Every year the fashion glossies tell you what to wear at your age. You’ve seen the spreads: “What to wear at 20, 30, 40, 50 . . . ”
This year, in an attempt to push
the envelope, Vogue included style tips for 70-year-olds: “Wear bold and bright accessories.” Apparently, color is the reward for spending your 50s and 60s in beige. Other fashion mavens warn 30-year-olds to cease and desist with low-rise jeans, baby-doll dresses, puffed sleeves and belly-baring tees, regardless of their figures.
Who comes up with these rules? And why? Los Angeles is a town known for breaking fashion rules. We’ve always worn white after Labor Day and open-toed shoes year-round. The sight of an older woman showing a lot of skin, or dressed in super-trendy duds, is fodder for a debate — can she get away with that? Madonna runs around in a leotard, Demi Moore snags a man nearly half her age — but I can’t wear low-rise jeans? Go to the Grove on any given day and count the number of adult women dressed like teenagers. (One of our writers tallied 34 in an hour.) Is it the starlet-hungry movie biz that drives our desire to stay young? We seem to have more MILFs per square foot here than any other town.
Recently it was declared that “50 is the new 30.” If that’s true, does that make 30 the new teenager? Apparently we’ve finally figured out a way to attain eternal youth — just start counting backward. Many baby boomers will turn 60 this year; the generation who wouldn’t trust anyone over 30 are now well beyond, or are they? Next year, no doubt 60 will be the new 29 — at least if the ladies of the Blue Thong Society have any say. The group (a chapter coming to a town near you) was founded by women over 50 in San Diego who vow to “fight frump.” Jackie Tushinsky, a founding member, told The San Diego Union-Tribune, “We want women who are younger to see women over 50 that are still having fun, still healthy, still kicking it.”
Oh, the fashion times they are a changin’. Now, young women want to dress like their grannies. Is modesty making a comeback? Does the venerable age-appropriate debate apply when a 20-year-old dresses like she’s 60?
This issue explores age in fashion. We delve into Hollywood as the fashion fountain of youth and take an in-depth look at the rise of granny-chic. What should you wear at your age? Now more than ever, that’s up to you.
P.S.: I got a chance to show Bud Cort our Harold and Maude–inspired granny-chic shoot (page 48). The star of the 1971 film looked at the pictures, smiled and said, “That's exactly what Maude looked like to Harold.”