How to wear a suit and not look old

#styleover40 mature woman mixing pattern

A suit can make you look “old-fashioned”

The fashion model Tatjana Patitz once said

Suits are so easy to wear, whether in a casual or dressy way, a woman in a suit is the sexiest thing.

Well, I agree when she would have started the sentence with “For twenty somethings.” Once you are over 40, a suit becomes tricky. We have to compete with those twenty somethings, and in many jobs, we have to wear suits. Now what?

#styleover40 woman in skirt suit with a glam and edgy twist
Side view of skirt suit, GNW Luxe sweater, Kieselstein Cord belt and buckle, Festina watch, sequin top, GNW tight, and Valentino boots (all own)

Resist the urge to wear your suit like you did in the 80s

In the 80s, we wore cheap suits with a shirt to look professional and/or older and to be taken seriously, especially when we had jobs in a men dominated field. We added a faux pearl necklace and 2.5 inch (5 cm) high pumps and a structured work bag or briefcase.

Don’t search for the extra keys just because that was a success in the past

Did you ever read The Cain Mutiny? Canned strawberries seemed to have been stolen from the pantry. The commander was suspicious that there was an extra key and let the entire high ranking officers search for it. He did that because in the past there was a theft case that he successfully solved because he detected the guy with the extra key.

Looking to the past didn’t work for Commander Quick. Yes, we had success with that outfit back then. It was a winner. It worked! Why shouldn’t we wear the look again? Because such an outfit would look so old-fashioned even when we would go for expensive instead of cheap items! Such an outfit would make us also look like an Old Lady. Both would convey the wrong message that we aren’t on top of things anymore. That’s not a message you should ever send!

Your clothes send a message about who you are. Make sure they send the right message. #dress4success #midlifestyle Click To Tweet

Stay realistic

For us women over 40, Audrey Hephurn’s statement

Givenchy suits gave me “Protection” against strange situations and people, because I felt so good in them.

becomes a farce. Most of us can’t even afford a Givenchy suit, not to mention that in most jobs, which require a suit, such an expensive suit would look over the top. In other words, your supervisor, colleagues, and clientele would wonder about your touch with reality.

#styleover40 woman in festive work outfit
Back view of needle stripe skirt ensemble, GNW Luxe sweater, sequin top, Hermes collier de chien bangle, GNW tights, and Valentino studded boots (all own)

Create a look with a suit that reads up-to-date

While on a twenty something a suit indicates “I am serious and professional”, on a forty something it may indicate “I am conservative, I am plugging the same old road over and over again, I am stuck in old times.” Thus, we over 40 women have to be creative to look professional up-to-date, and not conservative and stiff in a suit.

Create a look with a suit that reads fashion-forward and modern, to send the message that you are up-to-date. #dress4success Click To Tweet

Speaking of Dress for Success. If you are interested in dressing for success in midlife you can buy my book for styling recipes for all kind of dressing situations in midlife.

#fashionover50 woman in needle stripe skirt suit with a twist
Needle stripe skirt suit with front zipper, Kieselstein Cord belt and buckle, Hermes collier de chien bangle, Festina watch, sequin top, GNW Luxe sweater, GNW tight, and Valentino boots (all own)

Modern suit styling suggestions for women in midlife

Here are some outfit suggestions how to look modern, and up-to the tasks in a suit over 40.

