Outfit Post: In which I wear a miniskirt, and commit a hideous fashion crime.

I am wearing a miniskirt today. I'm warning you at the beginning of this post in order to give you a moment to avert your eyes, and introduce the following: If you're over 35, a recent survey out of Britain reveals that no one wants to see you in a miniskirt. Period.

Yesterday my attention was directed towards a delightfully insane little survey regarding age-appropriate dressing, recently published in the Daily Mail (or the Daily Fail, as I prefer to call it.) If the results are to be believed, women over the age of 35 are committing fashion suicide if caught wearing a miniskirt. Quell horror! The study polled 2,000 women age 18 to 65 and found that "mini-skirts are a 'no-no' on anyone aged 35 or more," along with a slew of other cutoff dates, like no bikinis over 47 (unless you're Helen Mirren - when you look like this in a two-piece, you can do whatever the heck you please), no high heels over 51, and no leggings after 45. I might also mention that a similar study was covered by the Daily Mail back in 2007, though that study concurred that women over 28 are the perpetrators of fashion crimes. Apparently we've progressed a bit since then.

Caron Leckie, a nutritionist for Diet Chef (some sort of prepared-meals diet site, which sponsored the survey) told the Daily Mail, "It's up to individuals to choose when they should stop wearing certain items...Saying that, everyone wants to look the best they can and now is the prime time to get in shape for summer." Ugh. *eye roll* Leave it to a diet company to conduct a poll that has no other purpose than to make women feel worse about themselves.

Here's the full list of specific article of attire along with corresponding cut-off age:

* Bikini: 47
* Mini skirt: 35
* Stilettos: 51
* Belly button piercing: 35
* Knee high boots: 47
* Trainers: 44
* Leather trousers: 34
* Leggings: 45
* Ugg boots: 45
* Swimsuit: 61
* Tight vest: 44
* See-through chiffon blouse: 40
* Long hair: 53
* Ponytail: 51

Good lord. I audibly recoil at the mere thought of arbitrary rules restricting how women choose to dress and present themselves to the world. It's my belief that surveys like these play into the notion that women should cover up once they hit a certain number, as if a 34-year-old can rock a miniskirt like nobody's business, only to turn into a hideous freak the day she turns 35. They state nothing about the value individual choice plays into fashion; how a woman decides which silhouettes are flattering to her shape; and how fashion makes you feel.

Furthermore, these types of surveys reinforce the notion that women must have a mantra when deciding how to get dressed. The "no white after labor Day; no bared arms after forty" rules serve to limit and remind us that there are things we just shouldn't do. Women generations before us internalized these rules and bought clothes to abide by them. Dressing by the rules might have been an integral part of societal norms, but women may have missed out on wearing something they truly loved as a result.

Helen Mirren's famous bikini photos, and 47 year-old model Kristen McNemany's recent swimsuit shoot, demonstrate that the only thing that should influence a woman's choice in fashion is her self-esteem.
When it comes to "age appropriate" clothing, perhaps it's not so much about numbers as it is about one's own confidence and ability to pull off trends and styles without looking like they are trying to be anything but themselves. This subject is so tricky that I actually tackled it before in a post back in March, though that was a more generalized discussion about dressing to stay young and not about avoiding specific articles of clothing. The Sartorialist blogger Scott Schuman once stated: "I don't believe in age-appropriate dressing. I believe in spirit-appropriate dressing."

What do you think? Any cut-off age that you particularly agree or disagree with? At what age will you stop wearing a miniskirt? Do you ever feel like your age prevents you from wearing something you want to? Discuss!

(Have you entered my giveaway for a gift bag and new bronzing products from The Body Shop? Enter here!)

Forever 21 striped tee; Anthropologie skirt; Gap sandals; TIKKR watch; Charming Charlie's rings


  1. Ugh, I hate those ridiculous "rules"! I am 41 and I wear short skirts (I'm tall....everything is short on me! lol)and I wear *gasp* bikinis! If someone doesn't want to look then they don't have to! I posted a photo in a short cocktail dress (and I'm not talking obscenely short or anything) on the Facebook What Not To Wear page a while back and the overall consensus was that I looked fabulous but one young thang chimed in with "You look great but I think it's a tad too short for someone your age...maybe find one that goes to your knees.". Uh excuse me??? I look great but based on age I need to cover up more?? Are you afraid your boyfriend might think I'm attractive?? Oh the horror! Anyway, life goes on and I just wear what I feel good in. You look adorable by the way!

