If one was too fat to wear something would it be pointed out? Or too young? Amanda Cassidy on how style evolves as you age and why nobody else needs to get their granny knickers in a twist.
Let's be clear, tea dresses are basically granny dresses. I didn't hear anyone going around saying 'Sorry mate, you are only 28. You couldn't possibly wear THAT'. This week Helena Christensen was criticised for wearing a black lace bustier with high-waisted jeans with former Editor-in-chief of Vogue, Alexandra Shulman calling it 'tacky' and arguing that the Danish beauty (at 50) is 'too old to wear that'.
She wrote; "Helena Christensen is usually the most stylishly understated of the supermodels. At the peak of her career, she always looked utterly scrumptious in a simple dress and flat shoes, wore no make-up and liked to hang out with girlfriends." She went on to say; "So why last week, at the age of 50, did she decide to pitch up at Gigi Hadid’s 24th birthday party in a tacky, black lace bustier?" Shulman also states: "Something you wore at 30 will never look the same on you 20 years later. Clothes don’t lie."
Related: Why fashion diversity is more than just a buzz word
Bear in mind that Christensen is a former supermodel and she was on her way to a very youthful birthday party at the time. She was hardly going to wear flat shoes and no makeup, was she? Besides, why should she have to? Fashion is about being comfortable with how you look. Fashion should make you feel good - that's part of the attraction. The fact that your fashion choices might also evolve as you get older makes sense. It is also worth pointing out that in almost every interview, Christensen reiterates that she won't let age define her. Yet, this has been inescapable.
Where do you draw the line?
For me, new heels spark joy. For you, it might be a swishy skirt or colourful hairband. For Helena, it was a lace bustier. The danger with flippant comments about what people 'shouldn't wear' is where do you draw the line? Should heavy-set women shun dresses altogether? Am I too skinny to wear jeans? Nobody should be too anything just because it might bother someone else. It extends right out of fashion too - if I'm not smiling does it ruin your day? Soz.
There shouldn't be any rules about what people can and can't do when it comes to everyday creative choices like fashion. Being judged for what you wear is a dangerous game we saw traces of when it came to the #metoo movement. Was she wearing suggestive clothing? Was she asking for it?
I recently wrote about how I have finally found myself (at the age of 40) putting the short shorts back on the rail at River Island. That's my prerogative. The real issue here is that we live in an age where we allow other people to set the rules. Headlines point out five fashion 'mistakes' celebrities make, a programme even exists called Fashion Police where the aim is to tear apart what people choose to wear. This weekend we will all ooh and ahh at the fashion choices made at the traditionally OTT Met Gala. This is where fashion is fun and brave and deliberately 'out there'.
What lies beneath...
There's nothing wrong with admitting that we like something or that we don't like something someone wears, but to accuse the person under the outfit of being too anything is simply bad manners.
The ever-patient Helena took to Instagram in the following days to defend herself. She shared a photo of herself with two friends proudly wearing the same top and wrote; "Let's continue to elevate and support each other, all you beautiful, smart, fun, sexy, hard-working, talented, nurturing women out there. #ooopssheworeabustieragain
Her point was exquisitely made - lay off the age-shaming and pass-remarkable criticisms, and instead focus on who we really are beneath our garments - awesome, clever women with a lot to give.
Feature image: @Red Magazine