The world is full of “rules”. It seems as if there are more rules for women than men and even more rules for older women than young. Ladies, I’m here to tell you: some rules are made to be broken, and here are four I think need to be swept into the bin, right this minute. As full-grown women, we are entitled to do what we want and wear what we like. I certainly don’t want to be directed by some arcane rule, because someone thinks it’s “appropriate,” or be told by some kid what to wear and what not to wear. I’m on a rip today, so let’s jump right in.
Get your hair cut short by your 50th birthday (or before).
When I was in my twenties, my former mother-in-law took me aside to discuss my long hair. She said it wasn’t befitting a married woman, and long hair sent the wrong message to other men. I’d never heard such a thing, it triggered bad memories of ugly pixie haircuts forced on me as a child—so the whole conversation pushed a zillion buttons. I chose not to get my hair cut until several years later, on my own terms. I wore it short for a while and hated it, so I grew it back out a few inches below my shoulders. I felt like “me” again. Fast forward to age 38, I was reminded that 4-0 was right around the corner and that I should think about cutting my hair to an “age-appropriate” length. Magazines with beauty “experts” decreed that a woman’s hair should be cut to her shoulders or above at no later than age 40 and to the jaw or above by age 50. No one knows where the rule came from—some say it’s just “appropriate” and some say short hair makes us look younger. We weren’t supposed to question where the rule came from or why, we were just supposed to do it. Whether you wear your hair long or short, it should not be because it is “appropriate” but because it is how YOU like it. BAM!
Never, ever let them see a grey hair.
You may have read the piece I wrote where my fashionista grandmother employed a dubious hairdresser called Monsieur Dupree, who gave her a “platinum” pixie color and cut. Her hair had been a beautiful healthy chestnut brown before he did his magic, turning her tresses into what looked like the pelt of a dirty poodle. The idea was for her to be an exotic blond while hiding a few grey hairs that had started to emerge. Instead, there was a year when she wore hats and scarves while her severely damaged hair grew out. So here’s my rule: If you want to color your hair, and it makes you feel good and look good, by all means, do it, just don’t go to Monsieur Dupree. And if you want to go grey—do that! I have a Pinterest board devoted to gorgeous women with grey hair, in case you are in need of some inspiration.
Older women should wear little to no makeup, and certainly no bright colors.
To that I say, let’s get out the paints and play! Our skin tone and hair color are changing. Now is the time to try a bunch of colors and see what looks good. My friend Christine has exquisite thick white hair and very pale skin. She rocks a 50’s red lip and a nip of eyeliner along her lash line. Simple, and gorgeous. Me, I like blush, a smokey eye, and usually a nude lip. We are all different. Play a little. Have some fun. If you have always worn your makeup a certain way, try something new. If you’ve got it nailed, make a Youtube video and teach the rest of us!
If you wore it when it was first in style give it a pass when it comes back around the second (or third) time.
If you love leather pants, for example, but you wore them when you were in your twenties, and you are wondering if you should pass this time around, take a good, close look at yourself in the mirror. Are they “you”? Do they fit well? Do you feel amazing in them? You know when something works. If you are feeling a little iffy then pass. That’s what “iffy’ means. When it comes to style, we walk the fine line of holding on to the old styles vs. taking the risk of trying something new—so take your time. Get to know the “you” who is emerging. Many of the things we wore “way back when” can be incorporated into our wardrobes—that’s how great style is achieved. Sometimes just one interesting piece from the past is all it takes to make the style statement we are after.
Sorting out our personal style requires honesty and time. Style evolves and shifts all the time, just like life. Updates and tweaks freshen our look and keep us from becoming dowdy and matronly or like crazy fashion victims stuck in the past.
Here’s the key takeaway: For every “rule” I can think of, I know a friend or celebrity who shrugs her shoulders and breaks it. Find what makes you happy and unique. Wear what gives you confidence and signals the incredible woman you are. If you like to follow rules, that’s ok too. Being you is what we are talking about here.