June 23, 2015

By request: Advice on vintage fashion for women over 40


Every now and then someone suggests a post topic that while I feel I have the theoretical knowhow to write about, I pause before doing so simply because I don't think that I have enough firsthand, real world experience with the subject matter yet.

My lovely friend and Canadian author Elinor Florence recently brought up the subject on my personal Facebook page of (me writing) a post on the topic of vintage fashions for mature women. Several ladies of varying ages, myself included, weighed in on the topic, and it didn’t take long for me to decide that I would love to tackle this far too infrequently discussed subject matter.

Though I don't consider myself to be of a so-called mature age in so much as fashion is concerned yet, I've certainly reflected on this topic many times since Elinor first raised it and decided  I would proceed to take her up on her request, even though I don’t have any first hand experience in this area yet in so much as being a woman in her 40s, 50s, 60s, etc and wearing vintage clothing is concerned. I hope that I will do both it, and those in this age range who sport or are currently thinking about starting to wear vintage styles, justice.

First and foremost, I genuinely believe that one can, and should, wear anything that their heart desires regardless of age. As long as you're happy, comfortable, and not hurting anyone or being culturally insensitive with your attire, the sky is the limit whether you're 18 or 98! A point that I've touched in numerous posts over the years, such as 2014's Dress Like a Cupcake Should Feel.

That said, objectively, there are certain styles, colours, garments, and even, one could argue, decades that typically suit certain ages better than others. Plus things such as one's choice of makeup, hair colour and style, jewelry, and even shoes can all go a long way towards creating an age appropriate look. We'll be delving these kinds of points in today's post, but first...


How do you define a mature woman?

What exactly constitutes a mature woman in terms of age in today's society? With the average female life expectancy continually rising and people frequently remaining healthier and more active into the golden years, the somewhat general age that I feel many early and mid-century fashion magazines, catalogs and designers designated as starting to fall under the mature header (40 - 45+ a lot of the time), may no longer ring as true. Does a mature lady now replace the rather unflattering term of a "matronly woman" and thus apply to those over 60 - 65 years of age or is a catch-all for those aged forty and over?





I'm leery as the day is long to put labels onto ages or people, but for the sake of simplicity, I will opt for the vintage starting point and say that this term applies primarily to those who are currently 40 years or older. Of course, if you're in the 30s and feel that it applies to you, by all means, avail of the advice here today (at 30 going on 31 next month, I swear I've already starting living and dressing with some of these tips in mind myself). And by the same token, if you're fifty-five, say, and don't feel like these points apply much to you or that you haven't reached a point yet where you're keen to think of yourself in this broad age bracket, then certainly hold off on doing so.

These are general pointers for stylish ladies of all ages, especially those who have reached mid-life or older. I cannot stress enough that they are not hard and fast rules in the slightest, but rather generalizations and guidelines based on a lifetime of studying fashion and beauty and understanding the art that goes into each, as well as how to make them work for oneself as much as possible.

In order to address the wearing of vintage fashion by those of a mature age today, it's important to first look backwards to the years or the early and mid-twentieth century (the 1900s through to the early 1960s). This was an exciting, wonderful, creative time for style and just as more and more mass produced garments were flooding the market and fashion was taking a stronghold in the public eye through the new found media of movies, so too were more distinct categories of clothing for women of different ages beginning to emerge.






Flip through just about any catalog with women's fashions from the 1920s - 1960s and you're bound to see clothing sized for, and aimed at, no less than three categories of women: Juniors (usually for teens and slender younger women under 30), Misses (for gals in their 20s - 40s+), and Women's styles, sometimes also called "fashions for the older (or graceful) lady" geared towards those aged 40 - 50 and up.

Though I don't doubt for a nanosecond that women from each of these general groups shopped from the others at least sometimes, these fashion categories were intended to help a lady find and buy garments and accessories that the style powers that be at the time felt were suitable for her figure, lifestyle, and in some cases, income, too.

It was widely accepted and acknowledged back in those days that a woman's style developed and matured as she aged and that a sixteen year old was not expected to dress with the same degree of grace and formality per se as her forty year old aunt or school teacher, for example. Not only did a lady's fashion sense deepen as she matured, but so too did her beauty in many cases (a point the French were especially big on).

Vogue even had a stylish middle aged encroaching on senior woman they dubbed simply Mrs. Exeter (pictured below), who not only dished about stylish advice for her well dressed peers, but who appeared on the cover the magazine not once, but twice (see this great piece from the Guardian's Invisible Woman fashion over 40 style blog for more on the history of this chic mid-age and mid-century lady).




Very few mature women back in the day would have ever considered sporting styles intended for a teenager, but that doesn't mean they all went full Whistler's Mother the moment they hit menopause either. As a lady aged, her figure often changed, as might her hair colour, and it was important that she continually dressed in ways that flattered these points and ensured she still looked like a respectable member of society. The demands of her daily life might have be different by the time her 40s came along and she may have had more formal social functions to attend, particularly if she was a part of of the middle to upper class.

Her daytime wardrobe, whether for the house or afternoons out, likely differed from her (usually more formal - but not always, think hostess gowns, for example) evening attire and rarely the two did meet in terms of the main garments at least (stockings, shoes, handbags, hats, and some jewelry may have done double duty). Nowadays few of us, even those who wear vintage regularly or all the time, maintain such strict rules with when we sport our clothes, but that doesn't mean we can't take a note or two from our foremothers who adopted this approach, especially as we age and enter an even more sophisticated period of our lives.

Time and time again I've heard ladies in their 40s, 50s, 60s and beyond say things to the extent of that they don't know how to wear vintage and/or that vintage is a young person's game. I would strongly argue against those points. When we don vintage clothing, we are emulating or drawing inspiration from decades past and in those very years, women of all ages certainly wore clothing - it was not, silly as this may sound, reserved just for the young. Nor is vintage today merely the realm of the youth crowd by any means.

Though many vintage reproduction companies and those making vintage inspired pieces do tailor their offerings to a younger audience, there are still vintage appropriate pieces to be had from some of these brands that suit the woman who is 40 years or older excellently (some which include Heyday, Revival, Freddies of Pinewood, Blue Velvet Vintage, The Victorian Trading Company, American Duchess, Puttin' On The Ritz, and 20th Century Foxy, to name but a few such companies that carry a selection of styles that work well for most folks who are middle aged or older).

And certainly genuine vintage and classic, timeless pieces such as those in my 2013 post A beginner's Guide to Buying and Wearing Vintage Appropriate Clothes offer a wealth of possibilities for the mature vintage fashionista.


Key points to keep in mind:

-Vintage has no age limits! Though some older women, particularly those above age sixty fear that folks will think that they are woefully out-of-sync with modern fashion by intentionally sporting old school styles, do not let this stop you from doing so for a split second. The only thing that truly matters when it comes to fashion is how you feel and what you think about your look.

That said, if this is a concern, you may find yourself feeling more comfortable when you wear one or two vintage items in the context of an outfit that also includes modern pieces. For example, a contemporary sheath dress sported with an art deco bangle bracelet and 1920s piano shawl for a cocktail party or a 1950s wool 49er jacket with 21st century bootcut jeans and classic lace-up leather boots for an autumn walk through your neighbourhood park.


-Another potential way to help try and skip over this perceived issue is to dress from decades prior to when you were born. So if you were a child in the 70s, you might want to stick with 1950s fashions, for example. Born in the early 60s, how about some chic, elegant 1930s or 40s threads for you?

If it's clear that you're too young to be from the era your wardrobe hails from, it may cut down on some people (at least those who know the basics of fashion history) assuming you're just wearing really old clothes and dressing "grandmotherly" (a term that personally, I've never been comfortable using in a derogatory context - one only has to look at websites like Advanced Style to quickly see that plenty of grandmas and great-grandmothers alike have killer style that can knocks the socks of that of scores of women several decades their junior!).


-Getting older actually allows you to rock certain styles that may have seemed matronly or overly conservative at an early age. Case in point, a fabulous Chanel suit might look akin to a little girl playing dress up in her mom's closet on a seventeen year old, but on a forty-seven year old it’s pure fashion perfection! The mature woman has the curves, poise and engrained elegance that comes from age that makes her as well suited for that garment as if Coco herself were sporting it.





-Generally speaking, one's skin texture and sometimes even colour (to a small degree) changes over time. Fabrics that once suited taught twenty year old skin to a tee, may not be kind to that of a seventy-fire year old. Gravitate towards fabrics like medium weight cottons, denim, tweed, velvet, stiffer silks, rayons that drape and flatter, well tailored linen, corduroy, knits, crepe, and in some cases, sequined or beaded materials, amongst others. Nylons, spandex, thin silks, gauzy fabrics, chiffon, tulle, and in some cases satin/sateen, to name a few, are fabrics that you may wish to gradually start phasing out or only wearing selectively in the context of an outfit that includes some of the more flattering materials mentioned above.


-Play up your best features and downplay those that you're not wild about. If you love your long, slender neck, reach for pearls, strings of crystals, ropes of gold and silver, scarves, and high necklines. If your waist is a point of pride, continue to sport figure flattering cuts, belts, princess cut garments, and styles that highlight this slender part of your body. By the same token, if you're, say, top heavy, don't opt for a sheer white blouse or slinky sleeveless shirt. Employee common sense and a second opinion from a trusted friend or relative when in doubt.


-There is a fine line between dressing too young or too old in the eyes of society and for women today, many of whom, as touched on above, are remaining active and looking vivacious later and later in life, it can be downright challenging to know where that thin line lays. When in doubt, it can help to veer towards the more mature side of things, but again, use your best judgment. It's served you well for decades now and chances are it's there to help on the fashion front, too.




-If you opt to wear vintage style makeup, ensure that it is flattering to your current age, complexion and hair colour. Unless you use coloured contacts, your eye colour is unlikely to change much with age, but that too (your eye colour) should always be kept in mind when getting dressed and putting on your makeup. Generally speaking, softer shades, such as taupe, grey, cream, buff, nudes, light browns, and whisper soft plums and sages suit mature faces superbly on the eyes.

Brown mascara, instead of black, may also be more flattering and is apt to really compliment those kinds of shadow colours. All can work in the context of a mid-century vintage look. For lips, which may thin or loose some of their fullness with age, outline and fill them in with either matching or clear lip liner and then use a lipstick brush to apply a becoming colour. Red, soft roses, tawny browns, and for some ladies, pale corals and call be strikingly lovely colours as their faces age.

Continue to moisturize frequently, wear sunscreen every day, avail of products designed to help combat the signs of aging if desired, and seek a dermatologist's help if problems as such rosacea or chronic dry skin appear. As skin thins with time, you may find you need less, not more, foundation and powder (or similar products). A light dusting of a good quality powder and perhaps a little highlighter or bronzer and/or blush may take the place of a whole slew of products that a twenty-five year old would be apt to wear.

