Thursday, January 11, 2007

When Did 40 Become the New 15?

One of my biggest fashion pet peeves is seeing middle aged women dressed as teenagers. It doesn't matter how good you look for your age, if you're 45 and dressed in a cotton mini-skirt with "JUICY" or a similar adjective scrawled across your butt, you just look ridiculous. Same goes for any combination of low-cut tank top, low-rise jeans and tacky super-high heels. It seems that every fashion trend popularized by teenagers gets adapted by legions of women in their 40's and 50's who believe that either they look as good as the teenagers who get away with cheap, revealing clothes, or they're seeking the kind of attention teenage girls receive.

This is a phenomenon that's most obvious in the summer, but I was stuck watching "The Real Housewives of Orange County", and realized that their are entire counties (okay, maybe entire communities) full of women who dress this way year-round! These women go shopping with their teenage daughters and buy the same clothes, despite the fact that they do not have teenage bodies (though thanks to plastic surgery and crash diets, they come as close as they can).


It's obvious that our society places a premium on youth and beauty, and some women who are afraid they are losing one or both of those things are going to do whatever they can to get them back, or simply deny that they're losing them at all.

Even though I'm too young to really understand what these women are going through, it makes me really sad to see such blatant displays of insecurity in women of any age. And most of the women who fall victim to this ugly trend are totally unaware of how much sexier and more attractive they'd look in age-appropriate, flattering clothes.

I don't mean to come off as some kind of fashion fascist, and I'm certainly not advocating that every woman who reaches 40 should stick to Chico's (*shudder*), but I definitely think there's something to recognizing what clothes look best for which age groups. And trying too hard to be someone you're not is never attractive.

Now that "40 is the new 30", and there are so many middle-aged actresses stealing attention away from their younger co-stars, I hope that more women feel empowered to accept and even embrace their age. There are plenty of women in their 40's and 50's who I would die to look like right now (and I'm 20), so why look toward Hilary Duff and Mischa Barton and Lindsay Lohan as fashion idols (they have terrible taste anyway) when you could emulate gorgeous, stylish women like Diane Lane, Catherine Zeta Jones, Nicole Kidman and Julianne Moore? Then again, a few of those women are rumored to be surgically enhanced, so I guess nobody's free from age-induced insecurity.

6 comments:

My Marrakech said...

Oh ouch. I am 41 and I wear low rise jeans (I am short waisted) and heels regularly when I go out. I don't have juicy across my ass and I don't wear mini skirts or anything but long skirts for that matter. I don't think I look trashy. I am slim and I think I look fine. I have to say, your post made me feel depressed.

Meg said...

Hi My Marrakech- It was certainly not my intention to make you feel depressed in any way. I have nothing against low rise jeans and I love heels, but it's a matter of who wears them and what styles they are. No one of any age looks good in jeans that are so low that their butt shows, or are of the super trendy styles popular in stores aimed at teens. I was in no way trying to attack women of any age who wear heels or low rise jeans or miniskirts. My point was that cheap, revealing clothing that is popular on teenagers (and not fashionable or acceptable) is less acceptable on older women who should know better.

Wearing low rise jeans and heels is certainly acceptable (and encouraged) in my book, and I'm sorry that you misunderstood my post to mean that I thought that those things made someone look trashy. I apologize for not being clearer.

Anonymous said...

Ha-ha-ha! I see very few early forties or fifty-something women dressed as teenagers. I am 43 and I wear the latest fashions. What's in style is not necessarily geared toward teenagers, suprise. I wear boot cut jeans, low rise with heels all the time. I have even worn baby doll shirts. Everything I wear is tasteful, though I have shown cleavage occassionally when I go out partying at night. And actually some of the early forty somethings do look as good if not better than the teenagers running around in clothes they are too immature to really rock.

It is actually the mature woman, secure in her self and having real sexual presence, who SHOULD be wearing sexy clothes. Not the jailbait. If you have a good body, why not?

I agree that the asinine an immature Juicy across the butt and obscene glittery message T-shirts are trashy and in bad taste, but that goes for any female of any age. My personal rule is wear what you like, that suits your body type, so long as it is tasteful.

To suggest that suddenly at 35 you should dress in a gunny sack (read: wear Chicos, J. Jill, or other boring a** clothes) is preposterous. Women spreading such messages I’ve found are the insecure ones who have often let themselves go and are envious of the women who are in shape and have the moxy NOT to follow society’s outmoded dictates for how older women should look.

There is nothing pathetic about un femme d’un age certain having it and flaunting it, in good taste of course. Tina Turner, Angela Bassett, Halle Berry, Sandra Bullock, and my Aunt spring to mind. I am very tired of the finger wagers telling grown a** women how they should dress, as if after 40 one is no longer interested in being attractive and sexual.

Yes it’s true, that many women wear clothes that do not suit their bodies. However, that cuts across age lines. A better conversation would be why the fashion industry continues to sexualize very young girls.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to step out and say I totally agree with you. I'm 44 and really ENJOY dressing like an adult. I think American females of all ages have embraced some really tacky trends ("whale tail," anyone?)

When did we decide that women's empowerment included visible thongs, bare midriffs, butt slogans and underwear worn as outerwear? Ewwww.

Having your own style is more than clothes. It says a lot about what I think of myself and others. I hope my clothes say I'm confident enough in my self-worth that I don't want to be 20 again and really worry about how my butt looks in a pair of jeans.

Anonymous said...

I don't want to be 20. I would like to look 20 though. If I could have all my experiences and wisdom and look 20 again, that would be fantastic. But I settle for looking like the best, healthy, sexy 43 year old I can. For me that includes staying the hell away from clothes that don't flatter me. Are you listening Chicos, Coldwater Creek, J. Jill? I look at those clothes and yawn. LaRedoute, Metrostyle, Jones NY, Ann Taylor Loft forever!

Anonymous said...

Bravo!! I'm approaching 40, and I think it is pretty pathetic when women my age wear the tacky clothing teenagers wear. Don't women realize that this desperate attempt to look young makes them look even older? Common ladies, get a grip. Getting older is part of life and we need to embrace it.