Looking timeless 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.
- Lace Was for the Aristocrats and Rich Merchants
- How Lace Became a Feminine Thing
- Lace – Today’s Classic Trend for Romantic Style
- Lace Outfit Ideas
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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.
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.
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. This fabric like 100% silk 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 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 sheath 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.
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.
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)
Alexander Wang little white dress with eyelets, Hermes enamel bangles, Seiko watch, Hermes collier de chien bangle, Longchamp satchel, Michael Kors sandals (all own)
Long lace dress (old, similar here), Great Northwest denim jacket, Hermes collier de chien belt and three strings pearl necklace (all own)
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
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
Classic high-low hem cocktail dress (old, similar dress here), metal bag, statement necklace and Neo Tango T-strap sandals (all own)
Highlands Jeans denim shirt with eShakti lace skirt, L.K. Bennett pumps, statement belt, and leopard print scarf (all own)
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
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.
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, 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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