Let’s reframe how we think about fashion over 40. Rather than ask, “Can I wear this over 40?” ask, “Do I want to wear this?” “Does this feel like me?” and “Do I feel good in this?”
We’ve all heard about those unwritten rules on what women of a certain age ‘should’ and ‘shouldn’t’ wear. But in reality, no item of clothing has to be off-limits unless you feel uncomfortable in it.
As slightly older women, our bodies may have changed, and yet, in many ways, we’re more comfortable in our own skin than ever before. We’ve seen trends come and go. And have a sense of our personal style. We know what we like and dislike.
We can draw from tried-and-true styles and colors that complement our body shape and skin tone. And then have fun adding in the trends we love.
You may notice that when you wear trends out of your comfort zone, you question whether you “should” wear it. That may be a sign you’re still learning to style it so it feels like you. Or you may need to wear it a bit to feel comfortable in it. It’s worth experimenting with new styles because discovering new pieces keeps you looking fresh and current.
Keep in mind that 40 today looks different from when our mothers turned 40. Remember, J. Lo performed at halftime of the Super Bowl at 52!
If you’re looking for inspiration about what to wear this spring, I’ve got you covered with a rundown of the spring trends.
And, if you’re looking for an easy way to transition into your spring wardrobe, I’m sharing the 10 wardrobe essentials to wear this spring season. These foundational and statement pieces can easily be mixed and matched to make great outfits.
Spring means it’s time to wear shoes without socks, lightweight jackets, and versatile layering pieces. And for the dark colors of winter to be replaced with bright colors and flirty floral print blouses, dresses, and skirts! It’s a brand new day!
Let’s talk about trends for 2024!
Spring trends for 2024
Trends keep your wardrobe looking current and fresh. To feel good in what you put on, have a discerning eye and choose the trends that feel like you and work for your body type.
The spring colors, silhouettes, and hemlines emerge from New York Fashion Week, held in the fall. They trickle down from the designers and get interpreted by brands, showing up in the stores. When I sat down to write this post, I reviewed fashion week coverage in sites like Vogue and Who What Wear, then researched what’s in the stores you and I are likely to shop at.
First, let’s look at some emerging and continuing trends. Then, I’ll talk about spring colors, and we’ll look at how clothing silhouettes are changing for jeans, pants, dresses, skirts, tops, and sweaters.
Emerging and continuing trends for spring 2024
If you dream of living on the coast or love coastal vibes, this spring’s easy, breezy, sophisticated Sailor Chic trend will take you happily into the warm breezes of summer!
Embrace a palette of nautical reds, crisp white, soft blues, greys, and deep navy.
Refresh your wardrobe with essential pieces like open-knit sweaters, sailor jeans, boatneck tops, and horizontal stripes.
Complete the look with espadrilles, leather sandals, and boat shoes, and accessorize with woven tote bags, turquoise, pearls, and straw hats.
These versatile transitional pieces will take you from spring to summer in one of the season’s most wearable trends.
SHOP THE IMAGES
Quiet Luxury has been a big trend that continues to shape everyday style, focusing on classic, enduring items. This trend celebrates the subtle elegance of quality knits, finely tailored shirts, blazers, pleated trousers, loafers, and trench coats. It’s all about building a wardrobe with high-quality, timeless pieces in neutral and solid shades, allowing for versatile styling options that stand the test of time. You get to determine what price point “luxury” means to you. For me, it’s buying from J.Crew; for others, it may be buying designer brands.
‘90s styles are still prevalent in stores today, with wide-leg denim, bodysuits, long denim skirts, cargo pants, crop tops, and slip dresses still making their mark.
Oversized blazers are evolving with more options that strike a balance between oversized and tailored fits. They still have a relaxed, comfortable feel but with more fitted shoulders and waist.
Colors for spring 2024
Spring is the perfect time to swap out your dark colors for light and bright colors to make a fresh start!
Pantone’s color of the year for 2024 is Peach Fuzz. Inspired by this color, we’ll see soft peach shades through to vibrant orange tones. Light and airy peach works well for Spring Types with golden blonde to light copper or brown hair and Autumn Types with golden blonde, rich brown, and bright red hair. Pair Peach Fuzz with white, cream, light gray, taupe, beige, olive green, and denim blue. Gold and rose gold jewelry look great with Peach Fuzz.
