What Older Women Wish You Knew About Their Style

Here at Who What Wear, we believe that great style transcends age and can be found as easily in a young person as it can it someone older. Society at large, however, often paints older women as outside of fashion—stereotyping them in ways that are not only cruel but also untrue. And with all the amazing older women in our life—whether they be our friends, our family or our employers—we've learned how irritating this can be.

Although the fashion industry has made strides in the last year to welcome those over 50 into the fold, there’s still more work to be done. For starters, they deserve more of a voice within mainstream fashion press, so we thought we’d get the ball rolling by asking 8 real women what they wish people (and brands) understood better about their style.

Scroll down to find out what they had to say!

1. What do you wish the media and society at large understood about your style as an older woman?

"As an older woman, I'm less focused on what is 'in style,' but rather what fits MY style. We are not trying to go where the fashion wind blows us. We are looking at interesting ways to express our unique selves. To me, fashion is not just 'today's look,' but, rather, a way to make the abiding idea of who I am continually fresh. Always familiar and, yet, surprising."

2. Do you have any style concerns or preferences now that you didn't have when you were younger?

"I'm more interested in things that have a timelessness and sense of authenticity than fadish here-today-gone-tomorrow [pieces]. I'm always looking for quality in the materials and workmanship, as well as beauty in the overall impression. I've become more focused on the same color palate, but look for ways to add fresh details (vs. a whole new look)."

1. What do you wish the media and society at large understood about your style as an older woman?

"It’s been said that if a trend comes around the second time for you, you’d better ignore it. To a certain extent I do think that’s a caution worth considering, but some trends like wedges or wide-leg pants have come around several times and work well for most people regardless of age. At some point style-conscious women develop their own style, regardless of trends. But they know how to accommodate trends into their own style as they come and go without being disruptive.

As a short person, for example, I have never worn a lot of prints, even when they are current. So I might take my classic pencil skirt and add a print blouse with a solid cardigan or jacket. Or, I’d save the print dress for a special occasion piece. When orchid was a big color (and it’s one I’d never really worn) I bought a belt and a necklace and wore them separately with my [neutrals]. Trends do not look good on everyone and, at some point, you have to wear what works for you. We all see older women who are so on-trend that they look like they’re trying way too hard. I don’t want to be that woman."

2. Do you have any style concerns or preferences now that you didn't have when you were younger?

"I am much more interested in fabric and construction than I ever was when I was younger. I also will spend a whole lot more on tailoring to get the right fit. I expect to wear clothes for more than a season, adding accessories and pieces to update them."

1. What do you wish the media and society at large understood about your style as an older woman?

"Honestly, I've never cared—I do sort of miss my [younger] days where it was safe and easy to "dress by label,” but those days are long gone and that's all to the good! I can still find almost everything I need, even in stores that are obviously geared towards the young (e.g. Uniqlo—a go-to for me even for dresses and tops. Obviously not everything works, but lots of things do.)

As far as the media goes, I have no complaints—I love to see things that are fun, creative, and smart, as well as beautiful young people looking their best, even if those looks would never work for me personally, it still brightens my spirits to see what's new."

2. Do you have any style concerns or preferences now that you didn't have when you were younger?

"Comfort!!! Easy management. I wear solid colours for the most part and Coach loafers for almost every occasion (and no, I don't care what people think about that—my feet come first). I won't buy anything that has to be dry-cleaned or ironed and I won't follow any trends (such as bare legs, crop tops, dramatic makeup) that expose my worst features or cause me to shudder when I catch my reflection in the mirror."

1. What do you wish the media/society overall understood about your style as an older woman?

"It seems obvious, but, one size does NOT fit all. Women of any age group are not uniform (no pun intended) in their views or approach to style. Older women, say from their late forties and beyond, are quite a diverse demographic and often ignore market or societal constraints [telling them] to dress or look a certain way. Perhaps more so than at any other period of their lives, older women have arrived at a place of self-acceptance. They’ve embraced self-expression in numerous areas of life, including personal style."

2. Do you have any style concerns or preferences now that you didn't have when you were younger?

"I’m definitely more thought out and less impulsive with fashion purchases than I was in my teens, twenties and thirties. I value well-made, polished and slightly feminine styles. When I find pieces that please and flatter me, I want to be able to draw on them for many seasons to come. My choices tend toward tailored or fitted foundational pieces in solid colours that can be endlessly transformed with the addition of scarves, belts, jewellery and fun shoes."

1. What do you wish the media and society at large understood about your style as an older woman?

"I am 50 years old but I don't feel like an "old" lady. I much prefer being labeled a mature or sophisticated woman by the media. I feel like this age is the best time to shop and enjoy life, especially with my children no longer living at home."

