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“When young people wear it, they looked pulled together, polished. When older women wear it — and, yes, they do have to be careful about going too far this way or they risk looking a bit like a dowager — they like the trends of being more covered, the return to hosiery and vintage jewelry. A lot of women appreciate sleeves on dresses,” he said.

Younger women are learning that sophistication doesn’t mean looking matronly, and they’re seeing these grown-up styles as a fast track to confidence and credibility, Mr. Glassman said.

One might think the plugged-in culture that allows one to run a business from a local coffee shop is an excuse to dress down, but it’s not, Mr. Kneen said. “You’re never doing just one thing. You have to prepare yourself for the unexpected: What meeting you’ll be called into unexpectedly, who you’ll bump into, if you’ll have coffee with a friend or go from there to dinner.”

He added: “It’s just easier to be a little dressed up.”

Knowing you look the part of a responsible, respectable adult can make you stand a little straighter, said Jacqueline Durran, the costume designer of “Anna Karenina.” She worked with Mr. Kneen on looks inspired by the film to be sold at Banana Republic during the holiday season.

“As I see with my working in costuming, the act of simply putting on a piece of clothing can truly transform someone’s attitude and make them carry themselves in a different way,” Ms. Durran said. “This obviously translates beyond acting to everyday dressing, which is about feeling confident in what you’re wearing and looking poised in all situations.”