Fix the Frumpy: What to Wear for Women Over 50

I don’t pretend to be any type of fashion queen or diva of the dress… I am still learning all about style and fashion as I go! But I’ve picked up a few great tips to hopefully help all those women over 50 (like me!) who wonder what to wear, or who feel frumpy and want to make a change. If you want to know how to dress well over 50, then read through these tips and use the ones that work for you to create your own personal style.


What to Wear : How to Dress Over 50

Nothing, and I mean nothing, stops at 50. Not fashion, not style, and especially not beauty. We live in a pretty cool time, ladies, when 50 is the new 30. So no matter what your body shape, what your budget or what you’ve worn all your life, take the time to fix those frumpy outfits! I promise, it’s so much easier than you may think!

Colors to wear over 50? Use neutrals as your base.

I can’t say this enough. When deciding what to wear, think classic and elegant, not funky and trendy. Pants and slacks should be dark blue denim or neutrals. Colored pants belong on 12 year olds or fashion models. Stop with the bright large prints & sequins already! Geometrics and subtle tone on tone prints are much more sophisticated, and let’s face it, sequins don’t belong on any woman off the red carpet or a Vegas strip. If that’s your fashion MO right now, I’m hoping there are no hurt feelings. We’ve all made a fashion faux pas, or ten.

And if you love your sequins, well then rock them, and more power to you! But if you are wanting to update your look, maybe this is a place to take a peek. You should have seen some of the things I wore in my 20’s!  Just change it up! Worried about your wardrobe being boring or washed out? No worries, keep reading! This simple knit blouse is dressed up by a pretty gold bracelet. Easy, laid back, but polished. You could easily build on the neutral base with jackets, blazers, scarves, or jewelry for a color pop. Find more neutrals like this at Talbots.

Speaking of base… Find shapewear you love.

To avoid bra lines, muffin tops, and panty lines, shapewear is your best friend! I don’t mean squeezing yourself into some super tight sausage casing every morning. There are plenty of shapewear brands that offer light shaping and smoothing instead of “suck it in and don’t breathe” kinda control.

I love  Yummie Shapewear. I wear the Cotton Shaping Full Back Bodysuits several times a week and I love them because they just feel like a snug layer with light support, no squeezing required. They smooth just enough to prevent muffin top under jeans or a skirt (or even under a dress), but are so comfy you forget they aren’t just a regular tank layer.  And BTW, I use them just like a tank top or cami! I also love the Ballet Shaping Bodysuit because it has 3/4 sleeves, and I can wear it in all seasons. They have a ton of other options in different supports from light to firm.


Look polished at 50 – Add accessories with anything you wear.

So many women don’t experiment with accessories because it seems scary. First of all, this is a great place to add color to your outfit. A handbag, jewelry, a watch, scarf, hat or even sunglasses can add just the right amount of “I cared enough to be put together” in your style. Afraid to use jewelry & accessories? Here is a good formula… Pick one necklace, one pair of earrings, one watch or bracelet. Then, add one more. I like to layer two necklaces of different lengths, or stack bracelets. Or wear a scarf and sunglasses, and just stud earrings. Just don’t do it all at once! One little tip? Pendant necklaces. They draw the eye down and make your frame look taller and slimmer. Below is a great example of using accessories without overusing accessories. You can shop her look and other accessories over at Chico’s


Create the illusion of height.

So many women are worried about looking slimmer in their clothes. One of the best ways to do that is by creating the illusion of height. That means using long visual lines to visually whittle away a few pounds. Using tunic-length tops, long cardigans and jackets, and shoes with a touch of a heel are a great start. Also, keep your tops and bottoms of the same intensity to create a seamless visual line. This doesn’t mean you have to wear all black, though that’s a great choice for an elegant sophisticated look with a few accessories. But if you wear a dark top, wear a dark pant. If you wear a light pant, wear a light top… getting it? This outfit is far from frumpy and leads the eye up and down. This is also a great way to wear stripes… vertically, not horizontally. It lengthens your frame instead of widening it. Check out more outfits and accessories like this at Chico’s.


If you don’t want to look frumpy, focus on the fit.

