Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Gold on the Ceiling: Fashion + the Forty-Seven Year Old Woman


The Golden Years: Fashion Forward, Fashion Forty
Funny thing about fashion and images, they color our version of reality and "the norm," yet they are pure products of fantasy. So when we dive into the tsunami of images showcasing super skinny, long + lanky twenty years-olds held up as our sartorial role models, we also crumble under an avalanche of admonishments directed at women over the age of forty.  Blue-haired Fashion Moseses dictating a 10 Commandments of Fashion Faux Pas: Thou shallts, and Thou-shallt-nots dot our +40 landscape. The bottom line gets summed up in the mandatory drop of the hemline: no knees, please! We're advised for invisibility- hide your upper arms and cover those knees. Skip the minis, stock up on maven modest knee-length midis, and dignity preserving maxis. Which isn't really a bad thing, is it? I mean, we, women, of "a certain age" need our dignity to remain intact, and lowering the hemline is one way to do that. Right? 



Above the Knee. Showing Off 47 Year Old Knees: Faux Pas or Fashion Pass?

Now at age 47 (where does the time go, people?) I don't "dress my age,", and I can't relate to all the advice out there telling me how to wear trends as a forty year old. I know they mean well, but I can not relate. The advice I can, and DO relate to come from the likes of Vix, and Desiree, who wear bikinis, short skirts and short shorts, tight tights and look absolutely fabulous doing it. They don't "dress for their age," for sure, but they do dress for  their beautiful, beautiful souls. Which is probably why I skip the "regular" over forty +40 fashion websites but read blogs like theirs religiously. I ALWAYS come away from their fashion posts feeling great about them, and better about myself. 

When I bought this dress, I loved it, but I didn't think for a minute I'd be wearing it. It was purchased to sell in my shop. And I've been trying to find someone (quite frankly, skinnier, and younger) to model it. After all, Vix is smoking hot, and Desiree looks like a movie star, so while I supported their choice to bare nearly all, I never thought about ME doing it as well. I'm no Helen Mirren, I'm no fitness queen. Not only do I butter my bread, but I butter the butter on my bread. This dress has changed my outlook somewhat.

I hadn't yet found a shop model, so I made myself into one. When I tried on the dress, I was surprised that it fit, and at how well it fit. A vintage 1980s Pop Art printed body-con, made in a stretchy fabric guaranteed to hug your every nook and cranny, and girl, have I got nooks. And crannies. As I self-shot the photos, it felt empowering to play model. Looking at the pics, I realized something.

This is what a 47 year old woman, who is a size 12/14, looks like in a body-con dress.  What you see here are bonafide fashion images, of a real life woman in her forties who has an average American figure. I'm not age 20, and I'm not skinny. My brown eyes, brown skin and chubby knees aren't remotely anything you're going to see in this month's issue of Harper's Bazaar, but let me tell you, it feels good to be an antidote to fast fashion. I like the way I look. Best of all, I like the way I feel, a real woman allowing herself a fun exploration of style, and representing an alternative image of what fashion can look like: not skinny, not young, but confident and curvy, and certifiably vintage.

Face the New +40 Fashion Do: Wear What YOU Love. And  Love to Have Fun.

The Deetz: 
  • Vintage Pop Art Body-Con (Made in U.S.A) Dress by R.D.S. is HERE
  • Vintage Hand-Knit Mohair Sweater is available HERE

48 comments:

Helga! said...

Yep, when I need a little inspiration, some tips on how to be extra fabulous, Vix and Desiree are two of the blogs I go to!!! A pair of Goddesses, they are, and they've been pushing my envelope for a few years now!
You, my darling, look scrumptious!!! Such a cute frock, and I want to squeeze your delicious knees! I was thinking of you this morning, as I threw on my Karina frock.........much love and juicy MWAHS!!!
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
(O, G loved the tie, and got all squishy over your note!!!)

Déjà Pseu said...

Don't doubt it for a nano-second...you look **SMOKIN HOT** in that dress!!! Wow!

Vix said...

YOU look smoking hot and movie star good looking in that amazing dress, babe!
On the rare occasion I flick through a fashion mag (the family planning clinic, the dentist) I do precisely that, flick through it,. I'm not captivated by a 12 year old coat hanger, I'd rather look at a real, gorgeous woman like you who owns her clothes and exudes sass and sex appeal.
As Quentin Crisp once said "Fashion is what you adopt when you don't know who you are" and after 40 odd years of living in our skin we sure as hell don't need to follow any advice however well intentioned.
You rock! xxxxx

PinkCheetahVintage said...

You look great in that body con dress-- love the whole pop art vibe. Only real reason I stay away from minis is my torso is so long and my legs are so disproportionally short that I always feel like my ass is hanging out (and it usually is!!)
I have to be personally comfortable to feel good about the way I look-- no bs rules.
Becky :)

Francesca Edesia said...

