Monday, March 1, 2010

Not ready for mom jeans

It's an odd feeling to realize that you've outgrown a store you frequented for years - not in size, but in age and style.  It makes you want to run out and wear something trendy and have some drinks to prove how young you still are.  (Take that, Express!)  Later, you accept it and walk right past the next time you go shopping.  I mentioned this before when I was hunting for jeans, and have since learned that I am far from alone.  I've been asked to expand on places to shop when you're not young enough to wear a vest as a shirt but not ready to shop for mom jeans. 

It's pretty clear that most stores have a target customer in mind.  The Marketing department often names her and the entire collection is an imaginary closet for this made up 26 year old photographer with long legs, lots of money, and a love for Indian inspired jewelry (I'm calling her Paige).   In real life, most of us don't look like Paige and our age/lifestyle/income makes much of her wardrobe impractical.  That means we have to be able to pick out 1-2 pieces from a line of 20 that will work in an outfit completely different than Paige's afternoon at the museum ensemble. 

In the past month, I've shown lots of examples of clothing for my own age group and now I'm going to try to help the person who gave me the idea for this post today.  The still stylish 30-40 year old.  There really aren't a lot of affordable stores who target her anymore.  However, the stores aimed at those a bit younger still offer great pieces that are age appropriate and won't force anyone to pick between clothing for a 25 year old and shopping at Coldwater Creek (not that there's anything wrong with that).

So, if you're approaching a 'certain age' and looking for sophisticated clothing that still looks trendy, I think you should start browsing these stores without the idea that they're too young for anyone:

Martin & Osa
Pros: A great source for knits and tops that hit at hip length and skim over your shape instead of hug every curve.  The jewelry is affordable and of decent quality.  For the most part, the fabrics don't look cheap and hold up well over time.
Cons: The pants all seem to be cut for long, thin legs.  The prices start out a bit high.

 The Limited
Pros: Shirts with boob room.  Well made knits.  Affordable suiting.  Tailored shirts with trendy detailing. 
Cons: Jewelry often looks like it came from Claire's.  Pants for a fuller hip/thigh are now hard to find.

Ann Taylor Loft
Pros: Great source for knits and J. Crew copycat embellished tees.  Lots of statement jewelry.  Shorts are long enough for adults to wear.
Cons: Some items in the store are a bit matronly.  Thin cotton of shirts and dresses can look cheap when it was actually $79.

Obviously there are many more options and some obvious choices like Banana Republic that I haven't included.  I think the key to not appearing like you're trying to look 22 is to stick with flattering shapes and don't try to show lots of skin (unless you're a Real Housewife on Bravo).  All three of the stores I featured will have things that are shown in outfits meant for a 25 year old but when paired with basic pieces, they become less edgy. 

Be brave ladies - and don't wear tapered pants no matter what.


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