Ask Vanessa: What Does it Mean to ‘Dress Your Age’?

As we age, what we choose to wear becomes a personal decision, but it still carries associations and assumptions.


The Association of Dressing Your Age

The question of how to dress as we age is one that many people ponder. While it's true that you can technically wear anything regardless of your age, there are often deeper associations and assumptions attached to certain garments.

For instance, I remember seeing a fashion model wearing a tuxedo-shorts jumpsuit and thinking it could be a solution for formal occasions. But upon reflection, I realized that mentally, I wouldn't feel comfortable in it. The issue of 'dressing your age' is not about a strict list of do's and don'ts, but rather about considering the impressions and connotations associated with different clothing choices.

The Evolving Rules of Age and Fashion

In today's society, there are no rigid social or cultural rules dictating what to wear at each stage of life. Any remaining guidelines are often specific to certain institutions or workplaces. The desire to be fashionable doesn't diminish as we reach a certain age—fashion designers may showcase their clothes on young models, but that doesn't mean they're exclusively meant for young women.

How we choose to dress becomes a reflection of our identity and how we want to present ourselves to the world. This evolves as we mature, sometimes more so than our physical appearances or clothing sizes. Personally, I've learned to let go of clothes that I associate with my younger years. Hemlines above the knee, belly-baring tops, ruffles, and slip dresses are now part of my past. It's not just about age, but also about the emotions and memories tied to certain styles.

Making Personal Choices

Choosing what to wear as we age is ultimately a personal decision. I find myself drawn to longer skirts that fall between midcalf and ankle, as well as wider trousers that create a swishy feeling when I walk. I also prefer three-quarter or long sleeves and tucking things in. These choices feel practical and elegant to me, aligning with the values I appreciate. On the other hand, kitten heels and mules don't resonate with me, perhaps due to their names.

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to dressing your age. When I think of stylish women who have embraced their age, I think of those who exude confidence and authenticity—women like Sigourney Weaver, Isabelle Huppert, Michelle Yeoh, Angela Bassett, Lauren Hutton, and Michèle Lamy. They make their own style choices and prioritize what makes them feel good.

In the end, dressing your age is about expressing who you are and feeling comfortable in your own skin. It's a journey of self-discovery, and ultimately, the most mature way to approach fashion.