Are you ever too old to wear jeans? That question has been popping up on social media lately, so let’s shout out a firm "No!" Choose jeans with the right fit, fabric, wash and proportions for your body, and then wear them in a contemporary way that suits your style and preferences. Ankle-crop lengths are ideal for those 5 foot 3 and under (no tailoring!), but all the jeans featured — including flares — come in cropped and longer versions. Check out these nine top ways to wear jeans after age 50.
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Classic boot cuts
For many of us with generous proportions, these have been our go-to for decades. Worn now with a high but chunky heel, wedge shoe or bootie, the extra length and flared hem balance all our curves. Stick to a medium rise to keep the midriff elongated, and do boot-cut jeans the hip, polished L.A. way — like Cindy Crawford, with a tucked-in silky blouse. Hate heels? Opt for cropped kick flares for similar flattery.
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Dark straight-leg jeans
Known as the “office” jean, these basic jeans paired with a blazer started the whole dress-casual work trend. Straight-leg jeans look classy and sophisticated, and now are updated with stretch (yay!) and include a wide range of deep, even washes. They always team well with a crisp white shirt and tailored blazer — the way Brooke Shields still wears her Calvins. Note how Brooke tucks in the shirt, turns back the cuffs, pops the collar and defines her waist with a skinny black belt. Infallible.
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When you want jeans with a dressy or edgy look, choose black — not blue. You can wear them monochromatically in head-to-toe black, pair them with glam flats and a flowing blouse — like Robin Wright, a sequin top or cold-shoulder sweater for an evening out, or throw on a leather biker jacket and your moto booties for a fierce finish. Repeated washing and heat drying can sometimes fade stretch-cotton black jeans to a rich dusty charcoal, while others enhanced with color technology keep their inky look but require cold-water washing and a drip dry.
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Katie Holmes got women of every age hooked on these comfy oversized jeans years ago. Now they are a here-to-stay category; wear them with hems rolled or cuffed to above the ankles. Boyfriends look best in faded light to medium vintage-blue washes, but they are a diet-breakers best friend since the relaxed fit makes us relax, too. Just add a belt to keep body definition, and tuck or half-tuck the top. Jennifer Aniston lets go in a tee and a bomber jacket.
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Jeans designed with a broken-in, I’ve-had-them-since-high-school look are simply cool. We contrast their faded glory with fresh (obviously new) fashion-forward pieces. Dial up the sophistication by adding a cropped tweed lady jacket over a longer shirt and end with trendy suede booties, like Helen Mirren, or do a feminine silk blouse for a simple solution.
These jeans take guts, but they’re an irreverent option that’s sassy and hot. Keep the size and number of tears, rips and holes to a minimum, and opt for a looser slim jean — not skin tight. Watch where skin is exposed: Knees are OK; tush, no way! Hoda Kotb adds slip-on suede sneakers and a relaxed popover shirt to complete the casual look.
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A year-round staple now, white jeans look as super in summer with a tee and sandals as they do in winter with a big ribbed turtleneck and shearling boots. Jackie O got us started on them, but Bo Derek and Sarah Jessica Parker (above) are fans, too. All white looks chic any season, and the jeans brighten dark neutral tops and make pastels glow.
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They are not going away, folks. If you still love leggings, as many of us do, these more substantial stretchy jeans provide a more “clothed” alternative. Just be sure to check out your view from the rear — no sausage-casing horizontal creases tush to knees, please. Choose a medium to high waist cut — like Nicole Kidman, who finishes them off with a turtleneck and navy blazer, pumps and structured ladylike bag for a polished effect.
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Whether they are the real deal or faux, leather jeans are both funky and fabulous, with a hint of rock-star glam. They should fit like a glove, so be aware that real leather — if you splurge — tends to stretch with age. In black, they have subtle to seriously swanky mood changes. Imagine them with a black-and-white striped tee or with a loose sweater — like Sharon Stone — and moto boots. Leather jeans are for the adventurous: They add a touch of luxury without the need for glitz and glitter.
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Gary Oldman and honoree Helen Mirren attends AARP's 17th Annual Movies For Grownups Awards