IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

10 wardrobe essentials you should own if you're in your 40s, according to experts

Fill your closet with timeless and classic pieces.
Vivian Le / TODAY
/ Source: TODAY

Wondering how to dress for your fabulous forties? We always recommend tossing so-called "fashion rules" out the window and wearing what feels right for you. At the same time, there are a few wardrobe basics that can help serve as building blocks to your evolving personal style.

With so many options to choose from, we enlisted the help of a few fashion pros to determine what items deserve a spot in your closet, and we even got them to share a few styling tips!

Styling tips | Wardrobe essentials | How we chose | Meet the experts

Shop TODAY Snapshot

Fashion picks for your 40s

Styling tips if you're in your 40s

Need a bit of style know-how to help you navigate your 40s? Here are a few expert-approved tips:

Comfort comes first: “Whether it’s a pair of heels, a short pair of shorts or leather pants, if you don’t feel comfortable, don’t wear it! Express your style freely without feeling ashamed,” fashion stylist Sharonda Grandberry tells us.

Seek out flattering fabrics: "Look for fabrics to keep you cool and comfortable, such as linen and cotton. You want to feel cute and sensual, not boring and dated, so anything that doesn’t stick to the body or make you feel hot is ideal," Grandberry says.

Live by the motto "quality over quantity:" "Stock up on investment pieces that are transitional and offer a variety of styling options," style expert Nikki Frenney suggests.

Focus on what works for you: "Now that you're in your 40s, you should have a pretty good idea of your style preferences, most flattering colors and cuts for your complexion and body type. This will make it so much easier to build your capsule wardrobe," Frenney said.

Wardrobe essentials for your 40s

A well-fitting bra

Why it's a wardrobe essential: “So many women are wearing the wrong size bra, and that often leads to an unpolished look. A proper-fitting bra can make all the difference in how your clothes look on you. It can also help women feel more confident, reduce premature breast sagging, reduce deep creases and bulges around the chest and improve posture,” Frenney said.

ThirdLove Everyday Lace Full Coverage Bralette

What we like
  • Great coverage
  • Comfortable
Something to note
  • Runs small

Colorways: 2 | Sizes: XS-3X | Material: Nylon, spandex

Many of us adopted a more laissez-faire attitude about bras during the pandemic, and realized that comfort is really key. That’s why bralettes are a perfect option for the 40-something who wants to focus on fit without resorting to something that’s stiff and painful.

We’ve got eyes on this breathable bralette that features mesh-lined lace cups and thin straps. The pullover design has adjustable straps and comes in two colors: a neutral taupe and black.

True & Co. Eco Shine V-Neck Bra

What we like
  • Comfortable
  • Wires don't dig into skin
Something to note
  • Can run tight

Colorways: 3 | Sizes: XS-2X | Material: Recycled polyamide, spandex

There’s something flirty and sassy about this True & Co. bra's luxe material that has us totally smitten. The laidback style has adjustable straps, a flexible elasticized band and an ultra sexy V-neck dip in the back.

Camisoles

Why it's a wardrobe essential: “Camisoles give you that extra smoothing you need under your layers, and provide warmth. They also provide versatility within your wardrobe since they can be worn under a blazer, a fitted top, as a standalone or even around the house,” Grandberry tells us.

Spanx Hollywood Socialight Cami

What we like
  • Lightweight
  • Slimming
Something to note
  • Can roll up easily

Colorways: 4 | Sizes: S-3X | Material: Polyester, elastane

Much like a supportive bra, a shapewear camisole is a wardrobe foundation that can make the rest of your clothes look better. This one from Spanx has a scoop neckline and breathable, stretchy fabric that helps flatter your shape and smooth out any lumps and bumps.

Jockey Slimmers Breathe Cami

What we like
  • Comfortable
  • Great quality
Something to note
  • May run small

Colorways: 2 | Sizes: S-3X | Material: Nylon, spandex

Camisoles are great layering pieces, but they can make you feel a bit sweaty when the temperature rises. Luckily, this one is made of a lightweight, moisture-wicking fabric with ventilated mesh to keep you cool. Other notable features include adjustable straps, a flexible bust and silicone grip tape that's conveniently placed at the waist to make sure your cami stays put when you layer it under dresses, sweaters and more.

White button-down

Why it's a wardrobe essential: “A classic white button-down offers endless outfit possibilities,” Frenney says. “You could team it with a pair of jeans or a blazer and ballet flats for a classic look. Or you could wear it under a sweater or a dress to give your outfit extra interest.”

