How to Dress When You Are the Oldest Person at Work

oldest person at work You’ve spent your entire career honing your skills as a professional and you would like to think that all these years of becoming a seasoned employee would work for you, not against you.  Unfortunately, in this youth obsessed world, the opposite can often be true.  If you have found yourself among colleagues who don’t remember the Clinton administration you may have found yourself feeling insecure about looking too old.  Here are my tips on how to dress when you are the oldest person at work.

Don’t try to keep up with the youngsters

Perhaps your strategy thus far has been to eavesdrop on the conversations of your younger colleagues to pick up shopping tips or maybe you have considered things like Botox or dressing younger.  While keeping your appearance youthful can certainly work, it can also backfire horribly.  There is a huge difference between dressing young and dressing youthful.  When a woman dresses too young for her age she can actually come across looking older, like she is desperately clinging to her youth.  Conversely, when a woman chooses clothing that is updated and age appropriate she looks youthful and as if she has embraced her age with confidence.  Wouldn’t your rather be aspirational to your younger colleagues by showing you can look fantastic at any age?

Don’t degrade your years of experience by trying to dress too young

A desire to look youthful is understandable.  We all want to age as gracefully as we can and there is nothing wrong with coloring your hair, working out regularly, or even fillers and Botox, if that is your thing.  Embracing your age does not mean you let your appearance slide. However, when women become obsessed with this it can really come across as pathetic and  sad.  Don’t degrade your experience, intelligence and years of wisdom by dressing too young or trying too hard to keep up with your younger colleagues.  Who are you trying to impress and why is this so important to you?  Maintenance and upkeep is one thing.  It shows you are conscientious and care.  Obsessing about it shows that you might have your priorities in the wrong place.

Don’t shop where women half your age do

There certainly are stores where you find women from the age of 20 to the age of 50 shopping.  Retailers like Banana Republic and Ann Taylor, for example, are known for appealing to a broad age range.  However, if a bunch of younger gals are hitting Forever 21 during their lunch break you may want to stay behind or shop somewhere else.  Not only might the look be too young, but the clothing fit of stores that cater to younger women may not work for you.   Sure, a piece here or an accessory there from one of these stores is fine, but don’t stock up from younger clothing stores just to compete and look half your age.  You’ve worked hard to earn the salary you do, dress like it and invest in more than just disposable, cheap clothes.

How to Dress When You Are the Oldest Person at Work

Below are three youthful work outfits that look fresh and updated but are age appropriate.  Check out additional tips on how to create a more youthful appearance at work while still embracing your age with confidence.

Outfit #1

oldest person at work You work in a super casual environment.  All the “kids” are walking around in jeans and t-shirts and you have no idea what to do.  Such a basic look just doesn’t work on you but you don’t want to look like the fuddy duddy who doesn’t fit in.

The solution is to recreate a look with pieces that fall into the category of hip and casual that also cater to the needs of your body and age.  First, skinny jeans.  I chose this pair from Lucky Brand because they have a higher rise while still being trendy.  This can be important when your midsection isn’t as whittled as it once was.  Next, I chose this Elie Tahari belted blouse.  Elie Tahari is an excellent brand to check out if you want to look youthful at work. This is one of the brands, among many, that know how to address trend without going overboard.  Other labels who do that are Vince Camuto, MICHAEL Michael Kors, T Tahari, Theory, and even Ivanka Trump.  Next, for arm coverage, because you may want to hide a hot flash or you just get cold at work, I chose this easy Rebecca Taylor cropped cardigan.  Lastly, if you are going to add some trend, do it through your accessories to finish off your more classic pieces with an update.  In this outfit I added a pop of fun color with these yellow flats and these gold earrings from Kendra Scott.

Outfit #2

oldest person at work Perhaps you started a new job where you are experiencing being the oldest for the first time.  You have this wardrobe of good classics and investment pieces that you want to make look younger.  Instead of trashing your entire wardrobe, look at these staples as the base of your outfits that you then spice up with more youthful pieces.

An example of this would be the outfit above.  Boss Hugo Boss is one of my favorite lines to shop with my professional clients.  While many of the pieces are classic with a bit of a twist, most of their items are timeless ones that will last forever.  In this outfit, I took their watercolor pencil skirt and styled it in a trendier manner.  Imagine taking this skirt and pairing it with a basic sweater set or  blouse, pair of sensible pumps and string of pearls.  The outfit would be more than fine but it would also be lacking a any edge.  To make the skirt more modern, I added this Reiss blouse that has a more interesting cut and accessorized it with a tassel pendant and funkier shoes.  That’s the trick, to add edgier pieces to your basics to achieve balance.

Oh, and for what it worth, that gorgeous print in the skirt also comes in a phenomenal dress, which two of my clients have purchased this season.  You really have to check it out.

Outfit #3

oldest person at work In addition to taking your more classic pieces and updating them with funkier pieces and accessories, you can also take the opposite approach and buy some trendier items that you can then pair with the more classic ones in your closet.  By pairing trendy with classic that youthful balance is achieved.

Take how I styled this Theory dress.  A younger person may go for a chunky pair of platform sandals and trendier jewelry but that may make you feel like you are trying too hard to look young.  Instead, by going classic finishing route you will look more age appropriate.  In this ensemble, I used a pair of classic nude flats from Steven (Steve Madden’s more upscale line), a white Boden blazer, gold bracelet from Stella & Dot and contemporary gold earrings from Max & Chloe.

You can’t fight aging, it’s just a part of life.  Instead of putting all your energy towards fighting against it, embrace it by realizing that this does not mean giving up.  Be a woman who embraces her years of aplomb and wisdom and who celebrates it by dressing the best she can for the age she is.

 

  • Maria

    Excellent post! On a related topic, please consider a post detailing ways to make yourself appear older and wiser. I am often mistaken for a student or intern, even though I have worked in my field for over a decade and take pains to dress well. It gets frustrating very quickly, and I worry I am not taken seriously by my colleagues.

  • Great post – sharing on WHOA! Network!

  • Christine

    Great post, Bridgette! In tech you go from being “young” to “old” literally in the blink of an eye, so I personally appreciate that you included more casual workplaces in your examples. I think it’s super important to “keep shopping” in order not to look preserved in amber. Even classics evolve. Ironically, it’s sometimes the most stylish among us, who have more or less won the battle not to gain weight with age, who fall into this behavior. Just because you can still fit into that red suit from the 80s doesn’t mean you should!