Body Type

Is a One Shoulder Dress Appropriate After 50?

Hi Deborah,

Is a black, one-shoulder dress appropriate for a 50+ woman to wear to a wedding?  I  don’t know if I should buy something I might look ridiculous wearing. I know we should embrace our bodies, but I don’t like looking at my bulges, cellulite, and crepey arm skin. 

If you can bear arms and not feel bad about it- more power to you, but I’m afraid to go there. My friend’s daughter calls the extra weight on the arms–Puddin Bags- as if the problem isn’t bad enough.  Thanks for any help, Anne.

one shoulder dresses

Hi Anne,

one-shoulder top or dress is a beautiful, appropriate choice for a wedding or special event at any age.  Black is chic and perfectly acceptable for a wedding. Naturally, your arms aren’t going to be as buff as they used to be when you are older, but that doesn’t mean you should hide them. One-shoulder dresses are so classy and elegant that no one will be focusing on your arms. This style of dress draws the eye up to your shoulders and neckline, putting the focus on your face.

Here are 7 style tips for wearing a one-shoulder dress over 50+


1. Look  for Structure

A one-shoulder dress can be a disaster if you spend the whole night pulling and tugging at it to keep it in place. Choose a one-shoulder gown made of quality fabric constructed to rest securely on your shoulder. If you have any worries about this, don’t buy the dress. You have to feel confident to look fabulous!

2. Choose a Dress with Draping and Ruching

Draping and ruching that flow across the front of the dress are sophisticated and are a great way to camouflage your stomach!


metallic one shoulder dress
My reader Jeri is a great example of how to look fabulous in a one-shoulder dress!

3. Don’t Go Too Short

The simple rule to look classy in any kind of cocktail dress or wedding guest dress is when you are baring some skin, do it strategically. For example, if you are wearing a one-shoulder dress, make sure your dress isn’t too short. Revealing your shoulders and a lot of legs is overkill.  For a more mature, elegant look, wear a one-shoulder dress that ends just above the knee or longer.

4. Wear a Good Bra

The biggest thing holding many women back from wearing a one-shoulder wedding guest dress, besides whether it is appropriate, is having to wear a strapless bra. It’s hard to find a good one. Be sure to wear a well-supporting strapless or convertible bra with a dress like this to make the most of the fabulous neckline. My favorite strapless bra is the Wacoal Red Carpet Convertible Strapless bra.

5. No Necklace Required

A wrist cuff worn on the opposite side of the shoulder detail balances the look. Drop earrings help highlight the neckline, too, especially when you can wear your hair up. But you don’t need to wear a necklace as it will only compete with your neckline. If you feel the need to wear one, stick to fine jewelry like a delicate gold necklace with a small diamond or pearls. A statement necklace would be far too overpowering and ruin the look.


mother of the bride black dress off the shoulder
The one-shoulder style dress is also popular with many a Mother of the Bride!

6. Carry a Clutch

Tuck in the chain of an envelope purse and carry it as a clutch. You don’t want a strap or chain to interfere with the gorgeous one-shoulder silhouette.

7. Own the Dress!

You can read through all these tips, and they may make perfect sense, but unless you OWN the look,  you are never going to feel confident in a one-shoulder dress. Anne, I would suggest you try some on and keep an open mind. In the end, it has to feel like you; if it doesn’t, that’s o.k. too.

Take a look at the photo above my readers sent in. Both women look stunning in their one-shoulder dresses, and there are lots of gals 40, 50, and beyond out there who will too!  Try one on and see how you feel.

Here are a few more one-shoulder cocktail dresses that would be lovely for a wedding.

A beautiful detail at the shoulder, such as a flower or bow, adds personality.




floral one shoulder dress
This floral one-shoulder dress is perfect for a spring or summer wedding.


red one Shoulder Dress
Look dramatic and glamorous in a red one-shoulder dress.
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5 thoughts on “Is a One Shoulder Dress Appropriate After 50?

  1. If you are asking if you can wear a one shoulder dress, you probably already intrinsically know the right answer for yourself. I’m 66 and trim but my triceps are flabby and biceps creppy. I vascilate between saying oh the heck with it, I’m going to be confident and rock this dress and looking in the mirror and admitting that the ship of going sleeveless has sailed and I need to just deal with it! I have no right answer here for you -I’m just baring my soul (not my arms!) Good luck. P.S) A good tan helps but then that ages the skin as well so there ya go!

  2. It’s been my experience that people’s arms aren’t nearly as horrid as they imagine. Most women over 40 and over 40 have “flabby arms” if we are to use Michelle Obama as our standard bearer. Personally, I don’t measure myself against her. Sure, my arms are not very taught but nor are they curtains that flap in the wind, nor are they hideously misshapen, nor are they horribly blemished. I go sleeveless frequently without fear, but I don’t do a lot of waving! I have an off the shoulder dress and a halter maxi dress and they look great, if I do say so. I have the good fortune of broad shoulders and very prominent collar bones, which probably helps. I notice a lot of women of all ages have arms that are just fine and they are measuring themselves against ridiculously fit and / or thin women. Your arms aren’t the terrible, ladies!

  3. I think baring a shoulder over 40 will be a very individual choice. It won’t flatter everyone, but shouldn’t be ruled out till one tries it on! Jeri is a lovely, fit-looking 40-something and it is very becoming!

  4. Im 44 and my arms are flabby. It doesn’t bother me bearing them other than I’m afraid it will bother other people. ShouldI even be worried about it? Is there a forum anywhere that we can submit photos and get peoples feedback on things like “just how flabby are my arms?” :-D

  5. I love Jeri’s look. But I am far too heavy busted, even at 125 lbs, to wear this look. I also don’t like the cut away shoulder look. I like it in theory but every time I have ever tried on on, I felt it looked too much like something a hooker would wear.

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