Francoise Hardy, my current style crush
As I wrote in my first contributor post here at Already Pretty, I’ve come to believe that there’s no universal standard of “age appropriate” style. Lifestyle, budget, and especially personality are more determinants of style than age. Still, I must confess that age and some of the attendant physical changes have played a part in the evolution of my own style in recent years, yet in ways that support rather than hinder. I’ve ultimately been able to become more discriminating with my own choices in a way that doesn’t feel limited or limiting.
Comfort has become non-negotiable for me. I will no longer consider any item of clothing that binds, pinches, squeezes, cuts me in half, makes me itch or otherwise causes physical discomfort. One common effect of menopause is that we get thicker and softer through the middle (even if our weight stays the same) which means that some articles of clothing now need to be cut with more ease through the waist to maintain comfort. I’ve also mostly shifted away from tops that cling to my midsection, looking instead for pieces that skim (darts and princess seaming are our friends, too). There’s physical comfort and then there’s emotional comfort. I need both, and have never felt right in clothing that’s too tight or revealing, and that’s still true.
Yet on the flip side, I’ve learned to avoid baggy, oversized clothing. The voluminous look may be edgy and au courant on someone in their twenties or thirties, but someone my age wearing oversized clothing is often too readily perceived as having given up.
Unlike many women my age, I tend to run cold rather than warm. Even in the warmest months, I’ll keep a lightweight sweater handy, and sometimes even a scarf. I’ve developed a bit of arthritis in my neck, and a cold blast from an air conditioning vent on the back of my neck seems to exacerbate it. A scarf of lightweight jacket or sweater with a collar helps.
“Infrastructure” has become more important than ever, and I make sure to get re-fitted for bras annually, and replace those that have become stretched out. As we age, breast tissue becomes softer, the shape of breasts may change, and we may need to try different styles or cuts of bras than those we’ve usually worn. Having the right bra (or not) makes such a huge difference in how our clothing fits and looks, and I consider bras one of my most important wardrobe investments.
Footwear is no exception when it comes to my Must Be Comfortable rule. As we age, we often lose padding on the bottoms of our feet, arches may drop and ligaments become less resilient. Those 3-inch heels that I could “walk all day” in when I was in my 30’s and even 40’s, are now “walk from the car to the restaurant” shoes, if that. Heels of 2 inches or less are as much as I can manage on a daily basis. I also refuse to wear shoes that rub, bind or pinch. If I need to, I’ll go a half or even whole size up for comfort. Totally flat shoes are no longer comfortable either without some arch support. I’ll slip orthotics into my Converse sneakers and tend to find a low heel more comfortable than a totally flat sole.
While I’ve learned to appreciate a wide variety of styles on women of all ages, age has certainly distilled my own style somewhat. I’ve become more confident in my choices, and more discriminating about what works for me. This feels freeing ultimately; and there’s little I miss about the broader style options of my past.
OK, maybe the heels, just a bit….
Has your style changed as you’ve aged? Do you feel freer or more constrained now?
Photo source: here.
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Already Pretty contributor Une Femme is fifty-six, married to the same wonderful monsieur since 1995, the mother of a special-needs teenager and two hooligan dogs, a full-time administrative professional, a coffee-holic, Paris-obsessed, native Californian, and a petite and curvy femme d’un certain age. She believes that personal style is an essential form of self-expression, and started her blog, Une femme d’un certain âge, in 2007 hoping to start a conversation about style for women over 50.