What To Do With Business Attire Post-Retirement

November 15, 2018 Published by
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What To Do With Business Attire Post-Retirement

When it comes to age-appropriate dressing, I am on the fence.

Is it true that age should dictate style? I say no… and yes! Hear me out.

It is important that we keep a pulse on the evolution of our style. If you find yourself wearing the same clothes you were wearing a decade ago, you’ve officially been left behind.

In that respect, great style at any age is about keeping up-to-date with who you are today and making sure the image you present reflects that woman, not the younger, less-experienced version of you circa 1982.

No Rules, Just Right

Ellen Barkin famously told O, The Oprah Magazine that women over 50 should never wear blue jeans to dinner. And while that may be her truth, these are exactly the type of rules that I eschew.

Embrace denim, by all means! Perhaps skip the acid washed, torn at the knees version that the younger you may have appreciated, but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a great, comfortable pair of denim.

British Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman has a few simple style tips for women over 55: know your shape, don’t be afraid to embrace colors, and downplay the sparkle.

Alyson Walsh, former editor of Good Housekeeping and author of the book Style Forever: The Grown-Up Guide to Looking Fabulous, agrees with our no rules mindset, declaring that fashion should be fun! Her tips for timeless style include investing in a great hairstyle and well-applied makeup. (After all, isn’t that why magnifying mirrors were invented?!)

“There’s simply no need to be confined to frumpy, basic or boring,” she says.

I translate that to mean fashion should be enjoyable! And that, ladies, is the one style rule I stand behind.

What To Do About Business Attire

After decades of being a visible, vibrant woman in the workplace, you may be considering retirement. If you’re like me and you’re already retired, you may be wondering what to do with all the great pieces you collected that gave you an edge at your former job.

So that begs the question, should your clothing retire along with you? 

The answer isn’t exactly cut and dry, and here’s why. The clothes you wore to work likely highlighted your best side and made you stand out. They may have even helped you land that promotion you were working towards.

If you have some pieces from your business wardrobe that you still love and still make you feel like you’re on top of the world, why get rid of them? Instead, I encourage you to breathe new life into them! You might even consider bringing out a great blazer or long trench coat if you have an event to dress up for during the upcoming holiday season.

Even though you may not be working a 9-5 job anymore if you feel these pieces still represent the incredible woman you are, keep them around. And if by chance they don’t, then you can get rid of them knowing they no longer suit you.

What Are Your Thoughts on Dressing Your Age?

Please share your thoughts with me via TwitterFacebookPinterest, Instagram or in the comments section below.

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15 Comments

  • Mary Ferguson says:

    I took my more tailored business clothes and donated them to my local university’s career closet. Students check them out for interviews or internships then return them. It’s a win-win. My closet was cleaned out, my more expensive things went to a good purpose, and some students got to make a good impression!

  • Dina says:

    I’ve got the same problem. However, I practice yoga and wear sleeveless at the studio. I went to Ulta cosmetics shop…a sales associate who has tattoos sowed me how to hide the bruises with a combo of waterproof cosmetics…a game changer! Highly recommend

  • Elizabeth Bolden says:

    Thank you for sharing this! I am 54 and still working. I often look up style advice for women over 50. Most articles, blogs, etc., embrace the “no rules” concept, and I am grateful for that. I have created my own style over the years. I like the idea that I can morph what I am wearing to work into something with a more casual feel after I retire. I hadn’t really thought about that! Another thing to look forward to when I am retired!

    • Susan "Honey" Good says:

      I am not a fan of retirement. Think twice before you act, once. I have seen so many older women and men who wish they were still in the ‘hunt.’ Maybe, work part-time, always to stay vital and visible? Warmly, Honey

  • Ann dunne says:

    I live in Holland part of the year and one of the things I love is that woman dress the same at any age- (well from 30-800. Lace stockings, riding a bike to a concert- it all goes. I love it. Older couples hold hands more too! is there a connection?

    • Susan "Honey" Good says:

      I love Holland! It is a romantic spot. How can it not be with the Flower Auction and Tulips and windmills? I did not know people of all ages dress the same. I like that. Warmly, Honey

  • Elizabeth Sheffer-Winig says:

    I have repurposed some of my business clothes – pairing jackets with jeans, which I do wear out to dinner! I have donated some to an organization that helps women recovering from addiction or domestic abuse prepare for entry into the world of work. I have two classic suits that I keep just in case I am asked to do presentations on education by organizations I worked with during my tenure at the teachers union in NYS. I love sparkle and have a few holiday tops that have a hint of sparkle! I wear a minimum of make-up, but like to enhance my near naked eyebrows. Thank you, Honey, for your wonderful blog.

  • dianne c rocke says:

    I find that although I no longer work in an office (I work remotely from home and just come in for meetings) most of my old office attire can be used in a new way. One not too big of an investment I made several years ago was to buy Loft blouses in every color that suited me (I have at least a dozen with duplicates in neutrals) They are a dressy material…not silk but looked like it and are easier to maintain. They could be dressed up or down…I have worn them to elegant evenings out, important meetings, or as a swimsuit cover up to name a few. They are suitable for all year round. Even years later they haven’t wore out, still look good with my complexion, and now I mostly wear them untucked with nice leggings and boots for working at home, and then throw a nice leather jacket over them for out and about town doing errands, etc. They are still relevent, still useful and I just recently wore one for a nicer occasion with a dressy cardigan and skirt with a stunning brooch at the buttoned the neck. I got so many compliments from young and old alike. I never dreamed those shirts, almost a decade later, would still be serving me! I wonder how I will style them in 2 decades when I am in my 80’s? Blessings! Thanks for another good read!

  • Jane Kelly says:

    Over the last 4 years I have lost 140 pounds & because I could not afford to buy brand new wardrobe, I bought from resale shops & sold my large sizes at the same. I got hooked & now I can afford to buy that might be more trendy or “fun” because I haven’t spent a fortune on it. I work from home & only wear business clothes when traveling for work or going to meetings, so the same applies. It’s amazing how many brand new unworn beautiful clothes I have found in resale shops.

    • Susan "Honey" Good says:

      You are so right. Some with the price tag in place! Great place to shop. Congrats on your self-discipline. I applaud the now happier you. Warmly, Honey

  • For a wonderful new life for your professional wardrobe- donate to Dress for Success. It is an amazing organization that provides women entering or re-entering the work force with job appropriate clothing that they could not otherwise afford. They also provide suggestions on job interview behavior and grooming.
    They are especially happy to get plus size clothing- and don’t forget to give accessories, too.

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