This article was written for Annabel & Grace, which is now part of Rest Less.
The funny thing about getting older is that you can often forget that you are, in fact, getting older. Sure you might have a burgeoning realisation that you can’t drink as much as you used to, or that you might need more than just four hours sleep and a strong coffee in order to function the next day. But while I can come to grips with the slow wrinkling of my face and the increasing roll around my middle, knowing what is age-appropriate clothing for my 60-ish-year-old self in comparison to what I sported in my 30s is about as blurry as my ever-diminishing vision.
At our age or when we reach the age of 50 something, or certainly by 60 something, we should know how to dress or so the experts say. I still find I am constantly evolving. My body shape changes and so does my hair colour and skin tone. I still love to experiment, albeit within a tight framework of self-knowledge. I am open to finding a new shape or colour in clothing that may suit me.
I understand those unwritten rules – no mini-skirts after 40. Or long hair. Sleeveless after 50? Never! There are a lot of women who still believe in age-related fashion dictums, but in a world where everyone from nine to 90 wears jeans, what does “age appropriate” actually mean?
I actually hate the expression dressing ‘age-appropriate’. We complain that we are the invisible women but, without wearing a dress slashed to our navel, we can, even now, be noticed by being a little bolder and yet still be well-dressed. In my opinion, any woman who feels confident, beautiful, and wholly herself in a certain garment should wear it, regardless of age.
“Being well-dressed is a discipline. It’s a talent. It’s a lifelong learning curve – and it can’t be done without an injection of fashion.”Lisa Armstrong, Fashion Editor Daily Telegraph
There are so many fashion brands out there that focus on the older woman e.g. Winser London, Hope Fashion, and Cefinn to name but three. Within other collections there are also clothes that will suit us. They may look different on us to how they look on a size 8, 20 something model. However they can still enhance our older, larger not so taut bodies.
I am proud of my body that has borne four children and with the help of Yoga and swimming I am still managing, aged 61 years, to keep most of it under control. However I am going to keep looking for new styles to see if they might work.
Me+Em is a brand that Grace and I love however you have to style their pieces to suit you. Below are two such outfits. If young the edgy look is definitely going to work. My colouring means I must wear a softer colour nearer my face. With the trouser suit I softened the tailoring with a lacy blouse (previous collection of Me+Em).
We all need to keep an open mind about dressing. Michelle Obama is the queen of this, with her love of colour, pattern and sparkly bits. Her clothes have to work for her, they have to be comfortable, a little practical for those long engagements. However she never looks anything other than confident and beautiful. She wears the clothes rather than they wear her.
There are about a billion guides to age-appropriate dressing out there, and I know that many of them have proven invaluable to many women. I’m not a huge fan of such guides because they leave so little room for individuality and variation. Like all sets of rules, they are rigid and inflexible and assume a lot about bodies, goals, and needs. I don’t believe that women who are larger than size 10 should never wear form-fitting clothes, I don’t believe that short women should never wear long skirts, and I don’t believe that women of ANY age should be automatically excluded from any garments or styles. We are informed adults who know our figures. We can make those calls on an individual basis.
In the end, the key to successfully looking age appropriate and modern is paying attention to what feels right on you.
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