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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.