“A white button-down has the potential to make you look good without trying. Surprisingly, white button downs aren’t just for suits,” Grandberry said. “I can think of at least nine ways a button down can be styled.”

A New Day Long Sleeve Oxford Button-Down Shirt

What we like
  • Comfortable
  • Cleans easily
Something to note
  • May run big

Sizes: XS-XXL | Material: Cotton, spandex

With its stretchy cotton-blend fabric and laidback design, this affordable find is cute and comfy. It’s a wardrobe staple that works for every occasion and will stand the test of time.

Old Navy Oversized Boyfriend Shirt

What we like
  • Versatile
Something to note
  • Runs big

Sizes: XS-4X | Material: Cotton poplin

No two white blouses are created equally, and this one has a sleek appeal that definitely caught our eye. It’s intentionally oversized, which makes it easy to tuck into bottoms or tie it in the front for a fashion-forward vibe.

Well-fitted blazer

Why it's a wardrobe essential: “Every woman in her 40s should have an amazing statement blazer that can liven up a pair of jeans and a T-shirt. It can also work over a black bodycon dress or a top and pants in the office or happy hour. The blazer can be textured (tweed), colorful or a gorgeous vintage piece. It needs to be a ‘wow’ piece that can take you anywhere,” fashion stylist Nicole Vick says.

Loft Faux Denim Double Breasted Blazer

What we like
  • Versatile
  • Well made
Something to note
  • May run big

Colorways: 2 | Sizes: 00-22 | Material: Cotton, polyester

Strut your stuff in this chic blazer that features a double-breasted button trim and long sleeves with button cuffs. Whether you're looking for a stylish option for the office or a more casual look for dinner with the hubby, this trendy jacket will do the trick.

New York & Company Double-Breasted Belted Blazer

What we like
  • Nice quality
Something to note
  • May run big

Sizes: XS-XXL | Material: Polyester, spandex

If you prefer edgier styles, this double-breasted blazer might be right up your alley. Featuring six gold buttons on the front and a sleek satin trim, it has plenty of detail and stands out from the banal blazer crowd. The self-tie waist is also a unique feature we're digging.

Darker denim

Why it's a wardrobe essential: “Jeans can make or break you depending on how they are styled. A dark pair of denim jeans should be in every woman’s closet after 40. Darker jeans have a smoothing appearance and can be dressed up or down,” Grandberry says.

Gap Mid Rise Girlfriend Jeans

What we like
  • Comfortable
  • Nice fit
Something to note
  • Can run big

Sizes: 24-35 | Material: Cotton, spandex

These comfy dark wash jeans feature a zip-fly and five-pocket style that can hold your cell phone, keys and other everyday essentials. Available in short, regular or long, these mid-rise jeans are designed to fit women of all shapes and sizes.

Lands' End Recover Mid-Rise Straight Leg Blue Jeans

What we like
  • Great quality
Something to note
  • May run big

Colorways: 3 | Sizes: 2-18 | Material: Cotton, polyester, spandex

Available in petite, regular and tall sizes, these mid-rise jeans offer something for everyone. They have a contoured waist with no gap in the back and a straight leg that’s the perfect mix between a skinny and bootcut jean. Did we mention that they’re made of recycled cotton fiber?!

The non-LBD

Why it's a wardrobe essential: “Although little black dresses can be classic and timeless, it’s time to explore different colors and fabrics for those special occasions. Satin dresses and sequin dresses in jewel tones or muted colors can make a statement just as well (or better) than an LBD and everyone will remember you for standing out,” Vick says.

Express Rhinestone Embellished Sweater Dress

What we like
  • Comfortable
  • Soft
Something to note
  • Can seem bulky

Sizes: XS-XL | Material: Recycled polyester, acrylic, nylon, spandex

It’s always fun to have an excuse to dress up in full-on sequins, but those occasions are typically few and far between for most of us. On the other hand, a rhinestone embellished sweater dress offers a touch of bling without overdoing it, and can be worn to dinner, a work party or any other number of occasions.

Nine West Satin Midi Dress

What we like
  • Comfortable
  • Stylish
Something to note
  • No closure
  • No pockets

Sizes: S-XXL | Material: Polyester, elastane

The material of this red midi dress can instantly make you feel more polished, yet you can also make it a bit more casual by throwing on a moto jacket and black booties. The flirty frock features a scoop neck and pullover styling.

Jogger pants and casual sets

Why it's a wardrobe essential: “A nice jogger pant with a matching top can look chic with a statement necklace and a pair of heels or comfy with matching tennis shoes and a crossbody bag,” Vick says. “Some sets come with a matching duster, which helps when the weather changes. Look for sets in different configurations and fabrication: pants/top, bodycon dress/duster, shorts/top/duster to suit your style.”

