A philosopher once said, "Love knows no age." Does style know age? The debate has moved into the world of fashion. Women's fashion has evolved over the years. With greater freedom and fewer conventions, the variety of choices available are limitless, yet women are sometimes confused by the mixed messages the design world is sending.
As image and style consultants it’s important for us to examine this debate with the goal toward how this information can help our clients.
Most designers today present their women's collections on young teenage models. This is no coincidence, youth sells! However most high fashion buyers are older, well established women. It is not unusual for these women, regardless of age, to want to look as young and fresh as the nubile model wearing the clothes on the runway. They are chasing this youth dream in an attempt to defy the ageing process. Conversely there are young women in pursuit of a more mature image and they too push the “age appropriate” clothing boundaries.
Fortunately, there are style heroines “style rebels” who push back against age stereotypes. Look in any fashion magazine and you will find the gorgeous Diane Kruger, at 38, in youthful floral dresses. Diane carries herself with greater confidence than most 20 year olds. You will also see features about young (25) and sensible Emma Watson in the more demure and ladylike dresses by Chanel. Why should a woman wait to own that sublimely tailored jacket until a 40th birthday?
Fashion magazine features for women in their forties, or fifties have become increasingly popular yet controversial. Writers address the age appropriate clothing conundrum. Many of the older style rebel’s question why a 20-year-old should have all the fun in a black mini cocktail dress. Would you ask 75-year-old Tina Turner to cover up those legs and wear a sensible pantsuit?
In contrast to our style heroines who own that rebel style sense (focus on style), there are many women today making age inappropriate fashion choices. It is not unusual to find busy moms wearing unflattering fashions from junior retailers or school girls in suggestive clothing and make up. These looks are unbecoming; the style lines have blurred. This leaves many, including our clients, confused about what is and what is not appropriate style and dress for their age.
In the end, fashion and style are personal statements for those who love fashion. If the clothing you wear elevates your mood and gives you confidence, who is to judge? Perhaps the shorts you love to wear are a testament to the long workouts, rain or shine, that show off your shapely forty-something legs. And maybe that tailored jacket does make you look older that you actually are. Just remember to keep is classy. As the timeless Coco Chanel once said, "Elegance is not the prerogative of those who have just escaped from adolescence, but of those who have already taken possession of their future."