The Rich Life On a Budget

Do You Dress Your Age?

***See the rewritten version of this post here.

Dressing your age. What are the rules? How do you know when you’re too old to wear a miniskirt? Or a bikini? How about the some of the latest styles, such as jumpers? Oversized round sunglasses? Or “booty shorts”?

I’m 42. Miniskirts are a no-no as are shorts shorter than a couple inches above my knee (excepting running or yoga shorts). I still wear bikinis because my husband prefers them on me and has threatened divorce if I wear a tankini or a one piece.

I stay away from trendy handbags, loud colors and heavy embellishments. I also don’t wear clothing with big logos, light colored denim past my waist and more than two or three accessories at once. Here’s an example:

Look at her figure! She has a pretty face, too. Strip away the head-to-toe hot pink, rhinestones, fake tan, bleached out hair (and all those letters) and she’s an attractive, fit woman of about 45 years.

Picture her in a solid primary color knee-length sundress with simple flat or low-wedge sandals, a couple of metallic bangles, a quality leather or straw handbag and her hair pulled back in a low pony tail or French twist. And nothing more. She would look fantastic! With half the effort, she would be twice as striking.

Seeing her made me think about the way I dress. Do I always dress my age? I’m quite modest now, so it’s easy for me say “au revoir” revealing clothing. But I have a pair of Joe’s jeans I bought about five years ago that, thanks to my recent weight loss, I’m able to wear again. They have holes on the pockets and the knee; not so chic for a woman my age.

But I still wear them. Why? Because they improve the appearance of my derrière. I’m willing to overlook a couple holes if my butt looks better. I’m shallow like that.

I also know that robin’s egg blue polish on my toes is something meant for younger women. But I happen to like that shade of blue. So what the heck! I don’t think the color of my toe nails will offend anyone (let me know if I’m wrong).

When you’re young, you can get away with almost anything. Take these girls, for example:

Notice that they’re not embarrassed, or giggling or acting goofy. These girls are struttin’ their stuff with animal hats on their heads, giant sunglasses and short shorts – and they can because they’re young!

As I have aged, I have become more discerning about my clothing choices. I don’t want to appear matronly, but I certainly don’t want to look like I’m trying to be someone I’m not….like a 22 year old. It’s not always easy to find that middle ground.

Once in a great while,  I wear something I suspect is on the border of not being age appropriate because it makes me feel attractive, my husband likes it or I’m feeling rebellious. But usually, I go with my instincts. If I sense my outfit is inappropriate, I won’t wear it.

Do you have something in your wardrobe that you think might not be age appropriate?

22 thoughts on “Do You Dress Your Age?

  1. Ex-Pat At Heart

    I have a hoodie that has tiny metallic studs on it (scary, I know), I don’t wear it often, but sometimes I pull it out and put it on. When I do, my kids tell me I’m stylin’ or hip and then I generally know I’ve crossed the age line. I think it’s easy to pull off some “younger” looks when you pair them with more classic looks like your blue nailpolish and very stylish gladiators. Your holey jeans would be quite chic for knocking around with a button front white shirt. Fun post. Thanks.

    -Karin

  2. the gardeners cottage

    hi adrienne,

    i have been wanting to do a post on this for awhile now. glad you did and i don’t have to. you think up great stuff to talk about.

    i too see so many beautiful women screw up their looks with trying to be young. of course i’m in the business of making women try and look younger but honestly if they dressed their age,they’d look 1000x times younger.

    but now that i’m 52 just b/c i can still fit into clothes in the jr. dept. does not mean i should wear them. things happen to our bodies as we age. our skin loses elasticity and droops and gets age spots and veins and what do we do about that? do we stay covered up from head to toe in the summer heat? i am a very conservative dresser by nature so i’m ok being covered up. but the lady in the pink above, maybe she feels like you do about your blue polish and torn jeans. i think we should all just do what makes each one of us feels good. when we go to the beach and i see really older women walking freely in a bikini with their tanned skin i am so jealous. not of their bodies but of their acceptance of their bodies. am i making any sense here? it’s a personal choice that we each have to make.

