How To Look Stylish: The Ultimate Guide for 50+ women

As regular readers will know, Marvellous Mother In Law is the epitome of casual chic. Always well groomed and looking fit and healthy, people often comment on how amazing she looks in her 70s. So here are her fashion tips and my edit for 50+ women who want to achieve an effortless-looking, smart casual style this Autumn.

TIP 1: NEUTRALS Keep to neutrals – cream, camel, white, pink toned beige, navy, black and nude. They all work together and so are economical. Just don’t add any primary colours to your outfit – each item of clothing should be a neutral. Monotones also work – ie a colour palette that is made up of different tints or shades of a single colour.  If you are going for the luxe look, also avoid large loud patterns. Neutrals always work well, are always chic, and they never, ever go out of fashion.

TIP 2: SIMPLE DESIGNS ARE TIMELESS They look the most expensive too. Good tailoring, material that hangs well, clean lines – all these elements combine to give you an instant wow factor. Co-ordinate them differently every time you wear them and you’ll maximise your cost per wear ratio. Good news is that these simple cuts don’t need to cost a fortune.

  • Me+Em Luxe Lace Detail Stripe Blouse £150
  • Ines de la Fressange 100% silk long sleeved blouse £59.90
  • Whistles Sustainable Heart Print Top £89
  • COS 100% merino wool crew neck jumper £55

TIP 3: POINTY(ISH) SHOES Pointed shoes – whether flats or heels, shoe or boots – look far more elegant than rounded toes. Whether dressy or casual, pointed shoes elevate an outfit, uplifting your look. They are also rather sexy – just saying!

TIP 4: KNOW YOUR SIZE We all want to be a size 10 but for most of us it just ain’t going to happen!  So don’t try and squeeze into clothes that are too small for you. You’ll look more slender if you wear the right size. Remember – skim is better than cling.

Close up of 18ct gold plated pendant necklace £125
by Astley Clarke at Liberty London

TIP 5: ELEGANT JEWELLERY Of course there is a time and a place for colourful, loud costume jewellery. It can bring an otherwise dull outfit to life. But if you are looking for a really high end appearance, keep your jewellery simple and elegant. Choose key pieces that will complement, not overpower your outfit.

TIP 6: ENTRY LEVEL DESIGNER ACCESSORIES If you haven’t got any – don’t panic. Entry level designer accessories are worth buying as they will really add a touch of class to whatever you are wearing. By entry level, I mean the less expensive items you will find in designer shops. Might be a narrow belt, a small silk scarf (great for tying around your neck or dangling from your handbag). Could be a pair of sunglasses. Any of these will elevate your outfit. 

There is, of course, some investment involved if you want to wear designer, but this can be achieved by treating yourself occasionally and really making sure the item in question is going to last you for years. ie avoiding fast fashion. And if you don’t fritter your money away snapping up every bargain you see without considering if you really, really need it, all those tenners quickly add up to hundreds.

TIP 7: EXISTING DESIGNER PIECES A distinct benefit of being older is that many of us 50+ women have, by now, a few designer pieces in our wardrobes. Might be a fabulous leather handbag, classic watch, or a couple of pairs of eye wateringly expensive shoes. When we want to make a really good impression, these are the treasured items that we haul out again and again over the years.

In the old days we would wear as good quality as we could afford from top to toe. Nowadays we are more savvy (and, to be fair, there is more choice). Mixing designer with high street can work amazingly well. There are some inexpensive ethically-produced clothes around that will look very high end when paired with your best shoes and/or handbag, not forgetting an aforementioned entry level accessory.

TIP 8: PERENNIAL CLASSICS By this I mean a trench coat, camel coat, or suede or leather jacket. They just never go out of fashion. Don’t keep whatever you’ve invested in for best. MMIL says she had a change of heart about the suede coat she is wearing at the beginning of this article – instead of it languishing in her wardrobe unworn for years because she was saving it ‘for a special occasion’, she now wears it everywhere – even Waitrose!

TIP 9: GROOMING Go easy on the slap: Neutral make up is a must with neutral clothes. The look is then head to toe elegance. However, there is one important exception – if you want to make a real impression – say an important meeting or a date night, wear red lipstick. Ask the make up counter assistant in your local store to  find exactly the right shade of red for you – yes, there is a hue for everyone.  Keep nail polishes natural colours, which include the softest pinks.

