11 Best Clothing Buys for Women 50+ This Fall
Stylish picks to spice up your everyday wardrobe
by Lois Joy Johnson, AARP, September 10, 2020
Fall shopping feels different this year. And why not? We've got a lot on our minds, and there's plenty of uncertainty. We're not racing to the stores for hours of leisurely browsing, piling fabulous finds in our online carts or dreaming of trendy new shoes and bags like we used to do. Everything has changed, including how we dress and want to dress. And yet we can't shake the appeal of starting a new season in something new. Here are 11 updates to get you going for fall.
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PHOTO BY: Mango; H&M (2); Target
1. A faux-leather skirt or shirt
Throwing on a black leather jacket (biker style or blazer) is one way to look cool at age 50-plus without trying too hard. A leather midi skirt or leather shirt (faux, of course!) has the same effect. Both are easy to wear, unlike leather pants, which can feel hot and clammy. Stick to black or brown and keep the other pieces of your outfit simple. Wear a black leather shirt — like the Mango Faux-Leather Shirt in Black ($80, shop.mango.com) or H&M Faux Leather Shirt in Black ($35, hm.com) — open over any tee or even a slim turtleneck. Team a faux-leather skirt such as the Who What Wear Women's Faux Leather Circle Midi Skirt in Brown ($35, target.com) or H&M Faux Leather Skirt in Black ($20, hm.com) with a sweater in the same hue for a tonal look. Either way it's an instant update.
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PHOTO BY: Mango; Target; H&M
2. A dark floral blouse
This dress-up item with a bohemian or Victorian feeling is trendy but not too much. You'll wear it any time you need to look good on Zoom or across a table or desktop. The key, though, is to choose a small allover floral with a dark background — like the Mango Floral Print Blouse in Black ($60, shop.mango.com), Ava &Viv Women's Plus Size Floral Print Long Sleeve Knit Blouse in Red ($25, target.com) or H&M Smock-detail Blouse in Black/Pink Floral ($30, hm.com) — that pairs easily with black pants or leggings and won't look too summery.
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PHOTO BY: H&M; Uniqlo; Anthropologie; Gap
3. A plaid blazer or shirt jacket
There's a preppy vibe this fall, with lots of plaid blazers and pants popping up on fashion websites. Opt for the former not the latter because who on earth over 50 except Diane Keaton looks good in plaid pants?! A plaid shirt jacket with a relaxed fit such as the BB Dakota Darren Plaid Shirt Jacket in Brown Motif ($148, anthopologie.com) or H&M Fringed Shacket ($70, hm.com) has a casual vibe, while a slightly oversized plaid blazer — like the Gap Double-Breasted Blazer in Brown Plaid ($148, gap.com) or Uniqlo Women Tweed Blazer in 37 Brown ($70, uniqlo.com) — adds a little more structure.
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PHOTO BY: Old Navy (2); Banana Republic
4. A new black sweater
Sometimes the simplest way to look new is to take something basic like a black sweater and just tweak the proportions and details. This fall you might try a mid-thigh V-neck sweater like the Old Navy Textured V-Neck Sweater Tunic for Women in Black Jack ($35, oldnavy.gap.com) or an airy knit like the Old Navy Cozy Pointelle-Knit Crew-Neck Sweater for Women in Black Jack ($40, oldnavy.gap.com) over narrow bottoms and a fitted ribbed boatneck like the Banana Republic Boat Neck Sweater Top in Black ($70, bananarepublic.gap.com) to wear with wide-leg pants and A-line skirts. They have the same slimming, elongating and elegant benefits as always — just a little fresher.
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PHOTO BY: Target; Gap; Old Navy
5. Tailored ankle pants with straight leg
We can always use a new pair of all-purpose black pants that look polished and contemporary. This fall one of our favorites has received an update. Make no mistake, these are real pants (the kind you can wear to work, dinner at a fancy restaurant and beyond). This time around look for a straight leg (not skinny or tight), a high waist (not mid-rise) and more spandex in the cotton blend (between 5 and 8 percent stretch) like the A New Day Women's Straight Leg Slim Ankle Pants ($25, target.com), Gap High Rise Slim Ankle Pants in True Black ($60, gap.com) or Old Navy All-New High-Waisted Pixie Straight-Leg Ankle Pants for Women in Black Jack ($40, oldnavy.gap.com). Watch the wording and check the photos for fit. Some sites and brands use the words straight, slim and skinny a little too loosely.
