40’s can’t wear certain things because of how they look and carry themselves. I know ladies in their 60’s and 70’s who look amazing in a bikini and they really play it off. Large women wearing short tops, etc…. Why? Confidence, Attitude, Fitness and the “I don’t give a $hit as to what others think….” I love Goldi Hawn and Helen Mirren Sophia Loren…..

    So the woman who resides at Holier than Thou estates needs to get out and rrrrrrrrrreeeeeeeeeeaaaalllyyy look around….. Age has nothing to do with anything anymore. Keep the faith Liz….. I am going to change into my bikini now 🙂


  12. 7-31-2011

    разрешение на продажу средств для похудения меридиа линдакса редуксинклиники похудения тольяттийога для похудения отзывыдиета похудей быстро и не набирай сброшенные килограммыкто похудел быстро и эффективнокифирно-гречневаядиетасамая эффективная программа похудениядиета не пить ни есть два дняподсчет баллов по рецепту кремлевская диетадиета при сахарном диабете 2 типа диетанеправильное питание вред здоровьстудень на кремлевской диете можнопохудела на 60 кг фотокак же все-таки похудеть без вреда здоровью в 57 леттренировачные упражнения для похудения и проблемных зонмагияеские мантры и мудры для третьего глаза и похудениелечебная диета 5 менюдиетический стол 5 что входит2-х недельная диетасамая новая диета

  13. 10-16-2011

    My husband and I are getting divorced partly because of my “inapropriate” clothing, he was/is angry with me because I lost weight (at the same time he makes fun of big people even though he is overweight himself) work out and buy new clothing, he does not want me wearing shorts, bikinis, low riding jeans, dresses with cleavage etc. I am 48, lift weights, run and my body is like that of a fit woman half my age and if want to wear Daisy Duke shorts, bikinis, jeans and lowcut tops I will do so and if anyone has a problem with that they can go and get F#@&%@!

    • 10-17-2011

      Elena – you go girl! To thine own self be true. Sounds like you look and feel great!

      • 10-22-2011

        Thanks Liz

  14. 4-28-2012

    I’m 52 years old and damn proud of it. I look darned good for my age, and I work hard to keep it that way. I’ve been flirted with by men of all ages including my husband, and having someone appreciate the effort I make everyday – is all worth it. There is no one on this earth that can convince me that their way of dressing is the proper way. Not even my husband could get me to wear the little housefrau dresses he used buy me so I would look ”appropriately’ dressed for church – not especially when trying them on made me feel like Aunt Bee… Thankfully hubby has learned his lesson and now can hardly wait to see what I come up with next to wear. I love to wear jeans, tank tops, shorts, leather jackets, boots, and any other fashion style that captures my fancy. As for over-30 women being told to discard their makeup… I got news for the medieval cretin that thought of that one. The south-end of Hades will freeze over before I toss out my Mary Kay.

    • 4-30-2012

      Amen! Rock it girl!


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