How to dress comfy and not frumpy for women over 50


Soft Surroundings Gauze Tunic on Over 50 Feeling 40


As women over 50 begin to think about a new season, let’s discuss how we can prevent comfortable clothing from becoming frumpy clothing. 

Comfort wear is on trend , so this is an important discussion. The new fall collections offer many comfortable/athleisurewear options because this past year has been spent at home and in a slower lifestyle.  So, when we consider these styles how do we avoid frumpy?

Pamela Lutrell in Kajal jacket from Soft Surroundings on over 50 feeling 40


One definition will not do, the different definitions of the words Frumpy and Comfy come from our own very personal interpretations.




My definition of frumpy is wearing clothing which ages me and tells the world that I do not care about my outward appearance or what it says to the world about me.  I know frumpy…I lived in that place once during a time of depression and lack of self- care.   Thank goodness I left it in my past 17 years ago. 

Now, before I leave the house, I always look in the mirror and ask…what does this say about me?  If I think it makes me look older than I am…or doesn’t put a smile on my face…then I am in danger of going back in “frumpy” and I change the look.  Avoiding frumpy takes time in front of the mirror, every day when we get dressed. It takes time to question if we feel confident with what we wear. You must be very honest in front of the mirror and know yourself and what you like.  You must solidly know your own style and not try to be something you are not.

Some define frumpy as wearing certain prints, designs, and oversized clothing.  I believe all three of those can be very stylish with the right fit and textiles.   It is personal…how you feel about what you are wearing?  There are prints which I feel like an older woman wearing, but other women may feel very youthful in the same print.  




So many seem to think comfortable clothing is oversized…casual…pajama-style outfits.  But, for me, I am comfortable when I wear clothing that I feel completely confident wearing…no matter the occasion.

If I am confident, then I am comfortable.   Now, that I am re-thinking my new life after leaving the professional office scene, I am looking at traditional comfort wear, but the jury is still out on what this will look like for me going forward.


It all comes down to WHAT DO I WANT TO COMMUNICATE ABOUT ME WITH MY CLOTHING AT THIS NEW STAGE OF LIFE?  I certainly do not want to appear sloppy with my everyday look. 

Since comfort wear is a part of this equation, I will want it to fit well, be modern, and help me to look my youthful, confident best.  For me, a modern design and trend colors of a traditional comfort look is important for a youthful, confident appearance. 


So, I am curious…how do you define comfy and frumpy, and what personal guidelines do you use  to keep out of frumpy land? Do you feel confident wearing comfort wear?   Would love to hear your thoughts! 

More new styles have hit the market and I have some in today’s slideshow…hope you enjoy and make sure you always….. 




Taking Juice Plus+ for seven years on Over 50 Feeling 40

There are several ways that I generate income through this blog in order to cover business expenses and give myself much needed income.  Purchases through the slideshow links is one way, ads on the page is one way and a new way is through ordering or re-ordering Juice Plus+ whole food capsules.  Please read my story and information HERE.




Pamela Lutrell and Goli

Another way is through ordering or re-ordering the GOLI Apple Cider Vinegar gummies through me with my GOLI LINK HERE.  Again, if you are not familiar with the benefits of apple cider vinegar, you should speak with your personal physician.  My husband and I are sold on the benefits and I am proud to represent this product.  I am going to leave this at the bottom of my posts so that when you, friends or family would like to order you can use my link.  Thanks for the support.  This is a great product; as well as, the ones below!




Chamonix on Over 50 Feeling 40

All natural, plant-cell technology skincare



By Pamela Lutrell


  1. I love your blog! I have a couple of questions. What magazine are you using in the photos? I saw a couple of things I would like to order. Also, what benefit do you personally get from apple cider vinegar? I have been thinking about it for awhile.

    1. Hi Becky,
      I took pictures from current catalogs. In order of the pictures on the post…they are Johnny Was, Talbots, Petalura, and Karen Kane. YES! On the apple cider vinegar…it has helped my digestive system so much. I use to experience a lot of bloating and that is gone. It keeps things moving well (if you know what I mean). GOLI is going to have a Labor Day special this week and I will be announcing it on the blog. You will be able to save some money with a special discount code. Thanks for asking.

