Tight v-neck + flares + wedges = much fashion
April 19, 2021 4:41 AM   Subscribe

My body has changed and settled and I need new clothes. I’m 34 and I want to look contemporary. Not TRENDY but updated. I like very basic non floral things. Can you help me find a few pieces - tops and jeans and maybe a dress - that are not very girly but are CASUAL but I can wear for awhile?

I am 4’11” 120 lbs, hourglass shape. I don’t look good in wicked boxy stuff which seems to be trendy, but I also hate flowy ruffles and flowers which is the other trend.

If I was queen I would declare flares cool again because they make my body look like a coke bottle instead of a banana which is what skinny jeans do. And I can’t even picture myself in these high waisted mom jeans that it seems like the young folks are wearing..

(I know I can wear flares if I want to. But flares in 2021 are a fashion statement. Flares in 2004 were the default. I want to be the default.)

Before I had a baby I cut my wardrobe down to like 6 pieces which was awesome. I want to do that again but I’ve had my my head in the sand and I have no idea what makes a socially acceptable outfit in 2021.
posted by pintapicasso to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (17 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Just get a pair of mid rise straight leg jeans (like Levi's 501s or similar). They are the true default of jeans. They been the exact same in/out of style jeans since the beginning of jeans. They have no discernable style and thus are timeless. If they were good enough for Audrey Hepburn and James Dean, they're good enough for us.

I mean really I think you should wear whatever jeans make you happy and forget the haters but if you want to intentionally choose jeans that will not brand you as an old out of touch person or a gen z wannabe, just get some classic jeans.
posted by phunniemee at 5:04 AM on April 19, 2021 [6 favorites]

Best answer: I have no idea what makes a socially acceptable outfit in 2021

Based on my research if you have changed out of pajamas you are way ahead of the game.
posted by phunniemee at 5:05 AM on April 19, 2021 [67 favorites]

Agreed that anything more than pyjamas or a tracksuit is dressed up these days.

I'd recommend looking into Palazzo pants. I think they are in these days, but not in the way that they'll be out again in five minutes.
posted by kinddieserzeit at 5:22 AM on April 19, 2021

I think the two things are that feel on the default side of on trend are higher rise pants and jeans (along with short boxy or tucked in tops) and midi length skirts and dresses. White trainers/sneakers with anything are popular.

Things that have been in fashion for a while but still seem good include straight or slim leg jeans and pants, high neck tops, and athleisure (including leggings).

Classics that are good if they suit include full length palazzo pants, plain t-shirts, denim jackets, wrap dresses.

In terms of colours, there's more warm muted neutrals (khaki, browns) than cool, compared to recent years. Denim ranges from dark to medium light I think. Ditsy patterns are in (which I realise is no help).
posted by plonkee at 6:00 AM on April 19, 2021 [1 favorite]

I'm 32 and after reading this post I feel inexplicably older. I am super into the high waist (anything but skinny) jean. Flares are actually in, mostly in the fall and in corduroy, velvet, or leather, but wear them anyway. They're cute with a bodysuit or crop.

I would try the Madewell wide leg Emmett crop. They're hard to find in stores because they're a budget dupe for Jesse Kamms sailor pant but you can find them on postmark and the like. I believe they come in a variety of inseam and are very flattering. I also wear Agolde's jamie and pinch waist jeans. I've been obsessed with their criss cross jeans this last year. Levis are a pass from me, they don't fit my legs ever, but if you like to wear them, ribcage straight is the ticket.
posted by coldbabyshrimp at 6:03 AM on April 19, 2021 [3 favorites]

I’m 5’1 with an hourglass shape as well; here are my thoughts:

- Don’t knock the high rise until you at least try them. Doesn’t matter the leg style, they are now my favorite cut. With a tucked in shirt they make short legs look nice and long and emphasize the waist.

