Peter Som Tweed Jacket, $2,395 at Bergdorf Goodman
As I sat reading through my new November edition of Bazaar magazine (although the cover looks more like a July Fourth one), I was somewhat taken aback by the inclusion of this long jacket in the "Fabulous At Every Age" segment. I had seen it when the Resort collections appeared on Style.com, and I remember coveting it for its chic ease and calming shades of cream, baby blue, and honey--but I did not think of it as belonging to the "70+" age group. I had to stop. Was I, like the sullen Katie Holmes, dressing far beyond my years?
Perhaps my clothing choices have been influenced by my job, one that demands some age separation from my teenaged students. (I've faced careless scoldings from colleagues in the elevators for not having my "elevator pass" and other such nonsense for years, but as of late it hasn't happened as frequently as it used to.) These days, editors have sent out mixed messages; on the one hand, women are no longer bound by meaningless age restrictions ("forty is the new thirty"), but on the other hand, we are told to dress our age ("Fabulous at every age"). Which, pray tell, is it? What's a girl/teenager/ woman/mother/grandmother to do?
Well, there are certain items that are age-proof: classic, quality items that stand the test of time, such as jeans, Chanel jackets, trench coats, pumps. Both a teenager and a grandmother could wear said items without a raised eyebrow (that is, if your income bracket allows for it). And it also true that there are certain items that are age-specific: youthful or mature items that show tell-tale signs of age, such as baby doll dresses, extremely abbreviated miniskirts, and Armani jackets (it's the cut I'm referring to here, not the price). But for women who are somewhere between twenty-five and fifty-five, that line is a blurry one.
The reality is that it's not the item itself that defines youthfulness or maturity but the panache with which it is worn. If I were to wear the above jacket with matching pearl earrings and necklace, a white pencil skirt, and pumps, I would certainly look more mature than I am, but if I were to wear it with wedges and a large cocktail ring, I would look my age--which is somewhere in the shadowy zone between twenty-five and fifty-five.