Do you have a preconceived idea about what a woman over the age of 40 should look like? Should dress like?
Would it look like this?
How about someone over 50?…over 60? …over 70?
Do you think your own ideas will change once you personally achieve that age?
Are we perpetuating antiquated stereotypes when we judge a woman by how she dresses relative to her age?
I was left pondering all of these things because of a comment that was received by a reader on the interview with I did for Sylvia at 40+ Style
Much as I admire Suzanne’s creativity, I can’t help but think that her style is best worn by those under 25. I just don’t think distressed jeans, berets and some of the more extreme color combinations are flattering to the over 40 woman. Hate me if you must, but with age should come elegance.
I will admit this made me upset…it’s one thing to say you don’t like my style, but quite another to suggest that I am incapable of elegance.
This was my response,
Almost daily in real life people compliment me on my clothing choices. I don’t ask for it. They offer it. People always remark about how well dressed I am.
Maybe they can’t tell what age I am. Maybe they don’t have a preconceived idea of what 47 is supposed to look like. Maybe “elegant” fashion for women over 40 isn’t subdued, neutral and forgettable.
I would hope that I have obtained a certain level of elegance with my choices but that I haven’t sacrificed my creative sense of self just because I am over a certain age limit.
I realize that my style isn’t for everyone and I certainly wouldn’t be wearing it if I thought I didn’t have the confidence or body with which to carry it off. My goal is to look the best I can, never be referred to as boring and leave a lasting impression.
I’m not disappearing because I’m older. I’m still the same vibrant, sexy, creative relevant person I always was, but now with a few wrinkles and much more experience under my belt.
And I have to mention this…under 25??? Yikes. Is that when women must give up keeping current and being relevant with the rest of the world?
I’ve had a bit of time to reflect on what the whole thing meant.
For example…you shouldn’t wear a beret unless you are under 25???
It is a hat.
Meant to keep your head warm.
Help me out here.
I’m drawing a blank.
It made me think more about my personal style and the reasons behind it.
How I dress is a statement to the world as to how I want to be perceived. My clothes communicate a message without ever having to open my mouth.
What I hope they are saying is:
What I hope my clothes aren’t saying is:
like everyone else,
I chose the above photos to represent a strong contrast of old fashioned preconceived ideas about what women over 40 should or shouldn’t wear.
I’m not understated.
I know that.
But it doesn’t mean what I wear isn’t elegant.
Everyone is going to have a different list of what they want their clothes to convey about themselves. Maybe they are a Mother or Grandmother and want to be perceived as responsible and caring. Maybe they are a business woman that needs to be taken seriously and portray a professional polished image.
We all have different lives, different dreams and different goals. It is normal that we should all dress ourselves differently to help us achieve these goals and express ourselves to the world.
I dress the way I do because it makes me feel good about myself and hopefully sends out the right message I want to convey to the world. When I start looking at the reflection in the mirror and I no longer care for it, or it no longer communicates the message I want to send, I will change what I’m wearing. I won’t change how I dress because I’ve surpassed an arbitrary age limit, that someone else has randomly chosen, like a best before date on food packaging.
Until that time, I am perfectly happy dressing myself without someone else’s judgement.
I refuse to be defined by my age.
Do you allow your age to define what you can or cannot wear?
(Personally it is my body and self confidence that decides that for me on any given day.)
Do you judge clothing choices of other women depending upon their age?
Linking up with: 52 Pick-me-up The Pleated Poppy, I Feel Pretty Favorite Fashion Friday Linkup
What seems especially strange about that comment is the blog is all about style over 40…. like that comment seemed almost like trolling, and deliberately a bit hurtful.
At any rate, I love your style.
I totally agree with and relate to what you write, Suzanne.
And I too was annoyed by that one negative comment on Sylvia’s article about you.
At the same time I told myself (what another commenter actually wrote): “no matter how much I may disagree -and I do- , kinda brave that she dares to express a different opinion.” She certainly stood alone in her opinion though!
Keep doing what you do, dear, and keep dressing the way you do. You look fab, also today’s outfit is great! Feminine, sexy, and elegant. I love it!
How I dress depends indeed on my mood, my body (what flatters me and what not) and my taste/style. Not my age. Not really.
Personally, I think you always look wonderful. Yes, your style and sense of fashion would not work on everyone. That’s why it’s YOURS! I have never seen a picture of you in ANYTHING that wasn’t “appropriate”. I really do love this discussion as I am approaching my fifties. As an accountant and frequent motorcyclist my lifestyle and fashion has some conflicts. That’s OK. You seem to dress very much to your life and activities. KEEP IT UP! Your blog is one of my favorites and one that I look forward to reading every new post! Stay true to yourself!
I’m not much of a “judger” when it comes to clothes anyways, because I do believe in personal style–though of course I have an eye for certain pieces that really don’t flatter certain skin tones or body shapes. My beautiful mama is 43 and I’ve successfully convinced her this winter that she can wear dresses. Not being able to find clothes that fit well in SE Asia has done a good job of convincing her that shopping sucks and it’s not worth taking the time to find clothes that fit the demands of her lifestyle but she also feels good about wearing. We picked our 3 dresses for her and it’s so cool to see her enjoying her clothes a little bit.
And under 25? That seems quite dramatic–I only have 2.5 more years to dress like a lunatic?? 🙂
MIS PAPELICOS says
My dear Suzanne, I never think of age when I get dress nor do I look at women thinking how old they are. We are just interesting or boring.
Most of the people around are beige because they feel safer following the rules than creating their own.
I dress as I feel. I let the clothes talk to me and dance together until they make me feel wonderful.
Love and sunshine, my dear friend
Sue @ A Colourful Canvas says
First off…Le Husband will be hopping the next plane home when he sees this post! You look freakin’ amazing…and NO, not *for your age*. You look beautiful, and I always find inspiration reading your posts! I find the comment a bit confusing, because in all honesty, you are one of the most elegant bloggers that I follow. Yep, that comment is definitely confusing to me, and I can only imagine what she would have to say about my *style*. I’m sorry, but that last sentence really makes me shudder.