  • Choose an ensemble that has unexpected details like a zipper instead of buttons or an asymmetric skirt hem.
  • Go for a set in colors beyond the usual neutrals, but not too bright. For instance, blue instead of navy, chocolate brown instead of tan or camel, hunter green instead of loden green.
  • Pair a suit in neutral colors with bold colors instead of further neutrals.
  • Add an unexpected piece to show off your personal style.
  • Wear the pieces in an unexpected modern way like untucked, rolled-up sleeves, chopped-up sleeves.
  • Go beyond the court shoe and higher than a 2.5 inch (5 cm) heel to look tall, slim and healthy.
  • Unmatch your suits, i.e. go for a fake one.
  • Never wear an ensemble with items from the same designer.
  • Have the suit altered for perfect fit if needed.
  • Only wear double breasted jackets if your frame can take them. Be aware that they add weight. Looking heavier than you are can give wrong perceptions about your health. You don’t need that.
  • Be aware that pink and red add weight, while darker colors have a slimming effect.
  • Avoid pieces that look trendy (e.g. extremely wide or thin lapels, ruffles on the skirt hem, strong shoulder pads). They look dated faster than you can get them below a dollar per wear.
  • Flappless pockets look better one everyone.
  • Stay away from linen suits as they wrinkle faster than you can iron them. Instead go for lined cotton ensembles in summer.

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Other suit styling inspirations

officestyle #mature woman in skirt ensemble work outfit Glenn check patterned skirt suit, Oliveo button-down shirt, Gucci belt (all own), and wooden chronograph c/o Jord
midlife woman looking posh in skirt suit Work outfit with apt9 sweater, Jay Jacobs skirt suit, statement belt, Calvin Klein block heel pumps, Festina watch (all own), and pink tata necklace c/o Wendy Mignot

Fake or unmatched ensemble outfit inspirations

The easiest way to look great in a skirt/jacket or trousers/blazer set is to go for an unmatched one. Below are some examples for inspiration how to get the look right.

mature woman in festive outfit Festive outfit with blazer, Kieselstein Cord belt and buckle, GNW tight, Harley Davidson booties, Tucker brocade skirt, silk scarf (all own) and statement necklace c/o Happiness Boutique
#workstyle over 40 year old in a fake suit in leather Lookbook Store motorcycle style inspired leather jacket with Sienna Studio leather pencil skirt, Jeanne Pierre sweater, Russian scarf, GNW tight and Harley Davidson booties (all own)
#officestyle over 50 old woman in tweed skirt with blazer as unmatched skirt/blazer set Ann Taylor tweed skirt with a blazer as an unmatched ensemble for the office. The floral weave of the tweed skirt looks unexpected and modern. L.K. Bennett pumps, Kieselstein Cord belt, GNW sweater, Longchamp bag (all own)
#midlifestyle woman in fake tweed skirt suit Fake tweed skirt jacket set with Halogen skirt, Jacket Society motorcycle jacket, GNW Luxe sweater, GNW tights, riding boots and statement necklace (all own)
#casualfridaystyle mature woman in sweat pants plus blazer Work look with Adidas sweat pants, hounds tooth blazer, black turtleneck, Harley Davidson booties, BCBG statement belt, three string different size pearl necklace (all own) and Akoya saltwater pearl necklace c/o The Pearl Source
#over40fashion woman in unmatched leather look Oliveo leather skirt with leather jacket, hat, scarf tied as a bow, Modalo shark Pippa bag, and pumps (all own)

Don’t forget to style your outerwear

I wore a shearling coat over the suit. I styled my outerwear with a Russian scarf. The gloves and tight pick up colors of the floral print of the Russian scarf.

#winterstyle midlife woman in winter outerwear with studded boots
Side view of outerwear with shearling coat, GNW tight, Valentino studded boots, LeatherCoatsEtc gloves, Pavlova Russian scarf, and Camel bag (all own)

When you liked this post let your friends know by tweeting them to have a look at this post on ageless style in a suit!

#styleover50 woman in stylish winter outerwear
Shearling coat, Pavlova Russian scarf, GNW tights, LeatherCoatsEtc gloves, and Valentino boots (all own)

How do you wear a suit? Do you wear “fake” suits? Do you have to wear them at work? What are your styling challenges when you have to wear them? Let me know I am curious how I can help you. Just drop an email. Thanks. 🙂

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P.S. Like this outfit? You might also like to see how to dress office appropriate in a floral top or what to wear for a successful job interview.

Photos: G. Kramm

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