How to Look Chic in Ruffles Over 40, 50+

Can a grown-up gal wear ruffles, or are they too juvenile at a certain age? It depends on the woman and what kind of ruffles you are talking about. For example, ruffles are a natural part of your style if you are a romantic dresser. They are pure feminity and suit your personality. Even if you are more classic and tailored like me, a bit of ruffle can work at any age.

Also, don’t forget there are many types of ruffles, from small, soft, flouncy, and complete to large, straight, flat, and architectural. Finding the right ruffle that suits you and a sophisticated way to wear ruffles is what it’s all about. Here are some pointers on how to wear ruffles at 40, and 50, to look chic, not cutesy or juvenile.

green ruffled top

1. Darker or Bold Colors are Good

If you think ruffles are too precious and girly for your age or style, avoid ruffle sleeve tops and dresses in sweet pastels like baby blue, pink, and mint green which can be aging. Opt for ruffled clothing in deep, muted shades like olive, rust, navy, or black. Prefer brighter colors? Bright, bold colors like purple, hot pink, or orange create energy and make ruffles look bold and ageless.

2. Don’t Do Ruffles Top and Bottom

Less is more. Ruffles are pretty and playful but busy, and you can easily look frumpy. Wearing the frilliest ruffles head to toe, such as a ruffled top with a ruffled skirt, is bulky and will make you look like a Rhumba dancer, so choose top or bottom!

orange ruffled dress

3. Wear Ruffles with Tailored Pieces

An easy way to tone down the cuteness of ruffles is to wear them with something tailored. For example, wear a pretty ruffled blouse with a pencil skirt and pumps, or dress pants with a chic jacket with ruffle-trimmed sleeves. A classic shift dress with a ruffled hem or sleeves is another excellent option. Structured, tailored clothing adds balance to ruffles and creates a more sophisticated, mature look.

Swimsuit-Black-Ruffle-Floral-Tankini4. Patterns look Less Ruffly

Patterns distract from ruffles toning them down a bit. For example, a frill down the front of a patterned blouse tends to blend into the print, giving a more subtle look.


5. Steer Clear of Ruffles over Your Heavy Bits

Ruffles are beautiful, but many are round and voluminous and will emphasize your softer, rounder midlife shape. Wear them strategically. For example, if you have a big bust and wear big, flouncy ruffles high at your neckline, you will look bustier and heavier. Try smaller, flatter ruffles and a V-neckline.

If your hips are broad and you want to downplay them, don’t wear a ruffly tiered skirt with a horizontal ruffle that sits straight across your hips. Also, vertical ruffles (on a blouse or sleeve, for example) will always be more slimming than horizontal ruffles. Your body type is a factor when deciding where to wear ruffles.

Brown Sweaters - ruffle Neck

6. Wear Soft, Flat Ruffles

Hard, stiff ruffles can look harsh on older women, especially when worn close to the face since they emphasize wrinkles. Softer, flowing ruffles are more flattering. Also, large, flatter ruffles look more sophisticated than small, flouncy ruffles with a lot of gathers and volume, which can look too frilly, pouffy, and junior.


7. Avoid Over Accessorizing

Ruffles are like an accessory; they make a strong statement. Don’t overdo your look by piling on lots of jewelry or other accessories, especially with a high ruffle neck top. Jewelry should be minimal and elegant, with ruffles as the primary focus.


8. Ruffles + Jeans is a Chic Look

Ruffles in small doses look great at any age when you wear them with jeans. A pretty ruffled blouse with any denim balances girly with masculine and dressy with casual. It’s a winning combo and very popular right now.


