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Having timeless style in lace requires high quality material like silk or cotton, a sophisticated, tailored, classic cut, a gemstone color and same or light color background. Today it is best worn with feminine accessories. It’s a key element of Romantic Style.

Contents
  1. Lace Was for the Aristocrats and Rich Merchants
  2. How Lace Became a Feminine Thing
  3. Lace – Today’s Classic Trend for Romantic Style
  4. Black Lace – Sultry Femme Fatale
  5. Lace Outfit Ideas

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Updated: 6/7/2021

Lace Was for the Aristocrats and Rich Merchants

Originally, lace was hand-made in a labor- and time intensive process that required high skills. Consequently, it was expensive and only affordable for the Aristocracy and the Rich merchands. Sumptuary Laws reserved it for them. In the Old World, lace was one of the first status symbols in fashion. Brüssels’ lace was famous. Lace served to embellish caps (see drawing below), cleavage, sleeves and as collars. Lace was It for both men and women.

In the early last century, making the delicate fabric was part of the education of higher daughters in the Netherlands. My grandma had to learn in boarding school how to make lace! She taught me how to make eyelets and some other cousins of lace. I really loved her teaching me these skills. She went to the same school in the Netherlands as Rose Kennedy.

Pietro Rotari, An Elegant Young Lady with a Lace Cap
Pietro Rotari, An Elegant Young Lady with a Lace Cap 1750/1756, Drawing. From: National Gallery of Art

How Lace Became a Feminine Thing

As so often in fashion, lace became more mainstream. Modern techniques to produce the delicate fabric made it affordable for Jane Doe, i.e. you and me. When I was a kid, lace was associated with brides and as decoration on little girls’ Sunday’s Best. I had a brown velvet dress with a lace collar.

The delicate fabric lost it’s luxury status. It turned into being associated with femininity and romantic style, underwear and even sex attire. Obviously, these changes make it tricky to wear lace in a timeless, elegant and sophisticated way.

over 50 years old influencer in burgundy v-neck midi lace dress
Sam Edelman top handle bag with shoulder strap, Elie Tahari slingbacks, Hetmes collier de chien bangle, GNW cardigan, Nordgreen watch, pantyhose, lace dress (old, similar dress here), dagwood beaded statement necklace (all own) and sunglasses c/o SUNGAIT

 

Lace – Today’s Classic Trend for Romantic Style

Now flash forward in time. Lace is a big trend right now.

  • At any age, lace looks best as the statement itself, i.e. without any froufrou. Streamlined cuts look great in lace like the sheath dress in the OOTD or a lace pencil skirt (see photos of lace outfit styling ideas).
  • Other cuts to look ageless in lace are A-cut skirts, shift dresses, collarless tops, or lined jackets. A twenty something may pull off a lace slip dress and look awesome, but it is a risky balancing act. Lace on a slip dress can read slip. #agelessstyle Click To Tweet
  • Go for a classic length, i.e. about 3-4 inches (7.5-10 cm) above the knee is the shortest hem length for an ageless look.
  • Go for matte lace. Lace in silk and cotton are a great choice. Matte lace looks like high quality and not cheap like polyester. The lace should not be shiny because anything shiny could visually adds weight. Note that polyester lace is shiny and looks cheap. Ever Pretty has affordable, good quality lace dresses. Read my review of two lace bodice dresses.
  • Avoid anything that is 100% nylon because like 100% silk it gets electrically charged and will clinch to your body. Your clothes will release sparks when you pull them off.
  • Watch the color of the lace and lining underneath. A black or red lace dress with nude lining are for cocktail parties, while an all navy, all gray or all black lace sheath dress can even work for work. Navy with beige or winter white underneath can look very sophisticated as the Duchess of Cambridge had demonstrated. What a classic look!
  • Lace ruffles, lace tired skirts, lace tops or lace jackets without any underlining, lace in candy or baby pastel colors, or lace with your skin as background are all No-Nos for ageless style.
  • When wearing lace, style it with sleek tailored pieces. Unless you are going for an eclectic style don’t wear heavy wool sweaters or wool blazers with lace.

 

midlife fashion blogger looking ageless in a turquoise lace sheath dress
Coach striped summer bag, eShakti lace dress (old, similar dress here), Michael Kors sandals, Ray Ban sunglasses, statement necklace (all own) and wood watch c/o JORD

Lace Outfit Ideas

Here are visual inspirations how to wear lace in fashionable way over 40 without looking naive, trashy, girly or looking like working in the Red Light District.

over 50 years old fashion blogger in an all black work outfit with lace pencil skirt and silk shirt
eShakti lace pencil skirt, Jones New York silk shirt, Anne Klein slingbacks, Burberry bag, Hermes collier de chien bangle, DIY bangle, and Paloma Picasso sunglasses

 

influencer in maxi lace dress with denim jacket
Long lace dress (similar here), Great Northwest denim jacket, Hermes collier de chien belt and three strings pearl necklace

 

style blogger in a semi-formal outfit with Cami Confidential top styled for a recital visit in winter
Calvin Klein sheath, jade bangle, Judith Leiber charm belt, Hermes collier de chien bangle, pantyhose, Vince Camuto boots (all own), best girlfriends bracelet c/o Chico’s, lace camisole c/o Cami Confidential and blue fish clutch c/o Bellorita

 

older woman wearing a lace skirt with a sport jacket
Adidas jacket, eShakti lace pencil skirt, Jord wood watch, DIY belt, Ray Ban sunglasses, Hermes collier de chien bangle, Camel bag (all own) and Musse & Cloud sandals c/o Coolway

 

woman in lace cocktail dress
Black lace low-high hem dress with lace layering top worn underneath for a New Year’s Eve dinner party

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style book author in black lace pencil skirt, denim shirt and leopard print scarf with patent leather pumps
Highlands Jeans denim shirt with eShakti lace skirt, L.K. Bennett pumps, statement belt, and leopard print scarf

 

over 50 years old woman in a turquoise lace sheath dress
eShakti lace sheath dress with Ray Ban sunglasses, Coach bag, Michael Kors sandals (all own) and wood sports watch with Swarovski crystals c/o Jord

 

Nicole walking in strappy sandals in a lace chiffon gown carrying a fish pearl embellished wrist bag
Nude fishnets, festive jewelry, Very Fine Dance Shoes strappy sandals (all own), fish pearl wrist bag c/o Bellorita and lace chiffon below the knee gown c/o JJ House. Read the review of this JJ’s House mother-of-the-bride dress.

 

style blogger looking edgy in a dress, lace underskirt, and leather coat with zipper details
Karina Dresses print dress, black DIY underskirt with lace hem, Juicy Couture slides, Ray Ban sunnies, lace layering top (all own), leather biker coat c/o Leatherskin, and designer crossbody c/o Uno Alla Volta

 

fashionover50 woman in pastel work outfit

fashionover40 woman in lace dress

 

fashion over 50 woman in a lace sheath dress

fashion over 40 woman in lace dress with leather motorcycle jacket
Outfit details: Glacier white Graham and Spencer leather motorcycle jacket with Wonder Lake turquoise eShakti lace dress and Salvatore Ferragamo pumps and sky blue Prada bag (all own)

 

Do you like lace? Is lace part of your style? How do you wear your lace? Let me know, I am curious.

This post is part of my Ageless Style series. You may like to read about ageless style in floral prints.

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Photos: G. Kramm

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