Hair: Remember to regularly update your hairstyle. A good cut can not only work wonders for your hair, it can take years off you and do wonders for your confidence! Goes without saying that lank dirty hair is not going to cut the mustard if you’re aiming for an elegant appearance.

FINAL TIP: LOOK AFTER YOUR CLOTHES All your wardrobe treasures need to be looked after. You don’t want to be let down by a missing button or stain.

Handbags kept in protective soft cotton drawstring bags

Shoes kept in shape with shoe trees

Jewellery kept in padded boxes. I clean my diamond ring with my electric toothbrush dabbed with a smidgen of toothpaste. Rinse with warm water and dry – really makes your gems sparkle.

Hand finished dry cleaning for your very best clothes is worth the extra cost.

Handwash your cashmere and de-bobble it on a regular basis to keep your knitwear looking at it’s very best.

It is always worth ironing or steaming your outfit before you put it on. Creased fabric does not equal elegant.

Use a lint roller to maintain your fabrics.

It’s that easy. These ten tricks really are the key to looking stylish. Print them out and stick them on the inside of your wardrobe. You’ll be delighted you did when the compliments start coming thick and fast!

Masses more 50+ fashion here

30 Comments

  1. Agree with all written above but do think colour can ‘lift’ an older face. Camel and black, though stylish, can be very draining.

    • Hi Linda, thanks for commenting. As you so rightly say, colour can definitely brighten up an older complexion. Something we have long advocated here at A&G. Personally I find that blusher and lipstick are essential when wearing neutrals, for exactly the reason you mention. Best wishes, Grace

  2. Dear Annabelle and Grace
    Normally I find your articles very uplifting and informative, but I cannot let today’s “How to look Stylish – The Ultimate Guide for 50+ Women” go unchallenged.
    You advocate that in order to look “stylish” over 50, we should all adhere to the Pensioners’ Uniform of cream, beige (albeit with the added excitement of being “pink toned”, camel, sand, ivory, nude, navy and black. In your own words “neutral” and “monotoned”!
    Whilst no one could deny your MMIL looks wonderful in your photograph, please don’t assume that all of us feel the same.
    I posted your article on Tricia’s Super Troopers, who, as you know, are a group of “ladies of a certain age” founded by Tricia Cusden during lockdown last year. Almost without exception, there was a collective roar of disagreement with your article. We want to be seen. We want to wear colour. We don’t want to blend into the background. We are vibrant, and I feel you do us a disservice by suggesting we shouldn’t wear vibrant clothes.
    Think Prue Leith. Think Iris Apfel. Think dear Gloria Hunniford. These are our role models
    Thank you for your magazine – as I say I normally love your articles, but I had to take you to task on this one.
    Kind regards
    Lesley Geary-Andrews (aka Lily Bollinger)

    • Dear Lesley, thank you for commenting. The article was aimed at women who would find it useful to know how to wear neutrals successfully. Obviously there are many readers who prefer colour. But we try and provide information that is useful to all our wonderful readers which is why we have also published at least ten articles on the many benefits of wearing colour: https://www.annabelandgrace.com/?s=colour including one featuring the marvellous Iris Apfel! Best wishes, Grace

    • Hi Grace. Thanks for your reply. After sharing your article in Tricia’s Super Troopers, over 70 people commented and all of them were anti-neutrals. I think the heading of your article is misleading – it implies that in order to look “stylish” you should wear neutrals!
      I think, for certain people, it may be ok, but just take a look at our lovely Queen to see that colour on older people is wonderful.
      Kind regards
      Lesley

  3. Oh my deary, deary me. Please don’t tell older ladies to disappear behind a veil of beige!! Neutrals are essential basics but colour is also essential to making us look alive! Never wear bright colours? Good grief, terrible advice

    • Hi Jane, thanks for your comment. Totally agree with you about beige! But, as mentioned in the article, neutrals also encompass stronger colours such as navy. We’re not suggesting we never wear bright colours – just good tips if you want to wear neutrals successfully. In fact we’ve written far more articles about the joys of wearing bright colours! https://www.annabelandgrace.com/?s=colour Best wishes, Grace

  4. Fashion is quite subjective, as are the colours you wear. As we age our ‘colour’ fades (grey hair, less luminous skin etc) so while neutrals are safe as I ‘fade’ I do want some primary colours in my wardrobe. So I keep to only TWO colours – but wear different shades of those colours, like in the autumn I wear mahogony brown cord jeans with a teal blue top and bring it together with a geometric brown and blue scarf.. It is imoortant to know what colour suits you – and Kettlewell have an excellent quiz for you to ‘find your colour’..
    Your tips to look after your clothes are excellent – I would add a couple – 1. never use a tumble drier. This breaks down the fibres in your clothes as well as shrinking them! 2. If you have delicate fibres do not spin them, put them in a towel and roll them up like a sausage roll in a fluffly towel that will take out most of the moisture then lie flat to dry naturally.

