Thank heavens for the latest fashions. I am finding that with age, my body shape is sliding downhill like a chunk of ice on a plastic cutting board.
I’m not as bold as I once was about putting my flesh on public display. I feel better if I can hide some bits and I’ve become more discreet in my clothing choices.
To those who disagree, you will be telling me to get over it. I don’t need to make a statement about who I am, it’s more complicated than that.
Decades of psychological research suggest we desire to be attractive, as prehistorically, judgments of physical attractiveness are hard-wired in human genetics. The brain employs different modules that interconnect to judge facial attractiveness with identification, interpretations, and valuing others for appeal. It reverts back to the evolutionary pressures to maximize reproductive fitness. We advertise to potential mates and compete with the same sex to demonstrate our value.
In all cultures, men and women employ different strategies to appear attractive. Women seek partners who will contribute material resources and good genes for their children, whereas men seek female partners with good genes.
To cope with the competition, we try to deceive by using tricks – fake signals such as hair colouring, wearing cosmetics, and choosing clothes to make us more attractive. It’s also been shown that the more we age, our confidence is tested as our signals decline.
Comparing my seventies to my twenties, my change of clothing choice hasn’t been dramatic, rather modified over time – aligned to the latest fashions. I find it challenging to maintain a youthful appearance, without looking silly as I age. I’m not consciously trying to attract a potential mate, it’s about feeling better about myself and dressing up is part of it.
I need to feel comfortable both physically and psychologically. There’s a fine line between dressing older yet maintaining a youthful look – I don’t want to be seen as mutton dressed as lamb, or frumpy. I attempt to look believable but not like I’m trying to be young.
Comfort with style
It’s possible to look smart and trendy without compromising comfort. Even though I’m a small size, I shy away from tight-fitting clothes and go with dresses, skirts, and pants – plus comfy shoes.
Many of the latest dress designs are loose and baggy and fabulous to wear, but I have to be careful not to look like a walking puff bag.
My modified areas for dressing
Sleeves – I prefer them to sit slightly above my elbow, not short. The wonderful new cuts are wider and with the right weighted fabric, they fall gently around the fatty, loose underarm wing bits. I avoid wearing sleeveless to a night function unless I’m wearing a jacket. Although if the climate becomes hot and humid, I don’t care, comfort rules.
Waist – I avoid anything that feels restricted. I select outfits made with soft stretchy fabrics or with a tie belt. I go for more shirring or some form of gathering around the front, or I choose from the latest wide-cut dresses.
Belts – wider belts hold the fatty bits in and bring the fabric closer to my waist without being tight. Belts with an elastic band at the back are perfect.
Skirt length – my favourite length is mid-calf or longer. On hot summer days, I select the loose style cotton dresses worn below the knee. I don’t wear dresses above the knee unless I’m in a winter dress with thick tights and boots.
Heel height – shoe choice depends on my outing; how far I have to walk and if I will be walking in the rain. My main concern is slipping and falling so rubber soles are great. Kitten heels are my first choice for dressy functions. Even the young ones are wearing comfy shoes, maybe they’ve learned a few lessons from us oldies.
Not forgetting men
With a few minor adjustments, older men can look fabulous and youthful too. For example, if men wear knee-length shorts with sneakers for comfort, the look isn’t cool. To obtain that youthful look, replace the sneakers with the newest style of sandshoes or slip-on loafers. Choose a polo or modern print cotton shirt, but not a print that talks too much.
Do not tuck your shirt into your belt boys, it must be worn over the shorts! OMG, when I see this I want to walk right up to the guy and pull his shirt out, particularly if he has it belted tightly into the waist. Make sure when wearing long pants, you have a relaxed classic fit, not skinny tight.
This is vital. Research says it’s the best way of convincing others that you’re attractive. We need more self-belief than ever as we age. Sadly, the appearance of older faces is commonly judged as less attractive and less likable and perceived as less energetic – past our prime in life.
I will resist this perception for as long as I can, it’s an insult to us oldies. We have so much to offer with life experiences. Many of us are mentally and physically keeping up with the best of them, and if dressing up makes us feel wonderful, isn’t that just the best.
Acknowledgments/References: Deception: Human Beauty and the Brain https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6523404/