My friend Robin from A little sewing on the side asked me a good question a few days ago, and all through this busy week I have been considering it.
Robin asked if I would wear a long tunic with tights and boots. At the heart of responding to that question is the larger one of do you ever decide you are too old for a certain look?
Well Robin I will certainly wear a tunic with tights if I decides it suits me.
The rule I have made for myself is not to dress as if I was 25, but not to wear anything now that I wouldn't be caught dead in at 25. This, making sure you don't dress too old, is far, far more important in my opinion than dressing too young.
You see when I was 25 I had my eyes opened while living in Montreal. If you really want to see how ordinary North American women, on ordinary incomes, at any age, look stylish, go to Montreal. I read recently too that Tim Gunn calls Montreal his favourite city for style. Just being on the street gives you ideas.
The things you notice are accessories - things any woman can do. One visit I was impressed by all the huge shawls wrapped over every winter coat on visit in February, in Montreal I first saw brooches pinned up high nearly at the shoulder. I once saw a woman in Montreal walking her dog in boots with a fur trim that perfectly matched her dog. What you see are outfits put together not just clothes, you see thought and effort as much as cash or fashion. They take their chances with accessories more than clothes.
I am thinking about this today as yesterday our wonderful, stylish Governor-General Michaelle Jean retired to become the Canadian ambassador to Haiti, the country where she was born. Look at these pictures of her and you can see, I hope, what women from Montreal look like in their middle age, at my age:
In Montreal you see women who are every bit as interested in fashion at 85 as 25.
Which makes me wonder why in many areas of North America we seem to have some idea that there is an age where you retire from fashion, when you move to the "classics." I see a lot of that around here, where I live now in Nova Scotia (think Maine if you are in the US) as if, once you have a family, or for sure grandchildren, that it is inappropriate to care what you wear.
I didn't wear too short, too tight, or too sparkly, when I was 25 so I don't worry too much about that but I also didn't wear old lady clothes either and so I am not going to start that now.
Look I am a person who worried I was too young to wear a black dress and a single strand of pearls when I was 50 so I didn't.
That's the only time I remember thinking about age when I dress, and that's going to be the last time. It is enough work thinking about fit, about what suits me, about what new styles are going to give me a lift.
What about you? What do you wear or not wear these days? And what are your own rules for age appropriate dressing?
- I am a mother, a new grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My first book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge will be published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon