Dorrie Jacobson of Senior Style Bible

When digital media website Mashable asked for my comments on age-appropriate style, I told them it was dead. That today, the boundaries between different generations are blurred and so this kind of terminology is out-of-date and inappropriate. Age is irrelevant, we wear what we like. Obviously, Dorrie Jacobson from Senior Style Bible, an 80-year-old fashion lover and former Playboy bunny, feels the same:

‘You have to wonder why it’s only women who are subjected to this ‘fashion rulebook.’ Men can wear whatever the bloody hell they like, at any age, and no one blinks an eyelash.’


Thank you so much for all your wonderful comments on my ‘grey hair’ post. Next time the Guardian take my photo I’m going to take a leaf out of Dorrie’s book and find a colourful wall to stand next to.

Read Mashable’s ‘Age-appropriate fashion is a step backward for women’s rights,’  feature HERE.

20 thoughts on “Age-appropriate is inappropriate

  1. There is a continuum between ‘age appropriate’ and ‘age innapropriate’ and women need to do it with grace. I wouldn’t wear a thigh high mini (wish I could) and neither would I have granny hair and a twin set. Style is about how you feel and my wardrobe speaks for me rather than ‘owning me’

  2. I agree with Annie; except her comment about twin sets. I think they look fabulous in a classic way (if worn the right way of course).

  3. I love the blue and in fact I love most of her photos but I do struggle with her views on plastic surgery! I had a look at some of the pieces on Dorrie’s blog where she talks about a facelift in your fifties as being an investment.
    Alison it would be wonderful if you could find us a couple of stylish older women who are not really slim. It strikes me that it is much easier to look good when there just isn’t much of a tyre round the middle!!

  4. Maureen – thanks for you comment. I agree with you about the facelift and will definitely look out for a more diverse range of stylish older women.

  5. Thanks for saying that age-appropriate dressing is dead! It’s time to quit focusing on preconceived ideas and just accept that we are not going to dress like our grandmothers – unless we want to.

  6. As I get older I’m discovering that I’m becoming less & less judgemental (thank God, because there was definitely room for improvement!) about what other women do, say or wear. I absolutely DETEST that saying “mutton dressed as lamb” because, seriously, who is any of us to say who’s the mutton, and who’s the lamb — or how either of them “should” dress? It’s the “should” that annoys me. In spite of this, I still find myself wincing a little when I see a woman wearing something that some part of me automatically judges as “inappropriate” to some criteria: her age, her weight, her surroundings. I’m trying very hard to rid myself of that last vestige of self-righteous presumption, but it’s difficult. I don’t know why we can’t just mind our own damn business & rejoice in everyone’s unique vision of self-expression. . I grew up with a very elegant English mother & a ton of “rules”: never mix patterns, never wear bright colours, fingernail polish & lipstick should be understated, no jeans, jewelry should be classic & gold, no white after Labour Day, only sailors have tattoos & not nice sailors at that, never do this or that. Unsurprisingly, I dedicated myself to breaking all those rules & then some. I’m still not done. Nor am I alone. I think it’s time the people who jabber on about “age-appropriate” get over themselves. Anyone who thinks this generation of 50 & ups are going to allow themselves to be be quietly pigeonholed into Granny Fashion where we won’t offend anyone are in for the shock of their lives! In fact, I think I might dedicate the rest of my 60s & onwards to offending as many people as possible.

  7. The key element here is the sexualisation of female image; as if we view every woman and her clothes through a filter of sexual availability. Hence we are uncomfortable (rightly so) when seeing very young girls dressed in provocative style (that picture of child model above is chilling) and also at the other end of the spectrum when we see obviously old women still dressing as if to attract very young men. I do not suppose this will ever, ever end as only women appear to be subjected to this treatment. Think of the covering up of Muslim women so that they are modest and do not attract the attention of men which is just the obverse of the Western habit of getting it out on show. And the real truth of all facial plastic surgery is that women want to look younger than they are. Sexual availability is the signal. I wonder when it will be fine for women to signal: no thanks, had enough of the sex now. Just fancy being authentically tranquil. Because for quite a lot of women, the spur to their existence is not being viewed in a sexual way. Just as girls are not gagging for it at 10, women post-menopausal are often not up for non-stop rumpy.
    I know: shocking.

