How to dress after 40

How to dress after 40

What are some of the things you should avoid?

Don't purchase clothes that don't flatter you, even if they are trendy.
You may be tempted by clothes that is trendy but, when thinking about how to dress after 40, it’s wise to be picky. Only choose those that suit your personality and your body type.

Not sure what you body type is?  See how to determine which one you fall under!

  • Characteristics Of A Hourglass Body
    • Well defined (narrow) waist
    • Hip and bust tend to be almost the same and quite big

      • How to Dress A Hourglass Body
        You will want to accentuate your very feminine body so fitted clothes (at the right places) are key. Another objective may be to elongate your legs.  

        You are lucky in that your body is already balanced. Your bust and hips are around the same size. Other body shapes will find that they need to add balance.

        So you will want to keep the balance that you have and avoid adding any “bulk” with your clothing.

        If you add ruffles or extra width to your bust, for example, you will lose your ideal hourglass shape and end up looking “top heavy”. 

        If you add extra width to your waist with boxy styles, you will look heavier than you really are because you will hide your lovely shape.

        So, now we’ve looked at what you shouldn’t do – not to add extra bulk, what should you do?

        Upper Body

        • A Good Bra is essential for this body type. Make sure you get a good supportive bra that will thrust your bust forwards.
        • You will want to wear mostly V-shaped tops or tops with a deep neckline. **High necklines will just make your bust area look too bulky**
        • Look for dresses that fit your boobs and elongate your waist. **They should fit very snugly around that area.**
        • If you have some weight around the abdomen then make sure your buy your dress in supportive fabric.
        • T-shirts look nicest when they fit your waist, have a V-neck and have some accents on the shoulders.
        • Get a coat that highlights your waist and features a V-neck.
        • Wear single-breasted jackets that are tailored. They will often look best when left open to create a nice vertical line, which elongates
        • Choose shirts that accentuate your boobs and that don’t have buttons all the way to the top.
        • Tops that flare just below the boob area and go to below your crutch can be very flattering with trousers.
        • Little fitted jackets that tuck in your boobs will look great on you.
        • Use light scarves in winter to cover your open V-neck.
        • Wear darker colors on top to make your boobs appear smaller, if you want to.

        Lower Body

        • A pencil skirt is a good shape on you as it will go in and out with your curves.
        • Bootcut and flared styles will look great on you when it comes to pants as they compliment your curves.
        • Pencil skirts that fit well are ideal for the hourglass as they accentuate your wonderful curves.
        • Other skirts can work too but will usually look better when they end around the knee.
        • Opt. for flat front boot cut trousers, preferably with stretch for a snug fit.
        • Choose shoes that accentuate your curves, such as shoes with rounded toes, peep toes or bows.
  • Characteristics Of A Pear Shape Body
    • Your hips are wider than your shoulders
    • Fat tends to accumulate on your thighs and sometimes the buttocks
    • You tend to have an elongated waist and the legs tend to be shorter in comparison to the rest of your body
    • You have a defined waist

      • How to Dress A Pear Shape Body
        Pears tend to store their weight on their thighs and their legs may be heavy.  Often they have a very good upper body which is why you will see that much of the emphasis in dressing here is on the upper side of the body.

        It can be easier to dress during winter and fall for any body shape, because you can use layers in a way you can’t during the warmer months.

        However, there are still plenty of ways to dress the pear shape in a flattering way during spring and summer. 

        If your goal is to downplay your hips we have some recommendations for you on the best clothing for the pear body shape.

        Upper Body

        • Draw Attention To Your Upper Body
          The idea is to detract from your bottom half and draw the attention to your slim, upper body.  Choose bright colors on your top half and darker shades on your bottom half. Choose a top which emphasizes your waist.
        • Think About Your Neckline
          Several types of neckline can work for you, but to create width across your shoulders to balance out your hips, look out for boat necks and Bardot styles.  For example draw the attention upwards and creates width at the shoulders.
        • Accessories Are Your Best Friends
          To draw the eye up away from your hips and thighs, choose colorful or print scarves, statement necklaces and hats.
Lower Body
        • Go For Darker Shades of Denim
          When choosing your jeans, opt for a dark wash as these will be most flattering. Choose bootcut rather than tapered.
        • Wear trousers that are not too tight or light.
        • Boot leg trousers are very good for pears.
        • Avoid pants that are too low on your hips.
          A higher rise is better. The most flattering style for a pear shape is a dark wash, bootcut with a high waist. It can be best to look for a pair of jeans specifically designed for a woman with curves so that they are tapered in from the hips to the waist.
        • You will look best if your trousers or skirt are the darkest part of your outfit.
        • You Will Look Amazing In That Dress
          Pear shapes often look beautiful in a fit and flare style dress which nips in at your waist and then skims over your hips.

