How to dress for your age

Amanda Church / 05 May 2016

Do you think you’re too old to wear something, have you lost your confidence or put on weight? Follow these fashion tips to get a flattering new look.



There is no doubt that as we get older, styling can become harder; we often create our own rules about what we can and can’t wear and become our own worst critic.

However, if you can create the right look for you, you will feel more confident and be happier in yourself.

Related: Are you your own worst enemy? How to stop criticising yourself

Dressing for your age: three key principles

If you’re not sure where to start with a new look, then my advice is to concentrate on three key things – colour, shape and challenging your own (possibly outdated) rules.

1. Colour

Choose clothes that complement your hair colour and skin tone. Colours change over time so make sure they suit you now, not when you were 21.

If you are warm-toned: Earthy colours are great for somebody with warm colouring, so it is best to look for burnt oranges, terracotta, golden and burnished colours.  You could also try apple-green or turquoise colours, as they work well for warm skin tones. If you struggle with white shirts, then try switching to cream, it will be much more flattering.

If you are cool-toned: You could try wearing an icy-blue tone, as well as royal blue, cerise and blue-greens. Add to this by wearing silver jewellery, it’s perfect for cool-toned skin, so be brave and bling it up!

If you are pale: Remember that your skin tone can change over time, so you need to adapt the colours of your clothes and your hair to reflect this. Perhaps revisit the hairdressers and check your hair colour still complements your skin tone.

Related: The best make-up for grey hair

2. Shape

Clothes that fit well are much more flattering. Wearing clothes that are too big for you in an effort to cover up those little lumps and bumps, only add pounds rather than taking them away.

Love your best bits – and learn how to cover the areas you are conscious of

The most important thing for all of us to do is to concentrate on the best bits. 

We all have parts of our figure that we don’t like whether we are size eight or 18. I’ve never met a client yet who honestly loves everything about her figure.

Instead, celebrate your shape… if you’ve got great legs, let them be seen; if you have narrow hips, emphasise them. Don’t be ruled by the area you don’t like. 

There are clever ways of hiding the bits that we don't like

Big tummy: If you are conscious of your tummy, then wear clothes that are ruched at the waist.

High waist: Opt for a flattering princess line dress to lengthen your torso.

Big upper arms: Elbow or three quarter length sleeves are great; you could also try loose chiffon tops, as a good alternative in the warmer weather. Remember a tan (real or fake) will always help!

Big bust: For large busts, try to wear plain or matt fabrics as well as loose-fitting garments and vertical details. It is best to avoid horizontal details across the bust line, breast pockets with buttons and tight-fitting tops.

No bust: Try wearing fabrics that add texture. For women with small busts, higher necklines are flattering whereas low ones emphasise the lack of bust. Layering will also create a great look.

Whatever your bust size, it is so important to have your bras fitted professionally. It is reported that 80% of women are wearing the wrong size bra, which can lead to back and neck pain. A great-fitting bra will help your posture, make you look slimmer and help your outfits fit better overall.

Straight shape: If you'd like to look a little more curvaceous, then rather than trying to conceal your slenderness with baggy clothes, choose tops with fullness at the bust that nip in at the waist, as this creates the illusion of curves. On the bottom half, perhaps try fuller or bubble skirts to make you feel a little curvier.

Related: How to choose the most flattering fitness-wear

3. Challenge a few of your rules…

Why don’t you try a pattern – or are you really sure you can’t wear red? Perhaps try a pair of skinny jeans with boots… you may be pleasantly surprised!

Once you begin thinking about these things, you’re well on your way to finding the right look.

Finally, get a good pair of jeans

No matter your shape, a pair of jeans is a staple in any wardrobe. We often hear women say they have 12 pairs of jeans in their wardrobe – none of which they actually wear.

Jeans are an investment piece. If your lifestyle means you wear jeans three times a week, that’s 40 weeks per year so in total, that’s 120 wears per year.

In terms of fashion maths, if you invest £120 on good jeans, the cost is just £1 per wear, so it’s well worth getting the right pair to start with, even if they are a bit more expensive in the first place.

What to wear with jeans

If you’re narrow-hipped: You can team jeans with a selection of bat-winged tops and patterned scarves to create smart-casual looks. This shape of top emphasises narrow hips; those made of light cotton are a good option too, as they are breathable if you’re prone to overheating. The scarves can be quickly whipped off too, if needed.

If you’re wide-hipped: Draw the eye away from the area that concerns you, so bring in patterns, bright and lighter fabrics above the waist, and darker, plain fabrics below the waist. It's also best to avoid garments, accessories or handbags that finish at your widest point.

If you have an apple shape: You can wear skinny jeans and tops that are nipped in at the waist and flare at the bottom, such as a peplum top, which will help to define the waist. You could also opt for tailored tunics with wide or plunging necklines.

Related: How to find the right jeans for your shape

About Amanda Church

Amanda Church is a stylist at dream on, a community interest company (CIC). Dream on helps organisations of all sizes, as well as individuals, assess, develop and reach new goals through a programme of workshops, coaching and mentoring. Dream on's purpose-built clothing studio sells fairly priced and ethically sourced clothes and accessories, to help individuals look and feel great. It also runs make-over days and style sessions to help individuals achieve the look they want. For more information, visit: www.dream-on.co.uk

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.