— Style —


All photographs ©Brenda Coffee, 2017
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My recent FASHIONABLE ITALIAN WOMEN OVER 50 post struck a chord with many of you. From the emails, comments on social media and the blog post, women over 50 want to look classier, like the women of Florence, but tweaked in for our more casual lifestyle. Women are also frustrated because fashion designers don’t design with us in mind, especially since we’re the ones with the money.

As one wise reader said, “American women need to have a fashion Renaissance.”

Don’t despair! There are lots of stylish clothes available for women over 50. The trick is to know (a) your style, (b) how to achieve that style, (c) where to shop and (d) when to use trendier pieces.

If you look at the Florentine women in my last post, they have a classic, elegant style. They also know how to incorporate trends. They look like grownup, elegant women, not like they’re trying to hang onto their youth. There’s a huge difference. We can be stylish and trendy without… as my first husband said, “looking like women who’re cramming for their finals.” By adopting a more classic style, the Italian women over 50 blow the young un’s out of the water.

Another difference is the women of Florence buy fewer clothes than American women, but they buy the best quality they can afford. They follow my mother’s tried and true advice of “buying one nice piece in the fall and one in the spring and building your wardrobe around them.” If you buy classic pieces of quality, you’ll have them for years. It also helps to stay in the same color palette, preferably colors like different shades of black, white, tan, grey, navy.

Classics are not matronly. They’re timeless. They’re simple. They give us the well-dressed look many of us are craving. Style is how we pair our classic pieces with the other things in our closet plus some of the season’s trendy “must haves.”

I love this 50+ woman in Siena, Italy. Notice her long classic blazer, nipped in at the waist and the right length at her wrist. FYI she was wearing nearly nude colored, fishnet panty hose!


  1. Don’t dress like your daughter. We can be fashionable and stylish without shopping at Forever 21. Regardless of the trends, choose clothes that make you look like your style icon.
  2. Spend your money on classic pieces, not things that will be out of style next year.
  3. Wear solid colors and remember, “Two colors rich. Three colors poor.” Too many colors can cheapen a look. Choose neutrals. It’s easier to pair them with one another.
  4. Unless it’s a touch of leopard, think twice about prints. If you notice a really well-dressed European woman, she’s rarely wearing prints unless she’s going for a Bohemian look and even then, it’s classy, not “Coachella.”
  5. Save bold color and trendy items for belts, bags, shoes, scarves and sunglasses.
  6. Pants and jeans. Rethink cropped pants, frayed hems, torn knees and super skinny pants or leggings… unless you wear them with a long blouse, blazer or sweater that covers your behind, cameltoe and perhaps the top of your thighs. Few of us have figures worthy of showcasing these areas.
  7. Blouses, sweaters and blazers. Classic, simple. Less is more. Accentuate with jewelry.
  8. Wear clothes that fit your body. If you’re overweight, wearing a larger size doesn’t hide your weight. It makes you look even heavier.
  9. Tailoring. Nothing looks worse than a blazer or jacket with no shape—doesn’t show your waist, is too boxy—or that’s too short or too long in the wrists, or pants that are too short or too long. If you don’t know a tailor, ask around. Your dry cleaner may offer that service. It’s less expensive than you think.
  10. Don’t forget to do your hair and wear a little makeup! Take pride in how you look.

This is not to say you can’t wear a pair of black leather pants—don’t even try to take mine away from me—but pair them with a a crisp white blouse… collar turned up… or a classic neutral sweater or maybe a sharp blazer thrown over your shoulders and a leopard clutch. Just don’t mix too many “looks” at once like leather AND velvet AND fur AND tall boots AND leopard.

When I posted this 50+ Italian woman on Instagram, everyone–but me–knew it was the $5,400 leather Gucci jacket embroidered with a tiger and “Blind For Love.” While I would have worn this 10 years ago, it no longer suits me. This woman wore it with black leather pants, black boots and red glasses. On the plus side, the cut of the jacket was well-tailored, tucked in at the waist with sharp red and white piping. Some of us can wear this, and some of us can’t. Period! It has nothing to do with “age appropriate.” If you want to see a woman over 50 who pulls off rocker chic with ease, look at Lauren Ezersky… one of my style icons. But then Lauren has the silver hair–great, thick hair–and the eye makeup and jewelry to make it work. In other words, her clothes don’t “wear her.”

In future posts, I’ll zero in on specific ways to dress for all occasions, regardless of size and budget, plus I’ll share how to shop online and some brands and stores where you can find clothes that make you look and feel your best. Ciao Bellas!


