Age, athleisure and defying expectations
Athleisure wear perfectly suits my lifestyle and my preference for comfort, says cycling blogger Adele Mitchell. I work from home. I do yoga. I ride bikes a lot. Why would I wear anything but a wardrobe of super-stretch sportswear, in a colour that I like? And yet according to Vogue’s ‘rules’ on workout wear’, at my age (53) it is sartorially risky to put myself ‘out there’ in ‘something vibrant that makes a statement’ (is that just another way of saying ‘please remain invisible’?).
Vogue doesn’t actually state the consequences of recklessly ignoring the rules (frightening the locals? Looking a bit fat on Instagram? Drawing attention to myself mid Sun Salutation?), but I’m guessing they are nowhere near as dangerous as flinging myself down a root-strewn trail on a mountain bike. So, bravely, I’m prepared to run the risk of wearing a brightly coloured vest.
Sadly Vogue is not unique in its attitude to older women and athleisure. Take a look at the advertising campaigns and social media feeds of most fitness brands, and you’d be forgiven for thinking that it’s only women under the age of 30 who work out.
So while we’re on the subject of making statements, here’s mine:
It’s time to get real about older, active women: we’re not the personification of ‘neutrals’ – we’re vibrant, varied and vivacious.
There are so many of us over the age of 40 who take part in sport, or work out (as I pointed in a recent post about the This Girl Can campaign). I think of the group of women I have ridden mountain bikes with for the last 12 years (average age 49), the grandmothers in my yoga group that do the Downward Dog, the road cycling champion I know who is in her 50s and quicker than most of the much younger men she cycles with, the runner (and I mean running, and not shuffling along) we pass in the woods each week who must be 70 if she is a day.
Let’s acknowledge the fitness, friendships, sense of achievement, and joy of working out. Inspire younger women to see fitness as a life long activity and not just a quick fix to drop a dress size, and encourage older women to believe that ‘active’ is still for them. This year I was invited to be a brand ambassador for mountain bike brand Cotic (stick that in your ‘out there’ pipe and smoke it, Vogue) and Vulpine invited me to review their new range of fitness leggings and vests – so there are some brands who value experience and social media presence as more relevant than my age. It’s time to reflect the fact that working out – at any age – is awesome. We’ve all earned the right to wear that colourful vest.