“Control yourself,” my mom said honoring my dooms display of “sudden death” on the kitchen floor with a brief glance. I was 16 and unsuccessfully playing a heart attack was the moment when I decided not to push anymore; I gave up on my mother ever listening to me. I bent myself to the shape of my parents’ ideals and became the good girl.
Tantrums reveal the truth of our hidden desires. As a teenager I wanted to be seen and accepted as who I was; an adventure loving girl with a lot of fantasy, strange ideas and too many words. As a woman over 60 I wanted to be seen and accepted as who I finally understood I was. I wanted to be free of age constraints and preconceived aging notions; I am my ageless essence! I declared that there is no age appropriate clothing nor should there be age restrictions for careers. We are not irrelevant because we’re old but relevant because of the amazing years of experience we have accumulated.
My teenage mini skirt, hot pants, Barbie outfits or princess dresses became my call for freedom and were “offensive” to some of the women my age.
A woman in a styling over 50 group commented on one of my posts,
“You are desperately trying to look like 20,”
I answered, “I’m going for 16 actually.”
I felt fierce like a teenager finally telling mom to shove it. Yay.
I wore mini skirts in the 60’s and 70’s with matching boots, adoring Twiggy and dancing in discos. Heart racing I stepped down the stairs to the dance floor in the dark and grunge place where my favorite soul music rocked my heart. Each time I had stage fear and each time I bravely conquered it looking into mirrors on the way; “I am pretty enough.” I walked the main street of my small town on Sundays with a little booklet taking notes of how many boys and men were hitting on me. I judged them on a scale from 1-10 for looks, outfits and the uniqueness of their approach. Just whistling got a -1. I loved my notebook; I was seen; I was somebody.
Outfits talk and 4 decades later the mini skirt reminded me of, “You are pretty enough”. The sweater saying Tomboy, the tee whispering that “I am a member of a secret internet girls cult”, tops with anime designs or crop tops showing my belly said, “you’re brave.” With 60 some of my outfits became weapons; I called them daggers cutting through the bullshit. Yes, I was angry to be pushed into a corner of “old” and was cursing limiting beliefs.
You expect me to look like a typical grandma? I show you. I’m a spice girl instead.
I’m not delusional, my skin has seen decades but my soul is just the same. My essence is that of unwavering eternal ageless joy, a feeling children experience until they’re told to control themselves, to grow up. All successes in my life were born in the innocence and fearlessness of youth not in my later “rationality” and fear of survival, which caused hesitation and doubt.
Outfits can be reminders of our fearless (dreamy, happy, romantic…) past. I reclaimed my power wearing rebellion infused ripped jeans with patches and holes my knees fit through, plateau boots and wild fringes, studded jackets and lots of plastic fantastic, naughty vinyl. Role playing outfits are invitations to your inner child to show herself and remind you of your true essence.
“It’s my soul who wants to play,” I said to my friend Barbie and made her get into a leopard bib overall on a “style my soul happy” outing. Our Tammy Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn outfits made for an amazing photo shoot.
Women need theater stages where different roles can be played, where “NO” to what hinders us can be rehearsed and the YES of who we are is discovered.
Fashion is such a stage.
We don’t need rebellious outfits to be happy but we need the feeling that we can wear them at any time without feeling embarrassed; that’s where their therapeutic effect sets in.
My teenie bopper outfits often got less likes on Instagram, the barometer of being seen and related to. My followers like me better rebelliously sophisticated and yes I like myself as that also. But I have different personas; my soul is a multiple character playground.
“Never give up, never surrender” in being who you truly are no matter the approval rate.
Your truth will set you free is so right on.
In the process of staying authentic, I became the queen ruling my queendom of style and inspired many women to be more daring in their approaches to outfits and discover the empowerment they can provide.
Experiment how you feel in short skirts or puffy dresses; let them talk to you, they might surprise and enlighten you. If they fit to your essence and your message; show them off and use your IG as a vision board styling your power. I was sometimes shocked of what fit to me; I never thought pink or ruffles would be part of my life.
When your story, style and message align you will be seen.
“My wife still loves fashion like when she was young”, the presenter at the “Ageist” conference chuckled, “only now she wants class.”
My inner rebel ground her teeth.
The jovial remark suggested that his wife now had his money to spend on expensive fashion. When you’re old, you’re rich or you have a hubby to pay for your pleasures.
Not everybody is the same, dude.
I’m not rich nor am I married.
Sure I would love to own a wardrobe packed with Alexander McQueen’s and Dolce’s theatrical robes; but not having thousands to spend on outfits pushes me to be innovative. I create similar feelings of eccentricity on a shoestring budget.
“Women of a certain age” can be but don’t have to be classy and designer clad. Too be upmarket and elegant often comes with the demand to behave properly and to be above our wild and silly youth. I cringe at these common and outmoded expectations.
Go, stomp your foot and say NO.
Go, giggle and be silly.
Dig through Forever 21, Top Shop, Nasty Gal, Betsey and Dolls Kill and mix it with your Guccio, Calvin, Diane or Donna; I do and feel more powerful and “rich” than when I was wealthy and pretended to be grown up. Wear thousand bucks’ pearls on a I.Am.Gia dress and enjoy your sandbox.
We all need the freedom to be fantastic, cartoonish, punk, rock, hippie or sex kitten; we need the freedom of play to be complete. Child’s play at its best is an innocent, fully immersed, judgment free experience.
“Everything you are offends me,” commented a woman on a main stream styling site. She did not see my plunging necklines yet…