According to Google the top searches for women over 40 are:
- short hair styles
- diets for women
- weight-loss and
My initial reaction to this list was to feel sad. At what point did we need to look beyond the current fashion trends and finding clothes that suit our body shape, to find fashion and hairstyles that are ‘suitable’ for our age? Does this signal a loss of confidence in how we look and perhaps, at a deeper level, what we believe we are, or will be, valued for?
Having come to a similar place myself recently, I realise that there is perhaps another way to think about this. Maybe midlife is a time for reinvention and our search for suggestions is simply a sign that we are entering unchartered territory.
We know that both our aspirations and our reality are vastly different for most of us than the expectations and experience of our Mother’s generation at midlife. Not surprising then, that we are trying to find a style that fits this new terrain.
It’s so easy to absorb the message about ‘mutton dressed as lamb’ and use that as yet another societal requirement to beat ourselves over the head with.
We’ve heard the messages about what women over a certain age are supposed to do. i.e. cut their hair and stop baring their midriff, cleavage, upper arms, legs and tattoos – all of which adds up to making our bodies less visible.
It’s critical that we feel comfortable in our skin. But I admit that, in my fifties, I’m still waiting till I lose the last few kilos and finally do enough exercise to have Michelle Obama-like upper arms, before I wear sleeveless tops.
Most of us have spent a lifetime covering ourselves up, waiting for that magic day when our bodies will meet our own expectations of being thin enough, and toned enough, to feel comfortable showing ourselves off, to the world. (I smile in recognition as I notice the unconscious habit so many of us have, of pulling our clothes away from our middle so we don’t draw attention to our unwanted belly!).
And yet, regardless of the aspirations I hold so dear, my body is changing and no amount of exercise will make my skin comparable to that of a 25-year-old. That said, I don’t think this should relegate me to wearing twinsets and pearls and sensible shoes. Nor do I think it necessitates wearing clothes that make us fade into the background.
Taking time to understand what suits our lifestyles and us, allows us to choose and wear clothes that reflect who we are at this time in our lives. And that can bring as much joy now as clothes shopping has through all the years to this point.
Fashion, at its best, shouldn’t be something we’re a slave to but an expression of our own unique style personality. Equally though, we shouldn’t be using midlife as an excuse to slip quietly from view by failing to highlight our assets, play with the latest fashions or wear colourful, eye-catching clothing!
What fashion statements have you been making lately?
Do tell – it may encourage the rest of us 😉