Formal Wear for Older Women
Lack Of Fashions for Women Over 50
Who knew that once you hit 50 you became invisible? This cloak of invisibility is evident every time I walk into a clothing store. There are fashions for millennials by the truckloads sporting the latest designs, fabrics, and colors of the season. Then there are the clothing stores your mother enjoys because they cater to her need to have warm feet and covered knees. What about the rest of us? Where are we suppose to purchase our dresses, skirts, and blouses? I often wonder if it will take a revolution of middle-aged women running naked through the streets to highlight our cause. A protest that even Lady Godiva would be proud to have attended.
Ladies before you begin stripping off and heading for the door, let's talk formal wear for women our age. If you've been avoiding going to your school reunion or telling your children to wait to get married because you can't find something suitable to wear, I want to help you (and your children).
I am in the same boat, as now I am on the wrong side of 55. I currently live in Brazil and it is refreshing to see the attitude of women here, as it's very different to those I seen in the US & the UK. Here a woman, no matter what her age or size, will quite happily wear tiny clothing while excess skin hangs over the fabric. There is no shame or feeling that they should cover up because here, fun comes first.
I realize that for many reading, this is not an option as you might be embarrassed or ashamed of a particular part of your body. You probably notice that part of your body more than other people, but in order for you to feel comfortable at your next party or formal gathering, we will discover some suitable dresses and pantsuits, that will have you enjoying your evening on the town.
Formal Fashions for Mature Women
Older or mature women have certain areas which we may wish to hide. Although you may think you're the only one plagued by these problems, you're not. I personally have 4 or more of them that I will be discussing, so you're not alone. Many fashions that are targeted at younger women will suit us, however, it does take some sifting through the choices and picturing ourselves in a given outfit. Many popular sites, such as Amazon, rarely use older women in their advertising images, a fact that doesn't help us in our quest to find our perfect outfit.
I have listed a few ideas of clothing for you to look at for your next formal occasion as wedding season is right around the corner. These also include what areas they help to cover up and I also will touch on other important things to consider when selecting your perfect attire for a wedding, or other formal events. It's worth spending time selecting an outfit because when you feel confident in what you're wearing, it shows in how you carry yourself and how much you enjoy the event.
Loose Underarm Skin
This problem has many names such as bingo wings, underarm dingle-dangle and some which may be specific to your area or family. Whether this is due to weight loss, or a simple lack of toning, it doesn't matter, it's a common problem which we can deal with. I won't suggest you lift weights or do dips from a chair (clearly, my triceps have been subjected to these various exercises) I am here to find clothing options that will mask this problem area.
Wearing sleeves is the obvious answer but as I'm sure you're aware, some are better than others. Lace sleeves are often found on formal dresses and add to the elegance of the outfit. Some lace is more suitable than others as certain ones are stretchable. If your arms are large consider only lace sleeves that have a bit of stretch. If they are too tight the skin could begin to push through the lace creating an unattractive appearance. Plus you do not want a potential clothing failure during the event. Sheer 3/4 length sleeves will mask the problem area whilst still leaving the dress with a lighter chic look. This is a good choice if your upper arms are large.
Another option is wearing a light jacket, such as the one with the pantsuit or a short bolero style which will look striking paired with pants, a skirt or a dress.
Tummy or Flabby Abs
If you read women's magazines or go to exercise sites, the women have flat abs but let's be realistic, how many women do you know with flat abs that are our age? That isn't to say, you should cease with your workouts, just don't get stressed about it because there is clothing to help.
Many years ago I remember watching the Wimbledon Tennis tournament and Sarah Ferguson (Prince Andrew's ex-wife) was in the audience. Of course, the cameras were pointed at her the entire time as this was just before her upcoming wedding. She sneakily ate a candy and the press went crazy about whether she would be able to fit into her wedding dress. She later went on to represent Weight Watchers but her weight was a constant source of news in the British press. This made me sad then and it still does as she didn't fit the mold of a perfect woman.
