Do you dress your age?

Monday 20 January 2014
leather1.1 leather-accessories 2 copy
Outfit: Isabel Marant Kady jacket (or the latest here), Uniqlo cargo skinnies (sold out), Isabel Marant for H&M sweatshirt, Helmut Lang t-shirt, Stella McCartney for Adidas sneakers, Hermes Ex-Libris cashmere shawl (similar), Chanel sunglasses, Christys fedora and Louis Vuitton Bandouliere 35cm Speedy.

"Now that you're 40, how will you dress yourself?", I was once asked.  Interesting question though one I haven't thought about at all. I know in certain cultures that there is an unspoken rule about how one should dress when you hit 40s, 50s and beyond. Say, super curly or shorter hair, garbed in black, below the knee length skirts etc. Funnily enough, memories of myself banning my then 40 year old mom from wearing jeans came flooding back because I was adamant that she should try to look like a mom, not a teenager.  Hah! Talk about karma. It'll slap you in the face when you least expect it. My mom has been stealing all my designer jeans ever since I've been able to afford them. And wears them better than I do (skinnier legs and all).

Frankly speaking, I have no idea what a 40 year old should dress like. Why restrict yourself or frump it down just because you've turned a year older?  I don't bare my midriff nor do I have shorts so skimpy that half of my ass is exposed to the public. I've done neither but then again, I have an apple figure. When your love handles tend to wrap themselves over the waistband, it's something that you'd rather not want others to see. But hey, if you've got the figure, go for it.

If I can use 3 words to describe my style - practical, comfortable and prudent (thanks, Cecilia for reminding me). I'd turn up for press days and I'd get curious and sometimes the WTH looks from other attendees. But I'm a working mom. I need to run from one appointment to the next and hop back on the train to do the school run. I can't do so in heels or dressed like I'm going for a photo shoot. I refuse to cab everywhere just because I can't walk or that it's wet and cold and I am underdressed.

I wouldn't dare call myself fashion forward nor can I afford to follow trends blindly. Most of us are realistic about our expenditure. Sure, we are obsessed with new things all the time (totally raising my hand here) but mortgage, savings and investments take precedence. I rarely borrow clothes and I don't accept many sponsored items either which means you'll be seeing that same old attire being recycled a million times on my blog. So to answer that question - I haven't got a clue.

Do you dress your age? More importantly, what's YOUR style? Curious mind wants to know.


  1. Exactly how are we supposed to dress? I know many think I don't dress appropriately for a 42 year old - but I am fitter, healthier, more aware than ever so why shouldn't I dress how I feel most comfortable? I still want to be crazy occasionally - even at 42 - hence the new piercings :) xx

  2. I'm not very good at being 23. I wear a muted, classic colour palette and stick to jumpers, jeans and flats. I only buy leather bags and shoes, and not many of them. Practicality and comfort always come first. And I hate noisy bars - pub with a dog, a pint and the crossword are much more me. Age is just a number!

  3. I completely agree with Poppy above - I'm so glad many of us are challenging the "dress for your age" thing - and this is my worst one" - age-appropriate". That expression makes me go bleurghhh...! Many of my readers will know that I have three rules (that aren't rules, more guidelines) for dressing at ANY age: 1. Wear things you like, 2. Wear what flatters you, 3. Wear what's appropriate to the occasion. After that, anyone who's got a problem with what you're wearing is just that - the one with the problem, not you ;)

    It's great that you don't bow to pressure (wherever it may come from), and wear what you're comfortable in and what makes you happy - and I tell you, your style is enviable to many, Marlene, you have such a signature look and it looks AMAZING on you! Just because you're not wearing little dresses and heels doesn't mean you don't look fabulous.

    Anyway I could go on all night about this but won't - safe to say we should throw "age appropriate" out the window and get on with wearing what makes us feel good. We're all different, we're all grown ups, and we all have minds of our own - hooray!!! Well done for writing this post hun :))

    Catherine x

  4. YAY for your blog. I'm 35 and often feel like I dress too young, but like you say you have to wear what suits, and being a petite 5' it's often younger styles that suit. i think it's about style over fashion and being confident in whatever you wear

    EM x

  5. Love this. I have just hit 35 and I feel I might be a bit MORE fashion forward than I was 5, even 10 years ago. But in a good way, not an I'm trying too hard to be young kinda way. And I guess that is where it comes from is knowing what flatters you and not wearing trends exactly like teenagers but knowing how to adapt them to the you that is now. Because there are women who are wearing the denim shorts underwear and they don't have the body for it and it comes off as "not dressing your AGE" when it is really not dressing your shape.

  6. I agree with Jane, above! If you dress for your shape, you will usually never go wrong!
    My style is high-lo-urban/street with feminine accents. Does that make sense? hehe

  7. I dressed like a 40 year old when I was 20 working in the banking world..... terrible. Now as a 41 year old I think I am slightly more clued up and I dress in what I like and what looks best on my bodyshape ......a womanly shaped short arse. Great post. x

  8. Do I dress my age? yes and no. I am old enough to have seen several trends the first and second time around and sometimes pass on them because they look "too young", but I love having fun with fashion and don't think that being a more mature woman means you have to dress like an old lady. I am always concerned about not looking like mutton dressed as lamb and their are certain things I will never wear for that reason. My style is constantly evolving and I dress based on what I like and what I know looks good on me. I invest more in classic pieces that I can mix with more fun accessories and I sprinkle in some trends here and there.

