by Sarah Spenser September 07, 2015
Is ageism really a thing? Do you think there comes a time when a woman should not wear clothes that show her shape?
In June , I shared a post on our Facebook page about a lady who had bought the Billion Dollar Baby in olive.
She had coveted it for several weeks, before allowing herself to try it—and she looked amazing in it! She has a natural tan to her skin, and the colour complimented it perfectly, as well as enhancing the colour of her eyes. She has a fabulous size-10 figure, with perfect petite proportion. She has lived a full life, and her children are more than fully grown, but she doesn’t look the 60 years she’s claimed to have been around!
Witnessing the moment she saw herself as an attractive woman again was thrilling. She looked in the mirror and didn’t see a working professional, a mother, or a wife, but a glamorous woman in a snug and fabulous dress.
She had a few of the lumps and bumps we all have— nothing that a seam-free undergarment wouldn’t solve—but we’re not talking a suck-it-all-in type scaffolding garment! (And genuinely, even without it she still looked fab. But the right knickers are important in this dress!)
She took the dress and a couple of other bits and, after a warm hug, skipped out of here with her bag and with eyes a-twinkling. It was lovely. This is why I love my job.
A couple of days later, she came back.
The feedback from home: she was told she looked fat, she was asked why she wanted to dress that way and who she wants to attract, and essentially told that she should be ashamed of herself at her age...
I was knocked sideways with shock. To her credit, she seemed remarkably unfazed by it... but I felt really affected by it, to the point that it was on my mind all day and then I did the Facebook post on it. The feedback was amazing! And I think it started an interesting conversation amongst a few ladies.
Did her looking and feeling fabulous make the other person feel threatened and insecure within themselves? Did they have a right to say such things? Who knows. It is not someone I know. I do not know their personality, their background, their foibles.
What this interaction *did* make me wonder was is this a commonly held view? Are wealthy celebrities the only ladies allowed to feel proud of their bodies as they age? Do we, as women, one day wake up and decide we don’t care how we look any more?
I think there is this idea of “age appropriateness,” which can get confused with common body-image foibles from ladies as they get older. There is a definite correlation betweenwith age and the desire to cover one’s upper arms, for example. (But have I sold a lady a sleeveless red wiggle dress for her 60th birthday? You bet I have! And did she look fabulous? Of course she did!) But it doesn’t necessarily follow that all ladies should cover their arms once they’ve had a particular birthday. I absolutely reject that, and firmly believe that you should dress for your body, your needs, your personality, the event … and that your age shouldn’t come into it.
Take a minute to google Helen Mirren. She is comfortably into her 60s, and is no stranger to a plunging neckline. Take a minute and think about your mum, sister, aunt, whoever is around Mirren’s age in your family. Would you be ashamed of her dressing that way? I think you’re more likely to be proud. Yes, she often wears a sleeve, but the majority of her red carpet outfits are form fitting and sexy. She normally keeps to a knee length skirt or longer, but I don’t think that’s age related—I personally prefer that length and have very few items that show my knees.
I think the reason I’m so saddened by this is because I work very hard at being body positive—both in store and in my own life. When someone comes in wanting a dress, I care very deeply about how they feel when they see their reflection. I also try to be as kind to myself when I’m getting dressed in the morning. (I’ve started dressing for how I want to feel that day, as opposed to how I look—it’s quite fun! You should try it!)
Feeling and looking feminine, sophisticated, glamorous, sexy… These sensations belong to women who do not hound fashion but who dress for themselves, whether they’re 26 or 86
Playing with your personal style can be fun if you don’t allow yourself to be held captive by ‘fashion’ and so-called ‘rules’ that seem to exist for those who follow it. I think we should dress for ourselves- because we know what makes us feel good, and that feeling good about ourselves helps life seem that little bit brighter. Do it for yourself first, and for others and events second. And perhaps, just as crucially, encourage the other women in your life to take the same approach. Let’s take control of ourselves in a world that tells us to sit down and be quiet and dress as we’re told.
Below are the pictures of the lady in question. I have not retouched or added any filters- I have just cropped the images slightly for a better framing. She was wearing a smoothing garment underneath the dress for these (one I own myself and recommended from M&S)
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