  • Felicia Leuschen October 13, 2017 at 12:18 am

    Wonderful, informative article. Looking forward to many more.

    • 1010ParkPlace October 14, 2017 at 9:03 am

      Hi Felicia, So happy you got something from this post. I’m looking forward to sharing some great tips. Brenda

  • Patty Grabow October 13, 2017 at 12:25 am

    Great tips! Thank you!

    • 1010ParkPlace October 14, 2017 at 9:04 am

      Glad you like them! Thank you, Patty. Brenda

  • Rebecca Forstadt Olkowski October 13, 2017 at 1:13 am

    It’s making me miss Siena. I loved it when I was there. Love your tips. Right on!

    • 1010ParkPlace October 14, 2017 at 9:09 am

      I loved Siena as well, but spent too much time looking for a place to change dollars into Euros. For next year’s trip I have a better idea how much to change and will just do that before I leave home. Glad you liked my tips, Rebecca. Brenda

      • Sarah Jones October 14, 2017 at 12:40 pm

        For next year’s trip, I recommend using an ATM! I spent a day in Florence looking for a money-changing store until I noticed all the bank machines on every street! BTW: I am loving the series on fashion over 50!

  • Rebecca Blundell Anderson October 13, 2017 at 7:03 am


    • Beckye October 13, 2017 at 9:12 pm

      Love your great style advice! Vantage wait for more!

      • Beckye October 13, 2017 at 9:14 pm

        That should be *can’t wait!

    • 1010ParkPlace October 14, 2017 at 9:10 am

      Thank you, Rebecca! That means we may have similar tastes! Brenda

  • Barbara October 13, 2017 at 10:04 am

    I’m loving this fashion advice, Brenda! Looking forward to more. We can all benefit from smart fashion.

    • 1010ParkPlace October 14, 2017 at 9:12 am

      Terrific! That makes me happy, Barbara! xoxo, Brenda

  • LA CONTESSA October 13, 2017 at 10:45 am



    I another GOOD POST Brenda would be to snap photos of women in your city…………..have a debate what works and what does not!??
    What do you think?

    • Joanna October 13, 2017 at 1:55 pm

      Great suggestion! Pictures will demonstrate classic dressing with a modern twist easier then words. I like to know what the trends are but don’t necessarily follow them. Many look ridiculous even on the young.

    • 1010ParkPlace October 14, 2017 at 9:26 am

      “Fashion Renaissance!” I had the same reaction to her statement! Ooohhh!! Great idea, Elizabeth! Let’s hope some security guard somewhere doesn’t stop me from taking photos. In places like NYC, Paris and Italy, people are out on the streets, walking to their destination. In San Antonio, we take cars everywhere, so I’d have to be at a mall or lurking in my car outside a restaurant, which reminds me… Years ago, when I was a filmmaker, I got this fancy German movie camera that was brushed metal and fit in your hand… It was “THE” thing at the time. I took it to one of the stores to learn how to use it and started filming as I went down the escalator. When I got to the first floor, the store detective said a woman had complained that I was a private detective her husband had hired to follow her… LOL!!! It used to drive James crazy when I’d pull out my camera at places like the “Low Rider Festival,” (he was afraid the car owners–mostly tough Mexican gang members–would think I was DEA and shoot us) or photographing a woman’s outrageous toenail art in the airport. He was an attorney, so he saw things from a different perspective than I did. But I digress…. Let me experiment with the best way to do that. xoxox, Brenda

  • Sandra Roepke October 13, 2017 at 11:00 am

    Love this post!!!!!!

    • 1010ParkPlace October 14, 2017 at 9:29 am

      Yay!!! Thank you for letting me know, Sandra!

  • Liza Kindred October 13, 2017 at 1:22 pm

    My fave tip here is “Two colors rich. Three colors poor.” I have never heard that, but it makes so much sartorial sense! But I disagree with cropped pants on the “no” list…. I think they can be so flattering à la Audrey Hepburn! 🙂

    • Jessica Bailey October 13, 2017 at 2:12 pm

      Actually, she said “Rethink cropped pants, frayed hems, torn knees and super skinny pants or leggings… unless you wear them with a long blouse, blazer or sweater…” — She just said to RETHINK wearing them UNLESS you wear them with the items she listed. She didn’t say NOT to wear them.