  2. I love your skirt! I think it looks lovely on you...no matter what your age. I have just naturally started wearing less super short skirts as I have gotten older. I think that anyone that feels confident in the way they look should wear what they want.

  3. Arrrgggh! I am officially too old to wear any of these except a swimsuit! I guess in a couple of years it's skinny-dipping only. Knee high boots? Sneakers?? Good grief.

    As you can see, I'm a bit incoherent with irritation. But there are styles I don't wear anymore, because I don't think they suit my age or lifestyle. These include (for me): short-shorts, very-mini skirts, stilleto heels, tube tops, cartoons on my tee shirts and most any item from the Junior's Dept.

    For other over-40 women (any age really!): whatever pleases you, makes you feel joyful and confident, and authentic: wear it with a smile.

    Oh, and you look fantastic!

  4. If I had the body....I would wear the miniskirt!! Maybe not often...but I would wear one or two in the summer....working on the body...just not there quiet yet!!

  5. Those rules made me livid. Love seeing you break 'em with this sassy skirt!

  6. I think that with some of the items is the general idea that you should dress appropriately for your age. It doesn't mean no short skirts after age 35 it means no juniors micro mini neon skirts. I think that most people who answered this didn't think of the ideal Helen Mirren type body wearing a two piece--they thought of the grandma who has rolls and who thinks they still look hot and wears a juniors size 5 string bikini to the beach...it's all perspective... ;0

  7. you seriously rock this skirt and i never pay attention to those fashion rules anyways. you look great and definitely should keep wearing what you love!

    cute & little

  8. Wow.....I did not know there were so many inane dressing rules for women over 40! I wear a bikini & short skirts, leggings, chiffon tops but I also practice ballet daily to keep in shape & because I love it. I think a women who is confident about herself should wear pretty much what she desires. So to answer your question...... no, my age does not prevent me from wearing what i want. Btw.....you look fab!

  9. Ugh. Stupid rules. You feel great in it, you can wear it. Now having said that, I feel there are some ways to get yourself in a mangle after a certain age. I feel it has more to do with trying to dress directly from the junior section than anything else. It may also happen if you don't really care about fashion, have time, or have your own developed sense of style.

    I also feel these rules might help those types listed above and provide some very basic direction. As you develop your style and find what works best for you, then start being the exception to those rules.

  10. No swimsuit after age 61? So are the 62 year olds supposed to skinny dip instead? ;D

    How ridiculous. If the clothing fits your body and suits your personality then wear it.
    This whole idea that aging is some kind of horrible sinful thing that should be hidden is just screwed up anyway.

  11. Totally agree. You should wear what fits you, period. And I mean that both literally and figuratively. There are women who don't feel comfortable in a miniskirt at age 25 and that's OK. There are others who can rock it at age 40+ (may I introduce you to Susan of the Working Closet? http://workingcloset.wordpress.com/2011/05/05/how-to-rock-a-very-short-skirt-after-40/)

    I originally followed the no-miniskirts-after-35 rule as my birthdays crept upwards. Bought a lot of bermuda-length shorts, too. And then I realized, dammit, my legs are one of my best features. They're most likely not going to look better with age, so why not show them off while I can? So at 41, I do.

  12. Oh boy. I'm 28 for 2 more months. Better make it count.

    Those numbers are completely goofy. Who makes this stuff up?

    The mini looks GREAT on you.

  13. You look AMAZING!!! I think it has to do more with how you FEEL than how old you are. Surveys like that are ridiculous and you're right, they only serve the purpose of making women feel worse about themselves. GRRRR is what I have to say about that!

    Come take a look inside A Working Mom's Closet

  14. Totally agree you rock that skirt! and yeah who does make up those rules? Who cares what they say anyway. You look great!

  15. Some people are so close minded! I totally don't believe in cut of ages, but do believe in dressing for your body type!

    Your skirt totally isn't mini either! But you look lovely

    Natasha ~ Required2BeInspired

  16. HA! I'm with Natasha about the 61 = no bathing suit. And I like her solution (skinny dip).
    "Call the body police STAT! We have a pool full of seniors exercising with noodles!"

