Wasn’t that the name of a book review show? And I have been reading, or re-reading, a book by Linda Przybyszewski – The Lost Art of Dress: The Women Who Once Made America Stylish.
I’ve been on a mini hiatus the past few weeks, and was reading to pass the time. You see, I’m in the generation that is currently middle aged, so the mantel of care has been passed to me, and I have a number of older friends and relatives who need to be checked on regularly, so between phone calls and travel, I have been busy with other things this past month or so.
(And yes I am middle-aged, as in, no longer young. I’m sorry to disappoint my good friend of 30 years and my doctor [who are my age] but we are not-young-any-more. They both get so upset when I say that… but it doesn’t either mean we are old, or that older people are necessarily old, but none of us are still young, deal with it.*)
Which brings me back to the book. In it, Ms. Przybyszewski talks about the women who used to be “Dress Doctors”, those who, not so much dictated what women should wear, but who used art principles to help women decide what to wear, what was becoming and age appropriate. She also explores how we as a culture came to the idea that young is good, old is bad, and we need to look young all the time. And in my lifetime American culture has more than bought into the idea.
I won’t get into too much detail – Ms. Przybyszewski does it better, get her book – but I very much like the idea that there are things, styles, colors, jewelry, that are more appropriate for the mature woman. Not old woman, but mature; the woman who has life experience. And that experience gives her the mien to wear more sensual clothing, clothes that have gravitas a 20-year-old just can’t pull off.
So I will let my sense of self inform my own personal style – and that self is squarely middle-aged, thank you – along with a little guidance from the Dress Doctors. I hope what I convey is that I am an experienced, worldly, adult woman, and I don’t need to wear a mini skirt to prove it.
*As an aside, I’m reminded of an episode of Frasier, where he is complaining to Niles that he’s 51, and that’s only middle age… Niles quips back, “so you’re planning to live to be 102…”