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When women reach 50, it's the perfect time to celebrate who they are and what they've achieved in life. After a lifetime of buying clothes, they know what looks good on their body, and they stick with it. But as we age, our bodies change shape. Our hair changes color, as does our skin tone. Hanging on to old clothing styles turns once-attractive looks into dated, unflattering ones. If you've blown out 50 candles on a birthday cake, it could be time to re-evaluate the clothes in your closet and update your style.

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Throw out those old skirts

Skirts are perfect clothing choices for just about any occasion unless they’re the ones you bought in the 1980s or 90s. Admit it. We all have our go-to's. Do yourself a favor and toss out any skirts that were super-trendy a decade ago. Reconsider too-short, frilly, girlish-looking styles, or those constructed from a shiny fabric or tweed. If you’re larger in the middle area, get rid of those pleats, too. The length is just as important. Skirts that fall at the widest part of the leg, about mid-calf, aren’t flattering.

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Skirt alternatives that you’ll love wearing

When shopping for skirts, look for lengths that hit just below the knee or slightly above it. If you prefer long skirts, choose one that falls at the ankle. These lengths are much more flattering. Denim, linen, or jersey skirts are excellent choices. Add a comfy yet well-cut t-shirt or classic white button-down, tuck it in and put on a pair of stylish boots or tennis shoes for a go-anywhere, up-for-anything look.

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Save the fleece for stay-at-home days

Most women over 50 have owned at least one article of clothing, probably more, made from sweatshirt fleece. It’s the perfect attire for doing chores around the house, curling up with a book, or hanging out with the family. Since the 1990s, a lot of women have been wearing fleece jackets when they leave the house, too. While it’s fine to wear for an early morning walk, coffee at a friend’s, or a quick trip to the grocery store, fleece jackets are a fashion habit that does us no favors.

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Swap out your fleece jacket for a cardigan

If you love the snuggly comfort of your fleece jacket in cooler weather, switch it out for a chunky, longline cardigan instead. Not only do these sweaters look great on any body type, but they’re also super stylish and even more comfortable than zip-up fleece outerwear. Choose a lighter-weight version for warmer months. Pair them with some bootcut trousers and a nice t-shirt underneath, and you’re set.

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Get rid of your “mom” jeans

When it comes to jeans, women always either have a favorite pair, or they haven’t purchased any in years. If you bought high-waisted jeans in the 1990s, you should feel no guilt about removing them from your wardrobe. Rethink those distressed jeans and if your comfy, oversized, or wide-leg jeans lack shape or fit poorly, toss them or donate them.

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Discover new jean styles to wear

Women over 50 can incorporate jeans and streetwear into their wardrobe in a chic, classy way, but there are some simple guidelines to follow.

  • Dark, black, or white denim washes are modern, yet age-appropriate
  • Jeans with some stretch are fine if they aren’t tight
  • Seek out modern medium- to high-waist styles. They flatter your midsection, they’re slimming, and they make your legs look longer
  • Straight legs and bootcut jeans offer the best silhouettes
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Please, no t-shirts with writing

You may very well be a “Hot Mama” or a “Mama Bear” or an “Over 50, and Not Done Yet” kind of person, and people love that about you. That doesn’t mean you need to display messages across your chest unless you’re participating in a rally or supporting a cause. If you’re still wearing your favorite airbrushed t-shirt from the 1980s, pack it away in a memory box.

Stock up on flattering t-shirts instead

You’ll find a ton of cheap t-shirts online, but they won’t fit well, and they won’t hold their shape after a couple of washings. Look for quality versions that offer a bit of stretch. Once you’ve found the perfect style and fit, add a few to your wardrobe. T-shirts are versatile and work well with an array of outfits. A few white ones are good to have in your clothing arsenal but choose colored ones as well, in hues that flatter your skin tone.

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Sack those outdated slacks

Slacks are pants that you wear when you wish to look more dressed up than casual. Slacks that cover your shoes drag the ground, and are frayed on the back hem, are way, way too long. Time to say goodbye. Low-rise slacks, pants that sag, and those that are either too loose or too tight need to go as well.

