Is There Such Things as Fashion "No-no's" for Certain Ages?

Updated on April 30, 2014
J.T. asks from Alexander, AR
31 answers

So I am attempting to freshen up my summer wardrobe for the summer, and I have reached a dilema. I am 5'5 and weigh 125 pounds. I do have a few pair of capris but I struggle finding shorts that I feel comfortable in. Shopping with my hubby is a disaster as he is insistent I should wear the shortest, hochie mamma shorts I can squeeze in to. He thinks I try too hard to dress like an old woman and says that my wardrobe makes me appear older than what I actually am. I think despite my size, I am mindful that I am a wife and mother and want to dress appropriately. It's awful, hot in the south but I generally steer away from sleeveless and spaghetti straps as they seem a tad too young for a 35 year old. So, I am you avoid certain outfits or shopping at certain stores since you have matured? Am I being an "old prude"? Thoughts?

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answers from New York on

yes you're being an old prude lol 35 is young. Enjoy it, you are a good weight and height. You can dress sexy without being a ho. My cousin works in fashion and this is her rule:
if its short, it can't also be tight.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Grand Forks on

I've never heard of being too old for sleeveless.

I think that if you are over thirty you should avoid extremes. Not too tight, too short, too low cut, too low rise, too trendy, too shiny etc. Personally I think most of what you can buy at Gap or Old Navy are pretty age appropriate for anyone under 50.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I'm 33 and I wear short shorts, tank tops, bikinis, and speghetti straps. I am also a very modest person. I don't wear anything too low cut, and even though my shorts are short, there is nothing hanging out and everything is fully covered.
There is nothing wrong with wearing things like that as long as you are comfortable. Age has nothing to do with it

4 moms found this helpful

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answers from Cleveland on

I've been on mamapedia for a long long time. and I've learned that when I ask a question I sometimes assume I am asking it of people of my same class. that isn't always the case. So I'm not sure you should listen to people on here since you can't see them.

If you say tank top I might picture the fit, small busted, made- up w lipstick and a great hair cut lady at the gym. but that could also apply to the lady at walmart smoking her ciggie in her hello kittey pj bottoms with her purple Victoria's secret push up bra straps hanging out of her too tight too short tank top.

I'm working with a woman right now that wears skin tight ripped jeans to work for casual Fridays. does she have a body for it? sure does she have long blonde hair? you bet. is it appropriate for my work, no way jose and I doubt I will be working with her for long. And to be honest, She hasnt' had enough plastic surgery to fool anyone when you look at her face, and that's when it feels to me like people are trying to hard to be young. you can say rock your string bikini all you want but the minute you turn around and we see your stretchmarks and your saggy boobs and your 16 yr old son's friends ogling you, then the joke is on you.

I think your philosophy is right on track. But taking a friend shopping, checking out outfits on pinterest or working with a personal shopper might be just what you need to freshing things up in an age appropriate way.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Well, I'm about to turn 37 and just stocked my summer close with spaghetti strap flowy cami's and skinny jeans. I'm 5'2" and 120 lbs, so we are built very much the same.

I tend to avoid certain trends that seem young, and I do keep my shorts inseam at 5"..but that's more because anything shorter is not flattering on my body.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Oh boy.
Can of
Couple thoughts...I think people should wear what makes them FEEL and look good.
Sometimes those are not the same thing.
As you get older, it is important to do a reality check now and then.
I'm 50. I am can I put this.."bikini ready"! But if I was, technically "Bikini ready" I'd think twice. Because I've not seem many 50 year olds that can pull of or "rock" a string bikini. They think they can, but it just ends up kind of like, I don't know...trying too hard?
There are SO many better options out there for a 50 year old body. Cute and sexy. I'm sure there are some that might be able to get away with it...
As for your husband? God no! A husband is possibly the wort fashion consultant on the planet! Shop alone it with a good friend.

At your age, with a busy lifestyle, who wants to be yanking down shorts at the park or checking the cleavage shot at a soccer game?
Neat capris, Bermuda shorts, nice tees, quality button ups, good jeans, a couple good dresses ( casual), cute tops, tunic & leggings will serve you well.
Good rule of thumb--classic pieces=classic colors, small prints, great fit & cut=spend more on these items
Trendy pieces=whimsical prints, bolder colors, etc.=buy these at a bargain price.
For a smaller frame like yours, avoid large patterns, prints, wide stripes.
Good lord--if you buy quality stuff--no need to replace every or every other year--that's why they are CLASSIC and worth spending $$$ on!
Trendy stuff? The phase will be over in 2 years tops--so, yeah--pitch it or donate.

