summer dressing for women over 50

Best Summer Trends + Classic Outfits for Women Over 50

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I just turned 50 and want to effortlessly look great and feel great in my clothes. I’m embracing Marya 2.0, where each new version is better than the last. For me, this means building a wardrobe of elevated, casual classics while incorporating some of the latest trends.

At midlife, it might feel like trends are reserved for the younger crowd, and there can be a fear of looking like we’re trying too hard to look younger by wearing them. But avoiding trends completely can inadvertently make us seem older than we are.

Your clothing choices speak volumes about you. Introducing trendy items into your wardrobe injects fresh energy and shows you’re tuned into what’s occurring culturally. It says you are curious, dynamic, evolving, and adaptable, qualities that go beyond surface-level appearances. Embracing trends at this stage in life is not just about staying stylish; it’s about staying confident and actively engaged in a changing world. It’s also a great way to express yourself and your evolving identity.

Wear the trends you love that fit your style, and skip the rest. Follow the 80:20 rule, with 80% of your wardrobe being classic staples and 20% being trends. Your wardrobe stays fresh and contemporary, with 2 out of 10 pieces being trendy. 

Spring and summer trends emerge from New York Fashion Week, which occurs each fall. Brands interpret what they see on the runway and design their lines with the colors, silhouettes, and hemlines in mind. 

When old styles are resurrected and reinvented on the runway, there is always something fresh and different about the new iterations. Right now, 90s-inspired pieces are trending. The wide-leg jeans that I remember wearing in college are back. But today’s versions are cleaner in design and less baggy, making them more versatile. Fisherman sandals, like the black chunky pair I wore to work in 1999, are back with a twist. This time, they’re in raffia and water-resistant jelly for the beach and pool. 

If you’re anything like me, when you see old styles come back in again, your brain registers some of them as “been there, done that,” with no desire to repeat those silhouettes. Wear the ones you love and skip the rest. 

If you’re looking to freshen up your wardrobe for summer, I’ve got you covered. Every season, my trends post is my most popular post. I share the most accessible summer trends, covering the major themes and color stories and then showing you what’s trending in tops, bottoms, and dresses, complete with inspirational pictures and outfit photos so you can see how to wear the trend. 

Let’s start by looking at the overarching trends. 

⁠Fit note: I’m midsized, 5’6”, 162-ish lbs, 36-B bust, and wear a small or medium top with size 12 jeans.⁠⁠

Major trend themes

4 major themes are on my radar. 

Classic quiet luxury

Quiet Luxury remains a dominant trend, focusing on timeless, classic pieces. If you are already building a classic closet, this one is right up your alley.

Summer pieces with this trend include tailored and airy linen shirts, shift dresses, strappy sundresses, relaxed and flowy midi and maxi dresses, cotton and linen breezy summer dresses, shirt dresses, cotton and linen pleated trousers, linen blazers, loafers, leather sandals, espadrilles, and classic trench coats. 

Timeless and classic styling also influences outfit proportions. Pairing fitted tops with looser bottoms is a classic styling technique that creates a balanced silhouette by accentuating the waistline. The contrast between the snug fit of the top and the volume of the bottoms highlights the waist, making it appear more defined and enhancing the overall harmony of the outfit.

Quiet Luxury celebrates lasting high-quality essentials in neutral and solid colors. 

The definition of “luxury” can vary based on personal budget. For some, like me, luxury might mean occasional splurges at Tuckernuck or J.Crew, while for others, it involves investing in designer labels. Not everything you buy needs to be an investment piece. You don’t need to spend a lot. So much of my wardrobe is from Loft and J.Crew Factory. 

You don’t have to ditch your little black dress for the summer. Here’s a classic summer outfit with a midi length black shirt dress. Longer dresses are comfortable and breezy in warm weather. 

black shirt dress outfit

Similar Dress | Shoes | Similar Hat 

I’m wearing this black shirt dress with classic cream espadrilles, a trending shoe style for summer.