  2. How I dress totally impacts how I feel. I even buy pretty pajamas! I often think to myself when I’m at the grocery store (only place I go these days outside of the office) and see women my age dressed frumpy. “What a lovely person (I talk to everyone). I’d love for her to see herself with a little style in her wardrobe.” Not in a judge mental way, but rather in a woman to woman sisterhood way. I miss the show “What Not to Wear” especially at the end of the show. Seeing the joy on the women’s faces and the confidence in their step. I learned the biggest mistake a woman can make if she feels she is a bit overweight, is to wear oversized clothes which make us look bigger not smaller. Clint would always be so encouraging by telling women to embrace the size you are with his little tricks of the trade and have them altered later if you lose weight. Waiting until the size you want to be before buying something pretty doesn’t make us feel good or encourage us. I was there once.

    1. I agree, Nina. If I had waited to be the size I want…I would still be living in frumpy land. It helped me so much to learn to dress the body I have. Thanks!

  3. Please write more on this! I love this sort of discussion, which I call in my own mind, “fashion analytics.” I hate looking frumpy, because to me it looks unengaged, and one of my adjectives is Aware. I agree, adding one modern, edgy piece to a comfort outfit helps. I also believe more structured accessories help take down the frump factor. Natural fabrics help. Finally, the thing that most screams “frumpy” to me is a manufacturer-matched top, third layer, and pants. Younger women put their own combos together and do not match their tones exactly. They always mix up their “sets” of jewelry. Now that I have figured out how to put these “off” colors and mixed up jewelry together, I get many more compliments from younger women. That isn’t the goal, of course, but it is one way of assessing whether I’m on track in looking more modern and avoiding frumpy.

    1. Thanks for sharing this, Linda. I will try to do more with fashion analytics…love how you put that.

  4. Frumpy would include anything that is not elegant. Casual chic is elegant. Does that make sense? Frumpy is not only elastic waist polyester pants, overly decorated polyester tees or grubby trainers, but how one carries herself. A smile, head held high, good posture and impeccable grooming can make any comfy outfit look elegant and chic. When I think comfy, knits of any kind (except the aforementioned polyester) fit the description. The garment needs to move, not bind or restrict. Textures play into the overall look also.

    Hope each day finds you feeling better!

  5. Such a timely topic as it is so easy to become careless when never leaving the house. I’ve struggled to fight the frumpy look as I’ve gained weight. Of course, all your examples of stylish, comfortable clothes feature models who would look good in a paper bag. We need more examples on real bodies!

    1. That is why I am trying on clothes for you on Tuesdays, Deb. My size 16 body is pretty real! Hope you have seen those posts!

  6. As we get older, it takes longer to do a lot of things and that includes dressing not to look frumpy. Kids get away with anything and look good. Just this AM while getting ready for church I kept looking in the mirror. Checking my appearance. hair, makeup, a little, (mostly hiding behind a mask) shoes, bag, etc. jewelry, just a little… oh it was lack of earrings that made me look not quite dressed. Easy solution. No one at my church will really care, but I do. I do the same for trips to the grocery store, pharmacy, doctor’s office, and at home. (The familiar social life of Covid 19)

  7. GREAT topic! (I hope you are recovering and feeling better Pam!) I think when we are making the effort to be current and modern, we learn to spot frumpy more easily. For example, the other day I was looking at shoes online. I found I was spotting “sensible” shoes quickly, the ones that look frumpy to me. I can see it when I’m in stores shopping for clothes. It’s amazing the role that posture plays also. I find it discouraging to see styles going more toward laying around on the couch. I don’t wear athleisure, but my sister does it wonderfully and looks very chic in her choices. There are some of us not content to stay at home and dress down (raising my hand here), so I’m dressing nicely daily and finding places to go. The looks you found at Soft Surroundings were relaxed and casual, for the most part, yet looked chic and pulled together. Even the most casual choices. The first picture of you in this post is a great example of how to look chic, yet casual. Accessories play a role also. Your tote with the scarf, shoes, all play a role. Frumpy, TO ME, is hemlines that hit at the widest part of the leg, “sensible”, clunky shoes (there are good options these days in comfortable shoes that mean we can look stylish while helping our fussy feet!), muddy colors and baggy clothing. You honestly can tell with some practice. If we feel confident and wonderful in what we have on, we will convey that and thus avoid looking frumpy. But just all casual all the time is definitely not for me!

  8. Glad you’re feeling better Pam! I think classic, casual, simple, comfortable clothes that fit are the key. Anything too large, too tight or too trendy is a no no. I like trendy accessories especially shoes! Matching everything is very aging also. It looks like we’re trying too hard. I am really looking forward to wearing fall clothes after a scorching summer here. Loved the slide show!

