Photo: Dvora @fashionistable

After making the shift from fashion magazines to freelance and the burgeoning online world in the early noughties, I started blogging as That’s Not My Age nine years ago. Before long, I was networking with lots of brilliant, like-minded women of a similar age and one thing has become abundantly clear: the common wisdom on what is appropriate to do, say and wear over-40 is no longer wise – or relevant. Gone are the days when hitting 40, 50, 60, 70, or beyond, meant conforming to a ubiquitous look. The one thing fashion industry influencers agree on is that age no longer dictates our style parameters.

Money, mindset and changing lifestyles – we are living and working longer – together with the rise and rise of the internet – has led to something of an ‘ age quake.’ The era of focusing on anti-ageing and youth is being ushered out to make way for a new emphasis on health and ageless style. Looking good, not looking young is the new mantra.

The popularity of quirky prints, sneakers for smart dressing and bolder colour choices are all perfect examples of a less age-prescriptive way of dressing – as is the rise of denim workwear and the slogan top. And comfort is no longer associated with elasticated waist slacks and nan shoes, but rather luxurious fabrics and pieces that have a relaxed, sportswear-inspired feel. ‘The 40-plus consumer bracket is growing,’ says Clare Hornby, founder of Me+Em, ‘And it’s a demographic that appreciates quality – beautiful fabrics, flattering cuts, the right attention to detail.’

Dressing for comfort, personality and body shape, rather than following ‘age-appropriate’ fashion commandments, is another victory for the ever more visible generation. And experimenting 
is the way to whoop up a wardrobe and celebrate our style liberation.

This is a very short extract from a larger feature I’ve written on ageless style for the Telegraph’s Stella magazine. Read the full article HERE. It’s one of their premium features but everyone can sign in to read it.

23 thoughts on “The rise of ageless style: why women over 40 want to look good not young

  1. Alyson,
    I totally agree with you!
    I am 60 and I want to dress chic and stylish, not young.
    I wear what I love and stay away from fashion that isn’t my style.
    If it’s flared bell bottoms, I’ll wear it, but if it’s ripped jeans, I’ll take a pass.
    I dress for me, not for the trends.

  2. I also like to dress modern chic avoiding ripped jeans etc. I can still shop in all the High Strret stores
    And at 72 love to be up to the minute without looking silly. Love all the blogs and comments. Makes
    Me realise there are so many like minded ladies around.

  3. Note from one of your stateside fans: desperately wanted to read the entire article and send it on to my gal pals but didn’t want a “free” subscription. I guess I’ll try the library.

    1. Hello C. – I asked the editor about this and she said everyone should be able to read the feature, no strings. I think it’s possible to view one feature per month (?) I managed to sign in myself to view the article online without agreeing to the subscription. Fingers crossed you can, too.

  4. I have just turned 70 and I want to look chic and elegant. Smart well fitting indigo denim jeans are for me but definitely not distressed ones. I rely on my 3 grown up daughters to help me avoid “mutton moments” and the one who is my size is happy to wear most of the clothes I pass on to her.

  5. The only thing about this is I get quietly rankled when a waitress or clerk responds with ‘Sweety’ or ‘Dear’ when addressing me. Maybe I remind people of their granny. I am not their granny. Was their granny stationed with the Marines or prepared to deploy to some far, hard-to pronounce place just a few hers ago? Did she keep her combat boots at the ready? Despite dressing carefully and being well-groomed the younger group lets you know you are ancient and require assistance when using anything electronic. We do have funds generally for a few, carefully chosen quality pieces of clothing that will last which is our thing, however.

    1. Whoopee! The language thing. “Would you ladies like some dessert?” An older man as an “old codger” in the NY Times. Yesterday, a man my age who has married a much younger woman was talking to me as I started to walk up some stairs. He grabbed my elbow as if to help me up the step — maybe I’m mistaken about his intentions, of course.

  6. I totally agree – this obsession with looking younger is pointless because we all get older, but we can look and feel good at any age. Btw, I couldn’t access the full article, even though I’ve got a non-subscriber’s account.

    Emma xxx

  7. Unfortunately I can’t read the article (Germany) for the same reasons which are already mentioned by other commenters.

  8. Hello Alyson. I too tried to access your Telegraph article via limited access to one article. It failed. I’m sitting in Seoul Korea as I write so it isn’t just USA. However I’m a follower of your TNMA blog to the extent that I bought and read the new book on style which I enjoyed. I agree with the change of approach to older women and how they dress and act. As a woman of an age who gets discounts as a senior but still wants to look attractive and stylish I’m most grateful this has come to pass. As the French say “que ca dure” may it continue. For leisure wear late in the evening I’m dressed in Gap jeans, celadon green cabled thick knit jumper from Toast last year and chartreuse socks with leopard print slippers. A striped cotton silk men’s scarf Paul Smith from Bicester village shop in shades of greens and blues draped about my neck. An any age outfit which is warm comfortable and stylish.

  9. I honestly do want to look younger–as well as good! However, I certainly don’t want to look like I’m trying to fit into the millennial crowd. Sometimes it’s tough to tell the line between “good” and “age-appropriate.” Since I retired, I’ve struggled with a tendency to dress like a slob. I tell myself that I’m dressing for comfort, but I suspect that too often I look disheveled. But my ultimate goal is comfort! And that means jeans and t-shirts too often. Somedays I fear that I’ll go shopping in my pjs! Jeans are still okay, aren’t they?

  10. Great article. I am able to access entire article (USA). It did request I disable my Adblocker software – not sure if that made the difference.

  11. Hi Alyson,
    I am enjoying your blog but changing the subject somewhat – have you got anything to say about swimsuits as you age and your legs get that wobbly look???

  12. Yes. Worship of youth is vexing. I am sure that is why so many women starve themselves as well, in search of a mythical and youthful willowy-ness. If you have got to 50 and 60 and beyond, you have actually had your youth. Frankly, the only thing I covet about being young is the suppleness of skin. And that, not very much. I do like young people though and that is much more satisfactory.

  13. Dianne and Saba I love your comments, some people forget how strong and capable we are.
    Now when I get called “Mam” in the grocery store I inwardly laugh, thinking if you’re lucky you’ll get to be my age and as fit.

    1. I look quite young for my age, but people in their 20s or 30s certainly don’t mistake me for them. I take evening classes and am often in the company of students in their teens through their late 20s, as well as some people 30 to 60+. I haven’t experienced any serious condescension or any ageism, but when I think about how I regarded older people when I was their age — in my mid-20s in the 1980s, I wrote a draft of an article in which I described a man in his 50s as “elderly” — I can only get so angry. Moreover, the world has changed. Not only are people living longer, more people are living longer who need to keep making a living. They literally cannot afford to be dismissed or underestimated.

  14. I just turned 60 and certainly don’t want to be ignored, but this “age quake” sounds like nothing more than the identification of yet another group to be targeted by marketers. Is there no end to consumerism?

    It might be pretty to think otherwise, but most women would prefer to look young rather than “good,” whatever that means. But it’s no longer possible to look young. It’s also difficult to look good without money. So back we go to consumerism.

  15. I so agree !
    Am very grateful to have the option to dress the way I want ,not the way my age dictates !

    Thank you
    Always enjoy your articles

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