I am applauding and hysterically saying Bravo!!!!
You are so fierce and inspiring in all your posts, etc. I believe it is all left to one’s creativity and confidence and we should not judge or place “labels” of age or any sort on someone.
I admire you and will stay right here reading and being inspired by an Over 40 blogger to another!!
Oh no! My honest first thought was that she didn’t know how old you were- and thought you were under 25?!? Some people…really you just have to shake your head. You look wonderfully elegant always- and vibrant, and unique too. Good style is timeless and ageless too, I think.
You know what? That women who left you that nasty comment must 400 pounds and real ugly – Plus, she must be so envious of your fabulous style and wishes she could wear the same clothes as you but she is too fat, ugly and stupid to do so!
Who gives a feck what you wear, it’s your own choices nobody should tell you how to dress, nobody if so, feck them and goodbye!
The only person i get an opinion from is my hubby, he tells me when i way over the top, hahaha! –
I think you have great style and elegance
No Fear of Fashion says
It is strange how one negative remark can affect us so much when we get so many positive ones too. I am the same and most people are. While we should just shrug our shoulders. You have not seen what she looked liked. You might have immediately dismissed her remark as not relevant. And even if she looked fabulous, it is somebody else, with a different personality and a different outlook on things. Not more, not less.
I have been struggling with being honest since I started commenting on blogs. At least with the ones I follow on a daily or weekly basis. You get to know me and I get to know you. What is my comment worth if I don’t express my honest opinion? At least if I am honest you know I mean it when I compliment. On the other hand, it is still just my view, from my perspective. The fact I don’t like something does not mean it isn’t nice. We are all different.
I like your style and creativity a lot. Which is why I follow your blog. You are unique, daring… Well all the things you mentioned in your first list. Don’t worry about the remark of the lady on 40+. She was outnumbered anyway.
No Fear of Fashion says
I wrote a lengthy comment on how and why you should not be affected by tis lady. And when I published it… it disappeared.
You rock and you are everything you mentioned in your first list. Which is why we love you and follow your blog.
It was just one opinion of one lady with whom you might have nothing in common (probably not). So many other positive comments should affect you more.
No offence to Sylvia but I imagine that the kind of woman who trawls the internet for “40+ style” hasn’t a fecking clue what to wear.
I mean, when you’ve been on the planet for over four decades you’ve got to be pretty much of a dim wit to seek guidance from a stranger. These idiots are so brainwashed by tedious celebrities and magazine editors who advocate caramel bobs, jersey wrap dresses, nude court shoes and toned down shite that the minute they encounter anyone in the remotest bit interesting their brains go into meltdown.
As long as we’re happy in our clothes I couldn’t give a rat’s arse what anyone else thinks of us.
You’re fabulous, she obviously isn’t. Let the troll get back in her cave. xxx
I’ve always feel you’re elegant — because you always look pulled together. And current. I’ve been noticing the blogs I enjoy looking at the most are women older than me, because they have a maturity about their clothing… not mature clothes, but the knowledge of how to style things, how to dress their body, how to take their favourite styles, the current trends and the interesting details and turn them into outfits that look amazing head to toe. Elegance is knowing who you are and dressing like it.
I completely agree about being honest. I don’t need anyone blowing smoke up my you-know-what.
I’m like you. I strive to be honest. If I don’t have anything good to say about the outfit I won’t comment. If I can find one thing I like about it I’ll comment on that. I don’t need to tell you that because you already figured that out about me : )
I really wanted to start a conversation about this because some women are doing themselves a disservice by believing that once they are past a certain age they can no longer wear what they want to. Good taste is for any age. Also as you wrote, it is all subjective. We all have our own sense of what we like. The thing that bothered me was the notion of being past a certain age limited your choices. I’ve believe my whole life that it is our body shape and level of self confidence we should be dressing, not our age.
I don’t like the idea of anyone telling me what I should or shouldn’t wear based on my age. It’s fine if you say, it doesn’t suit you, the colour isn’t great etc but don’t tell me I’m too old for it. It’s just a blanket statement that generalizes and promotes old fashioned stereotypes of women past a certain age. Like all babies should wear yellow. It doesn’t make sense to me.
Ha ha! She’d have to be blind to think I was under 25. I pass for younger than I am… but I’m not a magician. ; )
I agree that if you have poor taste and are 16 or 60 it’ll still look like you have poor taste.
It would be refreshing and liberating if everyone thought that way Shon.
How boring would the world be if after 40 we all had to dress like drones?
: ) He is flying home as I’m writing this…40 days he has been overseas now. I’m worried I might not recognize him! LOL
I think I would have been fine with the whole comment, well maybe not “fine” but not as fired up about it if she had left off the last line about the elegance. l even went so far as looking up the definition of elegance to see if I was mistaken somehow. That only made it worse since it is described as having good taste.
ha ha! Yep… you’d better fit it all in …2.5 years isn’t long!
Thanks for taking the time to comment Felicia.
We must almost be the same age.
I can see where making all of the aspects of your life work with your wardrobe could be quite challenging, but fun too. You would get a chance to explore totally different fashion opportunities. I’m sure that no one mistakes you for an accountant when you are on your motorcycle and visa versa.
No worries about me changing my style…unless I either gain loads of weight or lose loads of weight, my closet and shoe collection are far too grand to change because someone believes I’ve passed my “best before” date.
It is true that she was brave to share a differing opinion. But I think she could have said what she needed to and left off the last bit about elegance.
It made me wonder if there were many others who think it but then don’t write it. That is why I decided to write a post about it.
I don’t want to perpetuate ageism and I believe that is what she was doing.
True. So true.
I knew you’d have something great to add to this!
