Fashion: When Are You Too Old?

So after returning from BlogHer, where I spent five days with 3000+ women who were all looking fantastic in their own ways, I found out yesterday that an article I was interviewed for was published at CNN. The topic revolved around moms dressing like their teenagers, or in my case, older women who shop in the Juniors’ department of a store.

It’s a quick read – go check it out, I’ll wait.

I think the article does a great job of explaining why it’s OK to shop in the same place as a teenager as long as you’re dressing in a flattering way for your body type. Just because you’re in Hollister doesn’t mean you can’t find a simple, well-fitting t-shirt that doesn’t reveal too much. Of course, I’m writing that sentence as if I have any idea what kind of clothing Hollister carries.

There’s so much I can say on this topic beyond my quotes in the article. Do I think any teen fashion can be adopted by a 30- or 40-something mom? No way. But depending on your body type you can find cute clothing in a store focused on a younger population, or even the Juniors’ section at Kohl’s, that is still appropriate and tasteful for an older woman.

(Gah. I just lumped myself in as older. ‘Scuse me while I go take my fiber pill now…)

When I was younger and in that “appropriate” age range for these stores, I didn’t fit the clothing. I was heavier, I had self-esteem issues, and so I was far more comfortable hiding myself in baggy jeans and loose sweatshirts. I’m still a big fan of casual clothing, but having dropped some weight - both in pounds and in psychological baggage – I can appreciate clothing that’s a little more flattering to my shape. There’s no chance I’ll be sporting a mini skirt and crop top anytime soon, of course; I know my limits. I shop now for clothing that is comfortable and makes me happy when I wear it, no matter where it came from.
It’s always interesting to read the negative comments in the article, too: moms who wear teen clothing must be slutty. If you’re a mom, you shouldn’t care what you look like anymore. If you want to look nice, you’re just shallow and self-absorbed. *eyeroll*

Let’s play a little game: here are some of the outfits I wore at BlogHer this year. I’ll state up-front that I have no intentions of winning a fashion award anytime soon. Guess which one came from the Juniors’ department:

Thursday in the Expo hall

Thursday night: strapless dress & crochet cardigan

Friday night: lavender lace dress (sorry, can’t find a photo in color)

Saturday morning: brown ruffled, layered top and jeans

Saturday – another view of the same outfit, with Elmo totally checking me out

OK, so what’s your guess? Which one was designed for a teenager and not a 35 year old mom?

insert Jeopardy music here

SURPRISE! It’s the brown layered-look shirt. Yep, this beauty of full-coverage-yet-fashionable ruffles and layers comes from the Juniors’ section of Kohl’s. The other outfits? Lee jeans, H&M top, JC Penney dress from the women’s section, and Ruche lace dress.

I found similar tops to the Kohl’s layered top in the women’s section, too, but they didn’t fit me as well. They were too boxy and made me look completely shapeless. The teen version is better fitted through the midsection and I received several compliments while wearing it. The jeans aren’t from the teen section, of course – no teen jeans would ever fit my hips.

My final thoughts: I’m no fashion plate. I can count dozens more who are more fashionable than me. But I do like to dress in a way that makes me feel pretty. Clothing is both a shallow topic and a subject that we wrap up in our self-worth. It can be a form of expression and a signal of our inner feelings. It can be a tool to empower us or a weapon to tear us down. While I don’t think women should invest so much of our self-worth into a piece of fabric, I do consider it reasonable that we can enjoy what we wear.

My belief is that we’re all smart women – we know what is appropriate for us. Wear what makes you look and feel your best no matter where it came from, whether it be Forever 21 or Forever 65. Because if you feel good about yourself, it’ll be reflected in everything you do, including the all-important task of building self-esteem in your children. It doesn’t matter if you’re raising your kids in a sweatshirt or a pair of pink heels as long as you’re confident in yourself.

What do you think? Are there certain stores that we shouldn’t shop in? Should women who reach a certain age be shunned from the Juniors’ section completely? Is it possible to follow fashion and not be accused of dressing like a teen or being a bad mom (unless you’re Jennifer Lopez)?

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  1. I think you looked AMAZING. The End.

  2. You look fantastic and for a place like Blogher where you want to be dressed up/put together, but not be in a suit or more business like attire, I think you did an excellent job.

    I’m not a mom, but I’m in my 30s now and truth be told, very few items in any junior stores fit between the junk in my trunk, hips and booozoooms as one of my swimming kiddos recently called them, but I will not hesitate to purchase something I like and can wear well just because it comes from a junior shop and don’t think others should either. In fact, I’ve been known to grab tanks I like from the kids sections if they’re long enough!

    Wear what you like, buy it where you find it!

