Best dresses for your 20s, 30s, 40s

Redbook
Sheer printed shirtdress

Photo courtesy of The Limited

No matter what your age, dresses are a godsend. As we give thanks for one-stop-shop garments, stock your closet with these easy-to-wear finds for near effortless chic.

For your entrée into the professional world, make it your goal to look appropriate while showcasing your feminine side.

"Shirtdresses are never frumpy or matronly," says Alison Gary, editor-in-chief of Wardrobe Oxygen.

A good one, like this turquoise, patterned style, skims your curves, nipping the waist but flaring out enough to avoid hugging the rear — a no-no for daytime. Get extra mileage out of the dress by switching out the attached belt for a skinny cincher you already own.

Sheer Printed Shirtdress, $45, The Limited.



In Your 20s: The Little Black Dress

Photo courtesy of The Gap

In Your 20s: The Little Black Dress

"In college, you might have had sexy dresses to wear to sorority formals or to nights out," says Gary.

"You need something that's a little more polished and sophisticated so you can wear it to a friend's wedding or your company holiday party."

This number shows off toned arms and legs, and defines the waist, but is nonetheless conservative enough to wear in front of your potential in-laws or your company CEO. Both timeless and trendy, it will remain a wardrobe staple well into your 30s.

Princess Seam Dress, $60, Gap.


(See also: The ultimate rules of getting dressed)




In Your 20s: The Sweater Dress

Photo courtesy of Dorothy Perkins

In Your 20s: The Sweater Dress

Falling temperatures are no reason to wear pants every day. Stay warm, cozy, and stylish by slipping a roomy knit over tights and knee-high boots.

A great way to transition into the cooler months, knits — chunky and traditional, white and dark, graphic and solid — were huge on the fall runways.

But be forewarned: sweater dresses hug you everywhere, and aren't super-forgiving of bumps and lumps. Consider busting out shapewear to help with overall smoothing.

Knitted Cream Cable Sleeve Dress, $50, Dorothy Perkins.







In Your 30s: The Wrap Dress

Photo courtesy of Old Navy

In Your 30s: The Wrap Dress

Once you have kids, curves appear in places they've never before existed. Embrace — and flatter — them in a wrap dress.

Like a shirtdress, it transitions easily from day to night, and it feels good. Wrinkle-resistant, and mom-friendly, wrap dresses tend to have some stretch to them, making them ideal for crawling around hunting for lost toys, sitting in your office-chair all day long, and a cocktail party.

"I lived in wrap dresses when my daughter was little," says Gary, who has a three-and-a-half year-old. "It looked work-appropriate, but it was easy for nursing and pumping."

Long-Sleeved Wrap Dress, $33, Old Navy.





In Your 30s: The Shift Dress

Photo courtesy of Loft

In Your 30s: The Shift Dress

As stylish over tights and ballet flats as with bare legs and sandals, a simple shift dress is a must-have by time you hit 30.

Whether you're meeting the hubby for happy hour, or looking for that just-dressy-enough look for a daytime wedding, this shape is a totally polished way to show off toned arms and legs.

Up the "wow" factor by choosing one in a lively print. If the pattern on your dress is as exotic as things get, you've taken an admirable walk on the wild side.

Mod Zebra Textured Cotton Shift, $70, Loft.







In Your 30s: The Peplum Dress

Photo courtesy of Zara

In Your 30s: The Peplum Dress

First of all, let's get over the idea that peplums add bulk. In fact, the extra fabric around the waistline actually hides imperfections around the lower belly, an area where most of us can use a helping hand.

"In your 30s, peplum is a trend you can wear without it wearing you," says Gary. "It makes you stand out in a crowd."

Although this dress may appear solid from far away, its subtle, lace-like pattern is another worthy extra. No need to save it for a special occasion — this one’s machine washable.

Jacquard Dress With a Peplum Front, $80, Zara.







In Your 40s: The Lady Dress

Photo courtesy of asos.com

In Your 40s: The Lady Dress

Thanks to the popularity of Mad Men — which we watch equally for the plot and the fashion — these retro-cut dresses, like this skater dress, are everywhere.

Astonishing in their ability to make your waist seem tiny, these swingy numbers are also highly versatile. — both in season and in purpose.

"Wear with a scarf and pumps for the office, and switch to a statement necklace and heels for the evening," suggests Gary.

For winter, simply add a cardigan and opaque tights.

Oasis Red Skater Dress, $87, Asos.







In Your 40s: The Sheath Dress

Photo courtesy of Land's End

In Your 40s: The Sheath Dress

This sophisticated style can look too mature on younger women, but once you hit your 40s, it’s a perfect go-to.

Less square than a shift, a sheath dress nips the waist — even add a belt if you like — and is a touch more feminine. This ponté knit version is refined looking, but as comfortable as a pair of yoga pants.