For evening and formal occasions, you can certainly branch out more, but always try to aim for sophisticated, not shocking, with your makeup choices, regardless of the time of day.





-By the same token, if you're aiming for vintage hairstyles, mile high Victory Rolls or blunt Betty bangs might seem a bit out of place on a sixty-seven year old (though, to be fair, I have seen some older ladies rock Betty bangs superbly - it really depends on your face shape and overall degree of vintage style).

Some vintage hairstyles that may flatter and work well for mature women include, but are certainly not limited to, marcel waves, middy cuts set with pin curls into a flattering, face framing shape; pixie cuts (though these can easily read as very, very young, so proceed with caution), buns, chignons/French rolls, back rolls (see Tasha's great how-to post for tips on how to nail this classic 1940s style), and hair of any length tucked under a chic turban.

If your hair and makeup are both age and vintage appropriate, it will do wonders to help create a cohesive old school look when you slip on your clothing and accessories, and may also help strangers to quickly understand that you're intentionally dressing this way, not (to their mind) merely out of touch with today's fashion scene.


-Accessories can look amazing on older women, especially hats. I don't know what it is about a face that has lived life, but so many of them, made all the more beautiful by the the lines they've developed, look absolutely sublime when topped with a vintage hat. By the same token, gloves are always a vintage must-have and one that can be a great way of disguising your hands, if you're not keen on how they're looking with age.

Scarves, which can be worn in a multitude of different ways, are often amazing for mature ladies and indeed, rarely did a well dressed woman over 40 sport a suit without one in the 1950s. By the same token, furs, real or faux, can add instant elegant and regal-ness to any look and their (often) warm tones can perk up one's complexion like a sunbeam, so don't write them off to quickly, especially given how frequently they were donned in the early and mid-twentieth century.


-Select handbags that compliment your age and outfit alike. Classic styles and shapes in neutrals, solids of simple patterns will always look good and are apt to go with a wide range of outfits. It's usually wise to keep the size of your purse in portion with the size of your body, but as with all things in fashion, there are exceptions to this rule (for example, a small clutch may be the best choice for a woman of any body type if she's attending a black tie event that involves dancing).





-The sky is pretty much the limit when it comes to vintage jewelry! Most jewelry styles are timeless or artsy/funky enough that they retain serious styling power. With few exceptions (think extremely juvenile looking pieces), vintage jewelry is one of the best and most important yesteryear accessories that any 40+ lady can wear. I know for a fact through online conversations that I've had with some of them that a substantial portion of the shoppers who purchase vintage jewelry from my Etsy shop are in their 40s – 80s, and several have told me that while they don't sport vintage fashions often or at all, they can't get enough of yesteryear jewelry.


-Shapewear is always important. If you're a fan and can safely, from a health standpoint, wear it, don't shy away from shapewear. You don't have to bust out the boned corset by any means, but a nice pair of Spanx, say, or a girdle and/or long line bra can all do wonders, amongst other possibilities, especially if topped by a slip, really do smooth and make the most of one's figure.





-And speaking of medical concerns, it's normal that these become more common as a person ages. If you find that you need to dress with such in mind, be sure to check out my post Vintage Clothing for Chronically Ill and Special Needs Individuals.


-You don't have to do a complete 180 degree overhaul of your wardrobe or personal style just because your age advances forward. In fact, I'd argue that you're more apt to look at home in your vintage wardrobe if you stick with pieces that make you feel comfortable and confident. For example, if you've always gravitated towards the colours navy blue, pine green, and burgundy, keep those dark, elegant shades in your closet, perhaps with the addition or subtraction of certain pieces, but still present. The more we age in fact, the more important it is that we retain a sense of our identify through our fashion choices.


-There are tons of great books and websites devoted to the subject of fashion over 40 or 50. Though few really hone in on vintage styles, much of their general advice - such as the terrific tips offered up on How to dress over 40 from the engagingly wonderful website 40+ Style - can easily be applied to wearing yesteryear styles, too. Avail of these resources and continue to develop and fine tune your personal vintage style.


You might want to determine...

If you're new to vintage or just starting to get into it in a major way, you'll want to determine with decade or decades you currently feel most pulled towards. Once you've established this point, read extensively on the styles of the era. Watch movies from that/those decade(s), flip through magazines, peer at old photos, view fashion exhibits at museums and develop a sense of what women in your general age bracket were wearing then (you might also find some great ideas for places to find examples of such things from my 2013 post Seven Unexpected Places to Source Vintage Wardrobe Inspiration From).

How much do these styles speak to you? If the answer is something along the lines of "Not at all!" because you view them as too "old fashioned" or "grandmotherly looking", but you definitely love vintage from that period, don't fear in the slightest. Chances are there are many classic looks from that era which will work well for you no matter your age. Instead, turn to styles from that decade that have timeless lines, details and lengths to them. They're apt to steer you in the right direction through every stage of your life.




In addition, what are your signature colours and styles? These will be hues and styles (glam, minimalist, preppy, edgy, highly feminine, artsy, Southwestern, sporty, etc) that suit you, make you feel happy and/or confident when you wear them, go with numerous other items in your closet, and aren't horribly garish or unbecoming. Cultivate a garden's worth of these styles and you'll quickly have a closet that allows for easy mixing and matching and thus a more cohesive overall wardrobe.


What to wear, what to wear:

Naturally putting it all together is very important, but if you're not sure where to start of just need some more ideas on that front to get your creative fashion mojo churning, the following two lists are bound to serve you well on that front.

Here are fifteen vintage and/or vintage appropriate garments that work well for ladies of any age and most body types:


-Fitted white button down shirt

-Cropped, waist length or hip length blazer, depending on your height, in black or a dark neutral

-Tweed skirt suit (generally you'll want the skirt to hit at, or below, the knees for a vintage look)

-An LBD in a becoming fabric and cut

-Pearl jewelry

-Dark coloured oxfords

-Wrap blouses and/or dresses

-Classic style cardigans

-Suede or leather gloves

-A beret (seriously - it's one of the most universally flattering hat styles around)

-A medium width dark (brown, black, tan, etc) leather or faux leather belt with simple hardware

-Pumps/court shoes with heels no higher than three inches

-Pencil skirts that hit at or below the knees

-Shirtwaist dresses

-Fitted or slightly slouchy fine and medium weight knits (sweaters/jumpers)


And here are twelve genuine mid-century examples of outfits spanning sportswear to evening attire that are highly apt to work well for women over 40 (or anyone wanting to channel a seriously chic, sophisticated, skillfully put together look for that matter):



{A simply white polo style shirt and colourful little scarf lopped 'round the neck seem seriously glamorous when sported by Grace Kelly, just as they likely will on you as well, especially if you opt for vintage style hair and make-up, too. This is a great look for running errands, walking the dog, playing or watching sports, traveling, or gardening in the warmer months.}




{An excellent look for the chillier half of the year, this ensemble worn by Ginger Rogers in 1942 highlights one's figure so tastefully and offers a good deal of both warmth and modesty, thanks to the skirt suit, scarf tucked in around the neck, leather gloves, and wide brimmed hat. It would be a great choice of looks to wear to a wedding, church, the office, or just about any professional setting.}




{Sheer fabrics do not have to be reserved for the young alone! In fact, they can be surprisingly flattering on many middle aged and older ladies. The key is to balance sheer with more opaque fabrics and to keep the see-through material atop parts of your body that you're confident about, such as your neck, shoulders, and/or sleeves. Sheer elements, such a pockets or a ruffled trim, on opaque garments can be gorgeous, too!}




{Any one of these three fantastic daytime looks from 1947 would be a great choice for those in the 40+ age bracket. They're timeless, stylish, interesting, and a snap to dress up or down.}




{Here Doris Day, often seen sporting very youthful verging on twee fashions, takes things in a decidedly more grownup and understatedly elegant direction thanks to a striped top, boxy blazer, statement jewelry, and somewhat wide legged trousers that all telegraph a wonderful, very refined nautical vibe. This would be a fantastic look if you were going on a cruise or resort vacation.}




{Fear not the pale hues! Though some complexions are at their loveliest when worn with bright or dark colours as a person ages, most ladies, even those in their golden years, can usually still sport at least a few lighter shades wonderfully well. A good rule of thumb is to work with paler versions of your most flatting dark tones, though as with all things in life and fashion, experiment to see what suits you best on this front.}



{Whether on the court of off, Katharine Hepburn's c. 1940 tennis ensemble would look strikingly at home in today's fashion world and adds credence to the fact that casual styles are often amongst the most timeless one can possibly wear.}




{Joan Crawford excelled at looking elegant and immensely well put together throughout her whole career. Favouring classic, highly tailored styles that highlighted, but rarely overtly flaunted her figure, such as this gorgeous, subtly alluring floral print v-neck maxi dress and some bold jewelry. This would be a superb 1940s style for many middle aged vintage loving ladies to rock nowadays as well.}




{From the ankle grazing length to the abundance or ruching, this elegant evening wear dress would look splendidly becoming on many middle aged and older women. The matching turban, fur coat, and gloves up the chicness and instantly create a great an amazing 1930s or 40s look and are well worth keeping in mind if you’re aiming for a similar type of ensemble nowadays.}




{Monochromatic outfits, in a colour that flatters your skin, hair and eye colours, can be a timeless way to instantly look put together, sophisticated, and very fashionable, as this lovely fall suit ensemble from 1937 demonstrates.}




{Patterns and novelty prints absolutely do not need to get the boot when you hit your forties and beyond. Though a head-to-toe kitten or cherry print, for example, might evoke comments regarding mutton dressing in lamb’s clothing, middle aged and older ladies can still rock beautiful patterned garments with ease. Look for prints in sophisticated motifs, that are located areas that highlight a garment (like the hem, as seen her on this lovely daywear dress that Ava Gardener sported in the 1940s, collar, sleeves, or pockets), and that are in keeping with portion to your height and size.}




{The perpetually lovely combination of a button front/shirtwaist dress and a wide brimmed hat, much adored and worn during the late 1940s straight onto through to the early 1960s in particular, is one that suits women in their 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s and beyond extremely well. Add gloves, a classic handbag, understated jewelry, and perhaps a floral nosegay or corsage pin for extra style points. }


One very interesting thing when it comes to age and fashion during the early and mid decades of the last century is that the bulk of mainstream models - especially those like Dovima, Jean Patchett, Suzy Parker, and Dorian Leigh who became household names - were often in their 20s or 30s, not middle school or teen aged like we often see with models, especially on the catwalk in recent years (though there are of course exceptions to that statement, such as Carmen Dell’Orefice who first appeared on the cover of Vogue at the tender age of just fifteen).

