Appropriate choices for 42 year old...

2006mommy

Member
May 14, 2008
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I will be celebrating the 9th anniversary of my 30th birthday this year. Okay, that comment alone suggests a woman who yearns for her youth. Perhaps. And for that reason, I too am concerned about looking like I'm trying to look like a teenager. But so far, I THINK I've managed to wear things that are stylish (at least I think they are), but not ridiculous. And I see so much ridiculous here in the 'burbs of a major US city. Think "Real Housewives of Orange County", but add a bit more hairspray.

I have a "uniform", which took a long time to figure out (lots of poring over magazines, trying stuff on in stores, getting opinions, returning stuff, being ruthless about what looks good and not what is "in style", etc). I ended up with a uniform that is based on my body type and shape, and I do not deviate from it (except to wear maxi dresses). It's elongating and slimming (I'm 5'2"), so that's what I need.

Find out what you need. You are tall, but are concerned about your arms. The only way to figure out what looks good is to do your homework (I'm trying to appeal to the teacher side in you), but remember to make it fun - it is fashion after all. I like Nolarice's suggestions on doing a bit of reading in this regard, and I plan on looking up those very books myself. Time and energy spent figuring out what works best for your body type solves 90% of the fashion dilemma, I've found. Now, when I'm shopping, my eye can literally scan a room in seconds to see what pieces I want to try on, and I've become like a shopping-machine, highly efficient and effective! If you get pieces that flatter, everything else falls into place (literally and figuratively speaking). PS, my personal uniform is dark wash skinny bootcut jeans, fitted blazers, high heels and big sunglasses.

For the zing, I add a bit of style with a "trendy" shirt, not expensive so I can get a bunch of new ones every season ... and this is where I have to watch out. I buy stuff from teenage stores such as Forever 21 (this is my favorite, because it is so amazingly cheap!), and trendy spots like Zara and BCBG. My latest "go to" outfit when I need to look good and be comfortable is a $20 v neck sleeveless top I got from Zara (on sale), with a $6 peach colored linen-viscose sheer scarf, plus the uniform of jean, blazer, shoes and sunglasses. I have gotten so many compliments when I wear this, and I feel like a million bucks, and nothing here is outrageous or ridiculous or "teenage". Nonetheless, it seems that my look is still appealing to teens, since my 19 year old babysitter told me "wow, you look great!"

I would say avoid large prints, as the ones I see in the Harold's dress section. In general, prints in a woman over 35 are tricky, in my opinion. Also, if you have concerns about upper body proportions, I would avoid shoulder pads, which I also think tend to look dated.

Have you ever tried on a Diane von Furstenburg wrap dress? I do not think these look "teenage", but are stylish and flattering to most women I've seen wearing them.
 

HauteMama

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O.G.
Sep 22, 2006
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It really has to do with comfort. If you feel uncomfortable in something, that is a good indication that it is too old or too young for you. Otherwise, just by saying that you are concerned about dressing appropriately for you age tells me that you probably won't go too wrong in one direction or the other because you are aware.

The designer Vera Wang is 59 years old, yet she looks incredibly chic and appropriate in leggings, so never rule something out entirely based on age. It is all in your body type and how you wear something.
 
May 12, 2008
5,241
13
candyland
have you thought about enlisting a personal shopper?

congrats on graduating! i am a (young) teacher, but i tend to do a lot of dress pants (you can find great ones at banana republic), and pair them with either slingbacks or flats, and a trendy shirt. don't forget if you want to do a lot of classic pieces, you can funk it up with some great jewelry (ex: http://www.jcrew.com/AST/Browse/Wom...CrewCashmere/sweaters/PRDOVR~94024/94024.jsp_


best of luck!!
 

ljsmom88

Member
Jun 26, 2008
24
0
Again, lots of great suggestions and so much understanding! I LOVE the sound of your "uniform" 2006mommy, and the suggested books will be consulted. I love the idea of a personal shopper, but think that might be too expensive. Could I just take all of you shopping with me??? *S*

If you have a moment, please tell me the stores at which you think I will have the greatest success. Banana Republic has been suggested more than once; however, their clothes don't fit me that well. Again, thanks for your suggestions.
 