2. Do you have any style concerns or preferences now that you didn’t have when you were younger?

"My style has become more about achieving comfort, while also feeling good about life. I don’t think the media gives us enough information on how to be both stylish and practical. Impractical style is more for the twenty and thirty-year-olds. My life revolves around work and being active/out in nature on the weekends, which is reflected in my [fashion choices]. I would be interested in seeing more articles that reflected style that emphasizes these healthy activities and keeping a healthy figure. Also, I would like to see more images and suggestions for business casual and modern looks for mature women. I prefer pants with short jackets or blouses and my favorite accessories are scarfs and hats. I think adding color with these items helps make me look younger, while keeping my base outfit classic."

1. What do you wish the media and society at large understood about your style as an older woman?

“To be honest, I haven't noticed the media spending much time or space on the style of older women. When older women are considered, it is usually coverage of people like Diane von Furstenberg—so uber-successful businesswomen, etc. While I admire these women, I do not have their lifestyle, so while what they wear may appeal to me, I’m probably not going to buy it. In other words, what about me, haha?! Where are the women who don't go to the office everyday, or to the Met Gala, who just want to be comfortable 24/7 and look nice, without wearing gym clothes from dawn to dusk? And who do not want to be accessorized to the eyeballs or have to take everything to the dry cleaner daily?

Look to coverage of Hillary Clinton for the best take on people not understanding older women and clothing. While I don't always love her style, I understand what she is doing. My body type is totally different from hers, yet we deal with the same issues. I know she is probably dealing with back fat, flappy upper arms, sagging abdominals, and a thickening waist. It gets ugly, people.

Granted, I do not follow fashion press. But the little bit I do see has never covered how a person’s body changes post-menopause, and what one should wear at that point that doesn't require Spanx from chin to ankles, or make you look like you’re trying to pretend you’re still in your twenties. I think that’s why my friends and I have taken the position of ‘who cares what they say.’ Frankly, older women who dress in the latest trends tend to look absurd because the fashion that gets all the coverage is not aimed at us. Other than coats, shoes, bags, etc. the latest stuff is for a younger crowd.”

2. Do you have any style concerns or preferences now that you didn't have when you were younger?

“There comes a point when wearing the uber-short dress or skirt just looks ridiculous on older women, so length becomes more important. Ditto for clingy stuff, unless one is incredibly toned, which is rare, and even if toned, your neck, face and hands tend to give away your real age.

I have always liked classic, tailored clothes. I used to try to break away from that look, but now have simply embraced it. I really just look best in it—it suits my body type as well as my age, and as a result I’m more comfortable. I’m still drawn to different styles, but have finally reached a point where I can admire them, but not buy them and suffer buyer's remorse. I now have a select few favourite brands (Eileen Fisher, Vince, etc.) something I didn't have when I was younger and could wear anything. I now know who cuts clothes a certain way, uses certain fabrics, and whose clothes best suit my body.”

1. What do you wish the media and society at large understood about your style as an older woman?

“Style doesn't change when you age, however, it does evolve. You continue to build upon what you love— you’ve had time to build a wardrobe and you really don't need anything. I do like to invest in accessories. Invest doesn't always mean expensive, but rather putting an emphasis on scarves, footwear and reading glasses!”

2. Do you have any style concerns or preferences now that you didn't have when you were younger?

“Reading glasses are a reality, an accessory that you use everyday. They’re a great way to update your style that is often overlooked. And monochromatic dressing is easier now and also allows you to update your look without investing in trends.

I don't feel the need [to have] specific brands or designers like I used to. Now, it’s about falling in love with something, rather than following something or someone.”

1. What do you wish the media and society at large understood about your style as an older woman?

“[There’s a] dearth of fashionable attire designed for older women, especially women who are normal weight or slim. Designers assume that smaller women are younger women. But who wants to see an older woman in a young adult’s fashions, complete with a bare skin midriff or super short hems? Brands that cater to the older set have small sizes that aren’t that small at all.

The negative stereotype of older women as frumpy is a reflection of the boxy tailoring of clothes marketed to us. Yes, the ravages of gravity mean that bodies change over time, but well-tailored clothes at a reasonable price would stop the griping from [most of us]. The choice now with most moderately priced clothing is to either look like a tent due to wide-cut styles or a tramp in the tighter styles. Older women would like to look classy and fashionable without having to purchase extremely expensive clothing.”

2. Do you have any style concerns or preferences now that you didn’t have when you were younger?

“Too much fun in the sun in the younger years means many have damaged skin that is loveliest when covered by three-quarter length or long sleeves and a higher neckline. Illusion fabrics or laces aid in camouflaging anything necessary. Cutouts are not likely to feature an area that [should be] exposed to the public. Slinky fabrics and Lycra are less flattering on mature women, so fabrics with more body to them create a better look.

The low-slung waists of the past several years are not flattering if you don’t have a board flat abdomen, something often lost once motherhood arrives. Although NYDJ has tried to help offer trendier cuts of jeans that older women can wear.

Comfortable shoes for older women mean a larger toe box to fit bunions without having to go to a larger width. High heels often have to be traded for kitten heels or flats if there is much walking involved as cranky joints often ruin an otherwise nice time.”

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What do you wish more people knew about style as it relates to age? Let us know in the comments!