I will wear what I like
The life affirming imagery from Ari Seth Cohen’s 'Advanced Style' are beautiful, firstly from an aesthetic viewpoint, but also because they serve to disrupt the generic images we are used to seeing of age and ageing. For something so simple, the project has been incredibly powerful. It's being shared over and over on the internet, and has spawned a second book. 'Advanced Style: Older and wiser'. These are portraits of older women, using style to make a point intentionally, or not - they are saying ‘We are visible, look at us!’
The power of style when it comes to age and social expectations is fizzing through the internet in another direction with many style writers, bloggers, instagram lovers and beyond starting their own style and age disruptions. Hashtags like Gransnet’s #everydayageism can be followed on twitter, along with #iwillwearwhatilike a weekly social media link up which encourages its community to embrace fashion no no’s; like leather trousers, hoop earrings and glitter eyeshadow, by posting pictures of themselves - wearing what they like!
"The power of style when it comes to age and social expectations is fizzing through the internet in another direction with many style writers, bloggers, instagram lovers and beyond starting their own style and age disruptions."
Writer Catherine Summers who writes under the name Not Dressed As Lamb, explained how it began: The #iwillwearwhatilike link up started as a campaign on Instagram in August 2015 where women over 30 wore everything on a journalist's list of 'inappropriate' items for 30+ women (including leopard print, short dresses and oversized sunglasses. ...Yes, really). It was so popular that I decided to carry it on weekly, creating a space where women of all ages link up their fabulous style. Never mind what anyone tells them not to wear! We now invite anyone who wants to get involved to link up their blog posts/twitter updates/instagram posts and all your fabulous outfits (or shoes, accessories, make-up, etc.) every Monday at 3pm UK time where it will stay open for one week. Whilst the original article was, of course, aimed at the 30+, you can be ANY age to link up. The only criteria is that you're wearing whatever you damn well like. Just make sure you add the hashtag #iwillwearwhatilike. The idea of this is to show the author (and anyone that agrees with her) that, "you know what? We can wear crop tops and glitter eyeshadow at whatever age we damn well please!"
What do you make of the term ‘dressing age appropriately’? I can't bear the term 'age appropriate’, especially when it comes to fashion. What I consider so much more preferable is "occasion appropriate". Why should age dictate what you wear? If you're the kind of person who wants to wear something that's deemed "too young" for you (leather trousers, shorter hemlines, etc.) but the occasion is appropriate, then it's really no ones decision whether you wear it but your own. I admire women who aren't constrained by the pressure put on them by society to be age appropriate and don't give a damn about what anyone else thinks of their dress sense. Reclaiming fashion and embracing visibility by shaking style conventions is all part of a wider conversation we are finally listening to and that's great.
That society’s views of growing older are out of date, that young and old have a right to work, to play, and to be happy also means that we can all wear what we like, if and when we want to. So let’s break out the big earrings, orange jeans or shorter hemlines and wear them with pride if that’s what we fancy doing. It’s time we all joined in to tell society that it’s out of date if it thinks we give a hoot about age-appropriate fashion.
"I admire women who aren't constrained by the pressure put on them by society to be age appropriate and don't give a damn about what anyone else thinks of their dress sense."
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