It was widely understood that the clothing they were sporting would likely be purchased by those who were beyond their teen years and very often in the prime of their life and early golden years alike so companies and magazines were keen to show such customers the items they were selling/highlighting on models who were similar in age to their buyers/readers.


Who's your mid-life style icon?

I want to circle back to an earlier point I was discussing. One does not have to wear the styles that a sixty year old sported in the 1940s, if you’re that same age today. In fact, doing so may stand to age you beyond your actual years. I brought up this topic initially though to help highlight the difference between the kinds of styles that a twenty year may have worn then and what her Grandma was slipping into each morning. The key to wearing vintage as you age is to aim for classic pieces. Really, really, really classic pieces. Those garments and accessories that are as home today as they were thirty, fifty, even eighty years ago in many cases.

Seriously. When in doubt, ask yourself if you could see someone like Jackie O, Grace Kelly, or Katharine Hepburn would have sported it. If the answer is yes, chances are it's a safe, vintage appropriate bet. The importance of classic, well tailored, beautiful clothing really can not be stressed enough. I'd even so far as to say that this might be my top tip for wearing vintage or vintage appropriate styles if you're 40+.





Though the following is by absolutely no means an exhaustive list of such blogs and websites in the slightest, I'd love to point you towards the following group of uber stylish ladies, all of whom wear vintage whole outfits or pieces as part of their ensembles on either an every day or regular basis.

Each and every one of these talented women is over the age of 40 and their blogs serve as beckons of sartorial light for those in their same age bracket who are keen on vintage fashion - as well as to those in other all age groups as well.


♥ Isis from Fashionable Forties

♥ Jill from Grown Up Glamour

♥ Joanna from Dividing Vintage Moments

♥ Judith from Style crone

♥ Martha & Saskia from Two Ladies and a Wardrobe

♥ Patricia from Lady By Choice

♥ Rosy from Sewing Adicta

♥ Sacramento Amate from Mis Papelicos

♥ Shelia from Ephemera

♥ Tamara Beardsley from Tamara Beardsley

♥ Tiina from Elegance Revisited

♥ Tziporah Salamon from Tziporah Salamon



Is vintage just for young people?

As I hope we've firmly established by this point in the post, the answer to that question is a resounding NO!!!! Though many vintage reproduction/vintage inspired/rockabilly lines cater to a younger clientele, that doesn't mean that there aren't options available from some of them that will suit the vintage inspired wardrobe of a woman of any age (see the list of suggestions given earlier on).

Of course, repro and the like is just one avenue to a vintage look - the first one is, naturally, genuine vintage garments and accessories themselves. Thankfully we still live in an era when finding such pieces, especially online, is not yet a major challenge. Prices have risen a fair bit in recent years, but mid-century vintage can still be had for a reasonable price online and off, especially if you're patient, wait for sales, take advantage of coupon codes, and perhaps even join some of the many Facebook groups that are designed to swap and/or sell vintage clothing in.

Genuine vintage items come with a soul woven between their threads. Silent stories that whisper or shout or simply let you gaze upon them and write imaginary histories in your mind. They're beautiful and meaningful and will, beyond a doubt, enhance and enrich your wardrobe in so very many ways.

Part of the reason why don't necessarily see a huge number of women (or men) over the age of 40 or 50 wearing head-to-toe period appropriate vintage looks is that dressing in this way, or any of the many variations of it, is, for all intents, a relatively new cultural phenomenon. That isn't to say that some people haven't held onto or rediscovered looks from earlier decades or centuries and sported them throughout time, of course there have been such folks, but the notion of a vintage subculture is a fairly new concept for sure.




The 1950s wrapped up a mere 55 years ago and though there were folks who held onto or quickly rediscovered the fashions of this decade and those that proceeded it from the sixties onward, the idea of "being vintage" is a relatively new one. I hazard to even suggest a date as to when this style of dressing really took hold, but hopefully I won't get too many tomatoes hurled at me if I suggest that it was something that started to emerge in a real way during the 1980s, and which took a serious strong hold in the early 2000, spreading like wildfire through thanks to the web and the first online vintage sellers, bloggers, forums (like The Fedora Lounge), and later social media sites.

I wouldn't doubt for the tiniest of seconds that if you could gaze into a crystal ball and see many of today's vintage fashion lovers who are in their teens through forties in 25 or 35 years from now, a fair number of us would (and will!) still be sporting vintage. We're something of the first (or at most) second generation of people to fill our closets with mid-century styles so we don't have a lot of folks to look back on and gauge how popular vintage remains with young wearers as they transition into middle and later life. I personally think that this will be tremendously exciting to watch in the coming decades and really hope that if the universe grants me the years needed to reach that stage, I will still be rocking vintage when I'm in my 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s and beyond!

Of course, it should be stated for the record that people "come to vintage" at all stages of their life. I know others, like myself, who have sported it since their teens and plenty who joined "team vintage" in each successive decade of life right on up to their sixties. I don't doubt that there may even be some who got into vintage even later in life than that. Though one's teens through to their forties seems to be the most common age range to start wearing vintage, it's never too early or too late and anyone, truly anyone, who wants to can start rocking vintage, repro, vintage appropriate or vintage inspired styles at any point in time.

I’ve been reading fashion blogs for about a decade now and I can't begin to tell you how often during that time I've seen mid-life or older ladies who successfully incorporate big and small doses of vintage fashion alike into their looks. These are women who know their bodies, their styles, and the years they've tucked under their elegant belts to get to where they are today.


Final thoughts:

No matter your age, if you love vintage, wear it! Try, try and try again! What's the worst that can happen? An outfit doesn't work? Someone gives you a rude comment? You have buyer's remorse about that OTT hat? It's seriously okay. Life will go on, tomorrow is a new day and with it comes the prospect for a great new outfit. I've said it before, but I'll say it again, being tapped by the universe to sport vintage is an honour and joy no matter at what stage in the game it happens for you.




{To learn more about any image used in this post, please click on it to be taken to its respective source.}



Embrace it and your wonderful age, whatever it may be, alike, and remember that while vintage may be decades old, you're always young at heart if you choose to be, and that fact can spur on sartorial creativity throughout your entire life.

If you're a woman over 40 who adores wearing vintage, please weigh in with a comment here. I want this post and its comments to be as helpful as possible for all those who are mid-life or older and looking for vintage fashion advice (plus I'm sure Elinor would love to get your take on things, too!).

96 comments:

  1. Oh dear Jessica, thank you so very much for this excellent post! As a vintage sewer and wearer, I found myself in the situation that I was getting more mature and wondering at the same time, if wearing vintage is still appropriate for my age. I am a late mom, I'm 40+ and I have two little kids, but I still would not regard me as a matron. I still feel comfortable wearing vintage, however, I realised that my liking especially when it comes to vintage pattern shifted a lot back in the decades. Originally I was a 50s gal, but as time went by, I tended more and more towards 1940s designs. But still I see that many of the 1950s designs still look good on women beyond 40. It doesn't have to be a so-called "dress for a matron" (as it's often referred to in sewing magazines of the era), but there are so many different designs, cuts, whatever, there's a huge choice without running the risk of looking "childish" or "frumpy".

    And as you say: you have to try and find out what fits you, no matter if you're 25 or 45. In the end, you have to feel comfortable.

    Thank you, brilliant thoughts, speaking out what I have been thinking myself about for a long time.

    Love from Switzerland, Doris

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    1. Hello lovely Doris, thank you so much for some of your thoughts on this subject with me. I love that you did so and really appreciate your impute. You are both an incredibly stylish and immensely talented woman, whose views I value and respect a great deal. You are always impeccably dressed and are such an inspiration! I agree with you completely that there are looks from each decade that can, and do, suit middle aged and older women wonderfully and that though we might have to trade in pinafore dresses for pleated skirt suits (for example) after a certain age, that is not a negative thing per se at all. Getting to harvest, so to speak, from that side of the fashion garden is an amazing thing and way to celebrate the next chapter in our lives and wardrobes.

      Really, thank you again so much for your comment. Much love coming right back at you from Canada!

      ♥ Jessica

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  2. We seem to be on similar wavelengths with regards to personal style and wearing what you want. There's a big movement right now encouraging women to wear anything and everything - and I think that's beautiful. I think we're all tired of trendsetters telling us what we can and cannot wear. However, there is a time and a place for everything, and we can't put our best foot forward in just anything. Your advice was perfect. Love it <3 - Miss Betty Doll

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    1. Thank you so much, my dear, I really appreciate your splendidly nice comment and compliments. I too think that we're starting to more and more embracing of one's personal style and slow backlash in pockets of the population at least against, so to speak, the epic casual-ization of modern day fashion. I fully support everyone's right to dress as they please, but I also believe in and have experienced first hand the transformative powers that dressing well and more over loving how you look in well fitting, beautiful garments can make you feel. It's great not just for the body that such clothing covers, but for the mind, heart, and spirit as well and I often worry that we've lost sight of that in today's society in general. No one, IMO, knew it better than those stylish ladies over 30 in decades prior to the 1960s (if not the 80s, actually).

      Thank you again very much & have a terrific Tuesday,
      ♥ Jessica

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  3. This is one of those topics that I'm of two minds about. The first is admittedly, kind of sadness that any woman--within a vintage community or not--still feels the needs to have to follow any kind of rules for what to do about their style as they age. After all, there's no such standard for men! I also fully admit that it grates on me when I see even young 20-somethings talking about how such-and-such is no longer appropriate to wear for their age. It just makes me feel sad and angered at a society that is trying to tell only half the population how they should live their lives as they age. But since that's a topic for about 1,000 dissertations, I'm sure...

    Point 2: I turn 40 in two years and I definitely plan to do whatever I please fashion-wise! I think one of the best parts about aging is learning more who you are day by day and feeling more confident about it. I know my own vintage style has transformed over the years and expect it'll continue to do so (part of the fun of fashion, right)? It's so inspiring to look at the Advanced Style blog or older fashion icons like Iris Apfel. No one need feel matronly at any age. Live it, love it, own your look and your age, no matter what it is-- you've earned it!

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    1. I couldn't possibly agree with you more and that is ultimately the message at the heart of this post - I want women of all ages, who feel inclined to do so, to freely embrace wearing vintage, be it in small or hefty doses. It is not, as I touched on her, simply a young woman (or man's) game by any stretch of the imagination and the tips here are not a set of rules in the slightest, but rather a jumping off point or further spot of help for those who may be new to vintage or not sure what direction in which to take their wardrobe as they age and may no longer feel like they want to wear the same looks that they did in earlier decades.

      I too find that I grow into my own skin, and thus feel even more at home in, my wardrobe with each passing year and count that amongst my favourite elements of aging. Sure, I'd love to look and be 18 again sometimes, but I wouldn't trade it for the wisdom, confidence and fashion sense that the years since then have imparted to me and will continue to with each turn of the calendar's page.

