I’m not supposed to wear what?

by Julie Frayn on February 14, 2015 in  Writing

Articles about what women of a certain age should not wear have been flying around social media like the Wicked Witch’s evil monkeys. One article claimed that women over 30 (thirty! We’re still children at 30!) should avoid 24 specific things, including graphic T’s, eye shadow, mini-skirts, bedazzled anything, and leopard print.

May I just say… Bite me.

Now, I’m not one for bedazzling. But if you are – have at it! And I’ll stop wearing graphic T’s when they pry them from my cold, dead, body.

shoulder pads and big hair - must be the '80s

shoulder pads and big hair – must be the ’80s

I am a woman over 30. Well, actually over 40. Okay, fine, 50. And I got here the hard way – by living, loving, hurting, losing. And winning. There was some of that too. Like hell is any pseudo fashion guru going to tell me what I should or should not wear.

I’ve never followed the trends (except for the shoulder-padded, leg-warming eighties – but really, what choice did I have? There wasn’t anything else available!). I wear what I like. What I’m comfortable in. Not just from a “that high-waisted dress pant is digging into my belly button and giving me a stomach ache” kind of comfort. But also from a “comfortable in my own skin and my clothing choices give me as much confidence as my anxiety-riddled brain will allow” perspective.

Then along came this…..

What Not to Wear After Age 50: The Final Say

Except for the last line (ladies, wear all the holiday-themed clothes you want), a perfect article about what women of any age should never wear. And it’s got nothing to do with T-shirts and bling.

Denim & graphic T's - a love affair since the '70s (but I did doff the hat)

Denim & graphic T’s – a love affair since the ’70s (but I did doff the hat)

I’m the Chief Financial Officer of a local charity/attraction. That CFO title usually lends itself to a certain presumed appearance, an expected wardrobe (aka stuffy, brown, boring). Folks, I am one casual dude. Yesterday I wore jeans (oh wait, that’s every day), a Red Hot Chili Peppers graphic tee, a black blazer, and Gilligan run-runs. I was comfortable (physically and psychologically), presentable, and most importantly – I was me.*

The Shakespeare quote “… the apparel oft proclaims the man,” has been twisted in modern times to “clothes make the man.” Twisted because it became an argument to dress your best, for your station – as it were. But the original meant be true to yourself.

Sounds good to me! Hand me my Batman T-shirt.

*I used to be most comfortable in stiletto heels. 4 and 5 inch, and in the ’80s, 6 inch. I’d stand 6’4″ tall in those. But a fall down the stairs last year thanks to catching those heels on the rubber grip of a stair riser cost me my confidence. So I only wear them on occasion. A little piece of me died on those stairs.


{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Cinta February 14, 2015 at 8:22 am

Well said!
I couldn’t agree more with the points you express here. I always wear what I want, and style my hair as I want, without taking into account what others think. People always tell me that my summer dresses are too childish. So what? I am a child! A 37-years-old child!
I don’t follow fashions. Just like you, I wear what makes me feel comfortable with myself.
Thanks for posting this!


Julie Frayn February 14, 2015 at 8:28 am

You’re welcome! I think your dresses are adorable. And I love your bling-crusted Batman shirt :) Writers who love Batman, unite!

Julie Frayn February 14, 2015 at 8:29 am

I never thought about the hair. I’ve worn mine long and straight (with the exception of a decade-long obsession with perms and one cringe-worthy short cut when I turned 30) since the early ’70s. Like my mother, I’ll have hair down to my waist when I’m 82.

Sean P. Farley February 14, 2015 at 12:19 pm

I think it’s ridiculous, all this should and should nots. There was a little firestorm on my FB page about how embarrassing Madonna was on the Grammys because, you know, she’s – gasp! – FIFTY-SIX!!! Not acting – or dressing – her age. Who cares?? I, for one, am no fashion guru. It has always been frustrating to me when friends say, “Sean, you’re gay, how does this look?” Really? Are you not SEEING my ill-fitted t-shirt and jeans? I say wear what makes you comfortable. Hell, wear what makes you YOU. All of us, that is.


Julie Frayn February 14, 2015 at 1:53 pm

Exactamundo! (with apologies to the Fonz). All the labels make me crazy. I say, don’t should on me! :)

mary February 15, 2015 at 4:32 am

Great post, Julie. As for the ‘mutton dressed as lamb’ comment sometimes bandied around about women not dressing ‘age-appropriately’ I heard a great comeback from a friend. She said, ‘Who the hell wants plain old mutton, anyway?’


Julie Frayn February 15, 2015 at 7:45 am

I’m with ya! Well, I don’t eat lamb either… but! Who gets to define age appropriate? Where’s this all-knowing gang of marauding fashion police and what is the punishment for not following their arbitrary and ever-changing laws? Ah yes, there isn’t any… Go forth and wear glitter eyeshadow when you’re ninety-four!

Mike Schulenberg February 15, 2015 at 7:28 pm

As someone with a wardrobe consisting almost entirely of graphic t-shirts and jeans, rock on :)


Julie Frayn February 16, 2015 at 5:10 pm

You have good taste, kind sir! :)

Carolyn Frayn February 16, 2015 at 5:01 pm

I think you should still wear Dad’s hat. So cute! And hey, that’s my kid you’re holding in the top photo… oh my dog, the memories. You have always looked exactly like you, as it should be. We share so much… I enjoyed the comments, finding out what others share too. ♥


Julie Frayn February 16, 2015 at 5:12 pm

Well, I do have the hat. Not that one (no idea where it is), but the one I bought for him to wear to the hospital back in ’94. I can’t bring myself to put it on.

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