    • Hi Sarah, thank you for getting in touch. Couldn’t agree with your more about our colour fading as we age. So when I wear neutrals I tend to wear blusher and lipstick to brighten up my face. Thanks for your tips on wearing two colours, most useful. Thank you too for the extra tips, most useful. Best wishes, Grace

  5. Grace, your M-I-L is a very elegant woman, however, I do not agree with her advice on colours that ‘older’ women need to wear!
    At 78 I am passionate about colour and love dressing in bright ones. I also admire the Queen and her beautiful colourful outfits. I believe it is how one wears colour that makes an elegant outfit. It can be fun, too!

    • Hi Annie. Thank you for getting in touch. We didn’t mean to imply that older women should only wear neutrals, more that wearing neutrals is one surefire way of looking stylish. In fact we have also written at least 10 articles on the benefits of wearing colour: https://www.annabelandgrace.com/?s=colour – we agree with you, it can be fun and uplifting! Variety is the spice of life… best wishes, Grace

  6. Sorry girls that is the biggest whopper I have ever heard. I am 76 and my wardrobe is awash with colour. We all know that we are supposed to disappear into oblivion after a certain age. WHY?
    Do you realise our skin and hair change after that age .
    Have you ever watched couples get off a Tour Bus?
    My Granddaughter says’ look Granny there’s the Beige Bus ‘.
    Colour sets us up for the day.

  7. I do admire that elegant neutral look on some people but on me I look half dead. Personally I far prefer bright colours and it seems others agree with me.

    • Hi Helena, thanks for getting in touch. I also wear bright colours – especially vibrant orange but, equally, I sometimes opt for classic neutrals. I like having the choice. We have also written at least ten articles on the many benefits of wearing bright colours: https://www.annabelandgrace.com/?s=colour However, we have a very wide readership, many of whom prefer to wear classic neutral colours and hence this particular article was for them. Best wishes, Grace

  8. I do not agree with the comment above that ‘wearing neutrals is one surefire way of looking stylish’! There are plenty of ways to look stylish. This article was very patronising in my opinion. I agree wholeheartedly with Lesley Geary-Andrews (aka Lily Bollinger) a fellow Super Trouper.

    Maggie Jacobs

  9. Beautifully written and helpful piece on the key points of elegance. One of your best, Grace. Many thanks.

  10. Two words…..Prue Leith,
    Not a neutral in sight, primary colours a gogo, crazy specs, whacky jewellery…….80 plus and a fantastic role model.
    You beige if you want to……I’m with Prue every step of the way.

  11. Oh dear I didn’t agree with this article today. It seemed to be about ‘playing safe’ rather than being elegant! I am 72 and love wearing colour and edgy accessories. I sometimes wear neutrals, but team with unusual necklaces or footwear. I am often told I am stylish and elegant. Some of your ‘tips’ are patronising.

    • Dear Katie, thank you for getting in touch. We have a very wide readership, a proportion of whom prefer to wear classic neutral colours and hence this particular article was for them. Not everyone is confident about what they wear and so we offer tips. Best wishes, Grace

  12. Interesting article. For some of us, our colouring and complexion becomes a softer version of our younger selves and brighter colours next to our faces are not complementary. I think neutrals can have a worthy place in our wardrobes. Neutrals are not always beige. Think of softer greys and blues. Greys, greige and darker blues are great neutrals for those of us with softer/cooler palettes. A softer, neutral scarf can add longevity to a favourite bright top which no longer sits well with our complexion. Neutral shades in eyeshadow and gentle blusher looks classy. However, a red lipstick in a shade that suits – whether that’s clear/warm/cool/soft is an absolute must in maintaining vibrancy. Think outside the box when it comes to neutrals.

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