OVER 40. HOW TO DRESS. APPROPRIATELY

The mirror sends back a pleasing reflection. I am sure the flattering light of the changing room cleverly helps to trick me into thinking anything looks better than it might in the harsh daylight. It also takes a couple of inches off the old thighs. I will admit that, over the years, I managed to keep a pretty trim figure which, I won’t deny it, requires a certain amount of self-discipline when it comes to eating and exercising. Genes might be involved to an extent but any woman over 40 who is not overweight and says she eats what she wants and doesn’t lift a finger is either lying or she is a feat of engineering that deserves to be studied in depth.

The windows of Mango were packed with pretty clothes and a few more where to be found on the racks inside which is why I found myself to be in their dressing room with a flowery pink sundress that fit perfectly. But, clearly, it hadn’t been designed with someone like me in mind. No matter how good your legs are, skirts above the knee in Summer are now a thing of the past. In Winter, you might get away with thick opaque tights but who, at this point, doesn’t have a varicose vein, small purple veins behind the knees or skin that has seen tighter days? The sundress belonged on a 20-year-old body. And so did the camouflage one piece I could have only worn doing house chores for fear of ridicule had I stepped out in public. Paranoia?  I don’t think so. I live in a city where it is not uncommon to see women from behind who, when they turn, make you recoil in horror. Because despite all the exercising, the Botox and the knife, age spots, sagging skin or just the expression in one’s eyes, will give away a woman’s age. Or at least her decade.

Even if I feel like I can still get away with tight jeans, there is a set of rules I accumulated over the last few years that I believe work in my favour:

  1. A solid mass of black over an aging body is too harsh and unflattering no matter the complexion and it needs to be accessorized with color. In my 20’s, dressed in black, I looked mysterious and sexy now I am more reminiscent of a nun.
  2. The flower sundress fit perfectly but it was a couple of inches too short. In addition, the uneven hem would have looked charming on a 16-year-old but it made me look ridiculous. Never cross the fine line between trendy and age inappropriate, just because it still fits.
  3. When buying moderately or cheaply priced clothes (do you actually know anybody who can afford couture??) if alterations need to be considered, don’t bother. Unless you have impeccably tailoring skills of your own, the added expense is probably not worth the trouble.
  4. Have a few good items in your wardrobe. I am not ashamed to admit I do shop at Target and Old Navy – mixing and matching cheap and cheerful with some higher end staples will always iron out the kinks.
  5. No matter how big or small the boobs, natural or surgically enhanced, for god’s sake, wear a bra. And underwear. What’s up with this new trend of shedding underwear??
  6. More importantly, take a good look in the mirror and honestly assess your best features and then buy accordingly – if you have good legs, go ahead and show them with knee-length skirts. If your butt is shapely, pants are your best friends. As much as I would love to wear strapless dresses, my small boobs wouldn’t be flattered by them.

We all have something that works and we should be proud to show it off. Appropriately. We can’t compete with younger bodies but what we now possess is something that was elusive all those years ago – a self assuredness and a gleam in our eyes that tells the world we finally know who we are. Any idea how attractive that is?

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2 Comments

Filed under aging, feminism

2 responses to “OVER 40. HOW TO DRESS. APPROPRIATELY

  1. I completely agree – I need to mass produce this entry to all the women in my office. Perhaps find a way to secretly include it in our handbook. I laughed my head off at #5. I must add, some women need to realize their boobs belong inside the blouse. Too much cleavage at any age is in poor taste. I have spent all day reading your blog posts. You are truly remarkable! You need to write a book. I will definitely be the first one in line to purchase it.

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