Dressing for your 40s is nothing like what it used to be. No longer considered to be officially ‘middle-aged’, the decade of your 40s is about celebrating your true arrival into adulthood. What does this mean? For a start it’s an opportunity to begin enjoying the life that you’ve worked hard to achieve in your 30s. So take this self-defining time in your life to really dress to impress!
At 40 you will be so much more aware of the style you like to present, both in the workplace and when you’re off-duty. Your look need not change much from your choices in your 30s, luckily we are now living in a far more ageless society. But you may want to make little tweaks to adapt to your lifestyle at this stage in your life.
Whichever lifestyle path you’re on, it’s important to remember that you can still be just as daring and experimental with your fashion choices as you were at 30. Read on to be inspired by our choices for looking every inch in charge of your style choices at this very significant stage in life.
By now you’ll probably have a variety of ‘foundation’ garments in your capsule wardrobe that you love wearing. However, at the start of a new decade it’s important to reflect on whether all the clothes in your closet are still working for you. Identify the items that no longer meet your needs and either remove them or replace them with something new and more fitting for your lifestyle right now.
Your ‘essentials’ wardrobe should consist of multiple pieces that can be mixed and matched to create a variety of different styles. Make sure you have a great fitting pair of jeans and full-length trousers that really flatter your body shape. Add a couple of skirts with different hem lengths and have a few versatile blouses, tops, shirts and knitwear pieces to team with them. For outerwear, a tailored jacket or blazer is a must-have, and don’t forget a classic-shaped warm coat for when the weather turns cold.
At 40 it’s a great time to invest in good quality clothing. These are usually more expensive, but if you buy sensibly, choosing chic and timeless styles, you’ll find that the fit will flatter your shape better than a ‘fast fashion’ garment and you’ll be able to wear these items for many years to come.
Look out for fabrics in natural fibres from pure cotton to linen, viscose, silk and wool. Choose neutral tones and timeless prints such as stripes, polka dots, paisley checks or classic florals.
Every capsule wardrobe needs a dazzling go-to occasion dress. There really are no rules when it comes to formal dressing in your 40s (unless there’s a dress code of course), so whether it’s a short and sassy fit & flare skater style, a chic bodycon midi shift dress or a showstopping full-length maxi gown, the options really are all open to you.
Pick out your best assets and go from there. A sleek a-line silhouette with a statement front or side split is great to show off some leg, or opt for an elegant Bardot neckline, deep v-neck or backless style if you prefer to draw attention to your top half.
At 40 you can definitely pull off an air of glamour, so don’t be shy to sparkle in sequins or make a statement with ruffled sleeves, layers of tulle and lace or folds of luxurious silk and satin. At this stage in your life, dressing for parties is certainly still about making a youthful statement, but with a little more sophistication.
Try out some asymmetrical hemlines, from a dramatic high-low style to delicate hanky hems and even tiers and layers. By playing around with a blend of different lengths, you’ll not only create texture to your look, you’ll also create an illusion of a daring shorter hem that is balanced out as the fabric dropping to a longer length elsewhere. These are the style tricks you’ll learn to master in your 40s and continue into your 50s.
This is a stage of life where you can really step things up. We’re talking power dressing. Remember the term ‘dressing for your age’? Well, at 40, if you’re hitting the streets with fashion confidence then you’re certainly doing just that.
This stage in life is all about truly knowing who you are and showing it to the world with poise. It’s true to say that by 40 you’ve got fair amount of life experience tucked safely under your belt, so now’s the time to use what you’ve learnt and really start to enjoy who you are and how you want to present yourself.
What does power dressing mean for you? It can take any shape. Think about your lifestyle and personality then build from there. Whether it’s a tailored style with sharp lines, button details, luxurious and crisp fabrics, or if you prefer a more romantic Boho look with folds of soft cotton and rich prints in opulent colour palettes, wear what makes you feel gorgeous, both outside and in.
Do go for balance. At 40 you’ve officially grown up, but this doesn’t need to be a negative. With youth still very much on your side, you can still wear the on-trend styles you wore in your 30s but experiment with new combinations to add an essence of maturity to you style. Combine high fashion with more classic pieces, such as a bomber jacket over a pencil skirt and fine knit polo neck paired with elegant heels. Make a nod to trends without going over the top.
Don’t forget about quality. In your 40s you can still happily embrace a vibrant style, but choose luxurious-looking high quality fabrics to keep your look high-end. Look out for silk, chiffon, viscose and refined knitwear. As you mature, so should your wardrobe.
Avoid a “grungy” look. It’s time to leave the scruffy jeans and oversized t-shirt ensembles behind. Trainers are still more than fine in your 40s, but these days they’re a fashion statement all by themselves. Choose pair that are a good fit for your casual wardrobe and keep them in good condition – your image will thank you for it!
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