I am one of those people that always felt older than I was. Maybe because I got married young, moved to another country and had a 10yo when my friends just started thinking about having babies. I remember feeling too old for something when I was about 23. Then at 30 I was positively over the hill. Definitely at 40, it was about the time to order a coffin (no polka dot lining, of course).
Anyway, I spent years worrying about being age appropriate. Is this dress too short? Can I wear polka dots? Flower print? Peter pan collars? Shop at Madewell?
Many of these I did not want to wear, but it was more about the style. I did not want to wear ruffled hems when I was in my 20s, anymore than now. I am not attracted to bicycles or chickens on my sweaters because I think they are distracting. They draw too much attention to the design, rather than helping me look my best. I never wanted to wear peter pan collars because to me, they suggest than I am a good, sweet, innocent girl and I never felt like one. I did change my mind on polka dots and flower prints. The notion of femininity scared the living lights out of me in my twenties, but somewhere in my late thirties, I embraced it. Who knows what my late forties and fifties will bring?
However, what really interests me is why do we worry about 'age appropriate' at all? We criticize celebrities for trying to hard. We congratulate ourselves on good sense not to wear a mini.
Why should a woman try to dress her age? I am attempting to deconstruct.
Biologically of course, we are programmed to be attracted to the young. It makes sense, since it gives better chances for healthy offspring. So the older women should not fool the males into thinking they are attractive. They should not be a competition for the younger ones. Also, the patriarchic society wanted to keep the married women with their husbands. Not trying to look attractive and possibly gathering attention from men outside the marriage.
Hmmm. I don;t like any of these reasons. Society has changed. Women became independent. They marry later. At the age of 40 previous generations were about to have grandchildren, stable in their long (although not necessarily happy) marriages. Nowadays some are just starting families. Many are getting divorced and re-entering the dating scene.
Does age appropriate means less attractive? Less sexy? Is there a difference coming from what physical shape you are in? How many wrinkles you can count?
And the funny thing is, this goes a full circle. If you are forty you may question polka dots, ditsy flowers or Minni Mouse print. But somehow, after the retirement age, they are suddenly appropriate again. Is it because it no longer matters? When you are obviously past the stage of being sexually attractive in the traditional sense of it, you get a pass on wearing whatever the heck you like? Because you are not a competition any more?
Sometimes we say, 'don't wear short skirts because I don;t want to look at your wobbly tights and wrinkly knees, it is gross'. But if a woman decides to go gray, which is also a biological sign of 'do not approach for sex - too old!', we applaud her. Good for you, gray and beautiful, rocking the silver, liberated from coloring regime and all that. What if a woman says 'I have wobbly knees and I am not going to hide them, in fact, I will celebrate them'? Do we owe it to the world, scared of wrinkles, and offended by having to look at older bodies?
My assumption is that, in general, we do want to look our best. In any age, we want to find our ideal skirt length, dress shape or perfect pair of jeans. But sometimes, our shape did not really change, but we do ask the question, based solely on our age like in: "I used to wear mini skirts and tight pants, but not anymore".
I make similar statements myself. Few week ago, I was in NYC and I saw a woman, probably in her 70s wearing a short flirty skirt. The skirt was slightly above her midtigh and I could see good portion of her legs, which while thin, could be categorized as 'old and wrinkly looking'. Suddenly I felt sad and overwhelmed by some kind of pity for her.
But why? Who am I to judge and why would I think that she was 'trying to hard'? She did not look like she was trying to attract attention. She did not even seem eccentric. It was hot and she was just wearing her flower print skirt. With a black blazer. In all honesty, I think it was my issue, not hers. I was feeling slightly uncomfortable, seeing her 70 yo legs. Is is because she reminded me that no matter what, we all age and eventually die? Should she be covered so that not to put me in that position? I realized once again, that being judgemental was just a reflection of my own insecurities.
When I think about it, I really cannot find any good reason for being 'age appropriate'. Am I messing with my own head?
And, to end on a lighter note, here is my take on the (controversial) J.Crew French Hen sweater.
It fits large, I took a smaller of my sizes and it was not tight at all. I think it is very flattering and stinking cute.
It is dream yarn so it will probably pill. Too bad they did not make it in merino. It felt soft and the shade of navy is very flattering. I liked the tan version too but I liked the navy one better.
I will not buy it for the reasons mentioned above. I think it is too much of a conversation piece. But if you like whimsical, go for it. I think it has nothing to do with age.
***I would love to hear what you think. Why are we concerned with being 'age appropriate'? Should we be concerned with it? I hope the discussion will help me clarify my own thoughts.
Please share, it would be no fun without you!!!