11 Apr 2018

“Dress Your Age”?

"Dress Your Age" on vickiarcher.com

“Dress your age” – What does that even mean?
This is an expression that I really cannot hear.

“Dress your age”, was it something more widely used in my mother’s lifetime? I don’t know but every now and then I hear or read it and it makes me very uncomfortable.

Dress “appropriately” is bad enough but when “age” is defined by dressing I must interject.

Personal style, signature style or the many ways we can describe the way we present ourselves is defined by so much more than what is age appropriate. It is not our age that makes our fashion work or not; it is our mindset and our physical shape.

Adapting fashion to suit us, not our age is what is important.

Yes, women can look ridiculous if they wear clothing that doesn’t flatter or enhance their personalities but those women probably didn’t figure it out from day one. I can’t imagine they have dressed any differently in their 40’s, 50’s or 60’s to how they dressed in their 20’s. They probably don’t have a strong relationship with their own style and that is why they falter.

How we dress is not about being “age” appropriate; dressing is about being “me” appropriate.

One of my “markers” of a great boutique, department store or online shopping site is whether I can be excited by pieces for multi-generations. Will I find something to suit my daughters and myself? This is a fantastic test and never fails me. We, three Archers, have very different styles and if I can find something we will all wear and feel fabulous in then I know the buyers are on to something. We can style one piece three entirely different ways and age has nothing to do with it.

I do go on and repeat myself but fashion is about adapting NOT age. There are no rules or regulations and the “fashion police” should be quiet self-correctors in our own heads.

We must ask ourselves several questions when experimenting with new looks.

Does this piece make us feel good? Has our self-confidence taken a hike up? Does it suit? Is it comfortable? Can I wear it where I want to go? These are the thoughts to flash through my mind, not whether I am dressing “my” age.

“Better, Not Younger” takes the emphasis away from what age we are and I do not think I am kidding myself when I say the number is irrelevant. What is irrelevant is being driven to dress and live “age appropriately”. Forget that.

Vitality, mental flexibility, physical strength and fitness plus our individual spirituality are the ways to be better, not younger.

Dress my age? Forget it.

I will forever dress exactly as I see fit and in ways to make me feel better, not younger. xv

Ageless Emerald

lace bell sleeve top   ||  twist satin sleeve   ||  striped silk shirt  ||  romeo silk blouse  ||  jaquard party jacket  ||  deck chair stripe silk blouse

image, lucinda chambers by jonathan daniel price

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Agree, Vicki. Love this woman’s style, she looks beautiful, classy but with originality. Of course she’s also the lucky possessor of a fabulous profile. Is she French? Should we be able to guess who she is? One of the things I like so much about her is that her make-up is subtle, and minimal. I know a woman (but not a friend – she is a distant family connection by one of her marriages) in her late 60s who by now has had several husbands and is always on the look-out for another. She wears very heavy dark eye and contour facial make-up, very tight dresses with low cut necklines displaying much cleavage. It’s not a look I admire at any age but somehow, maybe unfairly, it seems worse on older women. Best wishes, Pamela


She is Lucinda Chambers former Vogue UK. A fabulously dressed woman and I always admire her style. :)

Caroline, Johannesburg.

It must be working for her, what with all those husbands. Mr. Average is usually very attracted to that look.


Iris Apfel has become my hero! So long as you are well-groomed, and the clothing is properly tailored, we can wear almost anything! My only pet peeve is that I’ll see great little dresses and the problem is that they are little – two inches shorter than I feel comfortable wearing. My thighs are no longer 20-years old, people, but that doesn’t mean I should be sentenced to wearing a burka, either! When will manufacturers wake up and realize that we may be older, but we also have $$ to spend on our interiors and ourselves now that we are tuition-free??
My other pet peeve is a quality issue – too many clothing manufacturers are knocking off the better Italian fabrics and producing poorly-constructed garments – missing lining, cheap buttons – and that includes ‘name’ brands. And the sad fact is that the young women in their 20s no longer recognize quality when they see it…

Taste of France

What you said about having a relationship to one’s personal style is spot-on. If anything, we are forgiving of younger people who are experimenting, because experimentation means failure sometimes. Failure in fashion shouldn’t be a fatal flaw. A young woman in something too revealing is probably coming to terms with sexuality, wanting attention, not understanding how to get it in a way that isn’t self-destructive. And so, when we see someone older doing the same antics as an adolescent, we are scornful, not because somebody over 40 or 50 shouldn’t show their knees or decollètage, but because if they do it, it should be in a thoughtful way, not the impulsive way of the young. Because at a certain point they should know their style. Haven’t you seen plenty of eccentrics of a certain age who pull off completely crazy looks with elegance? It’s because it’s who they are; it isn’t fake. The world would be boring if we all dressed by “rules.”
That said, I’m a boring classics kind of dresser.


