Body Type

Tim Gunn’s 6 Fashion Don’ts For Middle Aged Women

It sounds like Project Runway’s Tim Gunn assumes all women over 40 are overweight and out of shape!

Heidi Klum Tim Gunn Americas top model
Heidi Klum, Tim Gunn photo: shutterstock.com

His now-famous list on Oprah of  The Six Things Women over 40 Should Never Wear might as well have been called, The Six Things Fat Middle-Aged Women Should Never Wear!

Tim says these things should be banished from your wardrobe forever:

  • Horizontal Stripes
  • Jackets that hit at mid-thigh
  • Pleated pants
  • Double-breasted blazers
  • Capri length pants
  • Low rise jeans

I  agree that these clothes do not particularly flatter heavy or matronly bodies, so there’s nothing wrong with these styles. Wearing them well is more about your shape, not your age. Let your body be your guide. For example:

Capris: a pair of cute Capri length pants on a mature woman is an excellent alternative to shorts.

Double Breasted Jacket: A jacket like this can still look classy and fashionable at any age if you are not busty or too wide across the shoulders.

Stripes: A horizontal striped top is intelligent and youthful. It’s all about picking the right line, i.e., the width of the strip, the color, and the distance between the bars.

Pleated Pants: Yes, they are unflattering on a woman with a potbelly, regardless of age. If you have a reasonably flat tummy, go ahead. If not, try flat-front pants.

Jackets: True, jackets that hit you midlength is not as flattering on women (any age) as a shorter cropped jacket.

Low rise jeans: In most cases, they are best left to young, tight bodies, but some mature gals can rock them, no problem.

So go ahead, break a few rules. Let your shape, not your age help you decide what you should and shouldn’t wear if you want to be stylish.

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3 thoughts on “Tim Gunn’s 6 Fashion Don’ts For Middle Aged Women

  1. It’s more about the shape you are in rather than your age. Let your body be your guide.

    I wholeheartedly agree. I’m in excellent shape, don’t have awful arms and legs, and my neck is delicate. I’m 44. I’m tired of blanket generalizations about what women over 40 shouldn’t wear, as if we’re all the same. I never hear about what women over 20 shouldn’t wear. 20-somethings are told to go all out. Never mind if they’re out of shape or a particular style doesn’t work for them.

    I feel “age-appropriate” dressing is ridiculous once you’re past 21. What’s most important is occasion appropriate, lifestyle appropriate, and perhaps most importantly, body shapes appropriately.

    In the four years, I’ve been over forty, I have worn almost all the no-nos. Baby dolls, low-rise jeans, capris, tank tops, spaghetti straps, you name it. I have the sense never to wear the teenaged styles like the shrunken parkas, uggs, shrunken blazers, wildly embellished denim, sparkly message tee shirts, belly shirts, etc. Besides that, I stay contemporary and find it easy to do so.

    Hey, I’m 44; I know what looks good on me; I know to mix classic with contemporary not to look too stodgy. I don’t need Tim Gunn’s specious advice, and I don’t think any of us grown-up girls do. Tim needs some advice himself. LOL.

  2. I agree with you…especially about the capris (pants several inches above the ankle) and low-rise jeans. And I was under the impression that horizontal stripes would only be avoided if you were broader or heavier. What does age have to do with it?

    I’m a big fan of Tim’s and am surprised to hear him generalize about women over 40. A woman should be mindful of her age and body shape but not worry about questionable parameters set by someone else.

  3. Thank god someone thinks this way besides me…I believe that if you are in shape, as long as you aren’t wearing low, low jeans and acting as if you were still 20, you can still wear what is attractive. Capris, double-breasted, and horizontal stripes are classic looks, and I think that most women (who aren’t overweight) can pull them off flawlessly…Tim Gunn needs to remember that all women over 40 aren’t fat!

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