ageless style

style challenge: top 10 needs of women 65+

65+ outfit

The reason for this post was because I've never seen it addressed. Back in 2009, I decided to do some research and even sent out a query to the PR flacks to see if their fashion clients had any clothes that met the needs of a woman over 65. I got lots of responses (and a few were right on) but most were wanting to know when the article would be published because they themselves wanted to know.

I guess you can't ask a 20 or 30-something designer to consider designing for their grandma — where's the fun, right? <sarcasm>  Even more insightful (and at times hilarious) were my conversations with women in their 60's and beyond.

Here's the truth about aging:

We don't feel like it in our heads! We still think the same as we did when we were 29. We want to look good! And the collective 65+ cry is

“Hello people! Society! Advertisers! We are here and we're tired of being ignored.”

Designers, take note! Based on my conversations and interviews, here are the Top 10 needs – now, remember not all will apply but some just may. If you're over 65 do any of these resonate?

silver hair masterclass Wed Aug 9!

1. Things just start to sag.

Arms, neck, breasts, thighs. These want to be covered up by most women.

2. Varicose veins.

Pants are preferred and perfect for covering the leg area. Or higher dernier hosiery.

3. Shoes that are comfortable.

Many of you like wearing tennis shoes because they are comfy. (We have more stylish options below!)

4. Quick and fast shopping excursions.

You can't shop for long because you may have hip or back pain.

5. Breathable fabrics.

For some of you, you like natural fabrics because they breathe as your body temperature seems to have risen and stayed there.

6. Easy to put on.

You like shoes and clothes that are easy to put on because you may have arthritis in your fingers and joints.

7. You don't need to impress.

You're not into “dressing up” because you're retired or you find it's too much trouble. Casual, comfortable and affordable clothes are important to you. Some of you even mentioned that you've gotten a little lazy in this area because your lifestyle has changed big time.

8. Nothing tight.

Flattering but not too confined tops, skirts and pants. You don't like things too tight around your waist — you want them to fall right over that area.

9. Washable.

No dry cleaning for you!

10. Budget friendly.

You are on a set income now and want these items to be affordable.

11. Because I couldn't resist.

I know I said 10 but this one was mentioned more than once (oh, you have such senses of humor!): I'd like a “Forever 39” store.


So, what to wear?

I thought you'd never ask! Taking all 10 points above into consideration, I searched and searched for items that would fit the requirements. Back in 2009 this is what I could find for an effortless, easy, washable outfit that can be worn any day of the week:

  • A soft thin-wale cotton corduroy pant in navy. These have an elastic band in the back for comfort and go up to size 16.
  • A button down 3/4 sleeve striped cotton top.
  • For when you're heading out to run errands or grab lunch, wear a pretty colored thin quilted vest. These are such a great jacket option and immediately add a little more style to your outfit. The vest nips in at the waist in the back which creates a nice hourglass look. And since Zappos is a wonderful online store that offers free shipping back and forth, you can't go wrong. Your achy hips will love you for it.
  • For shoes, try these slip-on sneakers by Skechers in a neutral taupe. They are super affordable and go up to size 11.
  • As for a handbag, your back health is important so you need to distribute the weight.  A cross body bag in a neutral color is a healthy option to consider.

However, NOW we are so lucky!

Athletic-leisure has come into its own and is a godsend FOR the above criteria. It is not meant to be for every 65 year old. Heck, I won't be wearing the outfit shown that was put together in 2009, thank you very much. More to come for you perennials. 🙂

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  1. 1

    Ha! Fashion for 65+ indeed! I’m 33 and, after two pregnancies, am dealing with #1, #2, #3, #5, #8 and #10. Your rules still apply.

  2. 2

    I think you should include proper under garments in this list. I don’t know how many older sisters I see out there with their girls around their waists.

  3. 3

    ROTFLMAO Susan. You made me burst out laughing with that comment. I immediately thought of that cartoon character Maxine.

    Anne — hee! Yes, I think we all can identify with some of these. I’m for a Forever 39 store.

  4. 4
  5. 5

    I’m celebrating my 65th birthday in two months. I wouldn’t be caught dead in this outfit. I’m still part of the business world. This outfit says “I give up” to me.