      I really appreciate your impute and loved hearing your thoughts on this topic. Many thanks for your great comment, dear Tasha.

      ♥ Jessica

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  4. A lovely post, Jessica. I think one of the difficulties more mature women have with wearing vintage is looking like they are trying to look young (which just makes you look older). There are definitely some vintage trends that read very juvenile to the modern eye-ruffles, bows, cutesy novelty prints, etc-that even if they would have been worn by older women in period can look "wrong" in the modern context.

    I think one of the keys to looking stylish and put together as one ages is to stick to more classic pieces and avoid anything too trendy. It can be hard to figure out what is trendy and what is classic in a decade you didn't live in but classic tailored pieces are always a good choice. Joanna is a great example of how to look amazing in vintage even if you aren't twenty.

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    1. Thank you very much for your great comment, dear Stephanie. I too feel that, if one is pulled in that direction, the more classic pieces can be the way to go. Even though I've only got a year of my 30s under my belt, I already feel more pulled towards such styles, but know that as my wardrobe organically progresses from youthful to more mature, I'll still retain many elements - such as my love of a wide range of different colours - that have always helped to define it and my personal style. One does not have to give that up as they age and indeed, can actually often come to better develop it as time goes on.

      I so agree! Joanna will forever be one of my biggest fashion muses in the whole wide world. She is a truly vision of elegance and beauty in everything she wear - plus her way with a vintage suit is always off the charts amazing!

      Many thanks again & have a great day!
      ♥ Jessica

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    2. Thank you sweet ladies for the kind comments:) You made my evening:) I think a big part of the allure is looking at these fashions as art which creates a timeless quality where all is game:) Well, except maybe a mini-skirt for me haha.

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  5. Jessica--What a great post. As a seriously over 40 reader, I would like to share a few observations about wearing vintage for others in my age range, but first I have to bring up that fit is an important factor when one has an adult woman's figure. Finding past fashions that are wearable is not easy, and this has a huge affect on what we can choose from. In my age group, I notice that many women look great in wearing gorgeous vintage 'pieces' or separates paired with contemporary fashions. Evening sweaters, detailed jackets and elegant coats are always great to see on women, and often are easily worn with a modern wardrobe. Of course, accessories are fun and work to spice up an outfit. Overall, the successful vintage looks I've seen worn by my friends seem to be well chosen conversation pieces paired with their 'regular' wardrobe to create a fun look where vintage is the focus, but the fit is not an issue.

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    1. Hi Jen, thank you very much for your insightful, terrific observations. That is so true regarding fit and the fact that many (though certainly not all) genuine vintage garments are on the small and/or more youthful figure side of the spectrum. Suits are so amazing on women in their 30s and older and are one area when those of us in this category may have more luck. As I age myself, I find myself drawn to, and wearing, them more and more with each passing year - likewise for tailored blazers (or suit jackets sans the matching skirt) with fitted skirts or dresses. Add a jaunty vintage hat and gloves, an elegant hand bag and shoes, and some classic jewelry and you've got a look that will truly remain sophisticated and becoming for the rest of time.

      Thank you again. I sincerely appreciate your comment and enjoyed hearing your thoughts on this fascinating topic.

      Have a beautiful Tuesday,
      ♥ Jessica

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  6. Holy cow, Jessica. This post is amazing. It must have taken you a month to write. Deep information; beautiful illustrations; and smart tips. We really ought to be paying you for this. And, as a woman of a certain age, I benefit from most of what you say!

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    1. Thank you so much, Ally. I'm truly happy to know that you found this post helpful. I started researching, brainstorming and gathering images for it weeks in advance, and then poured myself into writing it pretty much non-stop over the course of two days. Every year I like to do at least a couple really substantial, long, informative posts like this and today's definitely takes the cake there for 2015 so far. It was an absolute joy to write and I'm so glad that Elinor, and many other readers over the years, asked me to do so. Hopefully it will inspire, help and encourage scores of women (and men, for that matter) to embrace vintage at any age.

      Have a fantastic day,
      ♥ Jessica

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  7. Thank you so much for following up on my suggestion, Jessica! I will be perusing this blog post in great detail, and I will share it with my friends. Every time I do a book signing, I dress up in my vintage outfit and you cannot believe how many compliments I receive -- most of them from women my own age or older! I have two dresses -- a dark print with small white flowers that I found at Macy's in Seattle, and a red print dress with a gathered skirt that I ordered from www.unique-vintage.com, after a recommendation from another friend and vintage blogger, Liz Gruening-Hay at The Vintage Inn. I have posted photos of both outfits on my Facebook page at Elinor Florence-Author if anyone wants to see them. Thanks again!

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    1. Hi Elinor, you are wholeheartedly welcome. Thank you again for the great request. Now that I'm in my 30s (I'll be 31 next month), I did feel that I was just barely at an age to talk credibly about this subject. It's a fascinating, important one and I truly hope that this post will help not only spark more conversations about it, but encourage ladies of all ages who are interested in, but perhaps not yet wearing or not sure how to really wear, vintage to go ahead and do so. Life is short and we shouldn't spend it wearing styles that don't bring us bliss (at least as often as possible).

      Many thanks again. It was a thought provoking joy to research and write this post. If there's ever another big topic you'd like me to tackle, please don't hesitate to ask.

      Have a fantastic summer!
      ♥ Jessica

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  8. There is ... was ... I haven't seen her in an age, an older lady who lived in this town who always wore 1960's clothes and she looked fabulous. Of course her age led me to believe that the clothes she wore were hers from the 60's and were of good enough quality to keep wearing and her figure was the same. Other than her, I don't believe I have ever seen a woman over fifty wearing vintage but then I am shocking at guessing ages!

    Actually the only people I see wearing vintage in real life are (were) at 40's events (granted, not real life) and they were mostly period correct for their ages in the actual forties.

    I hope you are having a lovely day xxx

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    1. Hi sweet Melanie, thank you very much for your lovely comment. How awesome that is, or was, an older lady who rocked 60s fashions in your area. I bet she would have been a blast to hang out with! Save for the very occasional older lady en route to or from church in a vintage pillbox hat, you don't see older (or younger usually, for that matter) folks in vintage around here either. So I can relate. I would stop dead in my tracks, then instantly rush over to talk, such a person if I did spot them - us vintage lovers have to stick together after all, especially when we're a rare bread! :)

      Many thanks again & have a terrific Tuesday,
      ♥ Jessica

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  9. I love this article and shared it with many friends. I have one quick question, though - do you know what year the Trifari jewelry ad is from? I own the necklace on the model! I knew it was vintage and guessed 1950s but it would be nice to have confirmation. Thanks!

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    1. Hi Jeanne, thank you very much for your great comment and question, as well as for sharing this post. I sincerely appreciate it! How awesome that you own that very same Trifari necklace, it's such an elegantly gorgeous piece.

      Trifari did a series of blindfolded model ads like this all during the 50s, which I've seen dated between '53 and '56, though I think they may have continued them beyond then in the decade. Clicking through on this one, there isn't a specific date on the Tumblr page for it (it just "1950s). Based on what she's wear and the colours of the jewelry itself, I'd put it in the '54 - '56 range, but of course it could be a little older or newer.

      Hope that helps. Thanks again & have a wonderful day!
      ♥ Jessica

      *PS* Here's a similar ad that the poster dates to 1953: http://bit.ly/1fxgPhN

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  10. Well Im not over 40 yet but you know Im 37 so Im on the cusp! I love this post its the best you've ever written I think, and thats saying a lot. I was always attracted to vintage styles since my teens but didn't get into vintage until I was about 35. I wore some awful fashions in my 20s in an effort to be trendy shudder. I feel more like I know what I like not and what I want and thats vintage, even full on somewhat costumey vintage. I also have more money to spend on clothes not and that does help me achieve the look that I want. I do think I sometimes wear young style items, that some may think Im too old for but if Im happy in it Im going to wear it. I usually gravitate to 20s and 30s and 40s fashions and I think those suit all ages. I love novelty prints, novelty brooches and fun accessories, like the 50s doll purse I bought recently, I plan to have those elements in my wardrobe forever.

    I also think some vintage, large hats, glasses, helps with sun protection too. I definitely see fine lines starting around my eyes and my skin changing and I admit I get a bit depressed, then I remember how great I feel in vintage. My only appearance fear with aging is that Ill gain weight, I LOVE to eat and Im not a dieter, and won't fit into my favorite items.

    retro rover

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    1. Hi lovely Kate, thank you so much for your wonderfully nice and very informative post, as well as for the incredibly kind compliment - it's certainly one of the larger ones that I've penned (and I enjoyed every moment of it). I truly appreciate your firsthand impute here and that you raised the point about sun protection. That is sooo true! I burn faster than toast, so I'm always slathered in industrial strength SPF, wide brimmed hat, long (or at least elbow length) sleeves, and sunnies on in the summer and almost forget sometimes that not everyone automatically takes these same precautionary measures right off the bat. Thank you for raising that important point.

      You have an awesome sense of vintage style and were you over 40, would have been listing here in the quickest of heartbeats, I promise you.

      Big hugs & happy Tuesday wishes,
      ♥ Jessica

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  11. Great post, Jessica! Although I'm not in the age bracket being discussed here, I'd like to contribute a little tip of my own - if you have buyer's remorse about that OTT hat, sell it! One useful aspect of true vintage is that is has a resale value, so I think this is something that could be handy for anyone who's new to vintage whether they're over 40 or any other age.

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    1. Thank you very much, dear Helen. Tips and thoughts are happily welcome from those of all ages and yours is an important reminder for sure. That is definitely one of the perks of vintage (and even repro in some cases). I wouldn't have that beautiful peach and blue vintage checkered dress if you yourself didn't list it, for example, so I'm with you there 100%! :)

      Have a fantastic day!
      ♥ Jessica

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  12. What a wonderful post, Jessica. Sometimes, especially when you're older, wearing vintage can feel a bit like wearing a costume and people tend to look at you a little differently than they would someone younger. You've given some terrific advice for those of us who love vintage, no matter our age.

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    1. Thank you very much, lovely Patricia. You have always been an immense vintage fashion inspiration to me, not only in terms of dressing as a woman over 40, but in every possible sense.

      Keep on looking and being fabulous!!!

      Big hugs,
      ♥ Jessica

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  13. As usual my dear Jessica, beautifully written.
    I have to admit that when I have purchased vintage dresses, I have always had the length shortened as a way to keep the dress fresh.
    I am one of those who fears to look older because of the way I dress. It was actually brought up by a customer once and it left a mark.
    Its a funny thing, sometimes I will buy more "modern" garments and then find myself gravitating toward my vintage. I guess it also depends on how I feel and what I want to project..
    Another thing is that sometimes clothes "grow" vintage with you, as I have items from my teens that are still around.. and which I plan to keep.
    Its all part of our evolving style.

