Personal style has often felt to me like more of a balancing act than anything. We have to find and walk that fine line between too dressy and too casual, too conservative and too trendy, too loose and too tight, too somber and too bright, too “done” and too “laissez-faire,” among other considerations. And the line shifts with our life circumstances, geography, budget, and philosophy.
But the line that seems to demand increased attention, especially as applied to les femmes d’un certain age is that line between “trying too hard” and “letting oneself go.” Crossing this line in either direction garners sharp cultural disdain. It’s about more than appearance; it’s also about enforcing cultural norms and behaviors. That said, we still have to live work and function within our own cultures, workplaces, communities, and while I’m not advocating mindless conformity, most of us who are interested in style as personal expression want our message to be understood.
Last week Lisa at Privilege wrote a beautiful post (but her posts are always beautiful) about, in part, walking that line, as manifested by her long grey hair and flare leg jeans. I love what she says here,
One could also, however interpret “letting oneself go,” to mean letting oneself go – forward.
That right there, that’s the crux of it, that true north to help us find and walk that line between “letting oneself go” and “trying too hard.” Is our style moving forward with us? Because life doesn’t go backward. Trying to dress to recapture who we were in the past, that’s where we tend to veer into “trying too hard” territory. (My own style journey has been sidetracked at times by nostalgia, wanting to recreate an adult elegance as perceived through a child’s eyes.) Are we dressing, wearing our hair, making choices based on who we are and how we live our lives today, and moving into the future?
I’ve always asserted that my goal isn’t to look *young* but rather to look *current.* I’m fine with looking my age; I just want to look vital, engaged, vibrant, my best self at whatever age. That doesn’t mean following every trend, but rather selectively incorporating those larger shifts in style that seem to occur every few years, while at the same time retaining the roots of what make my style my own. So sometimes a trend piques my interest, and I’m willing to give it a try if I believe it might jibe with my taste and style. As Lisa said, “I’m the boss of what 55 means.” We’re all the boss of what our age means. But you can’t be the boss of 55 or 65 or 75 if you’re trying to pretend you’re 25.
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