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Should Older Women Wear Bright Colors? Fashion Over 50

what colors best for women over 40 50 60?

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What Are Your Best Colors?

There are several color systems for fashion and my favorite one is “Color Me Beautiful” (from the fashion book of the same name). The "Color Me Beautiful" system says that you are one of four seasons... however no color “system” is perfect. And, this type of color system is definitely imperfect if you have a mix of nationalities (or races) in your coloring, as I do, but I've found it to be a good starting point.

I have also found that the best way for you to learn your best colors is to get some fabrics and hold them up to your face in natural light.

Tip: You’ll know you’ve found a good color when you break out in a smile... because your wrinkles (and the bags under your eyes) don’t look so bad.

Next, you should get something inexpensive in that “good” color, like a T-shirt or a cheap scarf, and see how people react to you when you wear it. They may not say anything, but you will be treated better when you look better (and you will look better if the color you’ve picked is right).

Note: For Reference, in the “seasonal” color system, women with spring coloring can wear warm pastels like peach, summers can wear cool pastels like baby blue, autumns can wear deep, warm hues like rust (or mustard), and winters can wear deep, cool hues like ruby or sapphire… but almost no one fits perfectly into one "seasonal" category.

Many Older Women Need to Wear More Color

I can only go by my own experience, but from what I’ve seen, many older women look better in colors than they do in grays or in black and white. And, I think that MOST women look beautiful in jewel tones of some kind. However, I want to add that I'm biased... jewel tones are my favorite colors.

fashion style for women over 40 50 60

A Closet Full of Black Clothes

Some older women (with my coloring) look like Death-Warmed-Over in stark black, but they have a closet full of black clothes... I know I do. And, there's a good reason to have black clothing. It all matches. It doesn't show dirt. It's practical.

However, if you feel that you look better in color, you can always accessorize yourself like a Parisienne and add a scarf (or a necklace) in one of your best hues to make your black clothing more flattering to your complexion. (Or, if your favorite camel coat no longer suits your coloring, just add a turtleneck or a scarf in your best color.)

And, I do want to mention that... if black looks good on you, you are lucky and you should wear it. If monochrome (black and white) looks good on you, it's the same. Mostly, I am speaking to women who feel that they "must" wear dark colors. For years, older women have been told that they should NOT wear brights... that neutrals are better for women "of a certain age"... and I have found just the opposite to be true in my own life.

Why Color Is Your Secret Weapon

For me, I have found that I can’t wear bright red lipstick, gobs of blusher, or colorful eyeshadows anymore. My lips are too thin... and those deep, dark lip colors will bleed into my wrinkles. Of course, bright, colorful rouge will make me look like a clown… and massive amounts of eye makeup will turn me into Tammy Faye Baker... unless I'm in front of a camera with bright lights.

So, like many older women, I am forced to leave my face and makeup colors somewhat neutral. And, if you are like me, you may want to wear more color in your clothing to compensate for your neutral makeup and to give your face a youthful glow... but I don’t mean brighter colors, I mean more of the “right” colors.

Of course, not all of you have pale coloring or "colorless" skin from aging. Some of you will always be able to wear whatever color you want, even black or neon colors, but many of us older gals will have to update our clothing and go from bright red to a softer, deeper ruby or a rustier, reddish orange, or a complex, baby pink, or a softer peachy pastel.

However, you should not be afraid to be a bit more daring or experimental with color and color combinations. Sure, you may make a few mistakes, but it’s better than looking old and drab.

p.s. Stop laughing at the older woman (with the pink hair) in the main photo. She’s an artsy clothing designer named Zandra Rhodes, and I think she’s fabulous. Hey, it's better to have moxie than to be mousey.

Here are some books and videos to give you courage:

More Articles for Baby Boomer Women:

What to Wear for Cruise Dinners & Formal Nights

Best Swimsuits for Women Over 40 or 50

Beach Cover-Ups for Women: Plus Size Tunics, Dresses, Caftans, Sarongs

5 Easy to Wear Kimono Styles: What's Up With All the kimonos?

Tina Boomerina (AKA Christina Gregoire) is a Baby Boomer born at the end of 1952. Her mission is to make the internet a kinder and gentler place for Baby Boomer women around the world. Tina's specialty is fashion for women over 50.

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  1. kay kerns

    I want to work more color into my wardrobe I hate looking washed out

  2. Cristina DiCapua

    Hello!! I stumbles onto your site through a streampunk google search. I will be 50 in six months and I find I am drawn to more, shall we say, outstanding styles as I have gotten older. I think I have gotten less inhibited. I can still wear black and my red lipstick but the steampunk surprised me at first. Your article mentioned Mary Poppins and it came together. I have always LOVED Mary Poppins clothes. I may not go the whole nine yards, well if they have a showing of Gaslight I might, but I am going to add steampunk and your advice on color to my selections. Great articles!!

    • Tina-Boomerina


      I love Steampunk. How could I not? I love hats, long skirts and boots or booties. It's very cool. Don't be afraid to step out of the zone. Some women go all the way with it in Seattle (and London).

      Tina (Christina)

  3. Polly

    Here in Japan, only the elderly women dye their hair electric colors. I think it's usually the ones who's hair has turned gray or white and the color really shows up. I asked a Japanese hairdresser about it and she said it was a status symbol.

  4. Haven

    I feel like I've fallen down the rabbit hole and found this wonderful website! Searching for petite & plus fashion brought me here and I just love it! I've just turned 50, have a very boho soul and style, but lack the supermodel body to pull it off. I'm working on that, but at just 5'1" there's only so far I'll get. Anyway, I just had to leave a comment and THANK YOU for this wonderful site. I've visited so many that didn't "fit" and this one does. Love it!

  5. Elizabeth

    For colorful lips, I use a lip stain then clear lip gloss over it. It works great! I get lasting color, but the color doesn't work its way into the lines around my lips. Plus the gloss makes me look years younger (my husband says it makes me look fresh).

    • Tina-Boomerina


      I love the way gloss looks but I haven't found a gloss that's not sticky-icky. I'm going to google around and see if I can find a stain and gloss to try. If you see this, let me know which brands you like.


      • Elizabeth

        Tina, this is kind of embarrassing, but I like the Wet n Wild cheap stuff at Walmart. I also like Hard Candy (which is also at Walmart) and Bare Minerals. It seems like all lip glosses are either sticky or oily; I suppose it's the nature of the beast. I like the look so much that I just put up with it.

        • Tina-Boomerina


          That's not embarrassing at all. Thanks for the info. I will try those brands. I think my lipstick is from Bare Minerals. It's Moxie, which I think is made by Bare Minerals.

          It might be worth putting up with with sticky lip glosses if it makes one look fresh. God knows it's worth a try... for me!

          And, I'm GLAD the brands you like are cheap ones at Walmart. Who wants to blow money on expensive makeup when something inexpensive will work?