Hey! Older women take off the Invisibility Cloak

by Kerry Cue

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Navy quote 1When I am an old woman I shall wear purple

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With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me

………….Jenny Joseph, Warning, Poem, 1961

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Do dull clothes make you dull?

Red Hat Society

Red Hat Society

Jenny Joseph’s poem has gained something of a cult following. Today there are Red Hat Societies that encourage members to go out in public wearing purple dresses and red hats. They have a lot of fun and raise money for charity – insert applause here – and, of course, the Red Hat ladies don’t go unnoticed in public.

Such societies, however, rather defeat the idea of the older woman as a respected individual by turning her into a red hat, purple dress-wearing stereotype. Jenny Joseph aptly expressed her unique eccentricities in her poem, but why turn yourself into a Jenny Joseph clone?

There is, however, a more insidious problem concerning fashion for older women.

In her book FASHION AND AGE: Dress, the body and later life, (Review: Cheryl Buckley, Times Higher Education, 19 SEP 2014) Julia Twigg insists that as women age they become estranged to fashion and begin to wear “rectangles and squares” in sombre colours with little ornamentation, instead of choosing clothes that fashionably drape and shape our older selves.

Sibylline fashion classicIt is the curse of the ‘chunky ¾ length pants and polo fleece tops’, the uniform worn by older women on bus trips! This garb is the real world equivalent to Harry Potter’s Invisibility Cloak.

Fashion is fun but it’s not for everyone. Moreover, older women can wear what they bloody well like. They’ve earned this right. But fashion also serves a purpose. Dowdy or dull outfits scream ‘I’ve given up’. If you are not interested in yourself, who else will be?

Yes! You do get more respect if you dress smartly in public. You needn’t stop there. Some older women don amazingly zany outfits and they are, indeed, an inspiration for all ages. Here they are, women from the Advanced Style Blog. Ari Seth Cohen wanders the streets of New York taking pictures of fashionable women in the 60s, 70s and 80s. And they look fabulous, darling!

Beatrix Ost Fashion Diva

Beatrix Ost Fashion Diva

Fab Fashionista

Fab Fashionista

Joyce

Joyce

 

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Fashionistas Photos: Red Hat Society Sowystitch and Advanced Style Blog.

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