What Not to Wear After 30

Forbidden Old Lady Leather

Recently, this nice mommy blogger suggested that ladies should not wear leather after a certain age. That age, she thinks, is 30.  Because I really don’t like being told what to do (and have a certain fondness for clothing made of cows), I felt compelled to respond.

First off, I want to say I think she has a point. But the point is not what she thinks it is. To hone in on the kernel of truth here, we must put aside the original thesis: the author was disturbed by the cracked visage of a certain morning TV host. The host happened to be wearing a perfectly fitted leather skirt. Which, she theorizes, made her look older. I would posit that maybe the premature aging of this newscaster was not the hide on her lap, but the harsh lights. Or the multiplication of pixels delivering her image to the author’s flat screen. If TV adds ten pounds, HDTV adds ten years. Possibly twenty, if you’re over 40.

Still, as a person who would like to be able to wear leather pants until I am as old as HDTV makes me look (possibly longer), I acknowledge that there are some (many) situations in which leather should be cast asunder by the aged.

What the author of the aforementioned piece is talking about is not “leather” per se. It’s ill-fitting leather, which is a questionable idea on anyone. But. As everyone knows, part of the beauty of being a young (and thin) person is the ability to make things that look bad look “bad.” Which is actually kind of good. This innate trait is harder to maintain with age. Irony is still possible, but it may be laced with pathos. This may or may not be desirable.

A loose leather pant is Advanced Fashion, best worn by clothes hangers, literal or figurative. Fringed leather is for people who ride motorcycles or are interested in looking like they might. Black leather makes people think about dominatrixes. Leather has certain associations. So, for that matter, does a woman’s age. A pair of leather pants might not fit into the generic idea of, say, a woman in her 40s.  (I’m disregarding the whole 30+ situation here because it seems preposterous to even suggest that thirty could be too old to wear anything, with the possible exception of diapers).

What’s wrong with a little cognitive dissonance?

I do not dismiss the Mutton Dressed as Lamb problem, as exemplified by the Real Housewives/Courtney Stodden conflation of teen and middle-aged lady styling. But I question the idea that leather was ever really a young person’s game. I direct you to this page of photos of Ms. Deborah Harry in various leather fashions. Judging from the timing of her Blondie career, she was over 30 in all of them.

Aging is hard enough without arbitrary rules about how to clothe ourselves. Shouldn’t we all just figure out what looks good on us and wear what we want?


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