What is your take on integrating child-inspired elements in outfits? A few examples I thought of: Knee high socks with shoes such as Oxfords. White opaque tights Childlike bows and frills Pigtails. Personally I kind of like knee high socks and pigtails, not so much the other elements, but I would probably only ever wear them in a very casual setting – definitely not for work. I am aware of the problematic sexual innuendos which certain people may associate with grown women using any of these elements. So what do you think?
Oooh, this is a toughie. Aside from the bows and frills, I’ve sported everything on Anat’s list within the past 10 years, so I can understand the appeal. But I’m also aware of the sexual implications of grown women dressing in garments and styles that recall childhood.
Overall, I stand by my previous post on age-appropriate dressing: How a woman looks, feels, and behaves may make her seem decades older or younger than the date on her birth certificate. And although some experts believe that chronological age should shape certain aspects of life, I’m willing to assert that internal age is considerably more important and influential. Especially when it comes to matters of style. There is nothing wrong with wearing and loving items that the general public has deemed “too young” for you, especially if you have the confidence to do so.
However, dressing in truly childlike attire carries risks. Observers may think you’ve chosen to highlight the difference between your chronological and internal ages. Or chosen to ignore your chronological age altogether. It is always unwise to judge someone based solely on appearance, but total strangers will only ever have your exterior and wardrobe choices to go on, and they may jump to several unappealing conclusions if you appear to be a grown woman dressed in kid clothing.
Now, there are ways to make Anat’s examples (and similar items) seem less childlike and more mature. As in all things, it’s about balance. If you’re doing knee-high socks with oxfords, choose a grown-up hairstyle and sophisticated dress. If bows and frills appeal, consider juxtaposing them with tough elements like combat boots, heavy belts, or sculptural jewelry. If you’re doing pigtails, keep them simple and low, as shown above. As elements within a larger context, these things can seem fun, quirky, and cool. Pile multiples into a single look, and you risk overkill.
Finally, as Anat pointed out, many childlike elements won’t be office-appropriate. At least, not until Casual Friday. More creative working environments may have loads of leeway for pigtails and tutu-inspired skirts, so if that’s your situation, take advantage. But a typical office will resist such choices, either socially or through dress code regulations. You might not want to push that envelope, as doing so could trigger professional repercussions.