  9. Hello Pamela,

    Frumpy is different for every individual. An issue that relates to this a bit in my mind is hearing loss. I can remember making fun of my dear sweet grandmother for her hearing loss. She tried to laugh about it too, but why was I so cruel to her over an issue she could not control? I’d love to hear from you or your readers about how they have dealt with this. I use aids for my vision, why not for hearing? My mind says don’t be silly about this, my prideful self is saying no, hearing aids are for OLD people. Thanks for your dedication to your readers and your blog. Take care of yourself as you recover from your procedure.

    1. Jean…if I ever need hearing aids, I will wear them… with confidence! It is apart of being the best you!!

      1. My reply is for Jean Johnson about hearing aids! I have hearing aids and I’m 67 years old. I don’t look or act old, just saying…! What convinced me was working with a lady in her early 40’s who got them. She is a nurse practitioner and with the public all day long, so hearing is very important to her (as it is to me). She told me that her ENT told her that hearing loss and not correcting it can lead to dementia because certain parts of your brain are no longer utilized and begin to fail. That was all it took for me. I LOVE my hearing aids. (I’ll just say here that my mother refused to get them and has severe dementia and can’t hear anything. Now it is too late because she is not capable to caring for them.) Anyway, I’ve had mine for a few months now and just love them. They can be controlled with my phone for various environments and I’m not missing things any longer. They are practically invisible, no kidding. When I have told people I’m wearing them, they look at me curiously and honestly don’t see them. They are very small and the audiologist matched them to my hair color even though they don’t show behind my ears. You are so right that if you wear correction for your vision, this is no different. Many people lose their hearing much earlier in life. This is no longer a stigma, and much has been done to make them less visible and better functioning. Like I said, I don’t look or act like an old person, and I’m actually not hiding the fact that I wear them from anyone. If there is even a tiny chance it contributes to dementia, that is nothing to mess around with. Just don’t hesitate with te time comes. They are quite pricey, but well worth it!

        1. Thank you, Karen. I appreciate reading about your experience. Part of my problem is that my grandparents and parents didn’t like their hearing aids and made those feelings known. Though I do know technology has solved many of those issues. Amazing, isn’t it, that your phone can control the input to your hearing aids? Now I will look for an audiologist. I hadn’t thought about loss of brain function due to hearing loss. That’s a motivator! Thanks again for your encouragement to look at this as a positive change.

        2. I’ve worn hearing aids for over 5 years, and I’m not even 60 years of age yet. I have a hereditary hearing loss. I thought for a nanosecond about what “people might think “, but frankly I believe people were more worried about me not hearing things. I’m a scientist and conduct consumer research often, I need to hear. Like the lady above, I love mine. They are tiny and people have to stare to see them. With more webcam meetings since I’ve been working from home 6 months now (did I just type 6 months?😔), I’m even happier to have my hearing devices. In an age where people are trying to accept and embrace differences, hearing loss is just another difference. Please don’t hesitate any longer!

      2. @Pamela: Your encouragement to Jean is so well stated and it is with hope the information that I shared with her will be of some help as well and I didn’t overstep any boundary. -Brenda-

        1. I love this community of women, Brenda! What a joy it has been today to watch y’all encourage and help one another! Thanks to you and everyone who joined in!

    2. @Jean: Please see my comment to Pam on today’s topic and my footnote below it as it may contain something of personal interest to you. Also I just noticed your reply to Karen. For myself; my Mother was in denial of her loss of hearing though much aware of the family history and if it were not for myself calling her Family Doctor prior to her annual checkup and requesting him to check her hearing, I believe she would have let it go. On my part it was namely out of concern for her safety as an Aunt of hers (my Great Aunt) two years before was fatally run over by a truck as she didn’t hear its warning /beeper/alarm while it was backing up and I didn’t want it to happen to her. It was many years later that I confessed to her what I had done so when I began to loose my hearing I didn’t hesitate to have it checked. As it so turned out, we had the same Specialist and he remarked to me once that if he didn’t read the name on the chart, he would swear he was reading my Mothers. To conclude; also from what I’ve been told, when you are hard of hearing your brain is in over-drive as you are not only are focusing on what is being said and processing it but it is working very hard just to hear.

      1. Thank you. The comments about brain function really hit home for me. My 88 year old mother has advanced dementia and the best hearing aids available. She still can’t “hear”. It makes sense that she just can’t process sound. So calling an audiologist is on my to-do list today! Jean J.