Feb 2, 2006
6,910
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If you have a moment, please tell me the stores at which you think I will have the greatest success. Banana Republic has been suggested more than once; however, their clothes don't fit me that well. Again, thanks for your suggestions.
I'd try Anthropologie.com. :smile: You said that you have larger upper arms -- a lot of their tops and dresses have pretty puff sleeves:
http://www.anthropologie.com/anthro/catalog/category.jsp?popId=APPAREL&selectedProductSize=&navAction=poppush&navCount=2&pushId=APP_TOPS&itemCount=96&id=APP_TOPS&selectedProductSize1=

Ann Taylor Loft also has some flattering and classic yet up-to-date things:
http://www.anntaylorloft.com/catalog/category.jsp?N=1200005&pCategoryId=199&categoryId=204&Ns=CATEGORY_SEQ_204
 

Snowqueen!

O.G.
May 14, 2008
654
0
The Sunshine State
I think that once you get past 30, it is time to drop the trendy clothing, but aside from that, I think anything is fair game as long as it really suits you and fits like a glove.

2006mommy had great advice. I completely agree with her about being ruthless about what fits you.

I also have a couple of uniforms. I generally wear a knee length a line or slightly full skirt (pencil skirts are not kind to my hips), with fine gage cashmere or silk sweaters or a silk blouse. Weekends mean bootcut jeans in a dark wash, with a fitted tee or one of the same cashmere sweaters I wore for work during the week, and nice mid heel pumps or patent flats. When it is cooler, I graviate toward coats instead of jackets. I have found out the hard way that I just don't really wear button up cotton shirts, I don't really love pants (other than jeans), my skirts really need to hit just below my knee, and I do not like day dresses (though I occassionally find a really winner and wear it to death). Know what you love, but be open to changes.

I am 35 and buy most of my clothing from J Crew, Boden, Banana Republic and Ann Taylor. Even now, I try to buy only a few really fantastic, quality pieces that I can use in many ways. This gives me an actual look of my own. I do pay homage to what is current by picking up a few new pieces a season and blending them in with my older things. I love simple, solid colored pieces with clean lines and impecable tailoring. I also know what colors do not suit me and stay away from them no matter what trends dictate (though what suits you in colors may change as your coloring changes with age).

I know many people advocate limiting trendy items to accessories, but I think the mid-thirties and up is the point to start buying fewer really good accessories and letting them become your signature items.

For example, purchase a couple of really great bags, a few outstanding pairs of shoes (definitely go for quality over quantity here and keep them in perfect shape), an eye-catching watch and at least one other piece of jewelry that is really you this will make your outfits look much more polished.

Also, do not forget grooming and taking care of your body in general. Make an effort to keep a really current hairstyle. Do not do anything trendy, but do not get stuck in a time warp by keeping the hair and makeup you wore when you really got established as an adult. Keep nails groomed, but not overdone. Work out often and watch what you eat. I body that is in great shape moves more gracefully and generally looks younger. It is probably a good idea to get a few different people to do your makeup and pick and choose from the products and techniques they use.

And keep in mind that a 20 year old and a 40 year old can wear the same cashmere v-neck. The younger woman might mix it with a ribbed tank, ragged jeans and sneakers. The 40 year old might look better with crisp, dark jeans, a lace trimmed cami and patent flats. Much of age appropriateness in fashion is not in the individual pieces but in the way they are styled.
 
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somanyamys

Member
Apr 8, 2008
131
0
If you have a moment, please tell me the stores at which you think I will have the greatest success. Banana Republic has been suggested more than once; however, their clothes don't fit me that well. Again, thanks for your suggestions.
Another vote here for Ann Taylor Loft, as well as Ann Taylor. But keep in mind that clothes in the two stores are not cut exactly the same, so if one doesn't work for you, don't write the other one off without trying it.

I can't personally vouch for this because I'm only 5'4, but a friend of mine who is 5'11 swears by Talbots for work wear -- she says it's the only place she can find blazers with the sleeves long enough. If that's a problem for you, you might check there.

And Anthropologie, as mentioned previously, can be a great place to find pieces with special details. That kind of thing, plus special shoes/accessories, is what makes the difference between boring and amazing when building an outfit based on classics/basics.
 

2006mommy

Member
May 14, 2008
85
0
Excellent advice from Snowqueen, especially her overall advice that over the age of 35 is the time to look polished. Also agree with her advice on accessories and hair, although I will still wear some "fun" jewelry here and there. I also agree that you should check out Ann Taylor, I think you will like it.