  6. 7
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  8. 10

    No, this type of clothes works for those who have not found their own personal style…If you know your body type and have worked over the years to
    perfect your style, you do not have to resort to this type of boring clothes…I appreciate the intent in selecting clothes for older women, but certainly, this is not for every older woman…Look around, there are some hot, se-y, fashionistas of the older set…Boots, jeans, well-constructed jackets and cardis, you know the drill.

    • 11

      Yeah there are some ” fashionistas” out there and a lot of them look ridiculous. Too much make up, too much glitzy jewelry, too much hair dye and clothes that scream “look at me!” Well, I’ve looked and I say rediculous. Be real, not decorated.

  9. 12

    No, I have not seen a hot, sexy 70 year old woman wear knee high boots but I’m sure there are a few out there! The goal of the article was to meet the 10 requirements of the REGULAR older woman and find something that would work for their everyday retired life. I think you all recognize now what limited options there are and how ignored this group is. That is why I wrote this. All clothes are boring until you put them on and add your own je ne sais quoi.

  10. 13

    You are so right about never having seen these topics addressed before! It´s not about being over 65-it´s about any post menopause woman. You forgot about the hour-glass figure turning into an oil drum! I went to the mall the other day in 2″ heels, had to take them off in agony, leave barefoot and throw them away when I got home…I cried realizing that those days are over but tennis shoes? NEVER! How about ballet slippers or flats?

  11. 14

    Thank you, Thank you, THANK YOU for this wonderful post! There may be disagreement on how to approach dressing post 65 (heck, post 50!), but your 10 (+1!) points are right on!

  12. 15

    I am a 65 year old that yes feels like I’m still 30 but have no ideal how to dress. I stay in jeans and knit shirts and look and feel awful. When I worked I felt like I dressed nice. More the classic style. You know suits, dresses, heels, business wear, but I am at a total loss now. Feel like I need someone to tell me, show me what to wear to look nice. Don’t want to look like a teen, but not ready for the grave.

  13. 16

    Loved the article-am 70 in Jan and still working-working is easy-uniforms-laughed about the hr glass figure-girls bruising knees, and needing breezies w/ultimAir lining but we need more articles like this–We are alive and wanting to look w/it.
    Thank you!

  14. 17
  15. 19

    I loved the article however I would not wear that outfit anywhere especially the shoes.
    The look is too casual for me.
    I am very interested in what not to wear because of my reconstructed body after breast cancer surg.

  16. 20

    Real sexy to a 65+ male. I love white silky ,draping, blouse with slim fitting black pants or skirt and a couple of strands of long pearls, medium height heels, a dap of perfume, lipgloss, shining hair and confidence of a 65+ wise and well you get the picture. A long beach type dress with a colorful shawl and pretty sandels. Sexy does not mean trashy, vulgar,letting it all hang out, To dress like a mature self confident women is sexy no matter what age.

  17. 21

    I have always enjoyed incorporating elements of the latest fashion looks into my wardrobe. I am now 70 and still want to dress with style, comfort and move into the wide array of events and activities that I enjoy feeling and looking lovely. It is wonderful to find articles addressing the image of the older women. I believe that we are redefining what it means to be a healthy, active, beautiful woman for all of our life. I never intend to stop using my talents, interests and work. I will move through my days looking as great as I can from head to toe.

  18. 22

    I am 74. Would like to see more articles and fashions for my age. I love jeans and practically live in them. I love boots also. Why would I be too old for those slim jeans with boots? I’m not over-weight. I’m not talking about high heeled boots..more the sensible low heeled boot. I have never seen magazines specifically for women my age. We are out there and we SHOP. Thanks for letting me vent. But would like answers.

  19. 23

    Dear Style Institute Person,

    Thank you so much for the info. I’m writing an article based on my daughter’s info (she spent a lot of time dressing older women when she worked at a chi chi store in Beverly Hills) and I wanted to double check my baby’s information. You say pretty much the same thing and… even though I’m “only” 61… I’m ever so grateful for finding your article. Thanks for writing it.

  20. 24

    ps My daughter said not to wear a crossbody bag when you’re over 70, but I do… at 61… especially when I’m traveling. However, I suppose that Beverly Hills women don’t have to carry anything other than one credit card.

