What to Wear in Your 40s

The most stylish and practical fashion items that fit perfectly into your busy lifestyle

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40s fashion inspiration: Gwyneth Paltrow

The actress has made a uniform of skinny jeans and classic blazers.

John Kopaloff/Film Magic

Flexibility in your 40s

Say yes to classic styles; punctuate with brights. Lauren Ralph Lauren wool crepe blazer, $270; bloomingdales.com, and cotton top, $40, macys.com. Echo polyester wrap, $48; echodesign.com.

Gisel Florez

Vote for versatility

Nothing beats the ease of a knit dress, and the longer length here won’t provide a peep show when you’re in and out of a car all day or chasing after your kids. Rachel Rachel Roy rayon blend dress, $79; macys.com. Coldwater Creek metal and resin necklace, $70; coldwatercreek.com.

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#2: Vote for more versatility

The genius of this machine-washable blouse is in the styling: The faux wrap is actually stitched in place, so it will stay put all day long. The pretty cuff detail is a bonus. Anne Klein polyester blouse, $99; anneklein.com.

Gisel Florez

#3: Accent with color

Harried and overscheduled? A bright hue can wake up your mood as well as your wardrobe. Pairing two cuffs adds oomph in an instant (we know that’s all you have time for). Lands’ End metal bangles, $34 each; landsend.com

Gisel Florez

#4: Accent with more color

The classic styling of a satchel looks modern in this neon (it’s available in neutral colors as well), and though the price makes it a splurge, we feel you’ll have this bag for life. Kate Moss For Longchamp leather satchel, $1,215; longchamp.com.

Gisel Florez

#5: Break up with old jeans

’Tis the season for white denim, and the tux stripe is the right trend for you to try. These jeans are made with lots of stretch and a patented hidden-tummy-control construction—you can thank us later. Word to the wise: Buy a size smaller to get the fit just right. NYDJ cotton blend jeans, $130; nydj.com.

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#6: Keep shoes casual

Oversize gingham in red and white would look campy (and show every scuff), but in navy it’s a chic option. Kate Spade New York gingham wedges, $258; katespade.com.

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#7: Put a twist on a classic

The peacoat is back. In this flashy version, the dark lower third works its color-blocking magic by hiding a tummy bulge or wider hips, if that’s of any interest. Wear this over something narrow, such as pants or a pencil skirt. CH Carolina Herrera cotton jacket, $645; 212-744-2076.

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#8: Be a stripe tease

Don’t fear horizontal lines. The dress is roomy enough that it won’t cling (though if you’re short, skip it). Twenty Tees rayon blend dress, $158; twentytees.com. Target plastic sunglasses, $17; target.com.

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#9: Be more of a stripe tease

This slightly A-line skirt is flattering to all. Pair it with a T-shirt and thongs for day; dress it up with a white blouse and kitten heels. Anne Klein polyester skirt, $129; anneklein.com.

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#10: Don't be dull

When a top designer (Milly) collaborates with a cult favorite (Sperry), here’s what happens: style and comfort in one chic package. Milly For Sperry Top-Sider canvas espadrilles, $100; millyny.com.

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#11: Update your basics

You’ve worn chinos in black and khaki for years, so now opt for a youthful pop of something bright in a slightly-roomier-but-still-narrow leg. The cotton blend is practical: shrink and wrinkle free. L.L.Bean Signature cotton blend pants, $79; llbeansignature.com.

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#12: Invest in a good bag

The bucket will hold every little thing and then some. The navy hue is a lively alternative to black that will hide all those random smudges. Coach leather purse, $398; coach.com.

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#13: Find elongating toppers

This one is grab-and-go chic. Black Label By Chico’srayon blend cardigan, $119; chicos.com.

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#14 Invest in the right shape saver

Wear the whisper-thin Power Panty under all. Vanity Fair nylon blend briefs, $10; barenecessities.com.


Click here for more shapewear ideas.


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Courtesy of Vanity Fair

First published in the March 2013 issue

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