We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” - George Bernard Shaw

The Guardian's website seems intent on posting articles that raise my blood pressure. The latest is by former Vogue features editor, Jo Craven, and chronicles her disenchantment with "fashion" since her career change...the catalyst for which, according to the article, seems to have been that one of Balenciaga's blazers from last Fall didn't fit her.

I can empathise with the event itself...I remember an incident in one of Neiman Marcus' changing rooms where the Balenciaga turtleneck I was trying went on okay but showed a temperamental side when I tried to remove it...half-on/half-off, with my arms and shoulders virtually immobile and my head covered by the part of the sweater I'd actually been able to remove up to that point I stumbled around the changing room. Thankfully we parted company before either of us was damaged...and before the sales assistant came back to check on me. I'll admit, my pride was wounded, but it didn't make me want to forsake fashion like a nun taking a vow of chastity before she joined the sisterhood...which is where we re-join Jo Craven's story.

After Balenciaga-gate she apparently wondered "if, at 37, (she is) starting to feel old" and, after several paragraphs, comes to the conclusion that fashion is for twenty-somethings and fifty-somethings and that everyone in between is stuck in a no man's land. Back to the nun analogy I'm afraid but...what are people supposed to do for the twenty years in between those two periods, take a vow of blandness? It seems horrifically depressing in this day and age to have a former Vogue editor suggest that "a navy blue polo neck, a navy blue coat and a navy blue silk blouse" are good options, especially as there are so many stylish women from that age group...a few of whom are pictured below.


Post a Comment 7 comments:

  • enc said...
    6:27 PM
    This comment has been removed by the author.
  • enc said...
    6:29 PM
    Agreed; I read that bit and she seemed pretty grim, and unnecessarily so. I'm 41, and I don't feel like I'm in a no-man's land. I just carefully extract what I like from the trends, and mix it in with my uniform of skinny jeans, cashmere sweaters, and nice shoes and bags. I throw in a trench, a blazer, a skirt, etc., as the situations dictate/allow. I don't let the mags tell me I'm no one because I'm in this age group.

    I feel happy to be in this age group. I'm not so young as to be unsettled in my identity, and I'm not so old as to be unadventurous, which my mother fast became once she got the idea into her head that she was out of options at age 46.

    I think we have to look at ourselves, and our lives, realistically, and then have fun with the trends that come along.

    Side note: Harper's Bazaar (US book) runs a feature every month titled "Perfect at Every Age" or something like that. In this feature, they take the same look and apply it to all age groups: 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s. The same look for all age groups. The only differences are skirt lengths. Usually, the ideas make sense.

    I think we can all take whatever trends are feasible/reasonable and adapt them.

    What does everyone else think?
  • WendyB said...
    8:44 PM
    She sounds like she's depressed to be out of the workforce and suddenly a stay-at-home mom, even if she is working her ass off building the home. Taking care of kids is the hardest job in the world and you never have a moment off, plus they're not exactly great conversationalists. When I was in the corporate world, I knew plenty of mothers who loved coming to work to get a break from the kids. So I really think she's struggling with her own personal life transition and it doesn't reflect on the fashion world at all. I wouldn't wear (and no one would want me to wear) every trend when I was 20...so why should I do that now? It doesn't make sense to bemoan the fact that some stuff doesn't work for you when very likely it might never have worked for you.
    @ENC...I'm always bored to death by that Harper's editorial, because it is exactly how you described it. I'm like, where's the difference?I agree on the rest of your comment too (and p.s. I JUST turned 40.)
  • enc said...
    5:23 PM
    wendyb, I think you're right about the depression/transition theory. I never thought of that, but it occurs to me that that's how I felt when I stopped working for the man and began freelancing.

    I think for women, we can be subject to defining our identities—at least in part—through our work. That was the case with me, anyway, because I didn't have a family of my own.

    And now that I do, I also want to define myself outside the confines of the family unit, and sometimes I do that through dressing.

    I can't imagine myself fitting into the Balenciaga blazer; I have orangutan arms and linebacker's shoulders.

    And I love your jewelry, btw. And Google does, in fact, hate you.

  • Maria said...
    7:24 PM
    this writer sounds saaaaaaaaaad.
    But my many questions for her would be: why do you want to wear a Balenciaga Jacket...?Why?
    Why would you get in line for a product that a 1000 others would have if is not flattering?
    What is wrong with wearing cardigans...? Why is Balenciaga or nothing?
    Zero sum logic loads her story of pathetic scenarios. So is age or size? Does age equals a shape?
    Is fashion a solution for size? or do we have markets that assert a lifestyle and a size?

    I think she manifest all that i see in fashion victims... a total engagement with fitting in. Why is it so important?
  • editor said...
    10:14 PM
    interesting article, interesting post, interesting topic!!!
    my first thought upon reading the article was that this woman was going through a bit of a personal crisis, and her article was more of a cry for help than a cry for wardrobe (then i read the comments here and saw that wendyb already said all this - and NO WAY wendyb is 40 anything. uh uh, nope, sorry, not buying that).
    i've definitely been sensing ... not censorship but... pause, on my part. it has more to do with my identity though, than my age. am i someone who still wears docs, etc.
    i got a good lesson/much-needed-wack-on-the-head today though when i ran across writer lynn yaeger. i think she would roll her fantastic eyes at ms. boo-hoo-what-do-i-wear craven.
    frankly, it really sounds like jo never developed a personal style, and mistook her former industry's fashion passion for her own. now she's flying solo and ought to grow up and figure it out, for herself.
  • hebden said...
    7:02 PM
    Editor - you know, when I first read the article I thought she had (being overly melodramatic here) "forsaken fashion" but, reading your final point, I think you nailed it...she never found her identity, just a shell to go with her job...

    And here I am, fighting to maintain my identity in corporate America and, I admit, envious of someone who worked in a creative environment where they could truly express themselves through their clothing choices. Ah well...grass...greener...other side of fence...

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