    1. Well said, Wilson. I’ve not indulged in any of these, but who’s to say I won’t somewhere down the road? I think it’s well past time we stopped criticizing people — especially older woman — for their life choices. And please tell me I’m not the only 60+ post-menopausal woman here who still loves her “rumpy-pumpy”??? I’ve found it just keeps getting better with age, experienc e & self-confidence & while I respect every woman’s choice in this as with anything else, for the love of all that’s holy, let’s not now start demonizing sex for older women too!

  8. I agree with your philosophy completely Alison and I find that I now have “your style voice” in my head when I’m out and about and spot a stylish older woman. And I also agree with Maureen that it would be good to see the positive age vibe “reaching out” to women who are size 16! BTW I was warned that only people who had been in The Four Tops could legitimately say that they were “reaching out”… Lots to be said for that rule of thumb too!

  9. As a post-menopausal woman, the absence (by choice) of rumpy-pumpy is one of the most liberating things about gettting old. Hadn’t thought of it terms of pre-puberty but I guess that’s what it’s like – just not something I ever think about and one less thing to be stressed about. Result!

  10. Facelifts ,botox,fillers,and spa treatments often get demonized as some sad attempt to be another age than you are. I’m sure in some cases that is part of it. But not all. Lets just say its not your style to do that, like its not my style to wear cobalt blue from head to toe. If a women is free to dress as she pleases (at any age) then she should be free to make decisions about the care and appearance of her body as well. If you choose to go forth au natural fine. Your choice. I chose to have the dog jowls tightened because they were starting to hang below my jawline. Not to look younger. Although I do.

  11. Goodness me…….3 posts on here I agree with, a rare occurrence.

    The joy of my libido getting up, leaving the room & shutting the door behind it!! ….thank you Annie G & Lesley Reardon, so much more freedom & incidentally I’ve nothing against those who are still firmly in that place!

    Also on the subject of very slim older ladies on here…..or most other sites dealing with the this subject. Time to look beyond the size 10 to 12 methinks!!! Thank you Maureen.

    Also totally a

  12. There is “age appropriate” at every age. A teeny bopper in a slinky black number is creepy and appalling, right? A 60-something is sad to behold if dressed in an old-country, frumpy cheap house dress, and usually the face reflects the sadness. Dorrie hits a perfect balance, as do some of the other “mature” blogs I visit. At the golf course, an old man whispered to me, “You’re rocking that youth style, little mama.” I was wearing plaid shorts, a collared shirt, and buttoned-up cardigan with flats. What!? I was horrified. Did he think I was dressed too young? I’m mid 60’s with a very nice figure. When I calmed down, I told myself he meant that I *could* pull this off and didn’t need to wear pull-on poly pants and a baggy shirt, so his comment was a compliment. This story, though, explains how vulnerable the age-appropriate question makes me feel. It is on my mind every time I shop. Is it wrong, too, that I dress so that my daughter-in-laws say, “I want to be like Mom when I’m her age.”

  13. Amen! At 61, I dislike labels. Perhaps it’s because I understand what “appropriate” means for the situation I’m dressing for. If women ask for guidelines, they should be offered, but questioning your decisions might be answering that it isn’t right for you. One size does not fit all. Some of the best posts I’ve read have to do with style for any age. …showing one item as worn by a 30 something on up to a 70 or 80 something. Some looks transcend and adapt…I wish reporters and writers would do the same and follow your lead. That’s why I regularly tune in to what you’re sharing!

  14. I don’t care about what “people” think about the way I dress! I have been a punk and a goth in the early ’80s,and got a lot of hassle by people in the streets(I was living in Italy at that time).I moved to London in 1985,found my way,and,now that I’m back in Italy,I still don’t care about what other people think about my way of dressing (I’m not a goth anymore) , but I still wear whatever I like,and I’m 53 years old,and I feel great about my clothes,my dress sense and,at least,I’m not a slave to fashion or to the rules of “dressing at a certain age…”

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