The best place to read trashy magazines is in the doctors office. It’s a place where you know you are going to have to wait so you can catch up on everything Lindsey, Brittany and poor dead Anna, have done. All my doctors have a pretty good selection of People, Us, Time, and for those who have no interest in entertainment, National Geographic. As it happens, my dentist –Brad Schneiderman, who has been my dentist for over 20 years, and is such a good dentist that I told him I was relieved to find out he was ten years younger than I because this meant that he probably won’t retire before I die. Actually, I have forbid him to retire before I travel to the other side. He is so kind that he used to give me gas when I had my teeth cleaned. But I’m better now and I have learned to live with the noise – which is what really hurt me. Anyway, he has the best magazine selection and he even has fashion and advice publications.
The last time I went to have my teeth cleaned I was rifling through one of these and noticed an article entitled, “When You Are Too Old To Dress Young”. Of course I was curious about this because when we go shopping, I often ask Jordan (the fashion queen) if she thinks I am too old for a particular item. She never thinks I’m too old for anything but that’s because she refuses to think of me in those terms. She’s in denial, but I love it and wish everyone felt the same way. Because I no longer have to look like a corporate dweeb and in addition, I spend a great deal of time in New York, I dress the way for comfort and have taken to wearing t-shirts and pants, or black leggings. In New York we wear lots of black and, in fact, the fashion queen has forbidden me to buy one more pair of black pants or another black shirt.
Well, this article said that women over forty shouldn’t wear short tops or leggings. They were inappropriate for people my age. Why not, I thought. And then I read on. There were letters from women as old, you should excuse the expression as 50. They each outlined the reasons why they did or didn’t wear leggings – which seem to be the focus of the whole conversation. Most didn’t because they felt that leggings were age sensitive. And I thought, if that were true no one over 10 should wear them. There was no real definition of terms and I am still wondering if age sensitive means that the struggle to pull them up would lead to a heart attack or a hunger pang.
I shudder to think about what I would do if I was forbidden to wear leggings, especially in the winter. I love leggings and when, for the few years they went out of style, I ignored the style police and continued to pull them up and on. And are there really things that women over forty shouldn’t wear? Probably. Things like short tops and low jeans. Not because they don’t look nice but it is hard to avoid the middle age fat belt that so many of us find difficult to remove. And probably skirts that are too short, or frilly things that look ridiculous at any age. I think that in the past fifteen years I have seen only one woman who I thought looked totally ridiculous and she was at least eighty wearing spike heels a short skirt and a sweater that showed all her wrinkled cleavage. But I also thought how brave she was not to care that she looked ludicrous in her attire. And I also thought that maybe she had no memory or idea about who she was and how old she had become. Either way it wasn’t my business to decide if she was dressed age appropriately.
There are a whole bunch of things that much more impact on the way a person selects their clothes than age. Weight for example. I am always amazed at the things heavy young women parade around in. They wear outfits that emphasize their size rather than diminish it. And you always see them eating a big burger, a sundae, cheese fries and a giant coke – often reading Seventeen or Vogue. Do they look in a mirror before they leave the house? And if they do is it possible that they don’t see themselves as obese. I guess so because look at all the young women who weigh so little you don’t know where they put their organs, and those men think they are enormous. But back to appropriate. There are women who wear clothing to work that make them look like hookers—regardless of age. And there are those who wear jeans and a t-shirt to formal events. Like the other night when we were at a big glittery photo opening at the Corcoran. There were two kids, about 16, who were wearing ripped jeans and dirty t’s. They were with adults and I couldn’t imagine that their parents allowed them to appear that way. OK yesterday I admitted that I was a dinosaur, but it shows so little respect for the hard work of the artist. Now I know things have changed and we are not wearing white gloves, hats and heels to get on a plane or go to the theater, but I think that parents should be responsible for teaching their kids about how clothing shapes impressions and opinions.
We had a public speaking professor (before it was called communication) in college, Mama Mitchell, who was a big woman—tall not heavy. She used to say, in a booming voice, that “ anything that called attention to itself was in bad taste”. She graded us on how we looked during presentations because she said, “that’s what people will do all your life”. Regrettably, she was right. People do judge you on how you appear. And if you are meeting for business it’s even more important to make sure nothing interferes with what you have to say. I can remember the first time I interviewed a young woman who had her tongue pierced. I didn’t listen to anything she said because I was consumed with how she talked at all. And further I was grossed out just thinking about the process of shoving a needle through your tongue.
I think those things are far more important than age. We all look so young. 60 is the new 30 or 40 I can’t remember. So do you dress for the age you are today, the age you think you are, or the age that the rest of the world agrees doesn’t matter if you think and are young in spirit. On my Dad’s side we were blessed with good genes. My aunt, who is around 80 looks about 60. She dresses in lovely clothes that make her comfortable. She does not wear orthopedic shoes or a bubbe shawl. And I have never heard anyone comment on her appearance except to say she looks wonderful. I’m not going to buy into the “oye, your too old to wear that” conversation. And I would sooner give my soul to the devil then give my leggings to Goodwill. We’re just sayin... Iris