I was reading an article the other day (probably more like six months ago, but I couldn’t be bothered to write a blog about it at the time), and it was titled, ’14 Style Mistakes That Will Age You’. It was a piece that never really stated who it was aimed at, but without a doubt, it was for ‘women of a certain age’. I’m not sure why I chose to read it, because being a link that came via Facebook, it was never going to be overflowing with journalistic integrity. But I had time to kill. It appears the writer, whoever she was, had just asked a bunch of other fashion stylists and fashion content leads (stylists and leads from what and where, I couldn’t say) for their opinions on clothes. Although some of the advice I secretly and resignedly accepted, (unsurprisingly) some of the tips disgruntled me a bit. First off, who are these people to tell me what to wear? And second…off, these articles are never written for older men. That’s either because a] nobody gives a sh*t what older men wear, or b] we still live in a society with differing gender standards. I’ll leave you to be the judge of that. Anyway, putting the gender rights and wrongs of the article aside just for a bit (and I mean a bit), I thought I might give my two-pennies-worth on the actual fashion content.
1: Fast Fashion Trends
By this, the writer was referring to anything new and hip (just by me even saying ‘new and hip’ shows that I’m not). They suggested you may give a subtle nod to a new trend but no more, or you end up looking ‘clueless’. Well, this is something I don’t really need to worry about. I am very suspicious of all new trends until they are at least two years old, and then I might adapt a watered-down version of it for myself. I secretly think the fashion industry is out to make fools of all of us, and it’s just up to us not to let them.
You heard it right. Tights. Yeah, this one also staggered me somewhat too. This one particular stylist doesn’t like them. That staple of all our wardrobes – the writer says they ‘age us’. Not only does she not like nude ones (most people don’t, really), she doesn’t like black tights. She says they look like school uniform. I mean, I wear black opaque tights with such regularity throughout the winter, I can’t imagine the season without them. I look forward to the season because of them – at last a time when I can wear skirts! Well, whoever that particular ’fashion content lead’ was, she can sod right off.
3: Baggy Clothes
That is, oversized clothes will make you look bigger and hide your shape. I reluctantly agree with this statement, but only because I am very short and if I don’t emphasise my shape, I resemble a pygmy person. But back in the 80s and 90s I was wearing massive Marks and Spencer men’s cardigans just like everybody else (teamed with Doc Martin’s and high-wasted jeans). And I still ascertain to this day I looked swell. My kids love their oversized t-shirts and jumpers and coats – I just think it is a fashion phase we all can and should go through.
Yep. So, what they’re saying is, black is a bit draining to those with older skin. Never have I heard suck a crock of sh*t. Surely somebody was just trying to pad that article out a bit? Black is…the new black. Black is a timeless standard. Black is as old as time itself when it comes to fashion, and to suddenly lessen its worth now (just to be controversial, probably) is ludicrous. But it’s okay, everyone, they tell us not to panic – bright lipstick is suggested to pick things up a bit – so us old women are allowed to wear black with garish lipstick. Thanks.
5: Maxi Dresses and Skirts
Y’know, the ones that go pretty much down to the floor (I’m explaining this for men). The author says these are unflattering. On the whole, this has been true for me. But I do have one very fitted maxi dress (it has to be fitted due to my small stature), and one maxi skirt – both of which I love. I don’t need any others. I’ve found the best, and I think I look good in them.
Y’know, not too much jewellery and that. Agreed, I suppose. I never was one for much jewellery. I wear two sets of small earrings in my ears (a stud and a hoop) and my wedding and engagement ring – all white metal, never gold. Oh, and a watch. And I barely ever diversify. Mainly because I can’t be bothered to put it all on and take it all off again.
That is, wearing athletic clothing when you’re not doing sport or not on the way to the gym. I am often on the way to the gym so I have every right to do so. But on a day-to day basis? I sort of concur (only sort of, sports clothing not worn for sport really doesn’t offend me). But I do like to throw on a hoodie when I can’t be arsed. And I have been known to stay in a pair of trackie-bottoms I’ve been lounging around the house in if I’m just picking up one of the kids by car, and nobody will see me (other than from the house to the car, and vice versa). I don’t know, this fashion advice all sounds a bit prescriptive to me.
8: Mini Skirts
Midi-style skirts and dresses are much more flattering, apparently. But it really depends what they mean by mini. I’m five-foot-three (and a half, last time I checked) and if I wear anything too long, I look like a librarian (and not a trendy one, a 1950’s one [apologies to my sister-in-law who is a librarian – but she is always the pinnacle of style]). So I like all my skirts to be approximately 15/16 inches long, which I feel is the most flattering length for me (not to look younger, but any longer or shorter just doesn’t do me any favours). Is that length classes as a mini skirt? I don’t know. That’s for the courts to decide (judicial courts, not the type of shoes).
9: Jersey Material
It’s the bodycon clinginess the author of this piece has an issue with here. We need to buy jersey material only if it’s ruched, apparently…or with extreme caution. But if you’ve got the figure (or even if you haven’t), so what? Number 9 is extremely sizeist.
10: Not Dressing for Your Shape
I’m pretty sure the article writer was just recycling and padding out the piece with this one – we’ve already discussed baggy clothing which hides your shape. I know, I know. Wear tailored clothing, yada-yada-yada. C’mon, this is just shoddy journalism.
11: Super-Long Hair
I hate to agree, but I do sort of agree. Hairdressers have been telling me for years that anyone over forty can’t really carry off very long hair. For me anyway, that’s true. My hair got thinner after having two kids, and if I grew it too long I wouldn’t be able to do a thing with it. But if you’ve got thick hair, then you go rock that look until whatever age you like.
12: An Ill-Fitting Bra (no picture required)
Stands to reason, really. Though I do maintain we should have the right to wear whatever the hell we bloody well like (and don’t wear a bra at all if you don’t want to).
13: Platform Heels
The author of this article says they’re ugly, if comfortable. She wants us all to wear pointy stilettos (thereby ruining our feet for life with misshapen toes, bunions, and corns). Well she can **** right off. I happen to like platform heels and chunky boots. Coz I’m small. Obvs. Of course, I do far prefer flats, but on the odd occasion when heels really are required, I’ll be in chunky/wedge ones. So there.
Really? How relevant are fascinators to everyday fashion? If you’re not going to Ascot or Epsom, this is a non-issue – a moot point. The writer says we shouldn’t wear them at weddings either, but I think the writer had run out of steam. I certainly had run out of patience after reading the entire article.
Although I begrudgingly admit that some of this advice in this piece I could possibly get on board with, I still couldn’t get past the fact that people really shouldn’t write articles telling women what to wear – just so they don’t look old. If I’m old, why shouldn’t I look it? Yes, I do dye my hair because of the greys (but that’s my choice), and dress in a more fitted and tailored way (because of said pygmy stature), but again, that’s just personal preference. If a woman in the same age bracket attired herself entirely differently, that would be okay too. We’re all built differently and we can all get away with different things. The fact remains an article like this would never have been written for a 40+ man. Since reaching the age of 40, I’ve dressed more flamboyantly than I ever did in my youth. Being this age just means you’re more comfortable in your own skin and care less about what society thinks – so I don’t need articles penned for me telling me what to wear. I already know what to wear. So, to coin a slightly overused phrase; you do you and I’ll do me.
NB: This was not a blatant excuse to post picture of me dressed in various different outfits, but the photos had to come from somewhere!