10 Ways to Look Sexy Over 40

With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, thoughts of dining by candlelight, toasting my one and only with crystal champagne flutes, giving heartfelt love notes and whispering sweet nothings are on my mind.

I want to do all of those things while looking alluring – sexy if you will –  for my husband. But the older I get, the less I know what that means to me…and to him.

It goes without saying that the sexy go-to clothes of my 20’s and early 30’s, like mini-skirts, tight jeans and midriff baring tops, are obviously not an option at 45.

So what is sexy on a woman over 40?

That was the topic of a recent conversation I had with a close friend. After spending some time speculating about skirt length, heel heights and necklines, we decided it best to just go straight to the source. So we each asked our husbands, two professional and educated men over 40 who have never met, what they thought made a woman of a certain age sexy to them.

And you know what? They came up with very similar answers.

*Here are 10 ways to look sexy over 40:

1) She wears form fitting clothing. Not tight, but fitted enough to show off her figure, her feminine curves. Hiding behind baggy, draping clothes is not sexy.

2) She doesn’t show too much skin. Bare backs, plunging necklines and too much leg is a not appealing and gives off a “trying too hard” vibe.

3) Her skin and hair are well-taken care of.

4) She doesn’t look like it takes hours to get dressed; an effortless look.

5) Taut arms, great legs, or sexy shoulders can be shown off in a tasteful way, but not all at once. She focuses on one special physical attribute at a time. It’ll stand out better anyway.

6) It’s easier to have a confident, sexy walk when not teeter-tottering on your shoes. She always wears shoes she can walk in, or even run in if she has to.

7) Her makeup is not heavy. Black eye makeup, goopy, messy lipstick and too much foundation can easily end up on his clothes and that is definitely not sexy.

8) Men like to run their fingers through our hair. Her hair is touchable, not stiff and full of gel and hair spray.

9) A bit of side-boob, revealing cut-outs and dresses with deep cut backs might look sexy on the red carpet but none of that usually translates well on a “regular” person like her.

GP looks hot!
But this dress would be laughable and inappropriate on me.

10) She maintains a bit of mystery rather than revealing it all. A fitted, but not tight, T-shirt is much sexier than a blouse with a plunging neckline. The T-shirt leaves a little to the imagination.

Of course, sexiness is in the eye of the beholder. And being sexy is much more than a great fitting pair of jeans and feminine heels you can run in.

Being confident, elegant, well-spoken, kind and funny are what both men agree really makes a woman of any age sexy. But not trying too hard, maintaining some mystery, embracing your body’s shape and taking great care of yourself can amp up your sexy quotient.


What do you think makes a woman over 40 look sexy?

*Please keep in mind that these are opinions of just two people. Interesting enough to share but certainly not representative of all men…or women.  


  1. February 13, 2013 / 8:06 am

    As a woman rounding towards 30, I’d say these work well for everyone! Your men have class and taste.

  2. February 13, 2013 / 8:13 am

    So agree with everything you wrote in this post. Trying to hard, really at any age, as Kate said above, is just tacky, and not sexy at all. I actually just showed this post to my husband and he whole-heartedly agreed with all you said. Things left to the imagination, in clothing, and other things as well, are by far sexier than anything blatant. In both women, and men, I would add. Great post!

  3. February 13, 2013 / 8:14 am

    As a fellow 45 year old, I approve! I think my husband would agree as well — he always says I look nice “natural.”

  4. February 13, 2013 / 8:44 am

    This post (in my rambling thoughts) reminded me of watching the film “The American President” with my husband. Remember that scene when Annette Bening comes out of the President’s dressing room wearing one of his dress shirts, as part of her seduction scene?
    I’ll never forget my husband saying “Sexiest thing a woman can wear to bed” ~ a lot to consider.

  5. February 13, 2013 / 8:58 am

    I enjoyed reading your post. I had a similar talk with my husband recently as I have just turned 40. He mentioned similar things.Thank you for the post!

  6. February 13, 2013 / 9:14 am

    I would have to say a nice set of matching underwear. I know when I was single I had beautiful lingerie, a different set for every day in a range of colours. It’s easy to fall into the trap of wearing whatever is on hand even if it is threadbare or has holes in it. My goal for 2013 is to sexy up my lingerie.

  7. February 13, 2013 / 9:17 am

    I agree, too much flesh is both tacky and desperate. It may get attention initially, but there needs to be something else to sustain it. I think that some people simply have sexy personalities. But shiny hair and a smile are achievable for most of us!

  8. February 13, 2013 / 9:19 am

    These were great answers for any woman to hear! I think it’s sexy to be yourself, whoever that may be and at whatever age. Quirkiness is appealing to me in all people.



  9. February 13, 2013 / 9:26 am

    I think what makes a woman sexy, no matter what age, is her confidence!

