So, What Exactly Is Old Lady Style Anyway???

Happy Monday, all!  I wanted to open up a discussion of your opinions on what you think the description “old lady style” means?  I have mentioned before that it drives me crazy when bad fashion is described as grandma style.  I know plenty of very stylish grandmas…bad fashion is exactly that bad fashion.  Lately, I have heard a few people know describe clothing they do not like as old lady style!  It makes me wonder…what do they mean by old lady…and what do they think an old lady wears??  Why that description??

I personally think this type of criticism of certain ways to dress needs to stop.  But, when someone says an outfit is old lady…what does it mean to you?  Please give your opinion.  What is old lady style?


I purchased this top at Chico’s about three years ago for a special event.  I know there are some thinking..”.Oh that top is too memorable. It makes such a statement, I would not wear it often.”  Well, each time I wear it, someone says “That is a great top. Is it new?”  I think this is because, I style it differently …with different pants and jewelry each time I wear it.”  Makes it seem new.  Today, I am wearing it with my favorite leggings, and a necklace my husband gave me when my daughter married several years ago. I am also wearing Sam Edelman ballet flats.  Never be afraid to go out and make a statement!

Please tell me what you think people mean when they say something is “old lady style!”  I found some rockin’ styles and put them in the slide show below. Now, look for a big announcement tomorrow!   Thanks for being here and…………………………………………………………………………………………………




  1. I believe it means something different for each generation. I’m 57. “Old Lady Style” = Alfred Dunner mix n match outfits, that my mother loved. Printed sweatshirts with flowers/puppies, etc. A younger group may see cropped pants and tunics as “old”. It is a perspective.

    Wearing (formerly trendy) clothing from 10-15 +years ago, is “old”. That said, we tend to hang on to expensive/well-made pieces “just because”. A yearly closet purge is very helpful.

  2. LoL! Alfred Dunner sets were so comfy for work….wore that in my 40s to work. That was not my “old lady” phase! I guess to me, “old lady” is trying to hang onto too tight worn out out of style fashions….I can’t and don’t wear my little tee shirts and shorts any longer. Nobody needs to see that?. Clunky shoes, baggy clothes and too loud prints are a tad on the “grandma” side… a lady who just gives up on her spark because she must think it’s “too late”?. No, that’s just wrong. Age does not define personality ?

    1. This is what I think people mean by old lady style: Old lady style means you wear clothes that fit your generation … way back when. It’s when you wear 20 year old clothes just because they are not worn out. It’s when you wear so many items all together from an age gone by that you look like you’re wearing a costume. It’s when you fail to accept that “rules” you lived by no longer exist. A good example is when you insist on a color match that is very tight in tone, when the modern trend is to have slightly “off” and more self-expressive color combos. Another example is refusing to wear black with brown, or black with navy. A “grouping” by the manufacturer of separates in prints and solids all worn together as an “outfit” is also said to be old lady. All that said, it is a judgmental term that is unkind and unnecessary. Frankly, by all objective facts, I am an old lady, and ok with it … at least I’m a lady. And I won’t wear young styles that don’t flatter me. I think better terminology would be that the clothing is “dated” or “frumpy” (on the hanger! Not directed at any person!).

  3. As an old lady myself I remember the female elders of my youth in their house dresses and aprons. Anyone remember dresses that had zippers on the side and matching belts with fabric covered buckles? Orthopedic lace up shoes with block heels. Hats and gloves. Now old lady style is pastels, polyester elastic waist pants, florals, matchy collarless knit tops, SAS shoes (with apologies to SAS and their quality product.) And the fast becoming old lady generation has crop pants, tunic knit tops, “athletic” shoes. We probably should just all wear what we like and let others do the same.

    1. I suppose it could suggest either the twinset/tweeds/pearls look or the shapeless/easy care/dull pastels that some older women wear when they’ve given up. Mostly though I think it’s just a stupid insult from people who equate being a granny or an older woman with being boring and past it so what it really means is, “Your clothes are too mainstream or conservative for me. I am the epitome of chick.”

