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.
Brilliant. A real reminder and assurance. Thank you.
Yes to everything you have written. I abhor those rules set by self important women.
Totally agree Nina..
Would love to share this with my followers. Will talk to you via messenger
AWESOME!! I’ve always been a bit of a rebel … and love these rules to be broken! <3
Every time I see one of those don’ts for women over fifty, I want to reach through the screen…and they are usually written by some twenty something kid! I was at an event the other day talking to a young lady who was sharing her fashion views to the rest of us fifty something’s, from her vast experience which turned out to be three years!!! Oh well!
I’m all for breaking the rules, Nina!! Although I did just cut my hair, but only because I don’t have great hair. I always wanted it long and flowy, but it just doesn’t do that!!
Great post Nina! All true! I never follow rules anymore. I did that too much in the past! Peace!
Forget the rules they don’t apply. I like to think I’m not trying to look my younger self, I’m aiming for my best self.
I love that! For me it also has a self expression element to it too. And experimentation…how we present ourselves is such a personal thing.
Love this Nina! Your voice us powerful and inspirational
Thank you so much! Glad you stopped by!
Very well written post! Great arguments! It is so important to feel you. Thanks for linking up to Top of the World Style party!
Great post!!! Love your writing style. SO so true! The short hair thing always cracks me up. I’ll be 48 soon and I have shoulder length hair and routinely wear extensions- because some days…….I just want long hair! LOL!
~Melissa at https://freshairandfalselashes.com
I love my long hair and have really worked to keep it healthy so I can keep it long. I haven’t tried extensions yet, but would like to try real ones. I had purchased some a few years ago but they didn’t blend with the texture of my hair. Any tips you have would be welcome!
I grew my hair out a few years ago, at about 42. It was greying and dry and wasn’t working for me. I am feeling much better with my midlife lob, and seriously need to visit a hair dresser for a bob, sooner than later 🙂 Not to fussed about the colour though, yet 😉 As I age I am feeling so much more comfortable with myself, than ever before.
Feeling good about your choices and doing things because they are right for you is what it’s all about! Thank you so much for stopping by!
Love breaking these rules. Who says we can’t? 😉 #TeamLovinLife
Yeah, so I’ve broken most of these – am breaking most of these. My mother has been at me to cut my hair for years. I’ve turned 50 & still wear it out in it’s unruly curly state – I straighten only for very special events. As for make-up – if you want colour, do it! Who are ‘they’ to determine what is ‘age appropriate’ & what isn’t… #TeamLovinLife
Don’t you just love breaking the rules!
I say boo boo to all this! I think the rules have definitely changed for the over 50s. #TeamLovinLife
I agree! Boo to all of it! I guess it depends on where you live how much you hear about the “rules”–I wear what I want and I’m 58–but I still see lots of articles written about what’s appropriate for women in their fifties and over–and every once in a while someone will say something to me or talk about someone else–so I figured I’d write about it. Glad your experience is different! And I’m certainly lovin’ life and doing my thing.
There are rules? I didn’t know there were rules! If that’s the case, then I’m a rule breaker …
Yeah here’s to 50+ Women showing the world how to really live!
Cheers, Janet! Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting!
I’m not particularly fond of any of these rules. I think it’s best to do what we want, but having said that I do think I make some decisions based on my age / body type / the occasion and so forth.
I wouldn’t wear a short mini-skirt for eg, but that’s as much as me not being uncomfortable wearing one as it is about me being overweight or 49!
I agree! There are some 50+ year olds who can still rock a mini, but most can’t or don’t want to. To me it’s a personal decision, like you say, based on a number of factors. I guess I am not a fan of following rules because someone else has decided that that’s best for her and so everyone else has to do it too. That’s all. Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting.
Too funny! First…I had the dreaded pixie too! I am 58 and wear my hair long. Probably always will. I still dye my hair, but it’s because I want to. Great post and yes…no rules for me!
Hey Loretta, Thank you for your comment. I could have died with that Pixie. I used to wear a towel on my head so I could pretend my hair was long.
[…] If you are like me, you’ve derived fashion inspiration from magazines, store displays and television. But with few women in their middle years represented, and even fewer who share my sensibilities, I have found little real guidance from these sources in my middle years. And, I’m not one to follow rules that make no sense. You can read Read 4 Rules to Break After 50 Here. […]