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What Not To Wear?

Monday, 19 November 2012 | Tags: , , , , , ,

During my fall shopping expeditions I’ve noticed that everyone from Joe Fresh to J Brand is coming out with their version of the coated jean. Whether they’re black, grey, burgundy or silver, denim made to look like leather is one of the biggest fashion trends this season.

In the past, I wouldn’t think twice about slithering into some second skin pants (fake or not). But there comes a time in every woman’s life when she asks herself that dreaded question: “Am I too old for this?”

Part of me doesn’t really care what you think of what I wear.  Certain styles, colours, and cuts aren’t to everyone’s taste.  But I also don’t want to look inappropriate or like I’m trying too hard to hang onto youth.  And worst of all, I don’t want to look like…gasp, I can barely say it…a cougar!

Some of you will say to wear whatever makes me comfortable.  My 10-year-old ratty sweatpants make me feel comfortable, but that doesn’t mean they should leave the house, dog walking excluded.  Going out with Ruby has its own set of fashion rules that start with throwing on whatever is on the floor and pretending I’m wearing an invisibility cloak.  (A Harry Potter reference. See, I’m totally hip to where the kids are at.)

Many fashion trends this season are 40-plus friendly.  Trousers, pencil skirts, brocade, lace; all fine for any age.  But once you hit the back nine, I’ve heard it said that the first thing to go should be miniskirts.  I disagree.  If you’ve got the gams to pull it off, rock it sister.  I tend to stick to styles that hit a bit above the knee and leave my micro miniskirt-wearing to hotter climes where no one knows me. And come winter, I pull on the tights. They hide a multitude of sins.  

I wear a lot of body hugging styles, including said pencil skirts, skinny jeans, and body-con dresses.  I like to think that I’m fitter today than I’ve ever been. (It took me 30 years to realize that you actually have to exercise if you want to be fit.)  But a note of caution, tight is one thing, too small is something else entirely.  You don’t want to look like a sausage casing, at any age.  I often go up a size – in this blue dress, for example – just to ensure I don’t look like I’ve squeezed myself into the smaller one.  (Though I did fit into the smaller size, I swear it!)

A recent UK fashion magazine writer stated that the motorcycle jacket should be saved for the under 40 set.  Uh…NOT!  I can’t live without my many motorcycle jackets.  With so many styles and cuts, a leather or wool biker-style jacket is an easy, non-flesh barring way to add some edge to an outfit.  But ask me again when I’m 60.

Varsity jackets for women are also big this fall. You know, the whole wearing-my-boyfriend’s-clothes thing.  Though at my age, it may look like I’ve raided my son’s closet instead.  Pass on that one.   

If you wear animal print, you stand a good chance of being mistaken for one.  When I see a big swath of cheetah on anyone over 30, I do think “cougar”. I’m sorry, I can’t help it!  Dresses, coats, pants – no thanks.  But a subtle touch of the trend, in a belt, shoe or purse, can look stylish and tasteful.  

I have a pair of half leather leggings from last season.  (Leather in the front, stretchy cotton in the back.)  I like to wear them with a flowy top or big sweater to soften the look.  But you tell me, am I too old for this?

I love fashion and if I see something I like and think I can pull off, I’m going to try it.  Because let’s face it:  time’s a-tickin’ so if not now, when?  To quote the queen of the charming faux pas, Lucille Ball: “I’d rather regret the things I’ve done than regret the things I haven’t done.”  Just keep the cougar references to a minimum please.


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  • Andie

    Animal print has become almost a neutral. On a 40+ woman, with other fashion elements kept simple (wardrobe, hair, makeup, accessories) an animal print piece can be glam and fabulous. Leather, worn as a single element, and in more classic style (clean lines, not distressed, not too much metal) can also be chic and classic. Like everything 40, choose 1 thing to play up. (Like in Makeup: lips or eyes not both)
    Kristina – In the pics, I like the jacket but find the pants a little too skinny. A slightly straiter leg would have been a touch more classy. Dress is fabulous.

  • jhan

    Loved the pants, but agree- no matter what your age- leather pants need the chunky or fuzzy knit to soften the look. Hot!

  • Tracey

    I should have been picked up by the fashion police years ago. I spend most of my days in surgical scrubs and the rest in anything Lycra. Having said that, I think there is no age limit on clothes. I’ve seen 50+ woman rocking mini skirts and looking great and 20 year olds in classy styles worn by first ladies. I think if you look good in it and more importantly feel good in it (and nothing inappropriate is hanging out) go for it!