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Printed denim after 40? Oh, I don’t think so

Categories: bottoms


My super cute friend Suzanne has a question: “What are your thoughts on printed jeans for women in their 40s?” Ooh, that’s a really good question.


I would like to have an open mind about printed denim for grownups — I refuse to believe that age is ever a really valid reason not to wear something you love. In fact, I just bought a pair of neon pink skinny corduroys and I am totally smitten with them, even though the combination of neon and skinny really seems to be something that would work much better on a younger woman. I’m also hesitant to argue that a print is not appropriate for anyone’s post-40 body. I’m a big fan of printed pants, particularly for grown up women — I mean, is there anything more chic than a crisp pair of graphic print capris? I think not.

But I just cannot get behind printed denim for grown ups. Sorry.


A bold print draws the eye, so a print pant — of any sort — is an invitation to have people gaze at your bottom half. But unlike a tailored trouser in a crisp graphic print, jeans are designed to fit your curves — which means you’re plastering a print right over those curves. And let’s face it: After 40, most of us are a little curvier than we were 20 years ago. That’s not a bad thing — at all — but it is important to recognize when we’re shopping for jeans, or pants of any sort.

Printed denim can add bulk where you don’t need it — or create the illusion of bulk where there really isn’t any. I say pass on the printed jeans — stick with straight leg, mid-rise, dark rinse denim. If you’re looking to satisfy a deep urge for prints, go with cotton or cotton blend print trousers in a perfect fit.

What do you think: Is printed denim ok after 40? Are you working a print jean this year? Or are you skipping the prints all together?

Photos via Nordstrom

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11 comments so far...

  • I just can’t do it. It just screams “look at these big thighs and ass!” I don’t need help doing that. To me it seems too busy, too, but that doesn’t really make sense when you consider a print dress would be more busy, but that just seems to work better for me.

    Jamie  |  October 9th, 2012 at 10:48 am

  • Had the big print lesson just handed to me. Tried on a pair of pants with a great flower print that I loved. then tried on same cut in a navy. I instantly looked 10 pounds thinner. Navy purchased, flowers back on hanger.

    StacyfrPgh  |  October 9th, 2012 at 11:33 am

  • Printed Denim, no matter the pattern makes me think of that Jeanne Bice Lady who had the Quacker Factory outfits on QVC.


    Britt  |  October 9th, 2012 at 11:57 am

  • I swear I had those exact jeans in middle school. If I wore them then, I am certainly too old to wear them now!!!

    wendy  |  October 9th, 2012 at 4:40 pm

  • So, let’s talk brightly-colored denim skinnies after 50. Not super tight, worn appropriately with flats…but am I pushing it a little too far?

    Julie  |  October 10th, 2012 at 8:45 am

  • This reminds me of something I wanted to ask you:

    How would you recommend a short, pear-shaped girl styles red denim? I LOVE them, but I know that color draws attention blah blah blah. Is there any trick for pulling off colored denim and still looking a little longer and leaner, or is this a style for those who embrace the curves?

    Miss Britt  |  October 10th, 2012 at 8:50 am

  • I LOVE printed trousers of all types - jeans included. I am a huge advocate of flaunting your assets so wear my jeans with aplomb. I do think though that a smaller print is flattering and don’t wear anything that might resemble drapes. I tend to steer clear of florals at all costs.

    Poppy's Style  |  October 10th, 2012 at 9:35 am

  • Print doesn’t have to mean huge flowers! Besides, like anything else it depends on the person, their style, and their body type, IMO. Personally, it’ s not my thing, but I’ve seen some over 40 women look great in printed denim.

    cindy  |  October 10th, 2012 at 11:52 pm

  • Ha ha Poppy’s Style - I was totally thinking of you when I started composing a comment in my head!

    I do think it an individual thing, partly based on body shape, partly based on personality, and partly on the print. I don’t care for the jeans pictured and don’t think they look good on the model even. However I can easily see some fun dots or other on an over 40 woman, and I happen to be VERY intrigued with Joanna’s cheetah print jeans.

    Julie  |  October 11th, 2012 at 4:34 am

  • Colored denim= fine, fun, flattering
    Printed denim = bad 80s, not good, no way no how

    elz  |  October 11th, 2012 at 12:16 pm

  • SamiJ  |  December 30th, 2012 at 7:35 pm