Dressing to kill, by heart attack

I was quietly flicking through an Asos catalogue admiring the clothes, I could never afford and probably never fit into, and I stopped to point out a picture of a body con top decorated with sequins and rivets.

Would Kylie wear it?

“That’s cool, don’t you reckon?” I asked my Englishman.

“That’s a bit young for your age, isn’t it?”

Yup. He actually said those words.

And amazingly he is still alive. He walks with a limp now after I inflicted behaviour modification treatment but he is still alive, and testament to my ability to remain calm and not carry a grudge.

Is it really possible to dress incorrectly for your age? I thought that kind of thinking had died out. With the old people!

And what is it exactly? This dressing appropriately for your age?

I always thought you should dress as old as you feel, or in my case, as old as the man you feel. (Which is only 37 after all!)

Apparently, not so.

So I asked some friends what they considered appropriate clothing for a woman of our age is. They weren’t sure, but suggested that the tie dyed pinafores and holey leggings with muslin blouses and ear studs we wore when we were at uni, probably isn’t en vogue any more. Though interestingly, looking around our town (where mullets go to raise a family of baby mullets) it seems this rule of thumb does not apply to the guys our age. They still sport ponytails and Duran Duran tshirts as if they were still Duran Duran roadies.

So, is this dressing your age,  a particularly female thing?

I looked online for inspiration from our cultural role models. I found Kylie, she’s the same age as me. What does she wear?

Hmmm. Kylie love, you seem to be wearing your underwear on the outside. And is a fur wrap really appropriate for the supermarket?


Is this dressing, my age?

But it’s not just Kylie showing her undies, look at what then 45 year old Helena Bonham Carter wore to the 2010 British Film Awards.


Another fan of underwear as outerwear

A theme is developing.

And as that theme appears to be showing off beautifully made and fitted lingerie, I needed to drop this theme and look for another. So I started looking closer to home to see what normal women doing their thing, working, raising kids, terrorising husbands, wear on the day-to-day. I have the answer. It’s funereal.

Women my age wear clothes to flatter their shape, and hide the sins of lives well lived. In other words, they wear clothes in any colour, as long as it’s black.

What’s even more surprising, is that I noticed that women older than me in provincial Britain appear to hit their 50s and chop all their hair off! It’s like a ritual. Why do women do that? Are they mourning their lost youth? Are they celebrating menopause? Does shampoo and conditioner become too expensive, the older you get?

I’ve never noticed that before, is it an English thing?

But then, I’ve never been 44 before, as indeed most of my generation haven’t. Which makes the whole dressing thing so difficult. My generation doesn’t feel old. We don’t feel we need to cover up our varicose veins with long skirts (what varicose veins?), and we don’t need to hide our laughter-lines under layers of makeup. If we did, we’d probably use Botox.

My generation of women don’t want to reach their 40’s, their mothering years, and fade off into respectablity, in our twinsets and pearls. After fighting to be treated seriously in the boardroom and the bedroom, we want to celebrate the women we’ve become, not dress as if we’re pining for our rosy cheeked youth.

And dammit, we will!

I’m wearing my long hair until I die. It’s a part of me as fundamental as that birth mark on my hip.  And bugger it, I’m colouring it whatever colour I feel like. I’ve earnt the right to visit clients in smart casual clothes, and still be taken seriously, just as my male peers have with their Steve Jobs-esque jeans and black turtlenecks.

And if my dressing to kill, means death by heart attack, tough!

Now, can anyone point me in the direction of a decent pair of jeans for a more ‘mature’ figure? I hear NYD jeans are pretty good…

PS/ There must be something in the zeitgeist water! I’d just pushed publish on this post when @thedailymum mentioned she’d written about this very same subject! And she’s a fashion journo and everything. GO see her post on her fashion journal! so you can verify my hip and trendyness.


Asos , Kylie, Helena



'Dressing to kill, by heart attack' has 14 comments

  1. May 1, 2012 @ 1:07 pm Steve

    So you’re telling me my old school shorts, school cap and Noddy t-shirt is just wrong?


    • May 1, 2012 @ 2:50 pm vegemitevix

      Sorry Steve, but yes. That is wrong on so many levels. In fact the only way to make it worse would be to grow a mullet.


