I remember this moment in 1994 like it was yesterday.
I am in my favourite clothing store where I’d been shopping since I was 16. I entered the change room armed with a few exciting new pieces to try on for the coming summer season.
I am feeling a slight shift in the store atmosphere. The music is louder. I no longer recognize the songs. I think it's rap music, what happened to The Rolling Stones?
I tried on a few skirts and wonder - did they get shorter or is it my comfort level that is no longer feeling this short-short look anymore? The sales clerk is younger than me. I was always the youngest in the store but no more. I am 32 and feeling like I am a totally different generation.
I had an a-ha moment and not a “yippee” a-ha. It was an “oh no”!
At the ripe age of 32, I was no longer feeling young enough to be buying my clothes at this store.
Was it the store that changed or was it me?
And so, my first experience, of what I think is termed, “age appropriate.”
Here is the funny thing. Now, at almost 60, I reflect and think what a ridiculous thought.
Because I now know that there is no such thing.
Like everything else in life, it is really up to you to choose if anything is appropriate.
If you feel good and your heart is in the right place then I say, have at it.
Today if I want to wear that short-short look I will, but only if I feel good about it.
Thankfully, I have moved into a place that comfort and style are far more important.
I have had many encounters with trying to do a trend or style that perhaps were not in my best interest.
Case in point.
In my 20s and 30s I had fun dressing for pleasure and trying to find my sense of style.
We want to be different but we want to fit in as well.
In reflection, I now see if we don’t know ourselves well enough, we allow others to dictate how we do things. This can be a slippery slope.
I did not have the money or interest in designer labels. It was not even on my radar.
Then it happened.
In the mid-‘80s the trends demanded a logo on your purse.
If you were someone, you had to claim the status of a $1,000 purse!
I didn’t have the money so I was OK with not participating in this trend until I became friends with someone who did.
In her culture, status demanded ownership of a Gucci, Chanel or Louis Vuitton purse.
I had my $25 animal print bag and I loved it until I allowed myself to feel shame.
I ditched my $25 purse and went out and on credit got myself a designer bag.
Yes, it was fun, until it wasn’t.
I was doing this for all the wrong reasons – attempting to get external validation through the display of merchandise!
It may sound like I have an issue with designer labels.
I don’t but isn’t it a little odd that in the clothing arena, we feel the need to pay inflated prices for pieces of clothing that are designed mostly by slightly overweight men who don’t have the bodies they design for? The designs are created for size 4-6 women.
Recently, I learned another important lesson when I was out for dinner with friends.
When I pulled my ‘dollar’ readers out to read the menu, I heard “Vita! Really! You can’t wear those.”
Now my 60-year-old self said, “Oh yes, I can!”
I felt no shame. In fact, I was proud that for one dollar I could own 25 pairs and have one in every purse and room.
I purchase items because I like the style or shape or because they speak to me.
If I like it - I buy it. Not to impress but because I like it.
Listen, we all have growing up stories and I would love to hear yours.
So, to put a ribbon on this age-appropriate thing - I believe there is no such thing.
Please let’s start to break down these false rules of what to do and what is acceptable.
Allow ourselves freedom to be who we are meant to be.
Different from each other is good.
If we can learn to embrace each other for who we are it’s a step in the right direction.
If you want to wear short shorts, please do so.
If Doc Martens are your thing, go for it.
“A woman who feels good about herself is invincible. On a good day, when you feel it’s all working it’s like - get out of my way because it’s going to happen today. I feel great.” - Norma Kamali
Love and gratitude