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    1. Thank you very much, lovely Lorena. Fantastic point! I have a small number of pieces from my teen years still and they would be "vintage" in some people's books, but not my own. I'm with Etsy in that something has to be at least 20 (though if I wrote the rules, at least 40 or 50) years old to be called vintage.

      I'm sincerely sorry that you were on the receiving end of such a negative comment. It's a genuine shame that people can't all just live by the golden rule and keep their opinions to themselves in the process, if they're anything but positive. You have a fantastic sense of style and I always love reading your blog and seeing your chic looks, no matter if they're contemporary or more vintage inspired.

      Many thanks again & have a fabulous week!
      ♥ Jessica

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  14. Have you seen the Advance Style blog/documentary? It's not specifically vintage, but everyone on it looks amazing

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    1. I have indeed (ditto for the one on Bill Cunningham), it was quite interesting. The mixture of personalities was nearly as vibrant as the ensembles the venerable fashionistas were wearing! :)

      It's awesome to hear for you, sweet gal. I hope that you're doing positively and already enjoying a great start to summer!

      ♥ Jessica

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    2. Thanks! You too! I've missed Blogger :)

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  15. OK, up front, I'll admit to being 53, and articles like this are always both fascinating and a little uncomfortable for me. On the one hand, there's the fear of being "mutton dressed as lamb" and on the other, of being boxed into dressing vintage in ways that are too staid or old-ladyish to match my personal style in contemporary clothes. I do agree that when you're older, you need to be conscious of not wanting to look costume-y unless you're going to a costume event. On the other hand, I don't want to be super-classic all the time -- oddly enough, I did that in my 20s, when I was in a different profession and had to dress super-seriously for work -- now I teach and I appreciate being able to be a bit more creative in my choices.

    I've always kind of taken it as a guideline that I should not wear vintage that I could have worn the first time around -- that is, I don't wear much in the way of 60s (unless it's Mad Men early-60s) or 70s, which is all to the good since those eras tend to skew young, anyway. I'd seriously never wear 80s, unless it's 80-does-40s or 50s, because that was the first era I wore as an adult; on the other hand, there are some elements of 90s I've never quite abandoned (black tights with everything, Doc Martens in bad weather, and floral dresses). And I especially appreciate a 40s or 50s style cotton summer dress in our current summer weather, as I've gotten a bit past wanting to worry about whether my bra straps peek out.

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    1. Thank you very much for weighing in on this post, dear lady, I sincerely appreciate it. I hope that this was clear in the post itself, but if not, I just wanted to (further) clarify that I am by no means laying down a set of rules for anyone to wear or abide but. Instead, as I have gotten so many (far beyond Elinor's own query) questions on this topics and requests for posts with suggestions on what to wear for those in their 30s/40s beyond, and being in my 30s now myself, I felt the time had come to pen this piece.

      It's marvelous that you have a clear sense of your own style and know which decades speak to you most clearly. I think that if more folks could say the same, vintage fashion would be sported on a far more regular basis by a larger percentage of the population that it currently is - surely, at least, by some of the literally hundreds of people who have said to me in person, often, interestingly, in hushed tones, that they wished they too could wear vintage but that they were too old/too busy/too scared/too unsure of where to start. Vintage, to whatever degree one wants, can and should be readily worn at any age and that message is truly what is at the heart of this post.

      Many thanks again & have a terrific summer,
      ♥ Jessica

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  16. I read about brown mascara instead of brown and I also think, like in the beginning of the post, that people should wear whatever makes them happy and comfortable! In the past, a 40 year old-woman would never dare to wear something that a 20 year old-one would, but today things changed, I think. I may feel old soon, cause I was going to wear a Chanel outfit, but then I will think of your words (I am joking!) Well, and to be honest I loved what Mrs.Exeter wore in the picture and I would wear it too! But like you said, what is mature today? I don't know, but I loved the tips of accessories like hats!
    DenisesPlanet.com

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    1. Things have changed for sure and I think that in this context, that's wonderful! A lot of ladies of the past could have avoided the dreaded title of "matronly" had they opted for pieces that were classic and figure flattering, instead of just darkly hued and very conservative. It's wonderful that so many ladies in the 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s and beyond today are able to look at the more youthful in a tasteful way by the fact that we no longer have such a distinct class of clothing for middle aged and elderly folks any more.

      Wasn't Mrs. Exeter's style sublime? Her hair was rather breathtaking, too!

      Thank you very much for your wonderful comment, Dennis. Have a terrific day!
      ♥ Jessica

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  17. This is what my son would call an EPIC post! I'm really glad you put this all together-thank you! I have actually been thinking about this a lot. At the end of the day like you said, wear what you want :) xox

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    1. Aww, thank you very much, sweet Daffny. Much like your son, Tony and I are frequent users of the word "epic" as well. I do very much like to put out at least a couple "epic posts" every year like this and this is biggest to date in 2015. It was a blast to research and write and I'm happy to see that it's striking a chord with many readers.

      Big hugs & tons of happy start of summer wishes,
      ♥ Jessica

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  18. Denise @BuyRVintageJunkJune 23, 2015 at 5:07 PM

    What a stirring testimonial to vintage style, and our own personal styles. I think sometimes women over 40 worry too much about *stepping out of the box* and those are the exact years to start saying What The Heck, and Why Not? and find what works for them. Perhaps that is why wearing vintage is thought to be for the younger ones. Maybe because (at times) when we are younger we tend to be more daring?

    My grandma had such a classic style. She had a white streak in the front of her hair, natural of course, and she held her head up high and didn't care what others thought! I remember being mesmerized by her.
    There is a lady in our little town who has that same attitude. She never dresses 'up' but always looks fabulous.

    This wonderfully written post-your quality writing and hard work shows in every word, Jessica-reminds me of the spirit of the poem 'When I Am Old I Shall Wear Purple'. I'm thinking maybe a vintage purple swing coat? purple vintage costume jewelry? a vintage purple hat?

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    1. Thank you very much, lovely Denise. Your grandma sounds like she cut a truly striking figure - I've always wished for one of those rare natural white streaks. They're so chic and glamorous!

      What a touching comparison (and all the more so to me as I've been a hobbyist poet my whole life) and reminder to all that one should sport plenty of vibrant colours, especially when they're as regal as purple, later in life.


      Many thanks again & have a wonderful Wednesday,
      ♥ Jessica

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  19. Speaking for myself (I'll be 36 next month) I'm finding that I'm definitely feeling "old-er" this past year or so. I no longer feel comfortable in full skirts or novelty prints. I'm finding that I'm wanting solids or stripes with interesting details like asymmetric collars or buttons, and that I'm wanting less full skirts that hit a little higher up on the leg (my skirt lengths had been creeping down toward my ankles, which isn't super flattering on my figure).

    I think what is challenging about being older and vintage is that unless you can pull off pin-up (and let's face it, a large section of the vintage-wearing community tends this direction), it can be hard to find styles that aren't matronly by modern standards. I find there is a very fine line between vintage age-appropriate and frumpy, at least for me. A lot of it is my own odd proportions, which I don't mind, but have to dress carefully to look well. I'm average height, but proportioned petite so have to watch skirt lengths and shoulder widths and sleeve lengths. I'm very drawn to straight skirt+ fitted knit top combinations from the sportswear of the 1930s; I generally find sportswear to be a very good place to start now. It works for a casual day look without looking costumey, yet still has that vintage vibe that I crave. My body has changed a lot in the last year, and I'm struggling with some health conditions that change my body measurements rather radically from day to day, and I'm trying out different things, to find what works. I'm experimenting with late 1910s and early 1920s looks as they are very loose around the middle, and unfitted, which helps with the figure changes I'm experiencing on the daily. I'm also trying some early 1930s sportswear looks as I really like the streamlined silhouette (I'm less in love with the frothy tea frocks of the era). It is a process to be sure. Thanks for a great article.

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    1. That is such a great point regarding a pull towards interesting/chic details, instead of glaringly loud prints or colours as one ages. I find that to ring true for myself as I progress through my thirties. As is your summary of why it can be so tricky for women over, 35 - 40, to wear vintage styles in the context of 21st century society. I think that as someone who has been sporting vintage since my teens and plans to always do so, it can be easily to forget that stepping outside of the usual fashion realm and can be quite an intimidating and/or challenging thing, especially if you've been "looking like everyone else", so to speak, for the rest of your life up until now.

      Portions are hugely important, it's true, and as someone whose own measurements can fluctuate, especially in the torso, due to some of my medical conditions, I can truly relate to the difficulties of finding garments that work on days when one is bloated, taking meds that alter their weight, post surgery, or otherwise not quite their usual shape due to medical reasons. I find shirtwaist dresses, especially 1980s dos 1950s ones with stretchy elastic waists to be a godsend in such cases, which is why you'll find no shortage of them in my closet. Pinafore dresses (which, though, I'm the first to admit, do often work better on those under 35) are another good, roomy choice.

      Please know that you truly have my utmost of understanding and care, and that I'm always here if you'd like to someone to talk to further about this topic in a more private (aka, via email) setting.

      Sending gentle hugs & joyful summer wishes your way,
      ♥ Jessica

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  20. What a wonderful and informative post!

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  21. Congratulations Jessica on addressing what could potentially be a tricky topic! While unfortunately there is an emphasis on youth in most advertising these days, there are a few famous ladies with great style who we can look to for inspiration. UK actresses that spring to mind are Joanna Lumley, Helen Mirren and Judi Dench. They dress in a more classic than vintage inspired style though. I must admit I haven't seen any older ladies rocking a vintage inspired look here. I am so looking forward to following the links you have included! I'm 44 and I don't dress in a vintage style every day, but I do love and adore certain styles from days gone by. I like to mix vintage inspired pieces with modern clothes but I find I really like a full vintage look for casual wear in particular (my favourites at the moment are high waisted gingham capris). Some of those sportswear styles are so flattering, fun and timeless. And on the odd occasion I have the chance to wear evening appropriate clothes, I always look to the past. You can't go wrong with a red lip, a black cocktail dress and sparkly jewellery!

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    1. Thank you so much, lovely Philippa. I really felt that waiting until I was at least in my 30s (given that I'm two weeks shy of being 31, I'm more than in that camp now) to really tackle this topic was the way to go. The fact that I feel some of my own fashion preferences changing, expanding and at times also going back to older favourites that I haven't worn often in recent years, made me feel like I could relate a lot more to what I was writing about - plus, I can refer back to this post as time goes on and take my own advice! :)

      Those are great examples of older ladies with fabulous fashion senses (I love Helen Mirren sooo much!). Others - over the age of 40 - that spring to mind for me are Susan Sarandon, Glenn Close, Bette Milder (adore her!), Sophia Loren, Diane Lane, and Cate Blanchett.