    ~janet

  3. LRS4AMANDA

    Hi Adrienne,

    Now that I will be 53 in 2 weeks I have been giving my closet a harder look! I also own 2 pairs of Joe’s jeans which I do wear, but (gasp!) I bought a pair of “Not Your Daughter’s jeans” recently. Mainly because they are cut higher in the waist. I am normal weight but as age as crept up I have that extra stuff around the hips that all the exercising in the world doesn’t get rid of. I just wish they made them longer. (I’m 5′ 10″)

    And I just bought some darker blue nail polish recently…my daughter works at a beauty supply so she keeps me up with the trends. (but I know where to draw the line) Plus getting a 40% discount is the best part!

    That picture of the women you posted reminds me of my next door neighbor. Really tan, bleach blond, and she owns a pair of the velour pants with Bebe on the butt. And she is almost 57! I own one pair of Pink sweats but they are only worn around the house!

    Linda

  4. Amy

    Heck Adrienne, there are days I can’t remember how old I am (43)! I had my only baby at 42 and am back in college again. As you can see I am out of sorts, I haven’t played life in the appropriate order. Although I think I dress ok.

    I always have dressed a bit tame (Banana Rep/ J Crewish), a black turtleneck, capri pants, scarf and kitten heals. That’s a nice outfit to me. Not a fan of all the logos on clothes, perhaps when I was younger and wanted to impress more. Less is always more ya know. Think of all the beautiful French women, they have a sense of class and don’t go overboard. The most important way to be young is take care of skin and minimal makeup. Excellent posts!!!

  5. what's her bucket

    I’m conservative which makes me a rare breed in Las Vegas. You want to see women dressing gaudy, come here. Of course not every woman in Las Vegas dresses in rhinestones, but we do have our share. I admire the moxie of women who wear what they want to regardless of their age, but I think they would look better in something more age appropriate and flattering. I think they call that a Make Under instead of a Make Over. My Mom loves Chico’s and some of their things are cute, but I resist buying anything there because in my mind that would surely make me old! I’m a Banana Republic chick all the way (and their pants are long enough for me too). PS- I wore bright, blue, sparkly toenail polish this summer – quite a leap for me. It was fun and most important, not permanent.

  6. Adrienne

    Karin,

    I think it’s fun to occasionally wear one thing that may be pushing the age limit. But I think that women look like they are trying too hard when they overdo it.

    Janet,

    Maybe the woman in the pink was wearing that outfit because it’s her husband’s favorite, or maybe she thinks it’s a flattering outfit, she’s in great shape after all. But somehow I think she’s trying to be someone she isn’t – like a 20-something. I shouldn’t presume to know her or what she thought when she put that outfit on, but I got a vibe that she doesn’t feel comfortable as a 45 year old woman and she’s trying to grasp what’s left of her youth.
    We can all wear what we want. It’s a freedom we take for granted. But I want to stay in touch with what looks good on me and that means hiding the wrinkles, creases and droops that you mentioned from the eyes of others. Except at the beach or pool where it’s mostly a free for all!

    Linda,

    Funny about your neighbor. There is a woman in her mid to late 60’s I see walking her dog around our local lake park wearing tiny shorts with the word “PINK” plastered on her rear. It’s sort of cute, actually.

    I’m tall as well and get my jeans at Banana Republic online for the length. They cost less than Joe’s and very long at 36″. Have you their jeans?

    Chrissy,

    I’ve seen some interesting women in Vegas. It’s a great people-watching town. You are in a class by yourself there!

    I’ve never purchased anything at Chico’s either – except a watch for my mom. There may come a day, though.

    The Banana Republic website has saved me from wearing too short pants and sleeves. I love their classic styles. I bought a trench coat there last year that I will have for many years to come.

