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"Am I too old to wear this?" | Age appropriate fashion

If your Mum is anything like my Mum, you, at some point in your life will have been asked to answer the question; "I love this, but it is a bit too young for me?" - usually as she wistfully strokes an item of clothing that is in any way fashionable or quirky.  Now, I am of the opinion that people should be able to wear whatever the hell they like regardless of their age, and I'm certainly not of the opinion that on reaching 50, women should be required to hand over their wardrobes in exchange for a sea of beige garments and a Clarks' privelige card.  But the question of 'age appropriate fashion' has crossed my mind on more than one occasion recently and I wanted to get your opinions on the issue.

Last week I was on my way to work when I drove past a gang of schoolgirls - approximate age 13 - several of whom were wearing the same Primark backpack I bought last week.  It occurred to me at the time that, given that my next major birthday is the big 3-0, perhaps I shouldn't be sharing clothing tastes with someone half my age.  In the past I have also been told that I dress like someone's 15 year old niece, dress like a student, and my ID is required on almost every purchase of alcohol (or, recently, scissors).  Although outfit posts on here usually feature dresses or skirts, I am also often found at the weekend wearing skinny jeans, pumps and a tattoo company t-shirt or checked shirt.  At work I usually wear dresses and skirts - but sometimes a dress with a sailboat print or polka dot pattern, sometimes slim legged trousers and deck shoes, sometimes leggings and a long Breton t-shirt.  But I am increasingly beginning to wonder if this is what other 27-year-olds wear, or indeed, what other people expect a 27-year-old to wear.

from: http://weheartit.com

When I was younger, 27 was old.  27 was 'Children, a family, a house and an important job.'  In my head, then, 27 year old women wore white shirts, jeans and tan heels at the weekends.  Men wore v-neck jumpers and polo shirts.  Now I am 27, I wonder if other people think the same.  Maybe the reason I get ID'ed in Sainsbury's is because people think that anyone wearing aztec print trousers, tunnels in their ears and hair with an (unintentional) lilac tinge must be under 18.

Elsewhere in my life I'm certainly not dragging my heels in terms of reaching adulthood. My regular endeavours of gardening, baking, decorating our house and being tucked up in bed with a good book at 9pm do not, I'd argue, imply that I'm desperately hanging on to my youth.  But maybe people would look at my nautical print clothes, stripey pumps, brightly coloured nail varnish and turned up jeans and argue the opposite.  What do you think? Are there things that people of certain ages shouldn't wear? Do you think there's such a thing as dressing too young for your age?

41 comments

  1. Haha I'm the same - I'm 23 now and when I was 12 thought I'd be on top of the world. Instead I'm at Uni, skint and boring. I'm starting to think I'm too old for mini skirts and dresses, but maybe its just that I'm denying my weight gain haha Xx

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  2. A really interesting post Rosie! I love that you're the sort of girl that likes 'homely' things like you mentioned in your post about often preferring to stay at home than go out partying but I think I love the fact that you still wear patterned leggings and fun nail varnish even more! I think everyone should wear and do whatever makes them happy. So if a bit of Sunday gardening in your Breton top and turned up jeans is your thing then I salute you hehe!

    Claire @cwaterworth xxx

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  3. Yes, I totally get where you're coming from! I'll be 27 in July and I totally don't feel like a grown up - all around me friends are getting married/having babies/buying houses and I'm not even sure I WANT that stuff, let alone am close to being in the situation. I do think these days you can't really tag age to dress sense, anything goes as far as I can tell! Like my style changes fairly regularly but my best girl friend has been dressing the same way most of her life, so guess it depends on the individual. Personally I like anchor dresses and your fab hair :)

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  4. Great post. I am 30 next year and I have asked myself the same question a lot lately! I often get asked for Id and I'm often told I don't look my age, but I love quirky jewellery, cute prints, crazy nail polish and bright lip stick. I often try to tone things down for work but I end up wearing outfits I consider boring and I definitly don't feel like me! X

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  5. I ask myself the same thing, I'm 26 in 6 weeks.. and dress in pretty similar outfits as you. I don't think there's anything wrong with that or we should dress our age. But I guess we probably wouldn't get IDed so much if we wore a suit and courts every day! but where's the fun in that?! x

