Age is nothing but a number, until it comes to clothing. In this case, it acts as a helpful reminder that you’ve outgrown the latest trends — there’s nothing worse than showing up to a PTA meeting and looking more like one of the students than the one running it.
So as the age gap begins to grow, your aversion for uber-trendy outfits that max out at — and cost even less to make — should, too. Worried you’re committing one of these fashion mistakes? Check the following trends to make sure you haven’t outgrown your own wardrobe.
1) Over-the-top denim
Retire at: 35
If it looks like it was run over by a bus or bedazzled by a tween, it doesn’t belong in your closet. A sophisticated wardrobe isn’t built around fashions that are too distressed, too sparkly, too embellished or too low — too much in any one direction is a foolproof indication that you’re too old for it.
Expert tip: Replace with a less-is-more ideology and focus on simple, timeless styles. Bootcut jeans in dark washes are versatile wardrobe additions and slenderizing, too.
2) Cheap chonies
Retire at: 40
The second gravity begins to work its magic, the credit card needs to do the same. Skimping on underwear leads to unflattering bumps and bulges, so it’s worth spending a little extra to keep everything perky and in place. It’s also worth seeking out the magical powers of spandex — even Beyoncé isn’t ashamed to share her love for Spanx.
Replace with a drawer full of high-quality intimates. They’ll last longer and will make your curves look flawless.
3) Excessive cleavage
Retire at: 50
It’s true that if you’ve got it, flaunt it. But when it comes to cleavage, no one wants to feel like you’re about to have a Janet Jackson moment. A plunging neckline can come off as desperate and attention-seeking. Instead, leave some to the imagination and flaunt what the endless hours at the gym help maintain.
Expert tip: Replace with a simple rule of thumb: Anything below mid-bustline is way too low.
4) 'Stripper heels' and other unreasonable
Retire at: mid-40s
Sky-high “stripper heels" should be left to the 20-something-year-olds. This also applies to uber-trendy thigh-high boots and knee-length gladiator sandals. These costume shoes are impractical additions to a mature wardrobe and result more often in blisters than fashion envy.
Expert tip: Replace bottom-shelf stilettos with designer labels that flawlessly marry comfort with chic styles. Not to mention the latter can be worn for longer than two hours.
5) Crop tops and hot pants
Retire at: 35
When you spend countless hours in the gym, it’s tempting to sport trendy crop tops or skimpy Daisy Dukes. But the fact is, strutting down the grocery isle with your glutes hanging out doesn’t reflect a confident, composed woman with a style to envy. Save it for the beach.
Replace with patterned pieces to draw attention to those areas you’d like to show off.
6) Boastful graphic tees
Retire at: 30
Freedom of expression is great — until it’s obnoxiously splayed across your chest. Save bragging about how you “Woke Up Like This” or your self-proclaimed status as a “MILF” for happy hour chats. Otherwise, the boasting comes across as simply juvenile.
Expert tip: Replace with exuding your own confidence in a high-quality cotton tee that can be dressed up or down.
7) Skimpy skirts
Retire at: 40
Micro-mini skirts tend to look exponentially trashy with age, so unless your legs age like Tina Turner’s, trash the skirt before it trashes you. The higher the hemline, the quicker you should toss it.
Expert tip: Replace with chic straight or classic pencil skirts that don’t reach higher than 4 inches above the knee. If you want to go a little shorter, add fashionable tights.
8) Undershirt-inspired tanks
Retire at: 40
The thin, white, ribbed cotton tank might feel carefree and cool, but it runs the risk of coming off sloppy and classless. It’s better to avoid the men’s-undershirt-style tank entirely while transitioning from “Gossip Girl” to “The Golden Girls.”
Replace with a scoop-neck tee in a more elegant fabric that still hugs the figure
9) Giant hobo bags
Retire at: 50
Oversized, slouchy, embellished hobo bags that fit a week’s worth of clothes and beauty products are growing as quickly in size as they are in popularity. But the second-rate fabrics, distracting patterns, floor-length fringes and potato sack sizes are too much to incorporate into a timeless look.
Replace with a more practical designer clutch. You may not fit as much, but the purse will last longer and make any outfit look more refined, whether your destination is a gala or a game.
10) Taking accessories from teens
Retire at: 35
Arm candy, nail glitter and animal print anything are trendy traps that substantially age their victims rather than keep them looking young and hip. The kids in carpool may be rocking the looks, but combining knockoff knick-knacks leads to a gaudy disaster.
