Thursday, 2 July 2009

When is one too old for a certain look?

Oh, Baby! (Jane)

Firstly, let me apologise for the abundance of badly self-taken phone-cam photos that have appeared on this blog lately, after the last two I had decided not to take any more for a while as they are lowering the tone of my high quality blog. ;)

But I was struck by inspiration today and as I am off to the Hep Cats Holiday tomorrow (I can barely sit still for excitement!) I won't have time to take a proper pic or blog about it over the weekend. So here it is before I lose my train of thought... or rather, before it is replaced by important decisions about what to wear over the weekend!

There was a debate going on recently over at the Fedora Lounge's Powder Room, started by a lady of 48, who wanted to know if she was too old for vintage styles. The general consensus (and my own personal opinion) was, that one can never be considered to be too old to wear whatever the hell one likes, and other people be-damned! I am paraphrasing of course. But what everyone agreed on is that older ladies should avoid things that are too 'cutesy' or 'young', as that would be something of a faux pas. Then, over at Vintage Schmintage, another fabulous 30-something vintage devotee was wondering whether on- or ever-so-slightly-above-the-knee skirts were something she could get away with, or should definitely avoid for fear of looking like mutton dressed as lamb. (Side note - you won't be able to see this thread unless you register as a member of VS as many rooms are private). Our opinion was that as long as one has good knees, just slightly above the knee is fine, but none of us vintage ladies would go higher, simply from an aesthetic point of view.

Finally (I will get to the point soon, promise!) there's always a debate running somewhere on the Fedora Lounge about authenticity in the vintage world. Some are absolute sticklers for it, and others more blasé. I fall somewhere between the two, I like to look exactly as though I stepped out of the past, but I don't have any qualms about mixing eras. Re-enactors are even more dedicated, although a comment I often see is that people involved in recreating battles and things are often too old, or too portly to be *real* WWII/Civil War/whatever soldiers, thereby rendering obsolete their efforts at reproducing small details as accurately as possible. But if they enjoy it, does it actually matter? Not really, in my humble opinion.

Now, to the point. This is me today.




I am wearing the same pinafore dress I wore a week or two ago to go out dancing in, but all these posts I've read lately have got me thinking. The bemused expression on my face is there because I am having a slight sartorial dilemma.

Now, I am not a re-enactor, so I am not overly concerned with the same sort of accuracy as re-enactors invariably are, especially not in my every day outfits. I am just a girl who finds vintage clothing to be more pleasing to my eye, and said clothing and hairstyles to be flattering to both my figure and my bone structure. I do love a lot of elements of Golden Era style, décor, music and cars, but not to the same degree as the clothes and hairstyles, plainly, or I would own more of those things. But wearing my pinafore, and reading these threads sowed a tiny seed of doubt in my mind. There's no question that pinafores were the preserve of younger girls than I in the Golden Era. But I continue to wear this one because I think it is pretty, not to mention unusual in this day and age. I did have to take the hem down though, as it was about 2 inches above my knee when I got it, and it did look as if I was wearing a child's dress. But that is more a byproduct of me being very tall, than the dress itself.

But could there be said to be an expiry date for such frilly and, some would say, fussy frocks? At 28, am I already straying into Baby Jane territory, or do I have a few more years of ruffles ahead of me? This dilemma was compounded because I opened a parcel last night to find another of my latest vintage purchases, a lovely green pinafore with white rick-rack, which I can't wait to wear this weekend.

I suppose my own conclusion is that it depends on the person, and if I am comfortable in my pinafores, then I should just carry on regardless. And I have never been one to care about what people think of me (my loved ones are long past judging me for my sartorial choices!), but I don't want to look like a joke, I always aim to be a stylish, if unconventional sort. And I did receive a lovely compliment today from a lady who works in the Tescos local to my workplace, who told me that she and her colleagues look forward to me coming in, so they can see what I'm wearing and how I've done my hair that day! It put a smile on my face, I can tell you!

So really, I have kind of answered my own question and this blog was really just me musing on the subject, but I would be interested to head others' points of views on it all.

Anyway, I am trying to finish off my work so I can get packing for the weekend... I absolutely can't wait! I'll be back with pictures and stories on Monday!



Byeeee!

