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.

Chanel-style fringe jacket

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, church, and out and about. I live in Atlanta, Georgia.

    Granted, I am a designer and a dancer, so I tend to be unconventional, but I have older friends who wear lower cut, tighter, shorter and sparklier clothes than I do. Ultimately, 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 40. While I admit that some items might make an older woman look silly, some look just fine. I am 63. I have two fringed skirts (not mini, of course!), but midi. I have worn them with a simple shirt tied in the front, a pair of heels, or perhaps a simple jacket. Fringed pants are a little harder to pull off; you must be careful not to venture into teenage 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, 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 offer 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 one, which looked 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 diverse as in petite, personality, and fabulous! I got more compliments everywhere I wore it. If I tried wearing what was flattering on her, I would probably have looked like I was put in a straitjacket; 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 agree that fringe can be worn no matter what age you are! My favorite way to incorporate edge 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, a dark gray denim jacket, or a long black long-sleeved tee with a picture of a giant 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 much longer today than ever before, so this is a chance to try daring fashions and anything else we haven’t done before for fun.

    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 lovely 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. I wouldn’t say I like 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 outfits suggested as tasteful nods to the Fringe… They are Fabulous, Timeless, and would look fantastic at any age. It’s not about being over 40. It’s about not dressing” goofy.”

    I need that bracelet from Nordstrom.

    Wow…J’adore!

  7. I agree that fringed leggings/pants are a mistake on anybody — 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 acceptable, not pants.

  8. Not! No fringe, no way. Especially on trousers! Ugh! I don’t like them on the skinny model; as others have said, they would make our legs look more prominent. 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 it’s a no-no for me. Sleek, sophisticated is the word, and I’m sorry, but frames are not that, in my opinion.

    1. LOL. Are they trying too hard to what? Look nuts? Sorry, that term always tickles me “trying too hard.” Too much fringe is just hideous! 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 looks like a costume and junky, not in an exciting 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 a fan of the fringe trend this time. But those shoes with the fringe tassels are adorable…and I’d wear them! It was a big trend in the 70s, and I rocked it back then. Thanks again for your fantastic website…you’re my style guru!!

  10. No fringe. No how, no way. Never been 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 boho or classic. Have you seen http://advancedstyle.blogspot.com/?

      What I find depressing is an older woman with no sense of style which has given up on herself and is too afraid to express herself because she may be 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 as embellishment all around in tiers. Am I crazy at age 57?! I don’t want to look foolish ….help!

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

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

  11. I think fringed clothes look ridiculous on anyone at any age. Please don’t wear it unless you’re going to a roaring 20’s party. Don’t some of you 20+ers shouldn’t wear cropped tops, statement T-shirts (Express T-shirts with ridiculous sayings on them), low-rise jeans, or bikinis unless you’re a fitness fanatic? Leggings are great if you’re going to the gym-otherwise, no. Wear quality Jeggings instead; it hides a multitude of sins. Leggings are just too flimsy. I am 60 years old, and a size 4-does 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 it seems stuffy and somewhat crabby not to 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! It 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 bright colors, huge earrings, and a different wild purse daily. For the first time in my life, women come up to me everywhere I go and say they love how 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 latest fashion buy is a knee-length, black macramé, a fringed vest that I am considering wearing to my 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. I own a similar pair of black fringe leggings, except the fringes are a bit longer. I am 20 years old, and my style is very bold; I like wearing daring pieces. I have worn them every day and night out. For the day, I have worn them with combat boots and a 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 leggings off.

  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. It would help if you had fun wearing the fringe leggings while doing housework, but don’t go outside 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 feel so darn uncomfortable in them I could never wear them. , too; I think the pants need to go on eBay – sorry. Matter what I weigh, my legs (even at a 0) are 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 losing weight! You have a new body to dress and so enjoy! Leggings are an excellent and comfortable way of dressing…long as you have a top/jacket that goes over the hips. It 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 edge 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 will not 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. Fleece-lined ones, mind you, partly because 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 shallow block heel. This is my version of a flat, as actual flats look terrible on me, and I wouldn’t say I like 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 coat 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 coat on over the undershirt. The skin came 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 many compliments on the look – with the tunic, not 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.

xo, Deb

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