"Age-Appropriate" Attire? It's Whatever You Choose To Wear
By Joanna Lovering
You’ve heard all the reasons why you should dress a certain way, and they’ve influenced the clothes in your wardrobe and your mindset about style. It’s hard to not internalize and feel bound by society’s style rules for women of a certain age. I’m here to tell you, those rules--the ones that make you feel like you have to stick to the script--are outdated and completely unnecessary.
The concept of “dressing your age” has evolved dramatically over the years, and fortunately, women of all ages now have a lot more freedom to express themselves. It’s high time we threw out the dated misconceptions of yesteryear and embraced a more modern approach.
Here are our top three misconceptions about “age-appropriate” attire and why they no longer apply.
1. Certain colors are for certain ages...and it’s not yours.
“Invisible” is a word that is thrown around quite a bit with women over 60. Without a full-time job or children to raise, it can feel like you’ve lost a part of your identity or sense of purpose.
What’s more, if your body is changing shape, you might feel the urge to cover yourself up. Society says, “blend in,” not “stick out,” and that may mean avoiding certain colors, particularly bright ones like yellow and turquoise. As your closet has matured, you’ve probably naturally phased out some colors.
This idea that bright colors are only for younger women is a barrier we have built around ourselves as protection from judgement, even our own.
If there’s one 90-year old who’s part of the “in crowd,” it’s Instagram sensation Baddiewinkle . With almost 4 million followers, she is the queen of color; rainbows are a staple in her wardrobe. And while her take on color is a bit extreme, you can’t help but look at her pictures and think: “She’s wacky, but...good for her!” She is anything but invisible, and color is a huge part of that.
2. Short skirts are only for younger women.
Uh, hello: I have seen some killer legs on women over 60! Why cover them? And, for those who don’t think their legs are killer...still I ask, why cover them?
Like the color discussion above, the debate around showing skin is less a fashion issue and more a confidence issue. We know that societal expectations of older women are way outdated, but we still pay attention to them, even when we would prefer to break rank. That says more about what’s going on inside, rather than outside. Sure, we are all influenced by our environments, but at the end of the day, our choices are ours and ours alone.
So, I say, choose to have fun, let loose, and LOVE THOSE LEGS, HONEY!
3. House dresses are the go-to silhouette.
The whole “it only matters how you feel, not how you look” adage is a double-edged sword: while we all strive to feel great in our bodies, we don’t have to stop being fashionable and fierce in the process. So many of us watched our mothers and grandmothers give up on fashion while saying, “I don’t have anyone to impress, so why bother?”
I remember many a bright, patterned house dress being worn outside the house, defying their own name. Why? Because the women in my life had convinced themselves that, a) their body wasn’t good or thin enough for structured clothing, and b) they had “earned the right” to wear whatever they wanted.
Let me offer another perspective: yes, you have earned the right to wear whatever you want. You have also earned the right to defy societal norms and [gasp!] praise the body you have now.
So why not use our power of influence to model self-love for our sisters and daughters, not to mention the female friends who surround us everyday? Together, we will change the tide for all women around us and behind us. Soon, these misconceptions will truly be a thing of the past.
Joanna Lovering is the founder and CEO of Copper + Rise, a New York City-based style coaching service dedicated to personal and professional empowerment through wardrobe.