    3. I’m a bit late to this discussion but I wanted to add my $0.02 about Jean’s comment regarding hearing aids.
      I’m in my early 60’s & have severe tinnitus. My actual hearing is almost normal but the tinnitus is so loud that it prevents me from hearing – I have to try to hear “through & past” the tinnitus.
      So my doc recommended hearing aids to suppress the tinnitus & magnify my hearing.
      I’ve been wearing them for 3 years & I love them! Mine are Bluetooth, so I can answer phone calls & listen to my mp3’s directly in my hearing aids. It’s fabulous!
      My aids are quite small & no one knows I’m wearing them but me!
      My audiologist also told me about hearing loss & dementia, which was another incentive for getting them.
      So I say help yourself in whatever way you need to & live your life FULL OUT!!

    4. HI Jean. I just saw this post when Pam referenced it in today’s blog. I’ve been wearing hearing aids since I was in my 50’s! No idea why I had hearing loss (my mom doesn’t hear well and wouldn’t consider hearing aids). It was hard to take the step for all the reasons you describe but it was one of the better decisions I have ever made. I can enjoy conversation, phone calls, TV and knowing my brain is hearing what it needs to hear. The technology is so great and they are so discreet…noone can see mine because my hair hides them. Run, don’t walk to get some. All the best to you 🙂

  10. I really try hard to be careful about what shoes I wear with an outfit–and everyday is an outfit for me. I’ve found several brands of shoes that are stylish, lighter looking and comfy. I even purchased a bezees flat for workouts instead of the trainers since I sometimes stop at the grocery store on the way home…I live in a small city and always run into someone I know! I’ve also found a lot of stores (Chicos, Talbots, Soft Surroundings) now have comfortable slacks and jeans without the elastic waistbands that look like sweatpants

  11. I agree with Nina. What I wear totally impacts how I feel. The color, fit, and even the fabric make a difference I bought french terry “joggers” which are essentially slightly updated sweatpants. They were comfortable but I felt really frumpy when I wore them. I finally gave up trying to make them work for me and set them aside for my local assistance league thrift store. I feel more comfortable and far less frumpy when I wear denim leggings. I think I’ve gotten rid of all my fumpy bottoms but some of my tops are questionable. It’s hard to give away “good” clothes that don’t make you feel your best elegant self! I set aside a top that just doesn’t say “me” the other day and I know I need to take another look at the closets and drawers and get rid of the tops I never wear. There is a reason why I never reach for them!

    1. Thanks for sharing, Nancy. We all have to decide what works for us personally. Some will like a stylish jogger and others won’t. This is why we can’t make sweeping rules… what clothing speaks to each of us is different. This is a good conversation… thanks for joining in!

  12. Thanks, Pam…I need this post. Still refining my look from Middle School Librarian ( but not frumpy! ) to retired and living in a retirement community. I like to be comfortable, able to attend the lectures and meetings in our community, but also be dressed for the many exercise classes that I hope will resume when the pandemic is over. I am finding that leggings and tunic tops of all kinds seem to work best for me. Or good fitting jeans and and a long sleeve tee shirt. Living near a Talbots outlet means I have more tops than I can wear! My issue is this pandemic time…I get up early to walk, grab breakfast, and then since there is really nowhere to go I tend to stay in the exercise clothes until I shower…and think, “heck, I will put on my lounging pajamas”. Hoping to find some new, not frumpy, comfy outfits that feel like pajamas! Thanks for all your great posts !

  13. To me, frumpy is anything over-sized and/or ill fitting. I haven’t been able to embrace joggers because with the tight cuffed bottom they remind me of sweatpants, which I have never worn. I think I have shunned leggings for myself because I have seen too many women of all ages wearing them incorrectly, & I fear looking like that. I remember the wind suit rage of the 80’s. My sweet mother-in-law & my dear sister-in-law were all in on those. They wondered why I didn’t rush out to buy one or more of them. To me, they were just fancy running suits & not to my taste. As you noted, each of us should take a critical look in the mirror & asked ourselves what our clothes are saying about us.

  14. I’d love to direct this comment to Karen Anderson if I may. Having worn hearing aids which I’ve never been happy with, would love to know what brand you’re wearing. My hearing has been bad for many years and I need to start wearing aids again; the ones I have just don’t get it for me! They’re very expensive, so I’ve hesitated to give up and try a new kind although I know improvements have been made.


    1. Hi Jen! Mine are Phonak Audeo M. They are awesome. My sister recently got the same kind and is very happy with the result. They are small, comfortable and adaptable to various environments. You can also set custom programs on your phone. I’m really glad I got them.

  15. My personal formula for not looking frumpy has basically been; I only purchase what appeals to me, makes me feel good and looks good at the same time , no matter what attire it is. In other words; I am not a compulsive buyer and am very selective when it comes to trends as well as quality and workmanship. (The latter I believe comes with the territory of being a sewer.) In fact; I recall a few years ago I don’t think I purchased any additions to my wardrobe and quite frankly it was a bonus, as allowed me to splurge on other things that was on my ‘wish list’.

