Forget Age Appropriate Dressing

Forget Age Appropriate Dressing

 

Today I want to discuss why I believe we should forget age-appropriate dressing.

Last week, I took you with me on a shopping trip to Anthropologie.

Now, normally, I do not mention a reader comment, but there was a comment on another social channel which simply said, “This store is for under 30 ladies.”

I agree that Anthropologie caters to predominately younger women.  The fashion industry as a whole is youth obsessed.  However, WE don’t need to be.  I would rather be obsessed with looking my confident, joyful best. 

Yet again, it goes back to deciding what we want to communicate about us with our clothing choices…what are we saying to the world about each of us with what we wear.

If you think about it, this is empowering.  We gain strength when we are wearing clothing true to who we are.  That is where the confidence and joy come in.

There is power when we concentrate on what we want to tell the world about us, rather than worrying about the age-appropriateness of retailers and clothing.

 

Back to Anthropologie and Age Appropriateness

Forget Age Appropriate Dressing

I believe the top I am wearing in this picture just above makes me look older than I am.  It is oversized and made with a print I find to be aging. So, I did not purchase this look.

After trying it on and feeling that way, I could go online somewhere and say…oh they cater to the matronly. But, of course, that would not be true.

Forget Age Appropriate Dressing

However, this Lavern Blouse came home with me. I was looking for casual tops that spoke my style adjectives….creative, strong, intelligent, joyful, current.  I like this for a comfortable outfit I can easily run errands wearing in warmer weather.

I only purchase clothing that speak all five adjectives and that is how I shape my own personal style.  I try to do this in store, because it saves time.  I have three online purchases right now that need to be returned because they did not hit the mark when they arrived.

I never dress or style an outfit thinking…does this look right for a woman of 67?  I do think…does this say I am creative, strong, intelligent, joyful and current?

 When you dress with your adjectives and forget everything else, it will help you so much to actually create a style others will recognize.  I love it when someone tells me about a garment and says they recognized it as Pamela- style.

Here is a good example.  I do not wear distressed jeans (jeans purposefully made with holes in them).  I do not believe they communicate strength, joy or intelligence (ouch, now don’t get mad, these are my interpretations) so I do not wear them.  It could be said they are creative and current…but I need to speak to all five before I wear the style.

The Point

Forget Age Appropriate Dressing 

The point here is not to get you to walk into Anthropologie unless, of course, you want to.

The point is to think about and decide what your five messages are…and then go where you can find clothing that speaks those words. 

Also, don’t decide a brand is not appropriate for all if you think it is not appropriate for you.  You obviously have a different message board and bloom differently from someone else.

 

A READER’S ADJECTIVES WITH AGE APPROPRIATE CONCERNS

Forget Age Appropriate Dressing

 In case you missed what I am currently doing, women are sending me their five style adjectives and I create slideshows just for them…to demonstrate how to find garments that speak to those adjectives and hopefully inspire these readers and women like them.

Since we are discussing age appropriateness, I selected reader, Pamela A., and her five adjectives of elegant, sophisticated, confident, current, and youthful.   We have a lot in common…both named Pamela; both turning 68 in July.

Pamela A. wrote in her email:I love fashion and to shop but struggle with looking age appropriate but not frumpy. All of the models are so young it’s sometimes hard to imagine a woman my age wearing the clothes.  I’m hoping you can help me with some ideas as I enter this new chapter in my life.” 

 I hope I can inspire you as well and encourage you.  Forget the age-appropriate part and just concentrate on your adjectives…which are wonderful. 

For example, you will be surprised how adding a sneaker to an elegant look will help you to e youthful and current. 

The first sneaker in the slideshow is from JC Penney and underneath it they featured these looks…all elegant, sophisticated, confident and current.

Forget Age Appropriate Dressing

 

So, see what you think of these styles, Pamela and let us know if you found direction and inspiration here….

If anyone else would like to send their five style adjectives to me, just email over50feeling40@gmail.com with the subject line STYLE ADJECTIVES and I will add you to the list. 

If you have strong opinions about age-appropriate dressing, please share here…I am open to hearing other opinions.  And always…..

 

KEEP SMILING! 

By Pamela Lutrell

 

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23 Comments

  1. age appropriate is really between you and your mirror. most of us just know when its time to divert to another look.
    i can remember the day i went to knee length capris from shorts…just took a hard look at the thighs and said, nope lets put those away. same with stilettos but for a different reason, i loved them for years, but one day they hurt so bad, i knew ok time to search for cute with a lower heel. i would suggest Pam A. come over to our chicos shoppers group on facebook if she wants….a lot of modern women looking sharp in different styles.
    i dont care for distressed jeans either. and some of my favorite stores when i was younger i can remember when the time came and i couldnt find anything i liked in them, well let the 20 somethings have it…Gap, NY and Company, Banana Republic. i just dont bother anymore.

