She wears it well…

So. The weather is getting better. Spring is here, the sun’s out, we can put our bobble hats away for another few months and choose our footwear based on what we like, instead of what is least likely to make us fall over on our arses in the ice. Run free, all of you, I’ll see you back here in October.

Oh wait, hang on a minute. You’re not a woman are you? You are? In that case there are a few little rules you need to consider.

Look online and there are countless articles telling women what they shouldn’t be wearing, whether they’re over 20, 30 or 40. But especially after the age of 50, because apparently that lot are all over the place and despite the fact that a lot of them have made actual people in their own bodies and have fantastic careers and are generally sorted in almost every other area of their lives, they just can’t be trusted to choose the right thing to wear.

I did a little bit of research before I started writing this and found pages and pages of ‘rules’. It was hard to work out what age these particular ‘rules’ are aimed at, but I think we can safely assume that if you have a vagina, you’re wearing the wrong thing. If you’re not covering up too much, you’re showing too much of yourself off (asking for it! Whatever ‘it’ is, although usually ‘it’ means any bad behaviour men don’t want to take responsibility for). It’s a very fine line but you must get it right as that’s what you’re for, silly, to look right.

So then, what shouldn’t you be wearing? You might want to jot these down.

It seems to be mainly leather, leopard print, mini skirts, horizontal stripes, shorts, berets and black eyeliner, for starters.

I’m amazed I’m still walking free. I have all of these things and sometimes, in the case of my leopard print beret, leather jacket, stripy top and black eyeliner, wear quite a few of them combined. How do I even sleep at night?

Also, don’t wear black. What do you mean, you like it? Are you not listening to me? It drains you, you imbecile and apparently it washes you out, whatever that means. If you must wear black then add a pop of colour by wearing a brightly coloured scarf at a jaunty angle. Which is a sentence I actually read in a grown up, serious woman’s magazine.

It’s worth remembering that you should be wearing a scarf anyway, to cover your baggy old neck and your wrinkly décolletage. I’m not entirely sure I know what a décolletage is, or where mine is. I’m pretty certain I have one though, I think it’s somewhere between my ribs and my neck. Ah, I expect it’s so wrinkly I’ve probably mistakenly tucked it away under an armpit or something. Next!

Don’t show your bare arms. I can’t believe I’m even having to tell you this. Bare arms might be a little bit wobbly and as you know, society doesn’t do wobbly so stop it. Wobbly is like wrinkly, it reminds people that age is just waiting around the corner and they don’t like it, so cover them up now, damn you.

Right, where were we? Oh yes, don’t wear black sleeveless tops with low necks. What next?

There’s a whole section on how to wear jeans. Yes, that’s right, how to wear them. Apparently this procedure is a whole lot more complicated than just putting them on. I know, you’ve been doing it wrong your whole life! Idiot.

Don’t wear blue and green, don’t show your toes, don’t get a tattoo as one day your skin might go wrinkly and the world will END,

There’s a whole list of sub-sections about what you should and shouldn’t wear if you’re a fat woman, or a thin one, or a fat old woman or a woman who’s older than 30 yet younger than 40 who’s a bit thin at the top and then a bit fat further down. And you don’t stand a chance if you’re a pregnant woman because jeez, you might as well just stay inside for 9 months as you’re never going to get it right. It’s fine though, because being pregnant means that everyone has free reign to make comments about, as well as actually touch, your body so I’m sure someone will give you a piece of helpful advice.

Women are judged by what they wear in a way men never are. There are no articles about what men over 40 should and shouldn’t be wearing, apart from a few half-hearted attempts that mention skinny jeans and sandals with socks. But the clothing rules for men seem to consist of buy stuff, put that stuff on, go out in aforementioned stuff, forget about it until you need to take the stuff off again, or the stuff falls apart. Sorted. What’s for lunch?

We’re told what we should and shouldn’t wear by the media, by society, by each other. We police each other, saying things like ‘Look at you with your legs out! You’re brave!’

I was told I was brave last summer, for daring to wear a sleeveless top. (Which reminds me, we need to have a word about being brave. Oh, people say, you’re so brave writing that/sharing that/wearing that. I hear it thrown around so often. Brave is running into a burning house to rescue a child, or surviving a war, or standing up to a bully. Brave is not wearing a top with no sleeves. Stop throwing it around willy nilly, you’re watering it down).

There’s always something else to worry about. You get one thing sorted and another pops up, one minute we’re supposed to be worried about our knees, the next our elbows or our ankles. We’re either too hairy, too white, too tanned, too fat, too thin. It’s a minefield.

Why do we care?

Even though I think society has made us care, women don’t help each other. They judge and sneer and whisper, commenting on the height of necklines and hems, forced into a competitiveness they never wanted in the first place. It’s exhausting.

So here’s my advice.

Wear what the hell you want, when you want to. Nobody actually cares, and if they do they need to stop and will only do that if everyone just does what they want to and breaks these ‘rules’.


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15 responses to “She wears it well…

  1. Viv

    People told me I was brave to do life modeling. I wasn’t brave. I needed the money the first time and I discovered a weird courage too. One artist used to draw me as a sort of goddess, and when I remarked on this, she said very sternly, “That’s because you are!”. I would recommend trying it to anyone who is as body conscious and body shamed as I have been.

  2. Reblogged this on The World of The Teigr Princess and commented:
    I’m going to have to remember this advice…

  3. You nailed it when you said men over 40 aren’t being told what to wear… Here’s to women who are “brave” enough to be true to themselves! –Signed Woman in Black

  4. I like to wear what makes me feel comfortable, which changes from day to day, though I mostly wear jeans as my standard uniform. I’m sure I wear them as wrong as wrong can be. I express my fashion sense or “lack thereof” in a full range of ways. Lately, I’ve been having fun with wearing things I don’t normally wear, getting more dressed up, on occasion. It’s fun to go out “in costume” and I can see why people do it.

  5. Too right. Wear what you like. Men don’t give a shite , why should we.
    I’m off to look for my leopard print bikini 🙂

  6. Oh how laughed. I am this minute wearing a black. short sleeved, V-neck top which shows off my flabby arms. I did consider a scarf set at a ‘jaunty’ angle before doing the food shop but then thought…Nah, can’t be bothered.
    As for the judgement of other women…We should be kinder to our own sex. Reminds me of the Thomas Middleton play. ‘Women Beware Women’ Who needs enemies eh?

  7. Pingback: In the Media: 12th April 2015 | The Writes of Woman

  8. Love the piece. I don’t know why people feel the need to comment constantly on what people, especially women, are wearing. My pet peeve at the moment: For the last few weeks the weather has been pretty warm and every time I go into my boss’s office, he comments “Ooh, you’re looking summery!” I think next time he says it I’m going to have to come out with a deadpan “Yes, I tend to dress weather-appropriately. Spoiler alert: I’ll probably be dressing ‘summery’ for the rest of summer.” Jeez.

  9. Thank you for addressing this with humour and wisdom in equal measure. Ladies, wear whatever you like and, as Tracy tells us, ‘run free’!

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