As a fashion editor, I’ve never been a fan of telling women what to wear based on their age. Because I truly and honestly believe that if you love what you’re wearing and you feel confident in it—be it a red sparkling mini dress, billowing, wide culottes or anything in between—you should go ahead and wear it. That said, women over 50 will only benefit from having a foundational wardrobe in place; a handful of basic clothing and accessory pieces that make getting dressed easier, that flatter your form and that you can rely on through every season. Here, the nine staples that every woman over 50 should pad their closet with.
9 Wardrobe Staples That Every Women Over 50 Should Own
PureWow editors select every item that appears on this page, and the company may earn compensation through affiliate links within the story. All prices are accurate upon date of publish. You can learn more about the affiliate process here.
1. A Trustworthy Button Down
Simply put, a button down is a sartorial chameleon. It can be dressed up with heels and trousers for a night out, or dressed down with jeans and sneakers for a day of errands. Plus, with its forgiving shape (not too clingy but not overwhelmingly oversized), it’s a welcome wardrobe addition for all body types. While we obviously champion having at least one white button down in your rotation, consider including a few unexpected iterations, including deep black, blue and white striped or even a fun floral print.
2. Monochrome Separates
When you find a color that suits you, stick to it. And then rock it from head-to-toe. Not only is it the easiest way to look pulled together in a cinch, it’s so nice to have a pre-built outfit ready to go at any time (especially when you’re traveling). But there’s no need to make a sweater, trousers and coat in a single hue look boring. Instead, seek out one of those aforementioned pieces with a touch of embellishment, just like the chic woman above did with her wool coat (though I think a dressed-up sweater would have the same outstanding effect).
3. Nude Formal Flats
This might seem hyper specific, but you shouldn’t have to suffer through hours on your feet at a long evening (or afternoon) event, especially when you’re already dressed to the nines—hair, makeup, nails and all. So seek out a pair of formal flats that will work with a vibrant black tie caftan, a sleek black pencil skirt, a floor-dusting gown in emerald green and so on. Now, it’s easy to find a shade of nude that actually matches your skin thanks to designers like Rebecca Allen and Kahmune who offer their shoe designs in a veritable rainbow of skin tones. After just one wear, you’ll wonder why you ever bothered with formal heels before.
4. A Really Good Blazer…
This is one basic where fit really, really matters. Take the time to find a blazer style that you like—single or double breasted—and don’t be afraid to invest time and money into tailoring it to your dimensions, focusing specifically on the shoulders and the sleeve length. And definitely make sure it’s not too snug around the back, especially if you’ll be layering sweaters or flowy blouses underneath. Once you’ve found “the one,” you can now wear your perfectly fitted blazer with skirts and slacks to work, to tone down a pretty dress and to dress up jeans and a tee.
5. ...and A Really Good White T-shirt
Sure, a white T-shirt is a staple at any age, but it’s also one of those items that’s best replaced or updated every few years. Since you last stocked up, perhaps your body has changed, you’ve noticed yellow pit stains (hey, it happens to the best of us) or you’re not feeling V-necks quite like you used to. Take the time to consider how much wear you’re getting out of your current white tee and how it could possibly be improved at all. That way you’ll never feel like a slob in a not-so-flattering top, and you’ll have a better sense of exactly what your tee looks like—and what it pairs best with. The best sign of a trustworthy basic is versatility. If you can wear it often and actually like to, you’ll know it’s a keeper.
6. A Carry-all Tote
Please put down the canvas bag you got for free at an event six years ago. It’s about time you upgraded your everyday bag to something you’re proud to carry around—just make sure it actually has room for everything you need. And listen, there’s no reason you need to drop thousands on a designer tote (though go right ahead, if you’d like). Simply seek out a sleek design that’s been finely crafted from quality leather that will last you a few years. Just make sure it’s in a shade that will go with most items in your wardrobe—camel, deep brown, black or off-white will likely serve you and your wardrobe best.
7. Cropped Black Trousers
Finding pants that not only fit your body, but actually flatter your legs and hips can feel nearly impossible. But don’t give up the search. Finally have a pair of trousers that you can rely on in a pinch or that you know will work with multiple top options (from a button-down to a cashmere sweater) is worth the effort. And while there’s hardly a universally flattering pant style, a majority of women will find that a cropped trouser in black does do a lot for them. Simply figure out the correct cut—culottes, tapered or straight—and buy two pairs. That way, you won’t have to go through this pant-focused journey anytime soon.
8. A Statement Coat
Wait a minute, you might be thinking, is a statement coat really a basic? The answer is yes and here’s why: A standout coat can make or break an outfit during winter, it doesn’t really matter what’s worn underneath it. Hell, a great coat could make even leggings or sweatpants look sleek. Simply seek out a design that feels easily wearable to you—that could mean simple stripes or splashy florals—and wear it as you would a black or tan overcoat. Trust us, the more you wear it, the more you’ll realize just how versatile a statement coat can be.
9. A Boat Neck Sweater
You might be lusting after the off-white jeans or simple navy peacoat pictured above, but it’s actually the sweater that we’re all about. A boatneck neckline is universally flattering, since it shows off your collarbones and draws the eye up and out, towards your shoulders. Basically, it’s a modest top that still offers a hint of skin (and is totally appropriate to wear to any occasion). Our tip: Try out the boatneck detail in tees, tanks and sweaters. Whether you like to show off your arms or not, there’s a way to adapt this neckline to your personal style. And please, don’t be shy about wearing yours with long spangly pendants or short, chunky chain necklaces.