Monday, October 25, 2010

Should I Be Wearing These? (Reprise)

A few things happened today which returned me to musing about style and aging. In the Sunday New York Times, two very different style icons, Dominique Browning and Keith Richards, commented on their unique personal styles and the issue of age- appropriateness. And, in addition, I whipped out my swashbuckler boots, only to wonder whether I might be too old for them.

Browning dealt with the issue of long hair and older women. We all know those television commercials showing sexy desirable women with long, swinging, shiny hair, the kind that is promised to us if only we use the right products. Yet, the target audience with the most disposable income for self pampering, “mature” 50+ women, is told(as Browning noted) that it is inappropriate to hang on to this symbol of desirability, that it is inappropriate for successful or established or – let’s just face it – older women to flaunt their tresses. Is it the association of sexuality with long hair that is supposed to be quashed or the association of witches with long grey tresses which is to be avoided? Either way, I don’t get the taboo, and wholeheartedly support Browning in her determination not to go the “sensible” route (even though I, personally, can never achieve that long swinging hair, given my birth gift of a mop of curls).

And as for my boots? They are a few years old, radical when I purchased them, and interestingly are very much in style this fall. With the advent of the first fall rain, I pulled them out for a jaunt around San Francisco, wondering if now that young women were wearing similar styles, might I be perceived as too old for these? It’s a curious thing about fashion, how once a style is adopted by the young it appears to be young. And what are we “mature” women of style to do? Ignore the trend? Move on? Or embrace the notion that as long as we are comfortable with ourselves, we can and should wear what we choose? That flaunting style and sexuality is actually OK for a woman over 50?

I would like to believe that in some small way I am giving other women who see me the courage to dress as they want, not as they think they have to. The number of “great boots” and “where did you get them?”comments from women young and old which I received today certainly let me know both my boots and I were noticed and admired. I don’t expect to be the fashion icon my 22 year old daughter is; frankly, I am no longer that interested in fashion. But I also do not expect to be banished to some preordained style for the mature, a dry, uninteresting , and unnoticed place.

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