- I think anyone can get away with any leg style including flare if you are intentional about it. The more “pulled together” you look, the more it looks like a deliberate style choice and less like you’ve been wearing the same jeans since the early 2000s. Intentional may mean trendy footwear, jewelry, a cool jacket - whatever you like to wear that pulls an outfit together.

- Maybe consider stitch fix or similar styling service to try on a bunch of different jean styles and see what you like. I’ve known people to request a SF box that is all jeans.

- The only palazzo style pants I’ve had work on me are part of a jumpsuit with a high waistline; wide leg is dangerous territory when you’re short IMO.
posted by misskaz at 6:57 AM on April 19, 2021 [3 favorites]

I’d wear the flares if I were you, or ”demi-boot cut” or straight leg as others have mentioned. Wider legs are in at the moment and the pendulum is swinging away from skinny jeans, so I think it’s less of a fashion statement than you might think. A pair with a high rise will make them look more modern than low rise.

For a casual tee: high neck, boxy crop, longer sleeves rather than cap sleeves
Or square neck, fitted, optionally with big bishop sleeves for the milkmaid pirate vibe
Or if you want a tank top, this fitted, usually ribbed “cutaway” style with a high neckline and sleeves that kind of cut in towards the center are stylish right now
And henleys

For a dress you might try something midi length, with buttons down the front, preferably linen or a linen blend

Muted warm colors like blush or clay will look the most fashionable right now. Lavender and yellow are in as well. Ditzy florals, like something Elaine Benes would wear. Trendy prints but will probably go out very quickly: cow print, small checkerboard, patchwork and colorblock
posted by music for skeletons at 7:17 AM on April 19, 2021 [9 favorites]

Around my way, the default outdoor outfit is leggings + a tunic / dress / long t-shirt or whatever. Or just leggings and a t-shirt, but that's too revealing for my personal tastes. I resisted for a long time, but my leggings arrived in the post today because damm it looks comfy, like outdoor pyjamas. And it doesn't have to look super casual with the right top and shoes (in my case, boots).

I am pear shaped and have had zero success with anything high waisted and fitted - if it fits over my hips and thighs, it will gap annoyingly at the waist. I've given up on traditional jeans entirely, and go for trousers that are designed to fit at the waist, then flair out to be loose and baggy round the hips and thighs, but which have a taper down being fitted at the ankle. It's the taper to the ankle that stops the bottom half of my body looking like a tent, and with a fitted top looks intentionally baggy/drapey and highlights my waist. ( Something like this but preferably in a softer, drapier fabric).
posted by stillnocturnal at 7:25 AM on April 19, 2021 [1 favorite]

How do you feel about wide-leg pants? The good news is that wide-leg pants are back in fashion at the moment so if you like the way they look on you, you're all set.
posted by mekily at 7:41 AM on April 19, 2021

For dresses: maybe something like this from Karina - they're good about having a variety of cuts and fabric patterns that allow you to precisely manage how "girly" you want to be. And, since you mention v-necks.

In terms of tops, I'm seeing a lot more "musty colored" striped shirts. YMMV with the musty/dusty/washed out colors trend (clay/mustard/blush) but I think stripes tend to last if you get them in colors that suit you personally. Something simpler.

I'm always impressed when I see someone wearing this style, but I suspect it never caught on because it's more labor intensive.

Wide crop chinos?
Tuck something like this or this in and add some comfy shoes. I mean, high waisted anything + tucked shirt seems to be a good bet, though (theoretically, dreadfully) word on the street is that low waist is coming back.

At the risk of being that annoying Ask commenter who tries to think outside the question - I feel more and more like "eras of fashion" don't necessarily exist any more, because people are picking and choosing what they like or feel good in regardless of datedness. Also, going beyond pajama pants already gets you to casual. So I'm wondering if "looking contemporary" and "updated" means something specific to you - a specific silhouette or neckline? Or could "updated" mean something as simple as 'new to you'?
posted by snerson at 8:02 AM on April 19, 2021 [3 favorites]

I visited a Duluth Trading store recently, and loved their clothes. Nice prints and great colors, sturdy, well made, comfortable-looking. If I was going to buy only a few pieces, I'd def. consider them.
posted by theora55 at 9:12 AM on April 19, 2021

I think we are actually in a magical era of fashion where you can wear any cut of jean you want. Lots of places have bootcut and flare jeans nowadays (try ASOS — I just ordered a pair from there and they have a TON of flares in different rises).

