Clothing styles for women over 40

Updated April 17, 2017

Looking good over 40 is as much to do with confidence, taking care of yourself and being proud of who you are as it is about fashion. Nobody looks their age these days. Women of 60 look fabulous, women of 80 look 60 and plastic surgery is not necessarily number one on their list of things to have. Style needn't be about what you wear but how you wear it; it's confidence that gives you the wow factor.

Visible again

Up until the late 20th century, with some exceptions, women over 40 changed their style and appearance to suit their chronological age. Hair, clothes, makeup and attitudes reflected their perception that they weren't young things anymore and that they had to behave sensibly and fade into the background. Louise Chunn, writing in the Guardian in 2008, remarked on the huge sea change in attitude in the 21st century. “What makes the over-40s stand out from the fashion crowd,” she wrote, “is their sense of style and self ".

Casual wear

Resist baggy cardigans, oversized tee shirts and jogging bottoms unless you're clearing out the attic on a wet Saturday. Throw away the smelly trainers, and avoid colours that make you merge with the wallpaper. Know your measurements, wear the right size clothes, and look for designs that flatter your best features. Look for colourful flatties or kitten heels to make your feet look good. Experiment with casual jackets, bright tops and fabrics such as lace and embroidered silk and mix in a heap of personality. Nobody ever said you had to go grocery shopping in old laundry.

Evening wear

Floral patterns can sometimes add ten years to your look, so go for bright, bold splashes or a single rich colour teamed with a wrap of stiffened gauze or shot silk. Break the mould of safe, unassuming evening wear and reveal yourself as the beautiful woman you really are. Cover the bits you'd rather cover, but flaunt your best features – a beautiful neck or shoulders, or a delicious décolletage perhaps, set off with just one striking piece of elegant jewellery.

Work outfits

Age-appropriate fitted jackets that show off a feminine behind, teamed with knee-length slimline skirts and tailored trousers, encourage you to hold yourself well and project confidence. Heels need to be low for comfort, so aim for flat shoes, kitten heels or low, slender courts that add shape to your legs, rather than stilettos that negatively affect your posture and cause pain. Keep makeup and jewellery to a minimum but be perfectly groomed.


Elegant and sultry are the words when it comes to lingerie. In 2010, Reuters reported that sales of seductive lingerie to over-40s women were booming, whereas before it was the young set who took the market share. Lingerie designers are turning their attention to designing the underwear that you want, with figure-hugging support corsetry and shapewear that feels comfortable, reveals a beautiful figure and provides smooth, sleek lines to well-fitted clothing.

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About the Author

Veronica James has been writing since 1985. Her first career was as a specialty-trained theater sister responsible for running routine and emergency operating theaters, as well as teaching medical/nursing students. James's creative and commercial writing has appeared online, in print and on BBC radio. She graduated with an honors Bachelor of Arts in English literature from the University of North London.