A friend/creative partner/soul sister and I chat on the phone each morning. Over coffee, we discuss everything from politics to funny memes to Ozempic face and back again. It is often hilarious; this is my way of manifesting a podcast for us. We have already given it a name. And that is, “Everything is a thing,” because isn’t it?
Have you all noticed that we have become obsessed with making a big deal about everything? Perhaps it has to do with our 24/7 bloodthirst for news and content, or it’s more about the hyper-hysteria that makes me feel like every newscaster, news outlet, and TikToker is a crazed Jewish mother (trust me, I have one). Still, my friend and I are sick of everything being a gosh darn thing.
Take aging as a broad construct; precisely, how to dress over 40/50/60 and beyond.
One piece in Fast Company touts Frances Valentine, a label founded by Kate Spade and her partner that focuses on a sort of Lilly Pulitzer construct of how older women should dress. BRIGHT. BOLD. MARTINI WORTHY. I’ve been to their shop on Madison Avenue, and it’s dopamine inspired. But alas, a bit too Palm Beach for my more metropolitan taste.
Then the Guardian published a recent piece that noted that style for women of a certain age could feel very confusing. On one hand, we get pissed that designers are not speaking to us. On the other, don’t speak to us as if we’re old. Add in social media overload and the relentless pursuit of the “must have,” and we have a meltdown. It’s a wonder any of us know what to wear.
But one thing most fashion pundits agree on is that you should buy better and less, stick to brands that suit you, and that, as millennials hit their 40s they’re going to take fav brands like Everlane and Cuyana along with them. I think that’s a great strategy, particularly for brands like the two I mentioned who have an ageless appeal.
To add to all this confusion, I happened to catch Justine Bateman on the Today Show this morning, talking about how she won’t alter her face to please society and its notion of what aging should look like. Sitting in her kimono, fishnets, huge hoop earrings, and overdone eye makeup, I thought she looked beautiful but odd. And that’s because my overstimulated eyes are not used to seeing a woman age naturally at this point, particularly on live TV — shame on me. It’s like I didn’t recognize a face free of derm visits, which is ridiculous.
My point? Can we stop making how women age and what we wear a thing?
My take is simple.
I have a well-honed sense of style I’ve been crafting since early childhood
I realize I have a well-honed sense of style I’ve been crafting since early childhood. Style has always been part of my identity, and it continues to be a fun way to express myself and share my point of view with the world. I mix high, low, and everything in between. I pay attention to trends because they inspire me, but I look at them less dogmatically and more pragmatically. For instance, I’m not wearing a dress with a cutout. Full stop. But will I go for a crocheted mini dress in the summer? You bet.
I also have the advantage of never having had to truly “dress” for work. As a lifelong creative professional, I have always been lucky to wear what I want. And that’s something I thought of last night. Many women get confused over what to wear at midlife and post-midlife because they have different markers than mine. I have never had children, and I have never had a conservative corporate job. And I have never thought about how my look needs to change as more and more rites of passage come my way.
For those of you who may be retiring or empty nesting, identity may play a role in a style crisis, but let’s stop making it all a thing.
Justine can laugh off her lines with pride, and anyone else can get poked with botulism on their eleven lines if they please.
I suppose it’s true I wouldn’t have a column if mature style weren’t a “thing,” but can we maybe just take a deep breath and have some fun? Perhaps if we lighten up a bit and stop staring at ourselves and social media with such a gimlet eye we can just realize that nobody needs to tell us what to wear or how to wear it. What I love about this column is that I get to share all the things I love without being too preachy or prissy.
Once you reach a certain age, you’ve tried it all and you know what your vibe needs to be
I met my friend who is over 70 for dinner last night, and she looked terrific in a down vest, fatigue pants, a patterned silk scarf gathered at the neck, and a simple sweater with the most lovely red lip. That’s essentially timeless, and that’s the thing. Once you reach a certain age, you’ve tried it all and you know what your vibe needs to be. Esprit, a brand I was more than enamored with as a pre-teen, has relaunched and now has a pop-up in Soho. And while it gave me great joy to see one of my favorite brands relaunch, there was not one thing in there I would wear for myself, though I saw many things that made me momentarily wish for a daughter so that we could discover this iconic brand together.
I suspect that if fashion/style is throwing you, you may be rethinking lots of other, admittedly more important, stuff in your life, like where to go next in your career, relationship, and home. For me, this is the most “me” I have ever felt, and a little botox or a more expensive pair of trousers can’t shift that. So here is my mantra for you to repeat as you stand having a hot flash in the Nordstrom dressing room:
“I will wear what I please, and I know who I am.”
Style, like everything else, has gotten too serious. Chances are you’ve tackled a lot of important stuff in your life. From heartbreak to heart songs, you’ve got this, and you don’t need a brand or celebrity or me to tell you otherwise. Aging is a thing, and no hysterics are necessary. So whether you’re Team Frances Valentine or Team dancing around your living room to Frankie Goes to Hollywood, RELAX. Getting dressed doesn’t have to be confusing when you trust your gorgeous self to wear and be entirely you and trust you are right where you need to be. XO