I don’t believe in ‘hot or not’ lists, seasonal or age appropriate dressing. I recoil at being told what to wear. I think it feeds into the negative feelings we try so hard to keep at bay and fuels our need to buy and consume and discard. It’s bad for our brains. It’s bad for our hearts. It’s bad for our wallets. And it’s bad for the planet.
But, there are certain things that belie a state of mind that is unnecessarily uptight – lacking the joy and rule-less way of dressing that young people seem to embrace so effortlessly. Sometimes we end up making ourselves look (and feel) old, just by erring slightly in our fashion choices. There are great things to celebrate about aging. I have no problem with getting older. But tired and frumpy? Or appearing to have ‘given up’… that I’m NOT interested in.
So, here are my observations. My own personal observations; things I notice, or have done myself, that convey an attitude that is old beyond my years.
ONE: STOP OBSESSING ABOUT THE SIZE ON THE LABEL… and buy clothes that FIT.
TWO: DON’T FORGET YOUR FEET
These two examples from Pinterest are simple, comfortable choices that still put the best foot forward.
THREE: FIT AND QUALITY
Other than transparency and opacity, avoid things that are too tight, lumpy or made in fabrics that don’t have enough weight to hold their shape. Ruching is a popular feature, and when done right, it can add great detail, movement and texture to a piece, as below, enhancing the structure of a garment.
When done poorly, or on cheaply made pieces, ruching can make clothes look …cheap. As always, these are personal preferences, but I try to avoid the kinds of details and embellishments that are ‘name brand,’ or might be found on either a ‘juniors’ garment or a Christmas sweater.
Overall, succumbing to the illusion that if something looks good when you stand in complete stillness, from the front, or its primary appeal is that it is super comfy, stretches and fits around your circumference… so it’s perfect, it is (probably) not a great idea. Sometimes I buy stuff and wear it around the house for an hour to see if it stays in place, and looks/feels good when doing normal things like sitting, standing and breathing. If not, return it. Post haste.
Lastly, in terms of fit: be deliberate.
Make a choice. Pants shouldn’t be too short because you didn’t notice that they were too short. Embrace a crop, a roll-up, a capri, a culotte, but do it consciously. Purposefully choosing a shoe that goes well with your pant length and width will make everything look proportionate.
FOUR: BE BRAVE
Like the women above who are bringing Culottes back. Yeah! Embrace trends, but only because YOU want to. Try prints. Try colour. Try leather, try wool. Try anything. And try stuff on. It doesn’t hurt to try. You may find your next best friend. As with decorating, I am drawn to pieces that might not ‘go’ together, but I end up finding a perfect home for them, because I like them. Your clothes should make you happy!
FIVE: WEAR THINGS YOU LIKE –
See above. What’s more: stop obeying rules, like green is “not my colour” or, other dumb suggestions that limit your creativity. Life is not just one colour, unless you want it to be. Maybe dressing all in black makes it easier to match (except all black is not the same). Also, avoid wearing all one shape. Ie. I only wear A-line skirts, because a magazine told me once that my shape looks best in A-line. Or ‘I’m too short to wear a maxi skirt’. Poo pooh to that! Try things on and wear what you want. Especially if someone (like me) told you not to and you really love it. I am a completely different size and shape than many of my friends, but have a variety of items I’ve happily swapped and lent out because I have variety in my closet. Also, case in point, my wife and I can share many items despite being complete opposites in our body type.
SIX: STOP BUYING ALL YOUR CLOTHES AT ONE STORE
and matching matching matching. Just because it’s all from _______________ (insert store name), doesn’t mean it should all be worn together. You’ll look like you gave up and let a store clerk pick out your whole look. Only shopping at one store (even if it’s a great fit), will mean your clothes all look the same-ish. Like you’ve been curated. Like a walking show-home that always feels a bit put-on, where you can imagine liking it when you walk in, but you wonder – if I actually lived here, where would my stuff go? Where would you go? Where is your personality, if you let Banana Republic make all your choices? Or Ralph Lauren, or Tommy, or Michael… ?
If you go head to toe in one colour, try to add some variety in texture and finish – to avoid looking dipped. You can colour block, mix it up, or go monochromatic, but add something unexpected.
SEVEN: DON’T LANGUISH IN ‘OUTFIT’ LAND
My friend’s daughter, Natalie, dresses with reckless abandon. She will pair the wildest things together. Why? Because she likes them. And while her dress over track pants and rainboots might not work for you, you can embrace part of her free-spirited approach. Stop wearing ‘outfits’. It’s highly unlikely that the top you have on goes with only ONE other thing in the closet. Stop limiting that top’s potential. Mix it up. Wear things you like and don’t get stuck in a day of the week outfit rut.
Oh, and the obvious EIGHTH ‘rule’? Disregard 1-7.