9 Fashion Mistakes That Age You (How to Stop Looking Frumpy)

December 1, 2023

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There’s no cut-off age for having phenomenal style.

At NLW we have 30 years of fashion experience. In other words, we’ve seen it all. We know what looks good, bad, and what ages you.

(And it might not be what you think.)

Don’t get us wrong, there’s nothing wrong with aging. But people often do things that make their mature style look dated, sloppy, or just plain boring.

So we polled our style team and came up with the 9 biggest fashion mistakes that age you:

  1. Not editing your closet
  2. Shopping at the same stores for 20+ years
  3. Buying oversized clothing
  4. Following most influencers
  5. Not being open to trying new things
  6. Forgetting about accessories, makeup, and hair
  7. Creating a long list of style rules for yourself
  8. Forgetting that confidence matters
  9. Wearing the wrong undergarments

Keep reading to see if you’re making these mistakes and how you can fix them!

1. Not Editing Your Closet

Ready for some tough love?

You need to clean out your closet. Like, yesterday. If you’re not excited about getting dressed in the morning and feel like you have bad style, it’s because of the clothes in your closet. 

So many people hold on to clothes that don’t fit, don’t look good, and don’t represent who they are currently. 

In fact, you probably have a lot of clothes taking up room in your wardrobe that you shouldn’t have bought in the first place. (Impulse buys, anyone?)

If you’re worried about how not to look old but you haven’t edited your closet, that’s your first mistake.

How to fix it: 

With a closet clean out, of course! 

Set aside time on a weekend to take everything out of your closet and decide what to keep and what to get rid of. 

And don’t go easy on yourself, make deep cuts!

This is the time to try on everything and ask yourself questions like:

Do I actually need this? When and where can I wear it? What can I wear it with? Does this represent the version of myself I want others to see?

2. Shopping at the Same Stores for 20+ Years

We all have our favorite spots and we get it; change is hard. 

But think of it this way: would you still shop at the same place where you bought your prom outfit?

Of course not. You wouldn’t wear what you wore in high school or college, because you’re not in that life stage anymore. You might not even feel like the same person as you were back then.

So if you’re trying to figure out what to wear as a 60-year-old woman, why would you still shop at the same store you shopped at when you were 30? 

That’s a sure-fire way to have a dated wardrobe instead of the sophisticated mature style you want.

Your fashion should grow with you, not hold you back.

How to fix it: 

Break up with your comfort zone and explore something new. 

There are so many great (and new on the scene) brands worth trying out. From minimalist brands to new offerings for plus-size women, you’re bound to find something you love.

(Not sure where to start? You can always check out the product recommendations in our blog posts for stylish brands we dress our clients in.) 

3. Buying Oversized Clothing

Whoever decided that getting older meant only wearing shapeless sacks needs to sit down.

Oftentimes, as we age, we think we need to cover up more and more. But there’s a difference between dressing stylishly (and even conservatively if that’s your preference) and hiding behind your wardrobe.

So often we see stores catering to older women that only offer oversized tops and unflattering bottoms. Pieces like these say, “Don’t look at me. I don’t care about my appearance and you shouldn’t care about what I have to say.”

If you’ve found yourself wondering, “What makes a woman look frumpy?” It’s wearing oversized, baggy, sloppy clothes. 

How to fix it: 

Women trying on clothes that fit

Say goodbye to the days of drowning in fabric and open yourself up to owning your shape.

Let go of any and all pieces that don’t fit you. 

Then, take your measurements and start shopping for what fits you instead of running away from numbers on a tag. 

We promise; they mean absolutely nothing. 

(Take it from our founder Cassandra who recently went through a body transformation.)

Another tip? Embrace tailoring. If you find a piece that is high quality, and fits your style goals, but needs some adjusting, get alterations.

It’s an investment, but having clothes you truly love is worth it.

4. Following Most Influencers

Most influencers don’t know what they’re talking about. 

Social media is all about finding the latest fad and capitalizing on trends. That’s why you can’t trust most influencers for actual style advice. 

Plus, at the end of the day, 99% of influencers exist to influence you to buy something. They run ads and post sponsored content, so you can’t always be sure they’re giving you a real recommendation. 

How to fix it: 

Replace your flavor of the month Instagram Influencer with carefully chosen style icons. 

Seek celebrities, ordinary people, and even influencers that match your goals, ambitions, and practical style needs.

This will help you find your style instead of a fad to follow. 

For example, let’s say you’re a director at a financial firm. Your style role model probably shouldn’t be a Kardashian. (For many reasons, but mainly because you don’t have the same lifestyle, goals, or work environment as them.)

Instead, look to other well-dressed female CEOs, or industry leaders for inspiration. 

5. Not Being Open to Trying Anything New

One of the biggest fashion blunders we see older women make is closing themselves off to possibilities. They get stuck in a rut, wearing the same things over and over again.

This often happens if you find your wardrobe to be overwhelming or underwhelming. You don’t want to think about getting dressed. So you just rinse and repeat outfits without actually loving what you’re wearing.

It’s easy to get stuck in this pattern for years and can be a big reason why your clothes are aging you.

How to fix it:

Figuring out how to not “look old” means opening your mind.

As much as we don’t want you to run around chasing the latest fashion craze, we do think you should always be curious.

When it comes to style, there’s nothing wrong with trying something new. (Especially in the changing room! Remember, just because you put it on doesn’t mean you have to buy it.)

You can do this in small steps too. For example, check out Pinterest for fresh ideas. Treat it as a virtual window shopping session before you hit the stores. 

When you do go shopping, try out new brands (like we mentioned before), or pick up pieces that you might normally be too scared to try.