Fleur xx

53 comments:

  1. I think the real vintage afficionados are sometimes a bit too stuffy for their own good. I dress in head to toe vintage nearly everyday, but I do mix it up. Like you, I don't do it because I feel I have to, but because I like the way it looks and feels. It isn't 1950 anymore, and that's a fact that some people are really hesitant to embrace. Certain things were worn because they had to be and people didn't have much choice. Today we do. If you want to wear a pinafore dress today, and you think it looks good on you then do it. We are given much more freedom now then our ancestors ever were and I think we should embrace that fact. I happen to think the pinafore looks lovely on you, ruffles or not. You're not wearing a cut off tube top and a mini skirt in public, so there really isn't anything inappropriate about your outfit. If it makes you happy and comfortable go for it, and people around you will sense your happiness and feel the same about your ouftit as you do.

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  2. I am 36 and will still wear a ruffle or puffed sleeve. I do not go completely over the top. But hell's bells, if I look good in it why should I not?
    I also mix eras and do not stick to just one decade, as many appeal to me.
    Good for you for wearing what you like, and may I add, you look stunning in everything that I have seen.

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  3. I have a kind of similar issue, I used to be very into 60s fashion and never out of a mini (4 or 5" above the knee), but a couple of years ago when I hit 25 I just suddenly felt too old to wear a short skirt! Nowadays, just above the knee is as short as I dare to go, I am only 5' so I thought I'd always be able to get away with short styles, but I dunno, just being paranoid I guess!

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    1. Ha ha ha! Those of us who lived through 60s fashion stopped wearing skirts entirely for decades! (Thus the Hilary Clinton pantsuit ...)

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  4. My era is the 50's and my biggest worry is when does it become declase` to wear shorts or two-piece playsuits with bra tops. It's doubly compounded by the fact that inside my head I just don't think or feel as old as I actually am! I also hope I don't look it!

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  5. First of all, Fleur that dress is lovely! As I said over on Vintage Schmintage, I honestly thing it's about what you feel comfortable in. I don't think it's too over the top with regard to ruffles etc, plus, a lady can let out her girly side every now & then anyway!

    Dressing in vintage clothing I don't think anyone would judge you on if something is too old or too young (you know I worry about looking like a nan!) it's more a case of 'OMG look at that freak dressed in victorian clothes!' isn't it? ;D

    Saying that, I do think the more 'hardcore' vintage peoples would maybe have something to say, especially about mixing eras (shock horror!!!!) but if that is really the case they shouldn't actually be on the internets looking at this post anyway really should they?!!!

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  6. It's nearly 3am, so I'm keeping this brief...
    Women wore pinafores as apron type things, though, so I don't think you're too old. I know there's a difference between wearing something as a protective piece of clothing as to an everyday garment but you pull it off!
    -Andi B. Goode x

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  7. Where on earth do you find all these lovely pinafores.?!

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  8. you may as well ask at 48 if you are too old to dress stylishly.it's the same difference to me.

    If you have to ask the question then obviously you are not comfortable with the choice of style you have made for yourself.

    ( when I say you, I don't mean you Fleur, I mean you in general terms)

    If I start to look like baby jane, I'd hope one of you would tell me so.
    I'm not saying i'm wonderfully stylish, but I enjoy what I wear.
    I have seen much younger women than myself trying to perfect the vintage look, whilst they have dewy youth on their side, they don't always get the look.

    It's not about how old you are, it's how you carry it off.

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  9. I agree with all of the above. I think you look beautiful, so who cares what anyone else thinks?

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  10. Hello my darling friend Fleur!

    I think that you are absolutley gorgeous and can wear whatever the heck you feel like wearing. For as long as you feel like it! In my opinion we all have a love and appreciation for the beauty of eras gone past and dress like this because we love to! As long as you are styling your outfit with according accessories, hair & makeup. There should be no problem or age limit if it makes you a happy camper! And no one should make anyone feel bad or like they are better than the next person. Pinafores are darling dresses. I don't think the age that you are matters in wearing one. It is the fact that it is definatley a 40's war time style dress and it is an accurate choice to wear one if you are aiming to represent that era. I have several of them and I will rock them for as long as I feel like rocking them! LOL!

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  11. The only time I'll voice disapproval is when I see a rather haggard middle aged woman who is wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy past their sell-by date trying to dress like they're Jayne Mansfield or Marilyn!

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  12. oh heck Miss T ~ i was going for that look next.....

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  13. If you feel confident that you can pull it off successfully then usually you can!

