What Should Women Over the Age of 35 Wear?

what to wear in your 30s 40s

The other day there was a minor furore on Twitter decrying the fact that high street shops don’t cater for over 35 year olds. The article that instigated it was this from The Pool. Here’s an exert for your perusal:

I have so many problems with this article, tbh I just want to faceplant the keyboard, repeatedly. But I’ll try and articulate some issues I have. Firstly, what exactly are women over 35 supposed to wear? We are not homogenous. We don’t hit 35 and suddenly all want to wear the exact same things. Fashion and more importantly style is about individualism, it is the driving force of capitalism after all. “Age-appropriate” clothing is so tedious. Wear what you want and what makes you feel good. It really makes me sad to read a woman saying that her arms should never be on show because they’re not toned enough and breasts and stomach should be “firmly encased”. That’s some low-key body hating right there. Moreover that seems to have just gone unquestioned, instead 100s of women replied affirming this message. I’ve never felt ashamed to show my arms but should I be? I don’t exercise them and I have a form of dermatitis that leaves blemishes all over them. Maybe I should just hide them away, I am over 40 you know.

Or alternatively, how about we say fuck it to those ridiculous notions and instead let’s look at something like Advanced Style to see how joyous and empowering fashion can be. I can see the dreaded cold-shoulder on what looks like an over 70 year old! Gasp! And just below that beautiful picture I can see bare arms!!

More Aye Lined to Read:  The Marks and Spencer Glove Shoe


Secondly, I’m not entirely sure what specific shops were visited but they don’t appear to be ones on my high street or Internet. Or indeed The Pool’s very own fashion page, which shows exactly the kind of clothes the author is after. I’m 40 and I have absolutely no problem finding clothes from the high street or online. One shop I’m often in is Topshop. I’ve pulled together some of my favourite items and I think you could wear these over and over again (I have the light pink blouse on the bottom left, it’s so nice). There’s actually a comment from a 50-something on the beautiful lilac High Neck Drape dress lilac (top right) about how much she loves it. This isn’t a faddy dress. The cut, shape and colour is something you could wear time and time again. Also note all the sleeves! Something Hughes claims there’s none of. See also high rise jeans, both the high street and Internet is full of them! ASOS for example has twice as many high rise jeans as they do low rise. Sigh.

In fact, there are possibly more options than there ever has been. What the high street is sorely lacking is clothes for larger women. Topshop stops at 18 online and I don’t think I have *ever* seen a size 18 in a shop. I can’t think of any decent high-street shop that stock above a 20 (do please correct me if I’m wrong) but if you are a size 8-14 the high street is your fashion oyster, especially if you have money. Never has there been so much available.

More Aye Lined to Read:  The Gender-Neutral Watch from Adexe

One thing I will concede to is the issue with fabric. Many of the man-made fabrics prevalent on the high street exacerbate over-heating. As a slightly hormonal lady this causes me no end of problems. However, cotton production has a HUGE environmental impact. Looking for organic cotton may help although there are some amazing man-made fibres mimicking cotton now. Both H&M and Zara for example have more environmentally sound ranges.

high street fashion for all ages


That aside, I was just astounded by the article. Of course there will always be current trends such as the cold shoulder in the stores. People of ALL ages like to play around with fashion trends but there is a multitude of stores offering good, solid styles that you can wear year in and year out. I’m going to list some just in case you are stuck for something with more longevity in it:

John Lewis Kin and And/Or 


Gather & See 


& Other Stories

Monki  (I have this coat


H & M 




People Tree

Great Plains 











Uniqlo (has the most brilliant basics) 



New Look (they have some surprisingly nice items)

Marks and Spencer

Office (for shoes) 

etc. etc. etc.  (yes, that is a link to the wonderful Yul Brynner in The King and I)

If you’re stuck for some inspiration, maybe check out some of these brilliant accounts for all ages and sizes: The Fashion Lift, Not Dressed as Lamb, Forever Amber, Dress Like a Mum, Megan Ellaby and Arched Eyebrow. This is just a very small sample of women embracing fashion and style regardless of age or size.

More Aye Lined to Read:  Beautiful Small Batch & Ethical Face Masks (plus my new newsletter!)

Wear what you want and makes you feel good. Please don’t be suckered into some warped societal idea of “dressing for your age”. If you’re ever in doubt have a look again at Advanced Style. Oh and to answer the title of this post: whatever the fuck they want. 

(Contains affiliate links)



  1. May 21, 2017 / 9:22 am

    Gah, I absolutely hate the idea of "age appropriate dressing"! I also think I must be doing it wrong, because I still shop in the same stores I've always shopped in (Zara, Mango, ASOS, Oasis, H&M…) and I never have a problem finding stuff I like. I guess I might be dressing too "young", but then again, I think I'm too old to care ��

    • May 21, 2017 / 12:54 pm

      I still can't get my head around it and also the reaction to it. I definitely think it must be a psychological thing because, damn, there's loads of clothes out there! I actually often see older women than me in Topshop all the time, shopping for themselves. I guess they missed the memo.

  2. May 21, 2017 / 3:28 pm

    I so agree. As an over 60 who has always loved clothes I wear what the f I want and if anyone thinks I look ridiculous it's their problem not mine!!!!