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  6. I know exactly what u mean!!At 27,Im often ided and told I dress like a 12 year old,however I dont think anyone my age dresses how my 15 year old self perceived people my age to dress. I wonder if that's to do with naive perception then or a change in approach to fashion or society?With more 30 year olds living with parents still etc.Whatever it is,your dress sense sounds great to me!xxx

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  7. I know exactly what u mean!!At 27,Im often ided and told I dress like a 12 year old,however I dont think anyone my age dresses how my 15 year old self perceived people my age to dress. I wonder if that's to do with naive perception then or a change in approach to fashion or society?With more 30 year olds living with parents still etc.Whatever it is,your dress sense sounds great to me!xxx

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  8. oh not adulthood syndrome attack! dress as u want because age doesnt matter!!

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  9. I always think of this! I'm 27 soon and do wonder whether I dress too young. But at the same time I like what I wear, and I'm comfortable in it, so who cares! x

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  10. such a good topic. i always wondered that, especially because i look so much younger than my age so dressing up what youngsters wear would probably even qualify me a childs tube pass. which could be a good thing but really when you wanna just look your age... I do think there are age appropriate clothes altho preferably you'd rather wear what you'd like I'd probably be horrified to see my mum in some hipster ripped tights hotpants wear...

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  11. I think, so long a the style suits you, you can wear anything. I mean, styles can be interpreted so you dont look like mutton dressed as lamb or whatever. Perhaps it is more how you wear something, than what you are actually wearing, if that makes sense? Xo

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  12. See although I think I dress for my age, I generally pick up dresses that I think are a tad older, but I love dressing elegant. Don't get me wrong though, I still adore my floral backpack from Primark and yes I want to wear earrings that look like moustache's!! Vut then I look at my cousin who is 15 and I think shiiii I dress like that somedays. In my opinion, it's not us dressing too young, girls nowadays dress too old. Whereas women of our generation hang on to their youth, girls of this generation can't wait to say goodbye to theirs and really, that's quite sad. xxx

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  13. Well I'm 40 in July!!!!

    I love your style and have been known to go out and find stuff you've feature in your blog. Only person to complain is my partner but she's just jealous I still have legs I can flaunt!

    Wear what you want when you want that's my motto.

    Tx

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  14. Thanks for your post! I'm ten whole years older than you, and feel like an absolutely Golden Girl suddenly when it comes to clothes and fashion. I think women over 35 shouldn't shop in the juniors department anymore (weep!) but other than that, why not wear what makes you happy? :)

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  15. In my opinion it's the other way round, children (and yes I'm sorry at 13/15 you are still classed as a child) are dressing too old for their age. A girl of 12 years old wondered into the school I'm on placement at, in stockings and a skirt yesterday... inappropriate much? Personally I think wear what you feel comfortable in, it's your taste, it's your choice. And take getting ID'd as a compliment, you obviously look young and care free :) x

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  16. Such a brilliant post :-) I am 27 in July and recently married. Have a house, love baking and "homely" pursuits! However, I am also told that I dress a lot more youthfully than my age and always get asked for ID. I was even asked for ID for a 15 game for my hubby! Shocking haha! However, I will continue to wear what I like and I think that what you wear looks and sounds great! xx

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  17. I just touched on this, so tricky! I'm 24 nearly 25. I work with 18-21 yr old students. I don't feel old but want to look professional so people don't think I'm a student but don't want to look middle aged. I need to find a happy medium that I'm comfortable with, don't want to be old before my time but also dont want to be mutton dressed as lamb... xx

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  18. I rarely buy something that when I originally saw think: nu uh Lauren, too old for you! Once I've thought it its in my head as a 'young thing'. I reckon I probably dress about my age, apart from at work when I wear smart dresses or a blouse and a pencil skirt for example, but thats because I have to, not because I want to!
    I have however started saying 'oh, its not even lined, and at THAT price!'.... just like my mother!

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  19. It's really down to whether you feel comfortable wearing it. I don't think it's something that you really need to consider at your age and you've never worn anything I thought 'age inappropriate', Rosie. But when you get into your 50s then there are certain things that just look better on someone younger. Maybe my concern about wearing something 'too young' stems from Tom commenting in French Connection many years ago that 'I was the oldest person in the shop' and a certain friend (!) commenting that White Stuff don't 'target people of your age'. Both true statements and I have to admit that when I go into All Saints I wonder if the assistants think 'What is she doing in here?' But, generally, if you think you look good in it then wear it.