Let’s recap on some of the most flattering options for a pear shape:

      • Belted jackets and bootcut jeans are the perfect combination.
      • Put a lot of emphasis on your top part with colorful jackets, stripes and bold accessories.
      • The A-line skirt and dress is your best friend!
      • Put emphasis on the waist if you are a pear shape.
      • Create a column of color. A long vest worn over the top of this column. can make your hips disappear.

What To Stay Away From:

      • Skinny jeans (however these can be worn with some tunics, A-line long tops or long cardigans).
      • Pencil or straight skirts
      • Very short skirts
      • Tops with narrow shoulder lines
      • Pleats and pants with a lot of details
      • Shoes and booties with ankle straps, very delicate footwear and kitten heels

  • Characteristics Of A Inverted Triangle Shape Body
    • Top part of your body is larger that your bottom part and you usually wear a bigger size on top
    • Shoulders are wider than the hip
    • Bust tends to be proportionally large
    • Hips are small
    • Your legs are likely to be great

      • How to Dress A Inverted Triangle Shape Body
Upper Body
  • Create vertical lines with vertical stripes
  • Wear open necklines and collars, like halter necks, v-necks and scoop necks
  • Wear soft feminine textures to soften the shoulder line
  • Avoid extra width and wear single breasted tailored jackets
  • Wear jackets open to create a vertical line
  • Wear jackets that are well structured at the shoulder
  • Look for tops that accentuate the waist, like tops with banding or nipping at the waist or wrap styles
  • Wear tops that accentuate a vertical line, so go for V-necks and keep your shirts unbuttoned
  • Also find tops that balance the bust with your hips (if you have a large bust)
  • Wear tops just below the hip bone
  • Wear a darker color on top
  • Wear strapless gowns and tops
  • Use belts to define your waist even more
Lower Body
  • Create more width and overall balance below with A-line or full skirts.
  • Use bold textures to create more bulk.
  • Horizontal stripes will make the lower body wider.
  • Fuller leg width in trousers, full or bootleg pants. Culottes will work for you too.
  • If trousers don’t fit your waist or bum, get them altered at the tailor.
  • Have pockets or embellishments on your trousers or skirts.
  • Wear bold and eye-catching shoes.
  • If you like to emphasize your lean legs, skinnies will work too when combined with tighter fitting tops or tailored jackets
What To Stay Away From:
  • Avoid shoulder pads or anything that accentuates the shoulders
  • Boat necks
  • Horizontal lines on top
  • Oversized collars or lapels on jackets
  • Very chunky knits (if you want to wear these, choose a dark color)
  • Big bold pattern and graphics on top as these can have a widening effect
  • Tapered skirts
  • Characteristics Of A Rectangle Shape Body
    • You have no defined waist
    • The hips tend to have a similar width as the shoulders
    • You do not have a lot of curves
    • Your bust tends to be small or average
    • Your bottom tends to be flat
    • This is one of the easier body types for dressing.
Rectangle is my most dominant body shape & pair being secondary.  A lot of clothes will usually suit you and fit you well, although some of the taller gals may have trouble finding clothes that fit properly.  

Still, many rectangles will find dressing a bit more of a challenge as they are likely to get extra weight around their tummies as they age (usually after menopause).

    As a rectangle, you will want to create more curves and a pleasing silhouette. You can do this by defining the waist and creating curves on the bottom or top.

    • How to Dress A Rectangle Shape Body

     Upper Body

      • Use strong blocks of color to help define your body. 
      • As for most body types, be sure to wear a good bra to define what bust you have.
      • Wear tops and jackets that emphasize the waist.
      • You can use some shoulder padding (don’t overdo it though LOL)
      • Medium to high necklines usually work well, especially if you have a small bust and long neck
      • If you like to create the illusion of bigger breasts, choose tops with pockets, rushes, pleating and other front details
      • Halter necks will also give the appearance of a bigger bust and show off your back and shoulders.
      • Accessorize with belts around the waist. Heavy belts can be really good if you’re also long-waisted
      • If you have no waist at all, then a belt is best avoided
      • 3/4 sleeves usually work really well for a rectangle
      • Blouses can look really good if they are tucked in

    Lower Body
      • You can wear a tight skirt or pants to highlight the curves that you DO have or you can choose a looser style.
      • You can wear almost any shape trousers but slightly flared trousers will look great on you as it will add more shape to your body. Low to mid waisted pants are usually best.
      • Shift dresses and empire line dresses work well, but I also like to break the rule with dropped waist dresses!
      • You can create a waist with a belt.
      • Or you can skim over your waist completely, disguising the fact your waist isn’t much slimmer than your bust and hips.
      • As well as dresses, jumpsuits will look great on you. Try a halterneck style to show off your shoulders.
      • You can wear shorter shirt dresses over jeans or skinny pants.
      • A-line skirts also work really well for this shape.
      • A knee-length pencil skirt that tapers in at the side will also add some curves and look good.
      • If you like the waistless look, you can opt for straight skirts and shirt dresses.

