Yes, I read O magazine. Whatever. I actually find a lot of good reading therein, say what you will about the Oprah-machine. I can’t hack her show, but on the printed page there’s a lot of good stuff there.
January’s issue was all about self-esteem. Which turned out to be ironic, given that that was the issue in which Oprah’s fashion mavens decided to trash my personal style.
This issue featured an article directed at women over 40 with helpful tips on “how not to look old.” Dowdy, boring clothes age you, but apparently so do failed attempts at looking like a teenager. The article featured six pictures of women wearing “wrong” outfits. One caught my eye … for reasons you can probably discern if you look below:
On the left: Oprah’s model. On the right: Me. And apparently we are both committing the same over-40 fashion faux-pas. We are wearing (and I quote): “dowdy jeans and a turtleneck … functional and forgettable.”
Now, you don’t have to have a huge acquaintance with my wardrobe to know that pretty much all I ever wear is dowdy jeans and a turtleneck — to the point that I have my own favourite brand and style of dowdy jeans and would prefer never to venture any farther afield than the rack where they are sold. Functional and forgettable? Sounds great. All I ask from my wardrobe is that it allow me to function, and forget about it.
The thing is, when I looked at the picture of the woman in the dowdy jeans and turtleneck, my instant gut reaction was, “Oh, she looks great!” Clearly, I am not with the program here. Not only am I wearing the wrong clothes, I’m happy about them, and I think they look good. Something’s dreadfully wrong.
Look back at those two photos. Apart from the obvious surface-level differences (she’s black, I’m white; her sweater’s green, mine’s pink; I’m in my living room, she’s suspended in the magazine model’s Eternal Nothingness) what do you see? I’ll tell you what I see — two women in their forties who both look relaxed, confident and (here’s the key) comfortable.
Really, shouldn’t this be the advantage to passing forty? I’ll admit I have always been a little less fashion-obsessed than the average woman — in fact, I’m a little less fashion-obsessed than the average iguana. But surely with turning 40 both the external and the internal pressure should lift. I’m married, I have a wonderful job, I have family and friends who love me. I also have a me who loves me. Who am I dressing to impress? Am I dressing to get ahead in the workplace? Not likely, where I work. Am I dressing to impress my husband? My friends? My kids?
I think I’m dressing to impress me. And you know what impresses me? Feeling comfortable. You know what feels comfortable? Riders Size 12 Extra-Long Classic Fit jeans, and a turtleneck sweater. (I do vary the colours of my sweaters). And I genuinely believe comfort keeps you young.
Take that, Oprah.