You have inspired me to make an inspirational graphic based on what you’ve said here.
Your love of colour, pattern and art is so evident by how you dress.
Thanks for spreading you sunshine here : )
Gnome Lover says
I think you always look gorgeous and elegant! If everyone dressed the same, how boring would that be? Let the others keep their beige houses and “proper” clothing. And let’s have some fun!
I am the youngest of most of my friends at thirty six. I had my babies young, they waited. I have a gorgeous friend turning fifty this year. All my friends have their own distinct style and I love it! My friend Jessica, who painted my bathroom, is your age. In an upcoming post, she is rocking the men’s wear in a vintage Ralph Lauren tie and cap.
Age is just a number. And life should be full of so much more than that!
From reading your blog you get that. That’s why I enjoy reading it.
Enjoy your husband being home. Now that’s fun! ; )
But really Vix…don’t hold back…tell me what you really think! LOL
No one has ever claimed you have difficulty expressing yourself I imagine. ; )
I knew you’d have something clever to add. The way you’ve phrased it and the bit about melting brains really made me laugh out loud.
I have to add this as well because I loved what this woman from Queen’s of Vintage had to say,
“I enjoy style and design, but not ‘fashion’. By my definition, one is about something aesthetically pleasing or creative, and the other is about market forces driving sales and trends. By embracing the former, and rejecting the latter, I stay true to my genuine interest in the visible world, while stepping neatly out of the primary line of fire of a multi-billion dollar industry that seeks to influence buying habits and beauty norms. The ‘beauty standard’ as it is often called, is easily shattered, or at least greatly diminished by such a simple move. Once you embrace a look that is ‘other’ than what is fashionable in the mainstream, the magazines, the billboards and shop windows hold little sway or interest – but then I don’t need to remind anyone visiting this blog of that. It is part of the appeal.”
While not a fashion blogger (yet !?) .. I follow so many and enjoy the range of style and individuality and personality expressed by all, from 16 to 60+, from size 0 to size [whatever !]. Regardless if it’s ‘my’ style or taste, it brings me joy and inspiration. Are there times when I cock my head and think .. what the ??? But I’m sure people do that about me .. 🙂 But, ‘with age’ comes the knowledge and confidence to live my life, my way. I refuse to allow people’s opinions to affect me. Oh, and what also comes ‘with age’ is eloquence and acceptance. If *someone* doesn’t like ‘her’ fashion style, don’t look at her blog ! Enjoy and embrace !
I love that last line you wrote Cara! I’m going to borrow that from you.
Thanks for chiming in.
I couldn’t agree more about how boring life would be if we all wore the same uniform after a certain age.
I can’t wait to see the photo of your friend. She sounds right up my alley : )
Thanks for commenting Michelle. It is great to have non-bloggers chime in here.
It is so true that inspiration comes in all forms and can be the smallest detail in someone’s outfit that will catch your eye.
In fact the reason I stopped following many of the mainstream blogs was because they became too homogenized. I thought I was looking at the same person wearing almost the exact same outfit time and time again. It was what I personally consider the worst offence in life and fashion…B-O-R-I-N-G.
Variety is the spice of life and diversity in fashion, despite age, keeps things interesting.
Debbie Stinedurf says
As soon as I saw the title to your post I knew exactly why you wrote it. I read that comment and didn’t respond because, quite honestly, at the time I was speechless…oh, ya, and I didn’t want to say anything inappropriate…ha! In any case, I believe that clothing and style are all about having fun, enjoying the clothes and enjoying who you are. Age is absolutely 150% irrelevant. You are one of the coolest, most stylish, and yes, elegant women I have had the privilege of becoming friends with since I started blogging. It would be a sad world to live in if all of the fun ended at 25…
What a very peculiar comment! And what’s with 25 as a magic cut-off point for berets?! My 49 year old head loves a beret, as you know!
Everyone else has pretty much said it all, as have you, in a spirited defence of personal freedom and a refusal to be defined by a number. Style, panache, elegance, creativity, and bold use of colour – you are the mistress of these, Suzanne. I think you know exactly what works for your shape and your lifestyle and personality, and that’s what we should all be striving for. Age is not in that equation at all, as far as I am concerned. There will always be some people (probably more women than men, interestingly) who have pre-conceived and very conservative and limiting views about what other women wear, especially as they get older. They don’t seem to be able to cope with vibrant, confident women of 40 and over, who take risks, who are daring, and who look sexy. You have to feel sorry for them, really, for being so timid and narrow-minded.
Btw, you are rocking those sequin shorts! Keep doing what you do. I certainly intend to! xxx
Patti @ NotDeadYet Style says
I don’t know where to begin with all my 58 (ancient!) year-old thoughts swirling around. First, I *do* think of elegant when I think of your style, and have told ya so. Second, we can express ourselves via clothing up to age . . . 25?? I didn’t have $200 to my name at age 25, for one thing. And (no offense to the youngsters) I didn’t really know who I was or what I wanted to say.
And for thirds, be yourself, everyone else is already taken (thanks, Oscar Wilde). And for fourths, I don’t care for negative (outright negative) commenting on blogs. It’s always OK to say nothing, ya know? Guess I had something to say, didn’t I then? xoxo
Suzanne, I love your style and I’m sorry that comment was hurtful. I haven’t read the rest of the comments here and don’t know whether or not this has been brought up, but what I HATE about the idea that there are appropriate ways to dress that correspond with certain ages, is the underlying sentiment that women should be less noticeable at a certain age. It’s an incredibly sexist notion. (Note the lack of guides for men about how they should dress after a certain age). I think your style is incredibly chic and tasteful, and if it challenges others’ ideas of what a woman over 40 should be wearing, then more power to you! My style has become somewhat more conservative as I’ve gotten older, but that has more to do with my lifestyle (ie I teach at a university), than it does with any feelings of propriety or what I “should” be wearing. Keep doing what you do! Also – if you’ve never read “Advanced Style”, definitely check it out – it’s a blog that features women, many of whom are past retirement age, in in their vibrant outfits, not giving two shi*s about what anyone thinks about what they are wearing. Those ladies make me smile daily!
