Fashion Over 40: 9 Style Rules & Why You Should Break Them

How should a 40-year-old dress? Here I’m going to be discussing fashion over 40. Fashion is about experimentation and being free to express your personality however you see fit. So I thought it'd be fun to debunk each of the supposed over 40 style rules and share why I think they need breaking.

How should a 40-year-old dress?

1. Don't try to look trendy

If you follow the trends like I do and like to incorporate them into your outfit ideas, why on earth would you not want to do that once you reach 40? 

Wearing trend over 40

However if you're wearing something simply because it's a trend and it looks blooming awful then fine I agree, but if you’re choosing pieces that suit you and happen to be on trend then style away.

Can you wear mini skirts over 40?

2. No mini skirts

I personally prefer wearing midi dresses, however if I thought I had an amazing pair of legs whatever age my birthday card reads why on earth would you not show them off?

Wearing sleeveless clothing over 40

3. Avoid sleeveless clothing

There is this over 40 style rule about never showing your upper arms which I find really really odd. If you're happy with your arms, why would you not show them off? It's certainly a lot more practical in the height of summer, that's for sure. 

Over 40 fashion

From a styling point of view, if you're really not keen on your upper arms you can still choose something sleeveless and add a pashmina or a cardigan over the top.

Wearing a sheer top

4. No sheer fabrics

Sheer fabrics are one of the big trends at the moment that I really love, and while I won't be going out in a bralette and sheer slip over the top anytime soon, I will be interpreting the trend in my own way.

I found this top recently and depending on my mood and the occasion I might wear it with just a pretty bra underneath, or layer it with a camisole top.

Showing cleavage over 40

5. Cleavage is a big no-no 

I think a beautiful open back on a dress for example is far sexier than a whole lot of cleavage could ever be. It's about a hint of skin, and the unsaid is the sexy part. If it's all on show there's not much left to imagine.

That being said there is always a flip side, you might love your cleavage and you like to show it off and it makes you feel at your best. So if that's the case then great go ahead.

Gray hair over 40

6. Cover your gray

Just take a look at the pictures above. I am firmly in the camp of just going with the flow when it comes to gray hair. Far from looking old if that's what you're worried about, done right I think it can look incredibly chic.

It's fun to experiment with your hair and there absolutely shouldn't be any panic setting in once you notice a few gray stragglers coming through. 

Can you wear black leather over 40?

7. No black leather 

I love my vintage leather jacket, it was my mom's from her biker days. I love how individual it made her look and from a style point of view, I think a leather jacket is totally invaluable for your capsule wardrobe.

It's one of those pieces that if in doubt, I'll stick it on top of my outfit and it instantly makes it feel fresher and up to date. 

Outfit ideas for women over 40

It's the same with leather pants. They’re not for everyone, I know, but I've personally developed a newfound love for them.

Breaking fashion rules for women

8. No bikinis 

I disagree with this one because I honestly believe that women look far more flattering in bikinis than they do in one-pieces. There's something about one-pieces that feels like it can actually

accentuate my tummy.

I also think that having two separate elements to your swimwear enables the bra section to do the job it's designed to do rather than pulling you in weird and wonderful directions.

What should i wear at 40?

9. No long hair

I have a few friends who reach 40 and felt the need to cut their hair much shorter. While I like short hair, I definitely wouldn't think of it just because of my age. Taking a look at Sarah Harris who not only rocks a great head of gray hair but the length is stunning too. 

Fashion over 40

I don’t believe that once you hit the 40 mark you have to hide half your body. There are tweaks and tips which can help along the way, but ultimately you know deep down when something is truly you.

Don't get swayed by silly over-40 style rules that were probably dreamed up 100 years ago; be you through and through and that confidence will radiate off you. 

The author may collect a small share of sales from the links on this page.

Join the conversation
2 of 6 comments
  • Audrey Audrey on Oct 15, 2022

    I'm 72 and I agree I wear what feels good and fits well and I don't mind the few gray hairs. Even at this age I still have most of my Auburn color. No hair dye for me.

  • Audrey Audrey on Oct 15, 2022

    PS I'm also 5'10 and my hair is waist length. That's me in the red dress.