‘I’m a Stylist. Here Are 3 Trends to Avoid if You’re Over 40’

Gerard Ortiz

I got into the world of styling and fashion when I was 14 years old. My journey began when I did an internship for a company that shot videos for New York fashion week.

At the time, my role consisted of getting coffee, observing, and helping out in any way that I could.

Ten years later, I began directing runway shows during New York fashion week for designers. Along the way, I also interned for major fashion magazines.

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The power of dressing well

My favorite thing about styling is the transformative process that takes place. There are extreme cases where an individual’s style completely changes. But subtle tweaks also make a big difference as they allow people to feel more confident.

I receive positive text messages from clients constantly. A client had said that he became confident enough to ask a girl out on a date, and she said yes. Another client said that they got their dream promotion because of their confidence.

I work with men and women of all ages and body types. The majority of my clients are between the ages of 28 to 55. There’s almost always a significant event that triggers somebody to hire a stylist, whether it be a new relationship, weight loss or weight gain, a new job, or a new location.

Styling is very much a collaborative process. My clients do not look the same because they are not the same. But with that being said, they are coming to me, a stylist, because they trust that I have a good knowledge of how to dress.

Fashion trends that are popular right now

I think it’s great that some people like following fashion trends. I love trends, too. But, I have a very take-it-or-leave-it approach, because not all trends are for everybody. For example, oversized clothing may work well for some people, but may not look flattering on other body types. Loafers often look good when they are styled correctly, but again, they may not be suited for everybody.

Currently, there are a lot of cool streetwear trends in fashion, sneakers being one of them. It’s interesting that the fashion industry has moved away from heels. The heels that are being worn are either high platforms, or the square-toed heels from the 2000s.

Three fashion trends to avoid if you’re over 40

One thing to keep in mind is that trends are not specifically attached to certain age groups, but it’s about knowing your target audience, what are you wearing, and in what setting. I believe that 40 is a young age. I also do not believe that people need to avoid trends because of their age.

The aim is to look your best for your age, rather than looking like you are trying to be younger than you actually are. For example, you should look amazing for 40 and not like you are 40, trying to be 20.

So, here are some trends you may wish to avoid if you are over 40, and why:

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1. Crop tops

Crop tops ordinarily, I’d say, are not appropriate past your early twenties. However, if you are wearing a crop top with high-waisted trousers and a blazer, or a cardigan, it is very workable. How you integrate crop tops into your wardrobe is key, as you do not want to run the risk of looking like the young teenagers that we would typically see on Instagram, who wear these things in a certain setting, at a certain time.

Samantha Brown, a Professional Stylist
Samantha Brown explains crop top fashion trends.
Getty Images

For example, cutouts are a big trend. Typically, they are used to reveal a specific part of one’s body. There’s no reason why women over 40 shouldn’t be wearing them. But the setting in which you are wearing the cutouts is important. Being on a beach location, or in a warm climate suits this style. But it is not something that one would typically wear to take their kids to school.

2. Style inspired by kids references

At the moment, I believe that there is a resurgence in the more juvenile ’90s and 2000s trends, like T-shirts embroidered with smiley faces and other child-like references. I think that for women of all ages who want to be taken seriously, thinking about the context in which you are wearing a trend is important.

I have a jacket that has a smiley face patch, and I love it, but I would not wear it to a meeting with my corporate clients. This is why it’s key to know your audience, and who you’re speaking to.

Kids Reference Clothing
Samantha Brown explains why smiley-face embroidered clothing is going out of fashion.
Getty Images

Because many people are now working from home, casual clothing has become the norm. But we need to continuously consider what environments we are in, and to who we are presenting ourselves. We are not dressing for others, but so we can feel comfortable within ourselves in all scenarios.

3. Any fashion trend that has resurfaced once in your lifetime

If you wore the trend the first time around when you were a teenager and it resurfaces 25 years later, maybe it’s not for you the second time around. For example, if you are over 25 years old, I do not personally believe that you should be wearing fuzzy bucket hats.

That trend may be for the teenagers that were your age when you first wore it. This is the same for other teenage-inspired trends like make-up inspired by the TV show Euphoria. I personally do not think we should be wearing glitter and stars around our eyes past a certain age in our day-to-day lives.

Samantha Brown, a Professional Stylist
Samantha Brown explains the rise in Euphoria inspired makeup and bucket hats.
Getty Images

It’s key to note that although fashion trends are often global, different cultures typically have varying trends. I believe that New York is usually more reserved, in contrast to Miami or Los Angeles. So, wearing a crop top and shorts may be seen as typical in a hot climate, but it may not work in New York. This is also because, from my observations, New York tends to lean more toward conservative styles.

Seasonal style and the power of fashion

Fall and winter are my favorite seasons because I love layering clothes. I also love boots and happen to like animal prints. Most importantly, I always wear lots of jewelry; I even sleep with it on! Jewelry is very personal. Of course, I love accessories, too.

It’s never too late to have a stylist. If a stylist can teach you how to shop, you will typically end up wasting less money over time buying clothes on impulse, for example, if you are invited to an event last minute and do not know what to wear. I believe that if you work with a stylist once or twice a year, you will have a wardrobe that’s already curated, and that works, you’re less likely to have those moments of stress and excessive spending.

What we wear has the power to change our entire mood, posture, confidence, and the way that we interact in the world. Wearing the right outfit, in the right place, at the right time can change somebody’s life. I see it happen all the time.

Samantha Brown has been working as a professional and celebrity stylist for over 10 years. Although based in New York, Samantha will travel to meet clients as needed. She is also a Video Director for B Live and shoots New York Fashion Week shows including Marc Jacobs, Donna Karan, Michael Kors, Oscar de la Renta, and many more. You can find out more about her here.

All views expressed in this article are the author’s own.

As told to Newsweek associate editor, Carine Harb.

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