It used to be that grandmothers looked like grandmothers. They wore neat white hair and sensible shoes. Many favored conservative dresses. Other older women, however, went for a different senior clothing stereotype. Think orange pants and other articles made of forgiving stretch fabrics.
These days, a lot of senior women aren’t ready to go quietly into that orange polyester pantsuit. And they’re not choosing granny dresses, either. A lot of today’s female seniors are opting for clothes more commonly associated with women half, one-third, or even one-quarter their age.
You might see them in faded or torn jeans and trendy thick-soled sneakers. Some will be wearing edgy t-shirts and even dying their hair blue. Is this OK, or does someone need to pull them aside and say something?
The Perils of Dressing Younger
If the goal is to look younger, adopting the dress code of a young person simply doesn’t work. It can actually make a woman look older. If there’s a dissonance between the person and the clothing, people see it and think, “Young clothes, old woman.” It emphasizes the age of the individual. It can even make the woman seem a little desperate as if she’s trying to deny her age.
High heels and short skirts are fine on young women and can be pulled off by a middle-aged female with the right carriage. However, with an older woman, people might be whispering, “Does she have any idea how she looks?”
Oversize coats and skirts are having their moment, but on a senior, they look like she borrowed a bigger person’s clothes or bought them when she was several sizes larger. If you do wear baggy clothes, it’s better to stick to a single color. Multicolors in such outfits tend to look clownish.
One thing to definitely avoid is bright leggings. It’s a tough look to pull off even for women just out of their teens, much less women 50 years past their teen years.
Fashion as You Age
So, does a woman of a certain age have choose between the dowager look or one provoking public ridicule? Of course not! There are plenty of popular styles that any woman can look good in regardless of age.
Whether it’s genuine or faux leather, the fashion is chic on anyone. Whether it’s a dress, skirt or pants, a simply cut leather garment is classic and timeless. Just avoid anything too short or tight, and balance the leather with something softer, for example, silk or cashmere.
It’s only fair that today’s seniors should wear denim. After all, they’re the generation who rescued it from being suitable only for Saturday dungarees and work clothing. They were the ones who started wearing nicely cut denim jeans with heels as well as denim tops and jackets. Folks used to insist that denim had to be balanced by other fabrics, but that rule has gone out the window. Today, neck-to-ankle denim is just fine. However, you might want to avoid the frayed, ripped and patchy items that are marketed to teens.
Maybe you don’t want to be the old lady in the purple sweatsuit, but that doesn’t mean you have to stick to neutrals. Fashion colors change yearly, and there’s no reason not to join a season’s trend if you find it appealing.
If you have a darker skin tone, almost any color will look good on you. If you have lighter skin that clashes with a color you like, wear it farther from your face with something more neutral in between.
You can choose a colorful dress or skirt, or you can accessorize in color. A conservative outfit wakes up when a bright scarf, belt or handbag is added.
The number one jewelry tip for seniors is not to wear too much. Donning every ring, bracelet, and necklace you own is a stereotyped old lady move. Best to stick to a single showy piece and maybe one or two more background complements.
Ultimately, It’s Your Choice
When you’ve reached the golden years, you’ve earned the right to wear anything you want. If you’ve always been a person who dressed to please yourself without worrying about what others think, you might prefer to keep on doing so. On the other hand, if you want to look stylish, draw some attention to yourself but not too much, then you’ll do better to embrace younger fashions in a limited and judicious manner.
Editor’s Note (Female editor’s note!)
“A new Survey from TD Ameritrade found that 73% of women said 70 is the new 50 while only 59% of men said the same.”
So to answer the question from a female perspective: Should Granny wear ripped jeans? Of course she should! Many grannies are in their 50s and 60s…and as previously mentioned, 70 is the new 50. Life is short and fashion is creative expression. Why not have fun with the way we dress? Any woman bold enough to venture into ripped jeans territory is there because she wants to be trendy – not tacky. Tacky for her is that pink polyester pantsuit with the elastic waistband and white flats. We can’t hide our age but that does not mean we have to resign ourselves to a tired, stereotypical, sensible dress code.