, , , , , , , ,

There are several articles floating around the Internet and Facebook that have a title like: What Women Over Forty Should Never Wear. If you click on the post, you might find a tirade about women being able to wear whatever they hell they want for as long as they want.

I am all for that kind of freedom of expression. I want women to feel their best and be comfortable in their own skin—or to wear whatever they want. Some of my friends in their late 40’s and early 50’s still dress as if they’re sharing closets with their teenage daughters. I don’t judge them. Well, maybe I do—a little. But, I’m not saying they SHOULDN’T dress like a sixteen-year-old if they choose to do so. But this got me thinking…

I don’t think shopping at Forever 21
is a sin after a certain age, but maybe, just maybe, you might be fooling yourself into thinking that if you still fit into a size two, then by-god, you can rock a mini-dress with side cutouts just like a Kardashian. And technically, you might still fit into such attire. But, what is it you’re trying to convey? Do you hope everyone will mistake you for someone much younger? I have never seen this technique work. Let’s be realistic. Everyone will still see you as a forty-something wearing a dress made for a much younger person.

youth culture

teenage girls pic courtesty of Jason Stitt via dreamstime.com/free

At a certain point, you almost accentuate your age by dressing too young.

Newsflash: the teenage girls wearing the same clothes you are wearing are not impressed. They will not invite you into their club.

I remember being at a wedding when I was in my twenties. A friend and I were standing in line for a drink at the bar. A model-thin woman was in front of us wearing a black, short, backless mini-dress, and stiletto high heels. She had long, blond hair (in the days of big hair and hairspray) that hung down her back in platinum Farrah Fawcett-feathers. I remember thinking how pretty she looked from behind. BUT THEN…

She got her drink from the bar and turned around. I’m sure my eyes popped open in disbelief. I tried to cover up my surprise, but I was kinda stunned. When she turned around—the woman’s face did not match her hair or her clothing. It was jarring.  I might have stood there with my mouth open for a second or two before my friend elbowed me and I realized it was our turn to order drinks.

Before anyone accuses me of being jealous of this older woman, I could’ve stepped into her entire outfit with no problem. AND that was part of the problem.  I remember feeling sort of cheated. I fully expected a beautiful, young woman to turn around and instead I got a face that had seen many decades in the sun—in the days before sunscreen. Looking back as an older woman, I must admit that I admire her confidence. But, at the time, I was stunned.

That image stayed with me for years. I asked myself why the encounter bothered me so much. I realized it was because her obvious display of wanting to be young made me sort of pity her. She seemed to try too hard to be ‘cool’ and it came off as tragically sad.  I honestly believe a middle-aged woman can be sexy without dressing like a twenty-something. I swear it’s possible.

So I ask you. Why do some women want to be cool  after a certain age? Shouldn’t the need to be ‘cool’ eventually wear off? I’m not talking about being confident here. Confidence is something altogether different.

I’ve spent my entire adult life surrounded by confident women. I’ve had many mentors who were self-possessed, classy ladies. I have seen older women look sexy and beautiful—but they were not trying to look like the girls on the cover of Cosmo or Vogue. The girls on the cover of fashion magazines are YOUNG. Very young. That magazine is selling the idea of youth.  But, let’s face it. Buying super trendy clothes isn’t going to buy back your youth.

I’m not saying that at a certain age we should breakout the beige granny panties and polyester pants. No way!! However, wearing black leather skinny jeans with holes sliced down the front (see pic at bottom) just because you can fit into them does not magically transport you back into your twenties. A word of caution:  The other women in your reading group/PTA/booster club might tell you how they wish they could fit into the skinny jeans and tight sweater you’re wearing, but that does not mean they think you look younger.

When I was in high school (waaay back in the 1980’s) a mom came to pick up her daughter from an after school drama club. This girl’s mom walked in wearing stonewashed jeans tucked into tall boots and had a red bandanna for a belt. A shiny gold Let’s-Get-Physical type headband was across her forehead. After she and her daughter left, the girls snickeredphyslivv. Why? Because teenage girls can be mean. Yeah, I giggled right along with them and hate myself for it. But, to make my point, we were never going to call her ‘cool.’ We would never think of her as ‘one of us.’

