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

    • First-Grade Teacher Suspended Over 'Illegal Aliens' Post: School District

      The elementary school teacher advocated reporting undocumented immigrants, according to school district officials, who suspended her.

      Inside Edition
    • Trump's Russia scandal takes an unexpected turn

      On Friday afternoon, FBI Director James Comey delivered a classified, hour-long briefing to the Senate Intelligence Committee on the Russia scandal, and soon after, the Senate Intelligence Committee sent “formal requests to more than a dozen organizations, agencies and individuals, asking them to preserve all materials related to the committee’s investigation” into the controversy. We don’t know much about how the briefing went – committee members were tight-lipped following Comey’s presentation – though Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) tweeted late Friday that he’s “now very confident” that the committee will conduct “thorough bipartisan investigation” into Russia’s “interference and influence.” Reading

      MSNBC q
    • Fox News Host Brenda Buttner Dead at 55

      Brenda Buttner, host of the Fox News show Bulls and Bears, has died after a battle with cancer. She was 55.

      People
    • Milo Yiannopoulos Could Be Fired by Breitbart Over Pedophilia Comments (Report)

      Milo Yiannopoulos could stand to lose his job as editor at Breitbart News over newly unearthed comments he once made about pedophilia, the FOX Business Network reported. According to the financial network “there is a fierce internal debate at Breitbart over whether he should remain with the website over his latest comments,” with some at the right-wing site telling Fox News that Yiannopoulos could be dismissed as early as end of the day Monday. Yiannopoulos was disinvited from Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on Monday after a video of him talking about pedophilia resurfaced over the weekend.

      The Wrap
    • Photos of the day - February 20, 2017 (21 photos)

      Orthodox priests take part in a procession commemorating the third anniversary of the Ukrainian pro-European Union mass protests in 2014, in central Kiev, Ukraine; a demonstrator dressed as Donald Trump poses for photos before the “Not My President’s Day” rally in Central Park in New York City; and, the Milwaukee Brewers’ Neftali Feliz throws during a spring training baseball workout in Phoenix, Ariz. These are just a few of the photos of the day for February 20, 2017. See more news-related photo galleries and follow us on Yahoo News Photo Tumblr.

      Yahoo News Photo Staff
    • Melania Trump's sister shows rare behind-the-scenes look

      (CNN)Melania Trump is beginning to forge her own path as America's first lady, assembling a team of aides and advisers. But the name of one longtime confidante, and perhaps her most trusted friend, won't be announced with a news release or statement or a new title: her sister, Ines Knauss. Knauss, Trump's older sister, lives just blocks from Trump Tower in the Trump Park Avenue property, public records confirm. She was Trump's maid of honor at her 2005 Palm Beach wedding, People magazine reported at the time. And the first lady called Knauss "an incredible woman and a friend" in her July speech at the Republican National Convention. And the sister of the famously private Slovenian-born first

      CNN q
    • Dear Abby: He keeps insulting wife about her past

      DEAR ABBY: Because I had a promiscuous past prior to getting married, it was understandable that my husband and I have gone through some rough patches. It’s been three years since our wedding, and he still can’t let it go sometimes. A recent argument just escalated into his calling me a whore and stupid. We have a beautiful little girl together, so it’s not like I can just up and go whenever I want. When is enough, enough? Where is the point that I can give in to the thought that I can’t do it anymore? Or is this just what marriage is? We have already done counseling, and it just made it worse. I feel really alone, so can you please give me some feedback? — ROUGH PATCH DEAR ROUGH PATCH: If your

      Chicago Sun-Times q
    • Entertainment Tonight
    • Elderly Woman Stuck in Chair for Months Found `Molded` to Chair

      Residents in a Springfield Township neighborhood had no idea one of their neighbors was living in squalor until emergency vehicles lit up their typically quiet street, the Toledo Blade reported.

      Tribune
    • Dozens fired after skipping work to participate in 'A Day Without Immigrants' protests

      Across the U.S. employers fired hundreds of protestors who skipped work to participate in rallies.

