THERE are a lot of articles going around with this title: “## things 40 something women should never wear.”
And 20 per cent of those articles are all right-on, “Hey ladies, don’t wear the weight of other people’s expectations,” while the other 80 per cent are actually a list of things we over-40s shouldn’t be wearing.
My only gripe is this: I think the advice should be going from the top, down. It’s the 40-somethings who should be advising the younger folk on what not to wear because we already wore it.
I’ve done my time in fluoro socks, macramé tunics and loudly patterned trousers and I don’t feel good about it. So in the interests of fair warning, here are 11 things 20-somethings shouldn’t wear, because trust me, you will regret it.
My fluoro poison of choice was bile yellow. Socks, T-shirts, wrist bandannas, I was into it. Fluoro is fashion’s litmus test for the totally gullible. It’s a big bright shiny thing that you can’t resist if it’s waved in front of you. But resist! RESIST! No good ever comes of fluoro. And it is not ANYONE’S colour.
Speaking of bright shiny things, applique is another age-old fashion trap for new players. And full disclosure: I’m partial to sparkly things. But there’s a fine line between nightclub sparkly and Toni Lamond performing Morning Melodies in the local RSL, sparkly.
Which brings me to …
3. MORAG CLOTHES
When I say, “Morag clothes” I mean: clothes that are meant for 40 year old dowagers. We’ve all done it in our 20s; accidentally dressed like a middle-aged woman before our time. For me it was a brief foray into calf-length Laura Ashley when I was in my mid 20s.
Morag warning signs are: Sensible court shoes with a clippy-cloppy heel, a tapered jean and certain “fun” geometric prints. Don’t peak too early girls, there’s plenty of time after 40 to morph into Morag from accounts.
4. THICK FOUNDATION
When you are in your 20s your skin is GORGEOUS! You are luminous! Why are you caking on that orange foundation that I can see finishing in a line around your jawbone? Why, WHY GOD WHY? Foundation is for old bags like me.
5. REINVENTIONS OF THE SLEEVE
Every other season the fashion industry gets really bored with the whole notion of ‘sleeves’ and starts trying to reinvent them anew. These reinventions of the sleeve never wear well over time.
At the present moment it’s sleeves with the bicep section cut out and peekaboo-out-of-a-cape sleeves.
RESIST. These will firmly plant you in the year 2017 in years to come! In past eras it has been the bell, batwing, fluted, mutton leg and cream-puff-Disney-Princess sleeves. (For the record, I am partial to the puff but have trained myself to resist.)
As a rule of thumb, anything where the first thing people are going to say is: “Oh look at the sleeves!” should be avoided at all costs.
In fact, in your 20s you should not be wearing sleeves at all, ever. Flaunt those gorgeously smooth upper arms while you can. Free the biceps!
6. VARIATIONS ON THE HEM
Again, this is just the fashion industry taking the piss and seeing who will fall for their latest joke. Don’t play into their hands. I have fallen victim to the Stevie Nicks handkerchief hem, the mullet hem, the asymmetric hem, coffee-dipped lace on denim and some Pocahontas fringing. I have never looked back fondly on any of these aberrations.
7. PLOP-IN-YOUR-PANTS PANTS
In my day they were called, “Hammer Pants” because … Hammer Time. Rest assured, whoever wore them back then has been mortified since 1988. Unfortunately collective fashion consciousness only lasts 10 years and so ploppy pants keep coming back in various guises.
This is because when they are worn by a willowy model they appear to be the perfect fusion of comfort and elegance but NEEYOOOO! If you are looking in the mirror thinking, “Hm, does it look like I’ve just done a poo in my pants?” The answer is, yes.
8. ANYTHING MADONNA IS DOING OR HAS DONE …
Firstly, all power to Madonna. Who would have GUESSED that she would still be around doing unexpected things like lifting her skirt to reveal a buttock bra? Back in the day Madonna scandalised everyone by wearing crucifixes as jewellery, throwing netted tops over lacy black bras and generally just accentuating her breast region to the point where eventually her boobs goemetricised themselves into aggressive cone shapes.
Do you see what I mean? Back in the day. Bustiers as tops, see-through tops to the black bra, tulle and lace, studded belts, crop tops and visible bra straps: Whatever you are doing, WE ALREADY DID IT!
Case in point: Inspired by Madge, I started wearing bejewelled crosses around my neck in the late ‘80s. I haven’t been able to stop. It’s a tragic compulsion that I simply cannot shake. Please learn from my mistake.
How do I know you should never wear knickerbockers? Because I WORE knickerbockers back in the late ‘90s. And even if you’re thinking “Knickerbockers? Who’s wearing knickerbockers right now?” Rest assured it is only a matter of time before they appear on the racks in Glasson or Dotti because knickerbockers are on a seven year Saturn return schedule.
There ain’t nothing good about knickerbockers … ever. Knickerbockers are for page boys and the cast of Hamilton only.
10. BODYSUITS WITH SNAP-CLOSE GUSSETS
I’m seeing these rise again like a fashion phoenix from the ashes of the ‘80s. And to be honest, I’m so traumatised by the sight of them that I’m tempted to get around Forever New with a can of red spray paint, scrawling, “DON’T DO IT!” across them. I know they seem a perfectly reasonable way to ensure your top stays neatly tucked into your pants but take it from me: The snap-close gusset concept is not the wonderful solution to life’s bathroom problems that it appears to be.
11. A SENSE OF ENTITLEMENT
OH I’M KIDDING! You guys should totally embrace that youthful assumption that the world owes you something. Because let’s face it, in 10 years time it will be knocked right out of you to the point where you won’t ask for that pay rise even though you totally deserve it. Make hay while the sun shines, young people! Keep assuming that the reason opportunities are coming your way is because you are awesome. Oh yes you are!
ONE THING 20-SOMETHING GIRLS SHOULD ALWAYS WEAR
I know I should say something like, “A sense of pride in yourselves” but I’m still too busy being superficial.
So here it is:
Boots with dresses.
I’m seeing it everywhere and I can’t get enough of it. I ADORE YOU ALL in your little dresses and your workman’s boots. It’s feminine and yet assertive. It’s cute but sexy. It’s timeless and it’s everything we should all be in our 20s: Ready to go from here to there without tottering like a dolly bird.