Someone suggested poufy sleeves. I think this should be something to avoid.
 

nevgirl

Member
Jul 11, 2008
252
0
I actually think J crew is a great line. I have been shopping there religiously for the past 8 years. Their collection manages to be fresh yet always classic with a hint of elegance...and that's what I tend to go for. It works for ALL age groups, it's more defined by the sort of style it is rather than an age demographic. I am not sure what you are into, but I love the look of a blazer with a tank, sweater or button down etc with a pair of well fitting dark jeans...and J crew does blazers like no one's buisiness, I have about 10 of them.

I say totally say go with J crew.
 
Feb 2, 2006
6,910
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Someone suggested poufy sleeves. I think this should be something to avoid.
I think that was me. :smile: I agree there probably are better choices than puff sleeves to camoflage upper arms, which could make the arms look bigger. Maybe just look for clothing made of flowy, thin fabric like matte jersey, which will skim your body instead of clinging to it. If you go to Nordstrom.com and do a search for "jersey," you'll see a lot of great pieces!
 

glamour724

O.G.
Feb 5, 2008
379
110
East Coast
I think you can wear almost anything as long as your clothes arent too tight or make it look like you are trying too hard. Also I think short skirts are out of the question unless you truly have a great body. A great pair of jeans like Jbrand or Current/Elliott are appropriate at any age.
 

Leelee

Up On My Toes!
Jun 6, 2006
7,370
3
Highland, Maryland
I think good quality fabrics and good fit are the way to go. I also like all my clothes ironed at the dry cleaners, even my shorts and jeans. This makes them look sharp IMO.

NM and Saks carry a lot of Eileen Fisher and Dana Buchman and these are usually nice, flattering styles. I'm 52 and sometimes these look a little too conservative to me, but I liven them up with great shoes and jewelry. I also like nice jeans and a crisp, white shirt or cashmere sweater.
 

Chi town Chanel

Meow!
O.G.
Dec 18, 2007
7,631
525
the Mothership
Again, lots of great suggestions and so much understanding! I LOVE the sound of your "uniform" 2006mommy, and the suggested books will be consulted. I love the idea of a personal shopper, but think that might be too expensive. Could I just take all of you shopping with me??? *S*

If you have a moment, please tell me the stores at which you think I will have the greatest success. Banana Republic has been suggested more than once; however, their clothes don't fit me that well. Again, thanks for your suggestions.
I totally understand your concerns. You sound like a good candidate for separates. When you are larger on top, it can be hard to find dresses unless you go for wrap dresses with a camisole under it (which would be a good addition to your wardrobe). If your teaching job requires a casual dress code, consider some dark wash (no trendy nonsense) straight leg jeans. On top you could do a button down shirt/T-shirt and cardigan, or a casual top and blazer. If you want to look more "put together" consider some nice looking chunky costume jewelry to pair with your ensembles. Really, there is nothing better IMO to spice up an outfit than a fabulous costume necklace paired with a top and dark jeans. You might also consider a black knee length, A-line skirt that will balance you out and be a great staple.

Like I mentioned earlier, a knee length wrap dress can be a girls best friend. If it is low cut, be sure to wear a tank under it to keep the "girls" properly covered when you are teaching. You can wear it in the summer with sandals or in the winter with tights and boots and a sweater.

Right now I am going through this same wardrobe transition (in a way). I am helping my mom to start over with her wardrobe. We have been able to find some great things for her that look modern, yet very age appropriate (she's in her 50s). If you were in Chicago, I would love to help you too!!!

Keep in mind that some stores have personal shoppers free of charge (like Nordstrom and Saks). You can give them a budget and tell them what you are looking for. They can pull stuff for you before you come into the store. You can just go in and try it all on. Good luck!
 

lelgin

O.G.
Mar 10, 2006
2,020
30
A lot of really good advice here. I stumbled into Harold's two weeks ago while I was in San Antonio. They were having a really big sale so I was fortunate enough to pick up two shirts. I would highly recommend them and I think they are perfect for someone our age. I also like brands such as Theory, Ellie Tahari, and Diane Von Furstenburg. I find most of their clothes are grown up enough yet still stylish.
 

fashion16

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Apr 15, 2007
4,983
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I agree with all of the suggestions already posted. I think you can't go wrong with basics and using patterns and accessories to punch it up. Some trends just don't look right on people regardless of age. Go with what you feel empowered in. I think Nordstroms.com has a great selection of clothes for various occasions. You may want to check it out.