"Is this age appropriate?"
"Is this age appropriate?"
We get asked this question and many more like it on a daily basis here at the Sandbox.Is this too young for me? Is it too short for my age? I'm a grandma, can I wear that? — the list goes on.
To us, age appropriateness is more about owning your own style and feeling comfortable in the style choices you are making. What works for one middle-aged woman may look totally silly for the next one. Style is subjective and so is age. As we get older, our health may start to dictate what we can and cannot wear (i.e. no more heels), so in the meantime have some fun with style and don't put yourself in the age appropriate box. You want to purchase clothes that look good on YOU, feel like YOU, and make YOU,YOU! You get what we're saying.
When you see an item of clothing that you are immediately drawn to, and then automatically think, if I was 20 years younger...stop and rethink it. Ask yourself, "How can this work for me now, where I am in my life"? We are not saying that this will work every time — some items just need to remain in teen land, but it works more often than not.
So, to get our advice off the ground, we conducted a little experiment. As you know, we experiment a lot at the Sandbox. We have done this one before, but this time we let two of our fashion-conscious staff members, Talia (in her 20's) and Jamie (in her 50's), put their own outfits together for themselves, not for each other. They were given this tunic/dress and nothing else.
Neither one knew what the other was choosing to pair with it until the photo shoot. After each photo was taken in their own outfit, we got them to switch.
Talia, who is 5' tall, styled it as a dress.
She kept her legs bare for a youthful look, added a funky statement necklace, purple oversized bag, textured knit bomber-style jacket and cute ankle boots.
Jamie, also 5' tall, styled it as a tunic.
To make this piece work for her, she added a black legging, which makes the shortness of the tunic/dress irrelevant. She also picked a bootie, but with the added black legging it’s a more streamlined look. She chose a charcoal jean jacket, black fringe purse, and fun earrings to complete the look.
Both styles reflect each woman's personality and are "appropriate" for their age, even though most women would consider the tunic to be a "younger" item.
Then, they switched! Here is Talia in Jamie's look...
And vice versa.
While some elements definitely work on both women, we think these looks worked best the first time. However! It's clear from our experiment that just because an item may look too "young" or "old" doesn't mean it can't be maturified or youngified. Even though we do this for a living, it still amazes us how much you can change an outfit just by the accessories you add.
10 Bonus TIPS for Dressing...
1. Develop a style that is YOU from the inside out.
2. If that style is very feminine, look for fabrics that drape and have some softness, they don't have to be overly frilly or lacey to be feminine.
3. If your lifestyle is casual, look for fabrics that move easily with your body, that are comfortable but great quality, so they don’t stretch out and look saggy.
4. Make sure your clothes fit your body--find a good seamstress and have them altered to your shape. We can't stress this enough!
5. Jeans are a key staple. If you like comfort, look for ones with some stretch. Make sure you have a couple darker jeans in plainer washes, these are dressier, classic and won’t date too quickly. For casual wear, don't be afraid to try some distressing or even a little rip here and there. For women who own their style and are young at heart, jeans are a great way to maintain their youthful side.
6. Donate jeans that are 5+ years old.
Washes and fabrics of jeans change yearly,so unless your jeans are in great condition,fit you well,and are still in style,get rid of them.
7. Hem at least one pair of jeans for flats and another for heels. Wear them with a funky ankle boot or ballet flat, a strappy sandal or a cowboy boot, whatever is your style. No need to hem a Boyfriend Style Jean as they are meant to be rolled.
8.Think like a French woman -- less clothes, but of higher quality, especially when it comes to classic basics. When you’re 20 and your clothes are the latest trends, they’re more disposable. As you mature you want your clothes to last longer, so look for the best fabrics you can afford. This makes ALL the difference in how well they wear, wash, and keep their shape and colour. Having said that, adding a few fun, less expensive pieces each season is a great way to express your personality, especially for social wear.
9. Dressing in clothes that fit and flatter you and show an understanding of current fashions will keep you ageless.
10. Consider not showing off too much skin. Mini-skirts and baring excessive décolletage might make you look like you’re trying too hard. Moderation is classy.
All that said, much of dressing your age is about your body type, attitude, and confidence. The most important thing is to wear clothes that makes you feel like your best self. Just because you hit a certain age, doesn't mean you have to change your style, you may just have to tweak it a little, so it aligns with the beautiful woman you are today.
Ladies, we love helping you choose clothes that fit and flatter you, complementing your style and age! Come visit us soon...
*Top photo is of actress and style icon Katharine Hepburn (1907-2003)