Fall & Winter

How to Create a Fringe Outfit That Isn’t Costumey

Fringe is trending for Fall 2020, so here’s an update on a popular post where a reader asked how to wear fringe with style when you are a mature fashionista.

Hello Deborah,

fringe pants

I purchased a pair of black fringe leggings because “they looked cute”  (they fit me too…), and now I’m having second thoughts. Help! Colleen

Hi Colleen,

Unusual pieces like this can be a temptation for mature women because:

  • we want to be open to trying new things.
  • We feel the need to add some creative items to our wardrobe to keep us looking young and hip.
  • We get seduced by the cute” factor and buy without thinking about what we own to go with it.

I can pretty much bet that you justified your purchase by telling yourself that since these were a dark color, you probably had something at home to wear them with …right?

Although fringe is trending, be careful about any fringe piece you add to your wardrobe. These fringe leggings look like a cowboy costume. Even if you were to pair them with a plain top and boots, I’m afraid you’d still end up looking like a wannabe cowhand!

You’d have to have a pretty dramatic fashion personality to wear these. I’m all for having fun with your wardrobe, but even styling them “rock and roll” with an oversized leather coat, simple silk shell, and thick strappy, platform shoes, and wearing them to a nightclub or concert would be going overboard if you are a mature woman.

Here are some modern, classy ways to create fringe outfits that are not over the top.

Fringe outfit  - Red fringe sweater with flare jeans

1. Pair With Modern Streamlined Pieces

A good way to keep a fringe outfit away from costume territory is to pair it with modern, streamlined pieces. Use slim-cut jeans with sharp tailoring, sleek accessories, and a structured bag as your base. Then add a cute fringe top like this. When you contrast this sleek base with a fluffy fringe sweater, you get a very fashion-forward ensemble. (similar sweater here)

white fringe sweater

2. Keep fringe to a Minimum

Another way to make sure you don’t creep into the over-the-top territory? Stick to just one fringe piece as your focal point. For example, if you find yourself wearing a super fringey sweater like this fringe sweater above (white here). , you don’t need any more fringe.

This fringe sweater makes a major statement.  Don’t try to detract from that by wearing more fringe.

Fringe outfit - Plaid fringe hem sweater and colored jeans

Another way to look right in a fringe outfit is to wear something with just a tiny touch of fringe. This weave fringe sweater above is a good example. There is fringe at the hem and on the sleeves, but it is small in size and subtle. It doesn’t overpower.


fringe jacket

The same with this classic Chanel-style fringe jacket. The subtle fringe is classy. Long version here.

3. Avoid Western Fringe

Here’s a pretty obvious one, but I will mention it anyway. Fringe Clothing with an outright Western feel, such as a button-up denim shirt, is dated and costumey. Go for something more modern, like an asymmetrical tunic sweater with its unusual placement of fringe. The way they are using fringe here is more exciting and cutting edge.


Fringe outfit - Black Dress and black accessories

4. Don’t Mix Boho Jewelry and Fringe

Relaxed, carefree, crafty boho jewelry might seem like the perfect match for a fringe outfit, but it can look too matchy-matchy, and that makes an outfit dull.  Forgo the expected turquoise or boho-y beaded jewelry with your fringe.

Instead, pair a fringe shirt or fringe jacket, or fringe dress with elegant, sleek, and bold pieces for a more sophisticated-looking fringe outfit. These long gold chains uplevel the look of this fringe black dress and make it chic. Another style here.


This could also be a belt with a touch of fringe worn with your favorite jeans and a top or wear a fringe necklace with a dress for a current look

fringe accessories

5. Accent with Fringe Accessories

There are many ways to wear fringe without looking like an extra in a Wild West film. These cute pieces take fringe from costumey to chic!

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33 thoughts on “How to Create a Fringe Outfit That Isn’t Costumey

  1. I am 43 and got a pair of Minnetonka five-layer fringe knee-high boots for Christmas (black), by request. I love them. I have worn them to work, to church, and out and about. I live in Atlanta, Georgia.

    Granted, I am a designer and a dancer, so I do tend to be unconventional, but I have older friends who wear lower cut, tighter, shorter, and sparklier clothes than I do. In the end, I advocate going with what makes you feel good and flatters.

  2. I read with great interest all the comments about wearing fringe, particularly for women over age 40. While I admit that some items might make an older woman look silly there are some that look just fine. I am 63. I have two fringed skirts (not mini, of course!), but midi. I have worn them with just a simple shirt tied in the front and a pair of heels or perhaps a simple jacket. Fringed pants are a little harder to pull off; you have to be careful to not venture into teenager territory. I find that a darker color for these items is better for someone my age. I just ordered a dress with fringes and not sure how I will style it. I am petite (size 2 ), so I can’t wear anything too overpowering. All this being said, I think a woman should be true to herself. If she feels old at age 40 then she probably should forgo the fringe. If she is a young 63, then go for it. If you have confidence in your style it will show to others. Anyone who will show a disapproving look toward you probably doesn’t have the self-confidence to experiment with their style. Now that is depressing!

