Style Advice Q & A

7 Style Tips to Look Age-Appropriate in Jeans

Dear Deborah,   Is there a time in life when jeans are no longer appropriate to wear? I am 60 years old, and I’m a size 14 pear shape with a very casual lifestyle. ~Sharon B.
Hi Sharon,

Great question! I think you can wear jeans forever, as long as your jeans are current and fit you well. Denim may be the workhorse of the modern wardrobe, but after 40, the wrong jeans can make you look like an old mare. Here are a few tips for you to look modern and hip,  not dumpy and frumpy in jeans.

Too trendy jeans on mature women like Jane Fonda resemble a costume.
Too trendy jeans on mature women like Jane Fonda resemble a costume.

1. Avoid Torn or Shredded Jeans – Jeans with rips and faded washes are “iffy” for mature women. Jane Fonda’s shredded jeans make a statement, but the wrong kind. Too teenager-ish!

mom jeans

2. Stay Clear of  “Mom Jeans” On the flip side of the

On the flip side of the coin some jeans can make you look too old. I’m talking about jeans that are bulky and make you look lumpy. With high waisted mom jeans the pockets don’t sit where they are supposed to, especially after 60 when your bottom isn’t as round as it used to be. Yes high righ jeans are now in style but thye’r tricky. Most women would do better with a mid rise jean that sits on your actual bum- not above, making it look flat like pancake or big and bottom heavy.

3. Buy jeans with stretch

(between 10-15%- check the tag to find out) to skim your curves and avoid a frumpy look. The best jeans have a bit of stretch.

4. Bootcut Works for Everyone 

A dramatic flared jean or restrictive skinny jean can be hard to wear. Flares can be aging and skinny jeans really look best if you have slim legs. That’s why the classic bootcut  is hands down one of the best jeans for women over 40. Bootcut jeans are flattering on everyone because the slight flare at the ankle balances out your hips and thighs, creating an overall lean look (and who doesn’t love that?). This balancing effect makes them the best jeans for curvy women with ample hips, but even more boyish frames reap the benefits.

5. Find the Proper Rise

Gals  who  are “pear shaped” (your hips are much bigger than your bust) or who have a short waist, will find that mid-rise are considered to be the best jeans for women like you.   If you carry weight in your middle, you should also try a mid-rise jean (the top of the pant should be two finger’s width below your belly button).  If you don’t have either of these body types, then you can wear any rise you like!

6. Darker Wash is Classier  

After 40,  darker wash denim with no fading or markings is a dream for two reasons. Firstly, since dark recedes making the area a dark color is placed over look smaller, a dark wash is more slimming than a light or faded jean.  Also, dark denim looks richer than a casual light wash.  To take your dark wash denim into more formal territory, simply add a blazer!

7. Get the Right Hem Length  

Getting the right hem length is important to looking fab in your jeans. The hem of your jeans should never drag on the floor- this looks sloppy, but too high will look silly too. Aim for your jeans to hit approximately ¼ of an inch from the ground for the perfect length. If it’s within your budget, buy two pairs of jeans: one long enough to wear with heels, the other hemmed for  wearing with flats.

Remember, keeping things simple and classy is the best way to wear your jeans after 40.

Join the Conversation

35 thoughts on “7 Style Tips to Look Age-Appropriate in Jeans

  1. I am 72 and have a youthful face and attitude. I would like to find flattering jeans which do not make my butt look like the back pockets are 1/2 way down my thighs! Btw, I have flat feet and can no longer wear heels. Thanks!

    1. Hi Norma,
      You need a midrise with higher, smaller pockets and jeans with stretch. Have you tried Not Your Daughter’s Jeans? They are made with an exclusive Lift Tuck Technology that flattens you in the front while lifting and shaping in the back. You will find them at most major department stores and they should solve your pancake bottom problem. Cheers, Deborah

  2. Jane Fonda looks great for her age but no one (including her) should wear ripped jeans. Actually I don’t like them on anyone but at least youngsters have an excuse(recalling bell bottoms and other disasters from my youth). Actually, she usually looks great and better than women half her age at Cannes so I’m surprised to see her getup above.

    At my age (68) I hadn’t worn jeans for years but my 41 year daughter took me shopping and made me buy a pair and ever since I’ve worn them. You have to try many to get the right pair and they need to be dark wash. Actually, I was hesitant to try colored jeans but I found pairs that fit me well. They are skinny but more tailored than tight.

    My choice of shoes are flat soled. I fell a few months ago and didn’t break anything but it was close. I was surprised to read that the 5th leading cause of death among seniors are injuries and most of those are caused by falls.

