I’ve often said that my standard for age-appropriate dressing is: If one of my daughters would wear it, it’s not for me. Given that there are more than 40 years between myself and my younger daughter, however, this doesn’t seem like a very useful guideline.
Every so often I see a woman – or, less often, a man – who looks faintly ridiculous in an outfit that seems too young for them. A super short dress, for instance, or “anatomically correct” leggings with a crop top are just not looks that the 50-plus woman should be wearing. Yet I myself sometimes wonder whether I am dressed appropriately for my age. Who is there to be my fashion police? I’m not personally acquainted with Melissa Rivers, after all.
We’ve come a long way from middle-aged women in their house dresses. Women of a certain age still want to look stylish, and there’s a certain obsession with youth in our culture that makes the latest fashion trends tempting at any age. A good example of this is the “cold shoulder” top that came into fashion a couple of years ago. While not only favored by the very young, the style gave me pause. Is it too trendy? Are my shoulders attractive enough to peek out of my sweater? In the end, I thought I’d just be cold wearing it and need another sweater to go over it.
Still, the style dilemmas continue. I guess a good guideline for women of any age is how you look in a given style. If you have fabulous legs, go for that short skirt. If your skin is soft and supple, a low-cut blouse or strapless dress would be lovely. Since I no longer have the figure of a 20-something, I’ve tended to err on the side of coverage and forgiving drape.
Of course, sometimes the situation is reversed. My daughter and her friends used to wonder aloud if they were old enough to rock Skechers Go Walks. They look (and are!) so comfortable that it was tempting for these young beauties to throw fashion sense to the wind and flirt with the “morning mall walking” look.
In the end, how we feel about ourselves is more important than any arbitrary guidelines from fashion critics (or our own children). Wearing what makes me feel comfortable and happy is the goal at this point of my life. If a style doesn’t meet those criteria, I’m giving it the cold shoulder.