Coastal sailor chic

Coastal sailor chic is a classic and timeless summer trend that leans into easy, minimal dressing for being by the water. Typically, summer calls for wardrobe minimalism—it’s hot, and we want waist-less dresses with minimal or no layers. Breathable fabrics like cotton poplin, gauze, and linen are essential for staying comfy in 90-degree weather.

Nautical details like gold buttons on sweaters and hip buttons on sailor pants add to the maritime vibe.

In terms of color, you’ll see shades of white and sandy tan, watery blues and navy, along with vibrant hues like bright red and coral red that evoke the spirit of Americana.

Textured fabrics add a natural, organic feel to clothing—think nubby, breathable sweaters and dresses inspired by fishnet crochet. The texture continues in accessories; look for belts, bags, espadrilles, sandals, and slides made from woven raffia, canvas, and basket weave, often with leather accents.

Following Birkenstock’s release of rubber two-strap sandals last summer, we’re seeing more sophisticated iterations this year. These updated two-strap sandals are crafted from canvas, woven raffia, and premium leather adorned with gold and ornate buckles and hardware. These new designs are worth a second look if you’ve previously overlooked Birkenstocks because they’re too minimal and chunky.

light blue fit and flare midi dress outfit

Similar Dress | Sandals

Another version has a platform sole and a third strap behind the ankle. Check out this style if you want something unexpected and different to wear with summer dresses.  I’m oddly attracted to these sandals, especially the first pair.

Stripes are everywhere, from my favorite Breton stripe sweaters and vests to blue and white striped shirts, dresses, and even pants. Cute cuffed jeans bring the just-back-from-the-ocean look.

striped sweater tank, cuffed wide leg jeans outfit

Top | Similar Jeans | Sandals | Similar Bag

Classic court and sportswear

Inspired by the pickleball craze, you’ll see adorable, sporty pieces for summer that will make you want to pick up a paddle and adopt a court lifestyle so you can wear them. This trend takes these pieces beyond the court to coffee, the farmer’s market, the grocery store, and to work, as you’ll see in the first and last pictures, pairing a tennis dress with loafers and then a trench coat and black bag.  

If you don’t play or prefer longer skirt lengths, you may write off this trend even if you love it. But you can still channel the essence of the trend with some thoughtfully styled outfits that you can wear on a casual Saturday running errands or watching your kids play soccer.

I’m drawn to the nostalgic classic feel of Tretorn sneakers, crisp whites, and classic Kelly green. In this look, I’m pairing a Kelly green track jacket with a white tank top, white shorts, and my nostalgic green Tretorns. If you don’t love wearing shorts, you can create a look like this with linen white pants or jeans. My Kelly green crossbody bag has a sporty vibe. 

Kelly green track jacket and white shorts outfit

Jacket in “Kelly/white”| Shorts | Similar Tank Top | Sneakers | Similar Bag

I’m wearing white shorts, a white tank top, my court sweatshirt, and blue Tretorns in this second look. The belt bag makes it easy to be on the go, and the brown ties into the brown of the gum sole on the sneakers.

Pickleball paddle sweatshirt and white shorts outfit

Sweatshirt | Shorts | Belt Bag | Sneakers

Adam gave me this sweatshirt for my 50th birthday, and I adore it. I love sweatshirts with a nostalgic, soft, flannel interior. 

Nostalgic ’90s

If you’re having fashion flashbacks to college, the reemergence of ‘90s style is to blame. Its influence is bringing back wide-leg, baggy, barrel or balloon jeans, cargo or “utility” styles, slip dresses, denim maxi skirts, platform loafers, and platform sandals. 

‘90s style often means wearing big, baggy clothes, both tops, and bottoms. Remember those huge tees and wide-leg jeans the grunge guys wore in Clueless? Today, this trend has changed a bit but is still popular. Now, you might see big blazers and relaxed oversized button-down shirts paired with wide-leg jeans.