The runways showed plenty of monochromatic looks with all-white dresses and black-on-black looks.
Colors you may have assumed would only be around for the holidays, like red and metallic silver, gold, and bronze, are here to stay. You’ll find metallic sandals, slingback heels, handbags, and shiny fabrics.
Green tones are always around in springtime. I’m seeing tons of olive and Kelly green, with Kelly green in everything from cute track pants to swimsuits and beach pants. It’ll be sticking around past St. Patrick’s Day into summer.
Chambray blue and wearing denim on denim is very trendy. Pair denim pieces with similar denim color tones, or break up the look by pairing lighter blue denim with darker blue denim.
Ready to look at the most wearable new trends?
What’s new with clothing styles and silhouettes for spring 2024
I’ll run through how clothing silhouettes are changing for jeans, pants, dresses, skirts, tops, and sweaters. At the end of each section, you’ll see a shoppable roundup of styles with images.
Let’s dive in with jeans!
Jeans are the perfect transitional weather piece for casual wear. And when it comes to spring styles, wide leg jeans have gained a ton of traction. You’ll find them in super wide leg styles and wide leg styles with the words loose, baggy, and palazzo associated with them. But there are also slim wide leg styles for folks who don’t want to be overwhelmed by all the fabric, and also cropped wide leg jeans. As the temperature warms, I’ll wear my cropped wide leg jeans instead of my long wide leg jeans.
Straight-leg jeans and kick crop jeans are still solidly in the conversation. Straight jeans are classic, and kick crop jeans with their ankle length and flared hem are some of my favorites for balancing out my wider size 12 hips.
You’ll always see skinny jeans in the stores, but with so many other fun styles, folks still wearing them are starting to look a little bit left behind. I get it if you feel like skinny jeans are your best option and love them for the stretch. As someone with a size 12 rear who needs to wear stretchy jeans, I’m here to nudge you to give kick crop jeans a try. The slight flare at the ankles works perfectly to balance wider hips and thighs; you can easily find them with stretch. My favorites are Gap’s high rise kick crop jeans.
Something else is happening in the jeans world: wide cuffs. I see them on straight, wide-leg, and boyfriend jeans. I’ve loved the look of wide-cuff jeans since early 2005 when Nicole Kidman wore them in Bewitched. So cute! Cuffing is a great way to draw the eye down to your footwear.
You can buy cuffed jeans, or you can cuff your raw hem or finished hem jeans yourself. Try cuffing your wide leg jeans or long straight jeans. You may need to pull out a thread and needle to tack the cuff of your wide leg jeans so they don’t constantly unfold. Cuffing boyfriend jeans creates a slouchy look.
Cargo jeans with their baggy fit and pockets on the hips are also still in stores, bringing their ’90s vibe.
Sailor jeans with rows of vertical buttons on the hips or pockets are showing up with the Sailor Chic trend. Vertical buttons on the abdomen draw the eye to the stomach region. That’s an area I’m not trying to draw eyes to. I’ll never say never, but I won’t be the first to jump on board with this trend. They’re a good choice if you want to add curves and emphasis to your waist.
Patch pocket jeans, with their rectangular pockets on the front of the hips, are also going strong, adding a vintage ’70s vibe to your look. Some have a button in the top middle. I swore I wouldn’t wear them since the patch pockets draw the eye to the belly region. But this winter, I fell in love with a pair of cream patch pocket cords that are so comfortable. I couldn’t turn them away.
White, ivory, and ecru jeans are also returning to the stores. As the weather warms, styles lean towards lighter washes of blue denim, but this year, dark washes with elevated finishes and features like pleats give denim trousers with a dressy vibe a comeback.
This spring, wide leg pants and high-waisted pleated trouser pants are still everywhere, coming in various colors from pink to light blue and beyond. In the sales after the holidays, I broke down and bought a pair of black pleated trousers from Gap. I love how tailored yet comfortable they are. They can be dressed up with loafers or down with white sneakers and clog Birkenstocks.
If you felt like your pant legs were getting too wide, you may be surprised to hear they’re getting even wider, leaning toward palazzo pants. Palazzo pants are so loose and flowy that they’re great for warm weather and resort wear. With long and wide legs, they elongate the legs, balance out hips, and can be super flattering. You can dress them up or down.
