Is Age-Appropriate Dressing still a thing? I Hope Not.

One of the articles in my feed, recently, was titled “Age-Appropriate Dressing: How French First Lady Brigitte Macron, 66, Breaks the Rules. I won’t link to the article (in Zoomer Magazine), because it’s full of tired clichés. It compares the style of First Lady Brigitte Macron, 66, to Queen Mathilde, 46. It talks about the way First Lady Macron manages to look stylish and younger (imagine that with all of the resources at her disposal!) by “breaking the age-related dressing rules” compared to Queen Mathilde who must adhere to more rules expected of her station. My main thought was, “Is age-appropriate dressing still a thing?” I hope not.

I have heard all about the rules growing up:

  • women shouldn’t wear a mini skirt over the age of 35(at 47, 35 sounds so young for any such thought!)
  • for goodness sake, cut your hair short after 40
  • don’t be too trendy
  • don’t get a tattoo that you will regret when you get older (I am fairly certain that if I regret anything when I am older, it will have nothing to do with my tattoos!)

However, in 2020, aren’t we past such restrictive thoughts and opinions? What do these rules say anyway? Don’t embarrass yourself, don’t wear things that don’t “flatter” you, don’t wear something that shows too much, or too little skin, wear what society tells you is appropriate for your size. All to which I say, everyone should just mind their own business.

I admit, decades ago, I watched the likes of Stacey London tell women (men too, but mostly women from what I remember) “What Not to Wear”. Part of her schtick was “tough love” and “she wanted them to bring out their best selves.” A lot of her rules had to do with age. She even had a thing about the appropriate amount of metallic for your age.

I have known many women who have flouted these types of rules. Perhaps, that’s why I tend not to take them too seriously. But I wish I wasn’t the only one. I have nothing against a person feeling better about themselves. Feeling comfortable in their clothes, as though they are portraying the image they wish to portray. But it shouldn’t be based on your age, anymore than it should be about your size, gender or any other outwardly imposed factor.

Other than the realities of our mortality, can we all agree that age is just a number? How someone feels at any given age, is personal. How they wish to express that age, is personal. Similarly a body is perfect at any size for any fashion that feels right for the wearer.

I still hear people, sometimes friends, critique others for what they are wearing. “What was she thinking”, wearing something that short, low-cut, baggy, unflattering, etc. I find myself taken aback that they are concerned with what others choose to wear. Why would anyone care what someone else is wearing? Does it come from a place of the critic’s own insecurities, rather than a real concern for the choices of others?

I prefer to support people expressing themselves however they wish. How someone adorns their body doesn’t impress or offend me. What comes out of their mouth, their thoughts and feelings on life, how they treat people, that is where I prefer to direct my internal critic.

This topic, of course, got me thinking about “age-appropriate” dressing for working out.

Should there be rules when it comes to gym clothes? Running clothes? Again, no. I love working out at a gym where women of all ages workout. I love that women at this gym feel free to wear whatever makes them feel good, while exercising. Some wear baggy t-shirts or layers of sweatshirts (I sweat, just looking at them). Some wear a sports bra and shorts. Some women workout in a hijab. And what they wear is not related to their age.

There are practical considerations about what to wear while exercising. What will wick sweat away from my body, so I don’t get a rash, how hot am I going to get, and therefore, how many layers can I remove if necessary. I admit, I don’t feel totally comfortable working out in a sports bra, but that’s on me and my own insecurities. I usually have a tank top and leggings on (or tank top and shorts if running outside in summer).  But what anyone else thinks of my outfit at the gym or anywhere else, should be irrelevant. I would suggest that if anyone works out at a gym that has silly rules (such as women cannot workout in their sports bra, if they choose – and in peace), then they should find another gym.

I am inspired by people being themselves. And that includes how they choose to dress. In their teens, in their 80s, and every age in between. How do you feel readers? Do you think age-appropriate dressing should still be a thing?

Nicole Plotkin is a law clerk who loves to run, lift weights, snuggle with her husband and two dogs, and wears what she wants. She wants you to wear what you want too.

10 thoughts on “Is Age-Appropriate Dressing still a thing? I Hope Not.

  1. You are so right! It gets me wonder on similar issues I observe around me. Other than the ‘Appropriate Dressing’ I have also noticed things being said about ‘Appropriate colors’ for dressing on a certain age. Anyhow it all appears as a nonsense to me and I certainly believe one should dress the way they like it no matter what age you are.
    Thank you for sharing this post!

  2. We can wear whatever we want! And I won’t give up mini skirts (at 54). What I find, that has nothing to do with “age appropriate” is that i have less patience or desire to wear uncomfortable clothing or shoes. I used to love skyrocketing heels, but now I’d rather be able to walk a long distance at the drop of a hat or dance all night without feeling like I need to rip my shoes off at the end of the evening.

    1. I’m so with you on the comfortable clothing and shoes. I stopped wearing heels ages ago. Between my bunions, and my penchant for walking everywhere, uncomfortable shoes are a no-go. I did wear high heels for my recent wedding, but I knew I would take them off, as soon as the ceremony was over! (Nicole)

  3. I agree with everything in your post. However, I can’t pretend to be a saint. I do notice when someone, whether he or she be 25, 45 or 55, dresses inappropriately in the workplace. And I don’t think we need a handbook or policies, just common sense. Probably my upbringing. I do not judge their character by this, but I do find myself doing a wardrobe little fix up in my head. Just being honest. At the gym, though, as long as they are not nude in front of me doing a downward dog, I don’t even notice.

    1. We’ve all been taught about appropriate dressing in the workplace. About 20 years ago, I remember the law firm I worked at, had a fashion show to show people the “do’s” and “don’ts” of office attire. But so much has changed since then. Most offices I have worked in are now “business casual”, jacket if meeting clients, etc. I think someone can look appropriate in jeans, just as easily as “slacks”. To me how someone feels in what they are wearing, and that it portrays the image they wish to portray is the most important aspect, not others’ impressions of their outfit and whether or not it is appropriate.

      1. Agree. Jeans work these days. I didn’t get specific. My oops. Too much skin, flip flops, club wear, these are things which have given me pause. I’ll work on it. 🙂

      2. I understand the thought process, and what mostly concerns me in those situations, is how they will be treated by others, but I try to think of things in terms of “I’d rather interact with that person in flip flops, club wear, etc., if they are friendly, team-players, etc., than an asshole in an “appropriate” outfit 🙂

  4. I say dress as young as you feel. All that matters is that you feel comfortable in it and it makes you feel good. It doesn’t matter what other people have to say about it.

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