9. Ruffles with Leather is Edgy

Here’s how to wear ruffle tops another way. Pair a ruffle blouse with a leather moto jacket to look hip and modern. I’ve shown this look before, don’t he blog, and it was a big hit. You can also try leather pants with a ruffle-sleeved blouse for a youthful look.

off the shoulder ruffle top

10. Try Off Shoulder Ruffles

Another way to look chic, not childish in ruffles, is with an off-the-shoulder ruffle dress or top. The wide ruffle on this gorgeous black off-the-shoulder dress is bold and deliberate and will make you look mature, alluring, and fashion-forward. A one-shoulder asymmetrical top is also lovely at any age.


11. Own the Ruffled Look

If you wear ruffles because they’re the trend, but they secretly feel too fussy for you, you’ll never look right. On the flip side, if you enjoy dressing romantic and feminine but are worried about looking age-appropriate in ruffles, you can relax! Follow these guidelines to look fabulous in ruffles at any age. Be confident and have fun with ruffles. Own the look!

What do you think? Will you be wearing ruffles this summer?

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7 thoughts on “How to Look Chic in Ruffles Over 40, 50+

  1. Thank you. My 18-year-old daughter loves a ruffled Banana Republic sleeveless dress I was given as a gift and wants me to wear it to her graduation. It’s lightweight but ruffled vertically down both sides of the front kind of shift dress. I am in my early 50s and wasn’t sure if I could pull it off, but I will own it as you say and wear nude sandals or low-heeled nude pumps with little or no accessories and go ahead…what the heck!

  2. Hi ladies,

    As I was looking at the dress with ruffles that looked dated, it reminded me of Talbots. I need to find a new store with quality things that don’t look as dated as most of the stuff at Talbots. (I can nearly guarantee they will be out of business within three years, how many people over 75 are there?)

    Anyway, that dress looks just like the crap at Talbots. The price point would be $88. It’s hard enough being middle-aged and loving how some of the things at JCrew look if they were less revealing. Talbots is too old looking. Eddie Bauer has gone back to its outdoor look. So unless I want to cruise the big stores like Nordstroms & Macy’s, I’m out of luck. It takes too much time to shop at big department stores. I like running into a small place and quickly picking out things I like.

    Have any ideas?

    1. Try Christopher & Banks or Dress Barn. They are current styles with class and age-appropriate.

    2. I’m afraid I have to disagree with you on the dress. I think it could be cute for work or a wedding with some statement jewelry. I do agree with your frustration about where to shop, though. I’ve been having some luck (not tons) at White House Black Market.

    3. Try Soft Surroundings online. Romantic, classic looks – not dated ones. Chicos is another sure bet along with White House/Black Market. Shop online with both. Try Target for seasonal staples like t-shirts for summer. They currently have a nice boatneck t-shirt in a 3/4 sleeve in solids or stripes straw totes and reasonably priced bathing suits in tanks and separates. Good luck.

    4. Hi Gretchen –
      I may find myself alone on this one; I am stunned by the opinion you shared about Talbots – I am 54 and have been shopping at Talbots for nearly 25 years…I would say that 70% of my wardrobe comes from Talbots…as a matter of fact, this week, I wore to work a long black Tencel, a sleeveless V-neck maxi dress that I bought from Talbots nearly ten years ago that is right on trend today. t came with a matching “short-sleeved shirt Jacket’ thing that does make it seem dated – I pulled away the shirt jacket, paired it with brown Ralph Lauren sandals, a jean jacket, & accessories, and I had four compliments on my outfit that day… a very plain dress Jane may have seemed old or dated on the surface..but what was done with it as a backdrop worked well for me. s all in the eye of the beholder, I guess. I have been looking at their catalogs, and I have several pieces I will pick up for the remainder of the summer…Anyway – I like Talbots; I get a lot of great works from them that I can wear for many seasons and years without looking dated. I don’t want to seem boastful, but I am often complimented on my outfits, and when they ask where I got it and when I say Talbots, they are genuinely surprised. But I’m not – – I think they have the same mindset as you – and I give them a reason to pause and rethink – I hope you will too…I wish I could go shopping with you…I would love the challenge of changing your mind !!- Good luck out there…

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