Much as a foster kid "ages out" of the system when he or she turns 18, so it is with our fashion sense when we get to be women of a certain age. You may think, Hey, I can totally rock this look! It makes me feel kicky and free! But the line between sassy and sad is a thin one: no one, no one, wants to see a woman over 40 wearing the "kooky schoolgirl" outfit. Short plaid skirts, high knee socks, and clunky shoes just scream "I'm clinging to my youth! And it's not working!"
It's not ironic: it's pathetic.
In my case, it also tells the world, "I live alone and have no one to throw themselves in front of me to keep me from leaving the house looking this ridiculous!"
This disparity in age-appropriate fashion was made clear to me by the surge of 70s-era styles that have appeared in stores. Low-slung jeans and midriff baring t-shirts are just not my flavor anymore. Furthermore, you do not acquire the ability to go back in time simply because you wear that era's clothes. Although whoever brought back embroidered peasant shirts, thank you!
I found out the age-appropriate style rule also applies to hair; the trend is the long ponytail braided into a plait, which then is draped down over one shoulder. Nothing too outrageous, I thought. It has the kind of "mellow vibe" I radiated in junior high. Yes, I said it - mellow! Everyone remembers the 70s as the disco era, but they forget about us girls who wore bandannas with big, gold loop earrings and overalls while listening to Gordon Lightfoot. Crunchy granola, anyone?
So I went to my stylist, Frankie, and I told him I wanted a weave for braiding purposes. He asked me, "Are you sure?" at least three times. But the customer is king, right?
The weave went in, the braiding did begin.
I. Looked. Like. I. Followed. The. Rodeo.
Within days, I was frantically calling Frankie and begging him to remove the rat-tail royale that had high-jacked my look. Mercifully, he did de-weave me. No "I-told-you-so's" were necessary, but I did catch him smiling to himself a couple of times as the adhesive melted.
I had learned my lesson: stick with the decade you're in, at the age you are. Leave the kooky, kicky, ironic look to the Zooey Deschanels of the world - especially if you're old enough to be her mother.
Just remember: mini-skirts and cowboy boots don't go with crow's feet.