And if you’re working with a stylist to whip your closet into shape, be an active, open participant! Listen to what your stylist has to say, and be willing to broaden your horizons. 

6. Forgetting About Accessories, Makeup and Hair

What is a cake without frosting or pizza without toppings?

Incomplete.

The same goes for style. An outfit isn’t just about a top and bottom. It’s about shoes, accessories, hair, and even makeup. 

Picture yourself wearing your favorite power outfit to an important event, but not brushing your hair. Bad idea, right?

Thinking about clothing rather than the whole picture is a major misstep.

How to fix it:

Give the care and consideration you’d give to an outfit as you would to accessories, hair, and makeup.

No need to overdo it, but take the time to style your hair, and add a few simple accessories to your ensembles. 

Your hair, makeup, and accessories can act as subtle supporting characters, or as your showstopper, too. 

For example, if you’re wearing subdued core colors like grey and black, think about adding a red lip for a pop of color. Or a pair of dangly earrings for a dash of sparkle. 

7. Creating a Long List of Style Rules for Yourself

Style rules to always ignore

When you go to put together a look, you shouldn’t feel like you’re filing your taxes. 

Fashion should be fun. It shouldn’t feel like you have to follow an endless list of rules, or that one wrong step will end in disaster.

We know, it’s not your fault.

Folks these days don’t see it nearly as much, but for most of fashion history, there have been so many rules. These days a style magazine wouldn’t dare tell you that you shouldn’t wear stripes because of your size. But that wasn’t the case even 10 years ago. 

That’s why we often encounter more of our older clients feeling like they need to stick to strict guidelines. Even if they don’t like the result.

How to fix it:

If you don’t want to dress “old”, take every “rule” you’ve ever heard and throw it out the window. 

No one cares if you wear white after Labor Day and there’s no such thing as things you shouldn’t wear because of your size or shape. 

Instead, focus on wearing clothes that are:

  • Well-made
  • Well-fitting
  • Make you feel confident
  • Fit your lifestyle and needs

Those are the only “rules” that should matter.

8. Forgetting That Confidence Matters With Your Style

Let’s face it. You could have the world’s best, most beautiful, well-styled wardrobe. But if you throw on those clothes and walk around without a shred of confidence, it doesn’t matter.

Confidence is the secret ingredient to great style. It changes how you walk and talk, and how others view you. 

A lack of confidence is the quickest way to age yourself and your style.

How to fix it:

Confident woman

Step one: change the narrative in your head.

Sure, not exactly a small ask. But it all starts with how you talk to yourself. Don’t start your day looking in the mirror and pointing out what you wish was different. 

Instead, think of what you do like. 

Those things don’t have to just be physical either. Confidence comes from all aspects of your life. 

Step two: Wear clothes that boost your confidence instead of those that make you insecure. 

Do you feel powerful in a blazer? Lean into structured silhouettes.

Do you feel most like yourself in an A-line dress? Embrace flowy frocks. 

There’s no cookie-cutter version of confidence so make it your own.

9. Wearing the Wrong Undergarments (Especially Bra)

Sometimes your look needs a lift. 

Literally. 

Our final fashion mistake that’s aging you is wearing the wrong undergarments, especially bras. 

Wearing granny panties that leave visible lines or hike up past your waistband is a no-no. And so is wearing a bra that’s too small, too big, or that you have to adjust every two seconds. 

Your undergarments are the foundation of your outfit. They can change how clothes lay on your body or even how things fit. That’s why it’s important to get this right. 

How to fix it:

Ladies, for the last time, you’re wearing the wrong bra size. Oprah said it in 2005, and we’re saying it now. 

Get rid of that bra you’ve held on to like a family heirloom and any that lead to gapping, spilling over, or pain. 

Then, take yourself in for a bra fitting. (And skip Victoria’s Secret, they’re not fit experts and they’re usually trying to sell you on their vanity sizing.)

Seek out a trusted boutique or specialty store that caters to your needs instead of a big box shop. While in your fitting, ask questions, and be picky. If anything feels off, let your stylist know so they can hone in on the perfect size and style for you.

But don’t just stop there, when you’re getting fitted, ask for your measurements. That way you can have them on hand if you try out different brands with their own size guides.

Trust us, finding your perfect bra is a game-changer. 

Take our ‘Find Your Style Quiz’

If you feel confused about what your style is…

Overwhelmed with where to start and what to buy…

We can help you.

Your next step is to take our find your style quiz.

In just 5 simple questions, you’ll figure out what your style direction is, your style role models (for all ages and sizes) and you’ll even get a clear step-by step roadmap for how to start your transformation.

About the Author - Cassandra Sethi
About the Author - Cassandra Sethi

Personal Stylist & Image Consultant

Cassandra Sethi is a Personal Stylist and Founder of Next Level Wardrobe, a luxury Personal Styling and Shopping Service that helps successful professionals of all ages and sizes. After working in the fashion industry for over 25 years, she used her expert knowledge to create a proprietary styling system called ‘The Next Level Wardrobe Style System' which guarantees clients more outfits with less items in their closet. NLW has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, The Tamron Hall Show, NY Mag, Huffington Post and more.

*Disclosure: Next Level Wardrobe only recommends products that we’d suggest to our clients or personally wear ourselves. All opinions expressed here are our own. This post may contain affiliate links that at no additional cost to you, Next Level Wardrobe may earn a small commission. Read the full privacy policy here.

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Cassandra Sethi

is a NYC Personal Stylist and Image Consultant. She is the Founder of Next Level Wardrobe and 'The NLW Style System' that guarantees clients more outfits with less items.

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