Replace with quality rather than quantity. One funky high-end item — like a patterned scarf or chunky watch — is a chic addition to any look.
11) Peek-a-boo bra straps
Retire at: early 20s
It’s UNDERwear, not outerwear. It’s not meant to be exposed for everyone to “ooh” and “aah” over. And newsflash: You’re not tricking anyone with those clear plastic bra straps, either.
Expert tip: Replace with a few specialty bras that you can comfortably pair with strapless, backless or plunging necklines.
12) Mamas in tiaras
Retire at: 5
You’re preschool-aged daughter makes the cutest pretend princess in her pretty pink tiara. You, on the other hand, look like a washed-up beauty queen wannabe when you go outside wearing a glittery tiara — even if the diamonds are real.
Expert tip: Replace lavish headwear with reasonable statement pieces more along the lines of an embellished hair clip or sparkly headband. These give you a splash of glitz rather than drowning you in it.
13) Color coordinated makeup
Retire at: 16
Makeup hues are meant to highlight your look without being matchy-matchy. Caking on an outrageous shadow to match your favorite blue top is the quickest way to go from drop-dead-gorgeous to drop-out-drag.
Expert tip: Replace with subtle hues without lots of shimmer — they’ll make you look fresh and ready to seize the day. The more you age, the more delicately makeup should be applied.
14) Sleezy clubbing dresses
Retire at: 28
If it looks like it belongs at a club screaming for attention, it doesn’t belong hanging next to your DVF collection. Ms. von Furstenberg’s dresses deserve much more credit than that, and so does your fashion sense. Plus, while bargain skin-tight dresses hug your favorable curves, they also accentuate your not-so-favorable ones.
Expert tip: Replace with an upscale girls-night-out dress that doesn’t break the bank. Try finding a brand-name-bargain at an outlet mall or discount stores such as Nordstrom Rack and Saks Off 5th Avenue.
15) Outrageous socks
Retire at: 22
It’s more of a fashion faux paus than a trend, but settling for a pair of mismatched socks is just lazy. You look end up looking disheveled despite the hour spent getting ready. And don’t even try to convince yourself it will go unnoticed; you’ll regret it when that’s the day you just so happen to toss your kicks aside.
Expert tip: Replace with a preventative trick: As soon as you start folding the toasty clothing fresh from the dryer, toss socks aside into one pile. Then match the socks as you transfer them into a drawer.
16) Cowboy couture
Retire at: 21
Overalls were an endangered look that should’ve stayed that way for our generation. But if you’re on the fence, err on the side of tossing them, or save them for a workday around the house, cowgirl.
Expert tip: Relocate overalls to the back of the closet for an impromptu costume party or painting day around the house. For everything else, denim should be restricted to stylish jackets and boot-cut jeans.
17) Message-bearing booties
Retire at: 18
Britney Spears often dons a colorful message across her bum, but do you really want to be associated with her? Brand names sprawled across the booty should be left in your high school days; it doesn’t matter how cute those PINK sweats are.
Expert tip: Replace by pairing patterned bottoms — which are very en vogue at the moment — with a solid top or zip-up hoodie. Top the look off with some colorful kicks, and you’re good to go.
18) Platform footwear
Retire at: 24
Spice Girl-era platforms are out, and they’ve been out as far as any self-respecting 20-plus-year-old is concerned. This trend, like overalls, is trying to find its way back into closets, so don’t let the nostalgia trick you — it’s not fashionable.
Expert tip: Replace uniform platforms with platform pumps that mimic the former’s height and comfort. As for sneakers, you can find some with wedges nowadays, but really, sneakers are meant to be low-to-the-ground, walking-friendly footwear.
Retire at: 12
Girl scouts wear scrunchies, not girls out scouting the city with friends. These colorful hair accessories are indicative of not wanting to grow up, so pull yourself together and put on your big-girl-hair-tie (and pants, too).
Expert tip: Replace with a high-fashion pony by wrapping a small section of hair around a regular hair-tie. Then, secure it with a bobby pin and some hairspray, and voila. A chic pony fit for any occasion.
20) When to break the rules
Not all rules are meant to be broken, but most can be tastefully bent. Take a look into the closet and get rid of items you’re questioning, but don’t be afraid to keep the pieces you can’t live without.
Can’t give up the short skirt that first caught your beau’s eye? Try pairing it with tights. Is your favorite top too-tight for comfort? Pair it with a classic blazer.
Expert tip: When in doubt, err on the side of timeless fashion.
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