Can You Wear a Headband After 40?

Hi Deborah,

I am over forty and have recently considered wearing headbands and other hair accessories because my hair is so short.  A little history – I cut my relaxed hair off and decided to go natural and not chemically straighten my hair anymore.   However, this process is proving to be difficult because I am currently at an awkward growth stage and want to use some hair accessories.

I’ve heard women over 40 should not wear headbands.  Mind you, I am not talking about huge hair accessories, just something to wear to get me through the current awkward stage.  What do you think? – Thanks, Heather Q.


Headbands Tortoise

Hi Heather,

I’m glad you brought this up since headbands have been so popular lately. They can certainly be a good thing to wear when transitioning from one style to another.  A headband is great for accentuating bangs. It can flaunt a pixie cut, or show off longer locks quite nicely too. A headband can even become part of your signature style.

The problem with wearing a headband after 40 is you can come across looking too girly and juvenile. Up until now, there hasn’t been a wide variety of headband styles, and the majority of headbands out there were sweet and childlike. Now that’s changed.

I think headbands can be fine at any age, but as a mature woman, I’d steer clear of headbands with flowers, floppy bows, and sparkly little girl styles. Think classy, and less cutesy when choosing a headband. This fine resin tortishell headband  is elegant.

Here are some things to think about when choosing a headband

  • Look for headbands in darker colors and more sophisticated prints ( likes leopard or snakeskin).
  • Interesting textures can be quite sophisticated too.
  • Thinner, finer plastic headbands tend to look chic as they are more subtle.
  • Vintage headbands with a twist knot are trending and can be a playful fashion statement.
  • A casual headband ( typically a brighter color) usually says “preppy.”  Make sure your outfit is also casual to work with this look.
  • Anything with a traditional bow is very tricky and in most cases not age-appropriate
  • Scarves tied as headbands are an excellent way to keep your hair back and will give you a boho-chic vibe
  • Avoid any kind of headband that looks like something you’d see a 7-year-old wearing


What to Wear With a Headband Over 40

Another thing to pay attention to is what you wear with your headband.  I suggest staying away from cutesy dresses or tops with frills, bows, flounce, or a lot of busy detail. A  sleek headband with a refined, minimalist style can look very chic and very modern.

Headbands Pink Braided

You can also wear a pretty hairband with something feminine in a grown-up way such as an off-the-shoulder top with your favorite jeans. There really are no right and wrong things to wear with headbands. The key is to remember that a headband is a focal point, so keep your outfit unfussy and your other accessories simple. This  satin braided headband matches the textured look of the top.

Another trick: To look sophisticated, choose a color that blends in with your hair color, so there is only a subtle hint of a hairband.
After a certain age, headbands can be very tricky to wear, but not impossible.  Just be aware of what message you are sending and make sure your headband coordinates with your outfit and is not too flashy or junior.


Shop these trending headbands for a chic look



Here are some influencers who wear headbands with style!

leopard headband

@heartbeetkitchen looks fabulous in this pleated leopard headband.

scarf headband

@dollypondstyle is so chic in this stunning scarf headband.

woman wearing a burlap embellished headband

@veronicakstyle shows us how fun a knotted headband can be.

woman wearing black headband

@thetennillelife shows us how a simple black headband can crown a glorious head of hair.

woman wearing pearl embellished headband

@tamerabeardsley looks glam in her studded gold headband.

red headband

@gresystripesanddenim shows how a headband can add a playful pop of color.

plaid headband

@hinchology with a lesson in how to coordinate your headband with your outfit and your dog!

checkered headband

@tayrnbrittany looks gorgeous in this cute checkered headband with the top knot!

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51 thoughts on “Can You Wear a Headband After 40?

  1. It’s a ridiculous question. Headbands have been around for centuries. They exude class and polish. Please don’t tell me (at 58) and from the south, very aristocratic, that I cannot wear my Grace Kelly style headbands! Men in my large family adore hair accessories in women’s hair. Tying up or adorning your hair is a sign of prestige and good breeding. Quotes about hair accessories and adornment are in the bible. Women, please, do not follow the trend; when dressing yourself, follow your heart.