      1. I think whatever your personality is has something to do with it also. I tried on a fringe sweater after a friend I worked with tried the same sweater on and it looked totally different. She didn’t like it on herself because she was the classic, smooth-haired, ultra-slim lawyer’s wife and on me it looked totally different as in petite, personality, and cool! I got more compliments everywhere I wore it. If I tried wearing what was flattering on her, I would have looked like I was put in a straitjacket probably. We are all unique and need to find our best looks. She was beautiful in her classic smooth looks and me, sassy & cool in mine. LOL!

  3. I definitely agree that fringe can be worn no matter what age you are! My favorite way to incorporate fringe into my outfit is to wear a long fringe suede cardigan with heels. Suede adds the perfect touch of chic and elegance to any outfit.

  4. I love the fringed pants and would wear them anywhere with a bright tee and a dark gray denim jacket or a long black long sleeved tee with a picture of a large silver eagle. I have a collection of Western boots and hats and love Country music and log cabin furnishings. I am 67 and will probably wear a long fringed vest with fringed Western boots, leggings and a tunic to my 50th school reunion this year. People live a lot longer today than ever before, so this is a chance to try daring fashions and anything else we haven’t done before for the fun of it.

    1. I so agree. I have black fringe boots I wear with shorts.skirts (dressy) plain simple blouse.
      I am over 50 . And enjoy my freestyle.

  5. Fringes are nice if used in moderation. I don’t know how it will look on a teenager because quite frankly I have not given it much thought. Personally I hate fringes. But I will wear it if it is in the form of a tassel hanging from a bag or a pair of moccasins. Deborah, do tassels qualify as fringe?

    My two cents.

  6. My first thought when I saw the “Fringe Leggings” I imagined someone ( over 40) at the local grocery store pushing a cart wearing them as they rounded up their groceries in “Boho Cowboy” style…”Git along lil doggie.” YEEHAW.. lol!

    These leggings are very costumey.

    Please do not be offended by my sense of humor about how silly such things seem to me.

    but I wouldn’t wear these “Giddy Up” leggings to a Rodeo.

    However,I would wear both of the outfits that are suggested as tasteful nods to the Fringe… They are Fabulous, Timeless and would look wonderful at any age.. It’s not about being over 40.. It’s about not dressing” goofy.”

    I think I need that bracelet from Nordstrom’s..


  7. I agree that fringed leggings/pants are a mistake on any body— young, old, tall, short, curvy, stick-straight. Since they don’t look good on the young model, why do we think they will look good on anyone else? I have a fringed scarf that my seamstress mother made about 40 years ago, that I occasionally wear. Fringed shoes, accessories, and t-shirts are fine, not pants.

  8. Definately not! No fringe, no way. Especially on trousers! Ugh! I don’t like them on the skinny model, and as others have said, they would make our legs look bigger. Even if you can rock them, I think it would still look like you’re trying too hard when over forty and beyond. A purse maybe, or a scarf and that’s it! The tops are not too bad if they have a silky fringe at the bottom, but for me personally, it’s a no-no. Sleek, sophisticated is the word and I’m sorry, but fringes are not that in my opinion.

    1. LOL. Trying too hard to what? Look nuts? Sorry, that term always tickles me “trying too hard.” Too much fringe is just hideous! I guess we can forgive teenagers because they have no idea who they are or what they’re doing, but grown ups should know better. I agree with keeping the fringe to a minimum just because it does get to look like a costume and junky not in an interesting and eclectic way either, just over the top in a Gray Gardens way, as if you’ve lost your marbles.

  9. While I appreciate and find this post interesting, I’m not really a fan of the fringe trend this time around. But those shoes with the fringe tassels are adorable…and I’d wear them! It was a big trend in the 70’s and I rocked it back then, lol. Thanks again for your fantastic website…you’re my style guru!!

  10. No fringe. No how, no way. Never a fan of boho anyhow but this stuff looks silky. On older women it just screams “look at me I am still a wild child”. Of course that makes it depressing.

    1. It’s only depressing if you have no taste and don’t know what you’re doing! I dare say no one is depressed by any woman of age who knows how to put together a decent outfit, whether it’s boho or classic. Have you seen http://advancedstyle.blogspot.com/?

      What I find depressing is an older woman with no sense of style who has given up on herself and too afraid to express herself because she may been seen as “trying too hard.”

      1. I am considering buying a Serena Williams fringed jacket. It is cut very simply, much like an open cardigan and uses the fringe, all around in tiers, as embellishment. Am I crazy at age 57?! I don’t want to look foolish ….help!

        1. Hi Deborah,
          I think a jacket like this can be great but it is very busy! The key is to keep the rest of your outfit very plain and streamlined, so the jacket is the focal point. For example, wear an all black outfits such as black pants and a black top with a taupe fringed jacket on top. This is a fun piece and should be worn casually. It’s not a work piece so keep the mood light and have fun. Cheers, Deb

        2. Yes yes yes I am a fan of fringe and I’m 60 yrs old . I just bought a pair of grungy moccasins to wear with pants only of course. Get your fringe on I say!!!