"You're still able to get down with your kids," promises Gary. "You're able to move with it. It doesn't wrinkle." Sold!

Sleeveless Ponté Sheath Dress with Pockets, $80, Land's End.





More at Redbook:

Iconic Beauty Looks That Are Always In Style

28 Things Women Love and Hate About Sex

45 Best Weight-Loss Secrets EVER

50 Surprising Things He Loves About You

Sorry you didn't like this comment. Please provide a reason below.

Are you sure?
Rating failed. Try again.
Request failed. Try again.
We will promote constructive and witty comments to the top, so everyone sees them!
Sorry, we can’t load comments right now. Try again.

    Recommended for You

    • Amber Rose and Val Chmerkovskiy Hold Hands in Los Angeles

      Amber Rose and Dancing with the Stars‘s latest champ were spotted holding hands as they walked to Delilah in Los Angeles on Friday night. Rose, 33, was all smiles in a black velvet romper and knee-high boots, while the younger Chmerkovskiy brother, 30, sported an all-black ensemble.

      People
    • That Viral Video of a Man Punching a Kangaroo Actually Has a Sad Backstory

      Video of an Australian man boxing a kangaroo to save his dog went viral last week, but there is more to the story than meets the eye. Greig Tonkins and his pals were on a boar hunting trip with their friend Kailem Barwick, a 19-year-old who was diagnosed with terminal cancer, hoping to catch an elusive "tonner"—a wild boar that weighs more than 100 kilograms (around 220 pounds), the Daily Mail reported. This Guy Punched a Kangaroo In Face to Save a Dog During the trip, one of the dogs ran into a kangaroo while chasing a scent. Tonkins quickly ran to the dog's aide and intervened, first distracting the kangaroo and causing it to release the dog from a headlock. Thankfully the dog was wearing protective

      Esquire q
    • Inside Kirk Douglas' 100th Birthday Bash

      Kirk Douglas celebrated a milestone birthday in style. The actor turned 100 years old Friday and feted the occasion with members of his famous family and friends at the Beverly Hills Hotel in California. Douglas' son, Michael, and daughter-in-law Catherine Zeta-Jones, were at the glamorous affair with their children, Dylan Michael and Carys Zeta.

      Good Morning America
    • South Dakota State scores touchdown on fantastic trick play where they hide the runner with the ball

      South Dakota State took an early 7-0 lead on North Dakota State on Saturday with one of the more...

      Business Insider
    • Why Gaslighting Is Such a Secretly Sinister Form of Emotional Abuse

      Once in a while, it's normal to have a fleeting moment where you question your own sanity, like when you're severely sleep deprived or stressed out. But if a relationship leaves you constantly second-guessing your own instincts and feelings, you may be a victim of a sophisticated form of emotional ...

      xoJane
    • Ask Amy: Ex-husband wants to issue STD warning

      DEAR AMY: My wife of more than 40 years and I had a mutual parting of ways five years ago. We harbor no searing animosity toward one another and we regularly talk in civil and polite tones. She thought I was going in the wrong direction, but I quickly made an effort to meet a new woman through online dating. I was successful in that venture. My ex joined many different clubs and organizations and eventually fell in with a man whose company she enjoys. Happy ending? I wish. I was happy for my ex, but women I met online told me that this guy continues to occupy a spot in the online dating scene, messaging women about his availability. It is not my business, but I’d also rather not have her contract

      MercuryNews.com q
    • ‘Big Bang Theory’ Stars Jim Parsons, Kaley Cuoco Pay Tribute To Simon Helberg

      Simon Helberg is celebrating his 36th birthday today, and his co-stars have shared sweet messages for him on Instagram.

      International Business Times
    • No One Voted to Destroy Social Security

      Not a single candidate in 2016 campaigned on a promise to repeal and replace Social Security or Medicare. Anyone who did would have been soundly defeated. Indeed, unlike the Republican opponents he beat, Donald Trump promised not to touch Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid. But now that the Republicans will soon be in charge of all branches of government, destroying Social Security and Medicare is on the top of their agenda. Two days after the election, Paul Ryan said, “With a unified Republican government, we can actually get things done.” One of those things is ending Medicare as we know it, as I and others have spotlighted. It turns out that Social Security is in the Republicans’ cross

      The Huffington Post q
    • San Jose teacher booked on charges of felony sexual assault with minor

      A San Jose high school community is in shock this morning, over the arrest of one of their teachers. Police accuse her of luring a student into a sexual relationship.

