Let's get one thing clear: There's no hard and fast rule when it comes to "dressing for your age"—you'll always look your best wearing whichever clothes you feel good in. But if you do find yourself looking for pieces that contribute to a younger-looking appearance, we've found a few surefire fashion items that will serve as a sartorial fountain of youth. Sure, having certain wardrobe essentials in your outfit rotation can contribute to an overall more stylish and fresh-feeling ensemble, as anyone who counts style muses like Angelina Jolie and Sarah Jessica Parker knows. To dig into more of the how and why behind fashion for women over 40, though, we beelined to the experts to dish their advice.
We tapped stylists Anita Patrickson, who's known for her Hollywood clients such as Julianne Hough, and HeatherMary Jackson, an editorial stylist and fashion director for Puss Puss Magazine and Fat Magazine. Both women are industry veterans who know a thing or two about good style—one flip through their recent work points to this. Both Patrickson and Jackson shared their ultimate style advice for women over 40, from the must-have wardrobe essentials to the items they would recommend retiring after a certain age.
Keep reading to learn their expert advice and shop the pieces they recommend along the way.
Which pieces are the so-called "fountain of youth"?
Anita counts the following pieces as essential wardrobe staples and, consequently, those that can contribute to a younger-looking appearance: a classic, gorgeous trench, sexy leather pants, a white silk blouse, a navy boyfriend blazer, a fabulous party dress that you feel amazing in, and a sleek black suit.
For HeatherMary, classic staples like a cashmere turtleneck, crisp white shirt, and great jeans are her top must-haves because each of these pieces is timeless, effortless, and doesn't define your age when wearing them, she shared with us.
Which pieces do you recommend retiring after age 40?
As far as what to steer clear of, both women agreed that short shorts and miniskirts simply don't feel quite right. Anita added that it's hard to draw a distinct line between "yes" and "no" items since our clothing is so dependent on each individual's body and comfort level. Still, she has some general recommendations.
"Anything body-conscious and formfitting in thinner fabrics feels inappropriate," she says. "As we age, I often advise clients to downsize their wardrobes and invest in fewer but more expensive and better-quality clothing from designers that cut patterns beautifully or use fabrics that are weighty and structured."
What are some styling mistakes you notice women over 40 make?
"Over 40, it's easy to hold onto a youthful closet and not to dress your age and above all else, not choosing pieces that flatter your figure." — Anita
"I think it's just styling mistakes across the board, not just over 40, not dressing for your body shape. For instance, wearing low-rise pants and a fitted or more cropped top is a hard look to pull off. Also, maxi dresses for me are a big no. Maybe because I'm not tall!" — HeatherMary
What do you wish someone had told you about your own style 10 or 20 years back?
"To figure out what my body type is and dress for it. For instance, not trying to wear large flared pants! I am 5'2", and that look doesn't flatter my body type. Also, you can look great in a tee and the perfect-fit jeans, simply pair it with a great bag and shoes. Most times less is more in my opinion." — HeatherMary
"Wear what you like and feel inspired by, rather than following a trend. Find your own unique voice." — Anita
The best advice of all? Simply embrace clothing that makes you feel your best to ensure you'll always look it.