Honestly, I’m not sure there even is a default jean anymore; the “mom” style might be most prevalent among Gen Z but I see a variety of cuts on people of all ages and styles. Wear what works for you!
posted by vanitas at 9:28 AM on April 19, 2021 [2 favorites]

My old ass is feeling cute in these lately:

Big Bud Press. Great colors, an extensive fit guide, and expansive sizing.

Everlane for denim.

Dusen Dusen for sweatshirts - a bit more boxy and cropped than I usually like, but cute. I think she will restock soon.

Curator SF - this is a little more aspirational for me, since honestly I don't wear dresses much these days. They have cute dresses though! A slightly higher price point.

Nooworks. They have great patterns and a bunch of fits. Just know that if you are busty the XL range is still a bit tight.
posted by Lawn Beaver at 9:33 AM on April 19, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Your request has been heard, your majesty. Per Gen Z, flares are very very hip right now and on their way to being the default once more.
posted by ananci at 10:00 AM on April 19, 2021 [3 favorites]

I'm the same age as you, and I never have settled into skinny jeans! thank god they're going out of style.

my favourite cut of jeans right now is Levi's 724 high rise straight jeans. They're not actually that high rise, because levi's has like a "super high rise" and a "sky high rise" or something, and they feel kind of like flares without the problems that flares cause with a bunch of my shoes. These are my default jeans and I think they look like default jeans!

feel like a black tee is kind of like, it's cool if you look cool, so I'm going to say that with some jewellery and my hair done, this outfit looks "cool and effortless". I like This blouse for a casual but clearly not an actual t-shirt top.

Sometimes I wear a black belt with steel hole rivets that you put the pins through? And I've been wearing two sets of These earrings in my two holes and have gotten a lot of compliments on them. I just sleep in them and everything. I also wear This choker a lot and think it looks nice, like a slightly more grown up version of the tattoo chokers that are back in style (but not for me because I wore them the first time.)
posted by euphoria066 at 1:12 PM on April 19, 2021

I asked my 13 yo niece and my 27 yo employee. Skinny jeans are not, I repeat not, the default jean anymore and look much more dated than a flare. More news at it develops.
posted by kapers at 2:22 PM on April 19, 2021

Best answer: Flares are quite popular, and Gen Z has declared skinny jeans only for outdated millennials. All praise Gen Z!

Bootcut jeans are coming back. You might find you like them even more as a silhouette (I say this as someone who dislikes how I look in skinny jeans and vastly prefer flares and bootcuts). You're right that higher waist jeans are more popular now, but it might be worth trying on a few pairs, as the new cuts are a bit different and you might find them more tolerable.

So here's the deal. Apologies if this is too weird or patronizing but ... don't assume the clothes you are seeing on peers is what's considered fashionable anymore. Fashion is usually driven by folks in their teens and 20s, and ... you and your peers are aging out. Wear whatever you want, sure! But don't presume that things aren't in fashion based on peers alone, you know? I've been thinking through this all myself lately, because I hate skinny jeans. But you know, some millennial women are going to hang on to skinny jeans forever, because sometimes you find something that's popular when you're young and you stick with it. This is how mom jeans (which used to be the only kind of jeans everyone wore) became mom jeans: only women in their 30s and 40s were still wearing them. So, yeah, skinnies are becoming the new mom jeans. Scroll the youth on Instagram and you won't see many of them.
posted by bluedaisy at 8:20 PM on April 19, 2021 [2 favorites]

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