As for sleeveless--as long as your arms don't wave goodbye, perfectly fine.
Just watch the side view for bra views...I think that just looks trashy at any age.

Good luck!

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

You are putting an age on your clothes. It's not about how "young" the clothes are, it's about what looks good on you. So what if you're a wife and mother. You can still dress to look fresh and snappy.

Dressing to highlight your figure and be attractive is not the same as dressing "trashy". If it fits well, looks nice, then it's fine.

Maybe go shopping with the hubby, and whatever he likes, add an inch to it. That way, they're not the shortest ;)

6 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I think the question of spaghetti straps and sleeveless tops is not so much about age, but about level of fitness. If you have toned arms, there is nothing wrong with sleeveless tops no matter what age you are. If you have flappy skin on your arms, I don't care if you're 10 or 85, sleeveless is not the way to go. For me personally, I can't wear spaghetti straps because after 2 children, I really do need to wear a supportive bra, and spaghetti straps don't cover the bra straps.

I think the same goes with shorts - if you have the legs to wear them, there's nothing wrong with wearing them. I don't like super short-shorts on anyone, whether they are 10 or 20 or older. But a 3" inseam or longer looks fine on most people who are in shape. Again, me personally, I don't wear shorts because I am not in the best shape of my life right now, and also my legs are pasty white, even during the summer. I just don't feel comfortable putting all that out there for the world to see. :) But if I were in shape and tan? Sure, I'd wear shorts!

6 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I'm not sure that I would listen to what some of the older ladies on here are saying. I am about your same age, and height and weight, and I actually feel that because I am young(ish), with a cute body, that is why I choose NOT to wear more revealing clothes. I wear shorts, I wear sleeveless tops, but not shorty shorts, no way, and my tank tops usually have a 2 inch band to hide my bra straps. No spaghetti straps, and I do not wear low cut tops. I agree with some other moms that I do not want to be fooling with pulling up my tops, and tugging down on my bottoms, I want to be comfortable.

But if I'm being honest, I also do not want the dads at school or sports, or men at the gas station, or some guy I pass on the street to look at me lustfully, and I'm not even all that cute. But, ladies, we know it doesn't take all that much to be gawked at. I do not want that attention, except from my *husband*.

I also like to wear cute jean pencil skirts. They can be form fitting, but don't show off too much skin. I personally like to shop Jcrew (sale), or banana republic (outlet). Garnet Hill is online and has really cute, easy tops, in pretty colors and reasonably priced.

I do not think that you have to sacrifice style as a young mother, or that choosing to be modest is being a prude.

So yay for you, and happy mother's day!

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Once you have worn something for 2 years straight, it is time for a change in style.

This is a good year for you. Bermuda shorts are in style and also ankle length pants, cotton pants.

Time to toss those capris.. Look around, only old women are wearing those now with ugly sandals!

Find some cute sleeveless tops, patterns are in.. And pick a palate and go with it. Like red white and Blue with Yellow as the contrast.

Or Green and white, with navy or orange as a contrast. Straw hat and tote bag. Strappy sandals and keds tennis shoes, You will be darling.

I like skirts in the spring and summer, it is just so darn hot down here. So I always have a few skirts, a few pairs of shorts (never short short, no one wants to see your "cheeks hanging out"..

3 summer dresses that do not require a slip. I mix and match them all season. I change the ribbon on my straw hat and purchase a straw tote and wear the thing out each summer. Canvas bags can be cute too. One year I found one that worked a bit like a one strap back pack, but was way cuter, Great when our daughter was young.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

OnePerfectOne pretty much sums up my opinion completely.

And for the record, I, like you, live in the very hot, humid south, but I am 45 years old.

