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What Not to Wear After Age 50: The Final Say in Very Adult Language

By Michelle Combs  (GRANDmom of five)

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Google ‘what not to wear after age 50’ and you will have your pick of thousands of articles telling you what looks terrible on your old ass body.

I want to point out to the writer who wrote the ‘no-no’ article, you need to remember you are writing for over 50 women, not preschoolers. I don’t think I’ve said ‘no-no’ since my youngest was a toddler.

We could spend hours studying the clothes we shouldn’t wear and the slang we shouldn’t use and the makeup techniques we need to retire.

Here’s me, weighing in on this topic.

You are over 50 for fuck’s sake. Wear whatever you want. If you’ve made it to 50 and still need to consult articles on how to dress appropriately then you are so missing out on one of the best things about being over 50. One of the best things about getting older is realizing that we don’t have to spend our energy worrying what other people think and we get to be comfortable in our own skin with our own freak flags.

Still, there are a few things that women over 50 really shouldn’t wear:

1. The weight of the world.
When you wear the weight of the world on your shoulders, you age.

If you like the feel of the world’s weight and don’t want to give it up, then try scaling back a bit. Perhaps just wear the weight of a few of the smaller continents. For instance, I am only wearing the weight of Australia and a made-up country called ‘Michelloponia’. I think they have a slimming effect.

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2. Shame and regret.
So few people can carry this look off. Most of us just end up looking haunted or like we were forced to eat liver and onions.

Shame and regret are especially hard to wear after fifty. Wearing shame and regret past fifty is one of those things that make your eyes all red and runny looking. The downward spiral just snowballs from there. Once the eyes get old lady looking, then you have to re-evaluate the wisdom of black eyeliner. I say give up wearing shame and regret and fuck giving up on black eyeliner.

3. Rose-colored glasses.
Oh, sweetheart, you know who you are. Those glasses do nothing for you.

Not only do they make you look like you’ve been smoking weed for days, but they also keep you from examining life and your surroundings realistically. Yes, reality sucks, but by the time we hit fifty, we need to suck it up, take those glasses off and dick punch reality into submission. Or just get some really big dark sunglasses instead. They cover all manner of sins.

4. Stiff upper lip.
There is a time and a place for the stiff upper lip, but damn, it can’t be worn all the time.

Too much stiff upper lip causes those funky vertical lines between your upper lip and your nose holes. We don’t always have to be stoic. I’m not suggesting that you wear your heart on your sleeve, but that is a much softer look than wearing a stiff upper lip.

5. Too many hats.
Personally, I can’t pull off wearing one hat, much less many hats. I don’t have a hat head. My hair poofs out and my ears look like car doors when I wear a hat.

Wearing too many hats just exacerbates these issues. When you wear too many hats, it’s easy to forget which hat you’re wearing. For instance, are you wearing the “no-nonsense corporate” hat when you meant to wear your “quirky and kicked back” hat? We’re not getting any younger, you know. Sooner or later you’re going to accidentally wear your court jester hat to the gynecologist and then where will you be? I’ll tell you where you’ll be. You’ll be in an undignified position and wearing a stupid hat is where you’ll be.

6. Resting bitch face.
Hahahahaha. Just kidding. Wear that one all you want. Although, it wouldn’t hurt if every once in a while, you had a welcoming and kind look on your face. At least that’s what I hear from other people.

There isn’t anything wrong with getting advice about updating your look or what to wear, but we are just inundated with that shit, aren’t we?

Who says what is appropriate? From where I sit, it seems ‘appropriate’ changes based on geography, social status, income, and size. After a while, the advice becomes a confusing blur. I think I’ll just keep wearing my Keds and jeans and black tee shirts.

Oh, I do have one real tip. Stop wearing holiday-themed clothes. Seriously.

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About the author, Michelle Combs

wearRubber Shoes In Hell


Rubber Shoes In Hell was born while talking with a friend at my old job. Priscilla, Queen of the Cubicle. You can read about her here.

Anyway, she worked on the opposite side of the building and we got through our days instant messaging each other. One conversation included her saying that when she went to hell, she was wearing flip flops and I responded: “You would wear rubber shoes in hell.”

As soon as I hit send, I knew I was starting a new blog. That was in March of 2013 and I’ve done nothing but fall more in love with this space and the connections I have made.

wearI adore blogging and I know that writing has had a positive impact on my mental health. I have explored parental narcissism, depression, anxiety and menopause. These excavations are not always pleasant or easy, but have been so very worth it.

I’m digging finding my voice.

I can be found on The Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, The Mid, Blunt Moms, In The Powder Room, Vibrant Nation, Better After Fifty, Midlife Boulevard, Mock Moms, Sammiches and Psych Meds and Erma Bombecks Writers’ Workshop and now,

iPad_Goldie Hawn July-Aug GRANDIf you enjoyed this article, get more like it in GRAND Magazine delivered right to your inbox. You can give GRAND as a gift too!


Christine Crosby

About the author

Christine is the co-founder and editorial director for GRAND Magazine. She is the grandmother of five and great-grandmom (aka Grandmere) to one. She makes her home in St. Petersburg, Florida.

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