Middle aged style! Middle age is defined as the period between 40-60 and its at that point that many of us begin to change in ways that are both positive and not as positive. The best thing about sewing a handmade wardrobe in middle age is to sew your way to middle-aged style!
What is, exactly, middle-aged style. At this point society more or less demotes women to invisible status – we’re not young and lush anymore – and at this point we have the chance to come into our own style without society judging us for not being “trendy”. Style is not fashion. Style is what you wear, who you are and how you present yourself to the world in your own unique way.
And sewing helps us navigate middle age in a way that few other things do. At this point, many women gain the menopause middle, experience hot flashes, and find themselves looking askance at some of the fashion trends in stores. Sewing to the rescue! It is so much better to go into your closet and put on clothing that fits you – even if it’s not as small of a size as you’ve had – and not even have it reflect a ‘size’ at all. I’ve never put size labels in any of my clothing that I’ve sewn, and because sewing size and store sizes all vary wildly, I can sew an 8 from one pattern company and an 18 from another and still wear clothing that fits me well.
If you want trendy but want to modify it (the proliferation of tight bra tops right now is one example), you can do so. Wear a fitted waist-length tank top and show off your hard-earned arm definition, but keep the belly under wraps? Sure! You can absolutely do that. Sewing gives you the chance to make what you love to wear, and wear that.
I’m a huge fan of capes and wraps – but you’ll not find any of these in stores right now. When I wear mine I get tons of compliments, but good luck buying one in a store. I sew my own! Sewing gives me the chance to make pants to the width and length that I want to wear, regardless of what is in the store.
As I’ve come into my own with middle age (I’m 54), I’ve realized that certain things make me happy and I’m happy I can sew them!
Find your midlife style
Are you into classics like straight jeans, striped tees, blazers, slim skirts, basic buttondown shirts? You can find and make all of these patterns from any designer you like! Choose a designer who fits your body type (not kidding!) Many designers design around a basic block they like and they’re their own first fit model. One of my favorite classics lines is Ann Normandy Patterns who drafts with a C cup. I also love the new MimiG sewing book and patterns, with surprisingly classic, well-fitting basics in it and same thing, a larger cup size as the base block.
The dress I’m wearing in the main photo is the Ann Normandy Designs slip dress in turquoise linen from my LFS. I am 53 in the photo (almost 54).
Edgy basics like pleather or leather pants, moto jackets, slouchy tees, asymmetrical skirts and avante garde dresses and blazers abound from both indie and “big six” designers. Vintage Issey Miyake and Vogue patterns offer the most edgy patterns, but designers like Vogue’s Marcy Tilton and Sewing Workshop continue to design new patterns that are creative and timeless because you’d never see anything like it in a store.
Designers like VikiSews bring a European touch to new indie patterns, with sharp designs and elegant options. These are definitely on the edge of more challenging sewing but amazing designs.
Etsy has tons of pattern designers. Some of my favorites are Dudas Patterns (classic, youthful basics) Julia is Ukranian and emigrated from Odesa during the war, with her whole family (including 4 kids) to Germany with her sewing machine and continues to design from there. I also like HotPatterns, although Trudy isn’t designing any more new patterns, her patterns stand the test of time and still continue to be modern. Her size block is larger and you’ll find great styles in all sizes.
French line Ready to Sew is a favorite of mine, with good instructions, fun, eclectic basics designed in the South of France.
Pattern books like Tauko offer basic and edgy designs with sewing patterns, textile articles, pattern / design maker focus in a really high quality publication that feels like a book.
My LFS is carrying French line Maison Fauve and also colorful basics Matchy Matchy Sewing Club, along with historically inspired Folkwear Patterns. These types of independent designers give you a lot of options for styles you might want to sew – you can find YOUR style in a pattern company, I promise! My LFS (two locations in MI) ship anywhere in the USA.
Just start sewing!
Once you find your style / line, start sewing and incorporating these into your wardrobe one or two at a time. Choose things in your closet or stash that coordinate with your new garment and build a new (likely larger!) wardrobe that you need. Don’t put size labels in them – Iike the snarky or fun Katy and the Machine labels instead. One of my recent Tremont Jackets (asymmetrical) has a label that says “hand f#@King made” on it!
My easy sewing planner is here: and I have several that make it easy and not at all overwhelming to get started. Once you’re sewing for yourself, you’ll love the body you have now.
Temperature conditions are easily accommodated!
My personal mission this year is to get rid of the polyester blouses I’ve had. All the fun prints that RTW can only seem to make in poly? Pffft. I can get great cotton lawn in amazing prints, and lawn is magical fabric. Tightly woven, very lightweight, it hardly wrinkles, is amazing for hot weather or hot flashes. My mission is to make both basics (Scout woven tee is a favorite) and fun tops out of printed cotton lawn fabrics.
You can sew your way to middle aged style, and mid-size style too! And if you spent decades in career world wearing suits but are now retired or working from home? Sew casual basics with an edge. I love the sewing blogger BlakandBlanca on Instagram.