Good for you for having some "class" and realizing that just because your man thinks it's "hot" that that doesn't necessarily equate to appropriate for the occasion. ;)

Oh.. and to add one bit that seems to be a common theme among some of the responding posts... if you require a bra with straps (i.e., you are a solid C or bigger and cannot get enough support in a strapless bra) then do not wear anything that lets them show. If that means no spaghetti straps, or sleeveless or whatever... and I don't really care what the "trend" might be for a certain age group, but showing bra straps is tacky in my book. Don't do it. If you can't get by without a bra with straps, don't wear something that won't cover them up.
Sucks sometimes. But there it is.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Of course whether or not an outfit is appropriate can vary by age! Even if I were the same size as my 16 year old daughter (I'm not by a long shot) I would look ridiculous if I wore her clothes because even though they're fairly conservative, they're youthful.

Step number one is to not shop with your husband. That's just asking for a hassle. Save yourself the trouble and either go alone or with a girlfriend whose look and taste you like. A girlfriend will give you honest feedback about whether or not an outfit is too young or too old for you.

I think that unless you're a very thin teenage girl, shorts with an inseam of 3 inches or shorter is too short. For thin women with great legs, 5 inches is a nice "short" length, 7 inches would be a good "medium" length and anything longer than that is on the more conservative side. For women with big thighs, shorts really need to be closer to the knee anyway to avoid unattractive bunching and tugging.

I do think that sleeveless tops can be worn by just about everyone as long as they fit appropriately (so no gaping arm holes through which you can see your bra and not so tight your arms look like stuffed sausages). Some of the older ladies in my neighborhood and church (we're talking 70s and 80s old) wear sleeveless tops and dresses and they look fine. Spaghetti straps are a little iffier. Among teenage girls they wear them and don't care about bra straps showing but I think that once you reach a certain age, your underwear should actually be under your clothing.

As long as your clothing fits well, is something you feel comfortable wearing, and you didn't buy it in the junior's department, it's probably fine.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Appleton on

I'm 59 and I wear sleeveless and spaghetti straps. I also like my shorts short.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I agree with others. As long as you look good in the outfit, wear it. I am 42 and wear strapless tops, spaghetti straps etc

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

You do sound a little prudish. I am conservative (almost 42) in my clothing but don't worry about sleeveless tops or shorts (not short). As long as the tops are not revealing or shorts are not too short, go for it. You can dress conservative but have a couple pieces to make your husband happy too. Enjoy your body while you have it, after turning 40 and health issues, I'm shocked at how my body has changed in such a short time.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

You should always wear what makes you comfortable.

That being said, you don't wear sleeveless or spaghetti straps because they're too young? I thought you might be in your late 50s from that statement (heck, my 64 year old mother still wears sleeveless shirts and tank tops, and she is a very classy woman)...then you said you were 35?!?!? You're young. So young! I'm in my early 40s and I can't imagine giving up my sleeveless/spaghetti strap shirts. If you look good in something and you're comfortable in it, you should wear it.

Judging from your post, I might have to agree with your husband when he says your wardrobe makes you seem older (obviously, I could be completely wrong). I'm not saying let it all hang out, but there are plenty of young, cool outfits that would still be appropriate in your eyes.

But it still comes back to: you need to feel comfortable.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

Sleeveless too young?? Only if you have fat arms... Sleeveless otherwise works as long as your arms are ok. Same with spaghetti straps. And I"m conservative... For shorts, none that your butt kind of hang out but fairly short is also fine if you have the legs. Otherwise, aside from cropped tops that show your stomach and pants/shorts that show your crack when you bend over, you probably are being too conservative. 35 is plenty young!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Here's my take - I don't wear anything my SD (19) might steal from my wardrobe. I'm 36, and certainly not ancient, but the days of the tiny miniskirt are behind me, I think. I don't mind shorter shorts (I have short legs), but I also don't want them to be mistaken for underwear. There's a happy medium in walking shorts or jean shorts between hootchie and grandma. One thing I would suggest you do is take a trusted friend shopping with you. Let her tell you if your capris are doing nothing for your butt and cut up your legs or if they look great. I try to steer clear of spaghetti straps. One thing I noticed while in Puerto Rico (hot, all the time) was that the women did not have visible bra straps or undergarments. If you like the strappy or strappless look, get a good stick on or strapless bra or two for those occasions. I tend to stick to tank tops with a thicker strap myself. You may also like peasant-y tops that are made of light cotton or linen and very breathable. I don't stay out of Forever 21 entirely (they have tank top sales I scoop up, being a small woman) but I pick and choose what I buy. I similarly do not want to be shopping such that it could be in my mom's or grandma's closet. I'm 36, not 86. Steer clear of anything with elastic waists! And I also do not believe in leggings as pants. Ever. Personally, I think you are better off with yoga pants vs leggings, especially if they are sheer. I don't even think my SD looks good in them.

