I’ve worked in the creative business for years, and have always been acutely aware of the importance of self-image for women. Punk didn’t ever die (for me), but it has had to be de-spiked on occasion.
So, dressing to meet new clients now I’m older has become a fine balance between displaying personality and professionalism.
If you are an average-sized woman* who wants to look good for work, I wish you luck.
Once you’re approaching 50, the rules of clothes shopping changes. You must gird your loins (if you need to; See Tummy-control pants) and prepare for The Hanger Games.
Scene 1. Locate an item you actually like
Scene 2. Find it in your size and (crucially) in your colour
Scene 3. Go into a small overheated cubicle, undress, and try on the item without having a complete mental breakdown as your lost youth reflects brutally back at you under 1000 watt lights
Scene 4. Like the item
Scene 5. Afford to pay for the item
And you must complete all of this without your self-esteem being sucked dry by the coolly beautiful 20-something Size 0 shop assistants.
PLUMP OLD WOMAN ALERT
As I browse the racks, I know I’m being scrutinized. If I reach out to touch an article of clothing, a beautiful young doe-eyed assassin will pop up and pounce on my size 14 fingers, helpfully informing me that, “These come in 6 colours … and go up to Size TWELVE”.
I am being measured critically, pound for pound, line for line.
I sense a red warning light has flashed on underneath the cash desk. A silent signal is blinking out ‘ALERT! ALERT! FAT OLD WOMAN ATTEMPTING PURCHASE’.
Somewhere, deep in the heart of the Fashion Control Centre, an alarm is going off and it’s all young slim hands on deck.
If you are wily enough to avoid the attention of the assistants’ clear, crinkle-free eyes, the chances of finding something you like – in the size you are – is slim (ha ha).
However, if you do find yourself coaxed into the trap (AKA fitting room) by a lithe young Sales Assassin, please remember she hasn’t lived like you have.
She has no understanding or sympathy with the sartorial packaging of any scars, sags, bags, bums and backtits. And she probably doesn’t give a fat-free fig if you walk out of the changing room looking like a buttoned up sausage.
Just your average fashion fascism
I’m not that fat. I’m not that old. It’s not all over for me yet. It irritates me to say it, but I am actually pretty ‘average’.
So I grew older and I grew some hips: I still want to look good.
To paraphrase Dylan, ‘I’m not yet ready to go gentle into that dark nightie.’
*Source: http://yougov.co.uk/news/2013/11/20/size-12-britains-ideal-dress-size/ Debenhams recently became the first UK department store to display size 16 mannequins, in an effort to break away from the standard size 10 models said to cause women anguish and ‘better represent real women’s bodies’.