No Ifs, Ands Or Butts. Jane Solves The Age Appropriate Clothing Dilemma.

A friend of mine has a pet peeve. It annoys me, too. But it annoys her more.

Women wearing clothes that are not age appropriate. 

You know the type. The one with kids approaching their teens but they still buy their own clothing in the junior section. Wearing the trendiest of trendy. Ripped jeans. Bikinis. Short shorts. Thongs. Body piercings. Micro mini dresses.

This friend of mine. The one with the pet peeve? She’s not envious. She could rock any of the above styles. She just believes that women should dress their age.

I’ve just never really given the topic much thought. It’s not something I notice unless it’s an in-your-face kind of offense.

When pushed for an opinion, however, I agree with her. I feel embarrassed for the offender. I’m not saying we should all don mom jeans or support hose (does anyone wear hose anymore?). But I don’t shop in the junior department. My jeans ride closer to my waist than my……well, you know what I mean. Bikinis have been replaced with tankinis. And shorts are at a length where everything is in its place. At all times.


I said, shorts.

Because, apparently there is a debate about whether women over 40 (gasp!) should even wear shorts. I came across  this article and was aghast. Seriously? I’m going to have to get rid of my entire summer wardrobe. Because, Baby, I’m well over 40. I’m pushing the next decade. And I never gave wearing shorts a second thought. Which got me thinking……what IS age appropriate for me?

I did what I do whenever I’m wondering about something.

I Googled it.

And stumbled upon this article, “Forbidden Fashion For The Over 30s.”  I agreed with much of it. Body piercings, super low riding jeans, micro minis. Forbidden.

And then they listed things I don’t think anyone should wear: scrunchies, tube tops and Crocs.

But they also listed things that I’m guilty of wearing (at age almost-50): tie dye, collegiate sweats, and flip flops (but not all at the same time, of course.)

What is appropriate fashion for my age? What can I still rock and what should I drop?

I admire the Helen Mirrens, Diane Keatons and Christie Brinkleys of the world.

They exude style and class. No one questions what they wear out the door. (Except Mr. Blackwell, of course) They look put together. Fabulous. And can you believe Christie Brinkley is pushing 60?

But I don’t have a private stylist that helps me choose what I should wear and stops me when I try to leave the house in something that I shouldn’t.

After Googling and reading and scanning countless pictures I’ve come to only one conclusion: If it feels comfortable, if it looks at least somewhat put together, if it is properly cleaned and mended and ironed and covers the important bits – who gives a flying flip what I wear out the door? I’m going to be comfortable. I’m going to feel good when I put something on. And it will be age-appropriate because I say it is.

No ifs, ands or buts.

Unless, of course, my butt is peeking out of my low rider jeans. Then, please. Stop me. And send me back to change.

Because no one should ever be subjected to that.


Filed under Because I'm Curious, Self Image, Soapbox

21 responses to “No Ifs, Ands Or Butts. Jane Solves The Age Appropriate Clothing Dilemma.

  1. I think everyone should wear exactly what they want whatever their age. If you want to wear low rider jeans, wear them. Worrying about what you wear is giving people, most who mean nothing to you anyway, too much importance.

    I wear clothes that I definitely shouldn’t be wearing at my age, but really deep down I don’t care. If I did I change. Sometimes I hear the sniggers, normally from teenage boys who feel I shouldn’t be wearing the same style of clothes as them, but why not? Who says that youth are the only ones that are allowed to look trendy and cool?

  2. One neighbour of ours (retired, female) used to wear hotpants. Just not right. Shorts? Why not? I think your list has been written by a teenage delusional who wrongly convinces growing up/maturing with losing all sense of self and blending into some amorphous black business suit clad generation who probably only exists in their own imagination anyway. No tie dye or flipflops? Well that’s an entire generation of old hippies fired for fashion incompetence. Again. Wear what suits you then you can’t go wrong, regardless of age. 🙂

  3. Sorry that should be confuses not convinces! 😉

  4. No shorts or flip flops? Ummmm…no. When it’s 100+ degrees, I’ll definitely be rocking the shorts and slip flops.

  5. I wore Garanimals until I was 25. Then I graduated to white socks with sandals. Recently I added Crocs to the ensemble. 🙂

    I do see your point, though. Some people are way to uptight and judgmental about how other people look. The phrase “If you’ve got it flaunt it” comes to mind. On the other hand, websites like “People of Walmart” illustrate the dangers when that phrase is taken to the wrong extremes. Like in most things, I think what is right lands somewhere in the middle. In general, though, we all need to lighten up a bit, I’d guess. It’s probably better to err on the side of Walmart than be a generic, boring and button down society.

  6. For the most part, I don’t think it’s a big deal to just wear what you want. That being said, when searching for a fabulous Mother of The Bride dress for our upcoming wedding, I DID have to tell my mom that sequin, tube-topped, “mini” dresses probably weren’t the best option. I maintain that it had nothing to do with age and everything to do with hiding one’s butt cheeks in public 🙂

  7. I dunno…my almost 60 year old mom does buy a few things from the junior’s department, but she’s a small, fit lady & can TOTALLY pull it off. She never shows a lot of skin mind you. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her in a tank top if she wasn’t at the beach or working out…but she looks good. You would never know she was wearing kids’ clothes & most folks think she’s in her late 30s (and that we aren’t related since I’m nearly 30!!) It just depends on your personality, your build & how you wear it.

  8. This is a HUGE pet peeve of mine. I think shorts are ok…but not Daisy Dukes. I only wear shorts if it’s 90+…but not b/c of my age but b/c I no likey my legs!!!

  9. I’m so happy you concluded your post by declaring that we should be able to wear whatever makes us comfortable. I think the key is wear whatever you want but be prepared for critical opinions that you may not even hear so you probably don’t even have to care…

    I like the discussion thread in that article you shared. Most women agreed that it really depends on your personal style and where you can pull it off or not. remember your post on oversized models that got me hooked onto your blog? I fear that if we keep on telling women, oh you should not wear this and that after a certain age, we are actually saying, if you are not fit and trim you should try and cover it up because it hurts my eyes, whereas someone like Christie Brinkley can continue to wear everything until her demise…

    That being said, I tried to cover up as much as I can because I’m kind to people. Soon, if I don’t do something about my middle bulge I’ll need to start wearing a barrel…

    I love this post.I may piggyback on it since this is a topic that’s been bothering me ever since I moved into this office and am surrounding by 20, 30 somethings. talk about a dent to your self confidence….

  10. As for how old is too old… for anything… I say do as you please, as long as you don’t hurt anyone in the process.

    That goes for what you wear, what you say, what you do, who you sleep with, what you dream about, and whether or not you choose to put butt floss on your body and call it a bathing suit!

  11. Catherine R. Staat

    Guilty of a few of those things at 44! 😉

    Passed this on over at The Practical Housewife Facebook Page. LOVE this – thank you for posting!

    xo Cat

  12. What a great post!!! I love it 🙂

  13. You chose three classy ladies as examples of style and class. *People of Walmart* is a prime example of assuming people can use common sense when selecting their outfit for the day. If this weren’t an issue, there wouldn’t be shows like What Not to Wear and the countless makeover shows! But perhaps I’m just envious because I’m not small enough to shop in the junior department anymore! 🙂

  14. Ok so last night at our community band concert we played two pieces with our guest band. I sat next to one of their clarinet players, she was probably in her 20’s, Jersey hair, tight tight tigh micro mini black dress with the back cut out, tights and boots. Plus assorted big jewelry. And she wasn’t particularly thing. Maybe at a club she’d have been appropriate. But not playing in a concert band. I think appropriateness is partially defined by where you are.

  15. I agree! Wear what makes you comfortable, within reason. As long as the person is covered and appropriate, I say go for it.

  16. Oooh that’s a thorny issue. I recently set up a Pin-board to celebrate those over 50, basically because I’d become thoroughly cheesed off with our fixation with youth. (Oldies are now in the majority in the western world yet everything seems geared toward positively embryonic humanoids).