    It’s good that blue toe nails aren’t permanent because today I like mine, but I bet they won’t last the week.

    Adrienne

  7. BODECI body

    I will share an ugly secret. I still have a pair of fabulous black cotton “short shorts” I purchased at Prada on Rodeo Dr. I purchased them Summer ’06, I was 48 and about to get married.

    You know how it goes when you walk into one of those stores. You kind of lose your mind. I am pretty sure the salesman thought I was nuts. Truthfully, I had to purchase something for a lot of money at Prada and you really don’t get much for a lot of money. I had to use a credit and I happened to be in LA.

    The expense made me think I should wear them a whole lot. But, they are not age appropriate.

    What do you think of my pairing them with black tights and flats for fall? An oversized sweater with three-quarter sleeves? I’ll have you take a look…

  8. Adrienne

    For what it’s worth:

    1. I think most of us today dress like utter and complete slobs (moi included)

    2. the pink outfit would be dreadful on anyone of any age.

    3. Those young girls are too pudgy for their outfits. If they had larger sizes on they would look much better. And I really don’t like short-shorts on any woman or girl. Too revealing and immodest.

    4. You have gorgeous feet and so blue polish looks great on you. I have some purple that I wear once in a while.

    4. American women dress the opposite of French women who purchase a few really good and well fitting items and accessorize carefully. We buy a gazillion inexpensive items and complain about having nothing to wear.

    5. I think JackieO is the quintessential well dressed American woman. Who doesn’t remember her signature styles like black knit tops with with white jeans or pants. Perfect!

    6. I’m 64 and have told my husband that if I ever come home with a polyester checked pantsuit in lime and white w/ top stitching to take me out back and shoot me ;-)

    P.S. Yorkies rule

  9. Adrienne

    Amy,

    I love that you are in college and have a baby at 43! Life sure changed for you recently!

    I love classic looks also. I went through a long and expensive trendy stage. But from here on out, it’s quality over quantity. I like capris with kitten heels on others, but I can’t walk very well in them. Ballet flats are more for me – otherwise I will hurt myself.

    Debra,

    I’ve got to see these hot pants! I think if the tights are on the thick side they may work. Are they wool?

    Adrienne,

    You tell it like it is! There is so much to like about you – your name, your taste in dogs and your thoughts on fashion.

    I agree that those young girls were a little chunky for the shorts and tight pants, but I’d rather see a teenager/young adult in that than shorts with their butt cheeks hanging out and midriff showing.

    I’m trying my hardest to shop and dress like our French counterparts. It’s hard to shed this American way of buying volume over quality. We are so conditioned to shop till we drop!

    Please tell me that no one makes such an outfit as you have described! That sounds atrocious!

    What is your Yorkie’s name? My two are named Daisy and Coco.

    Adrienne

    Adrienne

  10. Belle de Ville

    I think that a woman over 40 can get away with one young-ish element in her outfit if she has the body for it. She just can’t get away with multiple elements like the short shorts and the pink bebe blouse on the woman in your photo.

    On a hot day I might wear a sporty mini skirt with a t-shirt and flat shoes for a sporty occasion and I’m way too old for a skirt over my knees.

  11. Karena

    Hi Adrienne I think I look pretty good for my age, I know my downfalls though. Shorts are not for me. I like to be more traditional in the winter and in the summer go a little looser with flowy skirts etc.

    Classic is my mantra!

    A New Giveaway is on my site!
    xoxo

    Karena
    Art by Karena

  12. LRS4AMANDA

    Thanks Adrienne, I will try Banana Republic. I always wonder where women taller than me find their jeans! I need about a 36″ inseam which is why I like Joe’s, they run longer. But I only buy them when I can get them at a discount!