        • What To Stay Away From:
          • Avoid totally shapeless clothes
          • If you want to add curves then avoid straight dresses, but you can also opt for the waistless look!
    • Characteristics Of A Apple Shape Body
      • You have no defined waist
      • Weight tends to form on the stomach
      • You have an average to large bust size

    This is a body shape that often develops after 40 when you start to experience symptoms of (peri)menopause and may gain weight around your waist.

    To be honest this is not the easiest body shape to dress as many women with this shape will be well aware of.

    Some women tend to cover it all up with loose garments which, in most cases, is not the right thing to do as this can simply make you look larger than you really are.

    Winter and fall can be the easiest seasons to dress the apple shape because you can play with layers to create long, lean lines and skim over your belly.

    However, thankfully, you can still add lovely layers in spring and summer too. 

      • How to Dress A Apple Shape Body

     Upper Body

      • Draw attention away from your tummy.  

        You can do this in two ways. Either you can skim over your tummy area completely.

        Or you can redefine where your mid-section is. You don’t have to tie your belt at your widest point, for example. You can just belt a little further up where you are slimmer.  

        You can wear a flattering V-neck and belts your pants at the slimmest point of her waist. Creates a column effect by wearing a blazer open over your outfit.

      • Emphasize Your Cleavage

        Okay, you don’t have to emphasize your cleavage if you don’t want to. But my general point is you should draw attention somewhere else other than your tummy.

        If you are happy with your cleavage, you could draw attention upwards. A V-neck top will be super-flattering on you.

      • Emphasize Your Legs
        If you prefer your legs – and lots of apple shape women have great legs – you could draw the attention downwards instead.  

        That doesn’t necessarily mean wearing a mini skirt, but you could go above the knee with your hem length. 

        Or you can wear a longer plain top, but choose patterned jeans or pants.

      • Choose The Right Material

        Don’t opt for clingy materials which will just draw attention to any lumps and bumps.

        Instead, opt for textured materials or draping and ruching.

    • First of all, since a lot of attention is going to be drawn to the top part of your body, get yourself a well fitted bra. You don’t want your bust and your tummy meeting each other!
    • Tops that highlight your body at the slimmest point, which is often just underneath your bust are often very flattering. They should have enough space for your belly but not be too wide.
    • Buy t-shirts that are ruched in the middle. This will confuse the eye and you can’t tell that there’s a tummy underneath.
    • Get tops with a V-neck to break up the size of your chest and create a vertical line.
    • Look for tops with a thicker texture that don’t cling so much. Woven tops can be great.
    • The best hem-length for tops is just below your hipbone (when worn with pants)
    • Patterns tend to look very good on an apple shape body as they flatter and camouflage.
    • Tops that draw attention to your arms with e.g. flares, a slit or embroidery will draw attention from your belly
    • Asymmetry in your tops helps to create vertical and slimming lines.
      • What To Stay Away From:
      • Big puffa jackets – these will only make your midriff look wider.
      • Big shapeless garments that don’t show any waist. You can, however, use tunic dresses as a base to create long, lean lines with layers.
      • Bulky trousers with lots of pockets and zippers at the front.
      • High necklines. A V-neck will be more flattering.
      • Tight, clingy T-shirts that show every lump and bump.
      • Avoid wearing everything in one solid color. Better to mix color with a texture or to use several layers in different colors to create vertical lines.
    Now, that we have figured out what body shape you are....

    Try Not To Be To Matchy Matchy Or The Too Polished Look

    It’s nice to mix things up and be a bit more playful. A 2-piece suit will quickly look old. Better to mix that jacket with another skirt or pants and look effortlessly chic.

    Avoid Buying Fabrics That Look Cheap (OR Are Cheap And Poorly Made) As They Are Usually Not Flattering OR Will Not Last

    As a young woman, you may have looked cute in a flimsy, poorly made t-shirt but as a woman over 40, you need something with a bit more substance.

    Look for beautiful natural fabrics like silk, cotton, linen and cashmere and you will enjoy them for years to come. Think about your purchase in terms of cost per wear rather than initial price.

    Avoid fabrics that don’t drape well or cling.

    Nothing is more important than dressing in a way that pleases and represents you. There’s no such thing as one style of “fashion for older women” that suits everyone.

    If you know your style and understand your body you can break any of the rules or add items from the ‘don’t list’ as you please. 

    Wearing Tight And Tight Together

    Of course there are many exceptions but in general tighter items like leggings look better when they are combined with wide pieces like a tunic or wider shirt.
    Know Your Style


    Nothing is more important than dressing in a way that pleases and represents you. There’s no such thing as one style of “fashion for older women” that suits everyone.

    If you know your style and understand your body you can break any of the rules or add items from the ‘don’t list’ as you please. 

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