By the time you make it to your fifties, you know a thing or two about your personal style preferences and what works for your body. That knowledge can serve you well as you navigate one of your most fabulous decades and continue to dress in a way that mirrors your authentic self.
Sure, you have your go-to styles that make you feel fantastic, but there are also some wardrobe staples that can take things up a notch even more. To help determine which ones are worth your time, we've enlisted the help of fashion experts and came up with a list of 10 closet essentials for your 50s. We're also sharing some shoppable picks to help you get started.
Styling tips if you're in your 50s
Our style preferences can change significantly from one decade to the next, but regardless of your age, the trick to building a fashion-forward wardrobe is staying true to yourself. Here’s a quick cheat sheet of styling tips from the pros to help you rock your 50s:
- Focus on fabrics: “Many women will experience hormonal changes after 50, so the key is to keep cool. I believe the focus should be on fabrics that will keep you cool,” fashion stylist Sharonda Grandberry says. Great fabric options include cotton, chambray, denim and cashmere.
- Don’t be afraid of color: “Our bodies may change during this time, but that doesn’t mean you have to wear all black. Explore color and add pops of color whenever you can: a bright sneaker or flat, a jewel tone hat or scarf or a colorful sweater,” fashion stylist Nicole Vick says.
- Don’t act your age: “I have a quote I live by: ‘Nothing gets old but clothes.’ Always remember age has nothing to do with style. Start with styling your staples in several different options. The key is to find the right options for you and just go with it,” Grandberry says.
- Don’t be afraid of a closet purge: “After turning 50, purge clothes just as you purge any other excess from your life. You are letting go of the past and things that brought comfort to your life. It is essential to remain completely focused on the future and where you want to go, not where you have been,” Linda Peavy, the founder of Cultured Curves, says.
Wardrobe essentials for your 50s
Why it's a wardrobe essential: Your taste in denim might've changed a bit over the years, but jeans are always age-appropriate. “Lighter chambray fabrics are more comfortable for day to day, but a nice pair of well fitting, straight leg dark denim jeans can work for almost any occasion,” Vick says.
Old Navy Extra High-Waisted Button-Fly Kicker Boot-Cut Side-Slit Jeans
These snazzy boot-cut jeans have a solid amount of stretch and a tiny flare that offers a touch of sass. The medium wash also makes them ideal for both day and night! The best part? They're available in regular, tall and petite sizes.
J. Jill High-Rise Patch-Pocket Slim-Leg Jeans
We're digging these "low tide wash" jeans, and love the fact that they're available in such a wide array of sizes for regular, petite and tall body types. The slim-fit pants have a high waist and a stretchy fabric, and they're made with an environmentally-friendly dyeing process.
Why it's a wardrobe essential: “Many women wear the wrong size bra. As you mature, the shape of your breast can change. A bra can help or hinder the fit or look of any outfit," Peavy says.
Montelle Intimates Wire-Free T-Shirt Bra
No matter your size, a T-shirt bra is a lingerie essential that belongs in any wardrobe. They're cozy yet supportive, meaning you'll get the best of both worlds. We're fans of this wire-free, convertible style that can be worn in multiple ways (classic, crisscross or halter). The bra comes in 10 colors and is made of a soft microfiber material you'll totally adore.
Soma Embraceable Signature Lace Perfect Coverage Bra
For days when you crave a little extra support, this perfect coverage bra will have you covered. It has padded cups and adjustable straps, for starters, and is adorned with gorgeous lace detailing. Did we mention that it comes in nine colors?!
Why it's a wardrobe essential: "The beauty of the wrap dress is how adaptable it is. Looking for a more refined look? Create a very defined waistline with the wrap dress and opt for a midi or maxi length in a luxe fabric," Vick says. "For a more casual look, relax the tie waist a bit and opt for a shorter length in more casual fabrics like cotton or denim."
H&M Tie-Detail Wrap Dress
Whether you're a fan of prints or solids, this sleek wrap dress has something for everyone. The budget-friendly find has stylish dropped shoulders, a midi length and a cozy jersey lining.
London Times Ruffle Wrap Midi Dress
With its flirty ruffles and flattering midi silhouette, this ravishing red dress is a worthy contender for ladies who are looking to make a style statement. We're fond of the midi length, the bold color and the affordable price tag (obviously!).
Ann Taylor Shimmer Pleated Wrap Dress
Wrap dresses are a universally flattering, ageless wardrobe essential. If you're looking to add a new one to your collection, this sleek option could be your perfect match with its shimmery finish and pleated silhouette. The self-tie belt and elasticized cuffs also help it stand out from the crowd.
Why it's a wardrobe essential: “As we age, our bodies change. A shaper is suggested regardless of our size if we want a continuous smooth fit in our clothes. It may also help you wear clothes that are otherwise too small,” Peavy says.
Yummie Bria Comfortably Curved Smoothing Short
Shapewear doesn't have to be cumbersome. Case in point? These lightweight shorts that offer all day comfort. Available in three colors (pink, black and nude), the high-waisted shaping shorts smooth the waist and tummy without suffocating you.
Spanx Shaping Satin Mid-Thigh Short
Sassy in satin! These shaping shorts from Spanx offer topnotch smoothing and a stretchy fabric that glides over your curves. If you're looking for shapewear that won't show through your clothes, they're a great bet. Plus, they're available in a multitude of sizes, ranging from XS-3X.
A great hat
Why it's a wardrobe essential: "Hats are an amazing accessory that can elevate your style. They can also temporarily hide some of the hair issues we face as we age such as thinning or balding and protect us from the sun. Try styles like bucket hats cloches, and the tried-and-true fedora to pair with your outfits," Vick says.
