A lesson in style from a different kind of fashionista

Print This Page

First Posted: 3/20/2015

I recently had breakfast with a friend of mine whom I love and respect dearly, and who has impeccable taste. I made the really poor – but totally predictable- choice to wear old jeans and a T-shirt to breakfast. In the middle of my inhalation of bacon, bagel and enough coffee to sink a jetty, she looked me straight in the eye and said: “We need to talk about you dressing more age-appropriate.” With a mouthful of complex carbohydrates, I queried eloquently: “Huh?”

She explained that now that I’m in my early 50s, there’s apparently a dress code for people like me, and it doesn’t include T-shirts from American Eagle nor jeans with the knees blown out. Also, I learned, my yoga pants were only OK if I was walking into a yoga class, but not to teacher’s conferences, for example.

My children were all home this past weekend and I replayed that conversation, ending with: “…dress my age! Can you imagine?”


“Come on! It’s not like I dress like Lolita!” Confusion. My son (who thought Lolita was an alternative rock band) declared: “When you wear skinny jeans, I call you Hannah Montana for a reason, and not just because it’s hilarious, Maria.”

“Look! I’m not ready to shop in the 50 and over department! I’m not!”

“Mom”, my daughter spoke slowly, “we’re doing this for your own good. Now, you made some progress when you threw out the Victoria’s Secret yoga pants, but you still kept the Hollister hoodie! So you went two steps forward and three steps back!”

I looked to my husband for assistance, but at that moment he was wearing a pair of Wranglers from 1993 and a Notre Dame sweatshirt he’s had since Reagan was president! Plus, I’m certain he still has his Member’s Only jacket in the back of his closet.

I reasoned, “OK, perhaps it would be easier to decide what’s not appropriate clothing for me to wear, rather than what is. So… leggings?”

God, no!

“Running tights when I’m not running?” No. “Boyfriend jeans?” No. “Denim Jacket?” Six pairs of rolled eyes say no.

“Girl Scout uniform? With sash and badges for everything from horseback riding to needlepoint?” N-O.

“Shiny fabrics and Velcro?” No. “Skinny jeans tucked into boots?” That’s a gasp and a no.

A snappy kilt?!” No. Unless I live in Edinburgh.

“Farmer jeans?” Sure, if I was tending a corn silo in Idaho.

“How’s about drawstring sweatpants?” They all vetoed that since the day I wore them to the mall, no word of lie, inside out and backwards. I felt the draw string on my butt and assumed I grew a tail in JC Penney.

“Kids, you know that mumu I always wore in college when I was sick… or when I ate “bad shrimp” the night before? I still have it. Maybe I should wear the mumu?!” They decided that would just make me look like Paula Deen. In butter.

No one is happy and I’m fashion exhausted.

They know me too well; I’m in arrested development and the only thing keeping me out of Forever 21 is…actually nothing. In fact, you know what? I’m an adult and I can wear whatever I want! It’s not the Hunger Games and I don’t need to wear a uniform announcing I’m an old fart battling menopause. So off I go into my day donning yoga pants. I just totally did a sun salutation, so it’s all good. The cut-off PSU sweatshirt, however, I cannot explain.

Baby steps.