I'm going to start this post with a confession: I am closer to 40 than I am to 20. A lot closer. However, I wear clothes that most twenty-somethings embrace - such as miniskirts, mixed patterns, trapeze tanks (like I have on today) and platform booties. My favorite stores include Forever 21, Lulu's, and Urban Outfitters, stores that attract twenty-somethings like bees to honey. And I love my tattoos, crazy bright red hair, and willingness to experiment with my ever-changing personal style.
However, as I've gotten older, I've become a bit more concerned about dressing age-appropriately while continuing to wear the things that make me feel the most me. I cannot relate to the desperation to look younger that some women have. I will never inject my face with poison to banish wrinkles. I will never willingly fork over money to get my lips plumped, cellulite treated, or face lifted. To be honest, when I get dressed in the morning, I don't spend much time thinking about the age-appropriateness of my outfit. If I like how I look, that's enough for me, whether I'm garbed in Forever 21 or pulling on an Ann Taylor cardigan and pants.
However, I was intrigued by a January survey from British department store Debenhams, which reveals that a whopping 89% of women "desire to dress younger than their years," and that 55% consider 70 the ideal age to finally start dressing the part of someone born in their birth year. According to CNBC, "Most women felt that their thirties and forties were torn between dressing frumpier when adjusting to demands of babies and small children and a growing concern with looking younger. Over 50% said they started to dress younger in their thirties and 90% admitted they had started to dress younger by their mid-forties."
A spokesperson for the store says, "You only have to look at celebrity examples like Elle Macpherson and Sophia Loren to see that women are looking younger than ever. So it's no surprise that our customers are also dressing for how they feel, rather than what it says on their drivers license - and we want to encourage them."
Perhaps the most revealing part of the survey was that only 12% of men, by comparison, had ever considered dressing to look younger.
For most women, adapting your style to your age is no different to dressing for your body type, or your personal style, or your lifestyle. Defining, and dressing age appropriately, is a touchy subject for many women. This study led me to wonder why age-appropriate dressing is a tricky area to navigate:
- People don’t like to be labeled: Judging people as groups instead of individuals poses problems. We prefer to be seen as unique creatures, and how we chose to dress is definitely an individual choice. For example, saying that “women over 40 should not wear miniskirts” is far too general. How short is the skirt? Are you 41 or 89?
- The discrepancy between body and mind: The physical signs of aging start to kick in during our late thirties and early forties. Yet it’s exactly at this age where our intellect and experience really come into their own. Many women are more accepting of themselves. So just as we are becoming more confident and sure of who we are, our bodies start to let us down.
- Dressing to hold onto our youth: We can’t get back the years that have passed, and realizing that they’re gone can be a hard blow to accept. As a result, some women chose to dress younger as a way of retaining their youth.
I think I may start to gravitate towards the women's section a little more when I am, oh, say around 60. I am 36 years old (there, I said it) but can't see myself falling out of love with my skinny jeans, form-fitting tops and mini skirts any time soon. I do wear much less revealing clothing than I did when I was younger - no more low-cut tops or extremely short, tight dresses for me. On the flip side, I know plenty of women younger than me who like to dress "older", exploring their personal style through more modest pieces such as knee-length skirts and blazers.
I love the idea that age is just a number- check out Helen Mirren in a bikini! - but when do we stop looking like we're flaunting our fabulous figures and start looking a little ridiculous for trying too hard? Do you agree with the survey that says 70 is the perfect time to start dressing your age? Do you think you fairly represent your generation when you get dressed, whatever that may be? Do you dress older or younger than you really are? Leave a comment and discuss!
|TJ Maxx trapeze tank; Target racerback tank (underneath); Gap Outlet Cargos; Gap studded sandals; Urban Outfitters necklace; TIKKR watch|