  3. You look fantastic in each and every look. Who cares what store or section of the store clothes come from?

    When I was in college, my roommate’s grandmother used to take us out for dinner once in awhile. And she would sometimes wear leather pants AND LOOK AMAZING. She was in her 70s!

  4. My mom is 52 and dresses pretty youthful, but for her age at the same time, if that makes sense. She has a great figure and can pull of some looks, but I make sure to tell her when something looks a little too young for her.

    I’m only 26 and rarely shop in juniors. I don’t like how low the jeans are but if I need something to wear out with my girlfriends or a basic tee or tank I’ll hit up juniors.

  5. mommyrotten says:

    A lot of those comments in the CNN article made me feel pretty self-conscious. I’m 35, I wear tank tops and t-shirts and low-rise jeans. No, my ass does not hang out of my jeans because I tend to pair them with a belt and long fitting tops, but there isn’t much difference between my wardrobe and a fairly conservative/casual dressing teen.

    Isn’t it a little fascist to tell people what they should and shouldn’t be wearing? I know a 58 year old woman who wears skinny jeans and tight shirts and she looks fabulous, not slutty. She happens to have a great body and dresses for it. Why should she have to wear granny dresses when her fashion choices are much more flattering?

  6. Amelia Sprout says:

    You know what I missed at BlogHer, you looking so fucking amazing! that first outfit, WOW! You go!
    One more year of breastfeeding… one more year of breastfeeding..

  7. Pfft. Whatever. I wear what I want. Sometimes my skirts are short. Sometimes they’re really long. Sometimes I’m showing a bit cleavage. Sometimes I have an Audrey Hepburn high neck collar going on. I wear what flatters my figure at any given time.

    Articles on fashion be damned!

  8. Condo Blues says:

    The thing that killed me about the comments on the CNN article is that they frequently misunderstood who was who in the article. They commented cattily about the woman who bought a plain tank top at her “daughter’s store” and confused that with wearing trashy minis. The thing that makes clothing most appropriate is the fit. Sometimes you have to go out of your section to find the proper fit. All of my summer sandals came from the kids department because I wear a size four shoe. Sometimes I have to buy tennis shoes in the boy’s department. I’m not trying to act or look like a little kid (when I can find something that fits AND isn’t covered in cartoon characters.) I’m trying to find something that fits well so I can wear it.

  9. Anonymous says:

    So every single woman at Blogher looked great? Uh-huh. I think that any shopping in the Jrs. dept who’s over 35 and not a size zero needs a full length mirror and/or a dope slap. Being an adult is to be celebrated. Imitating a teen is not.

  10. Anon – yep, every single woman at BlogHer (at least that I saw – I guess I can’t vouch for anyone I didn’t see) looked great. They all dressed in their own personal styles, and I saw nothing but happiness and confidence radiating from them, making them all look fantastic.

    I think your blanket statement that no one over 35 should shop in a juniors’ department (unless a size 0) is just that: a blanket statement. There is no one-size (or one style) fits all. Just because something happens to be sold in one particular area of a store doesn’t mean it can’t be appropriate for everyone. I’ve seen plenty of inappropriate items sold in that department for us “older” women, too.

    The brown top I wore is certainly not revealing and doesn’t scream “teen style” to all who see it. Yet I bought it in the juniors’ department because it fit better than similar styles in “my” area of the store.

    If it fits, looks good, and makes you happy, who cares where it came from?

  11. Though I don’t shop in the Juniors dept because I could never fit into any of those clothes, I disagree with the anonymous commenter that anyone “shopping in the Jrs. dept who’s over 35 and not a size zero needs a full length mirror and/or a dope slap”. There are clothing pieces in the junior dept that aren’t little girlish or “slutty”, and like you said, you can find “appropriate and tasteful” stuff in that department if you happen to have the right body type.

    I also don’t think that an adult who shops in the juniors department is always doing so to imitate a teen. Of course, there ARE those who do (icky), but there are plenty who are taking advantage of nice clothes, often cheaper (and better fitting, w/ the right body) than in the ladies dept.

  12. I haven’t read the CNN comments! MAybe I should? All I can say is that any teen who has the nerve to bitch about what STORE Her mother is shopping in shouldn’t be given any more new clothes. Seriously. That is just the rudest and meanest thing to do to your Mom. If my kids ever get so attached to a STORE that they complain about us usurping it then they are spending too much time at the mall and need to get a freaking job.

    You looked BEAUTIFUL, Christina. I couldn’t believe how much you had changed in 2 years and I am so happy for you that you have worked so hard for your health and confidence.

  13. You look fabulous! I feel young and don’t want to wear that frumpy crap I see many places for “women of my age group.” C’mon, it’s not just teens that want to be hip!

  14. Just because I wear a tank top? Does that make me a hmm (Lady of the night? I am 45.

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