You look gorgeous! I cannot wear things too long below the knee because I am too short, and I don't wear high heels so I prefer things kneelength. When I was a teenager growing up in New York in the 60s I wanted to wear a miniskirt and the first time I did, my brother...real old-fashioned Sicilian...slapped me right across my face. Of course when I remind him now he says it's not true:) He has become open-minded with age so he can't believe he did that. Anyway, I am following you from Trapani, Sicily.

menopauselsupermodel said...

Bella-you look FREAKIN amazing in that dress!!! This post really hits home with me!!

THIS is why I adore blhgs like yours, Vix, Helga, Sarah, Sacramento and others!! I'm seeing REAL women -not some emaciated teeny-booper- wearing REAL clothes in REAL lives.

Y'all have helped me stretch my boundaries!!!

Jenn said...

You look fantastic. I'd also much rather see a real person with actual style wearing what they want than some photoshopped advertorial that looks like everyone else.

Jenn

Pam @ over50feeling40 said...

Real Women...this is why the blogs are so important and continue to grow. We want to see women just like us....you continue to be relevant and important to us and that is GOLD!!

Claire Justine said...

Your dress is amazing, you look great in it :)
Love this post, it makes me want to get dressed up now and I'm all ready for bed ...

Gracey at Fashion for Giants said...

This dress is amazing, but more amazing on you. Great post and great look!

Patti said...

This post is like cocoa with cream on top - delicious. You look smoking in that dress, and your attitude radiates right off the screen. Ageless! That's really how you look.

Ivy Black said...

You absolutely rock and you are always an inspiration.
I love to see women being true to themselves and happy with who they are, their style and their bodies. That's why I love my blogging buddies.
xxx

Carina Rosenholm said...

Oh you are a smoking hot godess! I do love your very true Words . We must learn to be proud of ourselfs and our age - i mean 47 - thats a great age!

Valerie said...

I'm somewhere between the goddess (I have to go check out Vix and Desiree) and the staid. Older than you, I show my arms, show my knees.

Have you ever read fashion articles for over 50"s - they want us to dress like we are almost underground .. Thanks for this eloquent post.

juli said...

You look great because the dress is very *you*. Age has nothing to do with style, I think we all agree on that.
When someone has a style that works with her body type and coloring then she will look amazing, no matter her age. I think the no-no's were created in a time when women weren't as fit and active as these days (and more prone to fade into the shadows).
But today we want to be visible!

Suzanne Carillo Style Files said...

One of my favourite posts ever.

I seriously thought you were younger than me. I will be your age in 4 months. Believe me, that is not an easy thing to share. I envy your ability to proudly say your age and own it.

There is no way you should sell this dress. This should be your iconic elle est si belle! Bella dress. It is perfect for you.

I too am sick of hearing how "older" women need to do this or that. At the same time I don't want to feel like I'm wearing an over-the-top costume. This dress suits you and your personality to a tee and you are definately hot and bold enough to rock it better any spindly 20 something.


bisous
Suzanne

pastcaring said...

That's why so many bloggers are inspirational, Bella - they are real, of all ages, all shapes and sizes, all styles, and they do it their own way! What a great post, and what a great dress. You look sexy and fabulous and stylish, and what's more, you have the wisdom of 47 years under your body-con dress, and that counts for a lot too! xxxx

Penny-Rose said...

I did not think it would be possible to admire you more Bella, your posts are always spot on and your photos superb. But this one took my breath away, you look stunning. The dress is super dooper cool and you look really hot and your attitude is awesome.

thorne garnet said...

well stated. Most of the clothes choices out there for us "old bags" look like old bags. I won't be caught dead wearing the fashion mags suggestions for my decade (50's). Boring to the max! You look hot in that dress.

Kristy said...

Great post! I LOVE the dress and you look AMAZING in it! Oh and we are the same age. It's a great age!

gracefully50 said...

I just want to say you look GORGEOUS!

Jean at www.drossintogold.com said...

Yup, like they said! You look absolutely fierce. Wear what makes you happy, period. I know I'm happy looking at you!!

Sheila said...

Holy sh*t, you look amazing in this! I want this dress so bad - I loved those 80s body-con dresses! I actually still have a really old one that I should drag out - it's covered in gold stars!

I love your fierceness in this post. Rock on!

Shybiker said...

Rules, schmules. We should dress the way we want. You look great in this cute outfit, knees and all.

Like you, I want to be expressive, not invisible, and I'm working with even greater disabilities than you (e.g., older age; male body). Let's be ourselves and not ciphers conforming to what society wants.

Cameron said...

You look fabulous, Bella! And I'm happy you discovered this part of you in those photos. Big hugs!

Val Sparkle said...

Bella, tu es bella! You're gorgeous - those eyes, those lips, that attitude. And I love that you break barriers by wearing a funky dress like that. You're inspiring!

Monica P said...

I think anyone can wear anything as long as it fits well and you rock that dress because it fits well ;-)

Monica
www.pear-shaped-gal.com

Raquel G Hettrick said...

Oh beautiful Bella. As always I am at a loss of words. I think, hell I know you are always fantabulous, as always. Every day ,every post you seem to out do yourself. What can I say. Abrazos y besos, double that , no lets triple it . Love

Ofelia said...