    I do like the point made up there though about miniskirts for a 60s look. Heck, even the queen wore miniskirts, but to my eye, mod clothes (like Paul Weller haircuts, cravats and denim jackets on blokes, dyed black severe bobs and brightly-coloured miniskirts on women) start to look a bit cartoonish on older people. I think the thing with that is, the 60s look was so much a young person's thing that it does look a bit out of place on older people. Because even though the queen wore a miniskirt, she still had a shampoo 'n' set on which to balance her tiara.

    That said, some people can carry it off. I think though that if your figure starts to show signs of age (like when men get that oddly pregnancy-esque middle aged spread) there's some clothes that just won't look right, so it's time to move away from those to ones that are more flattering.

    And flattering does not mean the men's department in Marks & Spencer where wives shop for oatmeal sweaters for their hubbies. Flattering doesn't have to mean boring.

    Erm... why am I wittering on about men's clothing?!

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  14. Helen - totally agree w/ you on the men's clothing. Hollywood waist trousers don't suit a man with a big gut! It resembles little old mens' wear! Haha...

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  15. I love the pinafore on you! Does it happen to be a Georgiana frock? I have a very similar one, except that it has a green background with white stripe. I am 27 and still wear mine :)
    I think there seems to be a great divide of people in the 'vintage' world. There are those that are more into tattoos, rat rods, and a more rough version of the 1950s. I think they are more open to 'anything goes' and more accepting to looks & styles that are not true to the decade (i.e. psychobilly). And there is another group of people who are dedicated to accurate details of a bit older look of the 1930s to 40s. I'm sure this divide developed from the 90s revival of swing and the other revival of rockabilly through the 80s & 90s.

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  16. i agree with the comments that you should wear what you like and i think i hate that we look at age by the number! i'll be 35 next month and i really dont think that means anything really other than i've been on this earth for 35 years. there are people younger and older that know more and less than i do and so it doesnt matter the number each of us is a mix of our life experiences and what we choose to believe. what is age appropriate is a society thing

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  17. Fleur, you always look bloody amazing. I do understnad what you mean though, at 25 I do sometimes think what I'm wearing would be better suited to an 18 year old, but as other peole have said, it depends on both your attitude and your figure. You are the judge; and a very good one at that.

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  18. i'm in love with your style! you're perfect!

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  19. At a-few-months-from-30 age, I worry about this far to much...until I see pictures like http://www.gademode.dk/?p=3004 and then I think "Well, to hell with it. They looks like they have interesting stories to tell, and I want to be like that."

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    1. Thank you for that link....I've been worried that maybe I'm too old to pull this all off but now...I feel I can keep doing it forever! LOVE IT! =)

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  20. I think you hit the nail on the head - if you have doubts or are uncomfortable at the thought of wearing something, you may be too 'mature' to wear it.

    I'm only 19, so for me it's saddle shoes and bobby sox. I love seeing pictures of teenage style in the 40s and 50s, but I would feel uncomfortable dressing that young.

    I think you look great, and I guess eventually we'll all be unable to fit into younger styles. ;)

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  21. Dear Fleur, I am an aspiring vintage wearer from Sweden ( so please forgive any misspellings...) and who, at the ripe ole´age of 45 :), just thinks you should go for what makes you feel and look good ! Life is to short for anything else...

    Personally I am starting a bit slow, not for lack of daring, more a matter of wanting to loose some weight and grow longer nails first :D

    Take care !
    "Diva"

    Ps I enjoy your blog immensly ! Keep up the exquisite work ! ;)

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  22. Oh dear - I just bought ruffles .. I'm 44 this month.

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  23. Style is so individual. We all know that girl who can pull off the most ridiculous outfits that the masses would look like Turkeys wearing. The 2 big questions people should ask themselves when making unconventional fashion choices are:
    Does that outfit REALLY look good on me?
    and Do I have the moxie to pull it off?

    I don't think age makes much difference. Either you've got the face, figure and personality to wear said garment, or you don't.

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  24. All I have to say is that I am 30... currently wearing a school girl skirt and proudly go by the name Lolita.

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  25. I love the pinafore on you! I think people should wear whatever they fancy, is appropriate to the occasion and makes them feel good about themselves, but I'm about to turn 28, too, and I know what you are feeling. Being 5'1", I feel like I have to be extra careful about not accidentally looking like a 10-year-old (albeit an unusually busty 10-year-old). If I wear a pinafore or a ruffly skirt, I try to balance it with grown-up heels or other accessories. And I try to wear it with a "grown up" attitude and confidence :-).

