Sunday, January 28, 2007

She May Know Fashion, But ...

In today's Baltimore Sun there's an article that got my goat. First of all, they are running a series called "The Middle Ages." This is not about that dark period just before the brilliance of thought and art that flowered in the Rennaisance. No, they are talking about the booming generation of people that the rest of society doesn't quite know what to do about. Boomers. Middle aged. Semi-senior. No one has come up with a good name yet - for there is none - but plenty of people have advice.

Now there's a fashion manual for the boomers from someone who, by age at least, is one of their own. But if you believe the Sun article, mostly she has disdain for the clothes choices of her group. She focuses on "unflattering, frumpy and dated looks" and offers advice on transforming them into hip, with it styles.

Some of her advice is good but obvious and unrelated to age: tennis shoes with a skirt suit for women never look good. Frumpy is rarely flattering.

What I take issue with is her handed-down-from-on-high statements. Teal is a nursing-home color. White shoes say old. Pastel jogging suits are out. A colorful pullover sweater for a man is a no-no.

What if you have spent your working life in black or navy suits, looking forward to the day when you could live in pastel jogging suits? What if you happen to love teal and look especially good in it (says she with the red hair)? Where is comfort in her plan? Where is the familiarity and ease of a favorite sweater or less-than-hip jean skirt - another item on her "don't" list?

Early in the article the author points out that boomers are spending billions on clothing. Somehow, all I got from this article was another "expert" doing what "experts" have done all our lives...tell us what we are doing wrong and how we can fix it by simply buying something else, including their books.

I suspect a lot of boomers are too busy writing their own books to worry about whether a "style expert" approves.


Anonymous said...

Hi, Peg. It's your beloved nephew again.

I have pretty strong opinions about the Baby Boomer generation, but putting those aside I still cannot say that good fashion is something for which they will be remembered. Nehru jackets? Birkenstocks? Loud-printed disco pants? The track record is not good.

I would agree that Ms. Mathieson comes across as a tad too authoritative in the article. Maybe that's the way she is (the fashion industry is sadly full of people like that), maybe it's just the way she is portrayed in the article. Either way, it's only advise: it can be taken or simply ignored.

Peg Silloway said...

Dearest Nephew, you have a problem with polyester leisure suits? Yeah, I agree. But then I'm also not a great fan of torn and frayed jeans (those are the new $200 ones) nor of leave-nothing-to-the-imagination outfits. Mostly I'm not a fan of pontificating experts whose advice ignores reality and individuality. But I guess you knew that.