ageless style rules to ignore and ones to live by
It feels like you can’t crack open a fashion magazine without reading about rules for women. Skincare rules. Makeup rules. Style rules. Body type rules. Age rules.
Some of these are helpful, some are patronising and some are just plain infuriating.
The ones that really rip my nightie? The articles that decree what women should or shouldn’t do according to age. It feeds into the 40 means fat and frumpy trope, and assumes that women of “a certain age” should be neither seen nor heard. That’s hardly empowering, is it?
style rules you should ignore
I’ve rounded up some common fashion rules for women in their 40s and beyond, and why I think they’re rubbish.
don’t dress too young
Want to buy your clothes at “youth” brands and shops? Go right ahead. They’re often bang on trend and very well priced. These types of shops (think Sportsgirl, Forever 21, Glassons, H&M et al) interpret runway trends for the high street. By the time most of us have saved enough cash to buy a designer version, it will have gone out of style and on point again in the eternal fashion cycle.
Buying from on trend fast fashion shops is a great way to dip a toe in current trends to add to your wardrobe without splashing the cash.
wear bootcut denim
If you’re a bootcut kinda girl, then wear bootcut jeans. If you like your denim on the skinny side, then continue to wear your skinnies. They’re your legs – wear what you like on them!
You might find a low waist isn’t your best friend any more – but many young women feel the same. Modern fabric technology and jeggings mean that skinny jeans are both flattering and comfortable.
wear one piece or tankini swimsuits
Have you seen that awesome cartoon about a bikini body? How to get a bikini body. Buy a bikini. Put it on your body. Et voila! A bikini body!
Many women feel more comfortable in a one piece or a tankini. Many women love bikinis. Age has nothing to do with your choice of swimsuit and neither does your size. There are many fabulous plus size designs available now. They even have their own adorable name – the fatkini!
I wore a one piece recently when I hit the water parks with my Blokefolk. It was for safety reasons. My EnormoBoobs were more likely to be contained than in a bikini! When it’s very hot and I’m at the beach or lying poolside sipping a holiday cocktail, I reach for my bikini. It’s just more comfortable.
don’t wear horizontal stripes
This has been well and truly put to rest. Horizontal stripes are supposed to make you look wider. In fact, I think horizontal stripes can actually be quite flattering. A variegated stripe can give the visual illusion of a curvier figure too.
don’t wear black / do wear black
I found opposing advice on fashion’s favourite shade. Don’t wear black because it’s draining. Do wear black because it’s slimming.
It is true that black can make you appear slimmer, as dark colours recede. This works but it needs a contrasting colour to perform this visual illusion.
A black top with a black jacket and black pants doesn’t provide the visual illusion. In fact, it can make you look bigger.
Unfortunately, as we age, we also lose colour in our skin. For those of you who love black, the trick is to wear it with colour. A statement necklace will break up the space between your black top and your face, for example.
Buy fabulous black pieces that flatter you and make you feel fantastic. Just don’t wear them all together!
don’t show skin
Women over the age of 40 are supposed to eschew strapless and off the shoulder tops, above the knee and mini skirts, shorts and cropped pants. Heaven forbid they show some skin!
Off the shoulder and cold shoulder styles are bang on trend, and you shouldn’t give them up because you’re not 22. Some styles will be more flattering than others, but that’s a fabric and colour thing, not an age thing.
Personally, I don’t think anyone should be wearing three quarter pants. They tend to stop at a rather unflattering spot and make you look wider and shorter than you really are.
Shorts in summer are a basic human right. Everyone has knees and thighs and calves. We spend so much time worrying about what others think about how we look, but most of those people really don’t even notice. Those who do might be smiling at your confident happy manner. The small proportion of judgey dickheads who are out there? Not worthy of our time nor attention.
cut your hair and tidy it up too, would you?
If you love a bedhead rock chick look, or dreamy long boho chic locks, or a coloured choppy cut, then I see no reason why turning 40 and beyond means you should cut your hair into a ladylike bob. Unless it’s your thing and what you want to do, of course.
Long hair can make the face appear longer, but this can easily be solved with some face framing layers. Don’t discount the power of a forehead disguising fringe either, if you’ve got the type of hair that can pull a fringe off!
I’ve been growing my hair out and chopping it off in an ongoing cycle since my teens and I see no reason to change now!
cover your upper arms and your knees
Look, nobody actively tries to get bingo wings or wrinkly knees. But shit happens and unfortunately sometimes it’s on our bodies. You can do triceps dips to stave off your arms waving long after you’ve stopped doing so, but wrinkly knees are here to stay.
Hiding them works, but I think being sweaty and redfaced by wearing long pants instead of shorts or a knee length skirt, and long sleeves instead of a tank top on a hot day, is a much less attractive look.
ageless style rules to live by
wear what you like
This is one of the best ageless style rules. Wear what you like.
If it makes you feel happy, and it fits and it is clean, then wear it.
Actually, that’s pretty much my only style rule. (Apart from leggings are not pants, obvs.)
Do you have any ageless style rules you follow or would like to share?