Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Childish things

A few years ago I knew that the time was nearing when certain items had to be put on the shelf, when by virtue of my age they would tip over the line from cute to undercooked. But instead of sobering up my wardrobe and becoming more strict with my purchases, I decided to just buy whatever was my heart's desire. I didn't choose for longevity--in fact, I knew much of what I was buying had a half-life of maybe a handful of years. But I wanted to wear those silly garments for while I still could.

Now, I wouldn't want to tell any woman that they can't wear something because they're too old. But for my own personal sense of things, I feel some items are the province of the young, and one thing I've learned is not to play a younger woman's game.

And suddenly, after the long haul of pregnancy, when the fact of your physicality becomes front and center and forces you out into the world of people (who, for the most part are curious and kind, though some are simply obnoxious and nosy), I find that my perspective on clothes and the body and looks has changed. I don't know if it's from becoming a mother, but I do know I have gone through the experience changed. Among other things, I no longer have any desire to put on the same clothes. Actually, I'm perfectly sick of my former style, at least on myself. I have a desire to cultivate what I keep thinking of as, somewhat oxymoronically, a hyper-quiet aesthetic. No more frills or furbelows or cutesy flourishes.

I'm always suspicious of these sorts of changes, and how deep they really go with me. But I'm thinking this isn't just a momentary aversion. Because as I was doing my usual internet hop-skipping, I ended up watching this video of Anna Karina on YouTube performing "Roller Girl." Style.com called it a "revelation." But I found it flat-out grotesque. The archly sexual cutesiness, the performing to the camera, the fact of a grown woman branding this particular form of female sexuality just kind of turned my stomach.

I half worry that this is just frumpiness creeping in in disguise, but I don't know, and I'm not sure I care if it is. Priorities change, you know? So when I cleaned out my desktop folder, these are some of the images that I discarded. The first one from Rachel Comey is nice, actually, especially the jacket, but the styling is something I wouldn't do anymore.


  1. I had a similar feeling this morning when I decided to try on a denim skirt (on the short side) that I wore frequently when I was in university - felt wrong. I think it's fine for someone my age to wear one, but personally it feels tied to a different time and I didn't have the energy to think about styling it differently. I sometimes wonder if I'd start feeling this way about skinny jeans 5, 10 years down the road.

    Interesting post, your revelations got me thinking about this whole idea of "age appropriate" again. I suppose it's more a "life stage" thing than an absolute number, but sometimes I can't help judging other women when I feel they're wearing something they shouldn't at their age either.

  2. I've been going through the same sort of the thoughts as well. Right now I'm in college, a time when experimenting with clothing is quite accepted, but I can't help thinking when I shop how long I'll be able to wear certain pieces. Mostly because I'm about to enter the work force (gah, what a scary thought!) in a couple years, but also because I don't want to end up looking like I'm trying to desperately hold on to my youth 5-10 years from now. Like Lin said this is a very interesting post, that has definitely gotten me thinking even more about how I want to move forward with my wardrobe.

  3. Susie Bubble wrote an interesting post about growing older and dressing differently a few days ago on her birthday. I think it's inevitable, and I don't know why it seems or sometimes feels like a bad thing. I didn't have great style when I was younger. Why should I be sad for it to evolve?

    Anyway, I appreciate both your thoughts on your own evolution. How clothes mark time in your personal history is something that interests me quite a bit.