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Dress to Impress: Perfect Your Work Wardrobe


dress to impress for work over 50 image

We all want to look our best at work, offering a professional and well-presented image of ourselves. However, this is a task that can sometimes become slightly more difficult once we reach our 50s , especially if we are working with mostly younger colleagues. A good way to approach the task of managing your working wardrobe is to start with the individual items themselves: wearing pieces that are well-designed and made with excellent fabrics will always be far superior to those that are on-trend but cheap. As we will see, there are also good rules to abide by concerning the most flattering shapes, colours and use of accessories.

Pick your items wisely

Walking into the office is not the same as walking down a catwalk; no matter what magazines describe as this season’s ‘must have’ item, it should have no bearing on your purchases for work. Indeed, looking impeccably dressed is a very different thing to looking stylish and trying to follow fashions will not work in your favour. Always aim for an outfit that is ageless and works just as well on you as it would on a colleague who is a few decades younger.

Work with your shape

A great way to start is by investing in items made from good materials and with quality tailoring, ensuring that they work with your figure and not against it. Moreover, we all know that dark colours are flattering and help to disguise whatever lumps and bumps we might carry, but equally too much black or grey can actually drain us of colour. Opt instead for shirts and tops that ‘pop’ with a bright print or block pattern, , such as these silk blouses from Peter Hahn. Of course, if you do wear a plus-size then it’s always a good item to buy from retailers who specialise in making clothes specifically for your body shape, as this will ensure that the garments are suitably tailored and adjusted to your needs.

Only wear natural fabrics

For any woman over 50, the prospect of having a sudden onset of hot flushes is a very real concern and at work this can be doubly embarrassing if you are not prepared. One of the best ways to defend against having a sudden internal temperature crisis is to always dress in natural fabrics. Cotton, linen and silk are widely regarded as the best light-weight materials that help you to cool down easily. Wearing multiple layers of very thin tops will enable you to quickly and easily adjust to whatever temperature feels most comfortable, as you are able to add or remove an item discreetly.

Choose the right length

Getting the right length for your skirt or dress becomes an increasingly important issue as we get older. There are few things that look as unprofessional in the office as a skirt that rides up and becomes too revealing when we sit down, so it’s imperative to keep this in mind and practice sitting-down when trying on clothes at the shop. Be especially careful to check the length of your skirt or dress at the back as hemlines can rise and cause some embarrassment when bending forward. As a general rule of thumb, anything 1-2 inches above the knee is bordering on too short for the office. Instead, opt instead for a three-quarter length skirt that is either A-line or tulip-shaped to flatter your body shape.

Find your inspiration

The best way to get an idea of what clothes to buy for work and how you want to look is to find some great inspiration. Depending on your office culture, you can look to different TV presenters to find new ways of pairing items and colours in a tasteful way. Mary Berry and Nigella Lawson offer different approaches to casual day-to-day looks, which can be adapted according to your personality. Alternatively, if your office requires dressing more formally, then using news presenters such as Zeinab Badawi or Fiona Bruce as inspiration could help for more conservative, business wear.

Ceri Wheeldon

Ceri is Founder and Editor of Fabafterfifty.co.uk She is a frequent speaker at events and in the media on topics related to women over 50 , including style and living agelessly. With 20+ years experience as a headhunter Ceri also now helps support those looking to extend their working lives.

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