My 21st birthday wearing a Miss World (Hole) T-shirt
I turned 42 last week, and it got me thinking. In fact, I'm pretty much always thinking about it - getting older. When I read a recent post by Jessica from
, it struck a cord. It was about fashion for the over 40s (specifically, vintage fashion), and as I read it I realized it was about me. My heart sank into my DMs. Should I still be wearing the clothes I have hoarded from the 90s? Skimpy slips I used to wear in a Riot Grrrl style with DMs or patent leather Mary Janes? On reflection, hell yeah!
Mary Janes from the nineties
I don't just wear trashy slips. I love the ladylike vintage clothes, too. And jumpers. And berets.
I guess I am aware that I haven't got that much time left to wear these crazy looks, so I'm just going to enjoy it while I can. My thirties blinked by, so my forties aren't going to be any slower.
I do feel like the old bird in the room a lot now. Not when I'm with my girls, but in the vintage scene. I took a long break from dancing and DJing when I had my son, five and a half years ago, so I feel a bit out of the loop. But being older means I have a lot more confidence, and a don't-give-a-shit attitude to most things. I guess I just want to look 30 (not 20, I'm not greedy), but be 40+, with all the wisdom acquired along the way. I could do without having to cover my grey hair every month, though. I found my first white hair at 19. As a feminist, I should probably let it show, but I just CAN'T. I know very few female clients in the salon where I work who have stopped covering the grey, but there are definitely more now than ten years ago. I totally support their choice, but I can't go there yet, or maybe ever. However, I've seen a lot of blue and pink rinses that I could rock.
On the way to Mixtape for birthday fun
Do I have any rules for what I wear now compared with how I dressed 15 or 20 years ago? I certainly don't take as long deciding, or trying things on. It was part of the fun back then. I don't go out nearly as much, so that means less chance of people seeing me in the same thing over and over. I went to Westfield shopping centre this week, and had a good look at the clothes in H&M, Topshop, etc, and as usual, was completely unimpressed. However, tt was worth the trip to see my daughter dance to Justin Timberlake's 'Like I Love You' in the mirror at Topshop.
I definitely dress with comfort in mind now - no squeezing into too-tight shoes and trousers anymore. I have a better idea of what is flattering to me, so shapeless shift dresses are out, along with hipster flares!
I love the vintage look, but I have to say I actually find it
ageing sometimes. The tight curls and shingled waves of the early 1930s, worn away from the face, are very severe, as are some of the clothes. Pallazzo pants though? I can't get enough of that action! And floor length bias-cut tea dresses? Bring it on.
I'd like to get a forties suit, as I think that could be dressed up or down, and is the perfect accompaniment to vintage knitwear. And the knee-length dresses from the 1940s are so easy to wear. But the heavy makeup look is not so easy on older skin. I've just started watching Agent Carter on television, and Hayley Atwell suits that look down to the platform wedges, and she can get away with the strong makeup, but I find it too ageing on me. That's why I veer more towards the 1930s, it had a more natural, feminine look, as long as you keep your hair soft, and your makeup light, especially the eyes. What I do like about the 1940s was that very few of the models looked like girls. They were women. If anything, they looked older than their years. Teen fashion hadn't been invented yet.
hadn't been invented yet.
So, I'm going for the look above, but I'm way closer in age to the woman below. Depressing much? Why did they frump up women this young? She's probably only 50, if that. OK, so 50 is not young, but really.
You'll notice I've not mentioned men, and their wardrobe dilemmas when they turn 40. That's because they don't have any. They're not under the same scrutiny as women, in that or any area of their lives, really. They can carry on wearing whatever the hell they want without worrying about being accused of looking like 'mutton dressed as lamb'. Still, I don't have to give in to these societal pressures to stay young - I'm just vain, I suppose. And I'm having fun. Dressing up to go out was always about so much more than wearing the latest fashion,. In fact, it was never really about that. Dressing up was, and still is an opportunity to become a different character in your life, be it a 1930s screen siren (Joan Crawford) or an angry feminist agitator (Kathleen Hanna).
I will continue to age. I just hope I can do it with grace and humour. And tiaras.
On the 29 bus to Camden Town, 1994