An astute reader from Ridgefield, CT, writes:
Actress Ellen Barkin sizzles in her 50s.
"Here's a challenge for the Budget Babe—write a column on what 'mature' women can do to get reasonably priced clothing that doesn't look cheap because, unlike you [twenty-somethings], at our age we can't get away with wearing a potato sack and accessorizing! If we wear cheaply made clothes, we look poor."
—Fabulous Over 50
We hear you loud and clear, Ms. Fabulous Over 50! The truth of the matter is this: finding wearable, modern clothes to fit one's lifestyle, budget and figure can be tricky at ANY age.
What's more is that when you're young, you don't have the money to buy designer duds. But as you mature, you gain the wisdom and self-confidence to know that clothes do not the woman make—not to mention you have better things to spend your hard-earned cash on (perhaps a trip to Tuscany).
Having said that, we understand your need for well-made, figure-flattering clothing that doesn't look, well, let's face it: old-lady, granny, stuffy or shapeless. Fortunately, budget babes at any age have options. Here's where to find affordable fashions that we think are ageless:
- Now celebrating 60 years in business, Talbot's is known for classics. Our beloved mother—who taught us everything we know about style—shops almost exclusively at their outlet stores (which are actually better maintained than many regular retail stores).
- Chico's is your go-to source for updated separates. Another great offering from Chico's is Spanx for Chico's shapewear.
- The purveyor of island lifestyles, Tommy Bahama, has some seriously cool stuff for summer, available in stores only. And no, it's not just for Parrot Heads.
- J. Jill is owned by the same company as Talbot's. Their slant is more effortless chic. Beware shapeless garments and ditsy floral prints.
- For designer goods at a discount, check out Bluefly.com and Overstock.com's designer boutique.
- If you can get past the cheesy styling and euro-glam models at Newport-News.com, you'll be rewarded with some great finds, especially in the swimsuit and jeans departments.
- Spiegel mailed its first catalog to American women back in 1905, and they still have great offerings today. Highlights include collections by Norma Kamali and Jessica McClintock.
- If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. That's the lesson we've learned with Isaac Mizrahi's cheap-chic collection for Target. Check stores frequently as they update their looks regularly. We may love what we see one week and hate what we see the next.
- Land's End has expanded its petite collection with more than 200 looks to choose from, and finding the right fit is especially important for mature fashionistas. Also a great place to snag a cute tote or bathing suit this summer.
- Hit the sale section at Garnethill.com as well as your favorite department store: Neimanmarcus.com, Lordandtaylor.com, and Macys.com all have clearance sections. Neiman Marcus aka Needless Markup has a Last Call spot where you can save as much as 75% off designer apparel, handbags and accessories.