  4. Being no waisted and thicker through the torso, I am not fussy over flowing or tight clothes. Liked you fashion show great variety, some ideas for me.

  5. Interesting topic because what is wrong with being an “old lady”? I do not see too many older ladies who wear loud print housecoats and have blue hair anymore unless it is on TV when they are showing a period piece drama. Grandmothers today generally do not look like their great grandmothers did when there were strict rules about what to wear and cosmetic dentistry was super expensive. Betty is right when she said that age does not define personality.

  6. I might put a thick black belt on your blouse to cinch it in a bit. And colored flats. Red? Love that necklace!

    Old lady style to me was the “invisible cloak” — the loose top piece I had to wear to hide my weight. Got rid of the weight and the need to be invisible. Trying hard to keep it off.

  7. I agree Alfred Dunner says old lady. The old polyester that wore like iron and BIG plaid pants. I understand, but disagree that grandma style is old. I’m a grandma and try to dress with style in high quality clothing.

  8. “Wow! “Old lady style,” immediately brings to mind the black leather lace up style shoes that had a chunky heel that my grandmother and my great- aunt wore when I was about 5 years old. Actually, all the old ladies wore them at church. EleanorRoosevelt wore them. Mamie Eisenhour wore them. They wore them at home with their house dresses and at church with their good dresses. I thought when you became a grandmother you had to wear those ugly shoes; it was an unwritten law.

    Of course, at age 66 I’ve never owned a pair of those in my life, but I have worn Alfred Dunner separates and loved them. They made my work life easier. Two or three pairs of pants and five or six tops that coordinated with them and I was set for the work week. “Garanimals for adults.” A good description of them, but, really, don’t we try to do that now when we try to be sure the garments we buy or make will coordinate with several other items in our closets?

    I think OLS (old lady style) is in the eye of the beholder. I’ve seen young women wearing shoes very similar to my grandmother’s shoes, and they thought they were hot. I wondered why they would wear my grandmother’s orthopedic style shoes. I would not be caught dead in them.

  9. Drab or it’s opposite over the top overly styled (and inappropriately for the occasion) are what make me think old lady or dowdy. The drab lady just looks like she gave up on life. The over the top lady needs to have an outrageous over the top personality to carry off her too affected clothing choices. It’s the matchy matchy look or it’s wearing all one label and telling everyone that it’s all one label—even if none of the pieces even remotely set each other off. We usually dress to match our personalities, altho’ we don’t realize it, so probably the ‘old lady’ look is in many cases a manifestation of what’s real inside. Clothes on a mannequin can be re-styled to update and broadcast our personality. It’s all in making it your own.

  10. Old lady style – definitely Alfred Dunner, orthopedic shoes, baggy pants. I recently purchased a pair of SAS loafers and they are very stylish. Black suede with silver equestrian embellishment. Not all their shoes are orthopedic-looking.

  11. Old lady style to me is not as bad as many young people I see out in flannel pj pants, tacky dirty sweatshirts, and dirty slippers with fleece. Yuck! Give me an Alfred Dunner Lady any day!
    Seriously, old lady style to me is a big floral multicolored print. Nothing wrong with any of the adjectives above applying to fabric, but just one at a time. And I think our grannies’ black shoes have been replaced by ugly white clunky athletic shoes. Shop for some comfy nice looking shoes! They do exist!

  12. When I see something that reminds of what older ladies were wearing when I was very young. Usually has more to do with the print of the fabric than anything I think.

  13. “Old lady style” is just another form of insult. It’s similar to talking down to an older woman by calling her “dear”, but without the pretence of faux nicety.

    Having said that, you can probably tell that you’re in a clothing store that caters to women of a certain age if the clerks appear to be women of a certain age themselves. You won’t find outrageous styles in such a store, nor will you find clerks who push you in that direction.