      CNBC.com q
    • MYSTERY: Half-eaten shark on Florida beach raises speculation about what killed it

      A half-eaten shark that washed up on a Florida beach Saturday raised questions about a bigger fish possibly lurking in the water. A Volusia County Beach Safety Ocean Rescue lifeguard snapped a photo of the shark on New Smyrna Beach. Beach Safety spokeswoman Tammy Morris told News 4 Jax that the shark was “definitely” eaten by a bigger fish. She added that the shark was either a blacktip or spinner shark. A 14-foot great white shark named Katherine was spotted off the Florida coast in January. Another great white shark was spotted in the waters on Feb. 1, Florida wildlife officials said. Morris said half-eaten sharks do not wash up on the beach often, but she has seen it before. Officials said

      Fox News q
    • Brenda Buttner Dies: Fox News ‘Bulls And Bears’ Host Was 55

      Brenda Buttner, host of Fox News Channel's Bulls and Bears , has died after a battle with cancer. She was 55. The news was confirmed by Your World 's Neil Cavuto, who shared a special tribute to Buttner during the show. "She took stock of life much more than any stock in life,” Cavuto said. “It’s what separated her from everyone else in this business. Not just dollars, you see, Brenda had depth." He continued: “Let it be known that Brenda Buttner made us want to watch a…

      Deadline
    • This 41-year-old, ex-Cy Young winner is ready to make a comeback

      Eric Gagne hasn’t pitched in the majors the past eight seasons. New York Yankees legend Yogi Berra once summed up baseball by saying, “it ain’t over, ’til it’s over,” but we’re not sure this is what he meant. Despite not pitching in the majors since 2008, 41-year-old, former Cy Young winner Eric Gagne believes it’s time for a comeback.

      Big League Stew
    • All 23 TV Shows That Have Been Renewed or Canceled This Season (Updating Photos)

      RENEWED: Grey’s Anatomy (ABC)The seminal Shondaland drama will return in the fall for Season 14.

      The Wrap
    • Inside Edition
    • Samsung may swap out the Galaxy Note 7’s hot battery to sell you a safe, refurbished version

      Samsung just might be considering selling refurbished Note 7, swapping out the battery for one that isn't so problematic, so it can claw back some of the lost revenue. Nothing has been officially confirmed quite yet.

      Digital Trends
    • Priscilla Presley Confirms She's Caring for Granddaughters as Lisa Marie Presley’s Husband Is Investigated for Child Abuse

      Priscilla Presley has broken her silence over her daughter Lisa Marie Presley’s bitter custody battle and confirmed she’s caring for her twin granddaughters. “Thank you from the bottom of my heart for “all” your positive support,” she wrote above a photo of the sisters smiling and cuddling one another.

      Us Weekly
    • NASA Has Made A Huge Discovery About Planets Outside Our Solar System

      Exoplanets are widely believed to be the best hope of finding life elsewhere in the universe. 

      International Business Times
    • Rick Santorum defends President Trump's frequent presidential golfing

      In his first four weeks in office, President Trump has visited two of his golf courses near his Mar-a-Lago private club in Florida a combined six times, or an average of 1.5 golf outings per weekend. Trump has not been very open about his golfing, with aides appearing to downplay the president's time on the links and keeping mum on whom he golfed with — though social media often fills in the blanks. On Sunday, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters that after "a couple" of holes on Saturday, Trump "played a couple of holes this morning, but I am not going to disclose any of the others that were there." Then Clear Sports tweeted a photo of Trump standing on the golf course Sunday next to its CEO, former Yankee star Paul O'Neill, and top-ranked pro golfer Rory McIlroy.

      The Week q
    • ‘Not My President’s Day’ protests in the U.S. (58 photos)

      Thousands of people in cities around the country turned out to demonstrate against the policies of President Trump on Monday in a protest that organizers called “Not My President’s Day.” Yahoo News dispatched reporters to cover the major demonstrations in New York City, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. and elsewhere. Follow our LIVE BLOG throughout the day for the latest updates. See more news-related photo galleries and follow us on Yahoo News Photo Tumblr.

      Yahoo News Photo Staff