Some simple styling tips bring the look together when you wear baggy clothes. For example, push up the sleeves on a big blazer or button-up shirt to show off your wrists and the thinner part of your arm. This can make your waist look more defined. Another tip is to front-tuck your shirt to highlight your waist. These simple moves make all the difference. 

denim maxi skirt outfit

Skirt | Tee | Necklace | Similar Flip Flops

The colors of summer

This season’s color palette is full of bright colors. Chambray and watery nautical blues create a cool, maritime vibe, while black and white remain staples in various forms, from monochromatic outfits to black-and-white looks and pieces with contrasting trim. Lilac adds a soft touch, and metallics like gold are trending and expected to grow even more popular during the fall and holiday seasons. Look for metallics in gold and silver strappy sandals. Denim remains a favorite, now appearing in shoes and bags. Although brown will dominate in the fall, summer fashions already show deep reddish brown pieces.

For 2024, Pantone has selected Peach Fuzz as the color of the year, a range that spans soft peach to vibrant orange shades. This color best suits those with spring and autumn color profiles. This shade will complement you well if you have golden blonde, light brown, copper, rich brown, or vibrant red hair. When styling Peach Fuzz, consider pairing it with neutral colors like white, cream, light gray, taupe, and beige or deeper hues like olive green and denim blue. Gold or rose gold accessories also match beautifully with this shade.

My personal favorite? Coral-red—a bright, tangy red that adds a vivid pop of color. This split-neck maxi dress from Quince is inspired by the popular Anthropologie Somerset dress at a more affordable price. It makes a great graduation, wedding guest, and resort dress. I’m wearing it with raffia buckle slides and a matching bag here. 

red maxi dress outfit

Dress in “vermillion red,” fits TTS | Raffia Slides | Raffia Bag

This red-orange color is my power color, and I can’t get enough of it. Here I’m wearing a shorter red dress with red striped Adidas, another 50th birthday present. Nostalgic, colorful sneakers, including Adidas Sambas, are having a moment.

red mini  dress outfit with Adidas

Similar Dress | Adidas Sambas in solar red | Belt Bag

Trends in tops

Crop tops, with a nod to the ‘90s, are everywhere right now, from short-sleeve button-down shirts to cardigans and tank tops. They’re meant to be worn with super high-waisted shorts, jeans, and pants; the goal isn’t to show your belly button but to easily create flattering proportions with high-waisted bottoms. If you’re short-waisted, this is a great time to stock up on tops that hit you at the top of the hips. If you like high-waisted pants and jeans and prefer to wear your shirt untucked, it’s a trend worth trying. 

Muscle or wedge cap sleeve tops are among my favorites due to their stylish cut. These tops offer slight shoulder coverage while ending higher on the arm than a traditional t-shirt, providing a flattering look that visually elongates the arms and creates a slimming effect. You can easily wear this tee from the weekend to work. Stock up on white tees since they are perfect for everyday wear.

In this look, I’m wearing a white wedge tee with blue and white striped wide-leg cropped patch pocket pants, brown Bay slides, and a woven leather strap tote bag for some texture.

striped wide leg cropped pants outfit

Wedge Tee size down, wearing an XS | Pants | Slide Sandals | Similar Woven Tote

Racerback-style tank tops are also still trending. Racerback tank tops have a crewneck and straps that come together between the shoulder blades, creating a T-shape on the back. The easiest way to style a slim-fitting tank top is with fuller bottoms to create balanced proportions. In this inspo look, I’m wearing the tank top untucked since I prefer to cover the gathered elastic waistband. Notice how I’m wearing a gold chain that hangs down over top. You can also wear layered chains with this tank top.

black gauze pants outfit

Tank Top | Gauze Pants | Slide Sandals | Belt Bag

Gray, black, and brown are color combinations that I love. The brown slides and belt bag had a pop of contrast in color that’s so visually interesting. Throw a denim jacket over the top if you’ll be in the air conditioning.

