How To Dress For Your Body Type After 40

Figuring out the best silhouettes for your body type is always a challenge, especially as you get older. Chances are that your body has changed since your twenties, and that’s a good thing! With age comes wisdom and the confidence to wear what you really like. Here are tips on how to dress for your body type when you’re over 40 that work for any age.

How To Dress For Your Body Type

It’s likely that you have at least one feature that you’d like to highlight, whether that is a beautiful collarbone, long slim legs, or an hourglass figure that you’ve worked hard to maintain. On the other hand, there’s probably something that you’d rather not showcase. The key to dressing for your body type at any age is to know how to draw attention to your favorite aspects of your body and skim over the ones you don’t like as much. Minimize your least favorite parts of your body and maximize your favorites.

Minimize Your Least Favorite Body Features

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GAP Boxy Raglan Crewneck T-Shirt, $34.95

For instance, if you’d prefer not to showcase your stomach or midsection, you’re in luck with the current trend towards boxier cuts and flowy shapes. Depending on where a piece hits you, you can minimize your stomach and upper torso. Three-quarter length sleeves and flared or wide leg bottoms can also help balance your silhouette, and raglan shoulders like the ones on this crewneck from the Gap help too.


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Everlane The Cotton V-Neck, $18
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Dries Van Noten Striped satin midi dress, now $587.50
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Lou & Grey Skyline Linen Wide Leg Pants, now $69.99

Downplay Your Bustline

You can downplay your bust line with shallow v-necks like this one from Everlane or other styles that create angles to break up your silhouette like this Dries Van Noten dress, or highlight your legs in fitted pants and shorter skirts balanced out with more drapey or flowy tops. Wear darker colors on top and lighter hues on the bottom. These linen pants from Lou & Grey are ideal for warmer temps.

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Madewell Flutter Sleeve Retro Top, $78
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Kendra Scott Aragon Earrings, $80

Distract From Your Lower Body

If you’re not a fan of your lower body, wide leg pants, a-line or fit and flare silhouettes and “boyfriend” jeans or pants tend to work well. Bringing the eye up with interesting necklines like scoop necks, boat necks, sweetheart necks, or deep v-necks, going for puffy sleeves or other strong shoulder details, and choosing accessories like scarves and major necklaces and earrings also works. This white ruffled Madewell top is a great way to even out your shape, and these Kendra Scott earrings would add some bold color and pattern to basically any outfit.

Create Hourglass Curves

The goal with these types of silhouettes is to even out your proportions and create the illusion of an hourglass. In this case, you should wear lighter shades on top and darker ones on the bottom. That said, if you want to show off your curves, wear fitted silhouettes and lighter colors all over!

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Minkpink Tiger Tee Dress, $69
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DKNY Pull-On Pleated Skirt, $109

Skimming Over Your Waistline

Want to skim over your waistline? It might seem counter-intuitive, but highlighting your graceful arms and legs and skimming over your waist or midriff area with a straight cut dress like this one by Mink Pink can make a rectangle shape look more classically feminine (if that’s your thing). A-line or fuller skirts (this pleated DKNY one is great) can help balance out an inverted triangle shape or broader shoulders as well. Keep details like ruffles or layers on the bottom half, and wear your lighter colors there as well.

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1.STATE High Neck Top, $59
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Uniqlo Women Drape Camisole, $19.90

Maximize Your Favorite Body Features

Want to show off your upper body? Highlight your collarbone and shoulders with off the shoulder tops, halters, and other strappy styles. Embellishments along the neckline such as beading or ruffles can also showcase the upper body, while darker colors and details on the lower half take the attention away from your hips, thighs, and legs. This 1.State top is a great way to accomplish that, and it would be perfect with some wide leg linen pants this summer. A flowy camisole this one from Uniqlo is a good way to draw attention to your collarbone and décolletage as well.

Show Off Your Legs

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Marni Wool Flared Pants, now $425

Love your legs? You’re never too old for a mini skirt in our opinion, but a midi or maxi with a high slit can work as well. Flared or bootcut pants (yes they are coming back and these Marni trousers are impeccable) elongate your legs even more as well, especially if they have a higher rise. Shoes that are similar to your skin tone also work.

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Hofmann Copenhagen Erica Dress, $460
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A.L.C. Tallulah Dress, $595

Accentuate a Small Waist

Pencil skirts and wrap dresses like this Hofmann Copenhagen style can highlight a small waist or hourglass figure; high-waisted pants with cropped tops (no need to show any skin here) work too. Belts worn on the actual waist are also a good idea. If you’re not a fan of a given dress or ensemble, try adding a belt like this one by B-low The Belt before you totally reject it. A belted dress like this one by A.L.C is super flattering for most figures!

Overall, you should wear lighter colors or bolder prints and pieces on the areas you want to highlight (along with showing more skin in those spots if that’s your thing), and darker colors or more subdued prints on the areas of your body that you’d rather have blend into the background.

The Proper Foundations

One final key for dressing for your body type is making sure that you have the right foundation garments. A properly fitting bra – go to a real lingerie store to get fitted, not Victoria’s Secret – and panties, tights or hose and shapewear that fit you perfectly go a long way towards making all your outfits look their best! Don’t be afraid to invest in a good slip or two as well. They’ll make your dresses hang better and look higher end. Besides life is too short to wear ugly, uncomfortable, or otherwise bad underwear – full stop.

Always Dress With Confidence

Dressing for your body type is complicated no matter how old you are, but it can be easier than you think. And if you want to be a little trendy but the latest silhouettes just don’t work for you, you can always follow trends with your color palette and accessories. And at the end of the day, you should always wear what makes you feel good, whether or not that is classically “flattering” for your body type or not. Confidence is always a good look!

–Jacqueline Zenn

You may also like to read more of Jacqueline’s styling tips like What to Wear to A Wedding This Summer and The French Lingerie Every Woman Over 40 Must Have.

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