You can rarely go wrong with classic. Pencil skirts, some fun colors, basic tops to mix and match. A few pairs of jeans you know you look good in and make you feel happy. If an item is not quite right, either get it tailored or toss it.

Bottom line, no matter what HE thinks, YOU are wearing it. So he needs to back off pushing you too far the other way out of your comfort zone. It's okay to be 35 and be both conservative and a little fun.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

ah sorry but I wear shorts, strapless and spaghetti straps and I'm 43. Now I don't wear hoochie shorts, but I think we would have different definitions of that. Most people are surprised to find out I am 43, in a good way. As long as you look good in them for it. Exposed private parts like giving a clue on shaving or active nipple is not attractive at any age so avoid it at all time. Otherwise dress for how you look and feel. It seems like you are going with some external value of 35 being old. It isin't.
Oh and I still rock my bikini all summer long. And trust I have more of a right to be in it than a lot of the teens I see.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I'm like Fuzzy, if someone doesn't like what I'm wearing they can look in another direction.

I am petite, size 0-2 and I wear what I'm comfortable in. I refuse to dress some sold old prude, like a teen, or like a hoochie mama.

It's ok to be well dressed and sexy. I hate capris, I do have classy shorts and other clothes from White House Black Market , Nordstrom, Anthropologie, Neimans.

Go with what you feel sexy and comfortable in!!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

I don't worry about age with any of this. But I personally am more comfortable in clothes were I don't have to worry about undergarments hanging out because I think that's tacky at any age.

So for shirts, sleeveless - sure as long as they are cut along lines that cover my bra straps. Spaghetti straps - no because I can't figure out how to keep them over my bra straps without moving around.

Same for shorts. I definitely wear shorts. But I get mid-rise because no one wants to look at the top of someone else's panties, no matter how cute they are.

But really, this is what makes ME feel comfortable. You should wear what makes YOU feel comfortable.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

I am all for wearing clothes which feel comfortable to me, and my tastes have changed a good bit over time. For example, I don't wear shorts at all, and I haven't since I was about 20. I also tend towards longer skirts rather than shorter ones, and it's not because I'm overweight or feel my legs are unattractive (I'm about 5'2" and my current weight of 120 pounds is the highest it's been other than when I was expecting our kids). I simply don't feel comfortable showing my legs, especially my thighs, in public. Also, I want to be able to move around freely and not have to worry about flashing my underwear if I bend over to pick up something. For tops, I don't do spaghetti straps, though tank tops are fine for me. There are plenty of fashions which look good and make the wearer look attractive without showing a ton of skin. So I can say yes, I wear different clothes than I did, and I don't think I'm an 'old prude' (nor are you!).

3 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

If it's hot as heck and you're in the south, all flab aside - wear the tank tops (but do avoid the spaghetti straps).

I think that a 35 year old woman can wear short shorts as long as they are not tight. A short khaki pair with a cuff is super flattering. As for the hoochie mama shorts - get a pair or two for around the house.

There is nothing wrong with being on the conservative side. Be comfortable in whatever you do wear!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Denver on

I agree with two things people have said. 1.) wear what makes you comfortable and what YOU feel good in 2.) if your husband wants short shorts, he can wear them :)! I found I don't really enjoy shorts either, but I do like skirts just above the knee that are knit or linen and night tight - comfy and cool!


I agree with two things people have said. 1.) wear what makes you comfortable and what YOU feel good in 2.) if your husband wants short shorts, he can wear them :)! I found I don't really enjoy shorts either, but I do like skirts just above the knee that are knit or linen and night tight - comfy and cool!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Wear what you like and what makes you comfortable.
You don't have to bare it all if you don't want to.
Dressing like a teen when you're not just looks awful - and please - don't get any pants so low or so tight that they give you muffin top or camel toe.
People seem to think they look great when they try it ("I can rock the look no matter how old I am") - um, no - they can't - plus they look desperate.

