The ultimate guide to style after 50
26th July 2018
Think of fashion, and many imagine tall, long-limbed teens walking the catwalk, or scantily-clad reality TV stars’ This can often make dressing over 50 seem like an impossible task, as it feels like the world is favouring the young.
These preconceptions can make it hard for over 50s to fully embrace fashion and individual style, especially when their confidence is knocked by limitations like mobility aids, inside and outside the home, like walkers and curved stairlifts.
This article will look at some of the ways people can embrace over 50s fashion, as well as talking to those who already do.
How can someone embrace over 50s fashion?
There are many ways everyone can embrace fashion over 50, and there are many aids out there to help those that feel tentative. Whatever dress sense, style or price range, everyone will be able to find their signature look, and enjoy a second fifty looking just as good as they did in their first. This article takes a look at some of the ways over 50’s can start to embrace their fashionable future.
A fantastic way to start out for those on a budget and with any style is a capsule wardrobe. The idea is simple, buying neutral items that can be used in a combination of ways to make every outfit someone may need. This method allows for a style overhaul, and it takes the pressure out of trying to pick from a large selection of items every morning.
A couple of starter tips for creating a capsule wardrobe are:
- Ensure all pieces are neutral
- Ensure all pieces follow a similar colour scheme
When it comes to the amount in a capsule collection, it is entirely up to the wearer's discretion. Try starting with a small number of items and then add more where needed. There are many resources on the internet perfect for helping to build a capsule wardrobe.
A capsule wardrobe can also be used as a base for other things. A pop of colour can be added by bringing in choice pieces that will bounce off of a more neutral palette, for example.
Look for inspiration that actually inspires
Comparisons shouldn’t be drawn with those teens we discussed earlier walking the catwalk, because those comparisons can make anyone unhappy. The beauty of growing older is the change you witness, both in yourself and in the world around you. Embracing that change and being proud and self-confident brings the perfect final touch to any outfit. It’s okay to not be comfortable taking inspiration from millennials wearing eccentric outfits, and by no means do you have to take inspiration from them.
Although, a brighter and bolder style can also be embraced well in older age. A fantastic example of an older women embracing the millennial way of life is 88—year old Baddie Winkle. She has taken the internet by storm with her eccentric and youthful outfits and outlook on life.
At the end of the day, we all have to pick the clothes that make us the most confident version of ourselves. Because confidence is the best look anyone can wear and helps us pull off every outfit.
Style and fashion are different things
Something that is always important to remember is that style and fashion are two different things. Whereas fashion is an everchanging and fluid thing, style is something someone embodies, and something that can be worked without having to stick to fashion.
Fashion is your relationship with the outside world, what is found in stores, what is seen on television, what people are talking about. Style is self-identity, the energy you are putting out into the world and how you reflect yourself in what you are wearing. It’s important to remember this when deciding on an outfit, and make sure you are being true to your style, and not just the fashion around you.
Don’t shy away from bold prints
A lot of people feel insecure in older age, and find they accommodate that by trying to wear more muted colours, trying to blend in. It’s important not to shy away from bold prints and colours in later life. Often just a splash of colour can bring life to an outfit.
Instead of shying away from bold prints, learn to embrace them. The life they bring to an outfit, and even a situation, should be welcomed. Instead of resigning to a life of muted tones and dull shades, take this time to adventure with fashion choices. One of the best things about greying hair is that it will look fantastic next to a pop of colour, embrace that and use it to your advantage!
Don’t overdo it with the print, just a bold piece in every outfit can go a long way. For the ladies, a bold jacket can add sophistication and confidence to any outfit, and for men a bright tie or bold pocket square can add the little pop needed to boost any outfit.
Talking to some style icons
Josephine is a writer at Chicatanyage, a website she has dedicated to becoming a fashion resource for women over 50. Josephine has spent most of her life in the fashion industry, starting in fashion PR and training as an image consultant. She recalls when she first became interested in fashion: “Very early. I have a memory age 5 of wanting to wear a pink frilly dress. Then definitely into fashion during the 60s in my teens.”
Josephine spoke about why she thinks mature adults can lose touch with their own sense of style: “I think historically it has been due to peer pressure and images in the media. Luckily that is beginning to change and there are an increasing number of role models of older women looking fashionable. Also, in my opinion many shops and brands have not yet caught up with the growing interest in fashion for our demographic.”
