Sunday, December 5, 2010

Profound Thoughts; Middle-aged Dressing

Elegance, 1963

I just finished reading The Thoughtful Dresser, by Linda Grant, and there are some really great points in the book about middle age dressing. As difficult as it is for us to dress at our age, it wasn't so for my mother's generation. Then, there were two fashion genre's: teenage and woman. This picture  illustrates this point;  I almost feel sorry for the 20 year old models that look more like middle aged women!  And after pondering more pictures in this magazine, I also realized, that some clothes would age me--they are more like a 90 year olds' clothes!

 The more I thought about it, the more I made it a study.  What is it about this styling that makes it so flattering for middle agers?

The first thing that struck me was the impeccable tailoring~even if the clothing didn't fit like a glove, the details and sewing was well done.  It didn't look like most of the fashions of today, with stretchy, flowey fabrics and little detail.

The second thing that I noticed was the fabric.  As an added bonus in the magazine, on each page is a little swatch of fabric, with the price per yard of the material.  These prices weren't cheap, by today's standards!  They average cost around $13.00 per yard.  Which is my second point~quality fabrics.

I guess what I learned from this whole exercise is something that we all sort of know--that as we age, our friends in styling are great tailoring and quality fabrics.  I'm glad I was reminded of this--in a a roundabout type of way.  This will give me an opportunity next week, to incorperate tailoring and fine fabrics in my wardrobe, and see if it works.  I'm not going all farty on you tho; I'll try and give it a modern twist!

Are these standards we can adapt to our wardrobe, or are they outdated?


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  1. Paula, I actually lean more to "mature" dressing than to "youthful" dressing. The woman in the picture in your post is dressed in what I would be thrilled to wear! LOL I don't know that there are any hard adn fast rules....for me dressing my age means feeling good for ME. Tailoring is so I'm learning as I get older. I also think you're right on as far as quality fabrics go, they make all the difference. A simple skirt in a gorgeous fabric! WOW! ~Serene

  2. I agree with Serene...I would wear the outfit in the picture in a heartbeat if I had the figure to wear it. She looks strong, confident, and in charge. All things I desire of my personal style. She doesn't look old fashioned at all and the look works for today. I think beautiful fabrics, good tailoring, and exquisite taste never go out of style. Tailoring is so important for those like me because you can appear to shed pounds immediately if the fit is just right. I am really looking forward to seeing your outfits this week!

  3. I look forward to this series this week! One of my discoveries from the remix is that I could likely afford 30 well tailored pieces in higher quality. One of the things that is flattering about the picture ensemble would be the fitted waist and the three quarter sleeve, as well as the collar. I admire the gloves. I'm not a big fan of the hat, and yet, it does tend to give a finished look to the ensemble.

    How I would love to touch those fabric swatches.

  4. I think those standards should aply at any age.

  5. The fabric and the tailoring definitely for a woman of certain age. I´d like to add genuine jewelry. Let´s leave all the quick trends and the fakes for the younger ones to wear.

  6. Hi Paula - i'm so interested to read your thoughts here, and to see how your week goes. i came around to the 'small, highly edited wardrobe' approach decades ago for a number of reasons. i've found it is so much easier to dress when you don't have to 'fight' the individual pieces - when the clothes fit and flatter.

    quality fabrics and good tailoring (fit and construction) will make ANYONE look better. and this applies to more casual pieces as well - a tee can start pilling after one wash and 'veering' to one side if the fabric and construction techniques stink. but a pima cotton tee, impeccably fitted and put together - aaah!

    i'm very happy to see so many 30 x 30er's 'waking up' to the possibilities of a smaller wardrobe! 'break a leg' this week Paula! steph

  7. Interesting post. I will look forward to more about this. I'm going to look for that book.

    One thing about being middle-aged is that my life has responsibilities. Not only do I want to look good but I have things that I want to do well.

    It's my feeling that high quality fabric doesn't automatically mean 100% natural. Synthetics and stretch can be our friends in creating clothing that makes the most of our shape and looks good all day long.

  8. Serene~I was bucking the system for a while because I felt the tailored looks were too conservative and stodgy. There were a lot of them in my little magazine--I picked one that was more adaptable. I think it might be about mixing it up, and thats what I'm going to try and do!
    Pam~Some of the pictures in that 60's mag tho were really old looking, even with the tailoring and fine fabrics! I should post some of those pictures...but that is why I must convince myself that tailoring dosen't have to look old...
    Terri~I have been in the mind-set of the 30/30 thing, and was thinking the same thing. And it makes it so easy to get dressed, I am finding! Oh, the little fabric swatches are SO COOL! This little mag is a treasure..maybe more photos later...That hat definatley ages her...
    Sacramento~They do, but I never paid attention to them because I though tailoring was old looking...I was such a radical! Ya know, bra burning and all that....
    Metscan~true about the jewelry...real jewelry can make any outfit look better!
    Steph~easier to dress, that is the key--simpliflying! it's great when you can just throw something on and it looks good! Thats what quality and fit can do.
    Rose~you are entirely correct about natural--there are some good synthetic fabrics out there--I prefer the natural ones--just a personal preference. a mix is good--I love wool with lycra! Best of both worlds!

  9. Paula, I have been meaning to leave you some comments - so little time, alas! Thank you very much for your comments on my blog - I do appreciate it.

    I agree that tailoring and quality fabrics are so important, especially as we age, but I think what keeps it fun and funky is doing unexpected colour, texture and unusual accessories with that as well. I love your tailored jacket with the neon yellow/green, for example.

    I enjoy your thoughtful examination of your style. Great blog. :)