    Even though I’m well over 40 I do take care of myself, am at a good weight, eat well and exercise.

    Thanks for all the good advice and comments.

  3. I’m 56 and wear size 4. I love skinny dark washed jeans <3. In summer I find a dress cooler. I wore jeans practically every day until about 2 yrs ago, then suddenly started to feel bored of that look and changed it up slightly by wearing black skinny jeans or even darker taupe ones, usually with longer sweaters or blouses. I love your fashion advice btw. I work in a uniform every day so feel like I don't know how to dress when not at work, on my own. LOL!

  4. Hi!!
    I am a follower of yours! I’m from Argentina. Last year I visited L.A and I fell in love with the country and the American clothes style! the point is that I am 41 and in a month one of my daughters is celebrating her 15 birthday party. She has decided to hold a small party with her friends and some close relatives. It will be informal, just for dancing, having some snacks and fun. But… what shall I wear?? I do not want to look like a teen nor like an old mum… bear in mind that we are in winter.. Shall I wear a dress or some black leggings with …what? I’m sure you can help me!, thanks in advance and keep on emailing me the distance isn’t an excuse to follow all your pieces of advice!.

    1. Hi Sandra, Great to meet you and welcome to my community! This is a great question because it is even more important to think about what to wear when you are going to be entertaining teenagers! You certainly don’t want to try to dress like them but you don’t want to look like you are out of date either! I think a casual short dress with legging could be perfect or a long top with leggings. Check out my recent post on this topic: https://www.fabulousafter40.com/casual-dressing-over-40-shocking-summer-dressing-tips/ and have fun!

  5. I don’t honestly think any piece of clothing in and of itself is inappropriate to one’s age. Especially jeans. What is appropriate depends on your body and what else you are wearing. I don’t think Jane Fonda in that picture is inappropriate, the jeans are just ugly! They are a style violation, not an age violation. I think torn jeans are hideous, and I spent my adolescence in the era when that was considered cool. I never wore them. I used to tell my friends who did that they looked like the victim of a lion attack. A dark rinse straight leg would serve Ms. Fonda better.

    Tacky is always inappropriate.

  6. I am 60 5’3″ tall. I get confused as to what to wear at my age. Is it ok to wear straight leg hug’s with a long sweater covering your bottom? I work out every day and take a size 6. Please give me some direction on how to dress at 60. I don’t want to look old or to young. Thanks

    1. Hi Terry,
      You are getting all the tips here on Fabulous After 40! Our tips are for women 40, 50, 60 and beyond! Sounds like you have a terrific figure and can certainly wear leggings if you keep the top long over your bottom. Keep on reading or get one of our style books for more tips like these!

  7. I think Jane Fonda looks “fabulous”in her ripped jeans.If you can pull it off why not.Some fat 60 or 70 yr. old couldn’t , but Jane looks great, even better than most women in their 20,30,40,50.So if you like it wear it.I am so tired of these rules,so many young women are overweight and should’t wear jeans at all.

    1. I completely agree with you. Jane looks amazing in these jeans.

      She knew to tone down the shoe, but made a fashion faux pas on the top. She should have gone simple – a plain T and blazer or a simple sweater.

      1. I agree…. I think ripped jeans can look great on anyone at any age. It all depends on how you war them!

      2. I agree with Lilly, Jane’s choice of a shirt is too much.. A simple white tee with a classic blazer would balance the jeans.

        I am 63, weigh 120 lbs. and wear a 27” inch waist jean, my measurements are 34-27-37. I am toned from working out and walking 4-5 times a week regularly. Most people think I’m in my late ‘40’s. I just started wearing ripped jeans two years ago after turning my nose up at them before that. The jeans I buy have small rips, nothing drastic or overly distressed. I will wear a nice simple tee with them or a longer top with the skinny pair. Due to foot and back issues, no high heels for me. I buy stylish age appropriate flats and heels up to 1.5 inches. I detest looking for shoes since I wear an orthotic insert. Shoe designers ought to look into designing stylish shoes that can accommodate orthotics, since foot problems are becoming more common as people are living longer.

    2. Thank you… I agree. Why not. Life is too short! If you got it, flaunt it.. And I have terrific taste.

    3. Let’s not get carried away with Jane Fonda looking better than 20/30/40/ …..year olds, too funny😂😂😂. Oh she has her secrets ;). Since there should be “noJean rules ,” then plus size women can wear them as well, and actually look quite sexy,

  8. Amazing site! Strolled by this page … Keep Up the Great Ideas! Wow, living in Canada we have a tendency to resort to jeans for ‘Jean Day Fridays’ at work. Just turned 40 end of August and have been enjoying the many ways we remain stylish and conservative at the same time!

