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Age-Appropriate Style

There are an estimated 77.3 million Americans who were born during this demographic boom in births. Baby Boomers are now late middle age and entering senior years. In the economy, many are now retiring and leaving the Labor Force.

In 1946, live births in the U.S. surged from 222,721 in January to 339,499 in October. By the end of the 1940s, about 32 million babies had been born, compared with 24 million in the 1930s. In 1954, annual births first topped four million and did not drop below that figure until 1965, when four out of ten Americans were under the age of twenty.

In the years after the war, couples who could not afford families during the Great Depression made up for lost time; the mood was now optimistic. During the war unemployment ended and the economy greatly expanded; afterwards the country experienced vigorous economic growth until the 1970s. The  GI Bill enabled record numbers of people to finish high school and attend college. This led to an increase in stock of skills and yielded higher incomes to families. (Wikipedia: Source)

Why does this matter? With people born in this era, we, for the first time, have a population of older people in our society. Thus, it is now more important than ever for designers to make clothing and style age-appropriate.

There’s a shot in the opening credits of the show, What Not To Wear, that declares “No Mini Skirts After 35,” a sign that plays into the notion that women should cover up once they hit that number. I refuse to think this way as I wear short skirts as a senior citizen! It depends on your legs and what shape you are in and what your confidence level is.

Shane Watson of the Times of London takes on the shady ground of “age appropriate” clothing, noting that magazines praise women over 40, who make the attempt to be trendy and shrug off old “rules,” such as Helen Mirren, who wear gorgeous, skin-baring ensembles instead of the norm for older people. Watson notes, the old “rules” are still stuck in the minds of many women, who feel that they can’t do certain things, like show their arms, because it’s not considered appropriate after a certain age. “We still fall back on the same old mantras: If you are over 40, you, simply should not wear short skirts; or stylish clothing. Every time we open a magazine, we see confirmation that what counts is not age but body shape and confidence.

Times have changed. Women, now in their 40’s, 50’s and even 60’s and 70’s can find stylish outfits that are age-appropriate. Here are some suggestions:

  1. If your arms have aged, wear ¾ or long sleeve tops.
  2. If your legs have veins, you can wear opaque stockings or leg cream to cover.
  3. If you have a tummy (and who doesn’t?) wear loose fitting tops that are not clingy. I find the best ones are without buttons.
  4. Wear long hair (shoulder-length) if you like, but make sure it looks good on your facial shape.
  5. Exercise makes your skin glow. So, be sure to get enough walking into your schedule.

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