    • May 21, 2017 / 9:08 pm

      *high five* exactly! I adore women who just wear what they want. I bet you look wonderful 🙂

  3. May 21, 2017 / 6:33 pm

    Your last line is exactly the answer that came to my mind! My current 'standard' outfit is skinny jeans, a band t-shirt and a pair of Cons. And I'm 42 and a size 16 *gasp* It's comfortable and I like the way it looks, and I don't give a toss what anyone else thinks!

    • May 21, 2017 / 9:09 pm

      haha! It's a great look. I often wear something similar: a graphic tee, black trousers and a pair of trainers. It's such a nice look, I think xx

  4. May 23, 2017 / 8:34 pm

    I too get annoyed with articles telling us what we should or shouldn't wear at or over a certain age! Wear what you like – if you feel good, and comfortable in it.

    • June 5, 2017 / 7:37 pm

      YES, VERY MUCH THIS! oops caps lock xxx

  5. May 24, 2017 / 9:30 am

    Love this post as a 44 year old I don't feel fixed as to what I should wear. I do think sometimes some women look way younger than others and so can get away with wearing things that others can't. I feel people should wear what suits them and just makes them feel good X

    • June 5, 2017 / 7:37 pm

      couldn't agree more! style (and fashion) is an extension of yourself and you should be able to express that however you want! x

  6. May 26, 2017 / 5:12 am

    I'll be 35 this year & I'd be the last person to follow the age appropriate rules/trends. I think the main point of the article is that there's not that much variety for all preferences. I know I'm brutally picky when it comes to clothes and always leave the main stores in my area disappointed. I have to really research when most of the times I wish it wasn't such a hard work. (Really liking & other stories recently, wish it was cheaper and local)

    • June 5, 2017 / 7:38 pm

      yeah I love & Other Stories, and COS too. I always try to grab items from them in the sales when I can xx

    • June 15, 2017 / 2:31 pm

      it's awful! I cringe when I see those catalogues at women over 50. Cool of that's what you want to wear but jeez not all women over 50 are the same :/

  7. June 12, 2017 / 2:56 pm

    I'm totally with you here!

    Being over 35 and a size 16-18 it can be hard to find clothing that I actually want to buy! In my head I still think I am 17, I've caught myself dressing like I'm 17 – in my general grunge style with a few added accessories 😉

    I'll dress how I want and will stick to those things I know suit me and my personality – sod the media!


    • June 15, 2017 / 2:32 pm

      yes! I was very much into grunge too and I think I still dress kind of alternative (I hope so anyway!) And right on sista! xxx 😉

  8. June 15, 2017 / 2:21 pm

    So I totally rt'd that article lol. I am 42 and don't dress my age at all, I do find things in high street shops. And yet…sometimes I do struggle. Like if I need a nice dress, and it's maybe more a size thing (I'm a 16), it can be hard to find something that excites me that I feel comfortable in on a certain budget. Like stores aimed at women my age don't really feel like me either, I do feel like I have to search long and hard sometimes. I didn't read the article so much as dictating what I should wear, more like "Why can't I find these specific things more easily/affordably?". But re-reading the excerpt I can see how it might read as a stereotypical list of age appropriate type things. I just want clothes that are breathable, fun, not wishy washy colour or style wise, and have some semblance of quality. I love many of the blogs you listed, will check out the rest. 🙂

    • June 15, 2017 / 2:34 pm

      oh god yes, more clothes that are breathable! I totally agree with that point, my body literally breaks out in sweat when it's near anything synthetics! and thank you so much for the RT, hugely appreciate itxx

    • June 15, 2017 / 9:27 pm

      Oops I meant to say I rt'd original artical- have happily rt'd you though! 😉 x

    • June 15, 2017 / 9:29 pm

      haha I just realised you meant the original! and thank you! <3 xx

  9. June 25, 2017 / 6:23 pm

    What a cheek it is when we're told to dress a certain way because, shock horror, we're older. Sod all that, I say! I'm 51 now and see no reason to dress like a middle-aged lady is expected to. In fact yesterday I was in North Berwick meeting up with a friend who has just turned 64 – and you'd never know it!

    My way of thinking is something that Forever Amber touched on in a good blog entry; when you're older you're still perfectly entitled to dress as you did as a twenty-something, but your taste has probably moved on of its own accord. As a twenty-one year-old I wore some pretty whacky clothes and the reason I don't wear the same ones now has more to do with me favouring different styles, plus preferring to focus my energy on other things rather than spending time putting on glittery false eyelashes, dyeing my hair blue, etc. But I would be perfectly entitled to still do so if I wished and don't need patronising articles advising me on how to avoid being yelled at on the high street and blending into the background.

    • June 26, 2017 / 12:54 pm

      yes, that's such a good point! I definitely don't have the energy like I did when I was a teen/20something to focus so much on clothes but I still like to look like *me* regardless. 🙂 xx

  10. August 18, 2017 / 4:15 pm

    I read the title of this post and my immediate response was "whatever the f*ck they want". I'm so glad that's the direction your post went in!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *