18.5.10

Great style at any age?

I faced the age-old dilemma this morning: a wardrobe full of clothes, nothing to wear.
Or more specifically, I couldn't decide what I wanted my outfit to say today. As yesterday my outfit left me feeling like 'fat biker chick mysteriously sans biker' today I wanted it to say something different.
For no matter what people say, what you put on your back says everything about you. I could quote Miranda Priestly's infamous 'blue sweater' speech to the end. You know the one, where she explains to fashion-consciencious objector Andy that she may think that she's making a choice that elevates her above the fashion slaves in the Runway officers by choosing a cheap blue sweater but everything about the sweater, from the fabric to the shade of blue, is controlled by the editors, the kingmakers, of the fashion industry. Andy tries so hard to escape that she falls right in and then, at the end of the film, emerges as a beautiful fashion-conscious butterfly.
Andy's clothes dictate her stage of life, her transition from gawky fashionally inept eager newby to straight-jacketed fashionista, until finally she finds her personal and style identity. Lucky her, to discover who she is in the short space of a year.
Look at Carrie Bradshaw, or SJP (the two are synonymous nowadays). Frequently abused for her looks and eccentric outfit choices, her on-screen alter-ego is famed for splashing her cash and yet increasing the incredible theory of probability to read 'the more outfits you try, the more mistakes you make'.

Oh Carrie. It was cute when you were 20. Maybe even 30. But should a 40-year-old woman really be seen in knee socks? In a tutu? Unlike the other three SATC ladies, who cultivated a style from early on (Charlotte was the First Lady, Miranda's outfits screamed Functional Femininity, and Samantha, well she liked to put it right there where they could see it), Carrie just wore whatever, whenever. And that slightly gets my goat. But has she got the right attitude? Is forming a style, a capsule workable wardrobe of pieces that you know and suit something we should reserve only when the cry of the store, of the runway, is no longer heard by us? Is it right to have fun with fashion, whatever age you and it are?
As I stared at my sprawling wardrobe, I saw my whole fashion life flash before me. What am I trying to say with my clothing now? Do all my outfits scream '22-year-old hipster wannabe rock-chick with an attitude and confidence', or 'desperate wannabe dressing like the 40-year-old fashion crowd who should know better'?
Lily Allen with a perm. Noah Cyrus in miniskirts. Sophia Loren taking 'low cut' to a whole new level. Cathering Zeta-Jones doing 'granny chic'.  Modern fashion is in a seriously weird timewarp. The old are wearing the young and hip labels and the young are buying from vintage shops and raiding their grandmothers' wardrobes. In a world so obsessed with age, when do we stop wanting to look older? Will I get out of bed one day and reach for a high-neck blouse and an A-line skirt, and go pale(r) at the sight of skinny jeans hanging in my wardrobe?
As women get older, some of them have the grace to allow their look to age appropriately with them. Some, however, will dismiss me as a no-nothing upstart and tell me they can wear whatever they want. And they can. Fashion is now ageless. I'm just worried that, with the mass-marketing of fashion, whether style will die a death.
Or whether, with so much choice, style is becoming outdated. Is it now about cultivating taste? A look? It's not just the celebs that are dressing someone else's age - the blogosphere is dominated by numerous girls my age wearing everything from cute floral teadresses to vintage pencil skirts. They dress how they want to dress. They dress like little girls. They dress like older, sophisticated women. They do with fashion what we've been doing since we first started to wear clothes, they dress up, They create a persona, that they can discard as easily as they take off their vintage pumps. Like children, we bloggers are (supposedly) having fun with fashion. So I should try to have some fun. With luck, I'll soon be confined to smart suits. Or, with more luck, I'll get to play dress up in the Vogue accessories closet.
But for now, I wish to have fun with what I wear. I wish I could wear whatever I want.
I mean, I wish I could wear a cross between Season 2 Jenny Humphrey and Season 3 Effy Stonem.

But wait! I'm not 16 and borderline annorexic! Act your age, RedHead. You're a stocky 22-year-old with a penchant for black. Avoid vest-tops and short skirts.

1 comment:

  1. This is so true and quiet funny. I hate when my mother buys something bright pink and looks like it is made for someone more my age (teenager)

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