  9. I'll be 40 this year and I aim for the factors you mention. I've been trying to do a lot of fitted basics, comfortable, flats, at least semi-professional or at least neat. I do still fall back on band t-shirts from time to time. I really just want my wardrobe to be tried-and-true and loved at this point, instead of ever-changing and trying.

  10. I'm not sure I know what 'the rules' are and if I should live by them. I wear what I like and like what I wear! I am no fashion icon, I just wear clothes that are comfortable and practical for my lifestyle.


  11. I know, it's a question I often ask myself, especially when I'm wondering if I should buy a particular item. Usually if I have to ask myself, then it's my inner self telling me that it IS too young for me. But I like what you are saying in this post, it's about dressing for your life. I'm learning how to dress for my life too. Enjoy your life and dress for you :)

  12. Are there fashion rules by age? I would say that there are more acceptable limits in terms of tightness and hem length by age. But if a 40 or 50 year old (remember Kate Moss is 40 now!) has a great body and can wear a certain outfit, why not?
    I do think that the youth own the tighter and shorter outfits as well too because they don't have kids and are expected to flaunt it while they got it right? So I do also think that if I was a mom and had a great body, I would think twice about wearing the same outfit I wore years ago. Outfits and styles do reflect phases in life, but I think if you stay true to clothing of your lifestyle/body type it certainly adheres to your own personal style, regardless of age.

    Chic 'n Cheap Living

  13. i'm terrible at dressing my age - but yes you're right, what does dressing your age even mean and who makes those rules? what with kate moss hitting 40 now and still as much of an icon as ever :)

    steph /

  14. Even though I feel like I have no right to comment on how a 40 year old should dress, I will say that I really do think age is completely irrelevant when it comes to personal style. As long you feel happy and confident, that's really all that matters. Some have said I dress old for my age but what's old And what's young, I guess just a preconceived idea that the general minds have thought up and stick by. Marlene I love your style because its true to you and you should continue to wear what makes you feel good! :)

    Take care,
    Daniella xox

  15. One should dress young when young because, well, normally, young looks better thatn old, more fresh, smooth and, typically, young are allowed more fantasy (fancy) clothes. ONe should dress more appropriate and mature when older because well, "old" people look less nice (wrinkles, woobly skin, muscles and belly..) and well they are not allowed to dress fancy clothes because this is not what older years are related to.
    All right then apart from the part that young is beautiful in our occidental societies (unfortunately this idea is deeply ingrained in all brains, even if you say "not me"), I would say that you dress as appropriate, elegant, confortable and what you can afford as you can.
    True I used to wear a bit more on the short side some years ago but I have never been one to wear short everywhere. Thanks everything I always had my own style as I still do today. Do I look young or old, do I dress my age, I honestly cannot say as I tend to wear kind of the same style since a few years now. And I do not give a damn. I think I am a lost cause for fashion industry as, on top of that, I really really slow down my clothes consomption. I do not wear the uniform of jeans (slim or boyfriend) casual and sneakers but my own choice. Most of my wardrobe is now cashmere, tweed, silk, wool... and A lot of colour, I mean real bright colours. So if people feel that I dress old, so be it, sorry guys to bother you, can I breath, do you mind if I live? True sometimes I have some moments when I would like to look younger but, quickly I am back to earth as I cannot find anything different to my taste (as I wrote, all shopping assistant ever propose are casual, jeans, sneakers, same brands). So I prefer to stick with my choice, have some custom made garments and just enjoy my colours. As another commenter wrote, you have found your style and feel yourself with it so do not worry. And not we do not HAVE to dress our age, always. Only appropriate and feel good with it.

  16. Marlene

    When a woman dresses, age is irrelevant to a point. It is relevant too. I am 51 and there are things that I wore at 30 or even 40 ( ladies - 40 is still hot!! Enjoy it!) that, I know will just start to look desperate and/or silly at this point in my life. The trick as we age is neither to dress too "young" (you all know what I mean) nor to dress too middle aged - which is just as awful and sometimes harder to avoid. A 50 something woman can look 60 something with the wrong clothes or accessories that age her. I think the key is classic pieces always mixed in with something young and modern. Ines de la Fressange gets it right every time..

    So do you Marlene!

  17. What a great post, turning 39 this year and am often asked how to dress as we get older. The one thing I don't want to dress like is when I was in my 20s, been there done that. I'm smarter, have better taste and more disposable income. I had a better figure back then but my brain makes up for that in so many more ways.

  18. Ladies, thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts. It's wonderful to hear from all of you who are of different ages and backgrounds. I think the common theme here is "dress for yourself" which I agree wholeheartedly.

  19. You’re doing a remarkable process. Hold it up

  20. I never stop myself to mention some thing about it.

  21. your submit is very exciting to examine.



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