16 Fashion Trends You Definitely Aren't 'Too Old' to Wear

Because it's 2022, and those old 'rules' were really dumb.

13 Fashion Trends You Definitely Aren't 'Too Old' to Wear
Photo: Getty Images/InStyle

At some point around the time when I was in college, I experienced a fashion crisis of sorts. I suddenly felt my wardrobe — full of cutesy graphic tees, preppy staples, and bright colors — felt a bit...juvenile. I needed to be sexier, sleeker, and less quirky. I felt 'too old' to be wearing the same stuff I loved in high school, and I needed a wardrobe makeover, STAT.

I'm now in my 30s, and I'm actually cringing as I type. Too old?! At what — 20?! I can only imagine what the old me would think if she perused my current closet, full of the very same pieces she eventually purged (I would honestly love to have some of those tees back).

I know I'm not alone when it comes to questioning whether certain fashion trends skew a bit young. Even these days, when I'm slipping on a cutout dress or a bucket hat, I'll pause for a minute, wondering if I've suddenly become that woman, trying hard to fit in with people 10 years my junior. But then, I remember: Fashion 'rules' are completely made up (sometimes, I personally do the making up). We've already thrown out 'no white after Labor Day' (confusing to begin with) and who can and cannot wear vertical stripes (spoiler alert: everyone can). So, when it comes to full-blown ageism regarding pieces of material you put on your body so that you're not naked all day, I'm screaming, "No thanks!"

The truth is, clothes do not come with a wear-by date, and the thing I truly love about fashion is that it's all about personal preference, allowing you to express yourself and have fun. No one is too old for any trend (heck, we're literally dressing in pleated, uniform-like skirts years after being in school), but in case you need a reminder, here are a few my favorite styles that anyone can wear, even if you're 103.

01 of 16

Bows

Trends You're Not Too Old to Wear
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They may be mainstay in childrens' fashion, but bows are far from juvenile. Top fashion houses have been digging this sweet detail as of late, and whether the bow is little or large, it's bound to add flair to your outfit.

02 of 16

Corsets

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Blame it on Bridgerton, but the fashion world can't quit corsets. While you can wear them solo, an easier way to try this trend is through a corset tank, skirt, or dress, which has this detail built in. Your outfit doesn't have to be overly sexy, either; corsets make great layering pieces, and also spice up structured slacks and suits.

RELATED: The History of the Corset Is a Controversial One

03 of 16

Puff Sleeves and Ruffles

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So fluffy, poufy, and playful. I admittedly wanted to rip these types of dresses right off my body as a kid and thought they felt uncomfortable then. I'm older and wiser now, so it's time to give puff sleeves another chance — especially around wedding season and my own nuptials, too.

04 of 16

Platforms and Lug-Soled Shoes

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I wasn't part of the grunge-loving, Dr. Marten crowd as a teen, and toward the end of my 20s, I wondered if it was too late to hop on the bandwagon. It wasn't (and that's still the case if you're 40+, or had a pair and packed them away with your ripped muscle tees). I currently wear my bulky white Chelsea boots with everything from dresses to sweats. It's possible they're the world's most versatile shoe!

05 of 16

Mary-Jane Shoes

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Speaking of shoe styles to try, Mary-Janes are still going strong, possibly thanks to Sarah Jessica Parker. The designer (and Carrie Bradshaw herself) have proven this strappy flat which you probably wore with a bunch of childhood outfits — and its heel version look great with everything from dresses to jeans. You can also pair Mary-Janes with chunky socks, nailing babydoll shoes trend, which is beloved by celebs of all ages.

06 of 16

Overalls

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The fact that this exact outfit is also a favorite for babies and toddlers does not make it any less brilliant. It's a one-and-done look that works year-round, and can be paired with any type of shirt and shoe style. I'm also including jumpsuits and rompers in this group, BTW. They're essentially the easiest, comfiest, most elevated outfit ever invented, and some days, adults really need that exact (stress-free!) combination.

RELATED: Blake Lively, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Jennifer Lopez Have All Worn This $49 All-in-One Outfit Trend

07 of 16

Short-Shorts

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I've honestly spent hours trying to remember if my mom owns a pair of a real, non-knee-length shorts. Did my grandma own shorts? What's the deal with shorts? They're a versatile, timeless summer staple, and, first and foremost, allow your legs to be free and keep you from sweating through pants on hot days. So, unless some outdated dress code is keeping you from embracing this essential, choose comfort over everything and invest in a pair that suits your style.

08 of 16

Leather Pants

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Oftentimes, I think I'm 'too old' for a trend because I don't want to waste the energy it takes to squeeze and shimmy into something tight and uncomfortable, much like I did during my college years. But, leather pants also come in many forms, whether it's leggings or wide-leg options, and will add a fashion-forward twist to even your most basic sweaters and tees.

09 of 16

Graphic Tees

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Graphic tees and sweatshirts are a great form of self-expression, and oftentimes are a way to keep dressier pieces from feeling too fancy and over-the-top. Go ahead and style them with skirts, slacks, sequins, or simply a pair jeans, giving your outfit that personal touch.

10 of 16

Sequins

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I once read something about how you shouldn't wear sequins over the age of 30 because they draw attention to your clothes. Um, who says we didn't want to draw attention to our clothes? Not only do sequins add a hint of glamour, they sparkle, shine, and come across as fun and joyful — both at night and during the day (another bogus rule). Go ahead and steal that spotlight.

RELATED: If the Coastal Grandmother Trend Isn't for You, How About Its Alternative, Fancy Grandma?

11 of 16

Low-Cut Tops

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The days of deeming something too risqué ended the minute cutouts, hip-high slits, and super sheer designs stopped phasing us. (Literally every celebrity has worn a 'naked dress.') If you're comfortable and want to show some skin — whether it's with a plunging neckline or some other revealing detail — do it. And, if someone tells you it's inappropriate, ask them why they feel the need to comment on or control what you wear on your own body.

12 of 16

Over-the-Knee Boots

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Although thigh-high boots look great with mini skirts — another trend you're never too old to wear! — they're an extremely versatile shoe choice. You can pull them on over jeans or leggings as a way to add interest and fashion-forwardness to your look, or slip them on under midi or maxi skirts for extra warmth in the winter.

13 of 16

Bright Colors and Statement Prints

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Remember when I said that fashion was meant to be fun? Playing around with details such as color and print falls under that category. If you're not into rocking neon or polka dots from head to toe (something we recommend going for) balance out those bold pieces with neutral staples, such as a white T-shirt or button-down.

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Fringe

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There's no denying that fringe is an attention-grabber, especially if it's featured on a skirt, dress, or top. Instead of stopping yourself from taking things to extreme, keep that playful vibe by styling your fringed pieces with sequins, embellishments, or an unexpected pair of shoes.

RELATED: 2016's Fringe Fashion Trend Has Returned

15 of 16

Crop Tops

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It's not the toxic '90s — you don't need to have a specific body type or be a 20-something popstar to wear a crop top. Simply swap out your basic tee for a shorter version, or go all out in a bustier style before adding the bottoms of your choice. If you're not ready to show so much skin, stick with high-waisted style, which will provide more coverage.

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Trending Aesthetics

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When it comes to things like prairiecore, gothcore, and Y2K 2.0, even if you think you've been there, done that, you can still do it again. Perhaps you didn't fully commit to the look the first time around, or were too young to wear all the items you truly loved. You make the rules now, so there's nothing holding you back from embracing your dream aesthetic.

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