How to look stunning in romantic style

This post sheds light on the roots of Romantic Style, its evolution and how to get the look.

The Romantic Look

This style is rooted in Sunday’s Best of the 19th century, sort off. It is not about being practical or comfort. This style is about expressing your femininity, looking graceful, soft, pretty, eye-catching, head-turning, but sweet and with an innocent vibe. Obviously, to rock this style that’s all about being girly and naive, gets harder with time, but is still chic over 50. This post identifies the key elements of this style, how to get the look and how to put everything together in a mature ageless way.

  1. The Romantic Look
  2. The Romantic Era (1815-1840)
  3. Best colors, prints and fabrics for modern Romantic Style
  4. Key clothes of Romantic style
  5. Hair and makeup
  6. Key jewelry and accessories
  7. How to put Romantic Style together
  8. Style icons

Disclosure: There are affiliate links in this post.

romantic woman with curly long hair in white at the water

The Romantic Era (1815-1840)

The waist sank from the empire-waist style of the Napoleonic era to the V-style (see next two photos). The bodices were tight.

British white dress with puff sleeves, elevated waist 1826-29
British dress 1826-29. The waist moves south and the hem of the skirt is way above the floor. The puff sleeves give the illusions of wide shoulders. From: Metropolitan Museum of Art
European silk dress 1832-1835 with voluminous skirt and sleeves, tiny waist
European silk dress 1832-1835. The voluminous skirt and sleeves contrast the tiny waist. see the V-style of the bodice. From: Metropolitan Museum of Art

Large puffed sleeves came out from small armholes. This means the women were restricted in their movement. The puffs were balanced by huge collars, the so-called pelerine en ailes d’oiseau collar. It extended over the sleeves. Another option were the so-called split collars or two layer-collars. Collars typically were made from lace and/or embroidered. The bertha became fashionable towards the end of the era.

American dress with puff sleeves, pelerine, wide skirt and bows
American dress with pelerine, puff sleeves wide skirt and bows for decoration. Ca. 1835. Form: Metropolitan Museum of Art

From about 1820 to 1840 the skirts widened (see above photos). To hold out the skirts first about three later up to six petticoats were worn underneath the dresses. First the petticoats were stiffened. Starting in 1840 stiff horsehair underskirts were sold to hold the skirts wide. In 1856, bone hoops hit the market. They were considered as a revolutionary improvement.

Popular accessories were bonnets, gloves, parasols, sashes, ribbons and bows. Obviously, you couldn’t wear a coat over this attire. The sleeves would wrinkle and the heavy material would have a negative impact on the wide silhouette of the skirt. Furthermore, some of the puff sleeves even had underpinning, hoops or bones to keep the giant bubbles in form. Thus, capes, stoles and shawls were the solution (see photo above).

Best colors, prints and fabrics for modern Romantic Style

This aura is created with soft colors like light blue, pinks, peaches, feminine red, soft pink, cream, white in its variations (bone, ivory, eggshell, off-white, snow, chalk, vanilla…), dusty rose and lavender or precious all white-outfits. In this style, bright prints like polka dots, not too large florals, paisley, gingham and tie dye are among favorites. Furthermore, texture is a Must. Lace and eyelet, ruffles, bows, fishnet, leather, beads, crochet, and embroidery fall in this category. Soft and pretty tulle, delicate fabrics and chiffon are in every romantic woman’s closet.

Key clothes of Romantic style

Fun floral dress, fit and flare dress in an ultra-feminine cut, flouncy silhouettes, feminine dresses, sheath dresses, colored (pink,light blue, pint) jeans/pants, flowy pants, girly blouses with puff sleeves, bows or ruffles, silky camisoles with embroidery, lace or sequin or pearl embellishment, cozy sweaters, thin old-school thin knit sweaters, patterned cardigans, blazers with color or trim details, coats in interesting shapes and colors, flared princess cut coat, pretty lacy underwear, slips, bodices and petticoats, gladiator or T-strap sandals in neutral, ballet flats, lace-up booties, opaque, lace and fishnet tights. Hipstik has tights and pantyhose with nice lace tops.