Hey, I’m a believer that as long as your hoo, haa and wonder twins aren’t hanging out and flopping in the wind then you are dressed appropriately. I like your flair and sense of style. It’s fun and I’ve never seen you sporting anything here that makes me think Oh honey, NO
Screw that uptight old bitty.
PS. For some reason Typepad is using an old image and username for my comment; Cumo is me, Curtise. In case you were wondering! xxx
Jessica Cangiano says
You rock, Suzanne! I too, like many here, in a firm believer in dressing absolutely however your heart desires regardless of age. If others have a problem with your style (which is flat out stellar, BTW), that is their issue, not yours in the slightest.
Whenever a situation like arises for me, I like to think of this image. It always gets me through and reminds me to walk to the beat of my own fashion drum no matter what: http://cdn.memegenerator.net/instances/250×250/46309740.jpg
Aaarrrgghhh!!! I’m sorry but I can’t hold back my anger and disappointment at that comment you received. Advising women to stay in a cultural box is so bad. We have enough pressures to conform. Fashion is one of the few areas we can express ourselves freely and, I have to say, I adore your style. I pick up ideas from you all the time.
Alison @ Get Your Pretty On says
Anytime “shoulding” is involved, it doesn’t end well. Just one person’s opinion. One person that for whatever reason, feels the need to judge other people’s choices. Whatever. I’m over 40 and wear what makes me feel comfortable, not what society or anyone thinks I “should”. And for the record, I love your sense of style, there’s nothing inappropriate about it. You’re quirky, fun and absolutely elegant. You’re never, ever boring. That’s what I love about you.
Aya in Couturgatory says
Under 25??! Yeesh. How many women under 25 have their personal style already figured/sorted out and have the financial resources to acquire it? I envy them if they do! When I was 25, I was still shopping in the kids’ section of Target.
I agree we all have our own ideas of what we should wear, but one of the reasons I think I fell in with the 40+ blogging crowd is the originality and the daring expressed by the bloggers I read. I want to look at women who wear clothes that express their personalities and what they feel!
I find so many fashion blogs boring because it looks like the same stuff shown in retail windows, worn over and over again, in varying colors. It’s a treasure to find a blog like yours, in which you express multiple style ‘personalities’ and looks.
That said, I’ve been contemplating what I’ll feel about the appropriateness of my dress as the years go by. I have some runway left before I hit 40, but as most of my friends are married with children now, I feel I stand out more and more, dressing like “a single girl” as one friend put it (though in a totally positive and complimentary way.) Yet another reason to keep reading the blogs of ladies ahead of me in life so I can stay inspired!
Sue @ A Colourful Canvas says
Look forward to the reveal!
Sue @ A Colourful Canvas says
hahaha…that’s cute Jessica!
Val @ Muse Fondue says
I’m stunned she would imply that you don’t have elegance! And that berets are only for people under 25. I thought all these over 40/50 fashion blogs were starting to make a difference in people’s opinions, but I guess there are always hold-outs. However, I think the best thing I notice on blogs in acceptance, and I think we should also accept differing opinions. Conjecturing about the commenter’s shortcomings is a unfair.
I wholeheartedly agree with you Val. I have not done that but I cannot control what other readers will comment on the subject. Some were more outspoken with their words than I would choose to be, most definately.
I did not start this conversation to be mean to someone. I simply wanted women to look at other women without judging.
As women we are doing a disservice to other women when we judge them based on age or tell them their fashion choices aren’t elegant.
I could have let everything else slip…it is when she wrote that I lacked elegance that I simply felt I needed to respond.
Thanks for writing Val. I value your input.
Hooray! I’ve achieved my goal. I never want to be considered boring : )
I couldn’t agree more about certain blogs. SO Repetitive. I almost thought they were the same person.
I do feel that as we age our style evolves and I have often found that my previous thoughts or barriers have moved. When I was 16 I thought I’d be wearing suits all the time when I was 30! LOL Well I did for a bit, but that was because it was a uniform for work. As I age my preconceived ideas about what I’ll be like when I am older stretch along with me. I hope that the elastic doesn’t snap back on me one day.
I’m saving that! I love it : )
Don’t worry…these twins and the hoo-haa ain’t gonna be exposed anytime soon ; )
I couldn’t agree more Bonnie. It is sexist and it is also ageist.
I have seen Advanced Style and I loved it.
I honestly don’t mind some constructive criticism. Like, that colour doesn’t suit you, maybe it’s a bit short etc. I’m not looking for a bunch of yes men. I want reader’s to be honest with me. I try my best to be honest with them. But I think the elegant comment really was an extra that wasn’t necessary to get her point across, thus why I took issue with it.
It was funny Debbie because I didn’t see it until a few days later.
I know, I thought the same. 25? Crap.
You and I love our berets : ) What would she say about the entire French population? LOL
It is so sad and so true that women our own age are the ones most likely to say something like that. Sisters should be sticking together!
Val @ Muse Fondue says
Suzanne, I’m not directing any criticism towards you at all. You’re always so gracious. I was just disappointed at the childish reaction of some comments. I think that tone calmed down as time went on – I didn’t read all the comments.
LOL yeah…some of it was a bit shocking to me too…but not really when I know that is just their personalities. I have a feeling that they deal with people making negative comments about what they wear on a regular basis, so their buttons have already been pushed quite a few times.
The comments were tamer later on. : )
I must say that I think everyone should dress how they feel. I don’t think age is that big of a factor, fashion should tell people who we are. I am not under 25 and I wear a beret! LOL! I enjoy your clothing and love that you are not dressing boring.