      KGO – San Francisco
    • The Obamas Couldn't Look More Glam in Final White House Holiday Card

      Happy holidays from the Obama family, to yours. President Barack, First Lady Michelle, and their daughters Malia, and Sasha Obama all look as stunning as ever on their 2016 Christmas card, sent out to a lucky few million around the United States. The photo was taken at the Obamas' first state dinner as a whole family--Sasha and Malia had yet to attend one of the black tie events--back in March of this year. If you didn't receive a card in the mail (don't worry, neither did we), never fear,

      InStyle
    • Brian Loncar laid to rest, a week after burying his daughter who killed herself  | Crime

      "Brian Loncar died Sunday because of a broken heart because of Grace," Mike McCurley, a lawyer and close friend, said at the funeral. Hours before his death, Loncar texted McCurley about attending an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting together Monday. Now, McCurley told the audience, he pictured Brian and Grace together in heaven, sitting at a table with God, helping craft "a better marketing system for Christianity." "I can't wait to see what that is," McCurley said.  Loncar was the one to find his daughter's body, Sue Loncar said. In the days afterward, Brian had told Sue he wasn't sure he could keep living. Yet he also pledged to take time off work and find a way for them to be happy again.  He

      Dallas Morning News q
    • Look at South Dakota State score a playoff TD on this schoolyard trick play

      Bringing the playground to the FCS Playoffs. If South Dakota State ends up beating five-time defending national champion North Dakota State in the FCS Playoffs, this trickeration is something you can point to as a reason.Something straight out of "Little Giants"! This is how South Dakota St. just scored on NDSU...#Jackrabbits #Bison pic.twitter.com/Bl9bJPU5GP— Hobie Artigue (@HobieFOX9) December 10, 2016A 5’10 Brady Mengarelli sneaks in, giving SDSU an early lead in the Fargodome.The concept here is simple. ...

      SB Nation q
    • Prices for the original iPhone keep getting more and more absurd

      If you happen to have an iPhone 2G laying around, you might be sitting on a nice little payday, especially if you somehow never bothered to take it out of the box. Prices for the original grandaddy of Apple smartphones have steadily climbed over the years, but it's starting to get a little bit crazy. Like many Apple products, pristine examples of old models are often sought for their collectors value, even if the device itself is painfully obsolete. The iPhone is no exception. In fact, it might be the best example yet of just how crazy collector's are willing to go for a boxed, sealed Apple gadget from yesteryear. Sealed in shiny glass cases and wrapped in red ribbons, the last remaining new-in-box original iPhones are selling for thousands upon thousands of dollars, with seemingly no ceiling in sight. The "cheaper" examples are typically mint condition phones in opened boxes, and sell for a few thousand dollars, but don't expect to score a still-wrapped iPhone 2G for less than about $8,000. If you want the top-of-the-line, "display worthy" examples you can plan on a total of $15,000 or more. And no, these aren't just the listed prices for the phones; these are the prices that people are actually paying for the phones, as shown by eBay's completed listings filter. What exactly a person would do with a never-opened original iPhone that they paid $15,000 or more for remains a mystery. Perhaps it looks nice above the fireplace, or maybe it's just a really fancy paperweight. Whatever the reason, people with money to burn clearly love old iPhones.

      BGR News
    • Jennifer Lopez’s kids are the cutest backstage VIPs we’ve ever seen

      We knew it as soon as she stepped out into the music scene in 1994: Jennifer Lopez is a style icon. From…

      Hello Giggles
    • Russia intervened to help Trump win election: intelligence officials

      By John Walcott WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. intelligence analysts have concluded that Russia intervened in the 2016 election to help President-elect Donald Trump win the White House, and not just to undermine confidence in the U.S. electoral system, a senior U.S. official said on Friday. U.S. intelligence agencies have assessed that as the 2016 presidential campaign progressed, Russian government officials devoted increasing attention to assisting Trump's effort to win the election, the U.S. official familiar with the finding told Reuters on Friday night, speaking on condition of anonymity. The president-elect's transition office released a statement that exaggerated his margin of victory and attacked the U.S. intelligence community that Trump will soon command, but did not address the analysts' conclusion.

      Reuters
    • GOP introduces plan to massively cut Social Security

      On Thursday, Rep. Sam Johnson, a Republican from Texas and chair of the Social Security subcommittee, introduced legislation to significantly cut Social Security. For most workers, the bill would cut Social Security benefits substantially. As Michael Linden, associate director for tax and budget policy at Center for American Progress, pointed out on Twitter, a letter from Social Security’s Office of the Actuary calculated workers making around $50,000 would see checks shrink by between 11% and 35%.

      Yahoo Finance
    • Microsoft is serving up Windows 10 tablets for $49 and $59, but only on Friday

      As part of Microsoft's 12 Days of Deals, Microsoft has slashed the prices of Windows 10 tablets and 2-in-1 PCs. This particular sale is for Friday only, offering two tablets with $49 and $60 price tags, and 2-in-1 PCs starting at $179.

      Digital Trends
    • Princess Charlotte to Take on the Role of Flower Girl in May

      The details about Pippa Middleton's wedding are here!

      Elle