Preface: (You know it’s going to be a long post if I have a preface!) After reading an article banning flip-flops on anyone over the age of thirty, I was inspired to think very carefully about what I believe women should wear. I’m happy to report I think flip-flops can be worn well into old age. These are my other musings. Twenty years from now, I may change my opinions, but for today, this is what I believe about fashion at any age.
Aging Gracefully – What does that mean? Why do some women seem to do it instictually while others struggle, often looking like gray haired little girls playing dress-up in their mother’s closet?
I’m not sure I have any pat answers for you. I cannot give three rules, that if followed, will ensure fashion success from this day forward and even forever more; however, I think we can explore some principles that may guide us as we attempt to present the best version of who we are to the world.
Some say it doesn’t matter what we look like. It’s the person inside who matters. While I agree, we can never be truly beautiful if our inner self is ugly and mean, most people will be judging us based on our outside. While God looks at our inside, our heart, everyone else sees the outside. Is that superficial and unfair? Yes. Most definitely, but that’s also life. We need to have a kind, attractive cover so others will take the time to read the words written on the pages of our hearts.
I asked Facebook followers if there were any trends, styles, items of clothing, jewelry, etc. that women should avoid wearing as they age. I got quite a few responses. What I find fascinating is that fashion is very personal and subjective. While some won’t wear shorts, others will wear short-shorts. Some think it’s important to look classic, while other want to look trendy. Who is right and who is wrong? Are skinny jeans really a tool of the devil? How do we navigate the sale racks and walk away looking appropriate for our age?
Today I will sacrifice my pride on the altar of “greater good”. Although I am in no way qualified, I will attempt to give you my opinions and possibly insights on how to age gracefully, at least in the way we dress.
A boy I babysat when I was a teenager was going through some boxes in his parent’s garage and came across my high school graduation photo. He posted it on my facebook wall. I think it was an attempt to get even with me for putting him a time-out chair when he was four. All I can say is We Are Even!
The first photo is me at seventeen.
God love me. I am certainly glad someone was looking at my heart. I honestly never realized I looked like THIS. I wish someone had told me to wash off some of that hideous makeup. And the hair! Mercy me. I believe I am solely responsible for the hole in the ozone layer and global warming.
The second photo is me exactly 20 years later. I know. I told you I am sacrificing my pride for you. I not only showed you my graduation photo, but I also admitted my real age. I’m just thankful my makeup lightened and my hair shrunk.
The only thing I miss from the girl with the graduation hat is her weight; otherwise, I think a few years of fashion mishaps have helped me. It must be true that gray hairs are a sign of wisdom, at least when it comes to choosing a shade of blush. Then again, I’ve seen grannies with their pept-bismol rouge, so who knows?
I’ve compiled the following list of suggestions that I hope will help us as we navigate the challenges of dressing our ever-changing bodies.
1. Wear what fits. The extremes are stretch pants stretched so thin that you can see through them and t-shirts so big they look like a sumo-wrestler is hiding inside. Both extremes are bad. Don’t hide behind your clothes. Wearing baggy clothing rarely ever makes a person look thinner, so don’t feel like you’re doing your physique a favor by dressing it in a potato sack. On the same token, tight clothes will make you look like you’ve just gained 20 pounds and are in total denial.
I always bring two or three sizes of one article of clothing into the dressing room, and I always try things on. Just because it looks great on a the hanger doesn’t mean it will look great on you, so try it on. If you are in doubt about a size, ask someone. The young girls who work in most stores will generally by happy to give you an opinion and get you a different size. If you’re shopping for the tough items like jeans or swimsuits, maybe it’s time to call your lifeline and bring your best friend.
Just remember, if it doesn’t fit you, don’t waste your money on it.
2. Be modest. No one wants to see your boobs, or worse. Seriously, do you want everyone’s eyes to go directly to the girls? Showcasing all your goods often makes a woman look desperate, or day I say, trashy. Look in the mirror. Be mindful of what others see when they look at you. Don’t make someone else uncomfortable in your presence because you’re dressed immodestly. Besides, sometimes one of those wayward girls gets loose and pops out. Believe me, if that happens, you’ll wish your blouse hadn’t been so low cut.
For shorts and skirts, my rule of thumb is that they should not be wider than they are long. Take a minute and let that sink in. It’s good advice.
3. Know your personal style. Don’t wear something just because someone else says you should. Know what you like to wear, what feels comfortable for you, and what clothes you feel good in. Personally I think a nice little jacket hides a multitude of
tortilla chips sins, but if you hate jackets, find another alternative, like a cute cardigan or a flowy blouse.
On the flip side, don’t be afraid to try on pieces outside of your comfort zone. Who knows, they just might work and become your go-to item.
4. Wear the appropriate outfit for the appropriate function. This is a biggy. You wouldn’t wear a silk dress and stilettos to the swimming pool, would you? Of course not. It’s inappropriate. Think about where you are going and try to dress accordingly. If you’re singing a solo in church, you might not want to wear the clothes you went clubbing in. Just saying. I’ve seen similar mishaps and it’s not pretty. When in doubt, ask the hostess or another guest what they will be wearing.
