When Middle Age Looked Like Old Age: 20 Vintage Photos of 1960s Moms

Middle-aged woman

The dress is adorable but that hair color and style age her considerably

Is it our hair? Our makeup? Do our fitted jeans make the difference? Are our yoga and pilates classes more effective than we thought? Are we Botox-ing more than anyone will admit, or dyeing our hair at some kind of marathon pace? Why is it that middle-aged women today seem years and years younger than women of the same age from the 1960s?

Do you look at pictures of your mom when she was your age now and think she looks more like a grandmother than a young(ish) mother? Why is that? Was it how they wore their hair? Was it the style of clothing — how they always seemed to be in formal suits or dresses? Is their jewelry too heavy-looking, and did they wear too much of it? Did they simply hold themselves older?

Could our more youthful appearance be attributed to how so few women of our generation smoke cigarettes? How we get out of the house more than our moms did to pursue rewarding careers (and earn our own money to spend on beauty products)? Are our Spanx working better than their girdles? Do we simply feel more pressure to look better now then they did then?

Take a look at these 20 vintage photos of middle-aged women from the 1960s (courtesy of Retronaut.co) and try to discern why it is they look more like grandmas than moms. (And take note how — ironically — the one thing that makes all of the women in the photos look younger is their good-looking legs, which look good with the help of pantyhose. Pantyhose on a woman today, of course, would make her seem considerably older.)

 

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  • Is it that hair? 1 of 20
    Is it that hair?
    The braid snaking snaking across the top of her head isn't doing her any favors in the Youthful Appearance department.
  • Could it be the lipstick? 2 of 20
    Could it be the lipstick?
    Maybe it's the heavy red lipstick that makes her seem much older than she probably is.
  • Will being too matchy-matchy age you? 3 of 20
    Will being too matchy-matchy age you?
    Perhaps if the shoes, purse, skirt, blazer and buttons weren't all the same shade of pink she wouldn't seem so grandmother-ly.
  • It’s got to be the hair, right? 4 of 20
    It's got to be the hair, right?
    Since the dress is kind of young and flirty, it must be her hair that's holding her back from appearing youthful.
  • Oy, those glasses! 5 of 20
    Oy, those glasses!
    Judging by the appearance of her killer legs, she's not nearly as old as those glasses (and grey hair) make her seem.
  • That grey hair 6 of 20
    That grey hair
    The hair color isn't doing her any favors. Because otherwise she has a pretty look to her.
  • That blonde hair 7 of 20
    That blonde hair
    That's some heavy-looking blonde hair for an otherwise young-ish looking woman.
  • There’s little right in this picture 8 of 20
    There's little right in this picture
    From the dowdy dress to how she's holding herself and, yes, that grey hair in the grandmotherly style — she seems much older than her birth certificate would likely reveal.
  • Who knew jewelry could add 10 years? 9 of 20
    Who knew jewelry could add 10 years?
    The heavy gold pin, necklace and earrings is contributing to the premature aging of this woman.
  • It’s the cigarette 10 of 20
    It's the cigarette
    It's ironic how so many women smoked to make themselves feel younger when it actually made them look so much older.
  • Hair and makeup speak volumes 11 of 20
    Hair and makeup speak volumes
    Her dress is cute, but from the shoulders up she seems much older. A little cover-up under the eyes would go a long way in shaving a few years off.
  • That granny bun! 12 of 20
    That granny bun!
    The glasses aren't great, but that hairstyle is just murdering her.
  • It’s not grey, but maybe it would be better if it were 13 of 20
    It's not grey, but maybe it would be better if it were
    Jet black hair sometimes scream that there's something very grey being covered up.
  • Ooooh, so close! 14 of 20
    Ooooh, so close!
    If it weren't for that mass of heavy hair on top of her head, she could almost pass for a middle-aged woman in the 2010s.
  • Not all fashions are right for all body types 15 of 20
    Not all fashions are right for all body types
    Those clothes may have been en vogue, but not all styles are meant for all women (like this woman and that suit).
  • The dress doesn’t match the hair 16 of 20
    The dress doesn't match the hair
    Her dress is adorable, but her hair needs some work to match it.
  • A salon takeover is in order 17 of 20
    A salon takeover is in order
    As in, someone needs to take over for the hairdresser in their salon because those 'dos are definitely don'ts.
  • It’s the hair and glasses — again 18 of 20
    It's the hair and glasses — again
    From the neck down you'd think she's much younger than what's above the neck suggests.
  • Is that a dress or a housecoat? 19 of 20
    Is that a dress or a housecoat?
    Either way, it's making her look older than everything else in the picture suggests she actually is.
  • Yeah, you should cover up that hair 20 of 20
    Yeah, you should cover up that hair
    And change the dress. A pretty face is overshadowed by a dress meant for an older woman, and a hairstyle no one should don at any age.

All images courtesy of Retronaut.co

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