Fashion & Dressing Your Age: How Important Is It?

I see several people of all ages wearing hoodies & sweatpants to dress shirts & dockers. Family values may be at play because my mom always told us that we should look “presentable” back when I was in high school. A nice shirt/polo and pair of jeans/shorts. However, I always felt more comfortable dressing casually, mainly sweatpants during the cooler months.

Even though I still dress up here and there, I’d rather choose joggers over jeans. But once I get a better job after college, then dressing up is almost mandatory for certain jobs. Adults can still wear what they want, but from what I’ve heard, dressing your age is important, especially for first impressions.

When it comes to finding a job, its most important to dress to the job you’re seeking not your age. If you’re looking to be a mover or automechanic or plumber or carpenter, going to an interview in a suit and tie is probably going to hinder you as much as shorty shorts and a bedazzled tank top but I wouldn’t go with sweats and a hoodie either, unless the hoody is outerwear over a polo shirt because it’s chilly outside

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but it amazes me as I’m getting older, that regular women not ten years older than me are wearing ‘old lady clothes’ that I recall when my own grandmother was a similar age. You know, sensible skirts and pants, cardigans, etc.

These women would have been teenagers in the late 50’s into the 60’s, listening to rock and roll, wearing bell-bottoms and hot pants, and probably smoking some hooch or taking pills at music festivals around the country.

And now they look like old ladies. What the hell happened?

I’m not sure about dressing your age - I think it’s more important to wear what suits you.

I’m not convinced that sweatpants suits anyone over the age of 3.

They got old.

The “old lady clothes” tend to be more comfortable than more formal clothes, and once you no longer have to impress an employer or dress to “catch” a man, and your bones/joints start aching more and getting good sleep is harder and all the other crap of age starts catching up with you it’s not uncommon to focus more on what feels comfy than fashion or listening to mom, who is probably deceased at that point anyway.

I was also raised to “look presentable”… which was a very narrow window of being what would now be considered dressy. Suit and tie for work and church, otherwise “casual but nice”: pleated khakis and button-down shirts (all nicely ironed of course). Oh, and “going out”, even if it was a mid-level chain restaurant, meant at least a sportcoat. Which was looked upon as many steps below a suit. Don’t forget freshly-shined pinchy leather shoes, and a short haircut with a straight part (to distinguish yourself from those liberals and hippies: “Your part should be as straight as your morals”).

Seriously, I spent my first eighteen years on this planet uncomfortable as hell. I respect a company that doesn’t have a dress code, and a society that lets people wear what they want. My last three jobs had people in suits and others in jeans or sweats, and part of being professional was to not get one’s starched ‘n’ pressed undies in a bundle about what others wear.

I always was given the message that I should dress appropriately, whatever that turned out to be. In other words, if my workplace was a shirt and tie kind of place, then I should be wearing a shirt and tie. If it’s a khakis and polos, then that’s what I should be wearing. If it’s jeans and t-shirts, then that’s what’s appropriate. The general idea is that you don’t really want to be “that guy”- ether the guy who’s wearing a polo, casual shoes and khakis in a “business casual” job when everyone else is wearing dress shirts, slacks, and dress shoes. Nor do you want to be that guy wearing khakis and a dress shirt when everyone else is wearing t-shirts and jeans either.

As far as outside of work, my parents never really had a lot of concern- in general, they had their clothes, and didn’t make a distinction. I tend toward dressing down a bit- unless we’re going out or doing something a bit more formal, I’m usually a t-shirt and shorts/jeans kind of guy. But I don’t really try to keep up with current fashion. Partly because I don’t much care (I’m 46, married and fat), and partially because a lot of today’s male fashion leans toward the effete and prissy. I’ll be damned if I’ll wear skinny jeans or cultivate some kind of gay lumberjack beard (big, like a lumberjack, but trimmed and groomed just-so). I’m perfectly content being something of a dinosaur in my straight-leg jeans.