Cargo blouses in silky fabrics with double-patch breast pockets are everywhere this year. They’re a good option if you’re smaller up top and want to add dimension to your upper body. 

Menswear-inspired linen button-up vests are very much a thing. I’ve tried several linen button-up vests, but they end up going back because they are not very practical for my real life. I’ll stick to my Lady Sweater vest, which you’ll see next.

The Lady Sweater vest evolved from the popular J.Crew Emilie Lady Sweater. The Breton stripe and gold buttons add a nautical feel. It has a flattering v-neck, and you can wear the vest alone or layered over a tank top or a t-shirt in the summer months. I’ll layer mine over a button-down shirt in the fall, too.

Breton stripe sweater vest outfit

Necklace | Vest | Jeans | Sandals | Similar Bag

In this look, I’m wearing it buttoned up like a tank top with white jeans, raffia buckle slides, and a woven and leather tote bag.

Trends in bottoms

Skirts

Skirts this season are midi length and longer. This flowy midi skirt is gauze and has an elastic smocked waist. When you’re wearing a flowy midi or maxi skirt with lots of fabric, an easy way to create balanced proportions is to wear a slim-fit top with it. I like this deep U-neck tank top with it. Showing a bit of skin keeps this outfit from feeling frumpy. Plus, the scoop neck draws the eye up and down the body for an elongating effect. If you feel like a smocked waist draws attention to your midsection, there are plenty of long skirts without the smocking at the waist.

This skirt is royal blue, but the camera is showing it as a lighter tone than it is.

gauze midi skirt outfit

Top | Skirt | Raffia Slides | Raffia Bag

Slim-fitting satin bias-cut midi skirts are still popular. You can dress them up or down. 

satin midi skirt outfit

Tank in white| Skirt | Similar Bag | Slides

They can be tricky to style since the satin makes them feel elevated. Slim-fitting halter-neck tank tops are the easiest tops to wear with them. Since satin can show lumps and bumps, I wear mine with shapewear. See more ideas about how to style them in 16 Looks: How to Wear Long Midi + Maxi Skirts All Year.

I love this black cargo mini skirt as an alternative to short shorts. I’m styling it with an olive wedge tee, classic brown Bay slides, and a woven tote bag with leather straps for texture.

black cargo skirt outfit

Wedge Tee | Cargo Skirt | Slide Sandals | Similar Woven Tote

Very long denim midi and maxi length skirts are sticking around. Phoebe on Friends loved the denim maxi skirt. Personally, I feel mixed about them. On one hand, they feel fresh to me, and I like the way a maxi skirt can elongate the body. However, at times, they feel frumpy and remind me of the modest, conservative clothing worn in some religious communities.

denim maxi skirt outfit

Skirt | Tee | Necklace | Similar Flip Flops

The easiest way to wear them is with a slim-fitting top. A t-shirt works, and a scoop-neck tank top or top showing a little more skin is a great option to counteract all of the denim. 

Pants

Very high-waisted pants with a 13-inch rise are everywhere right now, and for some, the waistband may come to your natural waist. Your natural waist is the slimmest spot that bends when you lean to the side. 

Pleats and wide legs pants aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. 

You’ll find full-length pants and cropped pants. Personally, I lean towards cropped because they easily allow you to wear flats with them, and that’s my preference any day.

These blue and white wide-leg patch pocket cropped pants from Loft are inspired by the popular Anthropologie Colette pants. They’re so soft and comfortable. They come in multiple colors, but this blue and white stripe is so fun.

striped wide leg cropped pants outfit

Wedge Tee | Pants | Slide Sandals | Similar Woven Tote

Cargo or utility pants, jeans, and shorts, with their flap and patch pockets on the hips, are sticking around. I’ve even seen a few pairs of linen cargo pants. I’m still resisting the cargo pants since those patch pockets on the hips add visual weight to my larger bottom half. But I did surprise myself by loving that short black cargo skirt. Never say never. I may find myself in a black pair of cargo pants by fall. 

