I'm Feeling a Tad Perplexed

I'm about to have an outburst.  Please be warned.  I don't normally do this on my blog, but, ooh, I've got myself all riled up.  And not in a good way.  This could get ugly.

Who decided that women need to dress age appropriately?  What exactly does age appropriate mean?  And, why, as a woman "of a certain age", am I expected to dress according to someone else's idea of what constitutes being appropriate or not?

I have stumbled across a couple of things this week that have left me quietly perplexed.

The first was a question posed to me by someone I consider to be beautiful, intelligent, stylish and sassy.  A friend in their mid-thirties who expressed concern that they weren't dressing age appropriately.    They looked amazing.  Fantastic.  Completely and utterly bang on. And yet, they weren't sure if what they were wearing was age appropriate or not.  I felt sad that there was any concern at all over what they were wearing, and completely frustrated that many women over a certain age do this to themselves.  

The second thing that got me going, was a blog post by Vix, over at Vintage Vixen.  Vix is a wonderful woman who never ceases to inspire me with her joie de vivre and her gorgeous style.  Vix was expressing her dismay (quite rightly) at an episode of Gok's Fashion Roadshow.  I have mixed feelings about Gok Wan.  On the one hand he comes across as kind and likeable.  On the other,  here is a man who says he likes women but who, in fact, dresses them up like librarians and sends them off into the world prepared to conform to his idea of what constitutes "age appropriate style". He also calls breasts "bangers".

Having read Vix's blog post, I sat and watched the programme.  Then I found myself getting acid indigestion with frustration.  A poor woman of the hugely advanced age of 33 (ye-gads, 33) was dressing in a way that was considered too young for her age.  And it was her friends who told her this.  On camera.  Her friends, people.  Nice. She was 33, for crying out loud.  What exactly constitutes age inappropriate at 33?  A nappy, as far as I'm concerned.

Now, I could get on board with Gok's desire to help women feel good about their naked bodies.  But he's gone and lost me advocating "age appropriate" to a 33 year old.

I have a style philosophy.  If it makes you feel fabulous put the bugger on.  If that means you end up going to Tesco's dressed in nipple tassels and a pair of y-fronts and you feel like Marilyn Monroe, then knock yourself out.  (Not literally, although I am aware that nipple tassels can do that to you if you're skilled in making them jangle.) Obviously if you're doing the school run you might need to take a coat.  It's chilly this time of year.

I'm not being facetious here.  I mean it.

I'm not interested in making the rest of the world happy with what I'm wearing.  I'm interested in feeling happy, joyful and fun-loving for me.

As far as I can see, being age appropriate is the modern day equivalent of having bound feet.  Trying to bend myself into someone else's image of beauty.  I don't want to be someone else's image of beauty, I want to be my own.

Wearing hideously age-inappropriate earrings and boots.  

I am 43.  My hair is long and I wear enormous Minnie Mouse bows in it.  I wear honking great earrings and false eye-lashes.  I wear knee-high lace-up boots that I bought when I was the tender age of 25, and I intend to wear those bleeders till they fall off my legs. I wear short skirts, long skirts, and skirts in-between.

I don't believe it's about being age appropriate.  I believe it's about finding your style and going with it.  I believe it's about leaving the house feeling fantastic.  Or staying home and lounging around in a gorgeous outfit feeling like a less pink version of Barbara Cartland as you drift around your home.

For me, being age appropriate isn't about dressing to someone else's style. It's about finding my own, whatever my age, and shining each and every time I put an outfit together and step out of the front door.  It's about finding my panache and pizazz.  And if that panache and pizazz is about pulling on velvet hot pants and green patterned tights when I'm 65 years of age, and stepping out onto the street feeling like a movie star, then Gok Wan be warned, I'm going to do it.

If the 33 year old woman on Gok Wan's show came away feeling amazing, filled with style vigour and sizzling with confidence as a result of Gok dressing her in a beige cardie, then I'll hush my mouth.  I hope she did.

So, Vix, I salute you, your style, your panache and pizazz.

There.  I'm done.  Outburst over.

I feel much better.

What do you feel about the age appropriate question?



  1. I love you, you're ace! Can I say that? Well, I have said it.
    Clothes should make you feel great, spot on.
    I remember my friends once saying that Trinny and Susannah made everyone look the same. I think Gok does have his won view of what constitutes 'style' and you are right, it does get ridiculous. 33 is not a time to be worrying about what is right for your age.
    I love your pic of you. You look beautiful. xxx

  2. Brilliant post Em! But at 33 surely the lady needed a blue rinse and some tartan booty slippers!

    You look gorgeous hun!