    1. Looking at the mail I receive and some comments, many women do not know when to divert to another look. There are too many gray areas….that is why you must decide what you want to say with your style. Then you know right away when it is off…like Karen Anderson has shared.

  2. I’m glad you addressed this topic. I admit, there have been times I’ve loved something in the dressing room and then thought, ‘but I’m 67! Is this okay for my age??’ You are right. It’s what we feel confident in, and over time we can really develop that skill of knowing something is right or if it’s best left behind. I’m with you on the distressed jeans. I’d never feel comfortable wearing torn up clothes, even if it’s deliberate! Like bare midriff tops, some styles really are much too youthful. In your Anthropologie example above, I can see what you mean about the green top. At first glance it’s fine, especially with the current tie sleeve. But the pattern really does appear aging. Yet it would be fine on someone in their 20’s. This is where we develop that sense of what works and what doesn’t. But as you say, we should never dismiss something just because it’s in a certain store. Also, since I’ve been shopping with my adjectives for some years now, I’m able to answer the questions about an item right in the dressing room. I have a much harder time online, so I avoid online shopping. I can’t stand doing returns and have ended up donating rather than going through the hassle (exceptions being stores like Talbot’s that let you return at the store). I recommend having your adjectives on your phone or on a card that you keep in your handbag for reference when shopping. This has changed the way I shop and put a stop to impulse purchases. This Foundational Five concept is something you should patent Pam! It’s a must for me!

    1. You bring many women encouragement, Karen. I do have plans for this…but we will see what the future holds! Thanks!

  3. Keeping the 5 adjectives in my wallet should help with the confident but fun aspect from veering off in the wrong direction when distracted. I will do that right now and see if it keeps me focused. I usually do pretty well, but there are times…… If I see something in a display that interests me, I don’t dwell on the name of the store or the music coming from it but just check it out and have a look around. There have been times where I was the only one over 60 or even 40 for that matter but there can be great finds ( if they have the sizes).

    1. Karen laminated her card Diane. I was going to go get my vaccine card laminated at Office Depot so I just might do a Foundational Five card at the same time! When I was in Anthropologie the other day, most of the shoppers in there appeared to be my age!

  4. I have enjoyed this blog post today so much. I am retired and 70 but I do not dress my age or as I have been told do not look my age. I have worked since I was 16 so I have always been very conscious of dressing for work. Now my problem is that I am home and have a problem with wearing clothes that I feel good in and don’t make me feel very yucky. I want to start on Instagram with showing at home outfits and also outfits for women that are your age and also my age so that they can feel sexy, classy and look very sophisticated. Do you have any suggestions?

    1. If you want to begin an Instagram, Diane …just go for it. But, I do believe it will be more successful if you have direction with your own wardrobe, so you might want to gain that first. Your style messages may not be the same as other women…many women have sent me their adjectives and I have only seen the word “sexy” mentioned once. There is a large group who like to communicated class and sophistication. I think gaining confidence with what we wear is the main key…confidence is sexy!

  5. I really enjoyed this post. I’m going to spend some time thinking about my style adjectives. I’m going to pay attention to what makes me feel confident, youthful, hip, fun and intelligent. I may have just identified my adjectives. The comment you shared reminded me of an experience 3 years ago. A friend and I were in a store generally focused on a younger audience. I was 50 and she was as 60 at the time. An employee told us there were some “mom” clothes and pointed to a rack of oversized t-shirts. Wow! We couldn’t believe it and left with a good laugh.

    I can’t believe you are 67! Thanks fir a great read while I sit after getting my first vaccine.

    1. You are welcome, Tina! Hope the vaccine experience went well. I agree…you may just have identified your adjectives!

  6. Like you, Pamela, when in the workaday world, I worked mostly with people half my age. That was good in a way, because I was at least aware of the trends (and saw for example, that they were wearing sneakers with dressy clothes way before it was apparent in all media). In another way, I felt pressure, until I learned (just as I did with my plus size body) to just embrace my inner self and try to project that. Ironically, I’ve had a more difficult time post retirement. I’m not wearing the clothes that made me feel good at work, because I’m drawn in my new reality to sportier style. I feel I’m just starting to discover the real “relaxed” me. I cut off my cropped jeans because they were too long, and now I like the little nod to modern of the frayed hem. You look great today, by the way. I love that denim blue with olive; olive is a color I’m looking to add to my closet.

    1. I do miss working with younger people…however, I am doing it a little with younger bloggers at events. I agree that it helped me to stay current and now I am on my own. We can discover the new “relaxed” women together!

