Monday September 17, 2012
Fashion not only the domain of the young
BUT THEN AGAIN
By MARY SCHNEIDER
Who says fashion is the exclusive domain of the young?
MY mum wears my T-shirts,” said a teenager during a call to a local radio station. “She’s 50. That shouldn’t be allowed.”
“I recently saw another woman about the same age wearing a pair of tight shorts and high heels,” responded the deejay, who was inviting callers to talk about the issue. “That shouldn’t be allowed either.”
Had I not been driving at the time, I might have phoned the radio station and asked them what all the fuss was about. Living in a world that is facing global warming, starvation, human rights violations, land degradation and racial tensions, surely there are more important things to worry about than the clothes that the over-fifties are wearing.
As I continued to listen, I realised that the majority of people calling the radio station felt that older folks should dress in an age-appropriate manner. For example, it seems that some young people are traumatised, or so they would have you believe, by the sight of their middle-aged mother wearing a short dress, or showing cleavage, or sporting loud designs.
“She looks like mutton dressed up as lamb,” some of them said.
As if it’s okay for anyone to refer to their mother as an old sheep.
It seems to me that if a woman raises someone to have opinions of their own, and instills in them the confidence necessary to call a radio station to express those opinions, the least her offspring can do is respect her and her fashion choices.
I’m not sure who came up with the idea that fashion is the exclusive domain of the young, but I feel we should all have the freedom to wear whatever we want, no matter what age. Why are women of a certain age expected to become invisible, to blend into the background with their middle-aged uniforms? Since when did middle age diminish a woman’s right to be noticed?
I’m not a fashion slave, but I do know what I like and what I think looks good on me. And that’s all that matters to me.
When I look in the mirror, I can see that I’m in my fifties, but I still smile at my reflection on those days when I think I look good – something that much younger person might find difficult to understand.
Many years ago, when I was in my early 20s, I remember walking into a Scottish pub behind two old ladies. I’m not sure how old they really were, because anyone over the age of 40 was immediately thrown into the “old” category, but I do remember they had grey hair and were a little overweight.
As I walked through the front door of the pub, they stopped in front of a large mirror on the wall, removed their coats and studied themselves. One of them patted her hair and examined her lipstick, while the other smoothed down her dress, a bright red number that seemed out of place on someone of her years.
“Is that a new dress?” asked the lipstick lady.
“Yes,” said her friend. “Do you like it?”
“It’s lovely. You look gorgeous in it.”
“Thanks. You look gorgeous yourself.”
With a final pat of their hair they both disappeared into the bar, confident that they did indeed look gorgeous.
“What does it matter?” I said to myself. “It’s not as if anything is going to happen. There will be no admiring glances, eyes making contact over a crowded room, offers of drinks, telephone numbers being exchanged, possibilities of romance …”
How naive of me. These things do matter, but I just didn’t have the wisdom to realise it at the time.
I think more and more women of a certain age are defying stereotypes in a way that makes some people feel uncomfortable. However, the more women go against societal norms, the more expectations will change.
We will surely become more accepting of our aging bodies, which will surely benefit everyone. Because let’s face it, none of us can escape the effects of gravity and the lines that time and life’s experiences leave on our bodies.
But we can choose what we put on our bodies, and how we want to express our personality through clothes.
If I want to wear a sunshine yellow mini skirt and crimson tank top, because they make me feel bright and happy, don’t spoil my day by telling me that I’m looking like an old sheep pretending to be a lamb.