The year I was turning 40 felt like the end of a pivotal lifetime chapter where I endured so much unnecessary anxiety that I’m now able to see as silly and wasted energy. Beauty and Fashion guidelines and parameters dictate what’s appropriate or not at a certain age with articles, media and headlines like “Fashion over 40”or “How to Look Younger at 40.” These play a role psychologically and the advice seems so arbitrary.
I’ve struggled with the idea of dressing for our age for as long as I can remember first seeing these monthly articles in fashion magazines even during my youth. DRESS FOR YOUR AGE compartmentalized by decades 20’s 30’s ..60’s It didn’t resonate for me then yet, somehow it felt like a societal guideline that I needed to abide by and conform to later on.
I was born loving and inspired by fashion, inevitably raised by a fashionista mama that was always ahead of her time. She was adorned in classic chic, yet Avant -garde fashion even when her day consisted of a card game with her lady friends, or grocery shopping in our neighborhood. For me, fashion was always a form of expression that allowed me to feel good about myself with styling and putting pieces together that spoke mostly to my personality and archetypes.
As I went through different phases in my life, some of which I was conforming to what I wanted to project with different roles I was taking on, my sense of fashion would change. I remember a period of time during my early 30s where I was dressing conservatively in knee length dresses and skirts, smart blazers and pant suits. At that time I felt chic but I felt the clothes were wearing me rather than me wearing them. Reflecting back to that time, my creativity was blocked and I was not expressing the parts of me that were part of my essence. My joy, my inner child, my playful side, my flirtatious side nor the tomboy in me.
Typically, women are rarely praised for dressing fabulous with age when they dress younger vs.older. As we ascend the ladder of wisdom and maturity, we’re cautioned to adopt restraint, to be classic, sophisticated, or appropriate. During that chapter, I took this to heart and I realize now how dull I felt not giving myself permission to express myself with freedom. I am so over that!!
The more work I do with self discovery and also what I try to emphasis with clients, the more I advocate freedom with self expression. With recently researching some fashion sites, I was relieved with validation that these idea’s are diminishing with modern times, According to Who What Wear “There’s no memo that goes around saying you can’t wear denim cutoffs when you hit 30 and no rule that come 40, your arms should be covered up”. Amen, and thank you!
The constraints with dressing younger is outdated, and experimenting with fashion at any age is becoming more accepted. Look at some of the leading ladies in fashion; Iris Apfel 100 years of age, is a perfect example with her flamboyant, assured, vibrant and always wearing those signature frames. Iris and her outfits never fail to bring a smile to our faces.
The French editor Carine Roitfeld, 62, favors a sleek silhouette of dark pencil skirts,sheer shirts and high, high heels. There’s no telling this fashion icon and grandmother plays with what is and isn’t age-appropriate.
We adore Lauren Hutton for demonstrating that she is so utterly at ease in her own skin. She wears the clothes—regardless of whether it’s a formfitting velvet dress or a pair of Converse—and not the other way around. Decades spent enjoying a reputation as one of America’s top models means Hutton creates her own rules.
My thoughts are that as long as you dress for your body type without over exposing too much all at once, your good to go! Here I am wearing a mini skirt from Rodarte pulled out from the Joyful archives with a Magda Butrym blouse and a low heel from Balenciaga. The idea of wearing a mini skirt over 40 is probably questionable for many. My rule of thumb is when exposing skin, choose one. For example, when wearing a mini skirt choose a low heel,flat, or sneaker and a top with more coverage.
Never stop experimenting, albeit within the constraints of knowing what works with your shape, personality and lifestyle.
What is it about it that really suits your body and your psychology? It isn’t always obvious at first. Explore what it is inside of you that wants to be expressed with fashion.
Remember, fashion is as much about how the clothes make you feel as how you look.