white floral dress with salmon and green
Shein Daisy Floral Flutter Sleeve Tie Side Wrap Dress $17
SKU: swdress02200413354
green white floral ruffled wrap dress
Shein Ditsy Floral Ruffled Self-Tie Wrap Dress $17 SKU: swdress03190419305
Little white lace dress
Shein Guipure Lace Trim Solid Cami Dress $18 SKU: swdress04200515112

Hair and makeup

The romantic woman is well-groomed. She typically has splendid long curly hair in blond or strawberry blond. Most the time the hair is worn open running down the shoulders like Rapunzel‘s hair in the Brother Grimm’s fairy tale. She puts a subtle emphasis on her eyes. Currently, a winged eye line is hip. Go for sweet pink or candy lipstick and rosy cheeks. Lip gloss is a thing (again).

Key jewelry and accessories

Accessories often have a touch of vintage and may be even family heirlooms. Blue is great for accessories. Headbands with bows, beads or flowers work for the twenty something romantic woman. Look for delicate necklaces in rose gold or silver. Look for floral statement jewelry, lockets and charm bracelets in vintage stores, yard sales or on flea markets. Here you can also find great embellished, embroidered and/or colored bags and vintage glass buttons or lace collars.

Stylist tip: As you advance towards midlife add preppy or classic pieces for a more mature look.

romantic style rose bracelet
Leafy Souls DHYANA – VEGAN WOMENS RED ROSE FLOWERS CHARM BRACELET. $43.97 $192.00. You Save 77% ($148.03).
lotus inspired blue enamel sterling silver ring

How to put Romantic Style together

Try to mix and match textures like pairing elegant lace with white denim pants. When wearing lace go for pastel colors to underline the girlie vibe.  You can find a guide on how to have great ageless style in lace at this link.

A blouse with floral embroidery looks great with white pants. Wearing it with a tiered skirt may be risky and look like costumery or ethnic clothing.  Try a ruffled blouse with a plaid or tweed skirt and Princess seam blazer for the office. Women over 40 look great in fit-and-flare or wrap dresses where just the print and colors as  well as the accessories, shoes and bag make the reference to romantic style.

The next photos show some romantic outfit inspirations with dresses that work well for women over 40.

mature woman in romantic pastel print dress with white hat and booties
Karina Dresses Cecelia Dress – Sage Sprigs $108.00 styled with hat, white booties, shells and leaf inspired necklaces.

woman in pink fit-and-flare dress with white floral print ballet style flats and beret
Karina Dresses Margaret Dress – Bliss. On sale $108.00 $88.00 styled with pink beret, pantyhose and pink ankle strap pumps.

Style icons

Nicole Kidman, the young Princess Diana especially in her wedding dress, Taylor Swift, Jessica Biel, Freida Pinto, Lizzy of Lizzy loves lace, Jess of Elegantly Dressed and Stylish.

“Nicole Kidman” by Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
Princess Diana's wedding dress
Enciclopedia 1993 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wiki Commons

Don’t let the right outfit be a random thing. Wear the right look in every situation by looking up what to wear when in How to Dress for Success in Midlife. Buy the book now.

Do you wear romantic clothes? How do you style them? Let me know, I am curious. Use @highlatitudestyle on IG to show me your romantic side.

How you can help me. When you shop through my affiliate links, it helps support to cover the blog’s costs (at no additional cost to you). Another way you can help with keeping this blog up and running is to share the posts on facebook or twitter. Thank you very much in advance for your support!

When you want to help me with keeping this blog up and running, please share the posts on facebook or twitter.

Don’t forget to hit subscribe to receive the bi-weekly free High Latitude Style newsletter with a summary of all new posts and more about Fashion, Life and Science at the Last Frontier.

Photos of me: G. Kramm

© 2013-2020 Nicole Mölders | All rights reserved

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. mireilleftm

    Such pretty looks! I love flowy blouses and flowy skirts! I don’t wear much of either but I always feel pretty in both when I do!

  2. eva @StyleMyThrift

    love, love, love this all! i am a huge historic costume buff!….i’ve made a mid-Victorain dress before, so I understand small armholes and large sleeves…the one i made had pagoda sleeves….just upcycled a dress with drop shoulders and balloon sleeves!…hope you will check it out once i publish the post!
    xo eva

Comments are closed.