I’m about to turn 40. So why won’t I dress like it?
I assumed there would come a day when I would always look effortlessly stylish, smart – mature. In well-cut clothes and tasteful jewellery with a ladylike bag to match. I assumed it would be when I was about 40 – but that is 32 days away and I am currently coveting logo sweatshirts and white trainers. What is going to happen in the next four and a bit weeks to turn me from dressing like a teen to looking like a grown-up woman?
I blame the kids – of course. Because of them I no longer wear heels, necklaces, non-machine-washable clothes or white.
Apart from the immediate threat my children pose to delicate items and dangly earrings, there is the change of lifestyle. The only time I need to look smart is when I go to parents’ evening. I don’t watch rugby in the pub, I watch it on the boggy sidelines of my son’s junior club. The only Tube I enter now is the tunnel at the park.
But it’s not just for practical reasons that I want to dress down – I feel like I will look even older than I am if I am too “done”. I know there are thousands of fab and 40 women for whom this is just not true, but I have not yet found my place among them. Every time I find a grey hair I buy (or crave) another grey logo Tee – which I then only wear round the house because I feel silly wearing it in public.
That’s not to say you can’t wear a whimsical or tongue in cheek item past your 30s. There are no rules, indeed. It’s all so dependent on personality, figure, confidence levels and everything else bound up in our sweaty paw before we type the credit card details in. When I was in my 20s, I wore clothes that felt much older than my years – on purpose. To be taken seriously in the office (where the suits-only rule necessarily brought me into check), and to look chic. When you’re that age, you can wear pretty much anything and look good, provided it suits you (and even if it doesn’t, mostly), I realise now.
But with the onset of haggardness, I fear that if I wore a blouse and a trouser, I would look dowdy or frumpy, however fashionable the individual items were. I wouldn’t look ironic, or cool, just…old. So I stick to my uniform of jeans, shirt and (almost always) grey jumper.
It’s not the fault of my years but my shopping habits, perhaps. With very little time or inclination to shop in real life or online, I end up buying different versions of the same things I always buy. This is definitely a change that has come with age – with the years bringing, in my case, a busy young family. As an office worker in my 20s, I had plenty of time to browse in my lunch break and spend whole Saturdays shopping. If I had a Saturday free now, shopping would be the last thing I would choose to do. I would spend it lying down alone in a quiet room eating champagne truffles (my ideal Valentine’s Day, incidentally).
But what all those years of fashion frolics has taught me is – what suits me. Which necklines, skirt lengths, jeans styles, colours, fabrics…Of course, there’s still plenty of scope left for me to make dreadful purchases, but at least I’ve narrowed the field a little.
Perhaps all this change is what makes me want to keep my clothes constant – the only reminder of who I “am”? As I approach 40, I may not know who I will decide to be in my 40s, but I will know what she looks like.
Do you feel like your wardrobe should grow up with you, or are you hanging on to your hotpants for dear life?
There has to be a middle way between Taylor Swift and Elizabeth Taylor?
I can so relate to this! I live in Superdry Tshirts, hoodies, jeans and trainers. When I need to look smarter I have a couple of items of Superdry knitwear and I wear some newer jeans! I’m happy in my ‘uniform’ and see no reason to change just because I’m 42.
Sarah MumofThree World recently posted…Tough decisions
I agree Sarah! That is so true about the newer jeans thing. I put my foot through the natural rip in my favourite pair the other day and they are now hanging off the knee, so not really suitable for meetings with the head…
Even as a bloke, I recognise this dread. My clothes are so out of fashion they’ve come back into fashion and gone out again. I simply cannot find anything that gives me that effortless slim look so beloved of even male clothing models. It can’t just be because I have the body shape of a tenpin bowling ball, can it?
Oh Tim, this made me howl, ha ha! You wear it well 😉
Thanks for featuring me!
Yes to all of this!!! I passed 40 a couple of years ago and am ridiculously fearful of looking ‘middle aged’.
Which, of course, I am.
The current craze for achingly cool, dyed grey locks is chic — on a gorgeous, fresh faced, 20 something — but I have *naturally* grey hair and would do ANYTHING to keep it at bay!!!!
The phrase ‘Don’t Grow Up – It’s a Trap’ springs to mind, ‘cos once you make the transition to elasticated waists and twinset & pearls, there’s no going back!! 😉
Caro | The Twinkle Diaries recently posted…On being born lucky | From a Mother to Another Campaign
HA HA – I love that phrase! I keep lingering in the “comfortable shoe” section but I just can’t do it yet or that’ll be it for my shredded street cred!
Yes, I can relate to this! Everyday I live in jeans, t-shirt or jumper and flat, trainery shoes. It’s my uniform. It requires no thought on a dark morning before the school run, it’s comfy at weekends and looks ok out in public.
I’d love to wear smarter, more fashionable clothes but I know I wouldn’t feel comfortable, they’re just not me. Smarter, for me, now means a dark pair of jeans worn with “mum boots”.
KidGearUK recently posted…Are Supermarket Flowers Any Good? Tesco Flowers – Review
As you know, I am 40, but I still dress the same way I’ve been dressing for about eight years. Lots of dresses, leggings and trainers. And I love a logo sweatshirt. I feel like my mom dressed more ‘mature’ when she was 40, but I think it’s a sign of the times. Being 40 is not longer considered old. It’s just how you feel! 🙂 xx
I’m so glad I’m not alone! Today’s outfit consisted of skinny jeans, a ‘lightning bolt’ tee from the kids section of H&M and Converse ?
Mess & Merlot recently posted…Spring has Sprung!
I think we are not the 40 our mothers were and that’s ok….and it’s great! Keep wearing your trainers and logo shirts – it all looks amazing. There’s plenty of time for pearls and twinsets in 25 or 30 years time 🙂 x