  2. I am so pleased to read this article and the comments, as I wanted to know if I should still be wearing headbands – I wear the knotted twist-wraps, plain and patterned. I liked the look and didn’t think I looked like a child, and I didn’t know I looked silly – thank you for confirming my views. Happy hairbanding, ladies!! XX

  3. I’m 76 and wear—a headband to keep my hair out of my face. I don’t care who likes it or not; I please myself. Only live once

  4. I wear a bandana (cut in half diagonally- too thick otherwise) rolled into a headband and tied shut for work; my hair is wavy, curly, and otherwise gets in the way. I like how it looks but hasn’t ventured out past work or sat in the sun. I’m 65also not a fan of trying something new. But heck, why not!

    1. Hi Jules, You won’t know until you try. Why don’t you start with conservative headbands, classic colors like tan, black, and little embellishments, and go from there?

  5. Confidence is the MOST critical style guideline – so just about anything you wear with confidence is a fashion do at any age, size, or another category; if you are true to yourself and your persona aesthetic and exude confidence – most others will perceive you as looking great and if that is outside the usual “style rules” occasionally (but not always) that works in your favor. For some of us – confidence is one of the most complicated outfits. In those cases – fake it til you make it, and just about ANYTHING that helps you achieve that goal should be seen as appropriate.

  6. I see the point here, but it’s all relative and depends. I naturally shy away from tween-looking anything — obvs, Claire’s accessories are geared to not over-50 market — but, for instance, I have very long red hair because I dance the hula and live in Hawaii. (I’m not allowed to cut it save for a trim!) There’s a significant rule broken… Also, I’m 54, and I dance with 20’somethings named Makayla… Another limitation is probably broken. I just made a few pretty scarf-like headbands made of Hawaiian fabric remnants, which help hold my hair back. Not trying to make a statement… But they look good. Imho. I can’t help feeling that some of these over-50: “rules” are made to “keep us in our place.” I have a problem with that.

    1. Hi Janie, Thank you for dropping by. There are no style rules these days, and no one is trying to keep anyone in their place. I think it is essential to wear what makes you happy. But for my readers who have asked for help, I’ve provided guidelines for what looks good. If these ideas don’t work for you, no problem. We are all unique; the address is vital to express who you are. I’m sure you look fabulous in your scarf, like headbands made of Hawaiian fabric! Go for it! Wishing you all the best! Cheers, Deborah

  7. Boy, do I feel dated reading these posts. I was a tomboy in my teens and 20s and went from long, feminine, gloriously long blonde hair to a sensible professional bob. (Think Hillary/Diane Sawyer). In my 30s, I began to explore and experiment with fashion, to embrace my femininity and not perceive it as incompatible with being professional and adult. I think Marissa Mayers and even Ivanka Trump can pull this off — influential businesswomen who aren’t afraid to be feminine too. I am now in my mid-40s and bought a few headbands for the simple reason that they were on sale at a meager price and that if I added them to the online order of a sophisticated shirt I wanted, I could get free shipping. I don’t ordinarily wear headbands. Well, they finally arrived. They are stylish, elegant, and feminine. Reading through these comments makes me wonder whether I would appear like a child if I wore them to work. I was going for feminine, stylish, and artistic. I put one on — I am a blonde, and the band was a muted, elegant violet with flowers (definitely not a color to blend in with my natural hair color). I loved it. It made me look and feel grand.

    Ladies, you only live once. I think we can be dignified, elegant, and beautiful as we enter middle to old age. Most important are our character, intellect, and the quality of our hearts and relationships. I should say that I am making these comments as an accomplished professional woman, soon to be married, and with the prospect of motherhood after that. I embrace my femininity and love my headbands, though reading these comments will make me think twice about wearing them now.

  8. I want to say that some fashion do’s and don’t’s do not consider those of us who have few choices. I have worn glasses since I was seven, orthopedic shoes through my teens (ugh!), have thinning hair in the front (hereditary), have arthritis since my 30’s, and bear well over 20 scars from seven orthopedic surgeries (including two 2″ spots on the front of my neck and a 5″ area on the back of my neck). I cannot hold my dominant right arm up for long, so I have a hairdryer on a stand. I am missing a bone in my left thumb, making it hard to multi-task with hair styling, and I have dropped the curling iron burning myself. If my hair is short, I am self-conscience about my scars; if it is long, it is terrible to style, and my thin hair in the front looks awful. To make a long story short, if you have choices, you are lucky. You are fortunate if you aren’t broke from medical bills and can afford the $35 to $50 a month for a simple haircut. I am, however, blessed with very few gray hairs or wrinkles at 50. I wear hats and now headbands-both of which some expert designers say not to wear at my age since I would be selfishly drawing attention to myself. Be careful how you judge another person’s fashion choices. They may be the only choice that person has.