  17. I firmly believe that what you wear is only dictated by what you feel good in (and the weather!), not your age. I'm 27, yet I have never and would never wear a miniskirt without tights or leggings underneath, because I don't believe that my legs are good enough. I say if you look good then do whatever you want!

    A small aside, i love this blog, for challenging the accustomed rules of dressing!

  18. So women over 61 aren't allowed to wear swimwear? Someone should tell that to my aqua-aerobics class. Not that they'd listen though.

  19. So I can't wear trainers to the gym after 44 but stilettos are okay until I'm 51? Running will certainly become interesting.

  20. Sorry if i sound harsh, but if the grandma who has rolls thinks she still looks hot and wears a juniors size 5 string bikini to the beach, how does it matter to others? If it offends my sensibilities that is my problem, not hers. if she is spending her own money, surely she has the right to decide what she would like to wear? and as to bodytype appropriate dressing- who has the right to decide which body can wear what? i keep on continually reading terms such as flattering / unflattering. doesn't that mean that the writer is already prejudiced towards certain types of proportions, skin colours, and thinks favourably of some others?

  21. Your skirt looks so lovely! LOL I love that sassy smile you're giving while wearing it. Hmm. I'm 19, and I love wearing pearls. Fashion quizzes say I have a "classic" fashion sense. I'm also petite, so I look like 16. I've always felt I look a bit like I'm playing dress-up when I wear pearls, but I love them, so I'll keep wearing them. :)

  22. the fact that there is a cut off age for a swimsuit is nauseatingly terrible!! you look fantastic, living proof that the age thing is BS.

  23. Rules are made for chumps! I'm 44 and I wear mini's with potentially alarming regularity! Occasionally I ponder the mutton dressed as lamb thing,but as you say,if you feel comfortable,and the silhouette flatters you,BUGGER THEM!!!
    Helen Mirren is an inspiration to us all.Character is what makes us sexy,not weight/age/whatever....I can't find the words to express myself peoperly,I'm so peeved by this nonsense,but you get the idea!
    Great post,pleased to meet you,you look wonderful! :)

  24. Elissa, I wouldn't bother reading the Daily Mail - I am from the UK, and really, it is a poisonous tabloid rather than a broadsheet newpaper. If a journalist gets called out in the media for being offensive, it's often from that paper. Even female journalists who write for the paper are sexist, ageist and offensive! It amazes me. For my own sanity, I never read it.

  25. Great blog! I love fashion! This past weekend I entered the Wilhelmina 40+ Model Search! I had so much fun entering such a confidence booster! No size requirements :) Check it out!! http://www.wilhelminamodelsearch.com/wms.html

  26. I loved reading your post.
    I just realized I am too old for a mini skirt or for a belly ring (glad i am past that phase!)
    However I can get away with everything else... HA!
    Seriously these are absurd.

  27. This is my first visit to your blog and I love it!

    Age-appropriate dressing is ridiculous. The no mini-skirts after 35 thing drives me nuts. As long as I'm comfortable in my own skin, then I can wear whatever I like and I'll rock it.

  28. Most of the time it really IS other women being worried that their boyfriends might find us attractive. That is why other women want us to cover up. I recently had a guy tell me he thought I look very sexy ( I am 36) and his girlfriend who is 28 feels very threatened by me and is apparently horrified that I look that good in my outfits. The guy told me it was better for me to be less sexy and perhaps not wear mini skirts. Mind you, he told me this AFTER we had an affair. I bet he would blame me for it if it came out. Who is the weaker sex?

  29. Are we still having this discussion in 2011? Are we still surprised by "poll" views? Is there a right way to dress that everyone should know?
    Well of course there is and anyone that breaks these unwritten rules is liable to be outcast and have nasty comments shared about them. It seems everyone has the right to analyse what you are wearing, apply some sort of generic judgement and then make any disparaging comments based on the Rules - and this is fully justified by the polls. Its a sort of unsaid mob rule for everyday fashion.
    To the enlightened (more than two brain celled) it is unfortunately a cross that needs to be borne. If you have the strength of mind and character wear whatever you like. If you are going to worry about the rules, what others might think or say about you or what "messages" your outfit might give to others - then wear something banal and safe or "appropriate".
    There are no rules or age limits for free women.


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