Midlife Crisis & Need an Affordable Makeover?!

Updated on August 19, 2011
G.L. asks from Portland, OR
19 answers

Today we were out shopping for school supplies. I happened to catch a glimpse of myself in a window and almost cried. I need help!! I turn 40 next year....so don't know if that has anything to do with it.

I want to spiff up my wardrobe but don't know where to begin. It would help to only shop at a few stores. Affordable stores. I am not talking $70 pants. How do you do it? I want to be trendy without breaking the bank. My husband grew up "dirt poor." He does very well for himself now and I know I could go nuts but I won't. Perhaps that is why my current wardrobe is so bad. Many of my things are a few years old and in good condition...but maybe now a little outdated. Help!

I just wanted to add that my hair and makeup are up to date. I wouldn't scrimp on that!!

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answers from New York on

I just want to say - I know how you feel. My big problem is that I gained around 10-15 lbs in the last couple of years, and don't know how to dress any more. Also, having the time to search stores for new clothes is just not there. I am considering shopping on-line, which I've never considered before. That way I can do all my browsing at 10 at night. Just a thought. I buy some of my daughter's clothes at Kohls, but don't like the quality/style for me. For inexpensive/trendy stuff if you have an H&M it isn't bad, but at 40 I would consider going for more staple/classic stuff and getting a few new things for each season. I find if I go too trendy then I just feel out of date the next year, and the cycle begins again.


answers from San Antonio on

I went to ULTA when I started my makeover. (See my questions on femininity.) They did my hair and make-up. You said those are up-to-date, so you're good there.

Something I found that I now wear religiously are my tennis outfits. Go to Academy. They have tennis skirts and matching tops (and you can mix and match them) for $14 or so each. I also buy socks that match the outfit. I have several different pairs of tennis shoes, so I pick outfits that will match those. I end up with a cute little skirt outfit that matches from head to toe! And it's comfortable enough to chase after the kids in. (In case you didn't know, the skirts have shorts under them, so it's even better when wearing a skirt that seems that short.)

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answers from Charlotte on


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answers from Chicago on

Loft has great clothes for our age range & often offer "deals". You'll spend a bit more, but the quality is great.

Have you tried outlets malls for shops like Banana Republic? That store always has fabulous "staple" pieces.

My best kept secret for fabulous CHEAP jeans is Goodwill... or such a consignment store. No joke. If you are willing to look, you WILL find high end, name brand jeans... in style... VERY cheap. Like $5 cheap. I've also found great tops there, simple, never out-of-style tops. You just need a day to yourself to look through the racks.

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answers from Portland on

I love that I always learn something on this site. The you look fab website looks like a great resource for me too! So, I'm a pretty hip dresser (my friends ask me to help them) and I'm about your age. First I'd suggest figuring out what your body shape is now. You are probably dressing your shape as of a few years ago. I notice that a lot of the time people who aren't happy with their clothes are picking the wrong shapes or trying to add in a trend that doesn't work for them. My two best shopping friends both have opposite shapes from me. I'm straight (or waistless, as I call it) with a big top; they are curvy (hips, waist, top) and hippy (slim top and waist, big bottom). Shopping with them is hugely helpful because I can see exactly why something that I love isn't working on me. When something doesn't work, it looks dumpy, even if it is expensive or hip. You can pick up a lot of silhouette tips from What Not to Wear. If you don't get cable, check out their website. Once you know what shapes are easy for you to wear, you can buy those shapes and you'll be a lot happier.

I like to buy trendy clothes at affordable stores like Target, H&M, Old Navy and Ann Taylor Loft. I spend more money on basics and buy them from better stores or from discount chains carrying more expensive brands. A $40 pair of pants that started out at $200 are made a lot better than a pair that started out at $40. I buy basics on sale when I can. All pretty standard advice, right?

The key to remember is that the stuff you didn't spend a lot on is going to look bad, worn-out, dated, etc., sooner than the higher quality stuff you bought. I have lots of tops from Old Navy that work for a season, but then look dreadful. I give them to Goodwill. I have ten year old tees from Banana Republic (their sales are killer, by the way) that look great even today.

You said you have things that are newer and in good condition. Wear the outfit to a store like Ann Taylor Loft and ask them to suggest an accessory to update it or a new piece that you can substitute for part of the outfit to update it. They should be a great help.

Good luck!

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answers from Pittsburgh on

This site has been recommended by another Mamapedia mom...I love it!

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answers from Seattle on

I try to keep current, but often feel I'm either failing or just doing the safe or more boring updates to my closet. But when I do need something for a wedding or date night I have a few go-to places: Kohl's, Penneys, Romy's (love because it's affordable, and they have their clothes arranged into outfits on mannequins, so it's kind of a no-brainer if you just copy their pairings). I look at magazines and celebrity pictures online to get an idea of what's in. Good luck!


answers from Washington DC on

I would go to Kohls and try stuff on and see what you like - I believe they have a lay away program as well....

if you can afford to do it - then spend money on yourself. you deserve to have good clothes too....not hog W. but nice...name does matter as if it's Tommy Hilfiger or Calvin Klein - it will last longer. that's my 2 cents

Oh yeah - go to the mall and go to one of the make up counters and have them suggest EASY make up for you!!!!

