How to Wear Normcore Over 40


how to wear normcore over 40

Normcore is one of those trends that I find bewildering. Really it’s just wearing sloppy clothes with little attention to fit or accessorizing.  It’s jumpers (sweaters) and jeans, with sneakers or comfy but highly  unnattractive shoes.

It’s about comfort over style most of the time. And in fact it’s what most of us who are trying to find their style and have more style are rallying against.

But what about those days when you just want something warm and comfortable to wear and you’re going nowhere special?  I have to admit that occasionally I will get out and about in my most Normcore outfits, but I do have some rules.


Wearing the Normcore trend

How to wear Normcore over 40

  1. Make sure it fits and isn’t overly sloppy.  Notice that my jeans fit and the jumper is loose, but not sloppy.
  2. Keep your shoes relaxed but stylish – try an oxford lace up or ballet flat style (rather than your sneakers), or a bowling style shoe rather than your chunky white or fluro sneakers.
  3. Do you hair and wear a little makeup so you don’t look like you rolled out of bed, picked up what was on the floor from the night before and left the house without taking any care, your grooming needs to be polished.
  4. Wear earrings to bring life to your face.  A little sparkle here can go a long way to making you look finished.
  5. Keep the quality of your pieces high.  Make sure your jumpers aren’t pilled or stretched out of shape.  Your jeans fit. Your shoes are polished and in good shape.

What are the elements of a normcore outfit?

  1. Neutral colours
  2. Relaxed fit
  3. Denim
  4. Comfortable shoes
  5. Sweater knitwear

It’s a style that is most easily carried off by the under 30s, and those of us in our later 40s and 50s tend to just look sloppy and like we have no style wearing it unless we add a little extra polish.




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  • Look at the picture of the group of retirees part way down the page.
    That’s normcore. You look quite nice but I don’t think it’s possible for people who are older to wear the clothes that young hipsters are wearing in order to make fun of those clothes/lifestyle.
    They’re wearing them ironically. I doubt that it’s easy for older people to wear the clothes that young people are playacting and insulting people with.

    • I understand what you’re saying about the inability to wear certain kinds of clothes without irony after a certain age,* but that group of senior citizens is not the example I’d have picked. They’re beyond style.

      There also is a big difference between 41 and 75. Many style articles for people “over 40” are aimed at women in their 40s, 50s, and early 60s, not people living in retirement or nursing homes.

      *There are of course exceptions at any age.

  • Normcore is a social statement, not a fashion trend. The people who have adopted the look are doing it to mock others, not to reflect their own style preferences.

      • I imagine that teenagers are rarely concerned with style provenance or etymology. They simply wear what their peers are wearing. Normcore is a no-brainer.

        Your outfit, which I like, I would characterize more as “casual chic”.

  • I agree that Imogen’s outfit is a great example of casual chic.

    I was reading yet another one of those articles about fast fashion vs. slow fashion and something struck me. A continual keeping up with fast fashion trends is expensive. The times here in the U.S. are not like when I was a teenager and could afford a nice apartment on a minimum wage salary. It was common for kids and young adults to have their own place and a used car and be very independent. Unemployment rates are high here and young people like my son who did not qualify for unemployment after he graduated from college and thereby lost his student employment, are not counted in. After 2 years, he has no more than a part time job. Plenty of young people are still living at home, as he is. He’s not interested much in clothes but for those who are, I’ll bet feeling they have to keep up with trends is vexing. Much better to express commitment to ethically manufactured items that are supposed to last. But these can often be quite expensive. Normcore features traditional boxy cuts that can easily be sourced from big box retailers. It resembles, also, by intention, the uniform everyday garb of media heroes like Steve Jobs. You can wear practically the same thing every day! And get credit for it from your in-the-know peers.

    I would probably disagree that the retirees don’t have a style, though it may be a style Reader doesn’t care for. They look like, to me, that they enjoy getting dressed. I can see that people who retired wouldn’t have the same lifestyle segments to look out for. One of my friends, a strikingly beautiful woman, has her own business in her 70’s and dresses just like the folks in that picture. As a young woman, she went to art school and then in middle age went to business school. So she’s cultured, educated and artistic but she likes those clothes. When she goes out of an evening to the opera, she’s the most glamorous creature you ever saw.
    Doesn’t seem to have a need for any clothes inbetween.

    I get loads of great information from Imogen and never considered that I would be excluded from learning from any article she writes. I’m 67, don’t work outside the home, considered “a sharp dresser” (always makes me laugh and think of that ZZTop tune) and don’t own any normcore.

  • Normcore or not, I think any outfit that comprises good quality components looks polished if it fits well. With older people, many wear cotton, wool, silk clothes, leather shoes. It’s American preppy or just good functional clothing.

    The younger set seems to comprise two groups. One that cares about quality and one that is indifferent to it – a pilling rayon or polyester anything looks sloppy compared to a comparable well-fitting item in wool or cotton. Old well-worn leather shoes look much better than cheap synthetic ones.

    Quality and fit make all the difference irrespective of the style.

  • Great discussion – I especially like Vildy’s comments. I am not a follower of fashion as such – don’t really care about the latest trends. To me it’s about aesthetics – what is visually appealing will stand the test of time. I like the socio-cultural aspects of fashion – what are the influences behind each look – usually necessity (depression and norm-core fashion) or rebellion (beatniks, punks). That why I think it’s so hard to dress ‘norm-core’ – if it is not your reality.

  • Looks like my everyday clothes!! except Id prefer a pair of nicely ruched boots over those pants with a nice 2-3″ heel.
    As a mum who is busy all day from sun up till way, way, way after sundown this style is practical. I don’t know who invented it but I perfected it. ?

  • It’s a careful balance. If you look too polished, you look old or like you’re going to church (I get more dressed up when I go to church). If you look too “normcore,” you look old or sloppy. A certain amount of casual, however, makes you look young. Fabric choice can also speak young or old. Prints — can be so difficult to manage in looking young or old — prints can also give you a “department store look” that sometimes can also make you look cheap and ugly on top of old. Wearing too much jewelry, too much color, overdone nails, wearing a blazer over your shirt all the time — all these things can make you look old — there’s a certain amount of carefree-natural-with-style or minimal-with-style … that seems to help with looking young. I’ve found a lot of success in looking younger with mixing high and low on most days. Spending time around 20 and 30-somethings also helps you to see what’s in and what’s out — take a look at your wardrobe from there. Fit is everything. Body flattering is everything. How to manage fit and body flattering with carefree and casual is sometimes a challenge.

  • I see nothing wrong with folks wearing whatever they feel comfortable and happy in. I have never heard of this trend, so maybe that helps. I was having a coffee in town yesterday and most were dressed in colour co ordinated, smart clothes to run around in. I live in Greece and there is very little money around, but everyone is making an effort to look their best when they go out or go to town. I agree that looks like classy chic that you are wearing, though I would have expected a scarf or long necklace to lift it a bit. Here you wear footwear that does not slip on the wet marble streets! Only visitors and the rich wear super high heels, or the foolish.I say wear what is practical for you to suit your lifestyle.

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