13 Fashion Trends You Definitely Aren’t ‘Too Old’ to Wear
Because it's 2021, and those old 'rules' were really dumb.
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 ditching my skinny jeans and experimenting with middle parts, 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 school uniforms 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.
Puff Sleeves and Ruffles
So fluffy, poufy, and playful. I definitely 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 — it's time for re-do, so I'll be shopping clown-like looks for the foreseeable future.
These babies are in the same family as scarves and statement necklaces — two things that are generally considered ageless. I'll understand if it feels too pilgrim-inspired for your style, but don't let your birthday cake candle count keep you from adding this kind of flair to your outfit.
Platforms and Lug-Soled Shoes
I wasn't part of the grunge-loving, Dr. Marten crowd as a teen, and toward the end of my 20s, questioned whether or not 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!
Since today's top models are still loving the no-shirt, half-undone cardigan look, it's easy to forget that, once upon a time, we associate this trend with grandmas (shoutout to The Golden Girls, who wear outfits I'd love to have in my wardrobe). Still, you're neither too old nor too young to get creative with a cardigan, which you can also style like an off-the-shoulder top or tuck into your bra to make it appear cropped.
Scrunched Up Socks
Did the dads in your life question whether they were too old for the sporty socks, chunky sneakers, and sweats combo? I'm betting no. Anyone can wear this comfy look, especially during a time when sweatsuits and long socks have become our go-tos. While you're at it, you can totally pair big white socks with loafers and Mary-Janes as well, helping you nail that babydoll shoe trend, which even Sarah Jessica Parker enjoys.
The fact 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.
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.
Oftentimes, I think I'm 'too old' for a trend because I definitely 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.
Graphic tees and sweatshirts are another 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.
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.
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.
Mixed Statement Prints
Remember when I said that fashion was meant to be fun? Playing around with details such as prints and color falls under that category. The key to making sure this bold styling trick is pleasing to the eye is to keep color and scale in mind. Pair stripes with other stripes, or try small polka-dots with leopard print. Thinking outside the box when getting dressed is a great way to spice up the items you already own.
Just because you experienced and ultimately regretted trends of the '90s and '00s doesn't mean you can't enjoy them during their second life. This relaxed, Jennifer-Lopez-approved hat style will give your outfit a boost, and — an added bonus! — possibly bring back happy, carefree memories from way back when.