Not long ago, once a woman reached age 50, it was generally expected that she would give up wearing trendy styles and settle into a more classic, matronly look. But mature women in the 21st century have worked hard to maintain their figures, and want to wear clothing that shows off their shape. The key to making it work is adapting contemporary styles so that they flatter each individual wearer.
Even when they are fit and trim, women over 50 are faced with the effects of gravity on their bust lines and derrieres. With menopause, it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain a trim waist and a flat stomach. Varicose veins and loose skin on the throat and upper arms are also unsightly realities for many mature women. Each of these concerns affects how a mature women's clothing fits, and may dictate what styles she should wear.
Many mature women continue to wear jeans into their 50s, 60s or even older, while opting for a higher rise than teenagers began to adopt in the late 20th century. Darker washes and more tailored styles are most flattering on an older woman. Michelle Obama, a stylish first lady in her 40s, has inspired many women by wearing colorful but tasteful clothes from J.Crew. Banana Republic also offers casual clothing that appeal to mature women, including an extensive and exclusively online collection of petite clothing.
Even with the increased availability of trendy styles for mature women, classic styles should remain a wardrobe staple, says FashionAfter50.com. Retro trends can actually make your wardrobe appear dated, the website warns, as if you saved the clothing until it came back in style. Shops such as Ann Taylor and Talbots cater to women seeking stylish career clothing with classic lines, as well as sport and resort wear, in petite and regular sizes.
For special occasions, if the budget allows, a shop like Barrie Pace stocks elegant dresses and timeless ensembles. Women can assemble an entire look, from the dress to outerwear to shoes, all at one store. Catalog houses such as Chadwicks offer entire lines of special occasion wear at discount prices, and cover the bases with clothes for petite, tall and plus-size women.
Adapting Trendy Styles
Many retailers have recognized the fact that older women wish to remain trendy, and have made adjustments to their clothing. They may offer jeans with slightly higher rises, fabrics which drape rather than cling and shoes with features such as padded soles to enhance comfort. Some mature women, especially those who have maintained a smaller dress size, shudder at the matron look and seek more daring fashions from retailers that ordinarily cater to younger women. Mix classic pieces with trendy or seasonal accents like scarves, belts or hats. Don’t overlook thrift stores as a source for unusual or bold accessories.
Chris Blank is an independent writer and research consultant with more than 20 years' experience. Blank specializes in social policy analysis, current events, popular culture and travel. His work has appeared both online and in print publications. He holds a Master of Arts in sociology and a Juris Doctor.