    Ageism and sexism never go away, do they? Live and let luve. Everyone needs to get dressed. We make our own choices.

  14. Cindy nailed it! I think certain vendors provide washable fabrics in basic styles to women who do not want to put a lot of effort into their clothing choices (the garanimals comment). For me, Alfred Dunner is one of those vendors. The styles don’t change although patterns do and the cut is very simple. Full disclosure,
    I have purchased Alfred Dunner pants when I was very heavy and didn’t care how I looked, I just needed something that fit.
    Today, the style reminds me of the older ladies who shopped in a store I worked at who were my grandmother’s generation. Now that I am older (59) I don’t want to see myself looking like these ladies

  15. Hi Pam – that blouse is amazing – very chic. Old lady style to me is not trying to be nicely put together. Even if it’s matchy-matchy with puppies and kittens, at least that lady is trying to put together what she knows about. Probably won’t be my choice of what to wear, but it’s at least trying to be presentatable.
    But since you’re asking, I feel old and dowdy when it’s too much matchy matchy, puppies and kittens on things, clothes that don’t fit properly, as in trying to either hide with lots of fabric or too tight showing rolls or clinging.

  16. When I look at photos of my grandparents and great- grandparents, I see: my grandmother wore current fashion and a lot of red (A-line or sheath dresses) with current jewelry and shoes. My great-grandmother wore dresses for years, always with nice shoes and costume jewelry. Always a brooch &/or earrings. Their hair always looked nice too.

    Recently, I edited my closet. Too many separates, too many weight fluctuations and too many garments that look cheap but cost me plenty. Hmmm…. my mom and I didn’t buy “quality” clothing. In this case, our grandmothers weren’t the frumpy ones.

    I’m thinking “old lady style” is: the old, thick polyester pants with visible elastic, outdated eyeglasses and hairstyles.

    Recently, I was visiting with a woman in a retail store. We were thinking of ways to wear brooches we got from our mothers, grandmothers and great-grandmothers. Guess not all older ladies wore “old lady style”but I better purge some photos of myself….the next generation might critique them, LOL.

    1. I have a problem with the “old lady style” label. When a woman has visibly given up on her appearance, you see that right away, but it happens across all age groups. I see a lot of Alfred Dunner comments, and i have to agree that the muted colors and loose cut of the clothing is not something I’d ever wear, but my mom thinks it’s the best. She’s 94. She also has stylish blouses though. There are a lot of styles that are frumpy and not flattering, the same with certain prints. However, I’ve seen young ladies who look frumpy just as often as older ladies, so I don’t think the label is accurate. I think in my age group (I’m 65), many of us remember our grandmothers in faded floral housedresses with blocky-heeled black shoes and rolled down stockings. Maybe that’s why this is currently a label. We have that memory and want to steer clear of that look at all costs. When I see pictures of my grandmother when she was in her 50’s, she looks 70+, God bless her. What I remember most about her is that she was a fabulous cook that no one compared to in the kitchen, not what she wore. We should be memorable for our grace and style, and that goes beyond what we wear.

  17. I think old lady style is what makes you feel old. Yesterday, I wore a dress that was a sheath style. I had heels on for church. My feet were hurting so I put on sneakers (not runners). To some that is old lady. But I actually felt very modern. Not that I would do it all the time. I think it goes back to living and dressing your words. If what you are wearing doesn’t feel right, that can be the issue. I tend to like more modern looks that have more fit. I like to have fun with my clothing and try new things. And yes even florals and limited embellishment.

  18. I must respectfully disagree: to me, there’s not a single item of clothing I think of as “old lady style.” Rather, it’s a mindset, expressed through clothing, of having given up, withdrawing from life. An example is the “Italian grandmother in mourning” stock character in a cliched movie, dressed all in shapeless black. When I see an older woman dressed in bright Alfred Dunner pastels, colorful sneakers, and a smile on her face, I think “you go, girl,” not “old lady”. She’s probably wondering why I’m wearing ripped jeans!