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  20. This is a really good topic for a post!

    I say everyone should wear what they want / what makes them comfortable.

    The problem with shopping at Primarni is you're always going to bump into people (all ages, shapes and sizes) wearing the same thing.

    As I get older I have stopped shopping there (I also gave up on Topshop a long time ago!) and prefer to shop in Dorothy Perkins, GAP, Wallis, River Island, Next. That just comes with having more money to buy nice things and having a job where I have to look smart.

    I'm not sure if my dress sense reflects my age though, as people often ask if I'm 20 - 22 (I'm 27!!) but that's probably more to do with my face than anything else :)

    xx

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  21. Another brilliantly written post Rosie, and an interesting one.

    I reckon it's a fine line with 'age appropriate'. My mother is just like yours, it took me 2 and a half years to persuade her that wearing leggings and a tunic did not make her look awful and it was not too young for her, because it looked fricking awesome. But that said, there are certain tops/tunics she would never wear because she feels that the whole outfit would be 'too young'.

    The conclusion I have come to is that trying to dress just like those 13 yo girls, probably means something is a bit- I know how baggy I liked my school shirt to be aged 13/14 and nobody needs to see me go there again, but it's mostly because generally the 'youth' are experimenting and push things to extremes in a way you don't as you grow to understand what you really like and what suits you. But Just because you like or wear the same print or same bag or same top (I've queued for a gig with behind a 13 yo girl wearing the same thing, I'll be 23 next month...) doesn't make it age inappropriate, it's wearing it in a way that you know you like, that you're comfortable with and that suits you that makes it appropriate for however old you are or feel.

    I also think that you develop your own style as you get older, and that style is the difference between 'age appropriate' and the nagging feeling of wondering if you're too old. If you buy clothes and wear them in an obvious attempt to emulate younger generations, it shows, because you will never have your own style stamp on it, whatever that may be.

    Sorry, mega ramble, probably repetitive, but this is close to my heart because my mum suffers so much with confidence in her style even though she looks bloody amazing and has great personal style. She often thinks that she has to be invisible now she's over 45 because she doesn't feel well catered for in affordable fashion.

    P.S. DON'T knock Clarks, I bought 2 EPIC pairs of shoes last month and wondered why I waited so long, and my mother bough some v sexy Mary Portas for Clarks heels.

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  22. Interesting! I recentley turned 26 and suddenly feel so much older then I did! But I definitly think if it looks good then wear it regardless of age! There will be a time when it doesn't look so good any more. Make the most of it, lol!

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  23. I too am 27 and sometimes think I may dress far too young for my age. I always used to say that if I were 'Gokd' he would tell me to stop dressing like a student!
    This year has seen me, unintentionally, acquiring a more mature wardrobe, not very mature but a little bit more mature than last year! xx

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  24. I LOVE that you posted this. I am also 27 and I don't feel old, I don't want to grow up and I want to wear whatever the hell I want. I definitely couldn't pull off crop tops etc. but then I never could. I wouldn't have worn a cropped top when I was 18. Fasion confuses me sometimes :D xx

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  25. I think it works both ways. I think some younger girls are dressing too old for their age in short skirts and dresses. I think that's a bit wrong. But for women who are old enough to choose what they wear, then that's exactly what they should do - choose what they want.
    R xx

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  26. I'm 24 now & wear far more fun clothes than I did when I was in my teens - I'm far more comfortable with myself & I never want to be restricted by my age when it comes to what I wear! I love your style :) definitely keep it up! xxxx

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  27. Ahhh this is how I've been feeling! I'm 23 but I still get around in Super Mario shirts. I have been wondering how much longer I will be able to get away with wearing that kind of thing. Great post as always! :)

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  28. Great topic. I'm 23 and in some ways I'm quite old for my age as I'm getting married soon which is V early for a graduate. But I have always been told I look young for my age- I think it's because I'm the eldest of 3 sisters. I take it as a compliment as looking young can only be a benefit! As long as we all dress appropriately for work then we should all be able to have fashion fun at any age :)

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  29. I loved this post! I often worry that I dress too young (or sometimes too old) but I suppose there are no rules. I'd hate someone to think I was trying to hang on to my youth, that's all! xx

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  30. I think the right person can pull off anything. I had a professor who wore skinny jeans and pumps to class, and she was in her 40's. She rocked them and made it work; she was in shape, and he had energy! Another woman I know who is in her 40's always has one edgy streak of an unnatural color in her hair. I don't know how she makes this work, but she does.

