The Budget Babe | Affordable Fashion & Style Blog

Fashion Over 50: Where to Shop

Actress Ellen Barkin sizzles in her 50s.

An astute reader from Ridgefield, CT, writes:
"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 and's designer boutique.

  • If you can get past the cheesy styling and euro-glam models at, 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 as well as your favorite department store:,, and 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.

Thank you Budget Babe!
Although we'd love to shop at Forever 21, we over-50's have long realized gravity is not our friend.
You have given us some wise and frugal options.
#1 maggie z on 2007-07-02 08:30 (Reply)
saving tips:
- while we're on the subject, talbot's is in the middle of a sale - up to 70% off.
- re chico's, if you spend $500 there (no time limit), you are permanently eligible to receive 5% off everything you buy in the future.
- same at sigrid olsen (i think it's owned by liz claiborne), also a nice store for "mature" ladies, with lots of pretty colors in tasteful designs. sigrid olsen is an artist who lives in connecticut.
- coldwater creek has an "up to 70% off" sale also. you can pick up some very nice gypsy skirts for cheap. they're a good alternative to slacks during the summer months since they can be worn just about everywhere, including the office.
- trouble with j.jill is, their clothes look good on display but tend to look frumpy when tried on. the colors tend to be washed out looking. some people look good in pale colors, others don't.
#2 maggie z on 2007-07-02 11:39 (Reply)
Great tips! And thanks for mentioning Coldwater Creek, we think they offer some great stuff especially when it's on sale. Gypsy skirts are perfect for the "new" foho trend, too.
#2.1 The Budget Babe on 2007-07-03 12:12 (Reply)
what is 'foho'?
#2.1.1 maggie z on 2007-07-03 12:14 (Reply)
According to the UK's Daily Telegraph, foho is as follows: "Foho" is about a more understated, eclectic mix, fusing classic Boho elements - Seventies silhouettes, crochet trims and trippy hippie prints - with more subtle folk pieces, such as washed-out denim and traditional embroideries. Crucially, it also throws in something modern like a great big shiny It-bag or über-cool trainers. It's cooler and far more authentic than Boho and owes more to the original folk look of the Seventies."

However, we think's definition is more apt:
foho: a fake boho, or bohemian. A storebought boho look, brand new-old cloths. fashion trend, vs life style.

Look for an upcoming post on this! :-)
# The Budget Babe on 2007-07-03 12:33 (Reply)
Talbots, Chico's, Coldwater Creek, J Jill, Lands End . . . Really???? Is that all there is? One must scrounge through tacky and/or boring, shapeless, gaudy, poorly made . . . to find a few gems. Are these the only alternatives? How depressing.
#3 Lynn on 2015-04-30 12:15 (Reply)
Am I the only one who doesn't see any of these stores as budget stores? I mean all these stores are very expensive in my budget. I mean I was looking for new stores in the Jcpenny, Sears, range of costs like I don't mind spening 25 for a top but 85 to 125 that is budget to you all? on sale their clothes are still to expensive for my income.
#4 Korey on 2016-03-27 20:28 (Reply)
I agree with you Korey. $100. on a blouse or sweater is not an option. I regularily shop Lord & Taylor's designer departments but I only look at the sale rack. I picked up two really nice summer shirts one a Kensie brand the other Lucky Brand for about $100. total. Again not cheap but good quailty and nice fit with a little stretch in the Kensi shirt.
#4.1 KatQ on 2016-04-30 16:15 (Reply)
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