Time­less fash­ion:

Age should have no bear­ing on how we dress any­more, writes An­n­marie O’Con­nor — just look at Jane Fonda

Irish Examiner - Weekend - - Inside -

Why there’s no such thing as dressing your age any­more

When it comes to cloth­ing, the term ‘age-ap­pro­pri­ate’ is ill­fit­ting if not a bit out­dated. The pre­scrip­tive no­tion of ac­qui­esc­ing to a qui­eter, more con­trolled im­age with as­cend­ing years sug­gests that mat­ters sar­to­rial have an age limit.

Adult­ing is chal­leng­ing enough with­out the added so­cial pres­sure of hav­ing to fit a style by num­bers ap­proach to dressing. Me­dia mes­sages such as: look young but not too young; learn to con­ceal, not re­veal; don’t look like mut­ton or a lamb, have left many women over 40 feel­ing sheep­ish.

Can I pull it off? Do I risk be­ing pro­filed by Top­shop se­cu­rity?

Sud­denly buy­ing a pair of frayed hem jeans or rock­ing a fringed ki­mono feels like an act of high trea­son — risky and pun­ish­able by the fash­ion po­lice. Un­til now.

So­cial me­dia has cre­ated a new breed of dig­i­tal rev­o­lu­tion­ar­ies bent on bust­ing de­mo­graph­i­cally-de­ter­mined dress codes. The kicker? Not one of them is a mil­len­nial. Amer­i­can uni­ver­sity pro­fes­sor-come- fash­ion in­flu­encer Lyn Slater (63) has be­come an Ac­ci­den­tal Icon thanks to her epony­mous blog which has seen her star in A Story of Unique­ness cam­paign for Span­ish re­tailer Mango. Both model-turned-In­sta­gram star Colleen Hei­de­mann (68) and Bag and a Beret blog­ger Me­lanie Kobay­ishi (54) throw shade at any dim­mer switch with their vi­brant vis­ual iden­ti­ties; while re­tired Play­boy Bunny and Se­nior Style Bi­ble au­teur Dor­rie Ja­cob­son (82) takes a more ac­tivist ap­proach by wag­ing wardrobe war­fare on pre­vail­ing style se­man­tics.

And that’s not the half of it. From the cult pop­u­lar­ity of Ari Seth Co­hen’s Ad­vanced Style blog (which es­poused a self-ti­tled cof­fee ta­ble book and doc­u­men­tary) to the Emmy-nom­i­nated cos­tume de­sign for Net­flix TV se­ries Grace &

Frankie star­ring Jane Fonda and Lily Tom­lin, style cit­i­zens are de­mand­ing equal fash­ion op­por­tu­ni­ties, re­gard­less of age.

As Jane Fonda proved her­self at the Em­mys.

So, why the hue and cry? Our in­creas­ingly mo­bile life­styles aided by the fact that we are lead­ing longer, health­ier lives and, in turn, re­tir­ing later, have made the feel­ing of youth a valu­able per­sonal com­mod­ity. Al­though, most women don’t want to look like our 20some­thing selves (mine was an ode to hip­ster jeans and ques­tion­able boob tubes), nei­ther do we wish to be ex­cluded from ex­er­cis­ing our right to self-ex­pres­sion.

Why fit in when we can stand out?

Iron­i­cally, this civil dis­obe­di­ence is noth­ing new. The ex­po­nen­tial rise in de­con­structed sil­hou­ettes, ath­leisure and sports luxe trends has tes­ti­fied to this shift much in the same way as the 1920s saw Coco Chanel co-opt menswear and sports­wear in­flu­ences into her col­lec­tions and flap­pers swap out con­strict­ing corsets for dance- friendly drop waist dresses. Dis­rup­tion by de­sign.

The big­gest revo­lu­tion was yet to come. The 1960s ‘youthquake’ saw dress codes im­plode as baby boomers re­jected the so­cial norms of pre­vi­ous decades. Street style usurped es­tab­lished cou­ture houses in terms of in­flu­ence with the emerg­ing gen­er­a­tion de­mand­ing free­dom of speech through the lan­guage of fash­ion. Mary Quant, cred­ited with in­tro­duc­ing the con­tro­ver­sial mini skirt, an­swered this call. Her King’s Road bou­tique, Bazaar — a pop­u­lar mod and rocker hang­out — be­came the first show­case for the skirt which soon be­came a sym­bol of so­cial, po­lit­i­cal and sex­ual eman­ci­pa­tion. The trun­cated hem, mea­sur­ing four to seven inches above re­spected codes of de­cency, was ac­tu­ally a prac­ti­cal mea­sure de­signed to help women run for a bus. As hem­lines rose, so did the trend-led ready-towear in­dus­try and, with that, a style suf­frage was born.

Granted, ev­ery day dressing can be more pedes­trian than po­lit­i­cal. We all need go-to gar­ments that’ll suc­cess­fully

Pic­ture: Frazer Har­ri­son/Getty Im­ages

Jane Fonda proved that age has no limit at the 69th An­nual Prime­time Emmy Awards in Septem­ber.

Fash­ion de­signer Jenna Lyons shows that in­di­vid­u­al­ity rules

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