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PHOTO BY: Gap; Eloquii; H&M
6. A cropped V-neck cardigan
This is your new layering piece. Wear it over a long tee, shirt or tank when you want to pull together an athleisure/regular clothes combination or just sharpen up a tank and jeans. Choose your favorite neutral or a pop of color — like the Gap Slouchy Cardigan in Grenadine Orange ($60, gap.com), Eloquii Sweater Cardigan with Pleated Sleeve in Dark Green ($75, eloquii.com) or H&M Rib-Knit Cardigan in Light Blue ($20, hm.com) — to brighten winter darks. The important part of the cardigan is the shape: hip length with a dropped shoulder, full sleeves (that push up easily) and a deep V-neck top.
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PHOTO BY: Madewell; Gap; Old Navy; H&M
7. A quilted jacket
Before you say, “I already have one,” let me say these quilted jackets are a different breed from the puffers and barn jackets sitting in your closet. Lightweight and softly structured, they're cozy but make a more elevated fashion statement. Look for drop shoulders, a straight modern cut and room to layer beneath — like the Madewell Quilted Corduroy Walton Shirt-Jacket in Golden Pecan ($168, madewell.com), Gap Quilted Jacket in Olive Green ($98, gap.com), Old Navy Diamond-Quilted Plus-Size Zip Jacket in Jurassic Green ($53, oldnavy.gap.com) or H&M Quilted Jacket in Beige ($50, hm.com). Jackets in green and beige are your best bet.
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PHOTO BY: ModCloth; Uniqlo; Gap
8. A midi-length wrap dress
Since the crossover wrap and tie-belt formula never fails to work for us, this longer-length style is a natural for any situation when you want to wear knee-high boots or tights and look finished fast. Choose a knit such as the Hutch Modern Precision Midi Wrap Dress in Black/Green ($149, modcloth.com) or Gap Front Wrap Midi Dress in True Black ($60, gap.com), or silk like the Ines de la Fressange Silk Printed Wrap Dress in 69 Navy ($130, uniqlo.com/us). A midi wrap (and any other wrap dress you own) makes an ideal base for any of the jackets and cardigans in this list. Looks like the ‘70s styles are back (again) in a big way.
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PHOTO BY: Walmart (2); Zappos (3); Lands' End
9. Fluffy slippers
Shearling-lined boots are a tempting buy, but pricey. Match your slippers to your feet and level of coziness. If you have sweaty feet try a lightweight ballet-slipper style with foam footbed (and no-slip sole) such as the Dearfoams Women's Microfiber Velour Closed Back Slippers ($26, walmart.com) or Dream Pairs Women's Soft Memory Foam Ballerina Slippers ($24, walmart.com), or a terry-lined slipper like the Foamtreads Coddles ($45, zappos.com). If you prefer the bareness of mules and sandals try a faux-fur slide like the Minnetonka Lolo ($40, zappos.com). Need to sprint to the mailbox, drive or run errands with a little more substance and traction? Get a faux-fur slipper like the Lands’ End Women's Suede Shearling Embroidered Slippers ($75, landsend.com) or a clog like the Acorn Moc in Brown Berber ($45, zappos.com).
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PHOTO BY: Old Navy; H&M; Gap
10. A long, open front cardigan
Let influencers talk about sweater vests and twinsets. This is the staple piece you'll reach for over and over again. A simple no-buttons cardigan that falls straight to just above the knee — like the H&M Long Cardigan in Gray Melange ($20, hm.com), Old Navy Long-Line Open-Front Sweater for Women in Warm Coffee ($40, oldnavy.gap.com) or Gap True Soft Open Front Cardigan in Oatmeal Beige ($80, gap.com) — works at home as a chic robe or over pants, leggings and jeans for extra warmth. Buy it in a soft gray, taupe or brown for a timeless look.
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PHOTO BY: Gap; Target; Everlane
11. Masks toned to your clothes
Fall's a great time to really pull yourself together: mentally (it's that back-to-school and back-to-work thing), physically (get a workout plan going) and, of course, stylewise. Most of us have a drawerful of disposable masks and a few random cloth face coverings. Now that they're here to stay, pick up some reusable, washable versions — like the Universal Thread Women's 2pk Fabric Face Masks in Orange or Red ($4, target.com), Everlane 100% Human Face Mask 3-Pack in Black/White ($18, everlane.com), Gap Adult Unisex Face Mask in Mini Yellow Floral ($15, gap.com) or Ann Taylor Face Mask in Bright Winter Blue ($18, anntaylor.com) — in colors and prints that sync with your clothes or brighten your face.