The Harsh Fashion Realities of Aging Women

Style consultant Sherrie Mathieson is on a mission to modernize aging women’s fashion. Working with older clients into their 80's, she aims to develop a wardrobe based on simplicity.


She believes older women need to forgo competition with their younger counterparts and opt for classic restraint and clean lines.

“I see women committing the most egregious mistakes,” says Mathieson who is the author of “Forever Cool: How to Achieve Ageless, Youthful and Modern Personal Style” and “Steal This Style: Moms and Daughters Swap Wardrobe Secrets.”

The Fashion Mistakes of Older Women

Their apparel can be unflattering and outdated. Below is a list of Mathieson's concerns:

• Roomy or bulky clothes that attempt to hide a woman's weight and figure
• Clothing that is too tight and too revealing
• High heels. Difficult for walking, especially for older women
• An overload of accessories – diamonds, rhinestones, gold and lamé
• Animal prints such as leopard prints
• Leather or fake leather, especially black
• Short skirts, revealing cleavage, to imitate younger women
• Makeup. If makeup is worn it needs to have a natural tone
• Black outfits which are too harsh against older womens' skin
• Dressing down. Older women who gain weight may resort to bulky t-shirts and jeans
• Pastel colors like pink, light blue, pale yellow and mint green – typical of Sun City
• T-shirts that say: "My Grandchild Loves Me"

How Older Women Can Dress and Remain Vibrant

Mathieson’s classic fashion approach for senior women counters the plethora of senior style faux pas. Apparel should include:

• Clothing with clean lines and modern fabrics
• Ensembles that fit correctly on the figure
• Simple white shirts or denim shirts
• Polo shirts - the collar frames the neck, diverting attention away from wrinkles
• Athletic wear designed for casual comfort
• Sporty sneakers, flats and rubber-soled shoes for walking ease
• A durable bag that complements an outfit
• Clothes that pack effortlessly without requiring excessive care for travel purposes
• For the pool, a one-piece bathing suit in a solid color, not overly revealing


The classic wardrobe favored by Mathieson originates in the preppy look of New England and the Southern states. Its simplicity evokes a modernity that preserves a younger look for older adults.

After women achieve an easier, streamlined approach, they can layer; add a shawl or a bracelet if chosen wisely.

Before becoming a fashion consultant, Mathieson worked extensively in high fashion. She has spent years as a consume designer in film, TV, MTV, and has dressed rock bands.

Now, she feels prepared her to advocate for an aging population, an overlooked demographic in her consideration.

“They’re basically ignored and improperly handled by the media,” she insists. “People who are easily dismissed.”

Clothing is an intimate form of self-expression for older adults and can be elevated beyond the harsh realities.