Apparently, people have a lot of opinions about what you are and are not supposed to wear after the super-old-you-are-going-to-expire age of 30. From what I understand from the many articles and lists about what’s off limits, I guess dressing yourself after 30 is about finding that fine, fine line between co-ed and MILF, like sexy but not too sexy, attractive but not trying too hard, super confident but also age-appropriately modest. So basically just visible enough that you are still do-able vis á vis the male gaze without letting it get to your head — you hussy, who do you think you are!
But you know what is great about being a queer gal or boi? Not giving a hoot about social norms around what “respectable ladies” are supposed to look like. Because for many of us, that’s a completely unattainable goal. And “dressing for your age” is wrapped up in respectability politics that are classist and racist and dumb. Our shared experience of queerness is about being proud of our outsider status. We break all the fashion rules: whether that’s shopping in the boys and mens departments, putting hot clothes on fat bods, rocking alternative lifestyle haircuts, or wearing body glitter way past our tweens. We are communities who straddle multiple identities, who believe fiercely in celebrating individuality, and who don’t want to put anyone in a box. Because we’re awesome like that. So in the spirit of queer fashion and queer life and love, here are my fashion tips for all you folks on the cusp of 30 or above (based on researching many “what not to wear” advice articles), with cameos from some of your favorite inspiration models.
1. Mismatched Socks and Novelty Socks
You know what’s great about mismatched socks? You don’t have to worry about matching your socks. Also, who cares? I mean, if I saw some babe (cough cough Stef cough) wearing drugs and Rosie socks AT THE SAME TIME, I’d definitely want to ask her for her number. Wouldn’t you? This person is guaranteed to be not boring and probably really sarcastic and funny, is what I’m saying.
2. Body Con Dresses
Um, I don’t want Laverne Cox to ever stop wearing body con dresses. I mean, unless she wants to which is fine because that’s her choice. But damn, at the young age of 31, she really slays in her curve-hugging sheath dresses. I hope she keeps wearing them until she’s 100 years old. Let’s all aspire to look so fine and grown-up chic.
3. American Eagle Jeans (or other fast fashion junior-sized brands)
Do you know how hard it is to find jeans that fit? Do you even know, really? If you like your American Eagle or Old Navy or Gap or junior section at Macy’s or whatever jeans, by all means, keep doing your thing.
4. Festive Tights
Jeggings are pajama pants that look like jeans. Jeggings stretch around my big belly and hug my little hips. Jeggings are the perfect pants, especially for those of us who have given up anything without a stretch waist. If you hate on jeggings, we can no longer be friends.
Bois and gurls in snapbacks are so sexy. Don’t retire your snapback collection. Keep it fresh forever.
7. Suits with Sneakers
Ellen has a Cover Girl contract and a very successful talk show and is married to the equally gorgeous Portia de Rossi and has her own signature tomboy femme fashion line and is generally doing great. There is nothing more right than Ellen’s signature sneakers-with-suits look.
8. Hoop Earrings
Nothing more to say here. This pic says it all.
9. Leopard Print
10. Crop Tops
Everyone wear crop tops forever, on all bodies, all ages, all the time.
11. Brightly Colored Eyeshadow
High pigment eyeshadow in colors that look like they came out of a crayon box or David Bowie’s make-up bag are not for the faint-hearted. But they are for adults of any age. Go ahead. Call me tacky. I’ll take it as a compliment.
12. See-Through Shirts
Just because your twenties are behind you doesn’t mean you have to fear a semitransparent top. Put those layering camisoles and tanks away and revel in your glorious bod.
13. Whimsical Kitty Prints
14. Comic & Fandom Apparel
Why would they make fan apparel in grown-up sizes if it wasn’t for grown-ups?
15. Graphic Tees and Slogan Tees
You can take our fun graphic tees out of our cold, dead hands. How else will we tell the world how witty and adorable and smart we are? Also, funny slogan tees are literally the best part of Pride. Also, you could buy some fun slogan tees right here, currently available to queers of all ages.
16. Miniskirts and Minidresses
Who says the fun stops at the knee? No one. No one says that. Let no one tell you to drop your hemline just because you passed the 29-year mark.
17. Oversized Sunglasses
Stylish eyewear is for every age. Plus, you need all the sun protection you can get in this ozone-depleted age of imminent doom.
18. Plunging Necklines
At 31 years young, Janet Mock demands respect and exudes babeliness in her low-cut animal print dress. I got chastised at work once in my 20s for showing too much cleavage at work (which really just means I have big boobs that are hard to cover up). To this day, I hold a grudge about it. If a best-selling author, MSNBC talk show host, and contributing editor at Marie Clare like Janet Mock can work a deep v-neck, it’s safe to say we can bury this so-called “fashion don’t” in the past forever.
Apparently it is unclear whether adult women can wear pigtails, but as someone who has, indeed, worn them, I am here to tell you it is a-ok. If anyone tries to infantilize you, you can slap them in the face with your pigtails.
Fringe is fun and wearing it kind of makes you want to spin around in a circle and go, “Wheeee!” as your fringed garment fans out around you gloriously. ‘Nuf said.
21. Glitter Makeup
Throw some glitter in the air because sparkly makeup never gets old. Who wore it better? 12-year-old girls or me? I think the answer is obvious.
22. Funky Sneakers
At 42-years-old, Rachel Maddow’s colorful sneaker collection is a thing to be coveted. Nothing says, “I’m nerdy and gay!” like unexpectedly fun footwear.
23. Halter Tops
Strappy tanks and halter tops look great on bodies of all ages. I guess older people are supposed to be ashamed of our decaying bodies, having supposedly spent all our sexual currency in our youth, but that is just BS. Also, sometimes it’s 90 degrees out and you just need to be wearing as little clothing as possible.
“Oh, we’re not supposed to wear sequins? Or miniskirts? What about a sequin miniskirt? Definitely not?” – Aja
As one of the classic lesbian haircuts; right up there with the pixie, the crew cut, and the Shane; the fauxhawk is a timeless and super gay choice at any age.
27. Cut Up Tees
Because t-shirts look so much more badass and are so much more comfortable as tanks, no matter your age. We all know it.
28. Super Skinny Jeans
Sometimes you might have a moment of self-doubt and think to yourself, “Are these pants too skinny/tight?” But then you remember that Kate Moennig (37 years old) and Leisha Hailey (44 years old) only own skinny jeans and you realize that you are living your best life.
29. Boots with the Fur
If you live in a cold city and you know what I mean if you do, fur-lined boots are fucking practical. And cute.
30. Denim Cutoffs
You heard her. She calls the damn shots.
Before you go! It takes funding to keep this publication by and for queer women and trans people of all genders running every day. And A+ members keep the majority of our site free for everyone. Still, 99.9% of our readers are not members. A+ membership starts at just $4/month. If you’re able to, will you join A+ and keep Autostraddle here and working for everyone?