Five Wardrobe Can’t-Live-Withouts After 50

wardrobe essentials

Wardrobe can’t-live-withouts after 50. Did I tell you I love lists? I am compulsive about lists. Any blog post that starts out with “The Top X Things You Need . . . ” or “X Ways to Change Your Whole Life in Thirty Minutes . . .”, gets my immediate attention. Curse you, marketing people, for knowing what makes me tick!

Anyway, I have been thinking about the usual “top ten” wardrobe essentials that circulate around the internet: crisp white shirt, dark denim jeans, trench coat, little black dress, pencil skirt, etc. These are all good and useful, for lots of women. These lists can also make me feel bad because my own wardrobe is so individualistic, and so small.

Staying true to the intent of my blog, I’ve been focusing my thoughts on must-haves for the woman over 50. This list isn’t meant to represent a complete wardrobe – just my can’t live-without-pieces, if I’m going to be a stylish Woman of a Certain Age.

I hope you will add and subtract from this list in the Comments below, and/or let me know I am off my fashion rocker.

  • Comfortable — yet stylish! — shoes for work and play. I look back on the heels I used to wear in my 20’s/30’s and I am amazed at my stamina, or my high pain threshold. Now it’s a 2″ heel max, a nicely padded footbed, room for my toes, and sneakers if you got ’em. We just cannot have fun if our feet hurt.
Love these sandals that have some polish.
  • A couple of silky or silky-knit, solid tops in your best colors. Add a few prints if that’s your thing. These should be at a minimum hand-washable and go with most everything in your closet.
A silk tee looks casual with jeans and dressy with a full skirt.
  • A couple of knee-length or midi skirts in your favorite shapes. I love a full skirt, or a gored one. Pencils are okay, but they don’t give me enough freedom of movement through the day.
You can order this flowy linen skirt in fifteen colors.
  • A few dresses, at least one in a solid neutral and not-too-distinctive shape. The one you can layer up, or wear as a skirt, or under a blazer like a suit. Grab another dress or two in your favorite colors/patterns.
The easiest dress to toss on for any summer day.
  • A great handbag that holds all your stuff, looks stylish and grown-up, and makes you feel good when you carry it. It can be leather or not and some great ones are pre-loved. Don’t deny yourself a good-looking purse over 50; it does make a difference in how you feel about your whole look.
I just ordered this canvas tote as my everyday warm weather bag.

Oh yeah, I have more stuff than this — button-down shirts, jeans and tees, a party dress, coats, socks, undies and PJ’s — but I consider this list a basis for a solid wardrobe. What say you?

“Clothes make the [wo]man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.”

-Mark Twain

Stay safe, xo

Wear what you love, always. Here are some goodies to browse:

Please be aware that links to vendors may be affiliate links. I may benefit from your purchases through the links on the blog. Header photo by Liana Mikah on Unsplash

(Visited 2,264 times, 1 visits today)



  1. I like those sandals – I can’t wear ones that are too open because of my bunions (!!??) so a wide criss-cross strap like those hide them nicely, but have to be soft enough for some give. I never wore pencil skirts as they don’t work if you are getting on and off buses and walking a lot. I like a full skirt though and loose, full pants too. As for the bag, I can only use a knapsack style on a daily basis because of back issues (Oh, the joy of ageing!) but as mine is hot pink with soft spikes all over it, it’s much more interesting than most purses.

    • Hi Shelley, I hope you’re feeling great. Good points about mobility in a pencil skirt. Your backpack is artful! I hope you’ve got an Autumn trip to NYC planned, so I can see you again and share a hot chocolate. xx

  2. Great fashion suggestions in the latest on trend colors thank you. I adore Nordstrom with their free shipping. I am so glad museums are open not only is the art so soul nourishing but going to a museum gives me an excuse to dress up again.

    • Hello Joan and thank you for coming over. I am a big Nordie fan too – they stand behind their name every time. Big yes to museums! I hope to be in NYC soon and visit some favorites. Stay well and fab, xx.

  3. Love your wardrobe essentials, they look comfy and elegant, totally your style!.
    I do love some comfy shoes with a padded footbed, they make a difference!.
    And I totally agree about stylish skirts and dresses in your favourite colours, they’re a nice essential. So much better than usual list of ‘white shirt- dark denim- little black dress’ , which I feel restrictive and boring.
    Great advice on having a quality bag. I’m happy with my teal cork bag that I use everyday in the winter, and a massive straw bag in the summer. They are both really useful!. And I keep some crossbody purses for excursions and walks.
    Totally agree that it’s better to adjust your wardrobe essentials to your own lifestyle!.

    • Hello Sra and how nice to see you! I cannot picture you with a closet of white shirt-dark denim. You have vibrancy and your clothes suit you as well. I love a great straw bag for summer, especially in the warm climates you and I live in : > Stay well, xx.

  4. I’m in the Can’t-Live-Without-After 80 group. Love the luscious blush tee and am eager to sew one up with the silk front and knit back. After someone stepped on my exposed toes many years ago, all shoes must provide toe protection. Also need good arch support. I haven’t worn a skirt or dress in over 20 years. My everyday bag is a small one; if I need to carry more stuff I add a small canvas bag. Both bags sling over the shoulders. I have a small black leather bag for dressier occasions.

    • Good morning, Carol and thanks for coming by. Ouch for your stepped-on toes. But how great to sew your own favorite pieces, and to carry a small bag. You know what works for you! Stay well, xx.

  5. Hi, Patti;
    I’m 57 and have been following you for a few years now. I love your intelligent and witty writing and especially looked forward to what you had to say about life during 2020. I started making necklaces during lockdown which, this spring turned into an online shop. I’d love to send you a piece, not for sponsorship but as a thank you for inspiring me to take a leap into the unknown and stretch myself to try something new, because hey, we’re not dead yet!

    • Hello Kerri-Lee and thank you for your kind words and generous offer! It’s so wonderful you’ve picked up a new passion during the pandemic. I will send you a message on your site! Stay well, xx

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.