Leafing through this month’s haul of fashion mags, I came across the Ask the Girls column in Glamour, with several of the Victoria’s Secret “Angels” answering reader questions. One of the questions was this:
“My friend lost weight and looks great, but she’s in her late thirties and dressing like a teenager. How do I get her to tone it down?’ — Lauren, 38
Now, I can’t say that the four Angels answered this question wrong–actually, their answers were good–but there are several issues going on here that someone in the 20-something age range of the Angels couldn’t possibly understand. There are, though, a number of reasons why a woman beyond the 18-34 fashion magazine age demographic may have trouble dressing age appropriately (lord knows I had this problem for a time myself–dressing far too frumptastic for my age.)
Here are seven key reasons why women sometimes struggle to dress age-appropriately:
There are few fashion magazines for us. Over the age of 35, it becomes difficult to find a magazine that really speaks about fashion in ways that help us interpret trends and so forth. My post on hardcore fashion mags talks about a couple that I find helpful….
We stop reading the ones that are out there. After awhile, lots of women give up on fashion magazines. Our lives and lifestyles change, and the lifestyle angles of lots of magazines don’t appeal to us. I’m sorry but I can’t leaf through a whole bunch of articles on problem children, talking to your teen-ager, or date-nights with your husband when I don’t have any of the above.
The lifestyle magazines we read fail us on fashion. Yes, there are plenty of women’s magazines out there, but do they really show us what we need to see? Do they discuss fashion and style in ways that make it accessible to us? Or are they not talking to us at all? A magazine that’s great for recipes might be terrible on fashion. Mags might try, but like any of us, they really can’t do it all.
There are no examples of our changing or changed bodies. Nope, no sir. Not too much out there in magazines that reflects what we look like. What do we look like when we gain weight at 35? What is it that changes when we go on a fitness kick, gain muscle, and tighten up at 40? What is it when we “curve up” more at 50 (like I did)? Sure, some of the fashion mags like Glamour are starting to have features that show young women of different body types, but there are some big differences between a curvy-20 something and a curvy 50-something, or between a size 4 20-something and a size 4 40-something who got that way from body sculpting and has more muscle. As a matter of fact, if you showed us diverse body types, we’d be more comfortable with–and probably figure out how to dress–our various, genetically flawed, body types!
Encouraged frumpiness. You know that old saw about “birds of a feather”? Well, it’s very true when it comes to how we dress. If we hang around people who are style-impaired, or who dress simply to be “comfortable,” well, it’s going to rub off on us. We feel that peer pressure to dress down (because nobody likes to stand out from the crowd), which might make us feel down. Just because you’re a “Soccer Mom” doesn’t mean you have to dress like the stereotype.
We feel one way on the inside and look another on the outside. This happens a whole lot as we get older. Some of us have a “youthful” outlook, while others might have an “old lady” outlook. As someone with a youthful outlook, I have to always, ALWAYS, take a step back and consider trends before I go for them. Skinny patterned pants? No way. Not on my big butt. Shop in Forever 21 or Chicos? Nope, no thank you–both make me say “yuck!” So, when I look at the question that was asked, I think that the women who’s dressing young might be feeling young as a result of the weight loss –and maybe she needs to go through a phase of “inappropriate” dressing in order to get back to who she is. Sometimes we dress “young” because we feel good. Sometimes we dress “old” because we don’t feel good. I know that was me for several years, when I was “comfortable”–I wasn’t happy. Now that I’m happy again, and enjoy dressing up, I dress well.
Celebrity peers are overly-criticized by the media. Just the way we get older and “age out” of fashion magazines, celebrities get older and “age out” of movies or music or whatever it is that they used to do that put them in the public eye. Then, when they show up, if they were criticized when they were younger, they’re likely to get zapped when they’re older. It might be because the person writing about the way someone looks either doesn’t like them, is a fashion noob, or doesn’t like older women (yes, there are some little creeps out there who don’t like older women and make that known when they write about them.) Sharon Stone is one of those celebs. It seems like she’s always getting zing’d for her choices, and sometimes those choices are actually quite good for her body type and her age. But when we see some always criticized, and they’re always around our age, it can make us wonder what’s up with the criticism….
Getting older isn’t easy–we have to deal with changing hormones and an ever-changing body type. Yet all we see in most magazines aimed at women are model types who don’t reflect our bodies nor our ages. The magazine websites aren’t much better, as their look usually echoes what is in the print offering (I don’t have time for fashion mag websites anyway–too much superfluous content in visually unappealing presentations.) Maybe there’s some great stuff on blogs, but even most fashion blogs, regardless of the age of the blogger, don’t seem to show un-model-like figures (if there are some, please add in the comments below. I’d love to see them!) Still, the biggest influences on women when it comes to fashion are the mags we read–and as we get older, they are less and less helpful. No wonder we have such trouble figuring out how to dress age appropriately!
- Come Fab Finding With Me: A “Bottom Heavy” Figure (fabsugar.com)
- Seeing Diverse Body Shapes Can Change Perceptions About Weight (thegloss.com)