older woman in kawaii fashion

The Myth of Age Appropriate

colorful alternative style on an older woman

Everywhere you turn there is another article proclaiming what is and isn’t age appropriate aimed at women. Whether mocking older women for choosing clothing that seems “too young” to pointing out when a youthful female celebrity wears something “too matronly”. People of older generations always chided us with variations of “you’ll grow out of” dressing alternatively, our passions will be trampled by responsibility and needing to “look the part” as adults. However when I look around at all my fellow grown-up weirdos I realize we haven’t grown out of it, and that age appropriate it just another way the dominant culture polices women’s appearances. Many of us have found ways to carry what inspires us into our daily lives, office culture is not the suit-and-tie cosplay it used to be, and lots of us still rock the “weird” styles we did in the past.

As I’ve aged, from an awkward baby-bat gothic girl who cut her own hair (terribly) to a 36 year old vintage-addict with a lot of doll dresses (who still cuts her own hair)- I keep being confronted by these weird “age appropriate” articles/themes and pressures. Many of these articles have lists of rules: no glitter after 25, after 30 you need to tone it down, after 40 you might as well be invisible and should dress that way etc. Mothers should be demure, girls should be coquettes, and businesswomen should wear man-drag to be taken seriously.

gothic lolita nun photoshoot

It helps to examine these rules and concepts directly, as up-close they make absolutely no sense. It’s all just part of the way our society preys on women by amplifying insecurities in order to sell stuff to them, and they make billions doing that. Age Appropriate is just another method of homogenizing and controlling women of all ages- wear this not that, be pleasing, be quiet, be sexually available, be a good girl, blah blah blah infinity. There’s no way to do it all correctly simultaneously and that’s the point. There’s always something else to make you feel bad and thus buy/join/eat (so they can sell it you).

Yes, there are work situations where you can’t wear your favorite clothes- a busy factory would be a terrible place to wear lolita, surgeons don’t want blood on their favorite platform sneakers, and it’s hard to drive a race car in a ballgown. But the idea that you have to relinquish what ignites your soul just to be considered a “grown up” is a lie, a lie that results in profits for corporations and helps silence and control women (and people of all genders, really).

Often I am told by people at shows “Oh I would *love* to wear cool clothes but I’m too old!” and it makes me feel quite sad. So you’re willing to spend your life wishing you were wearing __ all because you decided to play by someone else’s rules? Seems like no fun at all to me. Style doesn’t have an expiration date, and so many alternative subcultures are spawned out of rebellion- why should the rebellion stop as your age changes? Who are you dressing for- yourself or for some invisible rule maker?

gothic outfit with purevile necklace and gloomth dress

Long story short- there simply is no such thing as “Age Appropriate” clothing. Any clothing is age appropriate if you feel confident and happy in it! Whether that means a 3 piece suit, fluffy doll dress, pvc catsuit, or a giant burlap feed-sack. So go rock your closet!!! Right now! Life is perilously short, you might as well have fun.

Here is one of my favorite photo-blogs to turn to whenever I want to feel inspired about my creative wardrobe choices as I age- http://advancedstyle.blogspot.ca/

-Tae

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