  21. 25

    I wear clothes that I work in the home office and clothes to wear in a business office, I am what I am where I am, I try to keep black, white, grey and blue, usually brooks brothers but when I can snag a cool tee or great jeans in Marshalls I do. Running shoes, and some of us still jog at 68, are great for making your feet feel good and not walking around with puss on because your feet are killing you. Acceptance ladies, not death. As long as you are healthy. Really is it necessary to wear 5 inch heels, a crossover bag why not? Who set us up for what you can and cannot do. I live in FL so sometimes it is not easy to look cool when you are so hot but you can do it.
    Smile get your sleep and keep moving.
    Oh yes and drink water!

  22. 26

    I am 65 and was looking for help in dressing my new body. I also recommend Raquel Welch’s book Beyond Cleavage has a lot of good ideas on clothing, makeup and more.

  23. 27

    Ladies, please, ditch unisex t-shirts, for ladies t’s with 3/4 or long sleeves. Never wear sweats, EVER. Think feminine fabrics, shapely but not clinging, if you have muffin top or too much tummy. Instead of all over florals, go for touches of color in tanks under shirts, or cardis, shoes, jewelry, scarves. Avoid oversized (cover-up) tops and dresses, and instead choose shapely, with pretty cardi. Wear orthotics (Good Feet Store) inside pretty flats, sandals, or wedges. Choose walking/workout shoes that are stylish for all ages. For makeup, think “less is more.” Always wear a smile and subdued lip color. Get to the gym! I am a married, 68 yr. young, retired professional and grammy to 6.

  24. 28

    I’ve often thought that ladies over 60 need age appropriate clothing that is stylish. I’m 63 and while I feel the sports wear clothing gives women my age a feeling of fitness and health, I need to know what to wear for less casual occasions. Susan has some great advice (Mar 8, 2016. What a great website! I hope more women will post.

  25. 29

    I am over 65 and want to move to higher quality, fewer pieced, nonwork wardrobe. My problem is that I do not understand what to look for or to expect. Should high quality cotton or linen tops run $200 and last for five years? Will $300 silk blouses last three years when dry cleaned? Does the price ensure the quality? Am I asking too much to have higher ticket items last longer?
    Thank you for any advice on what to look for would be very helpful.

    • 30

      Hi Janet! High price does not always equate to high quality. When you say nonwork wardrobe, do you mean more casual yet stylish and tailored? Or do you mean to also add a mix of comfortable pieces that are stylish and consistent in quality? I think you may mean both and if so, I tend to look to designers/brands such as MaxMara and Armani that I trust and know to put out high-quality workmanship and textiles for stylish and tailored pieces. Their items are more expensive but the quality is amazing and the designs are timeless….I have many MaxMara Weekend items (a line that is more casual yet tailored) that are 15 years old, still look amazing and are still stylish. I also have a few YSL jackets that I bought on sale that have lasted 10 years. So, I would recommend looking to one of these designers for a few key pieces that will become the workhorses in your wardrobe.

      For more comfortable/casual pieces, there are lots of great denim brands and my favorite is Mother right now. I also like Lulu lemon for casual jackets…these items tend to be in the $100-180 range. For more casual tops, I always go for jersey tees/tops since the color lasts and they don’t ball up. I like Ella Moss a lot because I’ve found the quality to be good…the tees last a long time. Anything you dry clean consistently though will not last after a few years…dry cleaning is quite harmful to the fabric so it’s always best to go with cotton blends since they can easily be washed and they hold their color longer than 100% cotton. I hope this helps!

  26. 31

    This is the kind of information I need to know! I do believe that body type determines which clothing lines are better for you. I am short and apple-shaped. That limits my options. I will cruise the lines you mentioned and hoe to find my magic combo,
    Thank you for a fast response and good information!

  27. 32

    Are you kidding me right now. I am 70, a widow I work in the design industry. I experience none of these symptoms – not would I be caught dead in cords and sketchers. Try this

    Hair cut leggings colour nails the latest in blazers. Good luck wearing scarves in your old age

  28. 33

    Wow, all of those just seemed so ‘me!’ Yes, comfortable but looking nice; natural fabrics (hey, what happened to the day when cotton was so easy to find? I’m down to two stores that carry 100% cotton tops.) Shoes: well, I never wore heels (okay, maybe ten times in my life, for weddings or real ‘dress up’ occasions.) And yes, yes, yes to my jeans (bootleg or straight, thank you!) Now – if only those retailers would GET IT!

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