Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Do I know What Decade this Is?

In dressing modestly, attracively, and in a manner appropriate to someone of middle age, I want to avoid two extremes:

1) Dressing as if I still think I'm twenty years old
2) Dressing as if I am already eighty years old.

There's nothing wrong with being either twenty or eighty. But, I am at neither end of this spectrum. And, if I err too far to one side or the other in my dress, I find that I end up looking dowdy and unaproachable.

I am a fan of soft, yet classic pieces, such as skirts and jackets with curved, feminine tailoring. Classic cuts flatter almost everyone -- especially if you know how to select ones that flatter your body type. And, the classics do look current much longer than trendier pieces do. But, even if the classics move at a slower pace, their silhouette does change. Sometimes, I have held on to favorite pieces when it was time to say good-bye. These oldies not only added years to my look, but they began to look worse for the wear.

I also have a very strong romantic streak in my nature. Therefore I am attracted to ultra-feminine styles, such as lace, tucks, and certain colors. These elements complement the fresh-faced beauty of the very young girl. Worn in the right way, they also highlight the sweet, dignified beauty of an older woman. But, ironically, the feminine touches I adore can be tricky for a woman in that vast middle-ground between twenty and eighty to wear. Now, I am not about to give up my romantic streak, so I am intent on finding ways to wear lace and pastels in a fresh and modern way.

Before I married and had children, I was naturally more in tune with what was in style. I also had more time and money to spend on my appearance. I lived in a metropolitan area that offered a large number of current fashions to choose from. Among these selections, it was possible to dress modestly, yet to also wear things that were both flattering and current.

Somewhere along the way, I quit being so in tune with fashion. I had little money and even less time to spend on the way I presented myself. Sometimes, the things I wore made me look dowdy, far older than my years, and -- worse -- unapproachable.

Clothing is a funny thing. Sometimes, the message we think we send by the garments we wear is not the message that other people receive from us. I've found that some fashions that I would call "pretty", "classic" or "elegant" spell "out-of-touch" and "not-fun-to-be-around" to many younger people. Sometimes, fashions I think will inspire younger women to enjoy dressing in a feminine and modest way have the opposite effect. It's not always the modesty that bothers younger women! It's choosing things that look out-of-date and that also might have been unflattering to begin with. (I'm not talking about including a few truly "retro" pieces in your wardrobe. Many of these are popular with all ages of women. Lots of people in Nashville who are in their late twenties and thirties wear nineteen-forties inspired fashions. I have a velvet evening jacket that my mother bought decades ago. It is timeless in style and will never look out of date)

I expect there to be some difference in taste between generations. A twenty-five year old should not look as if she is fifty and vice versa. But, I do want to dress in a way that younger people can relate to. I want to inspire them with a vision of how fun it can be to dress modestly and in a feminine manner. (Of course, attaining a healthy weight will help me set a better example -- which goes back to my earlier post on moderation).

Obviously, I don't to be a slave to fashion. The whims of public taste are too ephemeral to chase. But, I do want to look like I at least know what decade it is.

The one exceptions are that I am on campaign to bring back pretty aprons and lovely hats!



Sandra said...

I'm amazed at how much we think alike Elizabeth. :o)

I also am trying to combine modesty with fashion and trying not to be matronly or teenager-like. On top of this, I'm on a tight budget and want a small wardrobe (don't want alot of clothes).

I'm still working on it! :o)

Elizabeth said...

I'm a work in progress, too. :)