  9. Hi. I’m 39 – about to turn 40 – and just wanted to drop you a line to say that I’m really enjoying the sensible advice and tips I’m finding here.

    Looking forward to more reading!

    Leanne in New Zealand.
    (and yes, I love jeans)

    1. Hi Leanne,
      Welcome to the gang… I love to hear from our readers and hope you will comment frequently, send photos and let me know what’s happening across the pond! Cheers! Deborah

  10. Why wouldn’t you wear heels if you are 5’10??? I am 5’9 and wear them all of the time. A friend of my is 6’0 and wears them and she is 41 and looks fabulous! Model like…not sure I understand encouraging flats because a woman is 5’10.

    1. Hi Jenny, We’re all for heels, but not everyone likes them especially after 40 with foot problems at all. We’re just showing some options for those who like flats. If you love heels, enjoy!!

  11. Hi,
    I live in a cold climate, so I can´t live without my jeans! Nothing beats a classic pair of 501s in a dark wash. In summer I wear them with loafers and in
    winter with boots.
    I am tall (5´10´´) so I steer clear of heels and opt for ballarinas, loafers or low-heeled boots. Also more comfortable…
    Regards,
    Anne Mette

    1. Hi Anne,
      We do totally understand… jeans are a must for many of us! You mention that you are tall, so the ballerina flats sound like a perfect option and of course the low heel boots are good too!
      Sounds like you have it under control!! Don’t forget to try a nice pair of leather or suede pants for cold weather and dressier occasions! They are both comfortable, warm and chic!

  12. It’s funny. I was a 80s teen, but I didn’t wear the ripped jeans ever. Always thought they looked like an animal attack. Distressed looks sloppy whatever your age, imho.

    I love dark wash straight legs. It took me forever to find a flattering pair that wasn’t “skinny” but a true straight leg. I think those look terrific on mature women of many shapes.

  13. You are so on point about jeans. I wear ballet flats with skinny jeans and loafers with wider legs and wear a great leather bag with my jeans. It adds a touch of polish to a casual look now that I am over 50.

  14. I could have written this post…almost! I am 60 and love to wear jeans in the winter! I think they look cute with long sleeve tees and a short jacket! I just bought my first pair of white jeans! I’ve got to figure these out now! lol Love your blog! ♥

  15. I always feel that straight legs with heels looks a bit ‘street-walker’ but I guess with good quality jeans & heels it would be ok. Wide leg pants with flats are not a good look either. I think Nell Jean you would look fab in your jeans & I hope I’m as stylish as you when I’m ‘seventyish’ (if I make it). :)

  16. Who will look less appropriate, Seventyish I in my well-fitted Gloria Vanderbilt or Jones New York petite jeans with a flattering short jacket, or the young woman with toddlers leaving the grocery store last week in jeans that were skin-tight? She had what we used to call ‘pomes’ at the top of each slender jeans leg, accentuated by the fit of her low riding waistband.

    1. Hi Nell,
      LOL… Needless to say, I have even seen some over 40 ish women with that same look as the lady with the toddlers!
      That being said, just because there is a trend in tight jeans, does not mean we all have to run out and buy a pair. Your point is well taken, that one needs to make sure to take into account our size and body type when it comes to dressing ourselves, especially in jeans!!
      Dressing when you are 40 or older to the Glam Gals means taking it up a notch and dressing in better quality, better fit and being thoughtful about what you are putting on your body and stepping out of the house in. Best of all it can be fun!!

  17. Yep definitely dark wash jeans as you get older. No rips, tears or whiskers (that’s what we call them in Australia not sure if that’s the common term). You know those little faded creases across the top of the legs, strictly for teenagers I think. Pear shapes need bootleg jeans not straight leg or skinny. The rule I follow is the wider the leg the higher the heel. So for straight legged jeans I would wear flats, for bootleg a comfortably high heel. Thanks ladies, still love this site. x

    1. Hi Lucy,
      I do agree that a pear would need a bootleg. It will even her out. The straight legged jeans look awesome with heels but flats do work as well.
      The wider the leg, the clunkier the heel is a better rule. Nothing worse than a wide leg pant and thin heel.
      Sounds like you have a great sense of style!! Love hearing your voice on our site!!

  18. Do you have pictures of what jeans do work with pear shapes? Just wondering…….I am a normal weight petite and more of an hourglass with small waist but do tend to like my legs to look looooooooong since am petite with short legs. I love jeans too and am only a year younger than the poster.
    Thanks for helping us stay current!

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