Dressing your age

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They’re adorable, aren’t they? I just got back from a week in Saly with these two lovely young ladies. Saying that makes me sound so old! But that’s a great segue into the topic of this post: dressing your age.

When I was asking these two about their outfits and why they chose them, Angèle made a comment about how hard it is for her to dress in a way that’s not too young, but also without pretending she’s an adult. I really admired her desire to dress appropriately for her age. She and Cari are both beautiful young women, inside and out.

It got me thinking about the challenges I face in dressing appropriately for my age/stage in life. I am a 32-year-old wife and mom. This means that (among other things) high-waisted pants, the color white and cropped jackets are OUT. Not even options.

Because of the context in which we live, I also avoid anything above the knee, thin-strapped tops and flip-flops outside the home. The way I dress reflects on my husband, so I try to put on ‘real’ clothes (unless I’m headed out to run, this means no yoga pants) when I leave our apartment. Sometimes I am more successful than others… But when I look at the women in our building who are my age, I see that none of them ever leave their homes dressed sloppily or even casually. They are definitely ‘Madames’.

So I gave it try. Like I said, I’m trying to avoid the yoga pants and flip-flops and being sure my legs and shoulders are covered a bit more. I’ve also started wearing nicer jewelry and make-up more often. And, since hanging out more with Jenn, I seem to be pulling outfits together with accessories rather than just wearing a top/bottom. Who knew that Madame-ing it up could be so fun?

Dressing our age can be challenging at any stage in life. But I want it to be a welcome challenge, almost like a rite of passage. And I want to set a good example for the next generation. (There I go sounding like an old grandma again!)

What guidelines do you choose to follow and what advice would you give to those looking to dress their age?

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6 thoughts on “Dressing your age

  1. This is a great topic K! I often feel that I live and interact with a group of people who dress like eternal world-travelling kids. We live in our comfortable, colourful, global pieces. (“Oh, this? I got it in the souk/old market in Marrakech.” :P) We are journalists and aid workers- and you can tell!
    But I am often challenged by my friend Oumayma. She wears a veil, but rather than this restricting her fashion sense, she looks trendy, put to-gether and sophisticated every day. She is proof that even us 20-30 somethings who live the single, globe-trotting life can dress professionally and with confidence. It’s something to think about.

  2. Whenever we move to a new country, I always try to find women in the neighborhood who are respected and “godly” and try to dress like them. Or at least think that I should dress like them. I haven’t been very successful here in Dakar because they dress up and in skirts or dresses ALL the time! But when I do dress like the respected women in my community, my accepted-ness (is that a word?) increases greatly!
    Time to go to the tailor I guess! 🙂

  3. It’s interesting, to me, how this translates globally. Here in the states I notice A LOT of women my age (30’s…yikes) dress much younger. And inappropriately, in my opinion.

    I try to put forth effort to definitely dress respectful…nothing too tight, short, etc. put on minimum makeup, at least and no yoga pants/sweats in public. This winter my uniform tended to be jeans, moccasins or boots, a sweater or a cute t-shirt worn with a cardigan. Now that it’s warmer it’s a sundress or shorts with a top.

    Anyways…it’s weird what middle age does to us! 5 yrs ago I never gave any of this any thought. But now it’s important to me for many reasons, mainly being that I want to set a good, godly example for my daughter in ALL areas of life.

  4. Common ladies, 30s is not the middle age:) is the best time in woman’s life, when she is young and beautiful and knows that! That’s why starts to apply more make up to valorize her natural beauty and spends more time in front of the mirror creating new outfits, she loves herself and adores to look at herself in the mirror:) (if time permits) knows what to hide and what to show:)

    But the subject is really important, as we should live our age and dress according to it, and that’s true that many women do not care about that! Here in Italy women even in 40s and, believe me I’ve seen one lady in 50s, put mini skirt (she had great legs, but couldn’t say the same about the face). Most of them are fashion victims.

    Apart from that, for older ladies I would suggest not to compete with teenagers, let them enjoy their time as well as you should do:) as well if you are 30s don’t look as 40s you’ll have time for that, hopefully.

    So the skirt with time should become longer for sure, not shorter! I love elegance. But for the rest I believe, as well as all fashion, is expression of yourself, then we can talk about the context: place, time… And what impact has the cultural environment? Can I ask you, Khady, what do you mean when you say “The way I dress reflects on my husband”.

    Why “high-waisted pants, the color white and cropped jackets are OUT”?

    I stepped into 30s and I am a mom of two small kids. I try to fill my wardrobe with clothes that make me beautiful and enjoy mixing them together, can’t resist shoes and bags:) learn to use make-up:) I am not “gazelle skirt” so no yoga pants even at home, that’s for sure, prefer leggings and oversized tops.

    • Hi Diana,

      Since I have a toddler (who often has dirty hands!) running around, I prefer to avoid white. It’s just less frustration for everyone. 🙂 And for now I feel more comfortable not showcasing my mid-section, so that’s why no high-waisted pants or cropped jackets. But soon, inchalla…

      I was told by a Senegalese friend that the way a married woman dresses is either a source of pride or shame for her husband. So for me to dress more elegantly, refined, etc… reflects well on him. But for me to dress sloppily or showing too much skin would be dishonoring. So that’s a big motivator for me to look nicer!

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