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  26. it all has to do with your attitude and styling. I hope people can trust their mirror for a cut off age. Then again, people who dress in modern clothes need to know when to say no (ie Spandex is not for all body types). The pinafore looks cute on you. I say go for it.

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  27. You can wear anything you want.

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  28. Couldnt agree more with you all- but I think empress jade hit it on the head for me (except not ever having heard the word moxie before- very cute!) At 41 I have a pact with my pals that they will tell me if I ever wear anything that is not right or if it's time to pack it away. That being said at 41 I reckon I have just become comfortable in my own skin enough to wear some things that I never thought I would look good in (figure hugging glamorous stuff). As I have headed into my 30s and now 40s I have the confidence to dress like a woman rather than a girl! Wear what you feel good in- if you feel right you can pull anything off (as long as you have a trusted pal who will whisper in your ear if you have really crossed the line!)michele xx

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  29. I think everyone has answered the question already! Wear what you want if you feel comfortable in it. And I think you look great! It suits you because you have the height to pull it off. I think a shorter girl with more baby-faced features would not be able to wear the same dress without looking like a child.

    As for re-enacting an era - Each to their own of course but we are living in the 'noughties' and we have so much choice - so what does it matter if your dress only *looks* vintage or you've paired it with a bag that is 4 years ahead of it's 'correct' time?

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  30. Oh I am glad you have bought this up, it's such an interesting point. It has crossed my mind with one or two things I have (I'm 28) and feel ambivalent about them...

    BUT I love this dress on you, and don't think it looks childlike at all – and I agree, I think it's because of the length, too.

    Have a great weekend!

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  31. I have been having a similar crisis... about my hair. I regularly wear it in two waist-length plaits and realised that it is going grey and I am starting to look like a mad cat-keeping backwoodswoman. Dye it? Cut it? Both? I am 45 going on 12...
    : )

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  32. Honestly I don't think Baby Jane looks at all bad. I see a person expressing how they feel on the inside and fully owning their getup. She looks eccentric, sure, but that's only something you want to avoid if.. you're specifically wanting to avoid looking eccentric.

    All anyone has to do is believe in what they're wearing, I think.

    Often "mutton dressed as lamb" arises, I think, because people aren't thinking "damn I look awesome in this" but rather "damn a youngster would look awesome in this, I hope people forget I'm not a youngster, oh god I'm so old, THINK I'M HOT AND YOUNG, THINK I'M HOT AND YOUNG!".

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  33. Roobeedoo - don't get me going on hair!
    I've dark brown curls now heading silver grey but with a rather fetching stripe at the front .. I refuse to dye because I'm quite vain, but it's the coarseness that's such a pain.
    Luckily the curly vintage styles I favour seem to work well with the aging hair... and certainly as I've got older my vintage style has gone back a decade. I no longer bounce about in circle skirts, tie tops and bobby socks like I did in the 80's. I find a 40's silhouette is far more becoming on me..and far sexier.
    ;-)

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  34. First of all I must say that I love your blog!!!

    And the seccond thing is that I think your thinking is right! (Mabey I should appolagise for my bad spelling and gramar, I´m a reader from Sweden ;) ) I beleve that as long as we do not liwe in the (for example) the 40´s it is ok to blend different eras as long as you think you look good! And the only one that can decide if something is apropriate is your own judgement!

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  35. you look absolutley fab in that frilled frock. You shouldn´t worry about the rest. However if you find yourself looking in the mirror looking like Jane, maybe you should reconsider, she looks a little bit scary...

    I hope the weekend brings everything you hope it will!
    /Linn

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  36. You look fabulous in your pinafore! And 28 is hardly old my dear :-)

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  37. You look beautiful in the ruffly dress, as always!
    I think too many people worry about social norms and what we 'should' look like...If you like it and want to wear it, you should!

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  38. My mother is just short of 50, and while she doesn't dress vintage, she certainly dresses much, much more fashionably than I do, and she always looks wonderful. I don't think age is an issue at all.

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  39. I gave you a blog award! Check it out on www.glmgrl.blogspot.com.

