Ripped jeans, mini skirts and trainers: The fashion society believes women over 35 should avoid

Who says age has to be a barrier to style? (Getty Images)
Who says age has to be a barrier to style? (Getty Images)

So much for age being no barrier to style. 

Turns out the British public has put an age limit on women wearing certain items of clothing. 

Just when you think we've moved past telling women what to wear according to their age, new research has revealed a style ceiling on the donning of fashion items such as cropped tops, ripped jeans and even trainers. 

A new poll of 2,000 men and women, by footwear retailer, Hotter has deemed cropped tops and ripped jeans ‘unsuitable’ for women over 35 years, with 40 years the cut off for fashion trainers.

Survey participants believe, incorrectly of course, that 39 is too old to wear wardrobe style staples such as miniskirts, neon colours, animal print, hoodies and skinny jeans.

Meanwhile those who have blown out more than 40 candles on their birthday cake should be covering up their cleavage and binning their bikinis as it seems low cut tops and two-piece swimwear should be barred. 

Someone should probably tell Amanda Holden and J-Lo as they're totally ignoring the style memo

Read more: Best cashmere jumpers to buy now and wear for years to come

The same cohort of style-shamers also concluded that 44 is way too old to be wearing high heels, presumably because we shouldn't be going anywhere we'd need to wear them anyway.

People believe we should start to question what we wear in relation to our age much earlier than you might imagine, with the survey results revealing 23 as the age women are most likely to be told to "dress their age". 

It seems this style wisdom is usually, and somewhat depressingly, imparted by family and partners (65%).

Women above the age of 35 shouldn't wear ripped jeans, apparently. (Getty Images)
Women above the age of 35 shouldn't wear ripped jeans, apparently. (Getty Images)

Comments from family, friends and colleagues aside, societal pressures are having an impact on women as young as 22, with that age revealed as the time women start to feel uncomfortable in certain fashion trends.

Ripped jeans (31%), hotpants (29%) and cropped tops (27%) are the most common items that no longer make the wardrobe cut, while 90% of women say they do not feel comfortable enough to wear a bikini, mini skirt or cropped top out of the house.

It's not all bad news, however, as it seems women get more comfortable with what they wear as they get older, with almost three fifths of over 55-year-olds not feeling pressured to dress and act in a certain way. 


Three quarters (75%) of those 55 plus-ers surveyed say the select their clothes to make them feel happy and over two thirds (69%) agree that it is important for their clothes to help them feel confident.

Watch: Women of different sizes try on the same mini skirt. 

Fashion psychologist, Shakaila Forbes-Bell, says there is a difference between the genders in terms of pressure to conform to perceived age boundaries when it comes to style.  

“Even from a young age, appearance has always had major social consequences for women, who in turn feel social pressures not only to dress their age but to dress in a way that conforms to contemporary standards - standards that are mitigated by patriarchy," she explains. 

"Studies have found that as they age, men do not face the same ‘changing room moment’ as women and never feel an item is ‘too young’ for them. 

"These findings further underline the intense pressure that women and women only feel to make certain styling decisions.”

Read more: The M&S jeans with a legion of fans: 'They fit like a dream'

Forbes-Bell believes all women should be able to express themselves and dress however makes them happy and comfortable.

“Clothing has the power to improve your mood and help you harness different elements of your identity," she explains. 

"Changing up your style has even been found to improve well-being and reduce anxiety. So, by giving into these self-limiting beliefs about what women can and can’t wear as we age, women are failing to explore the psychological benefits that these ‘forbidden styles’ may have to offer."

Mini skirts and heels are also considered a style no,no for women over a certain age. (Getty Images)
Mini skirts and heels are also considered a style no,no for women over a certain age. (Getty Images)

She wants to encourage women to break away from sexist styling standards by practicing mindfulness while shopping and dressing. 

“Mindful shopping and dressing involves you being present in the moment and gaining a deeper understanding of your self-concept and your motivations while engaging in these activities; getting centred and asking yourself questions like 'what styles truly represent me?' and 'what styles make me feel happy, comfortable and confident when I wear them?' she explains. 

"Taking this more considered approach to dressing will support women to make styling choices that make them feel comfortable rather than ones that have been imposed on them by society.”

Read more: Dress of the day: The denim midi to add to your wardrobe this autumn

Top clothing items ‘society’ deems unsuitable for over 40s (and the ages felt you should stop wearing them!)

  1. Hotpants - 33 yrs

  2. Neon colours - 34 yrs

  3. Cropped tops - 35 yrs

  4. Ripped jeans - 35 yrs

  5. Mini skirt - 37 yrs

  6. Animal print - 37 yrs

  7. Hoodies - 37 yrs

  8. Tracksuits - 38 yrs

  9. Skinny jeans - 38 yrs

  10. Tight/bodycon dress - 39 yrs

  11. Leggings as trousers - 39 yrs

  12. Fashion trainers - 40 yrs

  13. Low-cut tops - 40 yrs

  14. Joggers - 40 yrs

  15. Bikini - 41 yrs

  16. Stiletto heels - 42 yrs

  17. High heels - 44 yrs

Watch: Kate Beckinsale named the face of anti-ageing skincare line.