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Is it age appropriate at 54 to wear young styles?

Age 54, 5 ft 8 in, 110 lbs. People tell me to not lose even one pound, but I think that I look good, and don't want to be heavy. Men hit on me from every age group.


Recently wore all black outfit of tight leather jeans, tight sweater with bare shoulders, and strappy heels with zippers up the back. I like looking good, don't want to come off as slutty because I am not ready to engage in any relationship. But, I still want to look attractive.

Jane's answer...It sounds as if you're in amazing shape for your age. Good for you!

I suspect you have some doubt about the appropriateness of the outfit you describe, which is why you're asking this question. But what is age appropriate when you're in your 50s? That can be a tricky question to answer, and a bit subjective too. It's often a matter of how outfits are styled. What may appear to be young clothes in one outfit may appear totally appropriate when combined with different items.

(And as an aside: there's never a need to look slutty, even when you are ready to engage in a relationship!)

What not to wear


The main 'rules' are:
  • Avoid items linked to stereo-types of much younger women -- such as baby doll dresses and ultra-high hemlines

  • Avoid items linked to stereo-types of much older women -- such as too large, ill-fitting clothes

  • Don't go short and/or tight all over -- even on younger women everything short and tight can look slutty, especially when paired with strappy heels, because it's a stereo-type we associate with prostitutes. Good fit in body skimming clothing is always in style and generally is more flattering on older bodies, even when you are slim and in good shape.

  • Don't show too much flesh -- and make sure any flesh you do display is in good condition. For example, I don't recommend wearing a short skirt, sleeveless top and a low neckline. It's fine to expose some cleavage if you have it, or some leg above the knee if your skin is still in good condition, but make one of those your focal point, rather than going with a short skirt and a low top.

  • Don't get stuck in a look from a past decade -- even though current fashions often reflect styles from previous eras there are always contemporary twists to the styles. Combining 70s-inspired flared pants with a cross-over blouse, for instance. Or the fabric of the current style is a new technology fabric with some stretch in it. Dressing exactly as you did in a previous decade is very ageing.


To be honest, the outfit combination you describe does sound rather slutty! It's the tight clothing all over, the leather pants, the bare shoulders and the strappy heels all worn together, even if your figure and your skin tone are great.

It's a good idea to avoid giving too much of a shock when someone sees you from behind and then from the front!
is it age appropriate at 54 to wear young clothes
This is illustrated by these pictures from an article published in the UK Daily Mail in 2007. The women seen from the rear look much younger than they do from the front, when we see their faces.

What to wear


There is absolutely no need to dress 'old' or frumpily! You can (and should) still look contemporary, and even fashionable, if you like fashion. (My articles on current trends are designed to help you navigate the trends).

I recently saw a lovely older lady (I'd say she was in her 80s), wearing patterned tapered pants with a lovely fitted, but not tight, cashmere sweater and a matching beret at a jaunty angle on her head. She looked absolutely gorgeous, contemporary, yet appropriate. It made me feel good to see her and how much she obviously enjoyed her style (I would have told her so, but she was too far away)!

It's always a good idea (at any age) to dress authentically for who you are, while flattering your appearance and considering the event or activity and the people you're with.

You are obviously not the shy, retiring type and like 'look at me' clothes. There's nothing wrong with that, just make sure people are looking at you for the right reasons (because you look great in an age appropriate way that shows you still enjoy your appearance and have high self-esteem). If in doubt ask a friend or two you trust to give you an honest opinion (female and male). Taking a photo of yourself and assessing that can also help you see yourself more objectively.

Here are some alternative styling ideas for the clothing items you describe:

is it age appropriate at 54 to wear leather pants


Try wearing your leather pants with a flowing trapeze-style top or a cross-over blouse (like the one shown). Perhaps styled with a partial tuck (if you don't find that too fussy).

Images on left: Paris Coming cross-over blouse; Moschino necklace from Yoox; The Row leather leggings from My Theresa; SJP strappy sandals from Cusp

is it age appropriate at 54 to wear a tight sweater with bare shoulders


Or try the tight sweater that displays your shoulders with wider, flowing pants and your strappy heels.

Images on right: Charlotte Russe cold shoulder top; Monsoon pants; DKNY strappy sandals

Of course I don't know enough about you to make specific recommendations but hopefully these will give you some ideas to work with?

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