Recently, I wore a cropped sweater to work and one of the kids accused me of not dressing my age. I was so outraged by the comment that I demanded to know why she expected me to kowtow to society’s construct of how women should dress in middle-age?
Needless to say, she looked back at me blankly
The comment reminded me how much I despise the assumption that the minute they turn fifty, women are expected to dress in a certain way. Which is why this week I decided to forgo another doom and gloom commentary on the state of the world (or mention of the word Victoria, for those of you here in Australia), and instead provide you with some light relief on another topic I’m equally not very qualified to write about.
I’m talking fashion, ladies!
Before I go any further, let me say that I do understand the unbridled bliss experienced around the globe by middle-aged women as a result of the Covid-related excuse our governments gave us to wear activewear all of the time. However, if you’re anything like me (who quite likes getting dolled up once in a while), you’ve must be pretty excited about the reopening of stores and the prospect of not having to spend a large proportion of your week in the “returns” aisle at your local post office.
Don’t get me wrong, I love comfort, but sometimes I also like to primp and preen. The last four months of sanctions have been hard on those of us who are not naturally online shoppers, added to which I’m feeling a lot more body-confident having lost 5kgs in a torturous diet imposed on me by my shaming, fitness-crazy husband between January and March, the results of which I am eager to flaunt.
Because, let’s be honest, it’s only a matter of time before I get back on the carb bandwagon
So I decided to look at the staples in my wardrobe – the timeless, classic items that don’t age me and that I wear to death, particularly at this time of year – which is winter in Australia, a time when we can tuck the muffin top away in stretch jeans, hide the bat wings under oversized jumpers, and conceal the greys under caps and woolly hats.
And I discovered that I’ve been wearing most of these wardrobe essentials year in, year out, just as you can, wherever you live in the world. So if you’re a middle-aged woman who enjoys clothes, refuses to be put in the corner, and enjoys getting dressed up (on the rare occasion there’s nothing on Netflix), CHECK OUT MY ESSENTIALS, and let me know what you think or if you have anything to add:
1. Skinny jeans – I know, I know, but hear me out, because it might surprise you to know that whatever your size, you can probably carry these off – especially now they’re available in a wide range of stretchy fabrics. In terms of Australian stockists, I like the Zara ones and the Decjuba “Riley” style, but I recently bought some at Country Road that are surprisingly flattering – because normally, nothing fits me in there. Make sure you get the high-waisted version for tucking in the muffin top and full-length – which gives you the option to roll them up. You may as well write “middle-aged” on your forehead if you go for the cropped version.
2. White Sneakers – I’m not sure why I avoided this trend for such a long time, but when I found a pair in Sportsgirl (for only $40), I couldn’t resist. Needless to say, I’ve worn them to death. The great thing about these shoes is that they’re neutral in colour (so they go with literally anything) and you can dress them up or down, depending on the occasion and your mood. Here’s Elle’s guide to the best white sneakers.
If you follow my socials, some of you will know that I splashed out on a black pair of sneakers from Guess this week. My son assures me they’re not too glitzy, but put it this way, I could compete with Tutankharmun’s tomb for the amount of bling on them.
3. The denim jacket – Another classic, which is a wardrobe staple for most of my friends in the UK that I decided I was too old for until I saw the one below in Katie’s (at 50% off). This is another wardrobe must-have because it’s just so versatile. And guess what, denim on denim is back, so you can pull off a Justin/Britney moment if your partner’s up for it. But if you’re not brave enough for that, this jacket is the perfect compliment to your patterned skirts and culottes as we move into spring.
4. Culottes – Love em or hate em (and I BLOODY LOVE them) – these are here to stay. Culottes are as contentious a topic as Vegemite and Marmite between women, but I think they flatter most body shapes and are more versatile than cargo pants. I’ve got culottes in a range of colours and fabrics, but I get most use out of my neutral ones. From a comfort perspective, I couldn’t live without them. I haven’t made a decision about the wider, longer 30s-style ones to recently hit the stores, but I’m sure we’ll be wearing this style of pant for a while longer. (Culottes below from MinkPink).
5. High-neck jumpers and tops – Whatever season you’re in right now, the roll-neck is back for some seventies comfort and style. There are long-sleeved, chunky versions for winter, and short-sleeved options if you’re in summer. Polo-necks, (as I was brought up to call them), are classy (in the same way as the twin set) and send out the message that you are a thinking, sexy women. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about high-neck jumpers on men – unless they’re Idris Elba, a Russian spy, or a sexy, young professor in search of their Mrs Robinson. Personally, I’ve always loved high-necked jumpers because they hide my eight chins, and I love this top from Seed.
Anything you’d like to add to the list?
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