Cargo trouser pants and chino pants are also sticking around for spring, as are wide leg patch pocket pants.
Sailor pants with buttons up the hips are a great option if you are looking to accentuate the hips or create the illusion of curves in the midsection.
Dress silhouettes are becoming more streamlined this year, with fewer styles showing multi-level tiered skirts. If you like the roominess that tiered skirts offer the bottom half, there are still some out there, and you can also try A-line dresses, empire waist dresses, or swing dresses.
You’ll see A-line dresses with a fitted top, and a skirt that gradually widens from the waist to the hem, resembling the shape of the letter “A.” A-line dresses are universally flattering since they create a narrow waist while easily accommodating hips and thighs.
Also, look for very flattering empire waist dresses that cinch under the bust at the smallest part of the waist rather than lower down, creating a long and flowing silhouette.
Sleeveless, high-neckline shift dresses bring that 1960s vibe with simple, straight construction and little waist definition. They’re versatile for layering a shirt under or wearing solo.
You’ll find shift dresses with various necklines, sleeve lengths, and fabric options. If you need a wider hemline, like I do with my size 12 rear, look for swing dresses instead.
Long and short shirtdresses are everywhere. The beauty of a structured shirtdress is that it provides waist definition thanks to the belted waistline, which is a good thing for just about every body type.
Long sleeveless maxi column dresses fit straight up and down for a sleek silhouette. They come in t-shirt material for a casual look.
’90s-inspired satin midi slip dresses are still going strong.
For fabrics, this spring will bring florals, sheer fabrics, satin, plenty of denim, linen, lace and pleated skirts.
Hemlines are long. Midi and maxi lengths are very popular.
This spring, you’ll continue to see cargo midi skirts and satin and silk midi-length slip skirts in the stores.
Maxi and long denim skirts ending below the knee and at the shin are still around. You’ll find even more denim skirt options with long lengths. I swore I’d never wear a maxi denim skirt. But I tried one on anyway. I laughed at how long it was when I put it on. But then, after hanging out in it for a few minutes and adjusting to it, I liked it. This one came home with me. I’m 5’6″, and it comes down to my ankles.
Pleated skirts are staying in stores for the spring.
The runways showed drop-waists and mini skirts, so expect to see more.
You’ll see sheer fabrics, satin and silk pieces.
Button-down shirts will be a spring staple. Oversized button-down shirts aren’t going anywhere, and you’ll also find them in shorter lengths to wear easily with higher-waist pants and jeans. Denim chambray shirts are a great option; you’ll see them paired with blue jeans. My fave ruffle-trim neckline button-up shirts are sticking around, too. You’ll see silk and gauze button-downs as well.
Mock necks, dolman shirts, tank tops, off-the-shoulder tops, gorgeous filmy chiffon blouses, and lace-embellished white blouses scream spring.
Peplums appeared on the runways, so don’t be afraid to pull those out to create waist definition or conceal a stomach.
Striped boatnecks bring the nautical feel.
We still see my favorite hip-length Chanel-inspired fitted cardigans with gold buttons, contrast trim, tweed-like texture, and stripes for cooler spring temps.
If you loved the J.Crew Emilie Lady Sweater like me, they’ve added a gorgeous new option in ivory with red and navy contrasting trim. It’s the first picture in the collage below.
Bringing the nautical feel are mesh stitch sweaters, splitneck, boatneck sweaters, and short-sleeved sweaters.
Now that we know what’s trending, let’s talk about wardrobe essentials for spring!
10 wardrobe essentials for spring 2024
When I think of wardrobe essentials, I think of those reliable pieces you use to create your tried-and-true outfit formulas to make stylish outfits. I put wardrobe essentials in two categories: the staple pieces you wear repeatedly and the outfit makers or the pieces that easily make a look pop. I simply can’t get through spring without my staple pieces. They’re my first choice anytime I get dressed. The outfit-makers instantly elevate and make a look come together, evoking an emotional reaction. Here are 10 essential pieces to mix and match to create countless casual spring outfits.
Let’s look at my staple pieces first.
1. Cropped wide leg jeans
Cropped jeans are the jeans I want to be wearing in warmer weather. These cropped wide leg jeans have a 12.25-inch waist rise and soft draping legs. They are some of my and your favorites from last year, and they’re back in the stores again. Wear them with a tee tucked in, a button-down shirt, a slim-fitting cardigan, or a relaxed sweater that you front tuck and push up the sleeves on.
