How to have great ageless style in lace

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Lace was for the Aristocrats and rich merchants

After featuring how to look great in  floral prints and menswear this post of the Ageless Style Series is about looking timeless in lace. In the Old World, lace was one of the first status symbols in fashion. Brüssels’ lace was famous.

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. 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.

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

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’ Sundays 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, underwear and even sex attire. Obviously, these changes make it tricky to wear lace in a timeless, elegant way.

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

Lace – today’s classic trend

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 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 as it looks high quality and not cheap. The lace should not be shiny as anything shiny could look fattening.
  • Watch the color of the lace and the color of the 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. Think of the Duchess of Cambridge in her blue lace dress with nude L.K. Bennetts. 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 when you strive 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.

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 (all own)

mature woman in a little white dress with large eyelet-type lace in the back Alexander Wang little white dress with eyelets, Hermes enamel bangles, Seiko watch, Hermes collier de chien bangle, Longchamp satchel, Michael Kors sandals (all own)

style blogger in dinner outfit with black lace dress and denim jacket Long lace dress, Great Northwest denim jacket, Hermes collier de chien belt and three strings pearl necklace (all own)

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 with Jockey men’s tank, Camel bag, Ray Ban sunglasses, DIY statement belt, eShakti lace pencil skirt (all own), wood watch c/o Jord, and Musse & Cloud wood sandals c/o coolway

midlife woman in an ageless lace cocktail dress Classic high-low hem cocktail dress, metal bag, statement necklace and Neo Tango T-strap sandals (all own)

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

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

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

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

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Photos: G. Kramm

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