Perhaps we girls felt superior because a  (non-celebrity) adult was trying to emulate our fashion trends—and it seemed sort of pathetic to us. Looking back, I really do hate myself for being so shallow. But, what teenager isn’t the center of their own universe?

So back to what I was saying…

It seems that middle-age women sometimes will try to recapture their youth by dressing decades younger. But, the middle-age men (and even beyond middle age)…well, it seems a lot of them just stop trying altogether.

This weekend, my twenty-something son, my fifty-year-old husband, and I went to lunch downtown. My husband dropped us off at the door of the restaurant and then drove off to find parking. When my husband entered the restaurant, my son whispered to me, “Did you know he was wearing sweatpants?”

No. I. Did. Not.

“Is he, really?”

“Yes. He wears them everywhere, Mom. You should burn them.”

“I’d love to. But, he says they’re comfortable.”

“So, what? Just ‘lose’ them one day.”

And then it hit me. Wait a minute. My flannel pajama bottoms featuring skulls wearing pink hairbows are the most comfortable item of clothing on the planet—but I don’t wear them out in public. Why does he get a comfort-pass?

 AND thus began The Great Clothing Dispute of 2017.


After lunch, we got into the car and began to drive home. This is what transpired:

ME:  Your son thinks I ought to burn those sweatpants.

HIM:  No he doesn’t. Did you say that, Stephen?

SON: Thanks for throwing me under the bus, Mom. But, yeah, Dad. You really need to get rid of those. How long have you had them?

ME: They’re older than you are.

HIM: Sweatpants never go out of style.

ME and SON:  WHAT?!?

HIM: Their classics. Like jeans.

ME: They are nothing like jeans!

SON: Yeah, you’re right. They’re like classic acid-washed jeans. Just like that, Dad.

HIM: (Having no clue what acid-washed is and not sensing the sarcasm) Yeah. Exactly. Your mother doesn’t understand. They’re comfortable. And warm. They’re fleece-lined! That’s a sign of a good pair of sweats.

ME: You’re too old to be wearing sweatpants.

HIM: You’re never too old to wear sweatpants.

ME: Okay, fine. Then you’re too old to wear them out in public—or too young to wear them in the retirement home Day Room.

HIM: You’re being dramatic. Lots of men wear sweatpants.

ME: Not men who are over 45 but under 70.

HIM: Since when does age matter? Movie stars wear them.

ME: I don’t remember seeing George Clooney or Alec Baldwin wearing sweatpants. Let’s settle this argument. How about I Google it?

HIM: Are you kidding me?

Me:  No. (I pulled out my phone and Googled Men Wearing Sweatpants) Okay. Here’s an article in GQ Magazine. Let’s see what they have to say about it.

HIM: *Rolling his eyes*  Fine let the Internet decide whose right.

I quickly scrolled the GQ article and realized I was in trouble. The article was, in fact, in favor of classic gray sweatpants. I hadn’t thought about the youthful demographic of GQ when I had clicked on the article.

So, refusing to have my hubby’s beliefs validated by a well-known men’s’ fashion magazine, I decided right then and there that I’d have to change the article to suit my purpose. Since we were in the car, I’d have to do it off the cuff or lose the argument altogether—which would have meant he’d wear those hideous sweatpants everywhere just to prove a point.

ME:  Here’s the article from GQ. I’ll read it to you.

WHAT GQ ACTUALLY SAID:  Sweatpants are dangerous territory. The wrong cut, context or styling choices can give you an air of “I’ve given up completely” which is never something a man wants to project with his clothing.

I read that part verbatim. *Yay me!* I continued with the article.