  2. May 1, 2012 @ 2:13 pm Kirsty Rice 4kids20suitcases

    I think the only thing I’ve modified is my shoes. I can’t do stilettos anymore *sigh*. Please pass on my well wishes to your husband, I hope he feels better soon 🙂


    • May 1, 2012 @ 2:52 pm vegemitevix

      No, I can’t do stilettos any more, especially not to London, because I have developed… bunions. SOB! I try to tell myself it’s the years I squeezed my feet into ballet slippers but I don’t even convince myself. Thank you for your message of sympathy, I shall pass it on to my husband.


  3. May 1, 2012 @ 2:41 pm uniquenique01

    I sometimes wonder this myself … but my children inform me that every couple of years I become fashionable, as I rarely buy clothes (it takes away from the money I can spend on glass and other sparkly things) I take this to mean that fashion seems to be on a repeat cycle so I can handle fitting in once in a while ;~D


    • May 1, 2012 @ 2:53 pm vegemitevix

      This is sheer brilliance. In NZ I used to do a spot of ‘op-shopping’ (charity shopping) and it’s more upmarket cousin – designer recycle, shopping. I love the concept that fashion is on a loop, and I would also much prefer to spend money on beautiful sparkly things.


      • May 1, 2012 @ 2:58 pm uniquenique01

        That would be my kind of shopping ;~D. My teenage daughter was asked by her friend the other day where her mom got the cool vintage clothing … my teenagers embarrassed response was “in her closet”


        • May 1, 2012 @ 10:16 pm vegemitevix

          I love it. I miss my designer recycle store. I need to hunt out a new place near me in the Home Counties somewhere. Anyone got any ideas?


  4. May 1, 2012 @ 3:13 pm London City Mum

    Wearing black is a female Anglo-Saxon thing. From Britain to Australia. I don’t get it. Never have. And I don’t wear it (the colour, that is).

    As for clothes, well, that is a whole other matter.

    Two extremes from where I stand:
    a) dressing like a retirement home granny (I have peers who fell in to this category when they hit their 30s, never mind the kids and other demands that came later one), with drab hair and no make-up, or;
    b) ‘mutton dressed as lamb’ – think Big Fat Gypsy Weddings and you get the gist (on which point, how come in that show all the men are slobs and all the females, including the under-age ones, look primed for streetwalking? Is it just me?)

    So. You can see why I have opted for the wetsuit. Water off a duck’s back.

    LCM x


    • May 1, 2012 @ 10:12 pm vegemitevix

      I like black, but I also like colour as vibrant and interesting as possible. Those jewel colours are gorgeous. I used to have a mother in law (past tense) who said that wearing red was wearing the harlot’s colour. I love red. I agree that you don’t want to dress in head to toe leopard skin spots, or have cleavage on show to rival the Khyber Pass, but surely some individuality is appropriate. I don’t understand why all the girls look as if they are about to stand on the street corner but that’s a whole nother post. I also cannot get the defeatist ‘I give up,’ attitude of women who simply cannot be bothered with even the basics of style and personal grooming. Is it a representation of how they feel inside? I can completely understand why a wetsuit is perfect for the local conditions.


  5. May 1, 2012 @ 8:08 pm MidlifeSinglemum

    Short skirts are no longer as short as they once were – a woman of a certain age looks ridiculous if her skirts are mid-thigh. You can get away with a couple of   inches above the knee but that’s it. As for cropping the long hair – just wait, older hair is not shiny and swingy like young hair. You can achieve the shiny, swingy thing but it takes a lot more work. Easier to go shorter.


    • May 1, 2012 @ 10:15 pm vegemitevix

      I agree short short skirts look silly, but I did when I was younger too. I also have shapely legs and have never worried about needing to hide them. I would wear an above the knee skirt in the right situation, but not those uber minis. Interesting that you say older hair is not as shiny and swingy. If the greys that are coming through now are anything to go by they’ll be strong little blighters though.


  6. May 2, 2012 @ 2:03 am veryboredincatalunya

    Jeans haven’t been any good since manufacturers started putting elastine in them, really not good if you’ve got a big arse.

    As for dressing my age, I am in the same quandary myself, so much so that I’ve taken to not buying any clothes at all, although my stubborn post pregnancy weight may also have something to do with it.

    I will say that you can’t go wrong with classic tailored stuff, and yes throw in some colour but stay away from pink.


  7. May 4, 2012 @ 7:04 am Blue Sky

    How did I miss this post? I’m still looking for answers about what to wear when you’re approaching 50.  I’ve been told that I ‘dress young’ but really I have no idea what shops many of my peers buy their forgettable clothes in!  The best advice I got about dressing for midlife is to wear looser clothes and buy more expensive ones.  I don’t always manage the latter….


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