[Image credits: Main: Bag & a Beret | L-R, top to bottom: Lady of Style | Mis Papelicos | Style Nudge | Accidental Icon | Vintage Vixen | Style at a Certain Age]
The Instagram theme I launched at the beginning of August – #iwillwearwhatilike – has been a wonderfully surprising success, with women sharing photos of themselves wearing items of clothing that we’ve been “told” we shouldn’t be wearing over the age of 30 (click here for a full explanation of what #iwillwearwhatilike is all about). It’s made me realise that attitudes are definitely changing, both towards women’s clothing and what women themselves think about what they wear.
However, it’s also got me thinking that the attitudes on social media are one thing, but they are very different to those of the general population. I think we, as bloggers, often forget that not everyone is online sharing photos of themselves and what they wear every day. Many women may not have any idea that this notion of embracing your own style – whatever it may be – and forgetting all those ridiculous “age appropriate” rules even exists.
The average woman on the street’s attitude to what she is supposed to wear at age 30, 40, 50, and so on, is probably no different to how it was 10 or 20 years ago, i.e. pre-blogging. We’re doing a lot to let people know that it’s okay to break the rules because, You know what? Wearing a crop top at the age of 40 doesn’t really have that much of a consequence for other people. Wear skirts above the knee if you want. Leather trousers aren’t just for the teens and 20-somethings because they look great on older women.
I’ve been wondering where this attitude ever came from. I think that the fear of what others will say about what they’re wearing is the biggest thing that holds women (and some men probably) back. Yet as I heard a well-known personality say once (in a live stage show):
“THE THINGS THAT WE DO [AND FOR THE PURPOSES OF THIS POST, WEAR] HAVE, FOR THE MOST PART, ABSOLUTELY NO CONSEQUENCE TO THOSE AROUND YOU. THE THINGS THAT WE WORRY ABOUT MOST, THE THINGS THAT WE FEEL ARE THE MOST SIGNIFICANT IN OUR LIVES, ARE USUALLY OF NO IMPORTANCE TO EVEN THOSE CLOSEST TO YOU.”
He went on to say that he meant it in the nicest way of course – of course they care about you – but if what you do doesn’t have any major impact on their lives, then they’re really not that bothered.
(I agree to a point, as there are some unsavoury people who feel that controlling what their partners wear is somehow their right, but that’s a discussion for another day.)
I thought, therefore, is this why older women shy away from wearing bolder clothes? Or even from dressing smartly, fashionably, classically – in other words however they really want to dress – because they’re afraid of what others might think about them?
I can understand this attitude amongst teenagers; you’re at your most impressionable in your teens, you’re trying to work out your place in the world and trying to shape yourself as a human being. Many teenagers embrace individuality with aplomb; many want to run with the crowd and dress like their friends. It’s all good practice for being an adult.
But when that attitude of wondering what your friends, your partner, your neighbours (heck, even your parents) will think of your clothes, it makes me a little sad. We’re old enough and grown up enough to make major decisions about our children, our mortgages, our careers, our finances – why we then worry about something as comparatively unimportant as what others think of the clothes we wear doesn’t make any sense.
AT THE AGE OF 43 I’VE LONG SINCE STOPPED WORRYING ABOUT WHAT OTHERS MAY THINK ABOUT MY DRESS SENSE. I CERTAINLY WOULDN’T HAVE STARTED A PERSONAL STYLE BLOG IF I DID.
I’m not saying that all women should wear crazy, bold clothes as they get older – far from it. I just support the idea that women should be be allowed to wear whatever they damn well please, whether it be a cashmere twinset and pearls or a pair of distressed jeans with studded platform boots. They need to be free of the notion that lists like “24 things women should stop wearing after the age of 30” are what we should be listening to.
So I applaud the wonderful ladies that are taking part in #iwillwearwhatilike (not all are bloggers of course). By wearing all those things that they’re not “supposed” to wear they have lost, or are losing, their inhibitions and the worry about what others will think about them.
Let’s just spread that as far as we can, ladies – yes…?
P.S. Like this post? You might also enjoy What Is Age-Appropriate Dressing, Anyway?