How Much Skin Should You Show beyond 50?

How much skin is too much to show?

They’re at it again. At the runway shows, red carpets and on Instagram, you’re seeing young women in see-through chiffon blouses – with no bra. When did this become a “thing?” Now, really, can you imagine standing around chatting at a cocktail party in one of those tops and having anyone pay attention to your face? How much skin is too much to reveal? Especially at our age?

The brutal fact is that many of us are insecure about showing our skin now (not that we would have bared our breasts like that even in our 20s.) We’re dealing with sags, wrinkles, spider or varicose veins, love handles, surgical scars, upper arm flab, drooping breasts and bums. Unless, of course, you’ve worked for a hard body – in which case, congratulations!

But should we care? It depends on who you are and how comfortable you feel in your own skin. 85-year-old Dorrie Jacobson, of Senior Style Bible, is still modeling swimsuits after 60 years. But she is honest about disdain for her spider veins and remorseful about what she wishes she hadn’t done all those years: bake in the sun. Her boyfriend, who is 7-years-younger, doesn’t seem to mind.

And she still models.

Dorrie Jacobson is still modeling at 85.

So, what can we take away from that? Just choose your battles. Here are some ideas how.

See-through anyone?

We’ll start with the most daring one. You’re seeing a lot of chiffon showing up this season, mostly in sheer tops. You’ll find many in the perennially popular (but even more so right now) animal prints: leopard, zebra, and snakeskin. Any of these would be a terrific piece for a holiday party, or under the right circumstances, possibly even office attire. How to make them less daring? Add a matching or at least a color-matched camisole to wear underneath. Some of these do come with their own matching camisoles. And a whole lot of them are only sheer in the arms.

sheer leopard blouse macys

Rachel Roy Sheer Leopard Blouse, $89

You’ll also find many with panels of opaque fabric over the bodice, or up to just above the bust line. When the area over the shoulders is sheer you’ll need either a strapless bra or one that color matches the color of the bodice.

showing shoulders through sheer is not too much for women over 50Halogen Ruffle Neck Swiss Dot Mesh Top (comes in white, burgundy), $49

Then there is lace. There is also a trend toward blouses with lacy panels in the upper section of the bodice. Many of these are otherwise pretty covered-up except for the lace portions, and are long-sleeved. It’s a very feminine and pretty way to go with the trend.

Cold shoulders

If you are averse to showing your upper arms even that much, but still want to add a little allure, there are the one-shoulder, off-the-shoulder or so-called “cold shoulder” tops.

Cold shoulder sweater aren't too much skin to show

Ivory Cold Shoulder Sweater, 4 colors, now $50

The thing about the one-shoulder styles is that at least one arm, along with the shoulder, is going to be exposed. So unless you have really toned upper arms, this one might be a challenge. For the holidays you’ll see a lot of off-shoulder tops in pretty velvets and chiffons. Many come with ruffles, gathers or ruching along the neckline. Depending on your personal style, that might be perfect for you, or it might appear a little youthful.

You’ll also see tops with what looks like an exaggerated ballet neckline – a softer, more rounded version of a boatneck – that extends out past the clavicle. That is another lovely way to go bare but not too bare.


The strategically-placed cut-out is a way to show a little skin in fairly modest, but still appealing or even glamorous way. Two years ago we started seeing cutouts along the upper arms of blouses. You’ll still see those, but this idea doesn’t work if you’re insecure about your upper arms.

JJill linen and rayon sweater has arm cutouts that don't show too much skin

J. Jill Linen and Rayon Open Shoulder Sweater, 4 colors, $89

Now we’re seeing cut-outs incorporated into the overall style of the bodice, the back, and the arms, as a more forward fashion statement. In addition to the traditional keyhole in the back of the neckline, there now are some along the front neckline. One popular trend is a kind of “choker” neckline with a large cut-out below it or to either side of it. Then there are tops with small slits, large ovals across the front of the upper bodice, cut-outs on the shoulders, or slashes and swoops on one shoulder. A lot of these are long sleeved, making them workable if you’re uncomfortable about your arms.

Baring Arms

Of course, there are lots of options if you are willing to show your arms, especially for holiday events. Sequins are back in a big way this year. A sleeveless sequined top can be a show-stopper for your party outfit. There are sequined halter tops, camisoles, racer-back tops, and blouses with the larger sequins called pailettes. Another way to turn up the heat is with one of the satin-like sleeveless tops with a slightly lower, draped v-neckline, if you feel comfortable showing the skin on your upper chest. In fact, you’ll also find sleeved sequined tops with a deeper neckline if you don’t want to go sleeveless.

showing bare shoulders is not too much skin to show

Sequin Dylan Tank Top – was $345, now $118

There are also a lot of bare-midriff looks this year as well as sheer chiffon pants. Now, even if the weather didn’t make that unappealing, I think these are two we might take a pass on.



Other Sheer Blouses:

Nordstrom Leopard Print Sheer Top

TopShop Leopard Heart Ruffle Top, $55 

Baily44 Avila Top

Bailey44 Avila Top, $148

Off The Shoulder:

Vince Camuto Long Sleeve Paisely Spice Ruffled Off Shoulder Blouse, $80

Gibson x Living in Yellow Mary Fleece Off the Shoulder Top, $54

Bailey44 Deneuve Cold-Shoulder Top, on sale for $39.99

Rosetta Getty One Shoulder Jersey Blouse, $850



LAmade Ellen Tie Tunic, $47.50 (in addition to peek-a-boo sleeves, this tunic boasts a tie-back and side slits)


Veronica Beard, Wade Stretch Silk Satin Top, $350

Susana Monaco Gathered Sleeve Cutout Top, $167

Baring Arms

this sweet large sequin top doesn't show too much skin

Love by Theia Paillette Cap Sleeve Top, $180

Vince Camuto Sequin Camisole, $99

how much skin is too much for the holidays

h:ours Bashful Bodysuit, $118





We are giving away a $50 Amazon Gift Card every month to one of our subscribers! To enter, simply add your email address below. If you already subscribe, you will automatically be entered. Winners will be chosen randomly.

Related Posts: