What to Wear in 2016 in Your 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s and Beyond

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Listen, I know it’s yucky and blizzardy and your legs are dry and itchy and the snow that never came at Christmas decided to show up with a vengeance, but spring is a-coming. It may be January, but spring is almost already here. Trust me! I have it from a reliable source. Much more reliable than the Weather Channel.

It’s called Joann’s Fabrics.

Oh, so you’ve heard of it? Well, we stopped in there tonight to pick up some fabric for Lola’s sewing project after enjoying a luxurious dinner en famille at Daytona Ale House. (Oh the glamour!). I was a little cranky because deadlines and I’d been out all day and I was done, you know, but then there was Joann’s Fabrics and its magical display of all things spring-y and Easter-y. They had lovely canvas bins in the prettiest florals ever and tiny fairy houses and watering cans and even a sign that said, simply, Spring, to make it official. That’s when I knew for sure.

And, for a moment, between telling Eva she couldn’t have another Beanie Boo and telling Lola she couldn’t buy another fabric remnant, I felt a strange calm come over me. Spring is coming.

(Or, here in Florida, it may already be here, because today’s temps reached the 60s and I felt slightly silly in my cashmere cardigan and heavy winter coat. But hey, it started out freezing and 50-something degrees, so the coat was totally justified.)

Spring is exactly the kind of season that makes me feel like tossing out my entire wardrobe and starting over and wearing only gingham and flowers in my hair and strappy sandals, because, well, spring. But I’m a mom and I’m practical-ish (don’t laugh) and so, instead, I ventured out to find cute trends that go with what we already have and are flattering and fashion-y while still being, well, not silly and not trying too hard and not too, too young. These are the trends you can buy now and wear through spring. And so here, just for you all (and, okay, for me as well) is a cheat sheet to the most important trends of the year. Here, what to wear in 2016 in your 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s and beyond.

Trends for All

Serenity and Rose Quartz may officially be the colors of the year, but some of the other shades on Pantone’s 2016 palette, including Buttercup, Green Flash and Fiesta, were just as prominent on the runways. Any color is fair game as long as it flatters your complexion, so if you love one of these shades, go for it! Other universal trends include marled knits, lightweight denim and bomber jackets.

Peyton blouse, $48, azaleasf.com

Peyton blouse, $48, azaleasf.com

Milly "Isabella" mini crossbody, $66 (sale), Amazon

Milly “Isabella” mini crossbody, $66 (sale), Amazon

Kendra Scott "Danielle" earrings in Rose Quartz, $60, Neiman Marcus

Kendra Scott “Danielle” earrings in Rose Quartz, $60, Neiman Marcus

Velvet by Graham & Spencer marled jersey sheath, $60, Lord & Taylor

Velvet by Graham & Spencer marled jersey sheath, $60, Lord & Taylor

Madewell denim clean placket shirt, $88, Madewell.com

Madewell denim clean placket shirt, $88, Madewell.com

James Perse Delave linen bomber, $129 (sale, from $450), JamesPerse.com

James Perse Delave linen bomber, $129 (sale, from $450), JamesPerse.com

Trends by Age

Florals

Florals are always on-trend for spring, but every year sees a fresh crop of colors, prints and silhouettes. This season, you’ll find painterly florals, graphic florals and mixed patterns and textures. A small “ditsy” floral reads either very young or very old and is hard to pull off after 25, unless the cut is very  but a bolder floral pattern works for every age group. Dated florals, which often feature bold blooms in a mishmash of colors, are always aging, and while they may work for the very young, they are never my first choice. (See examples below). Besides a “ditsy” print, a too-young floral dress is one with a style, length or other details that make it skew young.

Florals for all

These are contemporary enough for a mtaure-ish 20-something and mature enough for a youthful 50-something.  Keep the look sleek and sophisticated with classic accessories in your 50s, while at 25, funky accessories add flair.

Ted Baker "Bismii" tropical toucan sheath dress, starting at $100, Amazon

Ted Baker “Bismii” tropical toucan sheath dress, starting at $100, Amazon

Ivanka Trump floral print scuba dress, $138, Nordstrom

Ivanka Trump floral print scuba dress, $138, Nordstrom

Vince Camuto floral sheath, $83.19, Lord & Taylor

Vince Camuto floral sheath, $83.19, Lord & Taylor

Gianni Bini "Bethany" floral print pencil midi skirt, $69, Dillard's

Gianni Bini “Bethany” floral print pencil midi skirt, $69, Dillard’s

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Byron Lars “Winter Rose” dress, $398, Anthropologie

INC floral print ruched dress, about $48, Macy's

INC floral print ruched dress, about $48, Macy’s

Young Florals

The shape and length of this dress make it young, which is a shame, because I adore the print and the details.

ASOS Premium Floral Printed Dress with ladder inserts, $94.93, ASOS.com

ASOS Premium Floral Printed Dress with ladder inserts, $94.93, ASOS.com

Denim & Supply company floral dress, $98, RalphLauren.com

Denim & Supply company floral dress, $98, RalphLauren.com

Old Florals

Stay away from dated florals or those that are too “sweet”. They are instantly aging.

Investments Ultra Floral Tunic, $59, Dillard's

Investments Ultra Floral Tunic, $59, Dillard’s

ModCloth "My Fleur Lady" dress, $179, ModCloth.com

ModCloth “My Fleur Lady” dress, $179, ModCloth.com

Plaids & Checks

Oversized plaids and exaggerated checks cover everything from dresses to skinnies to scarves. As a rule, the older you are, the more sophisticated the print and style should be, but stay away from overly classic and stuffy styles in this print, which are doubly aging.