Fashion portrait of beautiful blond curly hair woman wearing leopard print top, black pants and red beret. Confident female in 80’s style outfit standing with hands on hips. Studio shot on pink background. izusek / Getty Images
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Classy slacks work for every occasion

Tailored ankle pants are an inspired addition to your wardrobe. They’re cut just above the ankle, which makes the legs look slimmer no matter what your size. A pair of these fashion wonders in black is essential. Once you find the brand that offers the best fit and rise for your body, add a neutral color or two to add some flexibility to your outfit options.

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Make sure your little black dress still works

The “little black dress” is a simple frock that is both chic and lovely enough for any occasion. But a black dress purchased a decade ago has probably lost some of its luster and most likely needs some updating. If you haven’t purchased a little black dress in a while, it’s time to find one.

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Find your perfect little black dress

While black is slimming, not every style of little black dress is flattering for every shape, so try on a few styles before buying one. A-line dresses in knee-length or mid-calf look just as good on heavier shapes as thinner ones. Strapless versions look better on those women who are fuller on top. Add a bolero jacket for versatility.

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Legging faux pas

For years, leggings have been a favorite choice of clothing for the lower half of the body. And for nearly as many years, there have been a few fashion naysayers claiming that older women shouldn’t wear them. See-through, revealing, or poor-quality leggings should not be a part of your wardrobe.

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Wear them with a long sweater, tunic, or blouse

A pair of high-quality black or other dark-colored leggings create a lot of versatility, and they make you look slimmer. Leggings work equally well on fuller, thinner, and petite bodies. Pair them with oversized tops like sweaters, shirts, tunics, and vests that are long enough to cover your bottom. Ponte leggings are extra thick and better for cooler weather.

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Jumpsuits can go wrong very quickly

The all-in-one garment, the jumpsuit, comes in every fabric, color, and silhouette. If you have a jumpsuit, take a good, hard look at it. If it is too childish, is the wrong length, is uncomfortable, the waist doesn’t fall in the right place, or it’s hard to get in, and out of, it’s not a fashion choice. It’s an obstacle. Replace it with a more contemporary and fun-to-wear garment.

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A well-fitting jumpsuit is fun and easy

Jumpsuits come in many styles. There’s one for every purpose, mood, and occasion, yet many women over 50 have avoided them, thinking they couldn’t pull one off. There’s no doubt a jumpsuit makes a statement, but it’s a good one. They’re easy to wear, comfortable, and perfect as casual, professional, or formal wear.

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Blazers from the past

Pantsuits were a thing at one time, a suit of armor for women in the workplace in the 1990s. Boxy jackets, a shell blouse, and pleated pants were the garments of choice for women of all ages. And, there’s little doubt that they invested a lot of money to look professional. But the glory days of the pantsuit are long gone, and it’s time to let go and move on.

A vintage Filipino business woman at the office works at an old computer at her desk. 1980's - 1990's fashion style. Wood paneling on wall in the background. RyanJLane / Getty Images
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Professional doesn’t mean frumpy or stifled

Many workplaces have guidelines and dress codes in place. But that doesn’t mean women over 50 have to look less-than-fabulous. Structured-yet-slouchy blazers are versatile additions to your work wardrobe. They work with jeans, slacks, skirts, or over dresses. If you prefer a less-structured look, push up the sleeves. Try different collar types, such as a shawl collar, a linen blend construction, or vary your color choices for even more versatility.

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Throw out your uncomfortable, ill-fitting bras

If your undergarments are uncomfortable, it shows on your face. Most women choose the wrong bra. And, chances are, they paid a pretty penny for it. Throwing out expensive bras can seem like a waste of money, but free yourself and make room for new ones. Women over 50 should not have to deal with ill-fitting bras.

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Learn how to buy the right bra

The great thing about the internet is that if there’s something you don’t know how to do, there’s a lot of people willing to provide instructions. If you’re lucky enough to have a boutique or specialty store in your city that sells bras, go there for a professional fitting. If not, look for a measurement calculator online. You’ll be happy that you finally broke the secret code to finding the perfect bra.

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