    XOXO,
    Glamour Girl

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  40. This reminds me of a similar dilemma I faced at work today. I work in a boutique, and a lovely, stately woman wanted my honest opinion. She held up an empire waist dress with a tie at the bustline and a brightly colored paisley print and asked, "Is this too young for me?" I was taken aback; I'm 24 (though I look about 18) and own the very dress. I never imagined it on someone much older than me. I'm afraid I gave a rather weak response: "Try it on. If you like it, and you're comfortable in it..." I suppose that's all that matter. Confidence is key to making any look work. I think you're certainly young and beautiful enough to rock pinafores for years to come! And even when you're no longer young, your fabulous fashion will keep you young at heart. <3

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  41. I think the pinafore looks lovely on you! You can probably get away with a lot of frilly styles that are quite 'young' because you have the height and bone structure of a model. Because you are slim and long limbed, these things just look fun and playful rather than frumpy and silly. Anyway, you seem to have excellent taste in clothes, so I would trust my own judgement if I were you. I'm sure you wouldn't wear anything that looked really wrong :)

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  42. I love your beautiful dress !

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  43. Thank you all for your input - I'm glad to have inspired such a good debate, and especially one in which everyone agrees with me ;)

    I will continue to wear my pinafores with pride for a good few years, I think I am probably the best judge as to when it's going to start looking Baby Jane-ish because I suspect I will realise when it does. But still, an interesting subject nonetheless.

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  44. Mkay... I am a reenactress (of a lot of eras including WWII) and I also wear '30s/'40s clothing for my everyday wear. While I do indeed try to be as accurate as I can, I do mix eras every now and again. Having said that about accuracy- that's a damned cute dress and don't you ever think you're too old to wear it! :D More besides, if you ARE worried about accuracy, I've seen plenty of pics of dresses with ruffles, especially house dresses, on women that are quite a bit older than yourself! :]

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  45. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  46. And yes, I agree, it's your body and you can damn well dress it in whatever you want to! :D And if you ever think YOU look funny- well sometimes I go out wearing anything from clothing from the Middle Ages to the 1950s simply because that's the kind of mood I'm in that day. And if you think 28 is too old to do anything, think again! Because really, you don't even have to think about worrying about getting old until you're 82, not 28! :D

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  47. I've always thought body appropriate to be more important, umless you're clearly elderly and/or dressing in trendy teen styles taken straight from the junior's department or the streets.

    The other thing is confidence and how comfortable you feel in whatever outfit you choose. I am a youthful looking 40-something gal, and I dress "young" (not synoymous with slutty or overtly sexual). I feel comfortable in my own skin dressing as I always have essentially for the last 20 or so years.

    I do not shop Chicos or Coldwater Creek even though it's targeted to my age group because I wouldn't feel comfortable in those clothes. They aren't my style. So your personality, your body type, and your confidence level and comfort are the only things that should ever drive your fashion choices.

    If you stick with those things you will always be appropriate, imho.

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  48. I am agreement with everybody - wear what you like and ta heck with everybody else. I am 41 and I wore a dress just like that (only brown and white) to my brother's wedding in August, it never dawned on me that I maybe too old for such a thing...

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  49. Hello Fleur,
    Rules of style can all become a little confusing, especially when one adds vintage styles to the mix. You look lovely in your pinafore dress, ruffles and all. I think as long as the dress hits slightly above the knee or lower, it is appropriate to wear at any age.If you really think about it, pinafore dresses are not the type of piece that is remade often or updated for new styles. It is recognizable to mid 20th century fashion, and for that reason, it is still appropriate to wear at 30 and 40, because it's youthful in apperance, but still very conservative in today's style terms. This conservatism is what makes ok for any woman to wear. At least you're not walking around in booty shorts and a midriff top, that is a look that should not be replicated by anyone, regardless of age.

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  50. Hi. First I'd like to thank you because I just read a book (Mommie Dearest) where the author talked about wearing pinafores and I didn't know what they were. So now I've seen one. :) It looks good on you, and your hair in makeup is always great.

    I have had the same experience thinking I'm too old for some of my clothes - I'm 26 but if it's too trendy I think it looks like I'm wearing a teenager's clothes. So I just wear what I'm comfortable with.

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  51. Growing older doesn't mean you have to elimanate wild style completely, you just have to learn to accentuate the postive! At our shop we cater to dozens of "over the hill" clients with unique personal taste! We don't do trends. Older women should lok both outside and inside. Everyone knows what suits them best.
    http://www.offbroadwayboutique.com/

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