My point of that story is, no matter what age, unless you are an athletic type, it is likely you feel you're carrying more than you want around you mid-section. Call it a spare tire, love handles, or just your gut, it causes women a lot of distress. If the upset is caused because it's seen as unhealthy then I can see why there is a cause for concern. If however, it's because other people comment or you feel peer pressure (yes even at our age), I don't think we need to get worked up about our tummies.
If the thought of wearing feminine shoes that show your swollen ankles fills you with dread, you are not alone. This is something I too deal with. With long formal wear, be it trousers or a dress, your large ankles are covered. However, if you choose to wear a shorter dress, then more care needs to be taken. For me, shoes with straps seem to accentuate the problem. My favorite pair of dress shoes is a kitten heel pump. They are low enough to be comfortable but the pointed toe helps draw the eye away from the ankle.
If you know you will be standing, walking or dancing opt for shoes that are comfortable. High heels, unless you are accustomed to them, should really be called sitting shoes.
Wide Hips, Saddle Bags, And Large Legs
When I think of how many hours are spent looking in a mirror and the worry this causes to women, I almost want to cry. Sisters, listen to me, this is your shape and has been the form that artists have chosen to paint through the whole Renaissance period. You know the types of paintings I'm referring to, the Rubenesque women who are plump and sensuously draped over a chaise lounge, arms and legs akimbo. They are adorned with nothing more than a wisp of burgundy fabric and long wavy locks of auburn hair. You have a wonderful womanly shape.
Believe it or not, the current medical research says carrying weight around the hips, as in a pear shape, is healthier than extra weight around the belly.
The key to finding something ideal for a formal event is, buy the correct size. I know this sounds crazy but I have seen women with large hips try and squeeze into a smaller size thinking it makes them look smaller, in fact, this has the opposite effect. Correct fitting clothing makes you look better and feel better and when that happens you enjoy yourself more.
Solutions for Saggy Breasts
Unless you've had breast augmentation, it's likely your breasts aren't as pert as they once were. What once were full and bouncy now are akin to the ears of a Labrador. In our next life, hopefully, we will be on a gravity-free planet where this type of thing doesn't occur. If you have the chance, put into a Google search 'normal women's breasts'. There are websites where normal women of all ages have uploaded images of their boobs. You will be amazed at what you see, and I promise you after seeing them, you will love your own pair.
If you feel your girls are letting the side down when it comes to dressing up, don't worry, this problem is easy to fix without resulting to drastic measures. Correct fitting corsetry is a must have to make you feel comfortable in any formal wear.
These might include:
- Silicone bra inserts, or as my daughter calls them 'chicken fillets'. These are easily tucked inside the bra, normally in front of the armpit side. Some women choose to place them below although you don't want your cup to runneth over, just be filled.
- A push-up or padded bra: Don't be fooled into thinking a push-up or a padded bra is only for the young. Both types of bras help give the breasts back their fullness.
- Body Shapers. My personal favorite is what are collectively called, body shapers because they solve so many problems. It pays to shop around until you find the right one. Not only will you get the bust supported correctly, you'll also benefit from a smooth line which looks better under a dress.
Don't immediately look at this dress and think it is only for slim women, it isn't. That was my initial thought when I saw the model they used but after looking at the images of women who have bought it, and love it, this dress would be perfect for so many women, myself included. There were even a few ladies who were 5'3" and quite stout who felt elegant for the first time in their lives wearing it.
The 3/4 length sleeves help to hide loose upper arm skin. Coverage at the back obscure any emerging humps and the cleverly angled dropped waistline pulls the eye away from the tummy area.The skirt fabric cascades beautifully creating an illusion of longer legs
Although this Victorian style dress is available in a variety of colors, black is the most popular as it suits so many events.
One thing I will say is the v-neck on this dress is a quite deep, a padded bra, simple silicon inserts, or an all in one body shaper would help with the overall look.
If you prefer an empire waist and a fuller skirt, Kiyonna do a similar lace dress but it is only available in plus sizes.