5. Have fun with fashion. One of the most fashionable women I know is in her 70’s. She wears up-to-date clothes and even trendy styles. Dare I say I’ve seen her shop in the juniors section. What sets her apart is that she is always appropriate for the occasion, she’s never immodest, her clothes fit her body, and she has fun with what she wears.
Even if you’re not the daring type, you can add a splash of fun with jewelry, scarves, handbags, or shoes. Enjoy your clothes. Embrace your style and don’t be afraid to have fun.
6. Don’t let others dictate how you feel about yourself. Some women have strict rules about what and what not wear. There are many that would burn all clothes with the word “skinny” in them. Others prefer women in dresses. Some think you should stick to neutral colors as you age. No makeup. Too much makeup. To wear eyeliner or not to wear eyeliner, for some that is the question.
You need to be happy with what you wear. As long as you have a clear conscious before God and you like what you have on, don’t let others steal your joy. It feels wonderful to be complimented on an outfit. The words “you look nice” can boost our self-image, but our worth is not based on what we wear. It’s so much more valuable than that. Guard your heart. You are worth a whole lot to the creator of the universe, so don’t let a sideways glance or a role of the eyes make you feel bad.
7. Get out of your rut. I don’t think there’s anything that ages a women more than being stuck in a style that was in fashion twenty years ago. Do you know what I’m talking about? At the age of 50, some women are still wearing Farah Faucet’s feathered hair. What about the forty year-olds with a mullet? Sometimes we should let go. Just because it looked great when we were in our prime, doesn’t mean it will look great for the rest of our lives. Change is good. It keeps you young. Never be afraid of change. Embrace it and allow yourself to evolve into better-than-ever version of the wonderful woman you are constantly becoming. Personally, I am glad I set aside my can of Rave hairspray. Thank you very much!
8. Ask your daughter. In response to my Facebook question, my mother said that she stops wearing, “All the things you tell me to stop wearing!!!!”
There’s no one more honest than your offspring. My daughter has exclaimed over my jiggly mid-section in front of fitting rooms full of women. She hides no emotion, spares no remarks. She is brutally honest, almost to a fault.
One Christmas vacation when I came home from college, the plane landed and I walled the long corridor to my waiting family. Back in those days, you could roam the airports even without a ticket. In fact when I was little, my parents would bring me for entertainment, just to watch the airplanes take off. On this particular day my mother wore her new, very colorful (as in many colors on the same pair) of glasses. She also wore a sweater vest, similar to the coat Joseph’s father must have given him. I took one look at her and said, “Never go shopping without me. Ok?”
Judging by my graduation photo, my taste was no better. The point is, I spoke my mind freely. There’s nothing like asking your daughter for fashion advice. They will probably be only too eager to help.
9. Enjoy life. Clothes are a means to an end. They allow you to go out in public and enjoy life. Where would we be without them? I don’t dare guess! Sometimes the best thing we can do is to forget about what we’re wearing and enjoy ourselves. There will always be those who are better dressed and worst dressed, fagettaboutit. You’ll never get today back. Don’t stress about whether your jeans are dark or light wash. Are they clean? That’s what matters most! Heck, even a little dirt never hurt anyone.
10. Attend to your inner diva. Just like we must take care of skin, so our makeup will look nice, we must attend our soul, so our outer flesh will look nice. We can be fashionistas on the outside, but if our inside is filled with pain, anger, bitterness, unforgiveness, and stress, we’re not going to be very pretty. You are not what you wear. You are so much more than a cute outfit. Fill yourself up with things that are good, pure, right, and true.
Make your inside healthy by being right with God. Don’t ignore the part of you that longs for something greater than this world has to offer. Draw nigh to God and He will draw nigh to you.
I think we should care not only about how we look on the outside, but also about who we are on the inside. What is inside always bubbles to the surface and we want it to be pretty.
In my opinion, and that’s all this is, I don’t think you have to swear off skinny jeans just because you’re not in your twenties; however, I think we should all pay attention to how we clothe our bodies. It’s important that we live and dress with care, that we age gracefully. After all, our daughters are watching and learning. We want them to know how to live well and look respectable.
I hope when photographs are taken of me twenty-years from now, I’ll look better than I do today. I hope I’m wearing my wrinkles and age spots with pride and dressing my body in what looks and feels good. I hope I don’t keep the same hairdo or heaven forbid, the same clothes. More importantly I want my heart to be in the best shape it’s ever been, physically, but also spiritually. I want my inner love and peace to outshine any outfit I put on in the morning.
I don’t know all the ins and outs of fashion and I don’t always dress in the best of clothes, but I do care about what’s on the outside, because it’s a direct reflection of what is on the inside. I want to age gracefully, embracing this life God has given me.