Tuesday, October 13, 2015

How to wear vintage for the 40+ year-old woman, part IX

I promised a little personal summary to this series on wearing vintage for the 40+ year-old, including my best shot at answering the most impossible questions...

Does style matter? Does age matter?

Or, does style matter as you age, and should age impact your style? I say yes, and yes. There are many admirable people for whom fashion is of very little or no interest, but style is something else again. Style is a mode of expression, and even if your style is jeans and a sweatshirt, that is a mode of expression.

Do you feel something is missing from your style? I think that we owe ourselves the self-knowledge of what we want to express and how we want to express it. For me that will always include vintage fashions. I really believe in vintage and what it offers people of all ages.

My vintage manifesto (read in plain text here)

To the second question, does age matter?, I offer a more tentative yes. As we age we simply need to adapt our mode of expression to our current thinking. This is not likely to be exactly the same as it was when we were younger, but in some cases it may be. I can picture a timelessly dressed young woman who stays in a timeless groove throughout her life. However, many of us need to refresh ourselves now and then, updating, for instance, our skirt lengths or color intensities.

Besides, updating is fun—it gives us a chance to pay attention to how we see ourselves and how the world sees us.

Vintage on vintage

You may ask from what age I’m coming on this subject, and the answer is 50+. Is that relevant? For many things not really. I truly believe, as I wrote in the first of these posts, that age can be a state of mind and what you make of it.

If anything, age is a good thing for me. I can remember some of the fashions I offer from their first incarnations, and I have had a lot of time to think about and look at fashion and style. My parents were older when I was born, as were their parents, so I have had older fashions in my life from the beginning.

One of my sets of grandparents and my parents, 1890s and 1950s

Do I run around getting my work done as fast as I did when I was younger? No. I have recently been diagnosed with a condition that slows me down more than my age would suggest, but it doesn’t stop me. If anything, it makes me feel more empathy and concern for others, which I see as part of my business. (I like vintage manners as much as I like vintage fashion!)

Style, not youthfulness, is a virtue

OK, so I do look younger than my age...probably a decade younger than my calendar years, at least that’s what my most honest friends say. I’m just lucky. My photos sometimes make me look even younger, thanks to a bit of blowing out of highlights and other trickery. But youthful appearance is another subject; hardly anyone can hold back the fine lines and grey hairs of experience, but anyone can have style.

Dos and dos

You know those dos and don’ts pages, the ones with the right and wrong way to wear something? I have never liked those and now I feel experienced enough to disagree with fashion dictates without a care. 

Did you notice that some of the points made by my 40+ year-old readers (Readers tips and advice) contradicted others’ points? Yet these women are comfortable with their own styles? I believe that the only don’t that should carry a great deal of weight is this: Don’t wear something that isn’t your style just because someone else says you should. I started this series specifically because I hear women in their 40s and up saying they don’t wear vintage, but they would like to. That is a really threadbare don’t!

This is a time in fashion history in which most everything goes, from minimalism to baroque-ish flamboyance. Women of every age are being seen as fashionable, and there are more and more people living healthy and long lives. 

Do embrace this and enjoy it; most of us are fortunate enough to live in a time and place where our style can be our own. Do it for your sisters who don’t have this freedom, to show the world a better way. Do it for your friends and family, to show everyone who you have grown to be. Do it for yourself, and have some fun.

Rhonda says “Me in my favorite Swirl—(nearly) as vintage as the dress!”

See the previous posts in this series:
Part I Quit acting like you have something to lose
Part II Pin your style
Part III Be bold
Part IV Mix it up
Part V Get off to a good start
Part VI The fit bit
Part VII Reader tips and ideas
Part VIII Other blogs on the subject

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