Have we entered a new era of authenticity? Where the old don’t try to look young? Where the wide don’t try to look thin? Where the bold don’t try to hide behind staid colors and tasteful accessories? If so, then do we really still need experts telling us what to wear?
Certainly for older women there are a lot of signs that point to yes. Many, including those commenting on my earlier blog post, have stopped dying their hair. They don’t diet in order to approximate their younger selves. Older models (although thin and apparently wrinkle free) appear in advertisements and on runways. On his blog Advanced Style, Ari Seth Cohen has made a career of capturing older women who dress every which way, standing out boldly in a sea of youngsters.
These ideas are not entirely new. In my research I have come across a few voices calling for older women to shed convention and dress to please themselves. At the beginning of the twentieth century, then popular novelist Kathleen Norris wrote, “One of the benefits of age is to wear the clothes one likes.” And even Vogue, often a source for scolding, offered this freeing manifesto in 1935. ““When you get to the age where current fashions bore you and seem to have very little relation to you, do as you please. Be picturesque, dramatic, and eccentric—make the most of your opportunity of being a grande dame.”
The challenge of this fashion freedom is being brave enough to make use of it, which means figuring out for yourself just what you want to wear. Like the green lady above, I have gravitated to color. You can often (although not always) find me in shades of orange.