  11. Personally, I think fringed clothes look ridiculous on anyone at any age. Unless your going to a roaring 20’s party-don’t wear it. Also some of you 20+ers shouldn’t wear cropped tops, statement T-shirts (ie: Express T-shirts with ridiculous sayings on them) , low rise jeans or bikini’s unless your a fitness fanatic. Leggings are great if your going to the gym-otherwise no. Wear quality Jeggings instead, hides a multitude of sins. Leggings are just too flimsy. I am 60 years old and a size 4-doesn’t mean I should try to get away with any of the fashion trends that pop up yearly. You can still be fashionable and not look ridiculous-use your mirror and common sense.

    1. I hate to reply with this, but seems kind of stuffy and somewhat crabby attitude to not allow fun fashion into your life when you are “older”. I love seeing older men and women wear out of the norm fun clothes and accessories! Makes me smile to know they are having fun and enjoying it!

      1. So agree with you! The fashion police will not arrest this lady If she wants to dress “outside the box” for her age. For years I dressed so carefully because I am under 5 feet tall. When I retired and attended more fun group meetings, often people didn’t even remember I was there because the details of my outfits were so small. I now wear very bright colors, huge earrings and a different wild purse every day.. For the first time in my whole life, women come up to me everywhere I go and say they love the way I dress and want to know where I bought this or that article of clothing! I am now 67 with a new husband and recently lost 30 pounds on a diet and feel fabulous! My newest fashion buy is a knee length, black macramé, fringed vest that I am considering wearing to me 50th High school reunion over red leggings with a red silk tunic. My second choice is a dark purple sari with silver accents. So there!

  12. Well, I own a similar pair of black fringe leggings except the fringes are a tad bit longer. I am 20 years old and my style is very bold and I like wearing daring pieces. I have worn them for everyday and a night out. For day, I have worn them with combat boots and a very long oversized cardigan to play them down. At night, I’ve worn them with black suede wedge booties and a hi-low top with gold or silver studded accessories keeping to a more edgy or rocker theme. My mom is over 40 and I’d laugh if I tried to see her pull any kind of leggings off lol.

  13. Nope. Not unless my name was Sheryl Crow and I was about to go on stage to perform, “If it makes you happy”…

  14. You should have fun wearing the finge leggings while doing housework, but don’t go outside of the house.

    I think the fringed scarf is a great idea.

  15. Wanda,
    What is it with those kitten heels, I like them in theory but I feel so darn uncomfortable in them I could never wear them. I too think the pants need to go on ebay – sorry. No matter what I weigh my legs (even at a 0) are disproportionately much larger than the rest of me so I envy you the leggings – you go for it.
    Congrats on the weight loss.

  16. Wanda, Good for you on loosing the weight! You have a new body to dress and so enjoy! Leggings are a wonderful and comfortable way of dressing…long as you have a top/jacket that goes over the hips. Sounds like you go the look going on! Enjoy!

  17. I have a pashmina with a fringe on the ends, which I love. And I like a bit of fringe on a soft, slouchy handbag. But I would not be caught dead in those leggings. They look like heck on the girl in the photo, so they are not going to look any better on my curvier, shorter, older body, guaranteed.

    That said, having recently lost nearly 50 lbs, I did buy a pair of black leggings. Fleecelined ones, mind you, partly becuse of the frigid temps here in northern Alberta and partly because I felt it would help guard against any kind of ‘show through’. I wore them on Saturday with a wool, cowl neck sweater/tunic. I wore black shoes with a very low block heel. This is my version of a flat as true flats look terrible on me, and I absolutely hate kitten heels.

    At any rate, I had to go to the tailor to get a suit jacket altered on Saturday. I went into the shop and discovered that the jacket would not fit over the tunic. I was wearing a sleeveless silk undershirt under the tunic, so I pulled off the tunic and put the jacket on over the undershirt. The jacket comes down over my hips and bottom, and as I stood there in the shop, I looked in the 3-way mirror and thought, “I don’t look too bad for someone pushing 60.” Thanks for giving me the courage to wear leggings. I got lots of compliments on the look – with the tunic, not with the suit jacket. :)

  18. Dear God no!!! That fringe would make my thighs look twice their size, which would not be a good thing!

    I agree with you guys that only a hard core fashion maven with a killer body could pull that look off and unless Colleen is that (and if so she would know exactly what to pair them with) she should just chalk this up to a boo boo and give them away!

  19. She didn’t mention how far over 40 she might be, or her body type (tall, petite,curvy, slender, etc), but if she were tall and thin and not too much over 40, I would think she could wear these out in the evening with maybe a black or jewel toned silk shell, or tastefully beaded tank (something simple and low key), a jacket and maybe some black heels/platform sandals? I don’t think I would try wearing it in my area (Midwest), but in a more urban setting she might be ok.

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