Advanced Style Ivory

Women of a Certain Age.

I love — love! — receiving emails from my Magpie tribe, and I respond to each and every one of them as quickly as I can.  The other day, I received a kind email from one of my Magpies that read as follows:

“You write about your mother with such affection and she obviously has been a great influence on your sense of style. If you are looking for ideas, could you possibly consider writing a blog post about fashion (and/or beauty ) for women in their 50s and up?  I believe we are an untapped market of people who want to look classic and current. We are willing to spend some money for timeless pieces but also enjoy a good sale!”

It reminded me that my mother routinely emails me links from my posts to ask whether such-and-such product looks “too young” for her.  She especially loved one floral chiffon dress I featured over the summer, but decided it was just “junior” for her.

Today, I thought I’d share some thoughts on stylish picks for women in the golden years of their life.  I’ll state that, to begin with, I think women over 50 have several advantages over us young and inexperienced folk when it comes to dressing ourselves:

  1. Older women can pull off bright colors much more easily.  (See below for insanely chic examples.)  Sometimes a bright red looks a little…kindergarten? on me, but my mom looks sophisticated in it.  Let’s just say that a red twinset on me reads “first grader at a piano recital” whereas a red twinset on my mother reads “possibly the wife of an ambassador…maybe related to a Kennedy?”
  2.  Older women can wear costume jewelry to greater effect.  There’s something about a woman with salt and pepper hair that always has me second guessing whether it’s real or not.  “Could that oversized pearl ring be REAL?” I gasp.  “No…no way.  But maybe.  Yes.  Wait a minute, is that Van Cleef and Arpels?  It can’t be.  It’s the size of a gumball!  No…it might be.”  By contrast, a twenty-something in a statement necklace will always look like she’s just made a nice score a TopShop or BaubleBar.  Nothing against those brands (I wear them often), but costume jewelry just looks more expensive on an older lady.
  3. Older women can pull off monochromatic styles with a lot more panache than us younguns.  Sure, I’ve seen street style starlets at the tender age of 25 wear an all-cream ensemble (I’m looking at you, Miroslava Duma), but, as a general rule, there’s something far more sophisticated about the look on a lady over 50 — it reads “put together” rather than “matchy mcmatcherson.”  (Cf: photo at the top of this post.  I mean GOD DAMN that woman is chic.)
  4. Older women can also wear leopard print and it somehow looks expensive and appropriate.  On the younger set, leopard can look gaudy if not framed carefully.

One great source for fashion inspiration for women of a certain age is Ari Seth Cohen’s fabulous street style blog, Advanced Style, which is devoted to “capturing the sartorial savvy of the senior set.”   All of the pictures in this post are from his blog.  I met Ari through my sister-in-law, with whom he is very dear friends, and have been hooked ever since.  His work is proof that great style is not the province of the young — in fact, many of the women and men he features are far more adventurous and loud in their sartorial decision-making than many younger than they.

Advanced Style Gucci

Advanced Style Edgy Jewelry

Advanced Style Ari Cohen

I’d do well to even remotely resemble the chic peas above EVER IN MY LIFE, let alone when I reach my 50s.  Below, a few picks for I’d dog-eared when imagining dressing myself when I’m over 50:

Look No. 1: All Red Everything

I love the unique cut/shape of this blouse ($80) paired with some tone-on-tone red cigarette pants from Roland Mouret ($720 — get the look for less with these).  Finish with the Aquazzura pom kittens ($650)

The Fashion Magpie TopShop Red Blouse

The Fashion Magpie Red Trousers

The Fashion Magpie Aquazzura Pom The Fashion Magpie Aquazzura Pom

Or, pretty much anything by Emilia Wickstead is…to die for.  Uber sophisticated.  This dress is everything, especially with these oversized floral earrings ($100, the same as the ones the lady is wearing in the first snap above!?) and these Manolos ($865).

The Fashion Magpie Flower StudsThe Fashion Magpie Emilia Wickstead Dress

The Fashion Magpie Monolo Blahnik Bow Heel

And either of these looks with this Gucci scarf = $$$$$$$$$$$$.  (#MONEY)

The Fashion Magpie Gucci Scarf

Look No. 2: The Retired Ballerina Vibe

I like the idea of an all-black silhouette with a nipped-in waist and a full skirt.  The look below screams: “I used to dance for The Bolshoi Ballet.”  Pair this ribbed J. Crew bodysuit (on sale for $39 — love the button detailing at the cuff; if you’re not into the bodysuit, check out these sweaters, in a range of colors) with this silk organza midi skirt ($395).  Important note: the skirt is unlined, so be sure to snag a slip to sport beneath.  Finish with these incroyable Ganni slingbacks ($235).