      • 1010ParkPlace October 14, 2017 at 9:31 am

        Thank you, Jessica! I loved your comment!! LOL! Maybe I should hire you to be my PR woman! Brenda

    • 1010 Park Place October 14, 2017 at 8:54 am

      Hi Liza Kindred! When I was in my 20’s, a friend who flipped houses told me “Two colors rich. Three colors poor,” and as I’ve looked at decorating homes or putting outfits together, it’s held true. As far as cropped pants go… Jessica Bailey was right. I didn’t say NOT to wear them, just “rethink” them. Audrey Hepburn looked adorable in cropped pants, but she’s one in a million. Cropped pants hit most of us at an unflattering place on the leg unless you’re wearing shoes with an ankle strap or that lace up the leg OR you’re thin and have the right “torso to lower body” ration. I don’t know if there’s a formula for that, but I know it when I see it.

    • 1010 Park Place October 14, 2017 at 8:58 am

      LOL!!! That should be “ratio” not “ration!

    • 1010ParkPlace October 14, 2017 at 9:02 am

      Hi Liza! When I was in my 20’s, a friend who flipped houses told me “Two colors rich. Three colors poor,” and whether it’s decorating homes or putting an outfit together, it’s held true. As far as cropped pants go.. Jessica Bailey was right. I didn’t say NOT to wear them, just “rethink” them. Audrey Hepburn looked adorable in cropped pants, but she’s one in a million. Cropped pants hit most of us at an unflattering place on the leg unless you’re wearing shoes with an ankle strap or that lace up the leg OR you’re thin and have the right “torso to lower body” ratio. I don’t know if there’s a formula for that, but I know it when I see it. Love seeing you here! xoxox, Brenda

  • Robin LaMonte October 13, 2017 at 4:02 pm

    Love this post Brenda!

    Not all fashions work for my personal fashion style.
    I am not a fan of torn knees or frayed hems so I don’t buy them.
    I loved the post with the Gucci jacket. Tre chic Hell’s Angels, but with a dollar sign.
    She dresses for herself and not for us.

    • 1010ParkPlace October 14, 2017 at 9:38 am

      You’re so right, Robin! She dresses for herself and that’s something we all should do. I didn’t mean for these tips to come across as you can’t dress any other way because some of my favorite women–like my friend Lauren Ezersky–dress for themselves, and they’re fabulous!! Over the last year or two I’ve tried dressing like Lauren, but I don’t have the rest of what’s required to pull it off. I also wore my kimono to a Neiman Marcus style show last month… LOL! They know me very well there and didn’t say much about my outfit… Several ways I can take that, but I didn’t care! Yes, we should all be an original. Thanks so much, Brenda

  • Jill Anthony October 15, 2017 at 12:43 am

    Love this post Brenda! I have been sticking more to the classics in the last few years when the way I had been dressing for decades wasn’t quite working anymore. I had to retune my wardrobe choices. Using classic pieces as a base certainly helps. These gorgeous women from Florence seem to be next level! They are the master class of style for sure! And I agree with you about Lauren Ezersky! She’s fabulous!

    • 1010parkplace October 16, 2017 at 10:52 pm

      Hi Jill, You can build a sensational wardrobe based on classic separates and rarely go wrong. They’re the base that keeps us from looking like we’re trying too hard or sometimes looking flat out silly! And about Lauren… Everytime I’ve been with her, I come home and vow to adopt her style but I don’t look right. Borrowing some of her style but I have to pair it with a classic or I look stupid! She and I could walk down the street in the exact same things. She would be featured as the “DO” on the street style page, and I would be the “DON’T” xoxox, Brenda

  • Sandra Sallin October 21, 2017 at 5:31 pm

    Right on! But, does that mean I need to return the shirts I bought with patterns? Maybe. Love more articles like this. Just kept me from buying some blue jeans with shredded bottoms. Got to keep us on our toes. I remember how easy it was to spot stylish women in Europe. Los Angeles? Not so easy. Good luck with your project. I’ll be reading every word.

    • 1010ParkPlace November 1, 2017 at 1:59 pm

      HI Sandra, Just rethink patterns and how you’re wearing them, how many colors will be in one outfit? Busy is the opposite of chic, even chic casual unless you’re wearing a red and black, large check flannel shirt, black jeans/leggings and boots… Think Aspen! I’m a firm believer in the “two colors rich, three colors poor” rule. Happy to hear you took back the jeans with the shredded bottoms. At a certain age, we have to be even more careful or we’ll look like granny who desperately wants to be young, and that’s sad. LA/Beverly Hills! Other than you, I’m not sure that’s the best community for fashion role models. xoxox, Brenda

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