Also spend some good money on a quality hair cut!!!


answers from Detroit on

I too am on a wardrobe budget. I subscribe to a fashion blog as well as look in magazines for style that are fitting for me, I tear the pages out and put them in my fashion file(a folder) and I purchase 1 peice at a time. I am purchasing summer clothes now for next year being that they are on sale. I have a purse in the lay away that I can cross of my fashion file list, it is not the same purse but it is close and much cheaper.

find the style that flatters your body type and purchase 1 thing at a time, purchase and experiment with new make up and color your hair in order to brighten up your eyes and compextion.



answers from Chicago on

well, if you can afford to invest in quality basic pieces that are updated then do that then go cheap on the trendy stuff. use the "must have" lists on any of the websites (Tim Gunn is a good one). I buy my jeans/pants at Nordstrom because I'm tall and because I don't want to be middle age with a muffin top or plumbers crack. Plus the sales people there actually help you as opposed to the other stores these days. They have less expensive brands - Caslon, Halogen etc. For my trendy pieces I shop at Ann Taylor Loft, Target, Gap and Banana Republic.

One way to save money is by asking for gift cards to your favorite stores for birthday and holidays. That way it lessens the pain when hubby opens the CC bill :-)



answers from Los Angeles on

If your husband loves you and likes the way you look, you are doing fine.

Ask your husband if you need a make over. If he says, "No", relax. Although I must say, "I don't much like the photo on your profile". But that's just me. ;~))

Good luck to you and yours.



answers from Portland on

I love the $70 jeans but I can't afford them so I shop Goodwill and consignment stores and can usually find a couple pairs of my favorite brand for under $10. I also have an amazing friend who can afford to update her wardrobe every season so I get a lot of cute hand-me-downs. I will pay more for the staple items in my wardrobe - the slacks, a couple solid color shirts that can be paired with in-season accessories. I also spend more for my shoes because as I'm getting older I find that my feet can't handle the cute little shoes that don't have any support. So I purchase quality shoes that have a more classic look that will look stylish through the seasons and hold up for years.


answers from Dallas on

This may sound crazy buy go to a nice thrift store! Seriously, I used to donate my clothes some with tags still on. I got a killer pair of heels for 1.50! Just go browse and see what you can find! Go to cvs and get you a hair color and what the hell! Dye your hair a color you never have before! When I was down I would get a redder color and it just spiced me up! Thrift store treasures, 10 dollar hair color and go get your eyebrows waxed! You will be a new woman and if I was closee to you id come pick you up and take you :)



answers from Washington DC on

Relax, relate, release. I've seen plenty of women who will spend money to keep up their hair, nails and make-up and threw their bodies to the pigs. We are here to please our husbands and they are here to please us. When people who are in relationships realize this, the news might not be saying that 1 million couples will divorce this year. I live by an outlet mall and they have sales...that seems to do pretty well for our budget. Find what you like and makes you look and feel comfortable (and your age). My favorites are Nordstrom Rack, TJ Maxx, Marshall's and Jones New York.



answers from Sacramento on

Do you have a good friend with fashion sense who will tell it like it is? My best friend is the perfect shopping partner. If something doesn't look good on me, she'll flat-out tell me. You need someone like that.

A couple of great starting points are Kohl's and Target. Both offer fashionable clothes at reasonable prices. Watch for the Kohl's coupons, too, because you can get super deals.


answers from St. Louis on

If you have jeans go with more trendy tops. Maybe some new shoes. Really if you just start buying new pieces as you can afford them you will have a new wardrobe in no time.

Maybe go to the salon and get a new hairstyle.


answers from Eugene on

Well if your figure has "matured" dressing well is the key. You need a very good blazer. Buy one for life. Get a Pendleton classic and it'll be the mainstay of your wardrobe. Yes they cost. But you only buy it once. Get colors that last and look good on you. Black, navy, brown, grey or even red can be that color which is meant for you. For spring and summer get a green or yellow jacket that is made well. My orange one is silk and wears well with all my colors. It's ten years old and still looks beautiful and gets complements.
Trousers can be any color. I buy often at Ross. Trousers only last 5-7 years before looking less than grand. I buy colors and patterns in my shirts that don't make me look out of fashion. For dress up silk on silk water patterns.
One good black outfit for dress ups. T shirts as you like.
And of course shop the sales at the end of every season. I also shop at thrift stores. Value Village is one of the best.



answers from San Francisco on

Forever 21. Just sick to stuff that isn't obviously teenager.



answers from Joplin on

I actually enjoy Thrift shopping and also consignment stores and heck, it is rare to find anything awesome, but the occasional garage sale find! I have found name brand apparel for just a few dollars at my local thrift store and can buy a few good basics to build up a whole new look. We are coming up on Fall and it always helps to add some color...I love the deep rich jewel tones, you can buy some inexpensive tops in a variety of colors and buy one or two good sweaters in neutral tones and mix and match. I think a good rule to live by as a mom is to buy one nice pair of shoes each season...it certainly helps me feel better about what I am wearing if I have shoes that match the occasion. Also accessories are your friend....a scarf, some cute bold costume jewelry ( Kohl's and Target carry CUTE stuff!) and you are set = ) I am a fan of white shirts....buy one GOOD white shirt and it can be worn with dark denim jeans dressed up with jewelry, tucked into a nice skirt or paired with cute dress pants...or played down with a denim skirt. I love finding a few articles of clothing that are so interchangeable! Have fun = )

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