I don’t believe in hard and fast rules when it comes to age-appropriateness. I’ve written about how I believe it’s up to each individual woman to assess her situation, preferences, and comfort levels and make her own determinations.
But I’ll tell you something I’m starting to puzzle out for myself: In many cases, if you look at something and feel like it might be age-inappropriate, it probably is. For you as an individual anyway. Those gut feelings bubble to the surface for a reason, and you should feel free to trust them if age-appropriate dressing is a priority for you. Arbitrary rules laid down by style experts and magazine writers only apply if they resonate with you, and the opinions of friends and peers are worth considering but they are never gospel. How you feel about what you do and don’t want to wear is important and valid at all times. Including times when you’re sussing out which styles feel right for you to wear at a specific age or stage of life.
Now, following your instincts and jettisoning items that feel wrong for age-related reasons doesn’t mean that you can never wear anything fun again! It just means that if fit-and-flare dresses suddenly feel too young (like this one, which has bold pattern, bright colored accents, a short hem, and pronounced pleats), you can consider seeking out a variation on the shape/look that feels more toned-down and sophisticated (like this one, which is solid colored, in a dusty shade, has a longer hem, and has the same nipped shaping minus the pleats). When you come across an item that makes you wonder about age-appropriateness, try to identify the traits or features of a particular item that read as young* (pleats, stripes, etc.) and set your sights on a variation that lacks those traits.
I remember very clearly the day I opened up a drawer, looked at my blazing pink tights and thought, “I think I’m too old for those now.” No one had made fun of me for wearing them, and I would never have said or thought, “Everyone over the age of X is tool old for blazing pink tights.” But I knew in my gut it was true for me. And I haven’t longed to wear them since.
Are you pondering the age-appropriateness of any items in your wardrobe? Care to share which ones and why you feel they’re toeing the line?
*Or old. Age-appropriateness can swing both ways.
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