    I am often mistaken for a 15 year old (I'm 24). It doesn't matter how I dress--I have the face for it. There's nothing I can do but wear the clothes I love and embrace it--even if I am pregnant and look like a teenager.

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    1. *SHE had energy. That was probably confusing.

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  31. I couldn't agree more. We always dress my two little girls in age appropriate clothing. I'm sick at how society sexualizes children. This is the site that my wife and I buy a lot of girls clothing from, because they seem to get it. http://www.twirlygirlshop.com/girls-birthday-dress

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  32. I love your article, omg im 24 and im obsessed with looking younger.I fear getting older.I always google ways to stay looking young. Thats how i found out about your article.

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  33. Wear whatever makes you feel good about yourself!

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  34. Personally I think if you can pull it off then why not. nothing wrong with the way you described your dress sense. I hope to be hip and trendy granny even when im 80 :)


    http://damzelinthisdress.blogspot.co.uk/

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  35. Hi don't feel bad, I'm a 30 year old lecturer and I keep getting asked for ID every time I buy cigarettes! I've assessed my wardrobe and I really don't think it is the problem (most days.) And even if it is I'm really not willing to change. I am just going to be thankful I am aging well! :D

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  36. Yes! I'm so glad you wrote this! I too am 27, dyed my hair lilac (intentionally) and constantly worry if my crazy leggings and slogan tops are too young for me. This is massively aggravated by being a secondary school teacher and constantly having my fleeting youth rubbed in my face by young'uns who, in my opinion, are a little too cool. I also feel like a grandma as I'm happiest tucked up in bed with scented candles and my cats. Good times.

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  38. I must admit that the whole notion of "age appropriate" is totally mind boggling. And I believe that we are looking at it from the wrong angle nowadays. We are failing to notice that time have changed and so have rules and social concepts. I believe that it is not a case of being too young or too old, it's more a case of owning yourself. If one still has passion for expressing themselves visually, through their personal style at 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100 and in the beyond, then let them be! Maybe you feel stronger about playing with fashion in your teens / early 20s and this passion fades away as one grows older, but that is not true and representative of everyone. What society does best is generalising. We have lost touch with looking at people and things in a more bespoke, individual way. I tend to gravitate more around the "alternative" scene and always have. A lot of individuals in the alternative scene still have the same passion (strength wise, tastes evolve however) to experiment and express with their looks and music. Which is essentially associated with "youth culture" in the general conscious. That lead me wonder: "Am I age backward, am I trying to hang on to my youth?". And in all honesty, the answer is no. I am who I am. I found my voice early on and found the confidence to be who I am regardless of the rules. Remember that decades ago, before the war, there was no such thing as "youth culture". Teens did not have the financial power and freedom to chose what they wanted to wear. Lucky if they were allowed to voice their opinions. And forget about musical revolutions lol. It was very much an "adult" world, let alone a "man's world". Not a "youth" obsessed world. Don't get me wrong, there has always been "scene", "club", "hipster" kids throughout the ages, they were simply a little older than the present ones.

    Also what reasons truly make people feel unsettled by younger or older peeps sporting the same stuff as them? What unconscious connotations do they attach to these concepts?

    So please, don't deny yourself all the fun you can have with fashion and music. Be who you want to be. Society will catch up on us soon enough and new demographics will be identified. And all will be nice and well in an age where people are not saturated by stereotypes and judgemental visual concepts. No more feelings of awkwardness regarding age fashion appropriate matters. That will be one more battle one for freedom of expression.

    Believe me. I'm 40. I have a kid, love him as a mother, teach him right from wrong like a parent should. I have a career, pay my bills, my taxes and I believe to be considerate towards my fellow humans. What I listen to and dress like is my own to decide and has no bearings on the later. "Funk" the judgemental fashion police! And "Funk" society who has failed to change its outlook and evolve with its time!

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Thank you in advance for your lovely comments, they mean the world to me! If you have a question or want to get in touch, tweet me at @rosieoutlook.