Saturday, February 23, 2008

Dress Your Age, Which Is?

In late January, I celebrated my 34th birthday. I treated myself to a morning jog and then gratefully slipped into a new pair of 7 For All Mankind jeans I bought myself as a birthday gift. I paired the high-waisted flared jeans with a cream blouse made out of recyclable materials by eco-friendly designer label God Help Miss Agnes. I felt stylish. I looked stylish. But that was a good day.

As a stylist, I strive to look my best everyday regardless the occasion, I aim for that perfect outfit that flatters my figure while reflects my quirky personality. I am the first to advocate for finding your own unique style – break the rules, take risks, make your own statement!

Well, maybe that was in haste. There are some rules that really shouldn't be broken. Please ladies, no black nylons with white heels or black heels (period) with light-washed jeans. Gents, no socks with your Birks or company-logoed polo shirts worn out to a nice restaurant.

Aside from the arguments of what constitutes as style, ooh, I cringe writing the next statement, but can a fashionista be agewear-conscious? It seems that we are living in an identity crisis. Teeny-boppers are dressing provocatively (even at 34, I blush at what I've seen), our mothers wearing mini-skirts (an Ally McBeal flashback, skinny or not) and young professional males are wearing their father's blazers and cardigans (well, kudos to U.K. retailer Reiss for modernizing a classic trend).

It's hard to know what's considered age-appropriate clothing when the fashion world seems geared toward young women and men.

I recently attended a fashion show where the featured Japanese designer created a collection inspired by the 1930s. As I watched the young models parade in fringe and trains of billowing garbage bags (pure aesthetics, folks), I too wanted to play dress up. Vintage worn by young people can look fresh and modern and vintage worn by someone of that same era, well, looks vintage.

Recent reviews of the Bill Blass spring 2008 show politely described it as homage to decades of party dresses. What you saw were dresses restored from archives brought to life by young models. Again, who should be wearing such dresses? The young debutante runs the risk of looking too matronly but then too predictable for the woman who wore the original Bill Blass gown.

Each week, the fashion victims on How Do I Look on the Style network cable channel appear to be just as confused. Last week, a mother felt the sting of her 20-year-old daughter’s embarrassment. The mother built a wardrobe around spandex and off-the-shoulder mini dresses that sadly brought gasps by the daughter and her friends. Her defense? She wanted to look young and sexy. Or there was the episode where the 24-year-old mother of two layered herself in fabric akin to muumuus and out-dated ankle-length Sunday dresses that not even a church elder would wear.

The other day my inner child got the best of me. I entered Urban Outfitters. I blame it on the huge SALE sign on the glass window, but honestly, it was my hold on youthful urban wear. I immediately found myself drawn to babydoll dresses (they are so versatile – layer in the cooler months and wear as a summer dress with flats) and graphic t-shirts. Never mind the fact that I just purchased a floral-patterned babydoll dress earlier in the week! I was weak. But I resisted temptation and put the dress back on the rack. Victory.

Admittedly, I didn’t like the idea of turning 34 and perhaps this article is more about my own acceptance of getting older. Yet, my personal observations of people in general have led to the conclusion that we either live in the moment or in the past, regardless of age.

If there is one strength I have, it is the ability to change. As I evolve so should my own look. I must believe that it's really not about the age you are, but about the age that you appear.

Here are a few tips this stylist promises to keep herself:

1. Body-appropriate – wear clothes that are form fitting, which doesn’t mean tight enough to see an overflow of flesh.
2. One trendy item – clothing item or accessory – per outfit.
3. No mini-skirts or midriff tops past the age of 35, unless you are Tina Turner. (See rule #1)
4. Upgrade your shoes – no flip-flops (other than for gym showers), no chunky platforms, no plastic, after your early 30s.
5. Class act – take pride in your appearance and reserve your youthful energy for the shopping!

1 comment:

mamabird said...

i'm with you babe!

i think evolving age can be a wonderful way to re-discover our own style over and over again. why not? if you keep dressing like a 20 year old when you're 30 or 40 you're just missing out on all the great style that's made for you!

i think "in style" magazine has a feature where they take one item and show it in four different looks- one for the 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s and it's really hot. that's what you are talking about kind of. its' not about outlawing one thing or another- its about growth. fashion grows and we grow and we can meld those two for a great and adventurous life-long relationship.


oh and i wish flip flops would be outlawed all together - unless you are at the beach or in the shower as you say. traveling on planes so much you'd be shocked at what i see. people actually wear their pajamas! and the flip flops and velour pants with matching hoodies are simply over-running the planes. and if i see another woman with words plastered across her butt i may just take a picture so you can post it as a fashion no-no!