Big Butt Or No Butt Fashion Fixes
Who could have imagined that a big posterior was going to be in fashion? Go figure! Thanks to the likes of Beyonce, and Jennifer Lopez the tables have turned and an ample booty is trendy. Those who are challenged in the tush area, have easy fixes without resorting to drastic measures.
These can include the:
- Shape wear: This one piece which I mentioned in the bra section, has padding already included. The range is vast and can start around the knee and extend under the breasts. The fabrics used now are much more breathable and can be comfortable.
- Inserts: Similar to the ones for your bra, these silicone or foam butt pads, insert into panties. *Word of caution get panties that have a pouch for these inserts. Otherwise, you could be dancing carefree and it could move or fall out. No one wants to see themselves on YouTube the day after the event.
For a large derriere, you have the choice to cover it, for example, a long jacket and pantsuit style or other loose fitting clothing.
Or you can flaunt it by wearing a dress that will hug your curvaceous figure! The long lace dress by Miusol on this page will help accentuate your curves without being flashy or looking like a tart.
Clothing For A Dowagers Hump
The hump on the upper back can be the result of osteoporosis, bad posture or other causes. If this is something which is an embarrassment to you, choosing the correct clothing can help. Don't fret about this as there are styles which can easily mask this. Dresses or blouses which sit at the collar line or even higher up the nape of the neck can hide the bulbous lump.
It is worth mentioning that if you are at an event, and are relaxed or tired you may tend to slump forward which will cause your hump to be more evident. Sit up straight, pulling your shoulder blades towards the center of your back and imagining they are taped together. Sitting upright and checking your posture frequently during the day, will make you more aware of incorrect posture. This also pulls the abdomen muscles into play which helps with your core muscle groups.
Yoga is an excellent way to help you understand how your muscle groups are interconnected and can help with your overall well being.
Do you feel confident in choosing new outfits?
Fashion Inspiration for Mature Ladies
It can be difficult to know what styles might suit us as we age. One thing I have done is to look at the mature women in the film industry when they are attending an awards ceremony. I am not referring to women such as Lady Gaga in her dress made of meat, Madonna with her eclectic wardrobe or even Cher who has shown more flesh in her time than a high street butcher. All three of these women are talented but their fashion sense is warped, in my opinion.
Look more towards women such as Helen Mirren, Meryl Streep and Jane Fonda to see that what a well dressed mature woman looks like. In fact, at this year's Cannes Film Festival Helen Mirren was wearing a similar style to the black dress I have shown you on this page, albeit her's was shorter.
Hair & Make-Up For Over 50s
Once you've purchased your outfit, your hair and make-up will be next on the agenda. If your hair is short, you may be limited to the style you already have unless you use a hairpiece, wig, or temporary extensions. Consider highlights or low lights to brighten up your look.
If you have longer hair, consider wearing it up as an elegant up-do is glamorous. The exception to this would be if you are trying to cover a hump on your back. Be aware, though, elongating the look with a bun or chignon will draw the eye up and away from your problematic back.
For your makeup, keep it simple with colors you're already accustomed to wearing. Bold eye shadow doesn't work on women our age, leave these for the 20 somethings. Choose a bold lipstick if it's your signature look. The focal point should be eyes or lips but not both.
Accessories for Formal Wear
Accessorizing your formal wear will be dependent on what you are choosing to wear. As with the make-up, less is more. If you have opted for a solid color low cut gown, then do wear a necklace or a beautiful scarf. Earrings should compliment your outfit and your face, and not be the focal point of outfit or conversation around the table.
Opt for a small evening clutch bag as opposed to large shoulder bag to keep your look refined and fresh.
With a few simple key pieces you'll feel self-assured and it will show.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
I'm going to an evening semi-formal event. I'm wearing a black tunic very sparkly material with black pants. I'll be wearing silver 2.5 inch heels with silver and black crystal beads and jewelry. It looks really very nice on me. I don’t like dresses. I thought about white pants and decided on the black. What do you think about my choice?
© 2017 Mary Wickison