Can Style Exist for Women of a Certain Age?

by | November 28, 2012 at 11:39 AM | Fashion

Category5 is a fabulous online fashion experience dedicated to truth in fashion, shopping, and all things style. Lauren is dedicated to giving women all the tools they need to come away with an insightful, honest, and humorous look at where their style truly resides.

By Lauren Deloach, Editor of Category 5

Tick tock, tick tock…so goes the style clock. The style clock—an imaginary death sentence hanging over your head that leads you to believe that with your age, your style will eventually slip away from you. You will eventually end up looking like a shell of your former self, a woman with no direction and no substance in her style. I recently received a question from a reader who is haunted by the style clock. Not knowing what direction to turn to find her own perfect style, she leaves the store each time discouraged that there is no place for a 70-year-old woman who wants great style. I have to say, I see this all the time. Women anywhere from their 50s and up are completely confused about where to shop, as giving off an image of a wannabe 20-year-old certainly isn’t part of the plan. Meanwhile, constantly saying “I don’t want to look like an old lady.” It comes down to this: Is there truly a place in the world of style for women of a certain age? Furthermore, if this place does exist, how do you beat the style clock constantly ticking over your head?

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From left to right: Emerson Fry Marigold Tuxedo Pants- $118 (on sale), www.emersonfry.com; Kiel James Patrick Bow Tie Bracelet- $58, www.kieljamespatrick.com; SupremeBeing Flow Cape- $155, www.supremebeing.com

 

Let me start by saying that there is indeed a place in the world of style for all women. But in order to find it, you have to let go of all preconceived notions and stereotypes about what it means to dress like a 20-year-old versus an 80-year-old. The stereotype is that a woman in her 20s wears tight pants with words written across the bottom of her moon or skirts so short that nothing is left to the imagination. On the other end of the spectrum you have the stereotype that the “old lady” is wearing a moo-moo with lace trim and hobbling around in a retirement community somewhere in Florida. If you break down both stereotypes, you’ll see that neither description is really anything worth modeling your style after, no matter how old you are. I certainly had zero interest in walking around in sweatpants in my twenties that might as well have splattered “no class” across my moon. Looking generations ahead to the women that serve as style inspiration in their seventies and eighties, they would never be caught dead in anything that was crocheted in pale pink with lace trim. So we must first begin to find our love of style by letting go of all ideals about what it means to dress based on your age.

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Once you’ve let go and dropped your boundaries, the next step is to stop perpetuating this lie the retailers are selling you. Breaking up department stores by age, using words like contemporary to describe one section (which is just code for fabulous), meanwhile the clothes for women of a certain age are housed in a completely different section called “women’s.” Or even worse, stores solely dedicated to selling a style of clothing they KNOW women in their fifties to seventies will gravitate towards. So here we have all these lines put in place telling you where to shop based on age, in which you blindly jump into and shop, and then after spending all this time and energy you wonder why you’re miserable with your style. The answer is simple: Stop shopping where they tell you to shop! It’s like going to a restaurant, ordering the same meal you know you won’t like, and feeling disappointed when you get home and are left unsatisfied. Stop torturing yourself, get out of the path the retailers have set in front of you, and begin to search for your own path!

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Now I can hear you…. “Lauren, how do I go about finding my own path?” While this is the million dollar question, the answer is the most simplest of all: Go back to contemporary! Times have changed ladies, and with that so has fit. Designers have learned that while a woman in her 70s may like a higher waist jean to hold everything in place, a woman in her twenties or thirties that just had a baby (or ate way too much over the holidays) will appreciate the same fit. Is there really a difference between me (a woman in her thirties) wearing Emerson Fry’s Marigold Tuxedo Pants and a woman in her seventies wearing them? The pants have a high waist, stretch, and offer a beautiful fit. There is NO DIFFERENCE. Is there any difference between me wearing J.Crew’s Liberty Floral Shirt and a woman in her seventies wearing it? NONE! Finally, is there any difference between me wearing a fabulous navy cape jacket (think SupremeBeing) paired with a Sophia Costa’s elephant print scarf, and closing out the look with Hudson’s high waist dark wash bootcut jeans, versus a woman in her seventies? ZERO DIFFERENCE. We have to stop labeling ourselves by age and saying what we can and can’t do because of it. Who makes these ridiculous rules that leave you lost at home with a sense of impending doom every time you even consider stepping foot into a store? You do. You make your own rules, because it’s your life and it’s your style. Aging doesn’t have to mean you have a “style clock” hanging over your head telling you it’s time to shift your style. It’s up to you to let go of all the stereotypes, leave the stores that are marketing to women of a certain age, and begin branching out to new stores to find the style that works best for you.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.