By MAGGIE M, Editor, Wedgee-in-Chief, theWedge.LIVE
“Aging gracefully,” we often hear from the lips of millions of women over fourty. They state this mantra as a goal, a tacit surrender to living life less fully, less visibly.
I won’t elaborate on what this idiom–merely words–profoundly means. Not today.
Evidence that women have “passed their turn to shine” echoes loudest in shops. Shapeless, colourless garments populate apparel shops. Jewelry is muted. Shoes seems positively orthotic. And there is a belief that hairstyles should be short and shapeless. It is a cruel lie.
We also tire of rules from designers. They change each year, a form of elitism and a cash cow. This pours incendiary on aging dogma.
Style is your style alone–not as dictated by others.
I wear whatever suits me, but still deny the fullness of my corporeal canvas. The challenge is to find apparel that defines you. This is not easy.
I bought a pair of Reiker flats, the leather covered with news stories. I call them my writer’s shoes. It seems words are the new pattern.
I scour consignment stores for unique no-longer-in-production items, style you cannot find in the finest stores–even in those which line Bloor Street in Toronto. I don’t want Chanel or Prada to define me–to wear their logo signaling wealth and not much else. Agnostics like me are growing in numbers.
Materialism is ceding to expression.
You simply cannot claim your own style if thousands wear the same thing. I used to design my own garments, travel to the fabric shops and have seamstresses sew them with umpteen, time-wasting fittings. I relished the thought that no one else in the world wore the same items.
I once traveled to Milan during the dark, saggy years of Armani and walked Via Monte Napoleone (Europe’s most expensive street) wearing an outfit so colourful, I appeared out of place. I’m an outlier. Those days are behind me. I’m back to that place, but with a new exploratory strategy.
The solution arrives as a confirmation from two style mavens, one Canadian and one American.
ENTER MEL KOBAYASHI, CANADIAN AGING SUPERBLY
I discovered a Canadian style blogger and model who has been featured in Marie Claire, Vogue and endless pubs. She inspires me. Melanie “Mel” Kobayashi hails from B.C., was raised in Windsor Ontario. She is relatively well-known in the fashion world. Mel is liberating women advancing in years to pay no mind to the age fiction–and live fully. She is well into her fifties with a style-of-her-own that may be hard to beat.
Here’s the shocker, everything she is wearing are finds from thrift shops. Assembling the pieces is the epitome of her unique style. She does not have a collection–not yet.
“Unfortunately, I don’t have a line. At least not yet; I shop almost exclusively at thrift stores,” Mel states. “But I do absolutely agree that women should be free to wear colour and BUY colour. Thankfully, every year selections are getting better.”
Watch her video below. Experience the style of a woman well into her fifties.
AND THEN THERE IS IRIS APFEL
“Style has nothing to do with fashion,” Iris Apfel repeats in her many interviews. “Style is in your DNA.”
Iris was 95 in 2017 when this interview was recorded. She is world renown for style–her own. She warns not to imitate, but to do what makes you happy.
I’ve been a fan of this brilliant woman with a steely mind and surgical wit for a few years.
“If I had rules, I’d break them,” Iris says. “I love curating…and putting things together.”
“How many 95 year-old cover girls do you know?”
Wait for it…she finds her accessories, jewelry and garments in thrift shops and unlikely places like Macy’s. You probably won’t spot her at Bergdorf’s (the irony is Iris was featured in the store and in its windows–it’s a chicken or egg thing.)
It’s about form, colour and again, their combined effect.
We are launching new memes #stopaginggracefully and #agingsuperbly .
Share this story with women over 40. Their superb life is just getting started and we want them to know it.