You look stunning and no puedo creer que teines 47 anos de edad. Te ves fabulosas, mija!
You are the best model for this dress because we can all see that it look s amazing on you and that your confidence a sense of self projects right through the pictures.
And also help those Tina-Turner-like legs of you!

Pull Your Socks Up! said...

Bella, you are a fecking inspiration darling! Sod becoming invisible as we get older. Sod it!! A super-hero dress is just the thing to stick the finger up to those 40+ fashion critics. Why? Coz you look so fecking awesome in it darling!!!! Size? What's size when you look so incredibly awesome?!!!! Thank you so much for your kind words, I feel so honoured that you like my style:) xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

Indigo Violet said...

Some of these comments have made me think about the invisibility of the middle aged woman, and how I often dress to be invisible, even though I have some fabulous clothes in my wardrobe. In fact, today someone bumped into me in a shop and said "excuse me, I didn't see you"! In part, it's because I want to be incognito when I'm shopping, because I don't want the clothes I'm looking at to compete with my outfit. But I really do need to come out of the closet, not in the sexual sense but in the visibility sense.

Miss Simmonds Says said...

You are totally fierce and strong and sexy, what a role model, I must try my hardest never to be invisible when I'm over 40. You look really hot in that amazing dress. xxx

Silhouette de Femme said...

Great post Bella....everything you write about age, body image & the industry is so bang on. Like the new blog design too....Alexandra is changing ours yet again! Your dress is so cool.

Veshoevius said...

Wonderful post! Couldn't agree with you more! And the dress was made for you - you look fab in it!

GRIT AND GLAMOUR said...

Um, 47 years old and lookin' like a smokin' hot Gina Lollobrigida! And the dress is actually very flattering on you, too!

You know I'm on the same page with you about wearing what you want. I'll never be older than a jaded 35 in my heart! And I'm going to just use my calendar age as an excuse to become more eccentric annually.

señora Allnut said...

you rock that 80's piece, love its design and love how you've styled it on a red background!,
I'm loving your Real Woman Fabulousness, it's great that you refuse all that magazine advices!
besos & rock

GeeGee said...

Your thoughts are from my heart!
Fabolous look!

Rosalind said...

Bella, once again you don't just hit the nail on the head but hammer home the point so brilliantly & succinctly that I'm nodding my head in agreement. My mum dresses in a much more innovative way now that she's in her forties, and doesn't stick to what is considered 'appropriate'.
I similarly love the spirit of Desiree and Vix (also Melanie) - but also you! You exude gorgeous confidence here.
Finally, age is indeed irrelevant on many points of the spectrum. As an under 20 blogger I find that I would rather be defined by my work than my age. I also enjoy the +40 blogs the best out of all the ones I read...

spashionistareport said...

If I had your knees, dollface, I'd wear that dress in a heartbeat! Yes, you should pay some attention to what's flattering on you. But when that's taken to such an extreme that it extinguishes any of your personality coming through the clothes then you've gone too far. You wear that dress well! ;-)

Spashionista (Alicia)

No fear of fashion said...

Ah.. I do cover things up, but I am nearly 59 and my genes are against me. Creating dry and horrible skin. I like myself, but I like myself better if I can pretend that skin is not there.
Is that the difference between 47 or 59? Is it the difference between confident about yourself or not? Is it taste? Is it attitude? I have no idea. Each to her own?
And I can honestly say (and you know I am very honest) that I think the dress looks ever so nice on you.
Greetje

Jilly said...

I think you look great and you got the attitude. I would wear it, just differently, probably with leggings. I'd feel absolutely nekkid without something.

Hollie "Jet" Black-Ramsey said...

your confidence is overwhelmingly sexy! 47?! I had NO idea! That's makes you even hotter!!!

Emalina said...

You look incredible in that amazing dress, hot hot HOT! Beauty, seduction and style are ageless I totally agree!

Forest City Fashionista said...

I love that dress, and I love how you look in that dress - I think you should keep it, because you are rockin' it sister!! I prefer short skirts, as I've still got good legs, and will be wearing short skirts til I'm dead, if the legs hold up! Vix and Desiree are two of the most inspiring style Icons in our blogging community, and I always come away from a visit to their blogs feeling blessed that I know such awesome women.

Lynne DeVenny said...

Bella, don't be silly. Your knees are fabo, and that dress is perfect on you.

pao said...

No, you are rad. You go girl! Yea.

Stacey said...

I think you look incredible in this dress! I've said it before, but I think it begs repeating - ladies like you, and Desiree, and Vix have made me unafraid of aging. As a young woman you're always told that when your 20's are over, so is your fun with fashion & style, (and well, so are you as a woman) and that obviously isn't true!

Jet Kuhn said...

Catching up with my blog reading... Darling you look stupendous in that dress don't sell it! Screw the "rules" I have no rule book and wear whatever suits me (which lately hasn't been too exciting, but will change when my eye heals and I feel more "me"). Keep looking like your fab self and you will be happy, take it from the old 53 year old bat who refuses to grow up! XXX

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