    And Pam, you look great in that blouse! What’s wrong with repeating a fabulous piece that looks good, gives you confidence, and is appropriate for the occasion?

  19. As someone else said, old lady style is in the eye of the beholder. When I think of old lady style, I see the tightly curled hair & matchy matchy pant suits. It also is more of an attitude thing. My late mother-in-law was stylish well into her 90s, but I have seen women in their 40s who give off an old lady vibe. If what you wear gives you confidence, you will never be an “old lady”.

  20. A dated hairstyle, baggy jeans, sweatshirts with animals on them or from Yosemite 10 years ago along with clunky white tennis shoes scream old lady to me – Also, a purse that definitely shows wear – (cracked leather, too many outer pockets, etc.). There are lots of updated choices that are both comfortable and stylish.

    1. I think old lady style means extra baggy, boxy, or ill fitting clothes of fabrics from another time. It avoids any and all current fashion. It also hides the figure rather than enhance it.

      I really love your look today, Pam. Very, very nice!

  21. Oh no! A tunic and capris are “old lady” style? That’s my go-to these days (I’m 63), trying to be stylish but not look like I’m trying too hard to look “young.” Guess I’ll have to rethink that!

  22. So many comments here — it’s really so interesting!!

    In my mind, I think “old lady style” describes the style of a woman who doesn’t care about her appearance and doesn’t think she matters. To me it is look that is sloppy, unkempt and worn out.

    I think it is reflective of mindset more than a style.

  23. Alfred Dunner! LOL. My mother swore by it. But it was her style, and she stuck to it. Now I think even if it’s spandex neon bike shorts, and some rude person doesn’t like it, it’s “old lady style” to them. It’s just another way to insult someone.

  24. I’m gonna hop back here and clarify something. Especially about the crops n tunics comment. It’s here, at Pam’s blog, that I started taking an ultra critical view of my own choices. Yup, I’m 50lbs overweight. I love my flowy linen and tunics. To no end. Until I started following this blog!

    Two years ago I tore up my closet looking for bad habits. It was hard. I like to hide under loose clothing. But, no more!

    I changed up the loose crops for skinny jeans and crops, and it made a difference. Proportion was missing. So, yeah I’m still have all those flowy, big tunics and linen crops- but I’m wearing them differently now! All thanks to you, Pam!

    1. I didn’t put myself in the conversation yesterday but just had to tell you, Cindy that you just made my day!! Smiling big right now!!

  25. Well, I’m sure none of the old ladies you’d see in the documentary/blog “Advance Style” would be caught dead wearing Alfred Dunner or anything from Wal-Mart lol They prove you’re never too old to have fun with fashion, even if some of them look like a fool hahaha.

  26. My mother turned 90 today and wouldn’t be caught dead in Alfred Dunner. She’s very upset that she can no longer wear heels and loves vibrant colors in summer and black and gray in winter. She is definitely not old lady style and would NEVER think of leaving the house without putting on her face first. Hell, she didn’t start wearing pants in public until she was in her 80s!

  27. You all really know how to make a 49 year old feel awful 😞 for wearing Alfred Dunner clothing. That happens to be my #1 brand to wear to church on Sundays. I’m addicted to ordering Alfred Dunner from JCPENNEY. I’ve actually got a few more pieces coming in the mail this week. Most people think I’m in my 30s, and now most of you all are saying I’m wearing old lady outfits. Now you all have me feeling self-conscious.

    1. Hi Loretta, this is an old post…But I do want to apologize that comments here made you feel bad. On my blog, I encourage everyone to wear what helps you feel your confident best…no matter what the label says. I feature JC Penney’s on a regular basis here. I hope you will return and not allow one post to sour you. I say if you love Alfred Dunner then own it and wear it with pride. Thank you for stopping by!

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