      I've always seriously liked your style and love that you incorporate elements of the past into some of your looks. I've said it before, but I'll happily say it again - despite what the most hardcore of purists might think/say - one does not have to look like they stepped straight out of 1942 to adore vintage and make it an active part of their wardrobe. When a dash here and there or a full on coating, if you will, there's no right or wrong way to wear vintage (in a non-Hollywood/reenactment context, I mean, naturally) - just the way that works best for you and your lifestyle.

      Thank you again very for your fantastic comment. I really appreciate that you weighed in here.

      Tons of hugs,
      ♥ Jessica

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    1. Thank you very much, sweet Amanda.

      I hope that your summer is already off to a great start - big hugs!

      ♥ Jessica

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  23. What an amazing post, Jessica! I can only imagine how long it took you to research and write - I hope it helps give confidence to those who seek it to have fun with vintage fashion no matter their age! I definitely feel like I'm setting myself up well to keep wearing vintage touches in my outfits for a long time - not least because of my fast-expanding collection of berets ;) still on the hunt for that perfect shirtwaister though... Love from sunny Marseille! x

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    1. Bonjour, my lovely traveling friend, thank you very much for your wonderfully nice comment. I truly hope the same thing. There is this aura of mystery and allure around vintage, especially if we're talking wearing full on vintage styles all the time, that I think intimidates some folks and I really hope that this post will be able to encourage those with an interest in it - of all ages - to just give it a try. It's only fashion, you can always wear something else in a matter of seconds and who knows, it might just turn out to be one of your biggest loves ever, as it is for those like you and I.

      Happy travels and oodles of hugs,
      ♥ Jessica

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  24. since i did hit 40 - i´m 47 now - my lifelong love of vintage fashions, especially midcentury, became a new meaning. because of my changing body and that the modern fashion went childish and unflattering for said body i chose to wear a 40´s/50´s silhouette on a regular basis. not especially with the real stuff from this time which then to be rare around here but with "80´s does...." and self sewn - and here and there one of the treasured original vintage things......
    what should i say - best choice ever! i always feel well dressed and comfy and my husband loves it!!
    you can always direct "matured" women to pics of me as a proof that vintage fashion works wonders on "us" :-)
    xxxxxx

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    1. Yes! That is such an excellent point, dear Beate. As a woman's body and/or haircolour changes with age the looks of early youth rarely do her many favours any longer and turning to more classic and/or vintage styles can be incredibly flattering. Every time I go out I see women in their 40s, 50s, 60s and beyond in tight, unflattering modern styles and think to myself how amazing they would look if they were wearing certain mid-century garments and accessories instead. Not only would they look younger, but they'd often appear slimmer, too (leggings being best kept for the very young and very slender, IMO).

      Thank you for your awesome comment, my lovely friend. You are a huge source of fashion inspiration to me, both as I age and in general.

      Giant hugs,
      ♥ Jessica

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    2. oh yeah - going out on a sunny can one make to wish to shout the eyes ;-)
      i´m totally with you!!!
      giant hugs back!!! <3

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  25. My aging icons are probably two ladies I knew as a young girl and teenager. Miss Lillian worked with my mother until she was almost 100 year old and always looked flawless. She had a fierce sense of style, even though it was old-fashioned, and she was always put together immaculately. She also volunteered at a nursing home where she helped people who were 10-20 years younger than herself! The other lady was our neighbor, Elizabeth. I also knew her husband, who died of cancer when I was a kid. He used to teach me about gardening and once tried to show me how to blow smoke rings. But after he passed, I became closer to her. I would go over there to play games or just sit and talk. She was the first person to try to teach me how to knit. She's also a world traveler and I believe is still jetting around the world, well into her 90s!

    These principles have been on my mind more as I move more definitively into my 30s. I'm starting to see my face change and my body creep outward a bit, and it's nice to be reminded that aging doesn't always have to be taboo.

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    1. I loved hearing about those special seniors who meant (and still mean) so much to you, honey. Thank you very much for sharing about them with me. There are a few such folks from my own life as well and their impact with stay with me for the rest of time.

      I see my face changing as I age, too. I've never had anything even close to chisled features and/or prominent checkbones, but I notice that my face is looking even rounder (though my weight is in the same range it's been for several years now) and that drives me a bit nuts at time. Very little I can do about it though (I'd never opt for cosmetic surgery unless it was medically needed personally, but don't pass any judgement on those that do), other than to just make the best of things, moisturize like crazy to help keep my skin texture at least looking youthful, eat well, avoid a lot of sun, and continue to dress in a way that works well for my age and body.

      Aging really should not be taboo. We're blessed if it happens to us and why on earth we, as a society, so often try to hide the fact that it's happening is beyond me. Getting older should be revered and celebrated!

      Thank you for your fantastic comment. Have a beautiful Wednesday!
      ♥ Jessica

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  26. Wow. Just wow. Your post is, as ohers have remarked, very well researched. But the comments are also totally enthralling! I have to agree with chelseagirl, in feeling slightly pressured into dressing like a 'matron' after 40, and in consequence I have gone to the other extreme, and have rediscovered my early 20s wardrobe. And I'm loving it! If anyone dared whisper 'mutton' at me I'd kick them with my Doc Martens! But seriously, I always thought dressing vintage was aimed at slightly older women anyway, young girls just don't always pull off that nonchalant (comfortable in your skin) chic that older women have. I didn't start wearing vintage properly until I was I my late 20s, early 30s, and then didn't start modelling until I was 35 or 36. I'm not giving up the vintage, especially the knitwear! Those 'matron' jumpers just make me shudder. Such food for thought Jessica, thank you so much for this post. I would love to discuss this more on my blog if you don't mind?

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    1. Hello lovely lady, thank you very much for your fantastic comment and desire to keep this conversation going over on your blog. I would be 100% honoured for you to do so and really look forward to reading your post on it (please feel free to comment here once you have with the link to your post so that others can swing by and read it as well).

      Huge thanks again & have a Wednesday that is as awesome as you are!
      ♥ Jessica

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    2. This right here is just one more reason I have a serious girl crush on Ms. Theoradora! This is a wonderful post Jessica! I have given this a lot of thought over the last year as I am creeping closer and closer to my 40th birthday (November). My hems are getting just a bit longer and maybe I don't show as much cleavage, but other than that my number one rule is "If it me feel fabulous, wear it"

      She Knits in Pearls

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    3. That really is the best mindset to approach fashion with for sure and it's one I strongly try to put to work in my own wardrobe as well.

      Goodness, one would never guess that you're coming up on 40, sweet gal. You look soooo much younger than that, IMO. I would easily have believed you if you said that you were younger than me (I'll be 31 next week). Is the fountain of youth perhaps hiding up there in the chilly Alaskan north? :)

      Big hugs & happy 4th of July weekend wishes,
      ♥ Jessica

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  27. Awesome, Awesome post!!! I am 47 and only seriously started wearing vintage 2 years ago. I think back then it was one of the first questions I asked you. "is what I want to wear to young for me". Your advice was spot on then as it is with this post.
    Since I sew most of my clothes ( except for a few thrifted pieces) I've learned what I like, what suits my body type and what colour looks best. I've also learned that no era is off limits it just comes down to personal choice. My clothes range from 40's to 60's and I'm working on some late 20's and 30's ideas. My philosophy is I wear clothes mostly to suit my body type not what my age would have been wearing back then. However that being said I'm not going to sport a pin-up look anytime soon, I think those days are behind me. But that's not to say someone else my age can't rock that look, it's just not for me.
    I have people my age or older who will say "you always look so nice, but there's no way I could wear that". I think why not, what will happen? Really and truly what will happen??? I'm here to tell you nothing. Nothing happens and if you're being drawn to wear vintage clothing, life's to short not to give it a try. I'm more comfortable in my vintage style then I ever was in modern clothing.

    In your post I was highly amused when you mentioned maybe not wearing a head to toe cherry print. Sitting on the back of my chair is a cotton cherry print 40's suit ready to be finished and I'm thrilled to pieces how its turning out. I'll be curious as to what you think.lol

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    1. Hi lovely Debra, thank you so much for your awesome comment. I swear, it brought tears to my eyes to read that some of my previous advice was so helpful and had such an important impact on you and your personal style. There is no greater compliment that a fashion/lifestyle blogger like myself could ever receive.

      I didn't, as I sense you know, mean to imply that one couldn't deck themselves out in a cherry print, if so desired. It's just a pattern that often goes hand-in-hand with the very youthful vintage/pinup/rockabilly look and thus may be one that some middle aged or older folks might not be best served by as it could run the risk - if such matter to an individual - of looking like they're trying, intentionally or not, to hold onto their youth. Of course, absolutely, unequivocally, wearing cherries in any size dosage does not necessarily mean that such is the case at all though and I am not in any way saying that it does. I love cherries and fruit prints (and themed accessories in general) and suspect they'll always be a part of my wardrobe. I can't wait to see your cherry print dress!

      Huge thanks again for your touching, terrific comment.

      Have a beautiful Wednesday,
      ♥ Jessica

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  28. I'm looking forward to my style evolving and changing as I grow older. I feel that is such an achievement and honour to progress through life. I watched a documentary of women 60+ who are all style icons, it's called 'Advanced style' it is a great eye opener and I think you would enjoy it. I watched this on Netflix last week and I was in awe of these older women who dress to perfection. Each woman has a totally different style in the documentary, which just goes to show how personal style is at any age.

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    1. Hi sweet gal, thank you very much for your great comment and for suggesting 'Advanced Style'. I watched it last year, along with the doc on (photographer) Bill Cunningham and very much enjoyed both. I've been reading the Advanced Style blog for years now, so getting to hear the voices of some of the people Ari has featured there was such a treat. It would be amazing to spend some time with the ladies profiled in that doc (though, sadly, I know that a couple of recently passed). It seems like a lot of them are huge on bangles, so that would be an instant point that I'd share in common with them. :)

      Many thanks again & have a wonderful Wednesday!
      ♥ Jessica

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  29. Wow, Jessica. Great post. I've been meaning to write a blog post based on this very subject for quite some time. And you beat me to it! This is a topic that really resonates with me.

    I am waaaay past 40 and have been wearing vintage since I was in my 20s. Sometimes it's one piece worn with contemporary clothing. Sometimes the whole outfit is vintage. Depends on where I'm going and how I feel. I have never worn a vintage outfit without getting complimented. But women have said to me that even though they loved what I was wearing, that they weren't sure they could pull it off. And therein lies the issue. If you think you can't, you won't.

