Q I am a 68 year old retiree. As a former lawyer, I never had a problem buying clothes. It’s no longer the case now. Recently I went to two big stores and couldn’t find anything that suited me. I even tried to buy jeans, which was worse than buying a bathing suit. Is there still a notion of “age-appropriate” appearance or is that an archaic thought? I’m curious to know what you think about it. Thanks a lot. BY
There were some weird rules about what was age-appropriate for older women, like no long hair, no sleeveless tops, and no mini-skirts or loud clothes. As Jennifer Alfano of Harper’s Bazaar writes, “What does ‘age-appropriate’ mean when everyone from 9 to 90 wears jeans?”
Yet, what should we think when we see an advertisement on the Internet from Walmart that advertises “dresses for the elderly?” Some were shapeless and others were skintight and described as sexy. Not sure “elderly” is the best term.
We have examples of women breaking the notion of appropriate age. Maye Musk, 74, and mother of Tesla CEO Elon Musk, is the longest-serving cover model for Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit edition. As a former model, she says despite her age, she’s “just getting started.” She wants women to walk on the beach and not be embarrassed by their bodies, as told in an interview on CBS Mornings.
Then there’s 100-year-old Iris Apfel, famous for her eclectic style. She is known for her oversized glasses wearing layers of brightly colored clothing and chunky jewelry that may have come from a flea market or high fashion designers. She’s such an icon that Mattel used Apfel as the model for a Barbie doll with white hair, huge dark glasses and big jewelry.
We have books that feature older women defining style and relevance for themselves. “Advanced Style” (Powerhouse Books, 2012) by author and photographer Ari Seth Cohen is a street fashion compilation featuring women aged 60 and over. As Cohen writes in the introduction to the book, “The women I photograph challenge conventional wisdom about age and aging. They are young in spirit and spirit and express themselves through their personal style and creativity.
There are ways to start a small personal revolt against age-appropriate clothing, as AARP suggests in its online article “10 Ways to Eliminate Age-Appropriate Standards.”
Here are some of their suggestions: Keep wearing your black leather jacket; if you have long hair, flaunt it; choose leopard whenever you get the chance; wear an unexpected pop of color and don’t be afraid to show off your shape. Finally, be prepared to take some risks.
Speaking of bright colors, note that Queen Elizabeth at 96 intentionally wears neon colors of fuchsia, red, lemon, royal blue, purple and more to ensure those who come to see her can recognize her in public spaces. crowded. We may like to wear these colors for other reasons.
I had conversations about this with a few women in the 70s and 80s. A recently retired corporate executive mentioned to me that at work she wore a suit every day while wearing her work uniform. She changed as soon as she got home. Now retired, she is happy to be free from dress restrictions. Another woman said she worked at her parents’ women’s clothing store and was always surrounded by fashion. She said: “The way we dress helps us express how we feel, even if it’s sweaty. Another woman said she had fun putting on a cool Indian jacket over a silk top and trousers because she doesn’t look like everyone else and added: “It’s not vanity; it is self-expression.
The intention of this column is not to be a fashion bible. It’s more about the messages we get from our environment, from our society – about what aging should look like. Age-related stereotypes can easily block our creativity. And this phrase helps make a statement about who we are and how we feel about ourselves, at least for this moment. At the same time, it is important to consider the occasion, the morphology and the messages we want to convey. Yet, perhaps later in life, we need to worry less about what other people think and more about what we love, being true to ourselves and having the freedom to take risks, throwing the notion of appropriate age.
Thank you BY for your good question which probably resonates with many of our readers. On your next shopping spree, consider bringing a friend and swap out the age lens for one that says “it’s me!” Be well and be kind to yourself and others.
Contact Helen with your questions and comments at [email protected] Visit Helen at HelenMdennis.com and follow her at facebook.com/SuccessfulAgingCommunity.