Amen!! My choice of clothing has always been what pleases me. I have things in my closet I have had a long
time and love reinventing them and using creativity to make them feel “now.” It is such a fun way to express oneself.
Please include me in your retreat info. I would love to see if I could find a way to do this.


Re-invention of pieces is a fantastic way to create a whole “new” wardrobe… I like doing that too. :)

Mimi Gregor

I SO agree! Some women in their 20s may be more comfortable in conservative clothing, whereas some women in their 70s may be able to rock more adventurous looks. It depends on so many factors: personality probably being the main one. I find that I can “get away with” clothing that most women my age can’t seem to pull off. I think it may be because I am outgoing, petite, and have taken very good care of myself so that I neither look nor “act” my age. A lot of it is what you have gotten used to, as well. If a woman has worn trousers and no makeup heretofore, she’s not suddenly going to be comfortable in a dress, or with even just a touch of lipstick. I think that, as with most things, it’s about finding that Goldilocks Zone that falls in between who you are now and who you would like to become.

Mona Louise

I agree completely!
This beautiful woman featured reminds me of my French teacher in highschool. She had a style like no other lady I had ever met, which made her beautifully unique, inspiring me to do the same. I don’t ever remember seeing her wear the same outfit twice throughout my entire time at the school. I do remember certain pieces, but they were never put together the same way. Some of her items appeared to have possibly been in her closet for years or perhaps had been in someone elses closet before her, but always looked fabulous. Back then, I had never heard the term, “bien dans sa peau!” Now, I know, she had it. With confidence to be true to our own selves, we can all have it.
I always feel inspired and empowered by your daily posts, looking forward each morning to see whats new with “VA”. My husband will say, “Honey, you got something from Vicki!” and he knows that very shortly, I will take a break from what I’m doing, to come to the computer to read it with pleasure.


Well said!!! And, I would love the white Romeo blouse with the black narrow silk/crepe pants. Stunning. You would be gorgeous in it!! Not so into the jacket for myself, but something for someone!


The other even more devastating expression back then was “mutton .. (dressed as lamb)”. Groups of older conservative ladies at social functions would eye the other guests and make comments on them. This was one of the worst things I think they could say. Often it was just shortened to “Mutton!” They meant it to be damning! Thank goodness that expression seems to have been buried with them. Best wishes, Pamela


Vicki, Your post is spot on, as are the other comments of your readers. MORE Magazine was offensive with their monthly “what you should wear in your 40’s, 50,’s and 60,s.” For the most part, women of a certain age need inspiration, not rules. Brenda

Beverly (Canada)

Yes Vicki, I so agree with you! Very well said!
And I am looking forward to your retreat details…


Definitely agree here! What I feel good and comfortable in makes me feel relaxed and confident, and that to me is what it’s all about!
Vicki, this emerald colour is such a good choice, are you wearing it? I’m going to pass the link of the lace bell sleeve top to my daughter – a gorgeous titian!!


I so agree, Vicki. I live in New Zealand, and we do have a somewhat casual lifestyle here. Which is fine. I do get advice from my grand daughters (aged 30 -15) regarding make-up and where they bought their clothes from, and, aside from the obvious young teenage look, many garments can be inter-generational.


I couldn’t agree more! There is a magazine out there which will remain nameless! :( …that has a monthly spot that says : “how to dress if you’re in you’re 20’s…30’s..40’s…50’s..and beyond. How dare they tell me what looks good on me!! It’s not at all about age, but about confidence and knowing your body and lifestyle – anyway, who is judging here?? 20 or 30 somethings? ..Seriously?

Michelle à Détroit

I also ask myself whether what I am wearing fits perfectly (a gifted seamstress is a must) and whether it really, TRULY looks good on me. Do I feel beautiful wearing it? I believe that it takes a good amount ruthless objectivity and a clear idea of what’s flattering. Frankly, I don’t just dress to please myself. I want to please everyone who sees me.

Eleanor O'Neill

Great article Vicki. It reminded me of something Lisa Armstrong said in a recent podcast for Telegraph Fashion – she was talking about what to wear to events and just said ‘you can’t go as somebody else’. Great advice for everyday style I think!


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