When I hear these three words, it’s often in reference to women over the age of forty or women who have children and need to “start dressing like a mom,” whatever that means.
Recently, these three words were said to me, and my mind was literally blown.
According to the person who felt the need to randomly discuss the clothing I choose to put on my body, I “dress like the old soul [I] have.” This person insinuated I do not dress “young enough” for someone my age.
This was me during the entire conversation:
As I become more independent (and apparently, according to others when I give them a summary of my life, brave), I disregard things people who are practically strangers tell me, especially in this instance.
You’re telling me I need to show more skin because other girls my age are doing that? You want me to let everything hang out, so you have something to gossip with your friends about during book club?
This brief encounter had me thinking about the phrase “dress your age,” so in true nerdy Jamilah fashion (ugh, I’ve missed her), I did research.
In March 2023, Ariel Baker wrote an article on the topic of dressing your age for POPSUGAR. For her article, she interviewed Dr. Dawnn Karen, a fashion psychologist. Dr. Karen said, “‘There’s your chronological age and there’s your psychological age… the latter refers to the number of years that you’ve acquired. The former is how you feel within your body, how you think, and how you perceive yourself.'”
I feel like the latter part of that statement is backwards, but I’m just quoting the article *unnecessarily puts arms up in defense*.
If what Dr. Karen says is true, I guess I am psychologically the age of someone in her fifties, which I am not complaining about at all. People my age look at me sideways when I tell them I enjoy purchasing items from major department stores, like Belk’s and Dillard’s. Likewise, I enjoy purchasing secondhand items, which has become mainstream for girls my age over the past few years.
Still, when I’m shopping at a secondhand store, I will avoid the crop tops as much as I can. Do I own crop tops? Absolutely. Am I learning to love my body in a crop top? Heck yes.
However, there’s something so… comfortable about having my body covered. There is also a safety element to it; since I do a lot of things independently, I try to not catch the attention of male creeps on the streets. Now, there are days when I want to show off my rib tattoo, so I’ll show a little bit of skin. Most of the time, I want to be in something flowy, so it feels like my skin is exposed when it actually isn’t.
Apparently wearing flowy items makes me old *shrugs*.
In the POPSUGAR article, Ariel Baker writes, “As fashion is subjective, there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to dress.” Unfortunately, people will always feel the unnecessary need to express their opinions about what you wear, and during those times, it is important to remember this statement from Baker.
Let your psychological age take control of whatever your chronological age is because how you feel and what makes you happy is more important than what your birth certificate says.
If you feel comfortable, confident, and secure in your outfit, wear it. To quote Iesha Vincent, creator of LivingLesh, “So don’t let anyone tell you that you should dress your age. You don’t wake up and get dressed for them. Wear what represents you and flaunt your confidence, because that is the best piece of clothing you’ll ever wear—no matter your age.”
Baker, A. (2023) This mother-daughter TikTok trend redefines what it means to ‘Dress your age’, Popsugar. Available at: https://www.popsugar.com/fashion/dressing-your-age-49127086 (Accessed: 17 September 2023).
Vincent, I. (2021) What does it mean to ‘dress your age’?, LivingLesh. Available at: https://livinglesh.com/dress-your-age/ (Accessed: 17 September 2023).