Out of the three classic female archetypes, the maiden and mother in particular are celebrated. Traditional rites of passage to usher in the biological changes from juvenile girl to reproductively capable woman, are replaced with the opportunity to shop for now necessary things like bras and baby strollers. Bright colors and fun prints have an upper age limit, and when it comes to the crone, what remains is a basic beige of support hose and orthopedic inserts.
Sonya is wearing: Knitting Pure and Simple # 294 Summer Open Cardigan by Diane Soucy in Rowan Linen Print; 100 Acts of Sewing Dress no. 2; and Pants no. 1 with the ruffle cuff modification.
Who amongst us didn’t spend a good part of their adolescence yearning to be an adult and wishing it would happen faster? Of course, once the growing up happens, we realize there’s no going back, and that maybe there wasn’t any need for all that rush. Indeed, the very definition of irony must involve the lengths a teenager will go to try and look older, with makeup and mannerisms, only to turn around years later and spend untold sums to recapture that youth.
Open Summer Cardigan #294 from Knitting Pure & Simple in Ornaghi Filati Natural; Shirt no. 1; Dress no. 1; and Pants no. 1.
I for one am ready for a discussion on how to age. How to grow old without focusing solely on the aches and pains of the body’s inevitable degeneration. How to be old without constantly looking back at our younger selves as a marker of comparison or with a shroud of regret. We are made to view aging as something that is done to us, an outside force that needs to be stifled, and we are led to believe it’s possible to reverse the effects with the right food, the right cream and/or procedure.
Raglan shrug (own pattern) in Svale by Dale of Norway; Dress no. 2; and Pants no. 1.
The pressure on women to maintain a state of semi-permanent youth has sharply increased in my lifetime. As seductive as the idea is, we can recognize the false promise. But the decades keep shuffling together, with fifty being the new thirty and forty being the new twenty and so on. We need to see the possibility of looking brightly ahead to a future when days are more clearly numbered and not limitless. There are all sorts of hackneyed statements, such as being only as old as you feel or remaining young at heart. Even the idea of growing old gracefully implies as sense of giving up and giving in. Where’s the authentic appreciation of acting your age?
Ten years ago, Ari Seth Cohen started Advanced Style, and what a gift it was to the world. What began as a blog to document on-the-street fashion of older men and women has grown to include and documentary and two books, with a third coming out next year. Looking at the images, one realizes how starved we still are for representations of older faces and older bodies. It is truly a celebration. Of course my eye is drawn to the puckish charm of the clashing patterns, as well as a severe case of hat envy.
img 004: Radiance Shawlette by Tina Whitmore in Freia Handpaints Ombré Sport; Dress no. 2; and Pants no. 2.
We should strive to channel the Jenny Joseph poem, “Warning,” and start dressing in ways that will hint at our collective futures. So many expectations of how women should age are unrealistic, not to mention hopelessly biased. Grant yourself the permission now to express creative freedom, and you’ll be well on your way for the next and best chapter. Please ready your fingers at the keyboard and complete the statement:
When I am an old woman I shall wear ___________.