  10. February 13, 2013 / 9:40 am

    Agree with all those points, especially not showing too much skin (or all different parts at the same time) and shoes which don’t cripple the wearer. I have to say tough that even GP looks laughable in that dress, sorry, she never (in my opinion) looks quite at ease and always like she’s trying too hard…

  11. February 13, 2013 / 9:48 am

    Great post, I agree with all points and I know my husband would too. He has no problem telling me what he likes and doesn’t like about ladies we see in public. I take my que from his comments.
    Thanks for sharing!
    Lori in Atlanta

  12. February 13, 2013 / 9:55 am

    Hi Adrienne,

    I agree with all that you have mentioned here (and Kathy’s comment) and I know my husband would too.

    What I think is NOT sexy are long fake nails and overly tanned skin. 🙂


  13. February 13, 2013 / 10:53 am

    Adrienne, I would agree with all of these! A sense of humor is so important too…being too serious and uptight = NOT sexy.

  14. February 13, 2013 / 12:57 pm

    “Being confident, elegant, well-spoken, kind and funny are what both men agree really makes a woman of any age sexy.” Agreed, for both genders — and very well-said : >

  15. February 13, 2013 / 1:15 pm

    I am going to ask Old Mr FF about this.

    I don’t agree with all the answers but I reckon confidence is very sexy.

    Great photo of you x

  16. February 13, 2013 / 1:22 pm

    Great tips. I would also add someone who looks “effortlessly” pulled together and not like they are trying too hard.

  17. February 13, 2013 / 1:49 pm

    I liked this, although I didn’t agree with all of it.

    Definately attitude and confidence are the sexiest attributes a woman can have at any age.


  18. February 13, 2013 / 2:36 pm

    @Kate I do think these 10 things apply to any age, and either gender, too!

  19. February 13, 2013 / 2:38 pm

    @Kathy I agree that many of these things apply to men as well as women. I think I will do a follow up post devoted to what we women think is sexy in a man over 40 – should be interesting!

  20. February 13, 2013 / 2:39 pm

    @Ercuan Bill likes me better natural – even with zero makeup. Of course, I don’t agree with zero makeup on me but I have always been someone who goes light in the makeup department.

  21. February 13, 2013 / 2:42 pm

    @Kathy I never saw that movie! I will have to. I love Annette Benning. And a woman in a man’s shirt is definitely sexy!
    I don’t want to get too personal, but my husband much prefers me in a T shirt of his and his boxers over sexy lingerie any day!

  22. February 13, 2013 / 2:49 pm

    @Donna It’s hard when you get older to figure out what makes you feel and look appealing to your mate. In my 20s and 30s it was easy but as I age, I feel like I walk a fine line between tastefully sexy and inappropriate. I think it’s smart to have the discussion. Ask him what’s sexy to him and tell him what you find sexy in a man…it could be a really fun conversation!

  23. February 13, 2013 / 2:52 pm

    @Toula Yes! Nice undergarments are so important – not just for our mates to see but for us to feel sexy too.
    I have no problem spending on lovely European bras and sexy Hanky Panky panties. They are worth it!

  24. February 13, 2013 / 2:55 pm

    @Sulky Kitten Some people do have that sex appeal naturally…born with it maybe?
    Desperate is not a signal any man or woman wants to give off and showing too much skin, looking like it takes an eternity to get yourself together, well that is just a turn off, at least it is to me and my husband. But I am certain there are lots of men out there and women too who find revealing outfits a big turn on!

  25. February 13, 2013 / 2:58 pm

    @Nico Saich Quirkiness! That’s not something I had thought of. I think certain quirkiness is definitely sexy – reminds me of Zoe Deschanel who I think is quirkily sexy.

    And being yourself is not only appealing in a sexy way but in every way!

  26. February 13, 2013 / 3:01 pm

    @Mademoiselle Poirot I am a big GP fan – I know, I am the minority – but I do pick up a hint of trying too hard. I never noticed it before until just now.
    I think she looks great and confident when she’s dressed very casually. I see paparazzi photos of her in a pair of jeans and T-shirt, taking her kids to school and she looks more sexy that way than she does in the photo that I posted.

  27. February 13, 2013 / 3:04 pm

    @Loris Glassworks Me too, Lori! I really didn’t even have to ask my husband because he is pretty vocal about what he likes and doesn’t like on me.
    He can’t stand cropped pants (I wear them anyway), tankinis (only likes bikinis) and any top that’s blousy like a tunic or peasant top. He’s not unpleasant about it, he just likes to let me know what he likes and doesn’t like. And most of the time he is right! Except about the cropped pants – I like them!

  28. February 13, 2013 / 3:06 pm

    @LRS4AMANDA Oh yes…the fake stuff. I thought about adding that but some women have lovely fake nails – not too long – and a slight fake tan can look okay if it’s not to the point of being orange. But generally, I agree with you. I think if it’s really noticeable or extreme, it’s definitely a turn off!

  29. February 13, 2013 / 3:10 pm

    @Déjà Pseu Yes! I agree – I actually mentioned that being funny is sexy but also not taking oneself too seriously is very alluring in both men and women. So important to have a mate who is fun!

  30. February 13, 2013 / 3:18 pm

    @Patti Yes, Patti. For both genders….those things are sexy and/or appealing in any person!

