What is age appropriate?

   By krislovejmt  Oct 24, 2011


I've recently read several articles about dressing "appropriately". I've read articles saying that women shouldn't wear skirts showing their knees after 30, I've read articles saying that women are dressing like their teenage daughters, and I've read articles saying that men shouldn't wear baggy jeans past their mid-20's.

Since I'm approaching 30, I decided to explore some 30's advice articles and see what I'm SUPPOSED to wear when I hit the big "3-OH" next year. The articles that I've found were surprising, and a little depressing.

So far, I've discovered that when you're 30 or over:

  • Miniskirts are a no-no.
  • Skirts should go to the knee or below, and if you REALLY want to be "sexy", your skirt should have a slit in the side.
  • If pairing boots with a skirt, your skirt should touch or cover the boots.
  • Shorts should be no higher than mid-thigh, but the ideal length should be 2 inches above the knee.
  • Khaki pants are better than jeans for the "30 and above" closet.
  • Low rise is too "young for you" and ripped jeans will make you look homeless.
  • Message t-shirts are also inappropriate.
  • Women 30 and over should have "classy" things in their wardrobe such as: pencil skirts (note that maxi skirts may be too "trendy" for people over 30), flat-front pants, cashmere sweaters, and ballet flats (women over 30 should not wear heels over 2 inches).
  • Cleavage is a no-no (because its saggy), and sleeveless is also a no-no (because of saggy arms).
  • Sleeveless CAN be worn if paired with a bolero jacket to cover unsightly arm fat (otherwise known as "bingo wings").
  • Women over 30 should also avoid "loud accessories" including, but not limited to: glitter, dark nail polish, studded belts, animal print, and anything plastic.

Let's continue on to men 30 and over:

  • Men should not wear vintage tees past 30.
  • After 30, men should have crisp tees in good shape (no band tees!) and button up shirts with... KHAKIS, of course.
  • Polo shirts are also acceptable, tank tops are not.
  • Jeans should not be baggy or saggy.

I've also noted that after 30 men should not wear off-the-rack suits, they should ditch cargo pants, and avoid clothing with large printed branding.

I'm blown away. Evidently, at 30, I'm supposed to dress somewhere between Mrs. Cleaver and my grandmother. In one year, my breasts are going to suddenly sag, my arms are going to get flabby, and my legs will become way too unsightly for skirts and shorts. I wasn't aware of this full body degradation. My mother never told me this. I'm evidently on the road to ugly sweatshirts and polyester pants.

Lets get serious. I don't have flabby arms, my breasts don't sag, my butt is where its supposed to be, and my legs are gorgeous. I don't see this magically changing in the next year. Is this society's outlook on 30-somethings? Is this what people over 30 remember their 30's being like? Is this how under 30's look at us?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not going to dress like a cheerleader or a school-girl unless its for Halloween, but is there really a line I cross when I hit 30? I don't think theres a guide to follow when it comes to fashion or comfort. I'm a firm believer in rockin' it while you can. I think its ok to wear a bikini after 40 if you've got the body for it. I think its alright to shop in the Junior's section at 35, as long as you're not buying that glittery Hello Kitty "princess" t-shirt that was intended for 11 year olds. Its ok to show some cleavage if your breasts are in good shape. Its fine to show a little tummy if its still smooth, flat and unmarred. My mother is almost 50. She wears jeans, shirts, and sneakers. She doesn't look like she's trying to be 20, she doesn't look like June Cleaver, and she's definitely not trying to be Peggy Bundy. As far as I'm concerned, until my grandchildren are old enough to be embarrassed by my cleavage or I become embarrassed of it, its not a concern of mine.

I'm well aware that not everyone is lucky with their figure, and that having kids, weight loss/gain, and illness (among other things!) can really make your body go south. That's ok too! You still don't have to dress like a frumpy grandmother if you don't want to. You can always dress shape appropriate, and within your comfort zone.For example: Whether you're 17 or 67, you can look great rocking jeans, a nice top, a leather jacket, and heeled boots.

I'm certainly not seeing celebrities dressing much different as they age. Gwyneth Paltrow (39) certainly isn't sacrificing short dresses/skirts because she's over 30. Johnny Depp (48) hasn't given up baggy jeans. Should "normal" people aged 30 and over get rid of these things?

I'm not giving up my stilettos, or my mini skirts until I don't look good in them any more. Well, I might give up my stilettos if I fall and break something no matter how old I happen to be. I'm not going to stop dying my hair whatever color I want until the colors clash with my wrinkles.
I'm also not giving up my band tees or my funny t-shirts, and I don't expect my 30-something husband to give them up either.

On the other hand, I'm certainly not going to wear sweatpants that say "Drama Queen" across the rear. I'm also not going to stand in front of my mirror and delude myself into thinking I look great in pigtails and overalls. There are "girl" clothes and there are women clothes. As for women dressing like their teenage daughters, sometimes it happens.... Sometimes its just the cold, hard fact that kids are growing up faster and acting/dressing older than previous generations.

Is "age appropriate" just another way of saying "don't wear what you don't look good in"? Are you going to give up your favorite clothes because they're not "age appropriate"? What is your opinion on fashion age limits?

Make a Comment

chelmel88 by chelmel88 | Junction City, KS
Nov 04, 2011

Until you start looking horrible in them, don't give certain things up because of your age. I'm not 30, but my mom is in her late 40's and she has just now STARTED wearing loud accessories! She finally got down to the weight she wanted, and has never felt better about herself. I would consider her a jewelry freak. Haha. I disagree about the message shirts, too. It honestly depends on what the shirt says. I also disagree on ALL of the men things. I think that age should be over 45 on some of them, and there is not an age limit on some of them.

DianeO48 by DianeO48 | Milford, MA
Oct 27, 2011

I'm 63. Age appropriate isn't the problem. Women don't pay enough attention to their body type. If you're a young overweight girl (many are these days) & you wear clothes that look like you were poured into them or your muffin top looks like a super sized Whopper or you're the opposite & very thin & the clothes you pick are either too large that they look like tents or expose too many ribs & bones that you look anorexic, you'll probably be the ones who dress inappropriately as adults.You need to really look at your body type & dress accordingly. Have someone shop with you who'll be brutally honest with your selections. I have great legs, so I can wear shorter shorts and slim fit jeans. I also have an apple figure which means no waistline so I'm more comfortable & look better in low rise pants. I also fit into low rise jeans that are 3 sizes smaller than the ones that come to my waist. When people find out how old I am they're surprised because they say I look so much younger.

tlspencer by tlspencer | RIO RANCHO, NM
Oct 24, 2011

It's fine to wear it if you can "back it up"... but the problem is, a lot of women don't know when it's time to just stop.

MsGage by MsGage | Baker, LA
Oct 24, 2011

I do think that after 30 you should let some things go, but if your still in pretty good shape and feel good then I think you should go for it!

itqtpie by itqtpie | DOYLESTOWN, PA
Oct 24, 2011

I totally agree with you and alot of the other women. ia m a 38 yearold mom of an 11 yearold daughter. I wear whatever I like, from a screeen print tee with a save the planet message to an outfit showing a little tasteful cleaveage. I have naturally really long hair..almost to my butt..I hear that's a no-no too! I believe age is just a number and I try to live that way. I volunteer at my daughter's school and all the kids from K-8 all think I'm a cool mom..and my daughter thinks so too. I dress young and listen to music that is not on any oldie stations, watch MTV and keep up with current slang and other non-old fuddy dud stuff! I refuse to age quietly.......if you like it...wear it with confidence..own it ..or "Rock it" as the kiddies say!

Oct 24, 2011

So because a woman is over 30 she's no longer allowed to be trendy?? Um, no I think not! We have a right to be stylish too. Plus if we all followed these rules all 30 year olds would look the same and that is just boring!

JoLynnie by JoLynnie | Paoli, PA
Oct 24, 2011

I am a 35 (soon to be 36) year old woman with one child (2 yrs old). In my opinion, social media began this expectation that unless you are a celebrity and have the full-time trainer and plastic surgery available, one should follow those ridiculous comments bulleted in your article. Personally, however, I began lengthening my own skirts, tossing the graphic tees, and opting for a tankini over a bi-kini when I was no longer happy with my overall appearance in said items. That began two years ago when my body underwent a massive evolution from non-mommie 30 something to full-on mommie 30 something. It's been a VERY gradual wardrobe adjustment but there has been an adjustment just the same since my daughter was born. Now, that doesn't mean I do not find myself attractive or able to turn heads in a great pair of jeans, tank and stilettos...because I am and I do! It's just that I don't wear them as much as I did pre-baby : ) Life is ever-changing and so is my wardrobe : )

cybergwen by cybergwen | Morro Bay, CA
Oct 24, 2011

I am with you, not giving up my minis or stilettos until they look like I am trying to hard. There is no magic number, it all depends on what shape you are in and how you carry yourself.

tara19652006 by tara19652006 | ALBUQUERQUE, NM
Oct 24, 2011

I say if you have the legs wear a mini skirt. I may be 46 but I look like 30 and I have great legs so I still wear min skirts. I wear what looks good on me.

morethanamama by morethanamama | FRISCO, TX
Oct 24, 2011

I had put the kabash on minis until I started working out and feeling good about my body. So now I just go for it. My big no-no for women over 30 is to please stop shopping in the juniors department. If you buy something that is made for a women's body as opposed to a girl than it will probably look a lot better on you, regardless of your age.

Kay3131 by Kay3131 | New York, NY
Oct 24, 2011

Balderdash to those bullet points ! Women over 30 should not wear heels over 2"? Just the opposite! In the same way that having good manners does not mean adhering to a list of do's and dont's, but instead means above all, making people comfortable... so too, the overarching guideline should be about looking and feeling good. Saggy arms? I see many 18-year old girls in tank tops and brides in strapless dresses who have worse arms than Debbie Gibson and Jane Fonda - so it's not about age. I am lucky to have friends who are honest, who know the flaws I am trying to camouflage, and who let suggestions flow. I am also open to trying new things... which is really important because hanging-on to the same look for too many years (like 5) is often, I think, the bigger culprit than any point on those lists.

didama by didama | MAPLEWOOD, NJ
Oct 24, 2011

As I've gotten older, I've learned that I can't wear the minis that I use to!