I’m 46 and I don’t care who knows it. I’m sure some of you would guess it and I’m sure others would argue I don’t look it. Only today I was told I don’t look old enough to have a 26 year old son or a grandchild. It was very nice of the complimentary person, but I don’t really care. I am 46 so would it matter if I looked it? Is there a secret special thing to looking younger? Will I be treated better? Who knows. Anyway, I’m 46. My biggest issues with my age are my utterly rubbish health and my wardrobe. Knowing I don’t care if I look 46 and then seeing me say I have a wardrobe problem doesn’t make much sense does it? Lots of people dress too old for their age, making them seem and act old before their time, a fixed attitude often gets adopted and the world shifts a little bit for every 40 year old who wears a calf length A-line skirt.
This is where I should insert a photographic example of a woman in an aging outfit but I was spoilt for choice. Google ‘frumpy’ and you’ll know what I mean.
It shifts even more for every 40 year old who steals nightclubbing outfits from their young adult offspring. A volcano erupts every time a 40 year old woman wears a plunging neckline or transparent top without a gravity-defying bra.
A crevice appears in the streets of LA every time a 40 year old man renames himself Bert, wears braces and grows a handlebar moustache. Accept your reality and enjoy it. You don’t have to act like a 20 or 80 year old when you’re 40 (although if that IS your gig then enjoy it my friend, be happy), being 40 is great. Being 40 is all the experience with none (or little) of the incontinence. So who do we turn to to dress like ourselves but ourselves in our 40s? What shop is that recipe from? Jacamo? Wallis? I don’t know but I’ve yet to find the written rule book. There are obviously those words that don’t need to be spoken when a 48 year old man wields a replica 80s Adidas bag or when a woman of 47 buys a dress with cut aways in it. On one hand I admire the determination to wear exactly what you want regardless of whether you’re slavishly following trends or whether you’ve worn this style of dress for 30 years and you’re not changing now; but on the other hand I feel like there should be more, a layer of shopping and fashion that is not round, one that we can’t access and have no help with so can we be blamed for looking ridiculous or mundane beyond measure? Yes I’m judging, but I’m not just talking about the choices that we make, but also the choices that we have. Anyway, it’s nothing to worry about, if my crap is just crap, I’m not the Minister for Age-Appropriate Clothing for Ex-Goths and Metalheads, Post-Pubescent Punks and People Who Can’t Dress Down, Even 2 Weeks into a 2 Week Holiday. No, I’m just a person in their 40s trying to be comfortable with my style and questioning whether I ever had one. I have also watched my friends, who used to be hippies, heavy metal faithfuls, new romantics or punks really struggle with the ‘what do we wear now?’ question.
I’ve tried every kind of fashion, non-fashion and trend. Some are a disaster on me, others better, but really I’ve only known one style suit me all my life and I don’t even know if it suits me, I just like it and that’s enough. I bought my first nehru collared tunic from Phool with my Saturday job money at the age of 15. I have loved the simplicity of Eastern design for ever. The last time I bought such a thing was yesterday, a pretty shirt from East but I love kurta and admire a lot of the Asian designs my friends wear. I prefer plain but colourful or simple prints. The main difference, 25 years on, is the design, the accessories and mainly the person inside it.
The only think that seems to be a constant is the older you get the more you have to spend to look good. Where I used to be able to buy a high street dress/trousers from the likes of New Look or River Island I find that I have to pay a bit more and at the very least go to Next and M&S for the basics. I’m the UK average, a 16 and have had four kids. Let anyone who has had one baby fill you in on that, there’s a lot of things that can no longer defy gravity *grim nod*.
Other than the basics and apart from liking Eastern influenced design I have a huge fondness for European lagenlook (which means ‘layering look’ in German) . I have bought a number of pieces over the last few years including a Mary Portas dress which fits into the oversized, layering style of lagenlook that I bought just yesterday (it sounds like I’m always shopping but I’m not, I can’t remember the last time I came home with shopping bags containing clothes for me). Leaders in design of Lagenlook include Sarah Pacini, Rundholz, Privatsachen, Completo Lino, Hebbeding and, well the list is by no means exhaustive and I’ve found the odd piece that fits the look in Primark but that is unusual.
The clothes are normally very expensive and well made, they transcend the changing seasons of fashion but at the same time can be very edgy and fashionable. I have friends in Germany who are extremely chic with what appears to be no effort, which usually means it’s cost them a bob or two. I need a job with a better salary to enjoy such comfort but I keep buying bits and pieces and know that it is never wasted money (the resale on lagenlook is suprisingly good and very consistent). My difficulty with this style of clothing is that because it’s expensive and because I can’t afford much of it I can’t wear it to work on a daily basis because I can’t wear it consistently so I’d rather stick to relatively mundane for work and keep my happy clothes for outside of work.
One day, when my older children are out if uni and relatively self-sufficient or when I win the prize of a better-paid, more enjoyable job, or even when my ship comes in, I’ll wear what I want all the time. I’m sure it will look great with grey hair.