    I agree with you that many of the styles from previous eras are classic and can be worn by women of any age. And there are vintage silhouettes that work for a variety of figures.. Plus there is always the option of accessories, jackets, handbags, etc. if you just want to add a distinctive touch. It definitely give you a chance to be more creative with your wardrobe.

    I like to think of it this way, clothes and accessories are ingredients you combine to create your own unique style recipe. Vintage is the spice you add if you want to kick it up a notch!

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    1. Hi lovely Theresa, please still pen a post on this subject yourself, if so desired. It's a vast area to cover and each of us can add our own perspective on a topic that really needs to be chatted about more often.

      I get that same comment soooo many times (I even dedicated the bulk of a post to it back in late 2012), too - and not just for middle aged or older women, but from folks as young as in their teens. I think that some people perceive vintage being almost in the realm of the mythical and that it must be stupendously hard to put together a vintage look and/or get started with wearing it. Not so at all, as we both know, and it's a shame that we can't take those people by the hand and literally give them a vintage makeover right there on the spot. I always secretly hope that just seeing those of us who sport vintage might be the push some folks needed to finally do so themselves.

      Thank you very much for your fantastic comment, I truly enjoyed hearing some of your thoughts on this fun topic.

      ♥ Jessica

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  30. What an amazing, inspiring and thorough post! So many great things to consider and some great wardrobe ideas too. And more blogs to check out!

    I feel like I'm a bit in the middle at the moment. Still drawn to childish prints and colours at times, but mostly seeing myself needing to move into a mature style. Motherly, at least :)

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    1. Thank you very much, sweet Tanith (yay for new blogs!). I know (save for the fact that I'm not a mom) exactly what you mean. There was one outfit I wore in the second half of last year, that while very cute, when I looked at it in even the moment, it felt too cloyingly sweet and more youthful than I'd set out to convay. The main garment was a review product and as I really do love it, I'll just style it a less "cutesy" way (in so much as it will allow - it's pretty adorable unto itself!) in the future.

      I really like this age and the fact that I can still, to a large degree, successfully (IMO) keep one foot in youth, the other in maternity. It's a relatively brief window, so I'm trying to make the best of it on all fronts, not just with my fashion choices.

      Many thanks again & have a great second half of the week,
      ♥ Jessica

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  31. This is excellent, thoughtful advice that I think everyone could take a note on. You don't necessarily have to have personal experience in something to be able to offer great suggestions in that arena, and I think this does a great job proving that point.
    In general, I do think sleeker lines are more flattering on older women, just because the real "cupcake" style of the mid to late 50s reads very youthful on anyone. That said, I love the blog (and film) Advanced Style, which Tziporah Salamon, whom you mention, is frequently featured on. The women on there are just so vibrantly alive and unrestrained, it's really beautiful and inspiring. I hope that I never lose my passion for fashion, or feel restrained by my age from wearing something that I truly love.

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    1. That is so wonderfully nice of you to say, thank you very much, my dear. I agree, especially if one already has a lot of knowledge/experience on/with the broader subject that a topic makes up, as I do with vintage and fashion. This is a thought provoking, exciting post to pen and topic to delve into, as I do already - at the age of almost 31 (in two week) - see my own style preferences changing a bit as I age, and I'm sure that will only continue as the years roll by.

      I'm huge fan of Advanced Style, too, and have reading Ari's blog for years now. I would love to spend time with any of the amazing, chic, creative women he profiles. I bet they'd have a book's worth of stories to share and some seriously great closets to swoon over! :)

      Many thanks for your fantastic comment!
      ♥ Jessica

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  32. I'm over 40 and tend not to worry too much about what I wear. I prefer to wear what I love: pink, ruffles, lace, tucks, bows. However, deep down, I think I am cautious at the same time to not stray too far into the young category.
    Interestingly though, is a young college student I know who isn't much older than my kids. When she sees some of my vintage sewing (which she loves) that I do for history presentations she'll ask me, "Now you are going to wear that in public aren't you?" Come to think of it, I've heard that from a gal who is a big name in the blogging sewing community as well. My response is usually, "Um, no. Aren't I too old?"
    About brown mascara, even when I was a teenager I wore brown mascara! Brown mascara has always worked better for my coloring than black ever did! lol
    This was a nice post that you wrote and well thought out!
    Laurie

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    1. It sounds like we have strikingly similar style preferences, dear lady - everything that named is a dyed-in-the-wool favourite of mine as well. I already feel myself shifting away from some of the more twee elements of fashion though, as much as I love them, because more than how others might perceive me, I feel like they're not necessarily on par with my own outlook on life and my personal fashion sense any more. I'll always adore and wear some youthful things though, from the colour pink to bows (oh, how I love bows!) and that's the way things should be - bring the best and your favourites from your earlier years with you into the next chapter of your life and beyond. They can only stand to serve you well.

      Thank you very much for your wonderfully nice comment.

      Big hugs,
      ♥ Jessica

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  33. What a fun and comprehensive post! I was directed here by Shybiker (Ally), and lo and behold, there I am in your list - thank you so much!

    I have been a fan of vintage since my teens (in the early 80s), and still think it's the best quality clothing out there right now at a reasonable price. It's always a good investment in a classic piece, that's for sure. I also grew up with several pieces of my grandmother's jewelry (I have a few Trifari pieces), and I love to go to vintage fairs to see what treasures I can find.

    Ally mentioned that you are Canadian, a west coaster - if you're ever in Victoria, let me know and we'll go dig for some vintage. That "wee olde Englande" thing means we get some seriously sweet 40s-60s vintage pieces here.

    Cheers,
    Sheila

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    1. Hi Shelia, thank you very much for your fabulous comment - I'm so honoured that you left one. I've been a big fan of your blog (as you might have gathered by my mention of it here :)) for quite some time now and love that we're both in BC. I'm up in Penticton and truly love Victoria. My husband and I took our only holiday last year there and spent to gorgeous weeks on the Island at the start of autumn. I hadn't been to Island before then since I was 14 and I was head-over-heels with the vintage and antique shopping scene there. It's the best I've encountered anywhere in Canada so far. I really appreciate your offer to hang out together and hope that we can one day. Likewise, please drop me a line anytime if you're up this sunny Okanagan way.

      Huge thanks again & have a beautiful summer!
      ♥ Jessica

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  34. Dear Jessica, this is such a wonderfully written and informative post. I am in the over 60 bracket so very much of what you said rings true. I wear a little vintage clothing , mainly jackets and coats . I would probably have more but is very rare in this neck of the woods so I tend to favour accesories, bakelite bangles and hats , add that small touch. I favour the mix and match approach for me but admire those that at any age wear full on vinatge. Thank you for including me in your list along with so many inspiring ladies.

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    1. Hello lovely Jill, you are so very welcome. I adore your style so much and always enjoy seeing each new outfit that you share with us. Your way with layering and just the right amount of accessorizing is seriously inspiring!

      Thank you much for commenting here. I'm touched that you did and really hope you know what a style inspiration you to me.

      Tons of hugs,
      ♥ Jessica

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  35. I was waiting the entire post for the phrase "mutton dressed as lamb" to come up. At 46, my goal is to look 25 again & to remain looking 25 forever -- even when I am 125 years old. I don't want to age, gracefully or otherwise. I want to look & feel young. One of my goals in my vintage look is to appear younger than I am so I deliberately choose styles that would be associated with someone younger. One thing that is convenient about vintage fashion is that it isn't always clear to the modern viewer whether something would have been worn by someone 20 or 70 in its original day, so that provides a lot of leeway.

    One shop I like is Pin-Up Girl Clothing. Because they have an emphasis on sexier styles, they tend to make one look younger. I am particularly fond of their black cherry print.

    I think modern clothes are quite cheaply made & tacky so I could not dress in the styles that teenage girls wear today in order to look younger, but I can wear a dress, sweater, socks, and shoes that a 16 year old in the 1950s would have worn to school.

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    1. Thank you very much for sharing your passionate thoughts on this subject with me. I love hearing about how other vintage fan's opt to dress as time goes on and they reach new points in your life. There's absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to retain a sense of youthfulness - quite the opposite, whether in fashion or life in general - and I hope to do always do the same myself as well, even if I phase some styles/pieces of of my closet as time goes on (or replace them with different versions of the same general thing).

      I very much agree with you that there are some vintage looks that are so imbued with a sense of youthfulness that they can help today's wearer shave years off their look or at least help them appear as a very young at heart individual. It's fantastic that such exist for today's vintage loving lady.

      I will always fervently adhere to the tenet that, ultimately, there should be no fashion rules. The points in this post are simply suggestions put forth with thought and care for those who have asked point blank over the years for them and others who may go searching for such in the future. No matter your age, dress in whatever way brings you the most joy - for there is truly no better accessory for any outfit than happiness.

      Many thanks again & have a stellar first weekend of summer!
      ♥ Jessica

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  36. As ever, love love love this post! Thank you for addressing this on your site!

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    1. It was my true pleasure! I loved writing this post and thinking so much about a topic that is already starting to be a part of my own world and wardrobe (dressing differently, to a degree, as I age). It's wonderful to tackle this subject after years or requests to read everyone's terrific impute and further advice on the subject.

      Have a beautiful weekend, dear lady!
      ♥ Jessica

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  37. Once again you've truly outdone yourself with a wealth of helpful and interesting ~ not to mention in-depth information here Jessica. I really liked how you talked about the 'maturing beauty' of over the 30s. Hitting the big 3-0 myself this year, I find it's so discouraging to think that in the modern standards of beauty, I'm pretty much past it. Where in the 'old fashioned' mind, really I'm just getting started!

    I think that helps to drive home that beauty really is a state of mind, and doesn't have to be seen the way that the current media insists on picturing it. Bring back the age of aging gracefully I say! ❤

    xox,
    bonita of Lavender & Twill

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    1. Hello sweet Bonita, thank you very much for your wonderfully nice comment and for sharing some of your thoughts on this topic. I too am saddened and sickened by the fact that that mature beauty is so under appreciated in a lot of the world nowadays.

      I remember as a child that while I did certainly see the beauty in younger adult women, it was those in their 30s - 50s, like my mom, aunts, one of my grandmas, and my friend's mothers, who I thought were the most beautiful, elegant, stylish women I knew at the time. Looking back, that still rings true and personally I'm tickled pink to have reached that age bracket.