    Footnote: @ Jean J. & Karen A.: I’m 73 years old and have worn hearing aids for twenty-five years and currently am, ‘ deaf as doorknob’ without them … mind you those who know me will tell you, it hasn’t stopped me from talking … ☺. Briefly in my case; loss of hearing was gradual and appears to be a hereditary infliction that affects the females (but not all) on my mother’s side of the family for reasons really unknown. With that said though; fortunately nowadays we unlike our parents etc. live in an era of technology which brings me to my point that both of you may also find the cell-phone application of ‘texthear’ somewhat beneficial. What it does; it will transcribe speech to text and all one has to do is activate its mike with a touch. It is free of charge and to me more recently has been a Godsend when trying to communicate with those who are wearing a mask and/or behind a barrier of acrylic.

  16. I resisted wearing hearing aids until I developed an inner ear balance problem. My doctor said that hearing is part of balance and that if I did not get hearing aids I ran the risk of falling. He was correct! I love my aids and being able to hear the birds singing again. Now the aids are part of me and if the house caught on fire they would be one of the first things I would grab along with the dog and the cat!

  17. Hi Jean,

    I am 62 and have been wearing hearing aids for 6 years. I had no hesitation in wearing them — hearing well was so important to me. And today’s styles are so small you don’t even notice. That being said, there is no shame in wearing them!! We are not ashamed of other ailments, so why should it be different for hearing loss.

    Go for it!

    1. I just happened to come across this great Site. I have learnt so much from your comments. I presume that this is American & although I am in Australia, women are women wherever we are in the Western World. The hints about the Hearing loss possibly bringing on Dementia, I had not heard before, that sounds quirky writing in response to Hearing Aids, I will certainly take that on board if and when I get to that stage. The first topic that really caught my attention was about being/Not being Frumpy. That is some my friend & I of almost 50yrs smile about as we meet once or twice a month as we don’t now live close. When we meet for coffee before she goes to teach Embroidery, we show up with a bright s arc or her a lively piece of jewellery. By the way I am 80yrs of age & my friend is 77yrs of age & the most amazing seamstress.
      So I really hope by adding my email address that I can visit this lovely group of ladies again. With Style, age has no limits.

  18. To me frumpy means that the person doesn’t think their appearance is worth the effort because they aren’t worth the effort. It’s a lack of self-confidence and self-esteem.

    A woman doesn’t need to wear expensive clothes or new clothes to look confident.

    Clothes should fit well and not have wrinkles (aside from linen), stains or be in need of mending. The same with shoes — no scuffs or worn out heels.

    1. Beth—I think you are so right. My 93 year old mom loves Alfred Dunner separates. She has severely crippled hands from rheumatoid arthritis and can only wear pants with an elastic band. Zippers and buttons are impossible. Her shoes have Velcro straps as she can’t tie laces and needs the support of a more orthopedic shoe. Everyone comments on how nice she looks. She almost always adds jewelry, like long necklaces she can put on over her head. She has always taken care with her appearance and what looks frumpy on someone else looks great on her because of her confidence.

  19. I missed this post and was reminded of it by the 9/8 post.
    For anyone that may read this, here is my story. I was 37 when I started losing my hearing & was wearing hearing aids 4 months later. Within 5 years. I lost my hearing completely after going through different models and capabilities of hearing aids 3 different kinds- inner ear, outer ear, outer ear with the strongest ability to help my lack of ability. I also used a state issued phone that required 2 landlines for closed captions. I used this mainly for phone calls with a deployed spouse. I had two young kids in two different schools, I had a very generous friend who would take notes for me at those school meetings because I could not do them without her. I finally got my cochlear implants at age 43. And just recently got the upgraded model of the first set of processors. Like someone who has a pacemaker, people with hearing aids or cochlear implants should get a letter of medical necessity from their ENT and show that to their insurance prior to order the upgraded equipment every 5 years. The equipment can only last so long- the wires dry out, the computer chip needs to be upgraded as well. Every year one should get to their audiologist for a hearing aid exam (in the sound booth) as our hearing needs to be checked and so does the equipment we are wearing. Just like fillings don’t last forever in our mouths, neither does the hearing aid or the cochlear implant processor. They need to be maintained and monitored by the professionals. I am so grateful for my cochlear implants and feel very blessed to still be able to hear my young adult kids’ voices and enjoy my music.

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