No one knows or cares what the size on the label is. If your pants or jeans are too tight, they will cause muffin top. If your dress or top is too large, it will only make you look shapeless, and yes, your outfit frumpy. Choose clothes that skim your figure, that are neither too tight or too loose. I buy jeans that are one size larger than the sizing chart tells me too. If I don’t, muffin top every time. And I buy jackets and cardigans a size smaller, or I look like I’m hiding a Thanksgiving dinner under my sweater. Figure out what works for your and try things on in sizes you’ve never thought of trying before. If it doesn’t fit, so what! Find a size that does. Notice this beautiful woman does not try to hide her shape in a huge size sweater, neither does she try to squeeze into something too small. This pretty top and more just like it can be found at Talbots.


Accentuate the positive, and downplay what makes you feel uncomfortable.

That means, if you are proud of your nice legs, wear more dresses. If you haven’t made friends with your legs yet, wear tall boots! If you have a curvy figure, play it up! Apple shaped? Wear softly draped tops around your middle. Just look in the mirror, and don’t be mean to yourself. We all have things about ourselves we wish we could change. Make the most of what you have and stop trying to hide under moomoos, and in sensible shoes. We love how this woman looks so incredibly polished in this pretty outfit. (Not frumpy, at all!) A woman of any body shape could rock this outfit! Notice her outfit is all monochromatic, but she added texture in a flattering long line finishing piece with the cardigan, then accented with the perfect jewelry formula, and rockin’ shoes. You can find more looks just pretty over at Chico’s.


Mix it up!

Don’t wear the same things you’ve always worn and expect the same results. Personal style, our bodies, and trends all change. Could it be time for a closet refresh? It can be fun to try something new and discover your new style over 50!  Have you tried a jumpsuit?  Sophistication and elegance, done! Shop this look at Chico’s.


Shoes are key when dressing over 50.

This outfit is another long-line styling that is flattering to any figure, but add the cute mule shoe and it elevates it to a really polished look. Wear cute shoes! They don’t have to be uncomfortable to be fashionable. BTW, the length of this dress is super flattering, not too short, and not at that awkward “just below the knee” spot. The scarf adds a sophisticated accessory that makes this outfit stunning, even though it’s simple. Find this dress, shoes, and more like it at ‘J. Jill’.


Layers are a classic, polished, and slimming way to dress over 50.

Want a perfect formula for a knock-out style that is anything but frumpy? Top + bottom + finishing piece + accessories + shoes. A finishing piece can be anything from a vest, to a cardigan, to a jacket, or even just a scarf during warmer months. It makes the difference between wearing clothes and wearing an outfit. If you put thought into a finishing piece for every day, you can forget ever feeling frumpy again! This outfit pretty much has it all. Notice you can find nearly ever single tip we shared here in this outfit, and it is not frumpy, it’s feminine, fantastic, and fun! Find more pieces like this over at ‘J. Jill’.


Discover your new style over 50!

Now that you have it down, go shopping! And check out our posts on How to Look Younger for Women Over 50, and Pretty Eye Makeup Looks for Women Over 40. And don’t forget to join the OhMeOhMy Facebook group and our Pinterest page so you see right away when we post new ideas and advice! Over 50? Join Kathy over at The Middle Girls!

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Kathy Bates

Kathy Bates & Steve Bates (co-owners) – Woodard Bates Media LLC consisting of three blogs:, and

Kathy Bates’ previous writing credits include:

Former home decorating expert for Lifetime TV, Galtime and Country Woman Magazine.

Her book spent time at #1 on Amazon’s Home & Garden Topseller List in 2002.

Published or featured in numerous national publications, including:

Country Sampler’s Decorating Ideas magazine, Woman’s Day magazine, HGTV, The Wall Street Journal, CBS Marketwatch, Decorating Solutions magazine, Decorating Ideas magazine, The Seattle Times, Chicago Tribune, Kansas City News, The Oklahoman, Akron Beacon Journal, Pensacola News Journal and The Telegraph.


  1. AJ
    September 24, 2019 / 8:21 pm

    Can we stop saying things like, “downplay the negative,” as if women’s bodies were terribly flawed?

    • Kathy Bates
      May 5, 2021 / 10:34 am

      Thats a good point! Perhaps, downplay the things you SEE as negative?

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