For fabrics, linen is stealing the show with pleated linen trousers and elastic and drawstring-waist linen wide-leg pants and shorts. Gauze pants and shorts are also a great option for a hot summer day. With a naturally crinkled appearance, they are laid-back and comfortable. 

In this look, I’m wearing soft and comfortable black gauze pants. Pairing them with a white cable-knit collared sweater with short sleeves makes this a casual outfit you may even be able to wear to work. Black slides with the tortoiseshell buckle add visual interest and finish the look.

gauze pants outfit

Top | Gauze Pants | Black Slides

We’re starting to see palazzo pants or very wide-leg pants in patterned flowy fabrics and even some denim jean styles. 

Jeans

For jeans styles, balloon jeans, also known as barrel jeans, have been lurking but are now making more of an appearance. Think of them as tapered wide-leg jeans or baggier straight-leg jeans with curved legs. They have a high waist, are very roomy and oversized in the leg, and then nip in at the hem, stopping at or above the ankle. They are a miss for me. 

My favorite jeans styles for summer are kick crop, wide leg cropped, and cuffed wide leg jeans. 

Fitted in the hips and thighs, kick crop jeans flare below the knee and end at or above the ankle. I own them in white and a lighter blue for summer.

White Kick Crop Jeans | Blue Kick Crop Jeans

They’re a great modern alternative to skinny jeans since they’re also slim-fitting through the hips and thighs.

Wide-leg cropped jeans are also great. Since they’re roomier in the legs, they can be comfier on warmer days. I own two pairs, one in ecru and a lighter blue denim. 

Ecru Jeans | Blue Jeans

These cuffed dark denim wide-leg jeans are also a favorite and create a cute sailor-chic look.

I’m wearing them with a cute tan and white striped split neck, ruffle sleeve blouse, and raffia gold buckle slides for a fresh, nautical feel. 

striped blouse and wide leg cuffed jeans outfit

Top | Similar Jeans | Sandals | Similar Bag

This exact pair is sold out, so I’m linking a similar pair in lighter denim, which is great for summer. 

Shorts

Pleated shorts are also very much back in style and are a trend worth trying. I don’t own many pairs of shorts because I don’t love wearing them. I was surprised to love the relaxed and drapey fit of pleated shorts. I love how they make my legs look slim in comparison to the fullness of the shorts. Pleated shorts often have a high rise that stops higher up, highlighting the slimmest part of the waist.

These black pleated shorts are made of a linen blend and have a very subtle pleat. The leg inseam is 5-inches, so they feel more modest. Pair them with a black top and slides to create a Friday night look for a barbecue or outdoor concert.

black pleated shorts outfit

Scoop Neck Tank Top | Black Shorts (size down) | Black Slides

Here’s another way to wear pleated shorts. These light blue shorts have a 4-inch inseam. Wear them with a slim-fitting tank top to balance out the fuller shorts. A linen button-down shirt with long sleeves is a great way to stay warm in air conditioning. Raffia slides create an easy, breezy look. 

blue pleated shorts outfit

Similar Linen Shirt | Pleated Shorts | Scoop-neck Tank Top | Raffia Slides | Straw Tote Bag

Trends in dresses

Midi dresses and beach-ready maxi dresses are everywhere for warmer weather. Shirt dresses are some of my favorites. Short and long shirtdresses are sold at every price point, from Target to Old Navy to pricier brands like J.Crew, Tuckernuck, and J. McLaughlin. Given my love of button-down shirts, I love this style, which won’t surprise you. You’ll see them with belts that help to define a waistline and left loose for a laid-back look. 

I’ve been trying a lot of shirt dresses and was surprised that this navy shirt dress from Amazon was one of my favorites. Many short-sleeved dresses are too tight around my bicep, but this is the right fit. I love it so much that I own it in two different colors, navy and bright pink. It’s one of the best summer dresses since it’s lightweight, comfortable, forgiving in the midsection, and easy to throw on when you want a casual look for running errands or a quick lunch out.

shirt dress outfit

Dress | Slide Sandals | Similar Woven Tote

Oversized and exaggerated swing dresses are very popular right now.

