Age-Wise Style: How to Choose the Right Hemline

Age-Wise Style:  How to Choose the Right Hemline

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:

From left: Hermès, Michael Kors, Hugo Boss

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.

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