  31. February 13, 2013 / 3:19 pm

    @Faux Fuchsia I hope you do ask old Mr. FF. I would love to hear his take on sexy after 40! Since he has such a sexy wife 🙂
    So lovely to hear from you!

  32. February 13, 2013 / 3:21 pm

    @Vannessa@Luxuria I agree, Van. And I did add that to the list (#4).

    I always try to look effortlessly put together…which coincidently takes a lot of effort to do!

  33. February 13, 2013 / 3:34 pm

    @Suzanne Carillo Style Files I am sure there are millions of different opinions about what sexy is after 40 for men and for women.
    Confidence, above all else, is the most alluring quality. I agree!

  34. February 13, 2013 / 5:00 pm

    These all seem like the kind of thing I would expect most men who have women in their lives that are over 40…
    if e were to ask younger men I wonedr what they might say!

  35. February 14, 2013 / 6:11 am

    Great post! I think ladies in their 20s and 30s should follow this advice too. Happy Valentine’s Day my dear Adrienne, who has brought such joy and friendship into my life! I love you, my dear! XO, Jill

  36. February 14, 2013 / 7:17 am

    What a wonderful post for Valentine’s day. I think your husbands are two very smart men!
    I’ve gotten some considerable feedback on a similar post I did about curvy girls and the consensus is most men prefer their women a bit curvier than the current trend towards idealizing a size 0.

    Spashionista (Alicia)

  37. February 14, 2013 / 7:42 am

    @jill815 Me too! And most of this, men can also follow.
    Happy Valentine’s Day to you too, Jill! Thank you for your friendship – it’s such a treasure.
    xoxo, A

  38. February 14, 2013 / 12:34 pm

    You asked two very experienced and classy men! I agree with their answers.
    Being sexy over 40 has a lot to do with experience, being confident and having style. Always keep some mystery.

    Lady of Style

  39. February 14, 2013 / 4:57 pm

    Great suggestions, Adrienne. I think you showed a lot of wisdom here and I am so glad I do not have to look for dresses revealing the side of my girls!! Happy Valentine’s Day!!

  40. February 14, 2013 / 6:10 pm

    I think these are great suggestions. Hope you’re having a great Valentine’s Day!

  41. February 15, 2013 / 9:08 am

    Great post, I certainly hope to look as fabulous as you do when I am 40 : ) I agree with all of these things, sophisticated and effortless is the way to go. Hope you had a great Valentine’s day!

  42. February 15, 2013 / 10:50 pm

    I try hard to be be defined by what men consider sexy and not to spend a whole lot of time thinking about what men prescribe for women. It’s hard to undo the effects of being socialized to always think about the male gaze, but it’s empowering to start undoing that default that most women go to.

  43. March 11, 2013 / 3:48 am

    Men in France would forst say confidence, beautiful lingerie and classic colors, dressed upor down, are timeless. Women in California will wear bright colors, in France it would be considered trying too hard to get noticed, “pas descret” and therefore not sexy.

  44. October 18, 2013 / 7:05 am

    Thank you for sharing. I got lots of ideas from the article as well as the comments. These guided me somehow on the way I have to carry myself and how to look sexy at 40’s – I am on this stage now. I would like to add also that your points above could also be a way we could apply to growing old gracefully when we will be beyond 40s. God bless all women out there.

  45. Lisa Rose Petillo
    April 8, 2014 / 6:47 am

    Your beautiful!!!
    Where do you shop for the NON-Grandma clothing at this age? I’m having so much trouble finding a store for my wanna-be sophisticated style. I also sing and play in my own band so, I want to look good for gigs. I’m also a size 16 at the moment but refuse to buy new clothes until I lose the extra 30 lbs I gained recently. (I’m well on my way) But say I’m a size 10, where do I find sexy classy clothing for myself? I just turned 42.


  46. Lisa Rose Petillo
    April 8, 2014 / 6:48 am

    You’re beautiful!!!
    Where do you shop for the NON-Grandma clothing at this age? I’m having so much trouble finding a store for my wanna-be sophisticated style. I also sing and play in my own band so, I want to look good for gigs. I’m also a size 16 at the moment but refuse to buy new clothes until I lose the extra 30 lbs I gained recently. (I’m well on my way) But say I’m a size 10, where do I find sexy classy clothing for myself? I just turned 42.


  47. Wendy
    October 30, 2018 / 8:57 am

    I must admit at 43 I have been struggling with this topic. My go-to mini skirt and high heels seem just ridiculous but regular, not-trying-to-hard clothes don’t give me that feeling of “yes, I’m hot–go ahead and look ;)” sigh….

    • Adrienne Shubin
      November 1, 2018 / 4:40 pm

      Hi Wendy,
      I feel your pain! I wrote this when I was 45-ish and now I am 51. A lot (A LOT!) has changed since then and I find it harder and harder to feel/look sexy. I really just want to look decent, to be honest! Maybe one of these days I will take another turn at this post except it will be called 10 Ways to Look Decent Over 50 😉

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