  9. Well, I’m not quite 40, almost, though! But I wear headbands on my short hair(pixie cut). I think they look cute, and sometimes I like pops of color to brighten the day! I think that’s a perk to getting older…I don’t have to be told what I should or shouldn’t wear! Hahaha!! I say wear what makes you happy life is too short to worry about what other people are thinking of your big bow of a headband!!

    1. Heather, I agree 100%! Why not? And who cares what others think? I don’t. I’m 54, and I do my own thing. I’m not going to wear a big bow or a significant anything on my head, except for a straw cowboy-style hat at the beach to protect me from the sun. But that is my taste and my preference.
      And really, what’s with all these rules? Based on age? Consider if it looks good on you, if you like it, and do what you want. You only live once.
      I’m wearing a headband now. I have shoulder-length dark blond hair, my natural color, and it looks good on me. This one happens to blend in with my hair color, but if it contrasted with my hair color, I’d still wear it If I liked it.
      Are we in grade school, worried someone might not like it? Nope, we are not.

    1. Excellent response, and I agree! But none of the models on your site look over 20 years old – and most of them look like teens. An example of why we mature ladies sometimes wonder if specific fashions don’t apply to us.

      1. Hi Dana, That is always a challenge, so throw it out there. If anyone has a cute photo – good quality – of themselves in a headband, please send it in to post. Cheers, Deborah

  10. I get a little tired of everything being put into an age bucket…If you love headbands and can pull the look off..then wear them…The older I get, the more I gravitate to the big flowers and bows and all things pretty…I think women especially think that when we reach certain ages, we have to change how we look…I believe aging is more than dressing down and wearing drab colors.

  11. If Hillary Clinton can wear on and the mother-in-law on “The Good Wife” can, I guess if it’s one in good taste, why not?

  12. If you like headbands that look good on you, wear them! I don’t see an age limit for this valuable item. They do the hair stays out of your face & provide a cute & quick fix for some folks on bad hair days!

  13. My comment re headbands is not – EVER. Dont go there! It is far too twee for anyone over 35. Other beautiful accessories without resorting to headbands, girly bows, and ornaments. It just makes you look sad and stuck in a time warp.

    1. Hi Janice,
      I’m wary of ever saying “never”… really some women can pull off a simple headband, but you are correct about the fancy ornaments. A little too tween for sure!

  14. To me, on someone over 40, many headbands would look overstated and sometimes frivolous and undignified. I can see something narrow and tortoiseshell or a color close to the hair color. Or, a wide scarf-type with an outfit with a casual, artistic look, but aim for some level of sophistication and simplicity. The headband-with-bow in the photo is so pretty. I think it would look good worn with a well-made white or ecru button-up blouse, in dressy cotton, with simple gold or silver ball earrings and a strand of pearls. If I were to add detail to the hair band, I would keep the rest of the outfit around the face clean and simple.

    This question reminds me of when Hilary Clinton wore headbands in 1991 and 1992 when campaigning with Bill. Style experts in the media sort of mocked her for that.

  15. My vote goes to YES headbands are okay- but NO to any bows or glop! I LOVE to wear a headband in the summer or just when I have a day of hard work around the house, projects, or daycare days. Sometimes you don’t want that hair on your face.

  16. I think the answer is “yes,” if the headband is close to our hair color and we remove an accessory from some other part of our outfit to compensate. For a formal occasion such as a wedding, wearing what the British call a “Fascinator” (which is getting trendy here in the U.S.) could work on a similar principle; wear a color that matches or is close to our hair color or is neutral. Fascinators are hair ornaments that can be clipped or pinned onto the hair by themselves or are often attached to headbands. Restraint is key! –Lisa in Massachusetts

  17. Wearing a headband would be a no from me as well. But, since we are in the headgear area, I’ve wondered what one would add to a wide-brim summer hat. I’ve seen big floppy flowers, but that seems to fall into the headband category. Nice if you’re young or a bride, but if you’re older, it seems a bit off. What would some alternative be? Exciting alternatives. Chic, not cute choices? Thanks. Pat

  18. I have short, black hair and often use a black headband with a small embellishment. (I have a multi-colored jewel cluster and another with a single, small peacock-type feather) Since my hair is short, there aren’t as many style options- updo, pony mane, etc. so a headband works for me. I keep the rest of my outfit, including jewelry, bling-free and use the headband as a fun accessory.