    In looking for stylish older people, I realised that I identify most with someone like Diane Keaton – traditional but with an occasional stylish twist. However, I also found some fabulous ladies on the ‘advancedstyle’ site and whilst I personally wouldn’t be as bold as some of them, I celebrate their glorious individuality and their style chutzpah.

    I’ve always been a rule breaker but I’ll buck the trend and suggest *one* basic rule here: By and large, unless time is spent on toning and exercise, the human body isn’t gobsmackingly-jaw-droppingly attractive (IMHO) beyond the age of about 20/25. (Yes, *that* early). The more time goes on, the more we dimple, soften, wobble and bobble. So…the more time goes on perhaps the more critically we should look at ourselves and *maybe* the more covering up we should consider, depending upon our particular body type and how kind Mother Nature has been to us. ??

    I have to smile at Lisa’s comment however. Critical self-analysis does seems to pass right by some people…and yes, even on my brief stays in the US, I have noticed that they can often be spotted in the aisles of Wal*Mart! Why is that?!
    BTW, have you ever thought of submitting articles to your local paper? You always write incisive and thought provoking pieces that I’m sure a wider audience would enjoy.

  17. Clarissa

    My personal take is that women at any age who dress like their daughters, or trendy, or as fashion victims, really are just screaming for attention. By this I mean the following: short-shorts (whatever happened to tasteful, comfortable Bermuda linen shorts?), thigh-high (or even knee-high) boots with a heel, boobs hanging out (or cleavage), and God forbid, cheesy tattoos. And bikinis and mid-thigh skirts. Oh yes, and tight jeans, the kind that are trendy today with younger women. Let’s not forget those.

    I’m not a prude by any stretch, and certainly not a fan of “Mom Jeans” either (BLECH!) but I do feel there is a time and place for certain clothing, just as there is a time and place for long hair (and it’s not so great after a certain age: as women age it makes them look more haggard and, well, just trying to be young again).

    The best example of a woman who ages gracefully and with style is the classic American WASP (or “true prep”). Elegant, refined, nicely accessorized and, when casual, nothing too risque but well-fitting and attractive. Even at the beach they know it’s time for a more modest bathing suit (and probably never even wore a bikini, or really tight jeans or really short shorts when they were younger, either). And, Lord knows, they never wore black stilletto boots, either! (Can’t wait for that trend to end with the “Mommy-somethings”)

  18. Debra

    I agree with Clarissa. Personally, I love jeans. I still wear well-fitted (NOT tight) jeans although I am almost 50 years old but skin-tight jeans are best worn by women and girls under 30 who have not an extra ounce of fat. They are ridiculous on a woman approaching menopause or the years afterward. They are also not appropriate for social settings where a classy pair of linen trousers would be better. Leggings? Bad choice unless you are about 16-20 or a haute couture model. As for showing skin, forget it! Let’s face it, ladies, skin after about 35 loses its elasticity and there’s nothing worse than saggy skin showing anywhere unless it’s tattooed saggy skin. Try this little trick: videotape yourself and look closely. You will find that what you see in the mirror is not what you actually present to the world. It can be astounding and it can be BAD.

  19. Clarissa

    Debra, then there are the women who ARE fit and thin, and over 40, who do dress in leggings and short shorts and short skirts and tighter jeans and boots but they just make themselves look ridiculous, even though they have the body. I just find it trampy on many levels. I’m sure their daughters are so embarrassed by them! (And most are probably even competing with their daughters any way, or with other women…which is even sadder.)

    • Kay

      Sounds to me like a few of you ladies have a problem with women over 40 who can rock anything they put on their bodies. Women like Jennifer Aniston who can wear anything and look appropriate. Wear what you feel comfortable in and who cares what the jealous nay sayers have to say!

  20. ellethemagnanimous

    What on earth is the matter with leggings, jeggings and other trendy items worn and styled appropriately for women over 40? NOTHING. Looking up to date is not trampy. Even women over 40 with out perfect bodies can wear trendier clothing and look great. I agree with Kay, a year later, don’t listen to the jealous clucking hens. They wish they had the courage to step outside of the misogynistic, ageist every woman past forty is a hideous hag box they have put themselves in. Life is for living, and fashion is for fun. Live and enjoy yourself! YOLO.

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