The Fashion Magpie JCrew Bodysuit


The Fashion Magpie Ganni Suede Pump The Fashion Magpie Ganni Suede Pump 2

Or, simplify things and sport this silken, flattering jumpsuit (on sale for $224).

THe Fashion Magpie DVF Jumpsuit

Look No. 3: Age Spots (Not What You Think)

As noted above, I’ve noticed that women over 50 can really pull off leopard print.  Below, a few pieces worth considering: Adam Lippes leopard dress ($1,090) with these incredible black suede booties ($138).  P.S. — If you think you can’t pull off booties on a bare leg, check out the hottie mctottie above in the hot pink midi number.  I really need these booties in my life.  (You can get the look for less with these.)

The Fashion Magpie Adam Lippes Leopard Dress


Sam Edelman Kinzey Pointed Toe Bootie Sam Edelman Kinzey Pointed Toe Bootie 2


I’m also loving these leopard booties from Aquazzura ($1,095); this KJL pin ($300); and this Ulla Johnson fur coat ($1,965).

The Fashion Magpie Aquazzura Bootie The Fashion Magpie Bootie Leopard

The Fashion Magpie KJL Leopard Pin

The Fashion Magpie Ulla Johnson Coat

Look No. 4: Le Casual

OK, I’ll admit it: this may be what I’m planning on wearing all weekend long, but I also think it’d be chic on a woman of any age!: a chic cape ($118) with J. Brands ($178) and my Tod’s ($425) and UGHHHH I WANT THIS BAG ($2,300).

The Fashion Magpie J Brand Jeans


The Fashion Magpie Tods Loafer 2 The Fashion Magpie Tods Loafer

The Fashion Magpie Gucci Dionysus

Miscellaneous Other Picks…

+This Adrienne Landau faux-fur leopard stole.  P.S. — I’ve had GREAT luck with buying gently used or never used pieces from Real Real.  So much more trustworthy than eBay (everything is inspected/vetted for authenticity!) and it’s one surefire way to track down looks/pieces that have long since sold out.  I bought a pair of Chanel espadrilles from them when they’d sold out at every other Chanel boutique on the planet and have positively lived in them for the last four summers!

+A very loud flat that an over-50 could pull of with jeans and a navy sweater or crisp white button-down with great panache…

+The cheery tangerine hue of this dress reminds me of that happy orange top the lady in the street style snap above is sporting, to great effect…

+In the monochromatic vein, this with these in the “sweet vanilla” color = show-stopping.

+Dying over these.  DYING.

+This with cigarette pants nails the whole statement shirt phenom.

+Into my pearl shoe obsession but fearing they look to trendy?  Consider these.

+Equestrian chic and v. Lee Radziwell.

+A fabulous statement piece.


  1. LOVE this post. You have such a great eye. I want some of these pieces now — particularly those Ganni slingbacks! So good.

    I also love the snaps you chose from Advanced Style — saving a few to my Pinterest!

  2. I love this ode to older women. Every year I become more comfortable and confident in my style and can’t wait (well maybe I can a little) to see what I’m choosing to wear in my later years.

    1. Here, here Kristen! I’m with you. I’m taking cues from these ladies and hoping I can pull something off that even loosely approximates their style and elegance…thanks for writing!! xoxo

  3. I agree 100% with your letter-writer’s request, and your mother! Thank you for this blog. Maybe a weekly or monthly feature for we over-50s who still would like some age-appropriate fashion and styling inspiration.

    1. Hi Candace! So glad to meet you and to hear from you! I will absolutely put some more thought into this — maybe a new series?!?!

  4. Three women whose style I greatly admire:
    -My ballet teacher, a retired dancer in her 60s with the most elegance I have ever encountered. She makes leggings look elegant with her oversized sweater and a bun.
    -The woman who works on my office floor that has been growing her hair out to the most amazing, gorgeous shade of gray for the past two years. My whole office talks about how stunning it looks.
    -Another woman on my office floor, in her 60s, with the most incredible, impeccable wardrobe. Everything fits precisely. She must be a great seamstress herself or spend a fortune at the tailor. And she employs a lot of the advantages you named above. She wore an all cream ensemble recently that just killed me. She also pulls of leopard at the office like nobody’s business. She is breathtaking, and refeshing in the sea of DC Ann Taylor wearers.

    I am tempted to say something to the office building mates, but am either too intimidated by their fashion powers, or it’s a weird moment, like when the elevator door is closing. Someday!

    1. Kate! So sweet of you to write this and I, for one, am rooting for you to praise one of these chic peas in the coming weeks! It will probably make their week (if not their month!). But if you never work up the courage, at least we have this: a community of women admiring them from afar through the comments section of this little blog, PLUS very specific role models for you as you age (gracefully, of course — whether that means a ballerina bun or an all-cream ensemble or a head of gray hair!) xoxo

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