10 Clothing Styles We All Look Great In
Flattering pieces that will enhance every wardrobe
by Lois Joy Johnson, AARP, June 25, 2020
En español | No matter what else is going on in the world, you've got to get up, get dressed and eventually get out. Months at home in laid-back sweats and leggings have us craving real clothes but reluctant to give up on comfort. No problem! Here are 10 tried, true and trendy things to wear now that are — most important of all — flattering on women age 50-plus of every size and shape.
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PHOTO BY: New York & Company; Old Navy; Gap; Eloquii; H&M; Banana Republic
1. A brightly colored top
Whether you're online or physically on a line (and social distancing), nothing looks more welcoming than a red, pink, orange or yellow top with a friendly vibe. Worn close to the face, a bright top even has a cosmetic effect that warms up our gray, ashy, dull or fatigued skin the way bright lipstick used to do in the days before masks. Choose one with long sleeves like the H&M Tie-front V-neck Blouse in Yellow ($25, hm.com/en_us), Old Navy Shirred Raglan-Sleeve Top for Women in Red Print ($30, oldnavy.gap.com) or Gap Popver Pocket Shirt in Linen in Brilliant Yellow ($60, gap.com); flutter sleeves like the Banana Republic Linen Wrap-Front Top in Party Pink ($50, bananarepublic.com) or Eloquii Bow Blouse with Flutter Sleeve in Valiant Poppy ($50, eloquii.com); or a tie-front short sleeve style like the New York & Company Tie-Front Short-Sleeve Blouse in Sunrise Orange ($40, nyandcompany.com).
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PHOTO BY: LOFT; Old Navy; Eloquii; Banana Republic
2. Slim tailored ankle pants
Wide legs are comfy but trim pants cropped above the ankle always deliver slimming benefits — whether you're a size 8 or 18, S or 2X. We always think black pants are the magic shape-shifter, but it's this fit — often in black — that really does all the work. Knowing that, consider adding color or a lighter neutral to your basic black standbys. Styles like the Loft Riviera Pants in Crimson Fire ($70, loft.com), Old Navy All-New Mid-Rise Pixie Straight-Leg Ankle Pants for Women in Upper Crust ($40, oldnavy.gap.com), Banana Republic Avery Straight-Fit Linen-Cotton Pant in Neon Coral Pink ($99, bananarepublic.com) or Eloquii Kady Fit Double-Weave Pant in Verdant Green ($80, eloquii.com) have the necessary structure and slim hip-to-ankle proportions. Pair them with any top from tee to tunic.
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PHOTO BY: Old Navy; Madewell; J. Crew; Urban Outfitters; LOFT
3. A relaxed V-neck sweater
Slouchy pullovers with a roomy fit and dropped shoulders look contemporary and solve a bunch of fit issues. The combination of elongating V-neckline, looser shoulder line and swingy or boxy shape drapes easily for less tension at the upper arm and bust, as well as more camouflage at the midriff. Summer versions in viscose and cotton like the Old Navy Slouchy Crotchet V-Neck Sweater for Women in Pretty Penny or Olive Stripe ($35, oldnavy.gap.com), J.Crew V-Neck Sweater with Side Buttons in Linen Blend in Sunfaded Aqua ($80, jcrew.com), Urban Outfitters UO Lilith Cozy V-Neck Top in Olive ($49, urbanoutfitters.com), Loft Stitchy V-Neck Sweater ($65, loft.com) or Madewell Marled Seville Pullover Sweater in Golden Plume ($70, madewell.com) look great over a narrow base of ankle pants and jeans or paired with a pleated or A-line skirt.
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PHOTO BY: H&M; Target; Ann Taylor
4. A long, lightweight open cardigan
Button-free, knee-length cardigans in airy breathable knits are ideal when you want a little extra coverage without wearing a blazer. The open-front style frames the body to whittle extra curves and pounds at either side of your waist, hips and thighs. Choose a super-light style like the H&M Loose-Knit Cardigan in Light Yellow or Turquoise ($13, hm.com/en_us), Universal Thread Women's Open Stitch Cardigan in Pink ($28, target.com) or Ann Taylor Spacedye Open Cardigan in Foliage Green ($98, anntaylor.com). Slip it on over a tank, sleeveless dress or tee for chic alternative to a pashmina or shawl on cool days and in air-conditioned spaces.
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PHOTO BY: Walmart; Target; Gap, H&M
5. A shirtdress
A tie belt of a shirtdress is a great choice for women age 50-plus if you skip traditional cuts and select updated styles like the Lisa Marie Fernandez for Target (Regular & Plus) Women's Small Gingham Button-Front Shirtdress in Black/White ($50, target.com), Gap Midi Shirtdress in Linen-Cotton in Navy Blue Windowpane Plaid ($80, gap.com), H&M Denim Shirtdress in Black ($40, hm.com/en_us) or Sexy Dance Women's Long Sleeve Maxi Shirt Dress in Army Green ($30, walmart.com). Here's why: Relaxed, blousy shirtdresses — both midi and maxi, with contemporary details like pockets, rollable sleeves, side vents or slits at the hem — make us look modern not stuffy, and we still get the usual benefits of a crisp silhouette and waist definition. What's not to like?
