I am not surprised that writer and broadcaster, Julia Bard’s op-ed piece in the New York Times, Don’t Dress Your Age, which ran on Sunday is one of the top emailed op-ed pieces in the paper. It’s a topic, having been a fashion writer for years, that has come up again and again. And, like Bard, I wish it would stop.
The idea of “dressing your age” is as archaic to me as listening to music on CD’s; both should be relegated to the dust bin for eternity. And if you’re over 35 and don’t know if something is appropriate, I will say I wish you did, but really who cares? As my 15-year-old daughter would say, “don’t judge.”
I understand Bard’s point that in the end, she wants to throw caution to the wind and not care about what she wears. But I think she is missing the point. She cares about what she wears, she just isn’t making clothing choices that make her happy; she feels confined in a sartorial ageist trap. And while she charges that fashion editors and magazines add to this, by causing women to feel anxious about how they dress (a bit of this is true), I would argue many more women in fashion offer a great lesson in dressing at any age.
Why? Because they inherently know that what you wear should really come down to your personality—preconceived notions be damned. Today, women in their 40s and 50s and even 60s wear miniskirts (forty-something designer Isabel Marant comes to mind), leather pants, Converse sneakers (Ines de la Fressange, who is 59), and skinny jeans as much as they do pantsuits or demure dresses. How do “older” women pull those “younger” items off? Because the pieces suit their personality. They’re happy and confident in what they wear and those are key factors in creating a successful, personal wardrobe for any age. Would you want to see Dolly Parton in a baggy T-shirt and cargo pants? Or Joan Jett in a demure Valentino gown?
Sure they are extreme examples, but they bring home a point: Wear what you love and what suits who you are. Also care about what you wear. Whether you’re 23 or 78, getting dressed should be a pleasure—not an anxiety-laden chore. I won’t judge.
photo above is favorite I keep on file and sadly can’t credit because I don’t know whose it is