Gap Faux-Leather Baseball Hat
Whether you're heading to the gym or spending a day running errands, a baseball hat is an accessory staple that will never go out of style. This one just happens to have some extra pizzazz thanks to its sleek faux leather finish.
Toucan Hats Black Wide Brim Sun Hat
This wide brim, fedora-style sun hat is understated yet feminine thanks to its small side bow. We could see ourselves rocking it on vacation or while grabbing brunch on a beautiful sunny day.
Anything leopard print
Why it's a wardrobe essential: This ageless print works for every decade, but is especially perfect for ladies in their 50s who want to add a touch of attitude to their wardrobe. "Since leopard is neutral, you can pair it with any color and even some patterns," Peavy says.
New York & Company Leopard Print Coatigan
Want to ease in to the leopard look? Try a long cardigan like this style that's available in classic brown leopard print and a sleek gray hue. It has roomy side pockets to hold any odds and ends and is perfect for all year long.
G by Giuliana SoSoft French Terry Oversized Tunic
Leopard print is bold enough to stand on its own, so one printed piece is more than enough at one time. This sleek tunic comes in two leopard prints — brown and blue — and is stylish enough to wear at the office but cozy enough to sport with your sweats at home. The long dolman sleeves can also be rolled up for a chic ruching effect.
Why it's a wardrobe essential: Stilettos might have been fun at one point in time, but by now, you've likely learned that comfort is key when it comes to footwear. "Lower heels are better for your back and kinder on your legs," Peavy says.
Lifestride Magnetic Pump
Can you say, "Meow?" These sassy kitten heels are giving us all the feels with their sexy slingback design. The affordable kicks are available in faux leather and microsuede, and they have an ultra walkable 1 1/2-inch heel. Most importantly, they combine fashion and function with their traction sole, flexible construction and convenient slip-on design.
Vionic Angelica Kitten Heel
You don't have to sacrifice fashion for function to stay comfy, and these sassy kitten heels prove that. They feature a stabilizing 2.5-inch heel that's easy to walk in and cozy features like adjustable ankle straps. Whether you opt for a flash of color with the pretty pink hue or go for basic black or cream, you can't go wrong.
Two types of handbags: totes and evening bags
Why it's a wardrobe essential: "Ladies over 50 must possess two types of bags in their closets at all times. One is the fashionable yet durable carryall tote. This universal bag has dozens of uses for day or weekend activities. It should be large enough for a laptop and lunch when getting to work," Peavy says. "The next is a sleek evening bag. You never know when you will be invited to dinner or an event. Most practical in basic black, this bag should be small enough to handle with one hand while large enough for a cell phone and a few cosmetics."
Blake Shelton x Lands' End Medium Denim Tote
A denim tote has plenty of curb appeal without being overly dressy. This water-resistant bag has plenty of storage — four interior pockets, to be precise — and a rip-resistant bottom/handles. It's quite sturdy, meaning it can carry all your daily essentials with ease.
Yeti Camino 20 Carryall Tote Bag
You're a busy lady, so you need multipurpose accessories that can work for all the equally important areas of your life. Whether you're running to the gym, taking a day trip or simply heading to the office, this roomy tote can adapt to your needs. It's waterproof, easy to clean and puncture-resistant. Plus, it has plenty of interiors to help you stay organized.
Moda Luxe Faux Pearl Handle Quilted Crossbody
Pretty in pearls! A quilted bag with faux pearls on the handle adds a touch of elegance to your evening accessory game. For times when you want a more understated look for daytime, the carry handle is also detachable!
Venus Beaded Clutch And Crossbody
Beautiful beads are the perfect way to stand out for a special night out, and this clutch has plenty of them. It can be worn as a crossbody or carried as a clutch and also has a luxurious silky lining.
Why it's a wardrobe essential: Whether you're still climbing the corporate ladder or living the work-from-home life, every lady over 50 should still have a great fitted blazer in her wardrobe. "It's so versatile and you can wear it for a professional meeting at the office or add jeans when meeting girlfriends for brunch," Peavy says.
Attitudes by Renee Ponte Open-Front Girlfriend Blazer
Gone are the days of stuffy boardroom blazers. These days, girlfriend styles are much more flattering. This one is available in two basic hues — black and white — and has an approachable, relaxed fit. The machine-washable style has front pockets and a soft knit material and would look equally perfect at work or a girls' night out.
Express Mixed Button Front Boucle Tweed Jacket
At this point, you've probably already owned a bajillion basic blazers and you might be looking to switch things up a bit. This tweed jacket has all the sophistication of a blazer but with a more laid-back vibe. Notable features include a crisp crew neckline, statement buttons and flap hand pockets.
A cape or fur coat
Why it's a wardrobe essential: "Unless you live in the tropics, try a fur coat to add flair and make a statement. Whether faux or real, every closet needs one for those extra special occasions. As we mature, we should have access to a little luxury," Peavy says.
Elie Tahari Faux Fur Jacket
Love the warmth that fur offers but don't want the real deal? This faux fur jacket is a great alternative. Available in two colors (black and brown), it'll keep you nice and toasty when the temperature dips and you can even toss it in the washing machine when you want to clean it. We're also quite fond of the unique drawstring waist!
WynneCollection Quilted Cape Jacket with Belt
When comfort is a priority, capes are always your best bet. The spacious style has plenty of room to move around in, and they're not as constricting as typical coats (which can be great while you're going through menopause). We're crushing on this quilted style with convenient pockets and an accompanying belt. It's also machine-washable!
Meet the experts
- Sharonda Grandberry is the stylist and image consultant behind Pink Throne Styles.
- Nicole Vick is a stylist, public health advocate and educator based in Los Angeles.
- Linda Peavy is the founder of Cultured Curves, a fashion blog dedicated to curvy women over the age of 50.