  19. If you have always worn headbands, you do not have to stop because you are over 40. You may have to tweak the style. However, if you have never worn them, there is probably a reason. The reason probably still exists. Some people are not headband people. I am not one as much as I would like to be.

  20. Hi — I’m on the fence here … headbands here in the South are very Junior League, and I see many ladies wearing them. I wouldn’t wear them myself because I think they look dated, but I do like narrow decorated headbands with interest on the side for dress-up/evening … kind of an homage to those fabulous vintage cocktail hats. And that leads to a follow-up… what about fascinators?

    I recently visited my sister in England and went to a consignment shop with one of her friends. I picked up a fascinator and asked how it should be worn. The friend pinned it to the side of my hair; when I looked in the mirror, I realized I ROCKED the fascinator. I started hoping I could marry off one of my daughters or attend a charity ball so that I could wear one.

    It seems that if a style looks good on an individual, or if, like me, they’re pining to wear a fascinator, why not? At worst, other people may nudge each other and mumble a comment behind your back; at best, you may have fun and feel fabulous.

  21. I have a Burberry headband I love to wear– and it is a neat styled look in my long hair and makes a complimentary accent to the Burberry lining touches in my jacket and cuffs…looks excellent with Ralph Lauren Polo shirts too.
    I also wear Lilly Pulitzer headbands, Lily shifts, andy Polo shirts as they all compliments a total look. Though I am from Florida, so we naturally love our Lilly-it is a look I see sported more and more in Beverly Hills, West LA, and Newport Beach.
    I have a cast-off Abercrombie & Fitch of my 12-year-old daughter I wear with an A& F pink and blue flannel she has outgrown–it’s one of my favorite casual run-around looks jeans and cowboy boots.
    I get lots of compliments on them and find I would wear them more if I didn’t have to wear hats and sunglasses to protect my eyes and skin…

    1. Oh my gosh. Who are these women? Are they kidding? No headbands after 40? That’s laughable. So once you turn 40, life ends, and things are “inappropriate “ this is what is wrong for girls today – growing up thinking there are ANY LIMITS. Wow so disappointed in these comments, and just the article, in general, is so awful to judge each other or say age has jack shit to do with style. I’m guessing some women must feel old and not attractive because we are luscious and sexy and can do anything young women do – WE ARE all beautiful. – it doesn’t stop at an age! Please don’t listen to anyone tell you any of these things. Be confident. Period.

  22. Subtle colors and “less is more” would seem to be two good ideas to use when planning on hair accessories, otherwise you might look like you’re trying to be 16 again. But that’s just my opinion. Good topic tho as I’ve noticed alot of younger girls wearing them!

  23. I wear headbands each day. They are not poufy or have large bows, but they are decorative. They are typically quite classic and elegant. I have pearls and onyx and leather. I do have a few that have crystals on them but they are understated. I have to keep my hair out of my face and it looks better than throwing it up in a ponytail and I have trouble putting my hair up. I think the half ponytail look appears too youthful. I guess it is a matter of taste.

  24. For me, the answer is no, though I’m sure that there is someone out there who can get away with it. (Though I would dare to say, that it would have to be “understated” for them, as well:) Just my opinion. Great topic! Jamie in AZ

  25. I have been asking friends this question because I love headbands with enormous bows and I am over forty. I have found that if I stick to a color close to my hair color, it doesn’t look so costumey and has a better look. Thanks for your blog! I need it! I tend to get carried away and dress like my teenage daughter!

    1. HI Sandee,
      That is a good point about picking a headband close to the color of your hair…that way it will blend in more. When you have a teenage daughter in the house, it makes you think twice about what you are going to put on. Thanks for sharing, your blog is really nice too!

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