This black swing dress is the perfect little black dress for summer. The swing hemline is roomy enough for my size 12 hips and smoothing to the midsection without drowning the body in fabric.

black swing dress outfit

Dress | Bauble Necklace | Slides | Belt Bag | Similar Hat 

Gauze dresses are extremely comfortable and everywhere, like this V-neck option from Old Navy. With a naturally crinkled texture, it’s more forgiving of wrinkles. Anytime I buy a dress at Old Navy, at 5’6”, I buy them in the tall length because they tend to shrink a bit when you wash them.

blue gauze dress outfit

Green Tretorns | Gauze Dress in Medium Tall | Belt Bag

You’ll also find dresses with cutouts, one-shoulder, and floral prints trending. This striped midi dress from Loft has a shirt dress vibe thanks to the cotton poplin material but with a V-neck top. The contrasting tan shoulders create the illusion of an open-shoulder dress.

striped midi dress

Dress | Bauble Necklace | Similar Coin Necklace Similar Flip Flops

Here’s a universally flattering dress style for every body type. The knit top has flattering cap sleeves that elongate the arms. Cap sleeves are a great alternative to a sleeveless dress. The waist gathers at the slimmest part of the waistline, defining the middle and opening into a gathered cotton skirt that has some body and covers a tummy. ⁠This dress can easily be worn for special occasions during the summer, like Mother’s Day and graduations. 

blue fit and flare dress outfit

Dress | Raffia Slides | Raffia Bag

It comes in blue and black. ⁠Dress it up with a neutral block heel and statement jewelry, or dress it down with flats. ⁠

⁠I’m wearing a size small, and it’s the perfect fit for my 36-B bust. You’ll definitely want to size up to accommodate a larger chest.

Matched sets

Matched sets are still everywhere. They make it easy to get dressed during summer vacation and traveling since you can easily mix and match the items.

You’ll see comfy matching shorts and sweatshirt combos, linen shorts and button-up shirt sets, and gauze shorts and tops. 

I love this matching gauze button-down shirt and shorts outfit from Gap that I got last year. I wore it for casual Sunday mornings at home when we had house guests and out to casual family dinners.

blue matched shorts set

Similar Shirt | Similar ShortsBelt Bag

This belt bag is my favorite hands-free bag for traveling since it holds everything important right in front of your body.

Here’s a more elevated matched set option. This linen set from Amazon has a Tuckernuck feel with its peplum-style top. Take this on vacation for an easy and chic dinner outfit. Wear the pieces separately or together and dress them up with statement jewelry and slides. 

black peplum matched set outfit

Matched Set | Similar Slides | Similar Hat | Necklace

Getting dressed this summer, blend your classic pieces with trends you love. Wear what feels fun and like you. Together, let’s redefine what fashion looks like at this stage of life.

Other posts you may like:

Best Summer Travel Capsule Wardrobe for Women Over 50

The Most Flattering Swimsuits for Women Over 40

How to Build a Coastal Summer Capsule Wardrobe in 2024

Hi, Friend. I'm Marya. I'm so glad you're here!

I’m here to help women feel good inside and out through approachable everyday style inspiration and encouragement for midlife. Once upon a time, I worked as a therapist and coach. Now, I’m a holistic style blogger studying style coaching! Be So You celebrates leaning into who we were meant to be! 

Read about my  journey to self-discovery at 40. Follow me on Instagram here and Pinterest here. Send me a quick question through my contact page here.  

Fit Note: I’m midsized at 5’6″, 160 pounds, with size 12 jeans.

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2 Responses

  1. Happy 50th Birthday, Marya 🥳!! And thank you for a wonderfully comprehensive Best Summer Trends post! I just loved your discussion of the 80:20 rule and the thoughtful way you presented this summer’s current trends!

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