dog in hat“At her age,… wearing THAT?”

Maybe it’s an under-the-breath muttering the child version of you heard from Great Aunt Betsy; perhaps it’s something you overheard behind your back last month; or possibly a phrase you caught going through your own mind. It’s a timeworn belief: women over a “certain age” are entitled to mature style or elegance, but leave current fashion to the youth.

Allow me to be the bearer of good news: your birth year may determine your Chinese zodiac sign, but it says nothing about what the contents of your closet might look like.

Here are 3 don’t-wear-this-after-a-certain-age dressing rules, debunked. If you can say “yes” to each test question, the style is a “go” for you. (Even two of three puts you on pretty solid ground).


'Morning Glory' Premiere Celeb Arrivals In NYC

‘Morning Glory’ Premiere Celeb Arrivals In NYC

(Leather, tweed, lace, and more)


Checkmark your “yes” responses.

____ You’re proud of the shape your legs are in

____ You love your tights and opaque hosiery

____ You’ve got the long-over-short silhouette thing down pat

Tip: Wear ‘em with a rear-end-covering tunic or long jacket for a grown-up version of “mini style.” Adding that third layer gives your outfit a finished look, anyway. (Suggestion: When going short, forego the micro mini in favor of a still-fashionable, but more sensible, mid-thigh length. Baby-doll length micro’s make it hard to take a woman over 35 seriously.)   

2. STILETTOSRed-heel-©Maxim Malevich-123rf-19975912_s

(Optional: ankle straps, embellishments, peep-toes etc.)


Checkmark your “yes” responses.

____ You walk in them without teetering

____ You manage to wear them and not end your day with an aching back or painful, scrunched toes

____ You drive a car, but don’t mind kicking your shoes off to do so

Tip: Choose a heel height in relation to your body dimensions. For example, 5-inch platform heels tend to look out of proportion on a 4’11” frame. (When 20% of your leg length is made up of heel, your natural leg tends to appear short, relatively speaking.)




3. LOW-RISE JEANS biker-chanel-RefinedImages


Checkmark your “yes” responses.

____ Your waist is in the same position that it was in your 20’s/30’s (requires that you had a waist in your 20’s/30’s)

____ You never bought into the fashion rule that one should only wear a trend during one of its incarnations

____ You recognize the subtleties that separate the vintage variety and today’s off-the-rack version (hint: seams are frayed at time of purchase these days)

Tip: Show off a revived trend with finesse by wearing it differently than you did in previous decades. Keep the bell-sleeved Pucci tunics in the storage chest for now. Opt for a lean turtle-neck sweater or crisp menswear shirt and a jacket – it’s adaptable whether your style is Chanel or “biker-chick.”

Mid-life women ask me all the time how they should dress to look “age appropriate.” They’re concerned about looking too young – appearing as if they’re trying too hard to defy their age. Appropriate style suits your body, psyche, and lifestyle, not a date on the calendar. The secret is in the attitude (as my 1983 design professor evangelized, “Presentation counts.”). Call it hutzpah,… swagger,… moxie,… whatever you’re wearing, wear it with confidence. If you believe you belong in it, it’ll show.

Patty Buccellato is a certified image coach and founder of Refined Images. Her specialty is bringing women out of the closet with a personal style that suits their body, psyche, and circumstances. To get your FREE copy of her ebook “How to Shop Like a Stylist,” visit or contact her.

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