Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Buford Betty Fashion Week: Dress your age.

We just can't talk about fashion this week without hitting this topic... age appropriate dress. Oh, it's one of the most fun things to dish about, don't you think?! I see offenders everyday! They often prompt long discussions on the topic between me and bestest. Sometimes I wonder if we shouldn't have age ranges on clothing tags... I mean toys have them, right? Why not clothes? You have to be over 21 to purchase alcohol, so maybe you needto be under 35 to purchase a mini skirt. Can you picture it? I'm seeing a "we card" sign at the J. Crew register. I love it.

Well, obviously that'll never fly, but it's fun to think about. Age appropriate dress is a big deal though... and I'm not just talking about dressing in your 30's versus your 50's. I even see pre-teen offenders. And I know you have too! You can express great style at any age, but don't forget to dress your age. And um, that doesn't mean the age you WISH you were. You may say age is just a number, but really... should a 25 year-old and a 55 year-old share the same wardrobe? I think not. And, while I could write pages and pages on the topic, I will just touch on a few offenses that leave me completely puzzled.

1. Older moms wearing their daughter's clothes. Well, at least that looks like what they're doing. Months ago, I was sitting in a deli waiting on my order when this really attractive older woman walked inside. I'm guessing she was in her 50's. She had a great figure and carried herself well - but all I could think was, did you rummage through your 22-year-old daughter's closet this morning? First, she had on a really trendy pair of designer jeans. Now, I'm not AT ALL saying that once you're over 40 you need to start wearing mom jeans...

Heavens, no. But's let's leave the overly trendy and embellished denim to the younger generation. Rock on with the designer jeans if you want - I don't care who makes them, but keep it simple and polished. You're 50. The jeans were a fairly minor offense though. It was really the spaghetti-strapped babydoll top that had me perplexed. I mean, really? This is a perfectly cute outfit for a 25-year old, but not you. Aside from "appropriateness," it's also a matter of taste. And though we all have different personal styles, taste is not so subjective. Neither is it solely a matter of showing too much skin... there are just certain fits and styles that are created for younger women. Flirty, flowy little numbers look ridiculous on older women. It can come off almost costume-like. I think a lot of women believe they have to wear younger looking garments to appear youthful and sexy, but sadly - they come off looking quite the opposite. An older woman that I think has absolutely killer style and understands the concept of age appropriate fashion is Helen Mirren. Or perhaps she's the puppet of a great stylist, but she dresses her age and she always looks incredible.

2. Letting it all hang out (when you should've tucked it in like 10 years ago). If you ask me (thanks for asking), it's much more tasteful to cover up as you age. When done right, a little skin can be striking (see Helen's little taste of cleavage above). But there is definitely a sliding scale correlating skin exposure and age. It may not be an exact formula, but it exists in theory. I'm generally on the more conservative side when it comes to "covering up." So perhaps I'm a little biased, but I often find too much skin so tasteless - no matter your age. My personal style is anything but conservative - I dress to get noticed, that's for sure. But you won't see my ass hanging out. Not at 31, and not at 21 either. Sex appeal has little to do with the amount of skin exposed. So many women miss that, sadly. A little skin goes a long way and it's all about balance. If you're young and you've got great limbs - go rock that mini. But balance it out with a loose-fitting top that provides a lot of coverage. If you're wearing a low-cut blouse, go with a more conservative bottom. The most frustrating thing though, is seeing older women showing entirely too much skin. And not just women in their 50's and 60's per se, I'm talking about 32 year-old's prancing around a bar with their midriffs showing. I've never been a fan of the bare midriff (unless on a beach), but if there is an appropriate age for this, there's got to be a very, very small window of opportunity, don't you think? Like maybe 18 to 21. Maybe. Still - not a fan. And I know there are a lot of older women out there with incredible bodies that think the rules don't apply to them. A repeat offender that immediately comes to mind is Nicolette Sheridan. At 45, she has got a killer figure. Kudos for that. But hey, guess what - you're 45! Stop dressing like an 18 year old and cover that shit up.

3. Turning in your style card once you have kids. Now I'm sure I'll get called out for being an ignorant non-mom here (sure, go ahead), but really - this one kills me. The first two offenses focused a lot on older women trying to dress younger, but let's discuss younger women dressing too old. Like nursing home old. I see this all the time. Young moms getting so wrapped up in their kids' lives that they forget they have lives too. Now I do understand that your life changes once you have kids - your focus shifts entirely and you have a new set of priorities. I get that. But I also know it's possible to still take care of yourself. I know this because I have many friends that are successful at doing so. Yeah, they're now more concerned about preschools than designer handbags, but they still care about how they look. Others, however, are just aging themselves unnecessarily. I was talking to a neighbor not too long ago - you know, normal superficial neighbor talk. She's in sweats. Her hair's a total mess. Not a lick of makeup. And this is at a party, mind you - not at the mailbox. Her kids were young, but I figured she was like pushing 40. Turns out she's YOUNGER than me! Dear God! Is this what happens? I was absolutely stunned. I suppose it all comes back to the fact that you make time for what's important to you. I'm sure it's a big struggle to find some "me" time as a mom - especially a new mom- but if it's important to you, you'll make the time.

Gosh, we could go on forever on this topic, couldn't we?! I know y'all have witnessed people not dressing their age... offenders are everywhere. Spill, why don't ya? But let's not forget to honor those who get it right... any great style icons of yours that always hit the mark?


PammyS said...

Loved the post...however, I think I am one of your dressing too young for my age offenders...I just cant seem to give up the mini-skirt!

Molly said...

I agree 100%, I hope once I have children #3 doesn't happen to me! Love the mom jeans pic!! Too funny!

Jillian, Inc said...

I so fight the "letting it all go to h*ll after you have kids." One of the best places to observe offenders is in the pediatrician's office.

Belle-ah said...

Love this post!!!! You are spot on!

Laura said...

So funny! Sorry I'm late to this party! You really got it spot-on, though, Betty. (btw, I love your avatar at the top -- and she's dressed very age-appropriately, too!) :) Anyway, you'll have to do a few more posts on this, because you're right -- so many faux pas to cover. Did you see LifeScript's story on this? ("Top 10 Items You’re Too Old to Wear"?) It quoted Charla Krupp and said many of the same things you did. Thanks for a good laugh today!