These are fairly high-waisted, so they’re great if you have a long torso. I have a slightly short torso, and I need to do a loose tuck with my shirt so they don’t over-emphasize my abdomen.
2. Ecru wide-leg cropped jeans
These ecru wide-leg cropped jeans were also our favorites last summer. With a wide leg and raw hem, they’re easy to wear with many shoe styles. Style them as you would blue wide-leg cropped jeans with a tee or tank top tucked in, a button-down shirt, a fitted hip-length sweater, or a relaxed sweater that’s front-tucked with your sleeves pushed up.
This is a look I’d wear for Easter or a graduation.
3. Blue kick crop jeans
I still love my high-rise kick crop jeans for their slimmer fit through the hips and thighs and slight flare at the ankles. These are my absolute favorite, more fitted jeans. They’re slightly more flared at the hem than straight jeans. I have a wider rear and hips, and the slight flare at the ankles works well to balance my hips. I love them so much. I own this blue color in two lengths. The long length hits below my ankle. The regular length hits above my ankle and is perfect for wearing ankle wrap sandals during the warmer weather. These have a finished hem, which makes them slightly more elevated.
4. White kick-crop jeans
White jeans and pants are essential as warm weather hits. These jeans are the white version of the last jeans from the Gap. They’re fitted in the hips and thighs with a kick out at the hem. Thanks to the slimmer fit, these can be a bit more casual than the other pair. They’re not see-through and hide lumps and bumps.
5. Khaki trench coat
I was skeptical of trench coats before buying my first one. Believe it or not, this is an Amazon Essentials trench coat I got on sale to see how I’d like it. I love them so much that I got a second one in black from J.Crew Factory. I wear mine all four seasons of the year. They add a classic, tailored, and elevated look to anything you wear them with. There are so many different ways to wear them with casual outfits. Try them with everything from sweatpants to jeans, dresses, skirts, and pants. See my post, 20 Stylish + Chic Ways to Wear a Trench Coat Right Now for styling ideas.
6. White button-down shirt
My love of the white button-down shirt runs deep. This one is long and covers my rear so I can wear it with leggings, untucked over jeans, unbuttoned and layered over a tank top or tee, or tucked in. I love wearing it untucked with jeans for a slouchy look like I’m wearing here with cuffed jeans and a trench coat.
Now, let’s look at statement pieces that make an outfit.
7. Colored blouse in your power color
I love playing with bold colors after wearing a lot of neutrals for some time. I’ve discovered that red is a power color for me, and it feels amazing to wear it. I’m nearing my 50th birthday, so maybe I’m ready to be seen in a big way.
I’ve discovered that I’d rather wear jeans for everything, no matter the season or the event. Statement blouses are a great way to instantly elevate a jeans look. I love wearing red with white and brown or khaki for a fresh feel. If red doesn’t work for you, try a blouse in your power color. I’ll wear this into summer with white jeans and rattan slide sandals.
8. Pink blouse
This pink blouse surprised me in the best possible way. In real life, it looks pinker than it does in this picture. The twist-neck top is very Jackie O and is gorgeous and sophisticated. The length and cut of this blouse are perfect for leaving it untucked and hiding a tummy. The puff sleeve adds to the elegance.
I’ll wear this with white jeans for Easter for a chic look.
9. White blazer
A spring essentials post often includes a denim jacket for an extra layer to throw over short sleeves. This year, I wanted to pick a piece that’s a bit more elevated. My first choice for any season of the year is to wear jeans. And a white blazer works well with all jean colors and shapes. You can’t go wrong with a white blazer for spring if you like to wear elevated casual looks with jeans, elevated tops, and blazers. It also looks great paired with a white tee. Read 15 Outfits: Stylish Ways to Wear a White Blazer for styling ideas.
10. Cream Breton stripe cardigan
J.Crew Lady sweaters, with their fitted hip-length shape, have exploded in popularity and even inspired really good dupes, like this one from Amazon. The short length is perfect for wearing with high-waisted jeans, chinos, or a denim skirt for springtime.
There you have it, the 10 essential pieces for spring that you can mix and match with trendier pieces to create outfits you love.
Choose pieces that make you feel like the best version of yourself. After all, the best way to dress is in a way that feels like you! XO, Marya