I’m still shaking my head, really, really, she seriously said those things? What a dim whit. It’s not really about FASHION it’s about STYLE and you, my friend have that in the bag. You’re right on the money when you stated that you wear what you wear with confidence and that’s all it takes to make it stylish. I’ve told you this before, but I absolutely adore the way your creativity shows forth in the way you present yourself to the world. And, its always classy, stylish and unique. I’m 51 and I’m not giving up my torn boyfirend jeans for anything or anyone, nor any of my berets. There’s many times I ask myself “Could ya, would ya, should ya” and for each of us the answer will be different and thank goodness for that.
There are two things at play here: fashion and the fashion industry. It is like the difference between faith and religion. Your commenter speaks the language of a dogged, self-perpetuating fashion industry philosophy. Bloggers, street style photographers and even some elements of the fashion industry who use ‘real’ people and older people as models make some difference (although I do question their motives-call me cynical), but ultimately the fashion industry aims at the young and is based on the young, and whether we like it or not, that influences people to have opinions about what ‘should be’. With age comes the realisation that this is all a crock of poopy. Arbitrary! Defined by people who just come out ballsy enough to speak like it is a truth. But backed by money. It’s why I end up thrifting, and maybe many of you too. What is sold is aimed at the ‘young’ too. There is this imperceptible barrier in stores that differentiates clothing of the young and clothing of the old(er) – and that applies for the larger of us as well. Why does what is marketed to us over 40’s come in styles and patterns that typecast us as such. Without imagination and thrifting, regular retail choices that we are ‘supposed’ to go to as ‘age appropriate’ are limiting. I love this photo of you! You are stunning. And elegant. But for me elegance is ‘a’ style. It’s dinners out and high tea on Galentines Day, or gallery viewing, or just coz. Maybe it is semantics, maybe she means ‘classy’ or ‘respectful’. But sometimes you want to wear jeans and a beret and look beautiful, like yourself, comfortable, ‘dressed’, but not necessarily elegant. I feel sad for youth, they don’t yet have the insight to know that with age comes less restriction rather than more-when you can feel comfortable with who you are and make choices based on that rather than what a bombastic, overly moneyed, superficial industry dictates-that is freedom! Sorry about the ramble. Xxx Love your blog mostest!
Jean at Dross into Gold says
Hi Suzanne! I don’t know that I’ve ever commented here, or perhaps even visited, although I think we frequent many of the same places in the blogosphere. My excuse is time, and I apologize! Since I don’t have any historical frame of reference in any of this, I’ll just say that: 1) I like your shorts outfit above and I think the colors/silhouette compliment you beautifully. 2) Who gives a damn what someone else thinks? That can include you and the lady who made the comment. You can laugh at her certitude about age and appropriateness of attire, and she can laugh at your outfits. Don’t let it get to you, just laugh with her!!
Not giving a damn, with a generous heart, can truly be one of the perks of getting older, or so I’d like to think. I’ll be back, BTW. I really do like that outfit!! Would I wear it? No, because it doesn’t suit me, not because I’m too old at 60. I can’t wait to see what you’re wearing at my age. I bet it’ll be fabulous and suit you perfectly.
Swear word warning:
Oh, and because I didn’t say enough in the last comment. I told my boy about this and asked him to look at your blog. I asked him if I dressed in an age-inappropriate way (and I think I am nowhere near as elegant, classy and gorgeous as you), and he said, and I quote, that the whole ‘idea was ‘fucked up!’ What I don’t get is why, when so many people think differently about this whole thing, it perpetuates. All we can do is what you are doing, changing things one blog post at a time.
I am watching True Blood (now, now, be nice) and the American Vampire Leaugue was hosting a conference about good human/vampire relations. The head-honcho was asking vampires to be on their best behaviour because not only was the press going to be there, but also the bloggers! Bloggers have power. We make change. You make change. Good on you. And all the fabulous ladies and gentleman here.
I’ll stop writing now.
Red Tag Chic Los Angeles says
Hi Suzanne…..I for one have no clear idea what a 25, 40, 50 or 60 woman should look like….hahaha! I dress for myself and what I think is best to enhance my personality. It’s all about being yourself & being happy in your own skin day in day out. So just go girl…..I love you!
Here’s my thoughts … I read your post but have not had time to read comments (it’s after midnight).
Somethings are for any age e.g. berets, scarves, shoes, coats, skirts, blouses, dresses, pants, jeans etc.
I love your style! You are unique, original, elegant, sometimes casual. Clothes are an expression of who you are and what you feel like on any particular day.
You, my dear, are blessed with a gorgeous figure and youthful look so you look good in everything. Perhaps some women would not look as good in some of your outfits, but if a woman likes to wear something that makes her happy, I say, what’s the harm?
We all will have different tastes and preferences, that’s why there’s such a variety of styles being made. I’m glad we don’t have to wear uniforms!
BTW – great interview at Sylvia’s!!!
Keep on being you, you’re doing it right!!
Happiness at Mid Life says
What a great post and I am really enjoying the comments generated by this. I had to go back to Sylvia’s post and read through the comments.
I can see why you were hurt by this comment because it attacked your judgement but more importantly that you do not dress in elegance which I totally disagree. I always enjoy visiting your blog because of your unique style that is different from what I see. I wished I had the finesse to pull of half of what you wear.
For me personally, I feel much more comfortable in my own skin now that I am in my 40s than when I was 25 and wearing anything short and tight. I still wear fitted clothes but I make sure it works to body and I feel good in it. I try not to let age dictate what I wear but use my own judgement and wear what makes me feel good. I have never felt good in low cut tops so I didn’t wear them in my 20s either. And I haven’t worn a beret since I was in high school for church (we were required to wear it for church)…does that mean I totally missed my opportunity to wear them?
Love your great sense of style – don’t change a thing!