      Thankfully I think that most of us vintage lovers appreciate the beauty of age and the sophisticated fashions that go with it, and that's more than enough for me. :)

      Many thanks again & have a great week,
      ♥ Jessica

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  38. Right, well, I'm obviously WAY behid in my blog reading...this is a fantastic topic!! :)

    Being 44 this year, I tend to dress "safe" (read: plain) for the office, but that's slwly changing. I'm incorporating more vintage into my work wardrobe (on days I know I won't ruin it, I work in one of four file rooms for a major bank), and hoping to start adding hats from my collection. I've been in love with vintage fashion from the 1930s for what seems like forever but I'm in no way stuck in a certain decade. I try and dress in a way that's not too revealing - not much leg showing, no real cleavage (not really "blessed" in that area anyways *lol*), and nothing too tight so as not to show off my "middle age pot" belly :) My colours are mostly neutral with some really bright and wild splashes on occasion, my shoes will always be comfortable (even the 4" heel platform slingbacks I occasionally wear), and my makeup will never be garish. On the other hand, I love goth fashion, I'm currently growing out my dark purple coloured hair - I've had it for over a year and want to both give my hair a break and try something new...blue? - and really enjoy wearing heavy-ish black eye makeup sometimes.

    I agree that almost everything is appropriate for a "woman of a certain age" if she feels confident and wonderful wearing it. After all, the woman makes the clothes, not the clothes make the woman, right? *lol*

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    1. Very much so, I often feel that that message (it's the woman who makes the clothes) has been lost in today's world, where one can so easily just buried under a mountain of the same old, run-of-the-mill, (arguably) boring styles that everyone else is where. The woman is still there, but she looks like 99% of the rest of the population, so it's hard to see her true sense of style - assuming she herself even knows what that is. Were she to dress in a more dynamic, unique way, we'd get a greater picture of the woman and her clothes in the same go (total win-win!).

      Thank you very much for your great comment and for sharing so much with me about where your own style is at these days. I really appreciate that you weighed in here, dear lady.

      Happy Canada Day week wishes!
      ♥ Jessica

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  39. What a great topic to discuss and could certainly make a great series. Thank you so much for your mention:) I do find it interesting when I see older women in the fashion magazines and I know that I have encountered an article or two along the way about how to dress and style yourself as a mature lady. It is interesting that ladies, like myself, can wear novelty skirts that were really for the teenage market. I guess this gives it a playful spin:) I will have to keep my eyes open for future images/articles on this topic. Thank you for your lovely viewpoints on the subject:)

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    1. You're truly welcome, my dear friend. Your style and eye for fashion - not to mention your passion for it - have inspired me since the moment our paths crossed and I know that it really and truly will always continue to.

      I completely agree with you that there are some seemingly rather young vintage pieces that suit older ladies awesomely. Not all by any means, but some ladies in the 30s, 40s and beyond can rock pinafore dresses superbly, and of course novelty print skirts as you mentioned, are another prime example. I think that how the rest of the outfit is styled is really what helps there. A novelty skirt with a halter top and hair flower can read quite youthful, but the same skirt with a vintage blazer and smart mid-century hat can look like something out of the pages of a 1950s edition of Vogue or Harpers. The ability to know which direction to style that piece in can be, unto itself, a hallmark of maturity and something that is so great about aging.

      Huge hugs & many thanks for your great comment,
      ♥ Jessica

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  40. I really love this topic because it's often neglected. Much like vintage fashion for teenagers. Vintage clothing is often directed towards the 20 - 30 something's and it is rather unfair to the rest of the age brackets. Life is too short to wear boring clothes. :)

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    1. Very true and that's a shame, because it isn't just twenty-somethings sporting it in the slightest. I hope, and do believe, that as time goes on this first wave (so to speak) of vintage wearers ages, we'll see a shift towards vintage/repro being seen on a far broader range of age groups and I really look forward to that.

      ♥ Jessica

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  41. This is an excellent and comprehensive post that I'll definitely be bookmarking and passing along to friends and my own blog readers. It brings to mind a memory from a few years ago. I attended a vintage fashion show and workshop as part of Melbourne fashion week and was seated next to a gorgeous mature woman. During the question and answer portion of the workshop, she got up and asked whether it was appropriate for a mature woman to wear vintage styles. She mentioned that she had a particular love of styles from the sixties and seventies, but was worried that if she wore items from these eras that she would look as though she was just recycling her teenage wardrobe. Our host told her that when it comes to wearing vintage, you should never wear clothing from a particular era if you wore it the first time it was in fashion. Instead she suggested choosing styles that were iconic of eras older than yourself for a more flattering look.

    After the show I struck up a conversation with the woman and I mentioned to her that I didn't think that our tutor's advice was necessarily correct. I truly believe that if you like a particular style, and it makes you happy then you should certainly wear it. As you mentioned here, there are many ways to make a variety of vintage styles work for any age. The beauty of vintage is that you can make it your own, whether you choose to faithfully recreate the style of a particular era or mix and match pieces to create a look that is uniquely your own. There are no rules! It's so marvellous to see someone as stylish and well-versed in vintage as yourself singing the praises of vintage style for every age.

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    1. Hi lovely Vanessa, thank you very much for your terrific comment. I wholeheartedly appreciate your impute here and that you shared so much with me - and all - of us regarding some of your thoughts on, and experiences with, fashion for mature ladies.

      That, ultimately, is the message for sure: there are no rules! Yes, objectively, some styles (and decades, etc) will look better on some people and at various points in a person's life, but really, so what? If they make you happy, then wear them! We don't value happiness enough in fashion, if you ask me, and that point has never sat well with me, which is a huge part of why I've tried to promote that message from the get-go on my blog. I know firsthand the incredible difference in terms of happiness levels that I feel if I wear vintage (or other styles that bring me bliss) and when I don't and I like to believe that the equivalent exists for most people, whether they're drawn to vintage or another style, Yet in this causal fashion day and age, I often wonder if many people have hit upon what that is for them or not - or at least taken the leap of courage to embrace it, if they have. I truly hope that posts like this one can aid many on that path and that they too can discover the unbridled joy of dressing in a way that they love and feel called to wear.

      Many thanks again for your excellent comment. I really appreciate it and am sure many readers will as well.

      ♥ Jessica

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  42. Gosh this post must have taken some work, it is so well written and thoughtful. I think there are some excellent tips for vintage wearers of any age and I love the pictures you used to illustrate your points. It makes me sad to think that people don't just wear whatever it is that they want to wear, regardless of their age. I think that if you love it, that is a good enough reason to wear it. I hope your post gives some people the confidence to just go for it!

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    1. It did indeed, but I really enjoyed every thought provoking moment of it. Big posts, especially on topics I haven't covered before (or haven't come at from a certain angle previously, as the case may be) are usually ones that I adore penning all the more and this was no exception. Thank you so much for your wonderfully nice feedback and for your wise advice as well. I agree completely.

      Huge hugs,
      ♥ Jessica

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  43. I'm over 40 and enjoy wearing vintage. My one approach is not to wear the things that magazines recommended for women my age, as they tended to style older ladies quite frumpishly. (And always with the same 'oblong' figure. Weird. All I can think is, in the days pre-contraception and when things like gardening and walking were considered suitable exercise for older ladies childbearing and lack of muscle tone led to the stereotypically 'matronly' figure.) I avoid too many ruffles and cutesy prints, but then I'd have avoided those things when I was 20 too, they're just not my style.

    I think for older women genuine vintage is better than a lot of repro - as you say, a lot of it is on the cutesy/pinup side, which tends to be better on younger ladies, though there are no blanket rules.

    I got into wearing vintage in my mid-30s. I'd always liked it, and had owned bits and bobs even in my goth days, but it was meeting someone at an event that convinced me I too could have this EVERY DAY! Honestly, it was like being hit by a thunderbolt. One of the reasons I show myself on my blog, being visibly older and overweight, is because vintage can be for everyone, and maybe I'll hit some other person who longs for it but fears they can't wear it with that thunderbolt.

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    1. Hi lovely Mim, thank you very much for your terrific comment and for weighing in with your own thoughts and impute on this topic. I love that you are over 40 and rock vintage. Way to go! I too tend to agree that genuine vintage or highly vintage appropriate contemporary pieces can be a more flattering approach often than repro, especially if we're talking about overly cutesy and/or sexy repro. Not, of course, that a woman of any can't wear such if desired, but objectively such can come across as looking like the person is trying to hard to hold onto their youth.

      Hear, hear!!! Vintage really and truly can be for anyone of any age, body time, background, etc. It's fabulous that you discovered a passion for wearing vintage in your 30s and have continued to sport it ever since. That's awesome!

      Big hugs & many thanks again for your wonderful comment,
      ♥ Jessica

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  44. I've just written a very long comment to this fabulous post, but it was too long, so I will mail it to you instead. Here I will just say a huge thank you for this fantastic post. :)

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    1. Hi sweet Sanne, I really appreciate you putting so much time, thought and impute into your comment on this post and am really looking forward to reading it.

      Many thanks & joyful weekend wishes!
      ♥ Jessica

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  45. Hello Everyone - nice blog. As a 50 yr old who wore vintage her whole life, I had serious doubts as I hit 40. There is NO ironic dressing after 40. I had to stay away from big style frocks I would've rocked in my 30's. But - switching to early 1960's office style was my winning choice. It's plain, but really well made and the fabrics are good quality. Also, for the timid - everyone can wear a shirtdress. I get more compliments from people when I shop in my shirtdress than anything else. It's hard to let suzy parker go, now I'm miss hathaway. Oh, and if I may, stay away from hats over 40, I used to love them though. good luck all.

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    1. Thank you very much for your impute here, it's wonderful to hear from some one over 40 who has been wearing vintage for their whole life. I appreciate your advice and find it interesting that hats aren't something that you find still work well for you. Granted, some styles will be more flattering/becoming than others, but in general, I think that middle aged and older ladies can look breathtaking in vintage hats. Small 50s "headband" styles and conversely wider platter/cartwheel hats especially can be so elegant on many mature ladies. Of course, though everyone is different and I'm not saying hats, or at least all styles of hats, work well for everyone.

      Many thanks again & have a great summer,
      ♥ Jessica

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  46. Who wouldn't want to wear vintage?!!!!! I am 66 and wear it most of the time. I also have an Etsy shop, Bop and Awe and do my own modeling. I have started changing the minds of women who would never think about wearing it in my city of Corpus Christi. Maggie at Denise Brain pointed me to this fabulous blog. You have captured my heart. Out shopping we can run our hands down a rack of clothing and practically feel which items are vintage. They are special and unique and nothing today compares! I am in love with all different eras. You can be classy, refined and quirky at the same time. Thank you for all this wonderful info and the outstanding pics.

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    1. Hi Jean, thank you very much for your absolutely lovely comment and for letting me know how you discovered my site. It's a pleasure to "meet" you and to know that you're not only rocking vintage in your sixties, but inspiring others of various ages to do the same. That is heartwarming and very encouraging to hear. I am off to check out your Etsy shop and look forward to seeing you modeling your store's offerings.

      Many thanks again & have an awesome autumn!

      ♥ Jessica

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