Have you ever heard the saying “your mother wears army boots”? It’s an old-timey version of a “your momma” insult that hearkens back to WWII and refers to the prostitutes who followed the troops around, sometimes wearing army or combat boots. Although nowadays, wearing combat boots is commonplace for women either as part of the uniform for those serving in the armed forces or as a fashion statement for the masses in general. But can a woman of a ‘certain maturity’, like myself, wear combat boots without looking like she is wearing a Halloween costume or like she is trying to recapture her youth by dressing like a teenager or without looking just plain ridiculous? Let me give you some background on how I came to ask myself these questions and a perspective or two on what I’ve come to think it means to be age-appropriate.
A week or so ago I was shopping with my daughter in a outlet mall shoe store when I spied a pair of combat style boots that came in a pretty grayish dark olive color. They were not overly chunky nor did they have an excessive amount of hardware and the top could be folded down to show the contrasting inside fabric. A streamed-down version of the combat boot that in my opinion had a touch of sophistication and, since I already have several pairs of black boots, the color option appealed to me. In my head, I made a quick assessment of what I own that I could wear with them, when I would wear them, and wondered how they would fare during the Super El Nino rains that are expected this winter. When my daughter commented that she thought they were cute, I asked her if she thought they were age-appropriate for me. My ‘oh so wise’ daughter said that she didn’t think that they were inappropriate and, that the way she saw it, a woman can wear what she likes. Well, that gave me pause to think but I still wasn’t convinced. Often when undecided about making a purchase, I will buy the item with the intent of returning it if I come down with a case of buyer’s regret. In this case, making a return visit to bring back the boots might not be easy, so I opted to not buy them but I did start to ponder on my view of age-appropriate dressing.
Later in the week as I pondered and tooled around on the internet looking at fashion and style blogs, I came across Age-appropriate is inappropriate, written by Alyson Walsh at THAT’S NOT MY AGE. When asked by a digital media website for a comment on the subject, Alyson asserted that the notion of age-appropriate style is dead. She went on to say that age is irrelevant, we wear what we like and references to age-appropriateness is out-of-date. I like her way of thinking and I have begun to explore this idea in greater depth. (At the end of her post, Alyson provides a link to the article for which she provided the comment which I encourage you to read.)
If I can accept the idea that fashion and style can be ageless, then anything goes, right? Or should I be making my choices based on whether the clothing I buy and wear is “me-appropriate”? More tooling around on the internet led me to Why you’ll only dress well when you’re 40(ish), an article published by The Telegraph. The author, Shane Watson, says that often it’s not until you are in your 40s or even 50s that you’ve learn what styles flatter you the best and what styles you feel most comfortable in. It is through a couple of decades of experimenting with designs and trends that we learn what works and what doesn’t. “Real style is the combination of being at an age when you know exactly who you are and expressing it with what suits you, regardless of what anyone else thinks. It literally gets better with age.” It looks like maturity has its advantages.
So, back to the matter at hand, can this mother wear combat boots? Well, I think I need to do some shopping and find a pair that’s ‘me-appropriate’. (boots in feature image above belong to and are worn by my daughter)