Maybe a bit of a tangent, but my impression is that much “young adult” fashion shows a lot of skin or emphasizes curves/muscles that aren’t exactly strong points for most older men and women. Kinda a corollary to “Most people look better if they cover some things up.” I generally think most men and women are more attractive if they “dress their age” - or at least within a decade or so of it. I’m talking about women in their 30s-40s who dress/make-up from Forever 21. Or middle aged men with beer bellies who readily take off their shirts.

As far as work goes, it is always safest to go with something somewhat conservative - at least until you get the job and understand the workplace culture. Dockers and a polo shirt will be good interviewing just about any place, and a shirt and tie would not be likely to be too out of place. Come to think of it, dockers and a polo would be “age appropriate” for just about anyone, from grade school to the retirement home! If you are interviewing someplace that considers itself very hip or “arty”, or trying to impress/appeal to that sorta folk, adjust accordingly. Same with anyplace very conservative/formal/snooty.

Times change. I remember when Seinfeld had George wearing sweatpants, which they described as advertising that he had “given up.” Now I see folk wearing PJ pants to walk the dog, go to the store… Wear what you want. But then don’t complain if it appears that folk draw conclusions from your attire.

One reason (most) lawyers tend to dress very conservatively is that they do not want their clothes to distract from what they say.

If you’re an adult, dress like it.
If you have to wear sweatpants and the like to be comfortable, that means you need to learn how to buy clothes that fit and are well-made.

Dress like you value yourself, because what you wear projects an image to the world about whether you wish to be taken seriously or not.

Above all, serious does not mean boring. In the words of Agent K – “Make this look good.”

Lawyers usually have to maintain a dress code in court but they are allowed freedom in certain things, so the lawyers I know all wear very fashionable eyeglasses.

I agree with this, and I also have always found that wearing sloppy and baggy clothing (sweatpants, I’m looking at you. Again) makes me feel out of shape and unattractive. It just doesn’t make me feel good.

Don’t get me wrong, I won’t dress up every day, but I wear nicely fitted clothes and spend good money on casual stuff like jeans. And I feel a lot better prepared to face the day because of it.*

*Disclaimer. My father is a retired tailor - regard for good clothing was mandatory in our house.

I took a different meaning from kambuckta’s post (please correct me if I’m wrong)–that we’re not talking “old lady clothes” vs. more youth-oriented sexy styles or formal stuff, but rather vs. comfortable stuff like jeans/sweats/hoodies.

I’m in my middle 50s now, which is probably the leading edge of when “old lady clothes” start making an appearance, but I doubt they’ll ever get me out of my jeans/hoodies/nerdy T-shirts. If I make it to 70 or 80, I’ll probably still be wearing jeans and nerdy T-shirts.

I’ve often wondered what retirement homes will be like when my generation and younger are old enough to live in them. I always think of them as full of polyester, blue-haired ladies, guys with their pants pulled up to their nipples, and Mantovani music, but I wonder if our retirement homes will be full of jeans and Led Zeppelin.

I play a lot of bluegrass music w/ folk older than me (58). We play at farmers’ markets, and my wife and I enjoy hiking. IMO, jeans and t-shirt are ageless (tho they do tend to convey certain images.) There are several folk I play with, and I wonder if they OWN anything other than t-shirts and jeans.

I’m not sure how old you are, but at 56, I don’t dress like my mother did at 56. I also don’t dress like I did at 36 or 46 , and at 78, my mother doesn’t dress like my grandmother did in her 60s. I suspect that your idea of “old lady clothes” may have changed a bit over time. Sure , there are differences as people age- I wear lower heels than I used to and I wear cardigans more often now ( oddly, because I 'm often too warm and need to wear sleeveless blouses - you can’t strip the sleeves off a long-sleeved blouse.) But my mother gave up jeans in her thirties and wore polyester pants at my age while my grandmother usually dressed like Edith Bunker. ( who was supposed to be in her forties when *All In the Family *started) .

ETA Oh, and although I basically live in jeans when I’m not working, the closest my mother ( and her contemporaries0 came to jeans at my age was some elastic waist things with a “jeans pattern” printed on them. 14


Interesting. At 58, I think I dress pretty similarly to 48 and even 38. Don’t imagine making major changes over the next decade or 2 other than fewer work clothes after I retire.

