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This is an actual example of my filling in an online form and trying to find my year of birth. It appears that I am not just old, my year of birth actually needs an archaeological excavation just to find it sometimes.
This realisation of my advancing age has been a gradual process, with many little flag’s that suddenly catch your attention.
For example: I recently had to pick my son up from a school carol singing gig at a local retirement village. It was all swanky apartments, pretty grounds and with an extensive gym. The residents all seemed fit and not the elderly cohort I had imagined. Then I saw the sign “exclusive living for the over 55’s”. Over 55’s?! That’s, barely a decade away! At 55 I’ll still be funding my children through university (or prison – we’re hoping for Uni, obvs).
Is 55 considered elderly? Does that make me Middle aged? Do people humour me when I join in with the youngsters. Fuck. I just used the word youngsters, un-ironically. There is no hope. Bring on the beige nylon slacks.
I mean, I guess technically I am in the middle of my life, so does that mean middle aged? Surely half-aged would be better?(which my autocorrect just changed to half-arsed, which I unfortunately am not. I am most definitely full-arsed).
Where was I?
Oh yes, middle aged. I certainly don’t feel middle aged, apart from my knees, in my head I’m still 15. In fact my fashion sense is remarkably similar to what it was 30 years ago.
At what point does my usual dress become inappropriate? Is there a maximum age when badly applied black eyeliner, chipped black nail polish and a nose stud becomes more than just odd, and ventures into the realms of eccentric? Over the Christmas break I went through my wardrobe. It was starting to resemble an entrance to a goth narnia, hopefully complete with a depressed Mr Tumnus and the Thin White Duke as the snow Queen.
80% of my clothing is black, with the rest being grey, navy and a splash of blood red. My usual work attire is black opaque tights (fleece lined ftw!), shapeless black sack dress and black boots. Occasionally I’ll dig out a black skirt and top, and on happy days I’ll add my red shoes.
I have been informed that outside of work I dress like a 15 yr old emo boy.
Is this appropriate to wear in middle age? Should I retire my DM’s and invest in a pair of court shoes? What should someone in their 40’s, and beyond, wear? Most of the online fashion blogs aimed at this age range, present the usual theme of youthful but demure. They are full of beautifully presented women who look casual yet current. The common denominator is a distinct lack of washed out black band t-shirts.
How can we now define middle aged when the majority of us lived through the punk and rave era, or spent sweaty evenings in mosh pits? We can’t be considered the same as the middle aged women from our youth? Those women were products of the post war years. Mostly Pre the sexual revolution, and the coiffured hair and twin sets they wore in the 50’s were the same as they wore in the 80’s and indeed now they are 80.
So does that mean that the clothes of our youth are the acceptable fashion for our middle years? I can’t wait for the cohort after me to start donning rara skirts and global hypercolour t-shirts to go to Waitrose.
Maybe we need to reassess middle age for each generation. In fact does middle age actually start at mid-life? To be honest we all know people for whom middle age started around 23 and by the time they are 50, it’s like they have never been any different.
Bizarrely enough I spent a vast amount of my 20’s dressing like a middle aged woman. I had a responsible job, and was younger than most of my colleagues so felt I had to dress in an older way to be accepted. Then my 30’s were the time of bootcut jeans and long sleeved t-shirts: aka the Mummy uniform.
It’s only since I turned 40 that I’ve actually started dressing how I want. Unfortunately I’m several dress sizes bigger than I’d like, but I have chosen between my arse and my face and I can live with it. Just don’t tell me I look bloody old, or I might cry.
In the past few years my hair has been long, cropped into a pixie cut, purple, red, pink, black, and varying washed out shades and lengths in between. I have more confidence in myself than I ever have, although still not as much as I’d like, and have less regard for other’s opinions of my appearance.
In fact for the first time in a long time, my mental image of myself align’s with the outside I present to the world. I am happy to go against the flow fashion wise, and by doing as I please with my clothes and hair, I am returning to the way I dressed when I was young and carefree. A psychologist would have a field day with this. Maybe I am subconsciously trying to find a place where I am my true self and am using clothes as a way of achieving that.
Maybe being middle aged for me means reassessing my position in the world, as I become invisible to those younger than me. It’s a real shock to realise that this really does happen, and maybe that 15 year old in my head has decided to rebel.
Growing old gracefully? I’d rather not, thanks.