  7. I always enjoy your posts, Pam! I like you aren’t afraid to question our assumptions, but never fail to be both supportive and encouraging as you do.
    I received some great advice from a store clerk about shopping online. She works in a small store that I patronized regularly, so we had become acquainted. She was probably in her late 30s and had always struggled with her weight. One day, I commented on a cute topper she was wearing and asked where she had purchased it. She told me she had purchased it on ASOS. I immediately recoiled and said that I couldn’t shop there because their clothes were just too “young” for me. She said that the key was to just look at the clothing and not the models. Most of us know what shapes and colors look best on our bodies, and shouldn’t get hung up on how they look on super thin 20 year olds. Also, I would add that you need to know your measurements. All sites have size guides to help you find the right sizes based on your body measurements. Even better, some sites (like Garnet Hill–my new favorite) give the actual measurement of the garment itself. This can really help to better visualize how it might actually translate to your own body. Still, nothing substitutes for actually trying on. Unfortunately, for years many retailers have been reducing there in-store selection, and this has just been accelerated by the pandemic. In order to have the best selection, I find I am resigned to shopping online. I waver between small and medium depending on the cut, so I have accepted that returns are part of the deal when shopping online. Many websites offer free returns and even include a return label with the shipment or allow you to print off a label at home. I keep a generous supply of packing tape on hand and the UPS/USPS drop off location is along my usual errands route. I probably end up returning about 75% of what I order, but I have better luck finding what I really want than browsing through multiple stores with a limited selection of colors, styles and sizes.

    1. Thanks for sharing all of this, Kami! Maybe I should look at ASOS…and Garnet Hill. I appreciated your perspective here…very helpful.

  8. This post was so helpful to me and I feel much better. I see that I need to let go of my age hang ups. I’m going to keep my adjectives in my wallet as suggested and learn to let them guide me when I shop. Like Linda M. I work with many people who are much younger than I am. From now on instead of being uncomfortable I am going to take her idea and learn to “embrace my inner self and try to project that” In addition to your uplifting comments I found the slide show (especially the shop the look) very encouraging. I have a Chico’s gift card. I think I’ll start there.

  9. Over the years, I have seen so many dos & don’ts for women over 40 or 50 or 60. Things like, “Don’t wear jeans after 40; wear your hair short after 50; don’t wear bright lipstick or colored eye shadow after 50”. It makes your head spin. I have always like your approach to dressing, as it doesn’t set rules based on age. If I feel confident & like the best version of myself, I have hit the mark. I must confess that I missed the mark today, but that happens, & there are lessons to be learned from it. While all the pieces I chose fit the adjectives, in combination, they didn’t work. That’s something to remember for next time. Thanks for being here for us.

  10. You hit it out of the park again, Pam! I’ve thought for decades that one of the most chilling phrases in the English language is “age appropriate”. My mother had lots of “rules”: women over 50 shouldn’t have long hair, wear red lipstick, “loud” (by which she meant brightly coloured) clothes or jeans, paint their toenails, swear (I break that one alone 20 times a day!) & on & on. To this day I get annoyed when someone uses age (or gender) to make women (or men) conform to some set of arbitrary rules that are designed to control them through shame or the fear of being criticized or thought different.

    We just need to remember to not do it to ourselves! I certainly don’t wear the same clothes I wore when I was 20, but I wear the same colours & basic look (classic lines, no frou-frou, lots of black & white & red). No more really high heels, but I put that down to good sense. But I still wear leather moto jackets with lots of zippers & multiple ear piercings & 5 or 6 rings, not counting a toe-ring or two when I’m in sandals) & blue jeans all day long :-). Ever since retiring I’d been struggling with my wardrobe & finding your 5 Style Adjective Theory last year helped tremendously. I’d been trying to dress the woman I somehow thought I should be post-retirement (& what a dull creature she was proving to be!) instead of the woman I happily am. It’s just too bad the designers & retailers haven’t clued in that it’s older woman where the money is & that’s where their focus should be — give us our own look & stop making us shop the 30-somethings’ leftovers.

  11. I think by the time you are our age, you know your style and what looks good on you.
    I shop in every department or any store for what I know looks good on me. and try it on for fit, that usually determines if I will buy it. I dont think, is this for my age group? unless it is a
    tube top or stilettos as I know for one, it would look silly and for the latter, not comfortable.
    I DO think, does that look like an old lady would wear it? If yes, I steer clear, I will never be
    ready for those looks. Classic and chic or casual classic is what I like and a mix and match wardrobe works for me.

    1. Many women don’t know, Denise. That is why I have been here for so many years. Thanks for stopping by.

  12. some of us aren’t so lucky as to have found their style early i wore a uniform for most of my life and at 68 still dont know what my style is

    1. Hi Carol, I completely understand! Why don’t you email me the five adjectives you would like your style to say at age 68. I will put together some ideas for you. I am turning 68 soon so I know right where you are. My email is over50feeling40@gmail.com.
      Hope to hear from you…I would love to help.

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