Your hair match perfectly with this purple top!!! Love it! xxx
sandra @ Peaches Mcginty says
Opinions? agree or disagree, I disagree! I love the way you dress, always beautifully and with amazing colour and style, and I love the freedom of dressing exactly how I wish, I may have an awful lot of peculiar combinations and clothes that don’t ‘flatter’ but I still always love what I wear and I love to see individual sartorial expression from others x x x
Shelley Long says
Not sure I have anything to contribute that hasn’t already been articulated by one or more commenters, but here goes…
I agree with everything you’ve said in this post Suzanne, and I have spent my life getting to a place where what I wear is determined by what I’m doing that particular day, and how I’m feeling, nothing else. I love the shiny shorts outfit, and have spent many weekends this winter in my denim short shorts layered over colourful printed leggings with boots – age appropriate? Many people would say not, but like you, I always have people stop me to tell me how much they love what I wear and that my outfits make them happy. That means more to mean than having someone think I look “elegant”. Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly oozed elegance from every pore, elegance has never been my personal style goal, and it’s certainly not going to be now that I’m over 50. I look to people like The Idiosyncratic Fashionistas, Debra Rapoport, Sue Kreitzman and some of the other women who were featured in the british documentary, Fabulous Fashionistas as my style inspirations for my senior years. Bold and funky it is!
You have a cool style that is all your own, and you come across as an attractive, confident women who enjoys dressing up. There will always be someone who will point out that because we’re not wearing a tasteful dress, or a tailored suit that we’re not dressing age appropriately. Personally, I think we are having more fun than those people, I mean, who would you rather hang out with – Betsey Johnson, or that elegant, age-appropriately dressed woman who works at your lawyer’s office?
I totally agree that fashion should make a statement as to who we are as people.
I’m so glad I won’t be the only one wearing distressed jeans after 25 ; )
Thanks for commenting Trina.
I knew you’d have something brilliant to add Charlie : ) Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
Thanks for your first time vista and comment Jean : )
“Not giving a damn, with a generous heart,” is something for me to work towards. As women we need to lift each other up, rather than push each other down.
ha ha! I forgot about that episode of True Blood.
I do hope that by changing the idea of what people perceive a woman “of a certain age” should look like we can shift the whole concept so that it is no longer about age at all.
You do a good job of promoting a different vision from what people would normally associate a woman of a “certain age” to look like. I qualify your style as ageless dressing, which is wonderful.
I agree…what’s the harm?
I guess I need to look at it as it was on a blog that was designed as fashion and style inspiration for women over 40 and she obviously felt that I’d missed that mark.
In the end it came down to her having a vastly different opinion than mine about what is appropriate and what is elegant.
Ideally I’d love to shift the paradigm on fashion and women as we age.
Yes, it has turned into a rather hot topic.
For the record…I think you’d look great in a beret : )
I have to admit it was your quirky style, choice of eyeglasses and brilliant sense of humour that attracted me to your blog.
I agree. When I see someone dressed differently or with more colour I automatically assume that they are more fun to be around.
Suzanne, I am pretty upset about the comment you received from that reader. Fashion is a form to express yourself, your personality independent of age. Your style is unique and impeccable. I never ever had the feeling your style wasnt underlined of elegance. Keep your style up, I love and so do your readers. There are always haters, dont let it ever get to you.
Smoking hot, I love that outfit with the shorts (and your amazing legs that shouldn’t be covered up, give the world far more years to admire them!). You look extremely chic here, something that maybe somebody like Mary Portas would wear, and she’s over 40 and not showing any signs of losing her personality just because she’s reached a certain age.
I think it would be hard to just go for elegance as an older woman, if that’s not what you were about as a younger woman. If you see what I mean? Doesn’t our personality get stronger, not diluted? So yes, Grace Kelly would probably have aged most elegantly had her life not been cut short, but do we think Beth Ditto is going to just go for ‘elegant’ as she advances in age? Probably not.
Anyway, 5 years until I’m 40 so we’ll see what happens to my sense of fashion when I hit that landmark!!
Kacie's Kloset says
You look fabulous!
Oh who cares what that person said. Just blow that kind of comment off. You look amazing my dear. Stay true to yourself! XO, Jill
Anne the SpyGirl says
I love your list of positives.
The commenter was ignorant and clueless, I’m sorry that she hit a nerve.
Maybe she thought she was being humorous? Fail.
Agree wholeheartedly with what others have said.
You are true to you, vive la différence!
I’ll share two things I’ve been told that hurt/ made me livid.
1) “That looks like a hospital gown.” (About a tunic that I designed, both print + style. This was said to me directly.)
2) A comment on some sketches that I posted: “it was also so weird to see your sketchbook because I could have sworn those were my sketches! Sketching fast tends to look the same between artists, is my guess” So wrong, in so many ways.
Anne the SpyGirl says
Oops. Thanks for linking! I like your libation solution!
Grunge Queen says
Ah, this is a meaty post Suzanne, and forgive me if I’m not as articulate as the others, but here’s my two-cents: it’s tricky being in the style blogosphere as you open yourself up to criticism, some constructive, some not. We all say we want honesty but when we get a negative comment, it can hurt – we’re human, after all – but it’s an odd paradox, isn’t it? We say we dress for ourselves and do what makes us happy, which is how it should be, but when others don’t agree with our style choices, we feel the need to defend those choices, as though to seek approval, or at the very least, understanding. It’s hard. I’ve had only a few negative comments (and from anonymous readers) and I reacted with anger and a sense of injustice, I can’t deny it. The fact is, you are comfortable and happy and resplendent in your style choices. I happen to love your style. But who the heck am I? Cripes, I’m wearing sweatshirts these days! (But oddly, I’m cool with it 🙂 ). I don’t let my age dictate my fashion choices – heck, if I’m going on a 1990s revival I’m certainly not! But on the other hand, though I’m happy with my ever-evolving style at 43 and most certainly laud those bloggers who proudly proclaim themselves 40plus style mavens ( and indeed these bloggers form the core of my blogger community), I don’t personally identify overly with the 40plus blogger concept (first time I’ve said that in blogland). For me, it seems paradoxical to say my age has no bearing on the way I dress, and present myself as a stylish person of a specific age. I just am who I am, forever changing and still in my 20s in my head! Xoxo
Hi Suzanne. I’m sorry that this comment upset you so much. Do you think it was wrong of me to leave it there? I guess I did because I just saw it as the opinion of one person. We’ve had discussions like this before on the site and it’s an opinion I’ve heard before and it’s one that’s even expressed in books and on tv.
