Am I too old to dress sexy?

Ask your­self this in­stead, sug­gests The Kit’s ed­i­tor-at-large: Is there an age cap on feeling good?

The Peterborough Examiner - - Arts & Life - KATHRYN HUD­SON The Kit Send your press­ing fash­ion and beauty ques­tions to Kathryn at [email protected]

I’m near­ing 50 and I like to dress sexy when I’m headed out to din­ner or to a party. My daugh­ter cringes and says I’m too old for form-fit­ting dresses, but I love to be done up. Is there an age cap on sexy? — Lil­lian, Toronto

Be­liev­ing your par­ents to be the ab­so­lute em­bod­i­ment of em­bar­rass­ment must be a pri­mal rite of pas­sage. I re­mem­ber walk­ing a few steps be­hind my mother in the mall as a young teenager, hop­ing no one would re­al­ize we were to­gether; now, I’ll hap­pily tell a group of strangers that my mother is quite pos­si­bly the coolest per­son I know.

Grow­ing up takes time. So while I ap­pre­ci­ate your will­ing­ness to em­bark on some sel­f­re­flec­tion at the be­hest of your daugh­ter, it sounds to me like she’s merely per­form­ing the self-im­posed du­ties of ev­ery grumpy teenager.

But the core of your ques­tion is very rel­e­vant to a lot of women liv­ing in our all-hail-the-foun­tain-of-youth cul­ture in which sex ap­peal seems re­served for In­sta­gram mod­els and teenagers in crop-tops — and in which it’s only ac­cept­able to be sexy af­ter 28 if you look like Jennifer Lopez. (What sor­cery does she have ac­cess to?)

It’s created a con­fus­ing sit­u­a­tion for those of us who are well past pu­berty and not ashamed of it. The main is­sue, as I see it? The word “sexy” has been at­trib­uted to a look when ac­tu­ally, it’s a feeling. For you, it might be about a form-fit­ting dress; for others, it might be a per­fectly worn-in pair of jeans.

Re­gard­less, there can be no age cap on clothes that make you feel good.

I called Law Roach to talk about the no­tion be­cause, as the top fash­ion pro work­ing to­day, he col­lab­o­rates with ev­ery­one from es­tab­lished icon Cé­line Dion to ris­ing su­per­star Zendaya. (He is so metic­u­lous about his work that he refers to him­self as an “im­age ar­chi­tect” rather than as a stylist.) His per­spec­tive on the sub­ject is noth­ing less than in­vig­o­rat­ing.

He be­gan work­ing with Zendaya, now 22, when she was only 14 years old.

“She’s never re­ally worn any­thing sexy be­cause I have been pro­tec­tive of her im­age,” he ex­plains. “Women have their whole lives to be sexy; you don’t need to get into open backs and big slits when you’re young.”

Though he laughs when de­scrib­ing Zendaya’s re­sponse to his at­ti­tude these days (“I’m not a baby any­more — calm down!”), his point is re­fresh­ing: life is long, so why do we rush girls into be­com­ing women, when in­stead we can en­joy the power that comes with adult­hood when it’s been earned?

And for celebri­ties, ar­gues Roach, “if you be­lieve in the longevity of your ca­reer, then you know you’ll be around and have hun­dreds of thou­sands of car­pets ahead of you, so why give it all away so soon?” Af­ter all, he says, “sexy doesn’t age out.”

He cites his other megas­tar client Cé­line Dion as ev­i­dence of that. At 51, Dion has never been more fear­less in her fash­ion choices and is a front-row fix­ture, wear­ing cropped miniskirts or baggy streetwear hood­ies, de­pend­ing on her mood. The older she gets, the more brazen her choices be­come.

I per­son­ally have de­lighted in her pa­rade of won­der­ful looks that dis­til and en­hance her wacky per­son­al­ity. But the key, says Roach, is not that peo­ple like me love her en­sem­bles; it’s that

she does.

“I think au­then­tic­ity is what attracts us most to peo­ple,” says Roach. “We also have to re­mem­ber that fash­ion is the most in­ter­ac­tive art form: it brings peo­ple joy and hap­pi­ness. We shouldn’t get lost and for­get the power it has: that if you put on a beau­ti­ful dress and feel your best, it’s hard to have a bad day.”

So our ad­vice for you is to keep do­ing what you’re do­ing. If you love form-fit­ting dresses, wear them. There is no rule that says women must aban­don what they love at any given mile­stone.

How­ever, as I’ve pe­ti­tioned for time and time again, you should make sure that your clothes are prop­erly tai­lored and as high qual­ity as you can rea­son­ably af­ford.

A form-fit­ting dress that skims the body like a sec­ond skin reads like as­ser­tion of power, but one that clings awk­wardly only un­der­cuts you.

Take your fo­cus off what other peo­ple think and ap­ply that en­ergy to mak­ing sure the pieces you choose are well-cut and made from lovely fab­rics. (Which is ad­vice I’d give to some­one of any age: young women shouldn’t be wear­ing dis­pos­able fash­ions ei­ther.)

So if there’s an opin­ion you should heed, it’s that of your lo­cal tai­lor. If a hem needs to come up or down a hair, if you need to let out the waist or nip in a sleeve, well, that’s con­struc­tive crit­i­cism that will help your wardrobe sing.

As for the rest of the crit­ics? Sim­ply mute them.

“I love for my work to be po­lar­iz­ing,” Roach says. “I love to work with peo­ple who don’t care, con­fi­dent women who wear what they want to wear.”

There will al­ways be haters, he says.

“Ev­ery­one has an opin­ion — but does it re­ally mean any­thing?”

PHO­TOS COUR­TESY OF BRANDS

Matériel dress, $790, moda­operandi.com

Top­shop bag, $45, the­bay.com

Call it Spring heels, $55, cal­lit­spring.com

Lip­stick Queen Sin­ner Lip­stick in Red, $32, shop­pers­drug­mart.ca

Mercedes Salazar ear­rings, $135, holtren­frew.com

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