    Have you tried the jean leggings? I bought 2 pairs last year to wear with boots. Love them! :)

    Linda

  13. Fiona

    Another interesting post Adrienne. I am really, really enjoying your blog. I’ve always been a pretty classic dresser – I found a magazine article tucked away with some things of mine at my Dad’s house recently. It was from the late eighties when I was about 17 and it detailed the wardrobe classics – dark jeans, white shirt, ballet flats, aviators etc. Funny that I like those things now too. I think one young-ish element is OK with classic clothing as it shakes things up a bit. The quintessential French girl isn’t all conservative, she adds her twist. Like your blue toe-nails.

  14. Adrienne

    Debra,

    Let’s take a look at those hot pants – if you don’t want to keep them, I bet they would fetch a little moola on Ebay.

    Belle de Ville,

    I agree – I think that if you are over 40, you should know by now what your assets are and can play them up with something on the younger side while hiding your deficits.

    Karena,

    I told my husband last night how I found your blog and your fascinating story about your Roederer lineage. He was impressed like me!

    Classic is always best no matter what your age, yes?

    Linda,

    I am afraid skinny jeans and leggings aren’t flattering on me. Even with boots. But I hate trying to shove my jeans into tall boots. I guess you have had success with their jean leggings. Maybe I should be daring and try them. Yikes!

    Justmeinsoca,

    I started thinking/worrying about dressing my age in my mid-30’s. I would see moms my age shopping with their teenage or pre-teen daughters and it was obvious they shared a wardrobe. They just looked silly!

    Fiona,

    The items you mentioned seem to be the standard. I received a book I ordered in the mail yesterday called “The Parisian Woman’s Guide to Style” by Virginie and Veronique Morana. It was published in 1999. Some of the clothes are dated, but the standards remain the same: white button down shirts, black pants, cashmere sweaters, basic black dresses, high-end handbags, and trench coats. I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, but I have a sneaking suspicion I’ll be posting about it soon.

    Adrienne

  15. LRS4AMANDA

    Adrienne,

    I just make sure whatever sweater/jacket I am wearing is that it covers my butt. (because even though they are denim material they are snug) Have to be age appropriate you know! Found some at Express that came in blue and black, it really does solve the issue of stuffing the jeans in the boots. I first saw them on one of the few episodes I watched last year of Oprah, I think it was one of her “age defying” makeover shows.

    Linda

  16. Sara Louise

    I really like the color on your toes, and toenails are a place I think you can get a little wacky with the color whatever the age.
    And I think the jeans are great, especially since they’re a darker color. I’m sure you look fantastic in them and pull them off perfectly :-)

  17. Victoria

    You hit the nail on the head – “she would look twice as good with half the effort.” I think I am a victim of that. AND I have way too many clothes that don’t work with anything else, or are ill-fitting. It’s time to go back to classics I think. And the “less is more” attitude.

    Since I just turned 30 I vacillate between wanting to keep looking college-age and being very aware that I am NOT! I try to curb my itch for trends with accessories, since they are easily taken away. I’d include finger and toenail polish in that category – you can change them easily, so rock your robin’s egg blue!

  18. Colleen

    I realize this is an older post but I so love this topic.:) I am 30 years old and like to dress like a lady, I suppose, as old fashioned as that sounds, not all prim and proper but well put together? Classy? I like knee length skirts and dresses and nice jeans etc., but you asked what we may have in our own closets that may not be age appropriate. A grungy Rolling Stones tee with the huge lips/tongue logo across the chest. I love it. Seriously. But I suspect it isn’t very chic to wear that logo emblazoned across the chest at any age.;)

  19. une femme

    My feeling is…Trust Your Instincts. If you think something might no longer be appropriate, you won’t feel confident wearing it and you *will* look out of place. I think everyone has to account for their shape and their own personal comfort level and style (ms. Bebe notwithstanding). I’ve *always* been modest about showing a lot of skin, so it was never a struggle for me to cover up a bit more as I got older. I do think jeans are ageless.

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