Clothes for women over 50: What to wear at work to look professional and feel comfortable

December 12, 2012 at 4:27 pm in Fashion & Beauty by VN Editors


A lot of women’s clothing isn’t made for comfort, it’s made for style. The trouble is, style can cause a lot of pain and discomfort. Find out what to wear at work to look professional and feel comfortable at the same time. It is possible, and it gets a lot easier when you know where to start looking.

Simple Dresses

Well-cut dresses not only look good and feel comfortable, they’re appropriate for work environments. Choose dresses that aren’t too revealing – you don’t want hemlines more than two inches above the knee or necklines more than three inches below your collarbone. Within these parameters, you can create an entire wardrobe of pretty, work-ready dresses. As Flattering50 points out, there are plenty of styles that look great on over-50 women:

  • A-line dresses: A-line dresses are made with tailored bodices and full, slightly flared skirts. This cut is very forgiving on women with larger hips and thighs, and helps to emphasize the waistline. Because the flared skirt is nice and roomy, these types of dresses are very comfortable as office wear. Pleated skirts are fashionable right now, so look for this feature if you want to dress in the latest trends.
  • Shift dresses: Shift or sheath dresses are made with simple, straight lines and no sleeves. While the lack of sleeves is terrifying to many, some women still look great sans sleeves even after 50. If you’re not one of them, you can easily top off your dress with a sweater or a shrug that keeps your arms covered. A tailored jacket over your dress will look very office-appropriate as well. Because of the straight lines, sheath dresses look great on women of just about any shape.
  • Wrap dresses: You can adjust wrap dresses to your body to get a good fit every time. The wrap style flatters your shape by detailing your bustline and waistline while helping to hide your hips. That’s thanks to the full skirt design. Many wraps also have long sleeves, which look professional and keep your skin covered in office settings.
  • Shirt dresses: Shirtwaist dresses, or shirt dresses, are a trendy fashion must-have. Made to be worn with belts, shirt dresses are fun and fashionable in office settings. The belt helps to emphasize your waist. Be sure to dress up your shirt dresses with fierce accessories; wear them the wrong way, and they look way too casual.
  • Empire waist dresses: Look for dresses with empire waists to flatter your shape, especially if you have a full figure. The empire waist helps your own waist disappear, while emphasizing the curves of your hips and bust. Because they’re not tight anywhere, empire waist dresses are incredibly comfortable as office wear.

When you’re at work, shy away from dresses with busy patterns or very bold colors. Solid, muted colors look best in professional environments.

Versatile, must-have clothing items

Buying a bunch of dresses and suits to wear to work can get pretty costly, even if you have a clothing budget to work with. Fashion After 50 suggests getting a few essential pieces to create many different looks.

  • White blouse: A basic white blouse is an office must-have. Choose something in a silk- or satin-like fabric so your look stays professional. You can pair it with a skirt or pants in any color, and wear it throughout the year. Add a jacket or a pretty scarf to dress up your blouse as needed.
  • Jacket: Speaking of which, you need at least one good jacket. Choose something tailored and made with clean lines, so it’s appropriate to wear in the office.
  • Straight paints: Get a good pant in a straight boot cut, and wear them any time of year. You can pair straight pants with boots, heels or flats and look great for the job. Always add a belt to create a more finished look, and choose a neutral shade of pants in brown, black or grey so they can be worn with any blouse.

Comfortable shoes for work

Lots of women struggle with picking out the right clothes to wear to work, at every age. But after a certain age, you want to be comfortable when you’re on the job. Many other Vibrant Women have weighed in on the topic, and they’ve got some pretty good ideas.

“I wear the most comfortable clothes to work… I am an RN and I wear scrubs,” explained VN member Karen Thomason. “On my feet for years I wore clogs, now I wear slip on Tennies… Much better than what I wore in the corporate world.”

“Comfortable shoes with good arch support are essential,” said VN member hattie08. She cites “ECCO, SAS, Naot and Clarks” as comfortable brands. She also suggests that “if you work a long day, make a change of shoes mid-shift.”

“I like Easy Spirit shoes,” VN member MarlaK said. “Very comfortable!”

Look for shoes that are stylish and made in professional-looking, closed-toe designs. Pick heels no higher than 2 inches, and add shoe inserts to give your feet the right cushioning and support. Even if you don’t work on your feet, feeling uncomfortable in this area can affect your work performance and make you feel more fatigued at the end of the day.

Dressing for work

Even comfortable clothing and shoes can be made with good lines and flattering designs, in colors and styles that are very work-appropriate. Take time to try on all your clothes, and close your eyes for a few minutes before looking in the mirror. Focus on how the clothes feel before you get caught up in how they look, and it’ll be easier to pick the right comfortable, fashionable outfits for the office.


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