InStyle’s Fashion Director Cindy Weber Cleary has been a fashion editor for the past 20+ years. Needless to say, she's picked up some tricks along the way. Catch her column here each week for how-to tips and style secrets on her favorite, timeless styles.
I recently saw a picture of a very attractive, 50-something-year-old fashion executive wearing a tight “bandage” mini-dress at a cocktail party and I thought, “Oops! Even style icons slip up on occasion.” Her body looked amazing, but the overall effect was a little Real Housewives, as one of my editors put it—surely not what she was going for.
Personally, as a woman who is over 50, I would not wear a mini. Even if I were a marathon runner or Pilates instructor, I still wouldn’t be wearing a thigh-revealing skirt or dress anywhere except on the tennis court or by the side of a pool. Longer lengths are so much chicer. And they actually create a more youthful, flattering look.
But for the last few years, I have had a hard time finding chic skirts and dresses with age-appropriate hemlines, by which I mean an inch or two above the knee, like Julianne Moore’s (above), or longer. Almost everything in stores seemed to hit a good 4 to 8 inches above the knee, with the exception of maxi-dresses, which I just don’t get, except for lounging or for formal evenings.
The good news is, there is a wide variety of hemlines being shown for fall 2014. Here is a preview of some of my favorite looks for us Baby Boomers (or for younger women who may not want to show a lot of leg) from the fall 2014 runway:
If you are looking for something to wear now into fall, try shopping online. There are great sales happening as I write! You may score something for as much as 70 percent off, but sizes are limited. Many sites let you search dresses and skirts by length as well as size: Saks, Shopbop, Matches, etc. Choose “knee,” “pencil,” or “midi.” Net-a-Porter lets you search by length, size, and whether or not you are looking for sleeves. But that’s a whole other subject.
Here are some styles currently available (from top): 0 2nd dress, $395, hampdenclothing; Maiyet dress, $895, net-a-porter; Max Mara skirt, $575, saksfifthavenue; Theory skirt, $190, saksfifthavenue; Peter Pilotto skirt, $811, matchesfashion
To see how celebrities like Nicole Kidman and Cate Blanchett pulled off the look, click through the gallery.
1. Julianne Moore
Julianne Moore, 53, attended the International Rome Film Festival in a ladylike Lanvin ensemble. Moore’s bold color combo and smart proportions made for a smart yet stylish look.
2. Sarah Jessica Parker
Sarah Jessica Parker, 49, dressed up her cobalt blue double-slit skirt with glittering Charlotte Olympia platform pumps. To add interest to her look, Parker paired her calf-grazing bottom with a color-blocked, fine-knit sweater.
3. Sandra Bullock
Sandra Bullock, 49, took an edgier route to create her mid-length look when she opted for a leather number from Asos. Bullock teamed her too-cool skirt with a Michael Kors button-front blouse and Tabitha Simmons strappy sandals.
4. Nicole Kidman
Nicole Kidman, 47, epitomized that timeless, classic look when she stepped out in head-to-toe Michael Kors. To balance her look, the actress paired her anything-but-basic skirt with a simple sweater and bow-topped pumps.
5. Michelle Pfeiffer
Michelle Pfeiffer, 56, hit the New York City Hairspray photocall in a chic black skirt suit. The hem of Pfieffer’s high-waisted pencil skirt hit at just the right place. We especially admire how she choose a peep-toe pump versus a closed-toe shoe-showing just that much more skin makes her look a bit less conservative.
6. Viola Davis
Viola Davis, 48, wore a matching set from HampM’s Conscious Collection to the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. The conservative cut served as a platform for the bright, look-at-me color.
7. Cate Blanchett
Cate Blanchett, 45, was glowing when she hit the How to Train Your Dragon 2 premiere in Australia wearing a short-sleeved Chanel dress. The actress accented her below-the-knee hem with sleek, pointy-toe pumps.