Can I Wear A Pleated Skirt After 40?

Hi there Deborah,

I have seen a lot of pleated skirts for sale lately. I really like them, but was wondering if I can still wear them now I am in my 50’s and a little heavier than I was when I wore them years ago. Thanks, June.

Hi June,

Many of us avoid pleated skirts because we worry that all that extra fabric will bulk us up, and out!  If you carry a lot of weight around your middle there is some truth to that and you need to proceed with caution. However, the good news is that all kinds of finer, lighter fabrics that drape the body are being used today for pleated skirts, so there are many more options now that can work.  Also,  different types of pleats work for different body types. Let’s take a look:

Graphic Pleats
Dowdy, traditional prints have turned some gals off of pleats, but here’s a Sinopa printed Skirt with pleats from Diane Von Furstenberg that has a fresh, modern twist. When your skirt is busy and bold like this it is best to keep the top simple. I prefer a more flattering neckline than this that’s scoop or v-neck if you want to look fab after 40. Also remember that if the pleats don’t lie flat, your skirt is too small and you need to go up a size. This chic skirt looks even better in person. 

Sinopa printed Skirt with pleats from Diane Von Furstenberg

Sinopa printed Skirt with pleats from Diane Von Furstenberg

Tangerine Dream!
This color is mouthwatering, and so pretty against the skin. Pleated skirts and dresses like this create curves where there are none. So if you are an H- shape, that is straight up and down without much of a waist, then try a dress like this and belt it to fake a waist. This Maggy London Sleeveless Pleated Chiffon Dress will be flying out of the stores.

Maggy London Sleeveless Pleated Chiffon Dress

Tangerene Pleated Dress

A Lesson in Long and Lean
Want to wear pleats but worried they will make you look wider instead of taller? Try this trick. Wear a monochromatic look. All one color from head to toe will make you look taller, sleeker and sensational.

Tan Pleated Skirt

Tan Pleated Skirt

Tummy Tamer
If you have a tummy and want to wear pleats, then try a wide drop waist to flatten out any jelly belly and slim you down. You’ll love the swingy feel of this

Blue Drop Waist Pleated Skirt

Blue Drop Waist Pleated Skirt

Fabulous Florals
Wow, Love this combo of colors and prints. Stripes and florals make a very modern, youthful pairing that is perfect after 40. This Milly Bianca Pleated floral skirt has a wide waistband that makes it more flattering to wear when you have some middle age spread.

Milly Bianca Pleated floral skirt

Green Pleated Floral Skirt

Low Key Pleat
Not a big pleat person but want in on the look? Then how about this Ralph Lauren Surplice Fit and Flatter Cotton Dress? It’s crisp and summery and the wide flat pleats are understated and elegant. Secret:These wide inverted pleats work well for wide hips. 

Ralph Lauren Surplice Fit and Flatter Cotton Dress

White Pleated Dress

Feminine and Floaty
So pretty! These are pleats at their best. This black Suzi Chin is a real Glam Gal dress. The matte jersey makes it super comfy and sexy as it drapes your silhouette. This is the perfect little black dress from 

Black Suzi Chin dress

Black Pleated Dress

Get a Kick Out of Kick Pleats!
When accordion pleats feel like much too much, you can get a flirty effect with a skirt that comes straight down and kicks out with pleats. This cobalt blue skirt is from Nanette Lepore and is appropriately called “First Crush”. 

Cobalt blue skirt is from Nanette Lepore

Blue Kick Pleat Skirt

Maxi Pleats
Chiffon pleats are easy, breezy and beautiful, as you can see with this Calvin Klein Print Chiffon dress. Long pleats from head to toe create a vertical effect that elongates your body and helps you look taller and thinner. 

Calvin Klein Print Chiffon dress

Calvin Klein Print Chiffon dress

More From Fabulous After 40

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I have just turned 40. I still look 32. 40 is not all that old it depends on the individual.

  2. Hi Deborah, What a great post. There are so many ways to pleats as you have shown. Love your work. Jo

  3. I let my hair go “silver” a couple of years ago with help from my beautician. She actually made the transition easy. My hair grows really fast and I was spending a lot to get it colored every 4-5 weeks. I didn’t want the mess of doing it at home myself, so. . . The reaction that I get is mixed. I have had people bring other friends that were considering the transition over to meet me to see my hair. (A compliment I think.) I’ve been told it’s beautiful and then I know that I have friends that think it has really “aged” me. I truly think that it’s the ones that are my age that have had the toughest time with it! I can’t count the times since I’ve made the change that I’ve heard them say, “I’m just not ready yet”, like my decision puts pressure on them somehow. ??? Do what’s right for you!

  4. Debra S says:

    LOL Okay, maybe I’ll bite with that photo of letting myself silver. Silver sounds so much prettier than grey, doesn’t it? You know, I began to dye, in the beginning. Home dye jobs, just looked dyed. Salon.. well, my budget fell so, I just can’t even afford it.
    So, I took a deep breath, and I have let it go natural. My daughters said they like it….

  5. Cheri Salazar says:

    Hi, I was wondering if you only show items from Nordstrom? Also, do you show women who are actually over 40 in the clothes you talk about? If so, where can I find them on your site? Thanks!

    • Hi Cheri,
      I do use Nordstrom a lot because they have a good selection but we use other stores as well. As for 40+ models, yes, it is a frustration of ours too. All the stores/online catalogues/advertisers use young models wearing these clothes so that’s what I am stuck with since I do not have the kind of budget to hire my own models! You really have to have a good imagination. When will retailers wake up?

  6. Wondering about women with gray hair–might we see more representation of gray on your site/in your newsletter? I am asked all the time about my gray hair–it seems to be so much more of a topic than what fibers in which I have chosen to be clothed! Thanks–I do love this information and think that there is a lot of wisdom in the style advice you give.

    • Hi Mary, I have done several blog posts on gray hair but I do find it hard to find photos of models that are over 40 and then to try to find them that are gray too…well it’s almost impossible! If anyone wants to send in a photo of themselves looking fab in gray hair I will certainly post it! Thanks for letting me know that you are feeling good in your gray hair and feel free to tell me your story on how it was for you to make the transition!

  7. LOVE these! Hitting Nordstrom’s this weekend, I will definitely be looking up that Maggy London piece, thanks!