Finally, she offered style tips for those looking to reinvent themselves after 50: “Follow some of the many blogs that are now catering for older women. Observe women in daily life sitting in cafes and in the street and notice how they dress. Pinterest is a good resource for inspiration.”
Grey Fox Blog
David of the Grey Fox Blog. David writes about menswear style and fashion for the older man, especially bringing in his interest in British-made products. David spoke to us about his interest in style and how he first started Grey Fox Blog: “I’m not really interested in fashion as such; fashion is about following others, while style is about finding personal expression through dressing well. I always quite liked looking smart – I was a lawyer and needed to look reasonably presentable – but it wasn’t until some seven years ago (I was 56 at the time) that I decided to explore the whole question of style by writing about it in a blog. I set out to describe my search for style as an older man. I thought I’d run out of things to say after a few weeks but am still going strong after nearly seven years!”
David spoke about when and why people stop wearing what they want to and start wearing what they feel like they should: “I think it happens during our forties. There are several possible reasons: we are established in our careers and relationships and feel there is no longer a need to try to look good and stylish: complacency has set in just when we should be trying harder! The brands stop trying to sell to older people (despite the fact that nearly half of all consumer spending is by people over 50) so we buy fewer stylish clothes and accessories. Our bodies change shape and we feel we needn’t bother trying to look good – again; just when we should try harder! We wrongly assume that comfort doesn’t equate with style and buy grungy clothes that do nothing for us. In fact, making the effort makes us visible again, we enjoy being complimented, and it helps our work and personal relationships to be seen to make an effort over appearances.”
Finally, David shared some advice for those who are looking to regain their sense of style: “To start with follow some of the stylish older men and women on Instagram for ideas and inspiration – I’m here on Instagram and from there you will find some older men of style. Read my blog or (for women) I can recommend That’s Not My Age for ideas. Start with simple classic clothes. It’s essential that they fit well; the commonest mistake that men make is to buy clothes which don’t fit well. Jackets should fit well across chest and shoulders, arms not too short or long – and the same for trousers. Use an alterations tailor or, if you can, buy made to measure or even bespoke clothes. Buy the best you can afford (sales are great) but buy fewer. Go easy on colour and pattern until you’ve built up some confidence and experience. Get in touch if I can help!”
That’s not my age
Next up is That’s Not My Age writer Alyson, who is also the author of brand-new book ‘Know your style’ which is full of tips and interviews with women of style and substance. She spoke to us about the advice she has for those interested in exploring their style identity after 50: “Great style isn’t about buying tons of new stuff, or chasing the latest trends, but spending time figuring out what works for you. Whether that’s experimenting with different shapes, silhouettes and textures, mixing high and low fashion or sticking to a tried-and-tested formula, style is a very personal thing and often comes down to trial and error. Don’t be afraid to try on new things, old things (make time to experiment with what you already have) and combinations of old and new things - you might find a winning combination and surprise yourself.
“One of my favourite pieces of advice came from the New York stylist and entrepreneur Linda Rodin who said to me, 'Forget about the wrinkles and focus on the silhouette.’”
Alyson discussed where her interest in fashion first started: “As a teenager, I was into music which led me to become interested in fashion and identity. It was all very DIY in the seventies and I wore a lot of second-hand clothes and military garb. I was still at school when punk exploded and a bit too young (and uncool) to get fully behind the movement but it was a huge influence. The women whose style I admired were Debbie Harry and Patti Smith; artists who appreciated the importance of image and aesthetics, as well as music. I went on to study a fashion degree in Manchester.”
Finally, Alyson spoke to us about the issue with over 50s not seeing themselves as ‘fashionable’: “Part of the problem, I think, is that we don't see enough realistic images of people who look like us. When I started That's Not My Age it was because I wanted to celebrate the fact that 'it's not about age, it's about style.' The fashion industry has always been obsessed by youth, but older people are cool too. We don’t just disappear off the radar once we’re over 50 - though there has been a lack of representation in traditional media. That was 10 years ago, and since then there has been a huge shift in attitudes and we are seeing more images of older women (and men) in advertising campaigns; more magazines, websites and blogs catering for the over 50s. All of which is a very positive move.
“Prescriptive style rules about what you should and shouldn’t wear over a certain age, don't help, either. I'm a firm believer in wearing what you please (and what pleases you), clothes that fit well and look good and make you feel more confident. It's worth spending time to find clothes that make you feel comfortable in all senses of the word.”
Image Credit: Chicatanyage, Grey Fox Blog, Tom Edwards Photography, Claire Pepper.
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