Two-Piece Track Suit

What we like
  • Soft
  • Stretchy material
Something to note
  • Thin material

Colorways: 8 | Sizes: S-XL | Material: Polyester and spandex

Whether you rock this set to the gym or out for brunch with the girls, you’ll look equally fabulous. This trendy tracksuit accentuates your curves and features a stylish crewneck design.

Two-Piece Sweatsuit

What we like
  • Comfortable
  • Soft material
Something to note
  • Runs big

Colorways: 12 | Sizes: S-XL | Material: Polyester and cotton

Remember the days when activewear sacrificed fashion for function? Lucky for us, active sets now come in a vast variety of colors and patterns to mesh with every personality. This Amazon's Choice for sweatsuits features a comfortable pullover hoodie and drawstring joggers with two pockets.

Scarves

Why it's a wardrobe essential: “Vintage scarves or those with interesting patterns and colors are perfect accessories. They can be worn as headbands/headwraps and around the neck to add a pop of color,” Vick says.

Vintage Floral Scarf

What we like
  • Very soft
  • Versatile
Something to note
  • Very long

Colorways: 22 | Material: Voile

Whether you’re looking to keep warm or simply want to add some extra depth to your look, an oblong scarf is an accessible accessory that’s worth trying. This lightweight style offers plenty of detail and can be worn as a head scarf, wrap shawl, swimsuit cover up or a dress belt.

David and Young Blackwatch Tartan Blanket Scarf

What we like
  • Good quality
  • Soft
Something to note
  • Pricey

Colorways: 2 | Material: Acrylic

Wading into the world of scarves? Take things slow with an approachable blanket scarf like this fun plaid option. You won't have to put too much thought into how to tie it since it's meant to be fuss-free, and it's an all-weather essential that can be worn in the middle of winter or draped over your shoulders when your office cranks up the air conditioning in the summer.

Black ankle boots

Why it's a wardrobe essential: “Wear them with jeans, a dress, leggings or even a cute dress. The versatility of a black ankle boot is limitless and depending on your destination, they should be a closet staple for every woman 40 and over,” Frenney says.

Blowfish Malibu Chillin Chelsea Boot

What we like
  • Comfortable
Something to note
  • May run small

Colorways: 3 | Sizes: 6-11 | Material: Rubber

Black booties are a fashion essential that works all year long, especially during the cooler months. Satisfied customers of these ankle boots speak to the comfortability, style and overall quality. Honestly, they’re pretty adorable for a hiker-style boot!

Vionic Cecily Bootie

What we like
  • True to size
Something to note
  • Moderate arch support

Sizes: 6-11 | Material: Leather

No matter what your age is, we always recommend investing in shoes that will go the distance and combine panache with practicality. These booties are made of a waterproof pebbled leather, making them ideal for spring showers. The chunky heel is also perfect for anyone who’s on their feet a lot!

Other notable features include a waterproof side zipper and a removable footbed that lets you customize your comfort.

Statement earrings

Why it's a wardrobe essential: “This is a versatile item that pairs well with a formal dress or your favorite pair of jeans. Big baubles draw the eye up to the face and instantly make you look younger and fresh,” Frenney says.

Pura Vida Turquoise Hoop Earrings

What we like
  • Nice pop of color
Something to note
  • Need pierced ears

Material: Brass and sterling silver

“Hoops never go out of style and can be worn in a variety of settings based on the size and style of the hoop. Try adding charms or other trinkets to thinner hoops to add interest to a more casual look,” Vick says.

These tiny turquoise hoops are a true statement maker with their delicate beads and bold hue. The price is also pretty great!

Ann Taylor Chandelier Statement Earrings

What we like
  • Elegant
Something to note
  • May not go with everything

Size: 2 1/2" drop

We’ve always believed in accessory soulmates and really think that these fun earrings are “the one.” We’re fond of the multicolored blue beads in varying shapes/sizes, and love that you really don’t need any other accessories while wearing them.

How we chose wardrobe essentials in your 40s

The Shop TODAY team rounded up the best apparel, shoes and accessories to wear in your 40s based on expert recommendations from stylists and fashion bloggers. We also combed through a plethora of online user reviews to find top-rated, timeless products that are designed to last and won't go out of style.

Meet the experts

  • Sharonda Grandberry is the stylist and image consultant behind Pink Throne Styles.
  • Nikki Frenney is a stylist, digital content creator and fashion blogger based in Atlanta.
  • Nicole Vick is a stylist, public health advocate and educator based in Los Angeles.