  3. Well I just came up to switch my puter off and had to stop and read this. Brilliantly put might I say! To me clothing is about the person liking what they wear, might not be everyone's taste but it's not everyone who has to wear it is it. However I would draw the line at seeing someone doing their grocery shopping in a thong! lol! Lolo xx

  4. 45 and i wear whatever the eff i feel like!

  5. I agree I think it's utter crap. I'm almost 40 and I've just dyed my hair pink. My dad literally asked me 'At your age?' Pffft no one EVER stopped me on the street and complimented me on my plain brown hair! Everyone comments on the pink though. If what you have on makes you happy then SCREW everyone else. I agree about Vix too I think she's fabulous! Btw I think those boots you have on are very sexy!

  6. I agree with you! I love your style, especially the boots!!!

  7. Right on, Em! I think you should post more pics of yourself though :)

  8. you look fabulous in your pic, and obviously comfortable with your style.

    I have my own style which has always been a bit quirky but its mine and I always feel confident enough to wear it- but I couldn't wear a lot of "proper" fashions without feeling awkward unless I added my own twist to it.

    I think a lot of the clothes shows are made to make "entertaining" tv watching and whilst Gok has good ideas I'm not sure that the outfits he picks suit the proportions of the ladies who wear them BUT...all the ladies selected do seem to be stuck in the last fashion they understood, so if he at least gives them, and a lot of the viewers the incentive to experiment with different shapes and colours then perhaps thats the good thing to come out of it?

    My only concession to Age Appropriate is that I don't wear tight TIGHT like I once did!

    A good topic to have raised Emma, and not so much a rant as an airing :)

    Hope you have some of this gorgeous autumnal sunny weather with you at the moment to enjoy

  9. AMEN! I'm 41 and I have waist length hair and a fringe and I wear petticoats and floral tights and stripes and spots and massive bows in my hair and flowers and frocks and colours and overalls and whatever I like!


    Sarah xxx

  10. Oh thanks for this Em! You are so right!

    I think that Gok is the Westfield style consultant for Westfield here in Australia. You hit the nail on the head - every ad has the fake normal person (aka model who really is supposed to represent all of us) - coming away looking oh so secretarial!

    I often worry about age appropriateness but I am not going to do that anymore - no more feet binding for me - thankyou! It's so true, if wearing something makes you feel good then that goes along way to making you feel confident and self assured and I really believe that you are more attractive because of this.

    There is only one thing that I can no longer do - I have called it quits on wearing pigtails. I really do feel that I am too old for these!

    You look wonderful!

    Hugs, Stephie x

  11. Well said, you fabulous Minnie-Mouse bow wearing 43 year old! Like you I do like Gok, he's kind, positive and enthusiastic but this dressing to a formula and the continuous promotion cheap, non-ethical disposable fashion has me seething with rage.
    If people need guidance adn ask for it then fair enough but for feck's sake leave the rest of us alone to wear what we want in a way we wish to do it.
    You rock! xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  12. I am with you all the way.

  13. Gok's got to realise that most of us girls are still so thrilled at not having to wear school uniform anymore that we'll wear whatever we like, thankyou very much! I've never watched the programme but don't understand why it's called 'How to look good naked,' if it's all about putting clothes on. Surely it should say, 'How to look good covered up.' Besides, as a lot of women, like myself, can't draw, paint, sculpt or throw a pot, the way we dress is the one way we have of expressing ourselves and declaring who we are. Nobody else has to like it or wear it, do they?

  14. Brilliantly put, Emma. I'm a firm believer of wearing whatever makes you feel good (I'm dusting down my nipple tassles as we speak).

  15. Love this!
    Love your new blog look!
    Love your style. xoxoxo

  16. I totally agree. I have never followed a trend, always done my own thing. At 44 years old I am passed caring what others think. I have many tattoo's on my legs and arm(the last one done end of last year). They actually make me feel more confident. Admittedly I do not wear short skirts but only because my legs resemble an underfed chickens! If you are happy with what you are wearing who cares what others think!

    I was brought up (some say dragged!) to believe that when you hit a certain age you had to have 'normal' hair do, and wear 'normal' clothes! so we all look like clones. I think not. If my hair would only grow I would have it long. If I had decent legs I would show them and if I had any kind of bust it would be on display!!

    If you don't like what you are looking at - look the other way!

    Sue x

  17. The more individual a person dresses, the more fun they are to photograph :)

  18. Thank you so much for your amazingly supportive comments. I've really enjoyed reading them. How fab would we all look if you put us in the same room? And if anyone does have the wherewithal to don nipple tassels and y-fronts in their local supermarket, I would very much appreicate you posting photographic proof. Em x

  19. Hi Emma, I agree with you and all your postees! I'm 46 and wear what I like - be it bright pink, flowers in my bobbed hair, 20s/30s/50s/60s vintage, depending in how I feel when I wake up! I think ladies like us rock!

  20. love your post!! you look great!


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