GQ ARTICLE ACTUALLY SAID:   For photo evidence on how to avoid that connotation, look to 27-year-old trendsetter Zac Efron, who was photographed wearing the modern-guy staple at Heathrow Airport yesterday. Do you want to trick the world into thinking your incredibly comfortable pants are a stroke of fashion genius all while holding hands with a ridiculously good-looking person like Emily Ratajkowski?

WHAT I SAID:  Unless you are 27-year-old Zac Efron, STAY AWAY from sweatpants altogether. Sweatpants will NEVER be a stroke of fashion genius—not even if you’re walking through Heathrow airport holding hands with a ridiculously good-looking person like Emily Ratajkowski.

HIM:  Who’s Emily Ratatouille?

Me: That’s not important. Did you hear what GQ said?

HIM:  Whatever.

Me:  Let me continue.

WHAT GQ ARTICLE ACTUALLY SAID:  Do not go to Costco and pick up any ol’ pair of gray, elastic-waist sweats and think that’s going to cut it. Your best bet is to look to a retailer that’s known for its sartorial curation like Mr Porter, Barneys, Matches, or one of those stores. You can pretty much guarantee that those sweats will be stylish sweats. We’re partial to athletic styling and darker-than-heather-grey colors but we’ll leave that part up to you.

WHAT I SAID:  Do not wear your Costco blue, elastic-waist sweatpants EVER. That’s never going to cut it. Sweats will NEVER be stylish. NEVER—no matter if they are athletic cut or darker than heather gray. If you own a pair and are over the age of 27, take them out to the garage, find lighter fluid, matches, and a big metal bin. Douse said sweats with fluid and light a match. Bury the ashes in the yard along with any photographic evidence of you wearing such a heinous fashion choice.

WHAT GQ ARTICLE ACTUALLY SAID: Once you own these magic pants, you’re going to want to wear them all the time. Limit yourself to the most casual settings and occasions. Running errands on a Sunday morning, heading out to the gym in the evening, hopping on a plane with your significant other—you get the idea. (Note: If you live in Los Angeles, you can wear them pretty much all the time.)

Me: (Thinking) C’mon GQ!! You are not helping here!

WHAT I SAID:  These are NOT magic pants. There is no way they will ever look good–no matter how comfortable they are. Running errands on a Sunday morning, heading out in the evening, hopping a plane with your significant other is NO EXCUSE to be caught wearing a wretched excuse for pants. No one in Los Angeles would be caught dead wearing these. They might actually laugh you out of California–so do not try it.

WHAT GQ ARTICLE ACTUALLY SAID:  Don’t be the guy at the bodega on Saturday morning in sweats and shearling-lined house slippers, ordering an egg sandwich like no one else in the world exists. Take a cue from Zac Efron. Style the sweats with likeminded day-off staples—a carefully chosen vintage t-shirt and a well-fitting hoodie or pullover—and a pair of top-shelf sneakers.

WHAT I SAID:  Don’t be the guy at the bodega on Saturday morning in sweats—even if they are shear-lined with the warmest fleece. Come on. Why are you ordering an egg sandwich like no one else in the world exists? The people you are with are mortified. Trust us. We are the fashion experts. We would never say it if it weren’t true. So, unless you are Zac Efron, (or any twenty-seven-year old with washboard abs who would look good in absolutely anything even a pair of footy-pajamas) lose the baggy, saggy, noisy-when-you-walk, Oh-So-Sad sweatpants–no matter how comfortable they are. Remember: They are devil-pants. The first chance you get, take the pair of despicable pajama-wannabes and discard them. While you’re at it, take those holey t-shirts that you call ‘vintage’ and that faded NFL pullover sweatshirt with the frayed and out-of-shape-collar from your closet and toss them into a fire pit. Invite your neighbors over for a drink and s’mores. Watch the repugnant clothing burn. If you are over fifty…it’s way overdue. Act today. Note: You can keep your top-shelf sneakers.

HIM: That’s so weird. It’s like they knew you hated my Broncos sweatshirt, too!

ME: Yeah, that is so weird. It is like they knew or something…



Reference: For entire GQ Article click link below: