Style Advice Q & A

Can I Wear A Pleated Skirt After 40?

Hi Deborah,

I have seen a lot of pleated skirts for sale lately. I 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.

taupe skirt

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 much 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 pleated skirt 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. TIP: Pleats should lie flat over the hip area and your bottom, without any spreading out of the pleats. If your skirt pulls then, your skirt is too small, and you need to go up a size.

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. A fitted top gives you that hourglass shape.

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. you have wide hips a wide pleat helps to make you look slimmer. Tip: Keep your skirt no more than a few inches above the knee if you don’t want to look too schoolgirl.

Pair With Architectural Accessories

To emphasize the strong, clean lines pleats make, pair your pleated item with other pieces that have strong shapes, too. For instance, choose pumps or flats with a pointed toe as opposed to rounded-toe or wear a pleated skirt with a chunky, high sandal with a bit of an edge. Stay away from a slouchy bag and go for something  structured with hard edges. It’s all about underscoring how sharp pleats with other sharp lines to create a new, almost-futuristic look!

Low Key Pleat

Not a big pleat person but want in on the look? Then how about this Ralph Lauren Pleated Dress? It’s crisp and summery and the wide flat pleats are understated and elegant. Secret: These wide inverted pleats work better for wide hips than narrow pleats.

Be Bold With Baubles 

In the same vein as the tip above: don’t choose itsy-bitsy or dainty jewelry to go with a pleated item- it’ll be lost in the look. Instead, pick one bold piece with no frills and a strong shape. A cuff bracelet, for instance, is a bold piece that’s a perfect match to your pleats! Just make sure to go easy on the jewelry- you want the focus to be on the pleats and their strong lines.

Join the Conversation

13 thoughts on “Can I Wear A Pleated Skirt After 40?

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

  2. 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!

  3. 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….

  4. 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!

    1. 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?

  5. 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.

    1. 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!

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