Sensible skirts and pants are the classics. They don’t go out of style and force you to buy more clothes.

You must be a bit younger than me. Grandma A always wore house-dresses. Pants were for men. Grandma B would wear first capris, and later polyester pants, but then she thought of herself as daring. I was in junior high when, controversially, they started letting the girls wear pants on Fridays. Not jeans, of course. Jeans were strictly forbidden. And technically so were nylons, although that had been ignored for years.

I’m seeing a possible pattern of no nylons. I totally support ditching nylons.

I’m (mumble mumble) over 60, retired, still in fair health, but don’t have much of a life any more. I have put on a lot of weight from medications and, well, eating and sitting around. I never liked wearing jeans even when I was young and slim. I didn’t have the body shape, had to cut a lot of the leg off for my short stocky legs, and they just hurt when I wore them, all my life. Now I have a fairly good looking dark pair of spandex type pants that look like denim if you don’t look too close, that I reserve for wearing out of the house. To a party, walking in the mall, out to a restaurant. T-shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies and often a flannel shirt or dressy denim or cotton shirt/blouse to wear as a little jacket. I look neat, clean, put together, and I have absolutely nobody to impress, so I will be as comfortable as possible. In the house, I wear comfy capris, sweatpants (straight leg, not bunched at the ankle) or leggings in neutral colors and camisoles, t-shirts, or sweatshirts according to the temperature. In hot weather, I have several cotton sundresses I buy from catalogs, with little coordinating ‘shrugs’ or short sleeved blouses to cover up a bit. I never wear t-shirts and shorts, I am now too short and squat and look like a walking Spongebob Squarepants. Yeah, you all wait till YOU get older and thicker, no one is going to be looking at you anyway, and you will find running out to get gas, to the bank, or in for a coffee, sweatpants or polyester pants are a fine option. Who are you to judge people for comfortable clothing, anyway? They may have medical problems, have distressing lives with no time to gussy up, or opportunities to go out dressed to kill, wining and dining. … (Like that makeup commercial with that ancient model who is like 100 years old, who says ‘they say after a certain age, you give up. I wonder what age that is’? And she still looks 100 years old, plastered with makeup or not. Sure, she’s idle and rich as fuck, pampered and catered to all her life, still a size 2. Woot. I bet SHE doesn’t take care of a sick husband, a grown kid recovering from a horrible accident, or parents with dementia living 20 miles away. Throwing on the elastic waist pants and a coordinating top is the way to go sometimes. ) . I haven’t ‘given up’ so much as adjusted to the realities!

I think it’s different for men. I really haven’t seen men change their style of clothing - but part of the reason is because men in general have fewer choices. For most of my life , men ( and far enough back , boys) my age mostly wore jeans when they weren’t working although as time passed dockers/cargo pants gained in popularity. Women in that same time period have worn everything from jeans to leggings to yoga pants to miniskirts to floor length dresses- and that only covers the bottom half of the body.

The one thing I have seen change in men is *how* they wear their clothes sometimes changes as they get older and their bodies change. That's when the shirts get untucked and the pants get worn below the belly.

I dress the same now that I am 63 as I did when I was 23. Of course, I dressed like an old fuddy-duddy when I was 23, but still.

When I go out in public, I am usually with my wife, and nobody is looking at me. She doesn’t wear “old lady clothes”, but she doesn’t have to. She is always well turned out, and she has learned that it does no good to ask me for fashion advice.

When the weather is nice, I have been known to walk the dog wearing a T-shirt, jeans or sweatpants, and a fedora. Is that age-appropriate? The dog doesn’t care, and I am listening to audiobooks while we walk, so I can’t hear the remarks anyway.

Shodan, currently wearing a suit and tie, because I am at work

I wear jeans and a casual shirt (and tennis shoes) to my office, to depositions, and to restaurants. My wife has resolved herself that the most she can expect from me (or demand of me) is “no stains.”

I wear a suit and tie to court, but other than that, I’m dressing like I did when I was 17.