Plaid for All

Cloth & Stone plaid tunic dress, $138, Anthropologie

Cloth & Stone plaid tunic dress, $138, Anthropologie

Tiana B. 3/4 sleeve plaid knit dress, startign at $23, Amazon

Tiana B. 3/4 sleeve plaid knit dress, starting at $23, Amazon

Whitney Eve "Arroyo" strappy plaid popover dress, $70, Nordstrom Rack

Whitney Eve “Arroyo” strappy plaid popover dress, $70, Nordstrom Rack

Vince Camuto retro plaid blouse, $99, Bloomingdale's

Vince Camuto retro plaid blouse, $99, Bloomingdale’s

Shabby Apple Pretty in Plaid maxi skirt, $118, ShabbyApple.com

Shabby Apple Pretty in Plaid maxi skirt, $118, ShabbyApple.com

The Laden Showroom X Among Plaid Pencil Skirt with Back Split, $54, ASOS.com

The Laden Showroom X Among Plaid Pencil Skirt with Back Split, $54, ASOS.com

Young Plaid

The oversized plaid, swingy short shape and babydoll style make this a good choice for your 20s and 30s.

Menzie silk babydoll dress, $265, Anthropologie

Menzie silk babydoll dress, $265, Anthropologie

Old Plaid

J. Jill plaid bias cut skirt, $29.99, J. Jill

J. Jill plaid bias cut skirt, $29.99, J. Jill

 

NYDJ "Aubrey" plaid shift, starting at $41, Amazon

NYDJ “Aubrey” plaid shift, starting at $41, Amazon

The Plaid Skirt

The plaid skirt is treacherous territory, mamas. I’m just going to come out and say it. Here’s why.

If you choose a classic plaid pattern in a classic fabric with a classic A-line or pleated style at a classic below-the-knee or midi length, then you will look like a classic 80-year-old. Unless you’re 25 and tall, and then you can wear anything (But you know that! And I’m just going to love you anyway, because Jesus).

The worst part is that many of these styles are coming out from very hip, contemporary labels or very high end labels (Carven, Marni) so one might be tempted to think these people know what they are doing and buy the skirt anyway. In reality, these brands design for that tall 25 year old. The skirt below, for example, is from super hip contemporary brand Etre Cecile, clearly inspired by a tall 25-year old who also happens to be French.

Etre Cecile plaid a-line midi skirt, $254.94, Farfetch

Etre Cecile plaid a-line midi skirt, $254.94, Farfetch

But take a classic plaid and refashion it in a silky fabric with some swish and some drama, and you have a much more contemporary skirt, though still one best reserved for tall girls. The next two skirts are borderline, because at 35+, they really need to be styled in a contemporary way to avoid looking matronly. Wear these with a turtleneck and chunky shoes or flats, and you will look older. I promise.

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Vince Camuto retro plaid pleated skirt, $129, Lord &Taylor

Vince Camuto retro plaid pleated skirt, $129, Lord & Taylor

A safer bet is a style where 2 or more of the details (cut, print, length, fabric) are updated. Like the following. The first style takes classic plaid and flannel and updates it with a very contemporary style and length:

Plaid tie skirt, $45, from Jupe, NYC, available at Shoptiques.com

Plaid tie skirt, $45, from Jupe, NYC, available at Shoptiques.com

Risto pleated plaid skirt, $179, Neiman Marcus

Risto pleated plaid skirt, $179, Neiman Marcus

Milly embroidered organza plaid midi skirt, $325, Bloomingdales

Milly embroidered organza plaid midi skirt, $325, Bloomingdales

Stripes

Oh how I love a snappy stripe in the spring! It’s such a sharp, fresh, clean look and it’s universally flattering. The stripe has an undeserved reputation of packing on pounds, but the only way that horizontal stripes are truly unflattering is when they only cover a part of your body that you are trying to downplay. Worn all over, they are flattering and fun. Besides bold stripes, classic thin stripes and shirting stripes are also on trend for spring.

Stripes for All

Net a Porter striped jersey top, $120, Net-a-Porter.com

Net a Porter striped jersey top, $120, Net-a-Porter.com

MOTT 50 Stripe Jersey Dress, $148, Nordstrom

MOTT 50 Stripe Jersey Dress, $148, Nordstrom

Front keyhold striped blouse, $68, Nordstrom

Front keyhold striped blouse, $68, Nordstrom

Young Stripes

Although the prints are classic, the cut and details of these outfit makes them best suited for women in their 20s and 30s.

Cameo Rather be Striped dress, $94, NastyGal.com

Cameo Rather be Striped dress, $94, NastyGal.com

Rebecca Minkoff "Gemini" tank, $118, ShopBop.com

Rebecca Minkoff “Gemini” tank, $118, ShopBop.com

Old Stripes

Stripes are generally a safe bet and rarely look frumpy or aging, but as a rule, narrower stripes are more likely to seem more mature than wider stripes. These tops are borderline, but are definitely moving away from a contemporary look.

Charter Club striped sweater, $40, Macy's

Charter Club striped sweater, $40, Macy’s

Tommy Hilfiger "Callie" short sleeve dress, $70, Macy's

Tommy Hilfiger “Callie” short sleeve dress, $70, Macy’s

Florals, stripes and plaid are all classic patterns that show up most of the year, and so hopefully you will find some of these guidelines useful for seasons to come. Which trendy/classic spring pattern is your favorite?

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