I don't wear spaghetti straps not because of what they look like but because I burn if I'm not covered - sunscreen doesn't help - I'm very fair skinned and I just don't need the peeling skin and melanoma risk plus lot of sun on a lot of skin really ages you badly.
My friend loves the sun but she looks like a brown wrinkly tobacco leave.
Sun damage accumulates over the years.

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answers from San Antonio on

Wear what you want & what your comfortable in. Personally I'm a short shorts kinda girl. Dont like dont care.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

i don't think it's prudish, i think you should dress in whatever makes you comfortable. if you like daisy dukes you should wear them, and i don't care how old you are, but your husband should not be putting pressure on you (and mocking your taste is putting pressure on you) to dress in a way that makes you uncomfortable.
i've never much worried about being a wife and mother in that it made me dress more conservatively. when i put on weight i got more self-conscious, but it was nothing to do with age or appropriateness.
well into my 40s i was an eclectic hippy. and i was adorable.
but i don't dress much that way any more. not because i'm in my 50s, it just doesn't feel like me any more. it's less about what's allowed for women my age as what i like as my tastes change.
you're at such a great size, you can get away with anything you want, so your horizons are endless. if you don't LIKE spaghetti straps, short hemlines or sleeveless blouses, don't wear 'em. but pick your wardrobe based on what you love, not on what you think your age or marital status dictates.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I wear shorts and spaghetti strap tops and tank tops at 40. But the spaghetti strap tank tops I have, I've had for a while and they have the nice thickly padded built in bras and I'm a 36D. I haven't seen them in the store in a while so padded with built in bras and I'm so upset cause I do not like bra straps showing. Might be OK at 15 but not at 40 for me anyway. I don't wear daisy dukes but my shorts are shorter mainly because my legs are uneven, my right leg is about 1 1/2 to 2 inches longer than my left, and knee length shorts look ridiculous on me. Really makes the height difference stand out. I don't avoid certain stores per se but I often don't find stuff in H&M or Forever 21 but sometimes I find nice classy work appropriate stuff, not great quality mind you, but nice enough stuff for something different and it's inexpensive. Sometimes I'll find nice tops or shorts there for attending my sons baseball games. Wear what you feel comfortable wearing. You can't please 100% of the people 100% of the time and for something as personal as dress, go with what you are comfortable wearing. To be honest, I hardly ever think twice of what someone is wearing unless its ridiculously over the top like high heels at a little league game or her boobs are trying to wink at me from over the top of her shirt or something or I really like a certain top or something. And I also don't think 35 is old. :-)

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answers from Washington DC on

Well I'm from the same area where you live now (and still live here) and it does get hot. People here wear all sorts of stuff. I'm bigger than you and will wear sleeveless tops a lot. I wear dressier ones to work as well. There is no problem with them at all. Spaghetti straps are a little young, but I don't care. I wear those too. It's too hot to be covered completely.

I do think shorts need to be longer than what a 3 year old should wear...and only wear what you are comfortable in.

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answers from Norfolk on

Hi, Mom:

Fashion is a statement about who you are. If you are a 35 year old mom, what image are you trying to project? Are you a visual person? Are you a feeling person? Are you a sporty person? You define who you are by what you wear.

Now your husband is another matter.

When you are home with him, do you do the intimacy thing? This is something you need to discover to do with him alone.

Publicly, you need to present your image of common decency. After all, you will not know what child you will be a role model for.

Good luck.
Discover who you are.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from McAllen on

Yea for you for even thinking along these lines!! It's not always as simple as just wearing what's comfortable or what makes you feel good.

As long as your body is fit and your boobs are in check, you can do sleeveless and spaghetti straps at 35. Stop with the spaghetti straps at about 50, or when things are no longer "together", whichever comes first.

I think that the fingers test on shorts (hold arms at side and make note of where your longest finger stops) is a good one after 30. Appropriate length will depend on occasion and location--ex. your kid's sporting event versus a day at the beach with your family.

I believe that nobody belongs in midriff tops after 30, no matter how toned the body is or how young the person looks. Of course, this excludes gym gear.

Maybe you can compromise with your husband and get some cute, just-above-the-knee shirt dresses. Those are easy.

1 mom found this helpful
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