The (fashion) rules at 50…



I’ve decided that the word I’m beginning to dislike more than I dislike words like journey, spreadsheet, and moist, is age-appropriate. And yes, it’s two words, but joined together it makes one word.

I get the importance of the concept – especially when it comes to children and teenagers and reading and viewing material – but I resent it when it’s used in relation to age. Particularly when it’s used to describe the type of clothes or hairstyles or music considered appropriate at a certain age. Particularly when that certain age is one that I’ll be celebrating sometime next month.

As I stare down the barrel of 50, I’m actually (and surprisingly, given the problems I had with turning 40) feeling ok about it. Sure, I absolutely need to work on my health, but that has less to do with my age than it does the cumulative effect of bad habits. At the same time as accepting it (as if there’s a choice in the matter), I’m rejecting it as an age or a number – particularly one I need to be appropriate about.

The list of what isn’t appropriate at 50 seems longer than the list of what is. Aside from the thou shalt not show the tops of thy arms; and thou shalt not wear short, tight skirts, I really can’t be faffed going there. The thing is: 50 can have so many fashion faces – all of which are ok and look fabulous. Fifty can be quietly elegant; it can be super-fit in active-wear; it can be tanned and flashy; it can be sexy cougar; it can be power-dressed for corporate success; it can be boho and a tad on the hippy side; it can be something else entirely.  Since when did rules need to apply?

I have to wear something approximating corporate for the office, but as soon as I’m off the bus and able to feel like me again, I’m into long cotton skirts; Bali beach dresses;  and merrell sandals or havaianas on my feet in the summer and flat boots in the winter. My husband complained the other day that it’s pointless buying me expensive jewellery given that I tend to wear leather thong around my wrists and my favourite earrings came from the $2 box at the local surf shop. (Although I tend to think he’s making excuses there…)

I’ve been told that I probably should grow up: buy some smarter clothes; straighten my hair more often or cut it shorter so that it’s more manageable; wear heels occasionally; invest in some botox or fillers for my lines…I could go on.

Given that the words that are used tend to be words like ‘manageable,’ ‘control,’ and ‘hide,’ there’s the implication that in managing my hair – controlling the knots and the frizz – holding in my tummy, or hiding the signs of age are all euphemisms for managing and controlling me. I suppose it’s why so many women over a particular age comment that they feel invisible.

As far as I’m concerned, I don’t feel like I’m an age – any age – even though my passport says different. If anything, I’m more productively creative than I’ve ever been. I’m braver and more adventurous than I’ve ever been. I’m much more likely to ask ‘why not?’ or say ‘so what.’ I’m less likely to care about the “shoulds”.

When it comes to voicing my opinions, the causes that mattered to me enough to have me do the occasional protest march in my late teens and early twenties still matter to me. Sadly these causes are still relevant today – possibly more so – yet I’ve been told that I also should grow-up and understand that things won’t change just because I want them to. My reply is the same as it always was ‘just because it’s been accepted, doesn’t make it right.’

I still believe in dreams coming true, love (and lust) at first sight, and wishing on stars or dandelion seeds, or the words you write in the night air with sparklers. I hope I continue to do so forever.

If growing up and being age appropriate means compromising my beliefs, moderating my opinions, staying quiet about things that I don’t want to stay quiet about, or squeezing my feet into shoes that hurt or clothes that don’t feel like me, I suspect that I’ll be inappropriate for quite some time yet.

If, however, it’s about being comfortable in your own skin; feeling good about what you do, who you are, who you’re with and what you’re wearing; being brave enough to try something new and interested enough to create something new; and doing your best to live your core beliefs (whatever they happen to be); then I reckon I’m about ready to be grown up. Even if I do still like to listen to boy bands and have the start of a massive dreadlock in the back of my hair.

You know what? I think I’m about ready for this flipping fabulous at fifty thing. #FFF

Have you reached a milestone birthday lately? Do you have one coming up? What’s your definition of growing up?

Because it’s Thursday, I’m linking up with the Lovin’ Life crew via Debbish

Author: Jo

Author, baker, sunrise chaser

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