I guess the problem was that it was expressed as a direct result of your photos and therefore insinuating that you are not elegant. Of course I don’t agree with it at all. I believe you look great, arty and all those things in your list AND elegant. So I hope that you can just accept it for what it is. The opinion of just one person. You have no idea what she looks like and perhaps if you did, you would not take her opinion seriously at all. I think it’s best just to listen to the opinions of the few you really respect.
To Vix I just wanted to say that all kinds of women visit 40+ Style. Women that like guidance and women that are confident and fashionable. It’s a website with inspiration, style ideas, fashion trends and yes general style advice that applies to almost all women. Women like to be on a site that focusses on 40+ women. ALL kinds of 40+ women. And yes, the few articles that give out some advice on how to dress after 40 are very popular. Should we dismiss those women outright then? Not everyone is confident about dressing themselves. Some feel uncertain on what to do. Some like to take inspiration from other women. That is also why the interviews with other 40+ women are popular. Women like to get inspired, like to get more courage with their own style, like to know how other 40+ women approach style. Women like Suzanne can really help with that.
In the end I think we should respect everyone’s opinion. Some believe in ‘age appropriate’ dressing, some don’t. I think it’s important that we all do what makes US happy. Better not to listen to the opinions of others because you will NEVER please everyone.
I hope the outcome of all this will be that you will feel even better and stronger about your unique style Suzanne and don’t give a woot about what anyone else thinks!
By the way, my husband actually commented on your article saying that he really liked your style… Not very often that someone’s style really appeals to him…
Mrs C says
How did I miss this?? One of the best read ever in my history of blogging. I got the same comment in real life, among people I live here and I don’t give a freaking *&#$ about what they say. Just because they have no style and personality, I don’t have to jump off the cliff with them. You are stunning and have inspired many of us women over 40. Keep wearing them barret, distressed jeans, shorts for as long as you feel like. I know I will.
I CANNOT believe someone said your sketches looked like theirs! How ridiculous.
I actually had someone on Etsy tell me to take down one of my cards because I’d “copied” her work! When I went to look at her card the only thing similar was that it was a pug. She even threatened me with legal action! LOL She was delusional. And my husband “the lawyer” told her so.
How cruel of someone to say something about your work like that. I get mad when it is about me personally, but I can’t even tell you how much more it hurts when someone has said that about something I painted or created. You must have wanted to punch that person in the face.
Once, at a trade show, I had someone tell me that my roses looked like poop. Yep. POOP. I was so stunned I didn’t even know how to react. The sad thing is that those comments stay with us the rest of our lives.
I loved this Kelly.
I always wondered why I wasn’t including over 40 style, 40+ blogger in my meta tags and keywords for my blog. But now you’ve made that so clear to me. I was never interested in defining myself based on my age. I honestly don’t even know if I’ve mentioned age before in a blog post up until I did the interview. I was exactly as you mentioned, happy to be myself and allow my fashion and sense of style to evolve at whatever age I am.
Thanks so much for commenting.
Thanks for commenting Sylvia.
This has been quite a hot topic as you can see.
I think you were right to leave the comment up.
I continued the conversation because I want to promote the idea of excluding age from the equation when we dress ourselves. Dressing ourselves should be based on personal taste, level of confidence and body shape regardless of our age. I consider age appropriate dressing to be an antiquated belief. Something that should be retired along with the notion that women should be barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen. That is how old fashioned and out-of-touch dressing our age seems to me.
I’ve never been obsessed about my age or promoting the fact that I’m over 40. I’ve always been focused on what I like to wear regardless of my age. So coming out on your blog and actually saying my age and promoting that fact was a first for me and opened a whole new can of worms.
To be honest, knowing your readers and the style sense you promote on your site I knew from the outfits you chose for the article it would controversial.
I would have let the whole thing slide but her last sentence struck a nerve and I couldn’t let it go. Fashion is like art, subjective. I didn’t feel that she had the right to dictate what was elegant or not since it implies if you are not, then you are lacking in taste.
The more I thought about it the more I thought that age shouldn’t dictate what we wear. That is why I decided to expand on the idea on my blog.
I actually now feel that this has been a great learning experience for me. To see the outpouring of support from all my readers and other people that haven’t written in before is overwhelming and heartwarming. It proves that we as women do have a strong sense of self and are willing to fight to maintain our right to express ourselves through our clothes as we age rather than dilute our choices to please others.
I read a great response to a similar topic on a website for men that I have posted here where they addressed people with websites such as your Sylvia that are guiding and making recommendations,
“By the very nature of discussing how to develop one’s self, whether that be through your clothes, mind, or body, you’re going to have to make a judgement in order to know what’s going to assist someone in taking things forward. We can say that certain cuts, and styles of clothes can alter how we perceive and view the body, certain colours and fits can date and alter whether we look tired and dull or full of energy and life. So knowing that it would make sense to share that with others, particularly on a blog like this where you’re likely to come across because you’re interested in making some sort change in your life when it comes to your clothes.”
Thanks again for taking the time to comment Sylvia.
Thanks for the support Jill : )
Thanks for commenting Porcelina.
I think the term “elegant” actually means something different to each person. I view it not only as having good taste, but also confidence and panache which can take many forms.
I think you will see once you hit the big 4-0 that things don’t really change. Life doesn’t stop in its tracks and you can continue to be the same person you were before you hit 40, maybe even a better version of yourself.
