Is Dressing Your Age a Thing??

If you know me in real life you know that I am kind of a "rule girl".  I think people need to follow the rules.  If the speed limit is 35 I don't think you should drive 50, if the sign says "line starts here" you stand behind the sign, etc.  In fashion my "big thing" is owning your style.  Owning your style implies you don't necessarily follow the rules, right?  I myself only believe in a few fashion rules - I don't think there is a need to wear white after Labor Day, leggings are not and should never - be worn as pants are probably my top 2.  I see a lot of talk about "dressing your age" and what is and isn't age-appropriate.  Let's talk about this as it relates to your style, shall we?

I wrote down several words that come to mind when I think about this topic.  I think it's the easiest way to "unpack" what I would want to say.  Here they are:  rules, style, comfortable, pretty, not trying too hard, options, inspiration, love a look, funky vs. too young, where are you shopping, on a budget, is it a matter of age-appropriate or just plain appropriate?  I am all about the visual so here are some clothing pieces that come to mind immediately:  cropped top, leggings, short skirt, short dress.  So, let's start with the words and use the looks to explain, shall we?  First, rules, which we talked about already.  I really think it is more about your style - if you focus on that - you don't have to worry about rules.  I love what Coco Chanel says about style "Fashion fades, only style remains the same".  Style is personal.  You and I could both be wearing the exact same pieces of clothing but they will look different on each of us, based on our style.  Comfortable - do you feel comfortable in what you're wearing?  I don't mean just comfortable in the sense of ease of wearing, but also, comfort in the sense of do you have any apprehension in walking into a room full of people in the outfit you have put together?  Pretty- this is a big one for me.  Do you feel pretty in what you're wearing?  If another word comes to mind first - change your outfit.  Options and Inspiration - these 2 go together.  Do you page thru a magazine or online somewhere and find a look you love and want to wear it but it's shown on someone younger (or older) than you?  Let the look inspire you to find options that make it your own and right for you.  I love short, flowy dresses.  I want to wear them in a way that fits my style.  My style as an almost 54 year old woman.  I will let the look I saw be my inspiration to wearing it my way for my age.  Funky vs. too young - I see this come thru most often in shoes and accessories.  Sometimes your "twist" on a look will be what you add with your shoes and accessories.  I see this most often when a look actually feels too old instead of too young.  Whether you are in your 30's or 50's you can put on an outfit that looks "old".  By adding some creative jewelry and perhaps a chunky or funkier shoe, boom!  it becomes more youthful and more your style.  Where are you shopping?  This is probably one of the closest to sounding like a rule.  Let me say, in my opinion, some general guidelines.  Stores target specific age groups, I don't think this is a secret to you.  For example, American Eagle, Charlotte Russe, Love Culture, Pac-Sun - all target shoppers under the age of 30.  Stores such as Chicos, Talbots, Jjill, etc. these stores target women over 30.  Keep this in mind not only for the styles and silhouettes you are looking for; but the sizing and cuts of clothing will be more geared for those body types.  If you are over 30 and do choose to shop from one of the stores I mentioned I think you can do so but sparingly.   Maybe you love the way American Eagle jeans fit - great!  I would suggest though, the outfit off the poster is probably not the right look for you.  The same is true for the other side :).  I think it's just as easy for a woman over 30 to buy an outfit from Chicos or Talbots, or anywhere like that and suddenly look older or dare I say, matronly than she should.  Put your "style spin" on the outfit and you will be fabulous.  

The next word is budget.  I get it - the "younger" stores are cheaper, you say.  However, it's not always true, you just need to be savvy in your shopping.  You also have to do your research.  Let's take denim.  You have to try on A LOT of jeans before you find the right fit and style for you.  This will require many stores and many try-ons.  Once you know what style is best keep your eye out for sales, coupons, and also TJ Maxx and other off price stores to find a gem at a better price.  This is also the best way to buy a trendy piece as well.  Spend your money on the things that matter most in your wardrobe- the hardest working pieces like denim, your white blouse, a good cardigan, etc.  

The last word (phrase) is age-appropriate or just plain appropriate?  I think this sometimes solves the question before you even have to worry about how to wear it.  It sometimes isn't an issue of age but more about what you are showing or not showing.  What are you leaving to the imagination and covered and what are you exposing?  Too much?  Is the fit too small?  Too tight?  Too loose?  Too sheer?  Too fitted for public view?  Regardless of your age, ask yourself is this who I want people to see?  

So now, what does all this mean?  I think it's best shown in an actual outfit.  I have pulled a couple of things that I have done to wear a look that would be stylish on a woman of any age depending on how you style it.  

This is a crop top from Banana Republic.  For me, layered with a white shirt, jeggings, and boots I think this is age-appropriate for me at 53.  The shirt hits at a place that not only is appropriate for the midriff, but makes the jeggings work as well.  If I were a 20something I might wear this without the blouse, high-waisted skinny skinny jeans and the boots.  

This is a crop top from Banana Republic.  For me, layered with a white shirt, jeggings, and boots I think this is age-appropriate for me at 53.  The shirt hits at a place that not only is appropriate for the midriff, but makes the jeggings work as well.  If I were a 20something I might wear this without the blouse, high-waisted skinny skinny jeans and the boots.  

This cropped sweater from TopShop is adorable.  It's very "little" shall I say?  I again have layered with a white blouse.  The pants are my cropped black pants from Loft.  I have finished it my chunky Mary Janes, and a great tortoise necklace.  For me, the addition of the chunky shoe and the necklace are what make it "my style".  I would never wear this top without a layer underneath.  

This is a short, A-line dress from Andrea Jovine that I purchased recently at TJ Maxx for less than 30 bucks!  I wear opaque tights and over the knee boots with it.  I would not wear a dress this short without opaque tights.  In the spring I may pair this with a pair of cropped leggings and flats or booties.  A woman under 30 I feel, could wear this shorter length with bare legs and make it look great.  

This is a short, A-line dress from Andrea Jovine that I purchased recently at TJ Maxx for less than 30 bucks!  I wear opaque tights and over the knee boots with it.  I would not wear a dress this short without opaque tights.  In the spring I may pair this with a pair of cropped leggings and flats or booties.  A woman under 30 I feel, could wear this shorter length with bare legs and make it look great.  

One more.  New Year's Eve.  I would love to wear a tulle skirt but not sure I am comfortable pulling it off.  I have this great full skirt (with tulle underneath) from White House Black Market that I think is the best adaptation.  So, the tulle was my inspiration to find my own style in this look.  There is an edge of "funky" with the tshirt layered under the jean jacket and the whole juxtaposition of the denim jacket with the formal skirt, paired with either boots or tights and Mary Janes.

Though I don't believe in concrete fashion rules, I do believe in dressing with style.  I do believe age does play a part in dressing with great style.  If you were to really think about the outfits you wear and feel the best, the prettiest, the most stylish in, I think you would reflect on that and agree the same.  Your beauty and style begins with you - feeling great - about you!