Dressing Your Age

Size and style for each generation

BY WEAM NAMOU

Dressing age appropriate is as important for men as it is for women, but for women, this is a more complex issue. Girls are expected to look pretty, and as they grow to womanhood, looking good might require extra effort as their weight fluctuates and body shape changes through pregnancies and menopause. 

It’s estimated that a woman wears only ten percent of her wardrobe. One of the problems women have is shopping by size, not by fit, or keeping clothes that no longer fit them in the hopes that they’ll fit into them one day. One reason is that some women want to feel emotionally connected to their youth through their clothes, and getting the size or style they once wore confirms that they have not let themselves go. Another reason is due to society, through beauty magazines, telling us that smaller is better. 

“Women like to wear something that makes them feel young and happy, but they also need to put on what makes them look good,” said Aida Monteith. 

Monteith’s mother, Linda, opened Iris Fashion in Ferndale more than 38 years ago. As a kid, Monteith went to the boutique with her mother and watched thousands of women walk in and out looking for that perfect dress that suits their body type and personality. She credits the secret behind her mother’s success to her honest feedback, which has generations of women coming back to her.

“My mother doesn’t beat around the bush,” said Monteith. “She’s in the business of making people look good, so she’ll pretty much tell you, ‘Honey, that doesn’t look good on you. Your hips or chest or whatever is too big for it.’” 

Her mother will then suggest a dress that would be a smoother fit or redesign the dress for that particular woman’s body. 

“You want to wear something that will enhance what you have instead of distort your body,” said Monteith. 

Growing older and more mature naturally brings along with it a new wardrobe that fits men’s and women’s personalities and bodies. The way one dresses will evolve with their taste, and over time, one develops a sense of what best suits their body, personality, and lifestyle. For women, they usually transform from pretty girls to classy women with a sophisticated look. That means they’re no longer confined by the fashion trends that belong to the younger generation. Generally, no woman in her 40s or 50s wants to seem like she’s desperately trying to stay in her 20s. 

Over the years, the dress code in western culture, including inside churches, has become less strict. While for the most part it’s a matter of taste, in schools and churches, people are still required to dress modestly. 

In the Chaldean Catholic Churches, for example, the parish is asked not to wear tank tops or spaghetti straps. Long shorts are allowed. Skirts a few inches above the knee are acceptable, but there have been rare incidences where women have dressed in very short skirts and were therefore politely pulled aside and informed of the proper dress code. 

In most of these cases, it’s simply a matter of the person not having thought out the situation. They dressed a certain way because they were going somewhere else after church and wanted to avoid having to return home to change. While brides and bridesmaids with strapless dresses are required to wear shawls during the wedding ceremony, sometimes this code falls on deaf ears. 

“It’s the House of God and everyone is welcome so people can wear whatever they want,” said a volunteer at one of the Chaldean churches. “But the outfits also have to be respectful.” 

Some American churches are more slack about the dress code, while others, including the Vatican, are much more strict for both men and women. 

Fashion should be fun, even for midlife and older women. Because there are fewer models and clothing ads aimed toward that age group, women sometimes have difficulty figuring out what looks good on her and might imitate the much younger models. However, there are still plenty of opportunities for women to stay true to their age – in a trendy way!