This spring, I received a Boston Proper catalog with a gorgeous sundress on the cover. It was very feminine and romantic–I immediately imagined myself wearing it to brunch on a lazy Sunday morning. I was poised to purchase it, when suddenly and for the first time ever, I asked myself if it were to “young” a look for me. I am 56, in body, after all, and though I am slim and fit–it occurred to me that perhaps the dress was not “age appropriate” for a woman of my years. It comes as a surprise when I take stock in the many changes in my face, hair, skin tone and overall musculature. My face and hair have changed, but the woman inside has not.
If I got the dress, would I look like an old woman in a girl’s clothing? Would the disparity between my age and the style be such that it would create that dissonance we sometimes see when an outfit doesn’t seem to fit it’s wearer because she is OLD?
When I think of “age appropriate” clothing, I think of structured, boxy suits, sensible shoes, the covering of body parts which have seen better days, the repression of one’s creativity and sexuality. I don’t want to fit in such a box, but I don’t want to be “inappropriate” either. I didn’t buy the dress, though I still think about it.
Earlier this weekend, I watched a video posted by Melissa55, a stunning YouTuber who is of similar age and sensibility as I. Melissa55 received a comment from a viewer suggesting that her clothing choices were not age appropriate and made her look as if she were trying too hard. Firstly, I could not disagree more, and more importantly, what is “age appropriate”?
As I considered the question of what makes clothing appropriate to one age or another, I came to see that good taste is universal. Young and old, alike look best when the wearer’s shape, size, coloring and personal style meld. Some clothes are simply too short, too revealing, a poor fit, poorly constructed and/or too over the top for women and girls of any age.
Revealing swimwear, sleek, body conscious clothing and short skirts and shorts should be worn with caution by those who choose them–with the overall look and fit in mind. There comes a point where TMI comes to mind, and while one may receive attention, it is not likely the kind of attention we seek deep in our souls.
What we wear sends messages, we all know that. When clothes are mindfully selected, they may whisper or shout, depending on the intention of the wearer. The questions I have begun to ask myself more these days, fall along the lines of “who am I now?” “Does this still reflect who I am?” “Does this feel good and fit properly?” Things continue to change, including our self-image and correspondingly our wardrobe.
In the end, the question isn’t about appropriateness based on our age, rather is it appropriate for who we are now.