Women don't have to stop dressing stylishly at 40 -- in fact, there are many cute outfits you can wear at any age. While you might be cautious about showing too much skin or looking too trendy, classic shapes like shift dresses and boot-cut jeans look fabulous.
Every woman, no matter her age, looks fantastic in a pair of dark, boot-cut jeans. Women over 40 should skip overly trendy denim: bejeweled, distressed and skin-tight pairs are out. Instead, go for classic colors and cuts paired with a silk blouse or an embroidered tunic top, possibly belted to emphasize the waist. To avoid the dreaded "mom-jeans" look, choose jeans that fit snugly just below the waist and are flat against your hips -- no pleats.
Women over 40 look smart in the office in tailored sheath dresses paired with a belted cardigan or crisp blazer. Try a fun color or print for a trendy look that is still age-appropriate. Unless you work in a very formal environment, pantsuits and matching blazers and skirts can be an outdated look. Tweed trousers with a cardigan look fresh in the office. Skip polyester fabrics in favor of tweed, wool or silk.
Maxi dresses are a great new trend that flatter women over 40. For an afternoon wedding or cocktail party, choose a maxi that lightly skims your curves. Too baggy, and you'll look casual; too tight, and the look will be inappropriate. Wear a light shawl over your shoulders to ward off chills. For an evening event, try kitten heels and a knee-length A-line dress. One cute combination would be a black dress and leopard print kitten heels.
Hot weather can be a challenge for women over 40. While you don't want to show as much skin as, say, your teenage daughter, you feel frumpy in baggy T-shirts. Instead, try a pair of flat-front white or black shorts that hit just above the knee with a lightweight blouse (ruffles and prints are great choices), a belt and wedge sandals. You'll stay cool and look both cute and age-appropriate. At the beach, you could try one of the new '40s-inspired ruched one-pieces.