Thanks Fleurani : )
Cheers to my haters! Have patience…there is plenty more where that came from ; )
I don’t think that lady was trolling. I think she genuinely believed in what she said and, really, this is the consensus of most people (i.e. that people should dress their age, whatever the f*ck that means). I don’t personally subscribe to this line of thinking, since I really, really, reaaaalllly don’t like being told what do to. Hehe. So of course, my advice would be to simply ignore this person.
I just do what I feel (and I just so happen to feel weird, crazy, juvenile pretty often). 😀 I mean, I agree that at a certain point, I would look utterly ridiculous wearing certain things, but I’ve seen fashionistas well into their 40s and 50s wearing things that not even I could pull off and they do it flawlessly. So, I think as long as the style sense is there, age shouldn’t be that much of an impediment. You can wear what you want, but obviously there’s more pressure as you get older to really get it right. ;P
There will always be people who will criticize what you wear. I don’t think her comment classifies as constructive criticism. It sounded to me like she was telling you what not to wear and no one has the right to do that. Period.
Hi Suzanne, a new visitor here! I think of Iris Apfel and all those gorgeous beauties featured on Advanced Style on regular basis. Aren’t they amazing? Age appropriateness? Come on, we are just kids at our 40 something. 🙂
You have your own style and sense of beauty and harmony, you know yourself and seem to be happy with yourself, you look amazing and interesting! And that’s what matters! People will always talk… about our age, our size, our style, our anything… just because we are out there and doing something, just because we dare as Curtise said. We will get upset, but it won’t stop us or force us to change, will it? It is always easier to criticize then to get out there and do something you believe in, in front of people, half of which might be pleased with you, and another half might not. It’s easier to criticize then to find something positive, wonderful, warm and encouraging to say about those who are not like you – and say it sincerely, from your heart! Of course we all are different, and that’s what makes life interesting. But we absolutely can be different and supportive of each other at the same time. Cheers!
No Fear of Fashion says
Women our age are different from generations before us. We have been liberated in the sixties and seventies and we will be damned if we let that be taken away now. So yes, you see a whole new trend of elderly women wearing whatever they like. But… (sorry I have a but), as much as I agree with you…. personally, if I wear shorts at the age of 60 or mini skirts, I don’t like my image in the mirror. There is something wrong with it. It may be caused by two things: 1) I am either still brainwashed with the old attitude thinking I could not, I should not and 2) I am just not the type anymore to wear these things. Or never was but didn’t see that when I was young.
Perhaps my skinnies are too much for my age as well. If so, I choose to ignore that completely because I love that image in the mirror.
So I just do what I want and let others do what they want. Live and let live.
Better late than never…
Great discussion here, Suzanne. It was a negative comment on my blog, not aimed so much at age but ugliness, that kicked off the travelling yellow skirt freak show. It made me question what I wanted from blogging and my own style choices. Well, it’s pretty clear nothing, NOTHING is going to shake who we are and how we express ourselves in our style choices. The experience made me more clear-headed than anything. Looks like it has for you too. Stronger in the end. And how bloggers rally around with support is awesome! You wear those shorts like no other – if Bill Cunningham were in town he’d be whipping out his camera.
Rachel D says
Suzanne, I have trawled many blogs supposedly aimed at what women over 40 ‘should’ wear and most are condescending and preachy- and tend to assume everyone works in an office. I work in the heritage sector and it can be tricky to find happy, individual, stylish (and warm) clothing that works in that environment. I find your style very inspirational and for me, it’s made getting dressed for work something to enjoy rather than endure. Thank you.
I love your style, and not just because you are close to my age group – I would love your creativity and spunk and sense of humour that shows in your style regardless of whether you are 20, 30, 50 or beyond. I appreciate whenever I see any woman who exhibits sense of quirky stylish-ness, it is so nice to see that there is someone who enjoys life, including getting dressed, and it is especially nice to see in someone who lived a little. I also refuse to give in to societal constraints – I have never done that up till now and I am not about to do that now. On the contrary: I intend not to get beaten into beige shapeless submission! You just keep going, Suzanne!
Having looked at the last post of this wonderful thread, I am a LITTLE (30 months!) behind, but your knowledge and self-awareness have been quite insightful and most helpful to me on my own “journey”.
You see, I am a transgender woman who recently began Hormone Replacement Therapy and I constantly struggle with not being “pretty” enough during this awkward phase. But as your less-than-civil beret-disparager above and those I have been in contact with have shown, people are more than happy to share THEIR thoughts about how THEY think we should live out lives. Ugh…
As you illustrated in your above writing, we ALL get to live our lives as we choose…wear that beret if you like…head out the door, even if you are stubbly and not feeling cute. We ALL get to present ourselves in a manner of OUR choosing and, here’s the hard part, ignoring those really have NO say in how we choose to conduct our lives.
We humans are hard-wired to care about what people think because we are a social animal, but where does it end? Who get the final say on our hat choice/hairstyle/skirt length/shoe choice/hair color, etc? WE DO!
As an example, my daughter is, as she identfies, a bo-ho chick. She love long flowy dresses undercut hair styles and so on. People talk about her style (not positively) enough that she has some tough skin about it and does not tolerate it. A number of people have recently told ehr that she and her SIX YEAR OLD daughter look and act mannish!!! What human being in their right mind woudl walk up to a stranger and her daughter…only to tell them that? Some people are just cruel. But, as my wife says…”hurt people hurt other people”.
So I now live by the old adage…”What people think of me is none of my business.”.
Thank you again for a wonderfully inspiring pieice that came to me at a critical time in my transition.
suzanne carillo says
Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on this Katherine.
I can’t imagine the difficulty you face daily.
One must have a very thick skin to get through the day.
It is so important in life not to allow the perception of others to creep into our personal reflection of self. It can be challenging to maintain our unique identities when the world wants us to conform.
I wish you continued success and perseverance on your journey. Every step takes you closer to your whole.