This blog post is geared toward the 50+ job seeker or worker who feels a little unsure about workplace style. Obviously, not everyone over 50 has a hopeless sense of style…that’s not what we are implying at all. Some readers likely have a better career style than we do! If that is you, please share your tips and helpful links in the comment section. We want to hear from you, and invite you to help others through this post. If you have always worked and are finding that you are not sure what to wear in a career setting now that you’ve leveled up to 50+, this blog is for you. If you are just getting back out there at 50+, and feel you may have an outdated career style, this one is also for you. Everyone, feel free to comment, ask questions, and interact with other readers in the comment section. We are here to help each other!
General Style Tips For 50+ Men: First and foremost, your work style should match the job and the work environment. Some workplaces have uniforms, and/or extremely casual styles. If that is the case, the interview/business casual sections below will be helpful to you, but probably for your job interview(s) only. 50+ job seekers should pay close attention to choosing styles that are well fitting (neither too tight or too loose), comfortable, and never, ever too “young”. You are not 25, and no one expects you to dress in the same styles as younger men. Jewelry should always be limited to a wedding band, and/or school ring, and a watch for interviews and on the job. Shoes…quality and comfort are key. Even if you are on a tight budget, it pays to spend a bit more for your shoes (as your finances will allow).
General Style Tips For 50+ Women: Career style for 50+ women can be much more of a quagmire than it is for men. Women’s fashion trends are much more pronounced and tend to swing more wildly from season to season than do trends for men. The idea for 50+ women, and really ALL women is to avoid frumpy clothing, but don’t be a fashion victim either when it comes to career wear. Think on-trend, not trendy, well fitting and tasteful, and when in doubt you can never go wrong with a classic style of dress. If you look sharp, but no one can pinpoint which decade you belong to, you are onto something. As with younger women in the workplace, makeup and jewelry should be light and tasteful, and as with 50+ men in the workplace, comfort is critical. Choose comfort over fashion, especially when it comes to shoes.
In this next section, we’ve compiled some links and tips and example ensembles for three major career situations you will find yourself in. We both have had very good luck over the years with JCPenney when shopping for career wear. Penney’s is by no means the only place to shop, but we are recommending it because we think it’s a great department store where both men and women, and budget conscious shoppers can find a stylish and age appropriate career wardrobe. No-frump, career appropriate JC Penney brands to look for are Worthington, Liz Claiborne, and (sometimes) St. John’s Bay for women, and Stafford, Van Heusen, and (sometimes) St. John’s Bay for men.
SAMPLE ENSEMBLES FOR MEN AND WOMEN
The Interview – Men
A suit and tie and dress shirt, or dress slacks, dress shirt and a sport coat with tie are the standard here. In very casual or uniformed workplace environments, a suit is too much. In that case, dress slacks, a dress shirt, and sport jacket, with tie is more appropriate. Also, in some cases, dress slacks, dress shirt, with no tie or jacket is the better option.
Suit Separates: Stafford Suit Separates – Medium Gray- No Vest
Dress Shirt: Van Heusen Long Sleeve White Dress Shirt
Tie: Stafford Geometric Tie (any of these colors)
Dress Shoes: Stafford Black Classic Oxford Shoes
The Interview – Women
An at, or slightly above the knee skirt, or career trousers and career blouse are perfect interview attire. We think a matching career blazer is optional, and in some workplace environments can be too much. Use your judgement there. A dress for interview is the less desirable option, but can still be worn if it is an appropriate, no frills, conservative length and neckline style (see example below).
Skirt: Worthington Pencil Skirt (in black or gray)
Blouse: Worthington Modern Fit Long Sleeve Blouse (White) *Women’s blouses these days tend to be very sheer–even career blouses. Plan on wearing a camisole or tank underneath. If the blouse is TOO sheer, choose a different blouse.
Trousers: Worthington Perfect Trousers (in black or gray)
Shoes: Hush Puppies Black Leather Low Heel Pumps
Blazer (optional): Worthington Essential Flap Pocket Blazer (in black or gray, matching skirt or trousers)
Dress: Worthington 3/4 Sleeve Fit and Flare Style (any shade)
Jewelry: Monet Gold Tone Two Piece Set (choose a similar silver tone set if you prefer silver)
Everyday At Work – Men
Pants: Docker’s Classic Flat Front Pants (any shade)
Shirt: Docker’s Long Sleeve Button Down (or any similar solid color long sleeve button down shirt)
Shoes: Docker’s Leather Casual Shoes
Tie (optional, based upon work environment) Any coordinating solid tie, no bright colors or crazy patterns.
Everyday At Work – Women
Pants: Worthington Perfect Trousers (see Interview style)
Top: Liz Claiborne Long Sleeve Beaded Keyhole Blouse (any color)
Shoes: Aerosoles Ballet Flats
Dresses: Maya Brooke 3/4 Sleeve Embellished Jacket Dress
Earrings: Monet Drop Earrings
Casual Days…A lot of workplace environments do relax the dress code on Fridays. Some even encourage casual day dress every day. This is where a lot of men and women get into trouble, we think. It’s hard to know what to wear! A general rule of thumb is casual but structured and polished–NOT the same things you’d wear on the weekend or around the house. Jeans are fine, but stick with dark wash or trouser denim, never too tight, and NO rips or tears. Never athleisure wear or shorts, and use good judgement on cropped pants and capris, ladies.
Casual Friday – Men
Lee Regular Fit Straight Leg Jeans (dark wash only)
Van Heusen Flex Long-Sleeve Polo Shirt
Dockers Vargas Mens Boat Shoes
Casual Friday – Women
St. John’s Bay Bootcut Jeans (dark wash)
Liz Claiborne Long Sleeve Split Crew Neck Floral Top (any color or pattern)
Journee Womens Ankle Boots
Mixit Drop Earrings
50+ Style Advice
Men: Bellatory–2019’s Best Style for Older Men and Real Men Real Style–Style Advice For Men Over 50
Women: Susan After Sixty (Susan has great everyday office and casual day looks) and The Style For Work (great ensembles, but watch out for tight or off shoulder styles)
The preceding is by no means a comprehensive guide to 50+ career wear. It’s simply a jumping off point. We hope readers will weigh in and augment what we’ve presented here. This is a blog post we’d love to see stay active indefinitely, with comments from a diverse cross section of 50+ job seekers and workers. Please be sure to add your tips, stories of your hits and misses, and any recommended websites, bloggers, and influencers.
Until Next Time!
~Anthony and Lisa