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PHOTO BY: Target (2); LOFT (2); H&M
6. A fit-and-flare skirt
Make elastic-waist skirts with a fluted or A-shape and knee-covering hemline your new go-to. Comfy as leggings, there's no need to tug on Spanx or suck in your stomach, and the proportions work with any untucked top! Skip flimsy thin styles labeled “slip skirt” and choose an A-line style in a substantial rayon or polyester fabric — like the Loft Stripe Shirred Midi Skirt ($70, loft.com) or Loft Striped Pull On Midi Skirt in Burnt Amber ($70, loft.com); or an elegant, modern mini-pleat style like the H&M Pleated Skirt in Green or Dark Beige ($40, hm.com/en_us), A New Day Women's High-Rise Pleated A-Line Midi Skirt ($28, target.com) or A New Day Women's Plus Size Leopard Print Pleated Midi Skirt ($28, target.com).
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PHOTO BY: Target (2); LOFT
7. A tiered print sundress
Thanks to the when-you-feel-good-you-look-good mode and mood of comfort dressing, along with our elevated body-positive attitude, summer sundresses in festive prints and cheerful colors are making us smile and forget our bare-arms hangups. Just leave the baby doll-trapeze styles be and head for those with wide straps and a fitted bodice for some shape definition, such as the Ava & Viv Women's Plus Size Sleeveless Tiered Sundress in Red ($35, target.com), A New Day Women's Sleeveless Tiered Dress in Dark Yellow or Blue ($30, target.com) or Loft Striped Tiered Maxi Dress ($100, loft.com). Then add your favorite sandals, mules, ballet flats or espadrilles. And don't forget the sunglasses and sunscreen.
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PHOTO BY: Target; Gap; New York & Company; Old Navy; Ann Taylor
8. A wrap dress
Whether you go knee-length or midi, a wrap dress never fails us. Tie it snug or casually as you like, but that V-neckline, waist-whittling crossover bust design and wrap skirt give every woman's body a boost. A good wrap dress can sculpt and lift a large chest or enhance a small one; define a vanishing waist or play up an existing one; and give legs room to sit, cross and move freely. Look for styles with fresh sleeve details like the Eva Mendes Collection Brenda Wrap Dress in Orange ($63, nyandcompany.com), Old Navy Wrap-Front Dolman-Sleeve Midi Dress for Women in Bright Coral ($45, oldnavy.gap.com), Ann Taylor Tropical Toile Flutter Sleeve Dress ($98, anntaylor.com), the Gap Short Sleeve Wrap-Front Dress in Linen-Cotton in Turquoise Blue ($80, gap.com) or Ava & Viv Women's Plus-Size Floral Print Short Sleeve Wrap Dress in Red ($30, target.com). You can't beat this for 24/7 versatility — from Zoom conference to work to dinner outdoors.
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PHOTO BY: H&M; Target; Eloquii; Everlane; LOFT
9. A solid-color, roomy leg jumpsuit
Back in 2018 I never thought we'd be jumpsuit fans, but many of us who prefer pants to dresses have made them a closet staple. Obviously there are no decisions about pairing tops and bottoms, but the real appeal is the way a one-piece unifies uneven or generously curved body proportions into one sleek silhouette. This is one instance where wide or at least wider legs — even cropped at the ankle — work well. For a tailored look, choose solid, neutral colors in a button-front style like the Everlane The Linen Short Sleeve Jumpsuit in Tomato, Tawny Brown or Washed Black ($88, everlane.com), Eloquii Soft Utility Jumpsuit in Rusty Brown ($140, eloquii.com) or H&M Linen Blend Jumpsuit in Black ($60, hm.com/en_us). For more of a soft, minimalist style choose a smooth pull-on jumpsuit like the Loft Lou & Grey Sandwashed Jumpsuit ($90, loft.com) or Prologue Women's Plus Size Short Sleeve Ankle Length Jumpsuit in Brown ($38, target.com) — also available in sizes XS to XXL.
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PHOTO BY: H&M; Old Navy; Kohl's; Everlane
10. A slouchy blazer
We throw on a blazer to add polish and structure to any outfit, and we probably always will. Count on it to give jeans and a tee a stylish look, to hide a few extra pounds or to elevate an old dress fast. A blazer — like the Everlane The Easy Blazer in Cameo Pink ($128, everlane.com), Apt. 9 Women's Open-Front Long Boyfriend Blazer in Beige Mauve ($60, kohls.com), H&M Shawl Collar Jacket in Red ($50, hm.com/en_us) or Old Navy Linen-Blend Blazer for Women in Navy ($45, oldnavy.gap.com) — is still an indispensable item. But think a little softer now — maybe a drapey fabric, a shawl collar or 3/4 sleeves or pushed-up long ones. And while black or navy is still essential, think about a blazer in red, cream or pale pink to do all of the above and brighten your looks, too.