Aging, Fashion, Shopping

It’s a Paper Doll’s World

The fashion life of a paper doll must be glorious.  She stands upright and proud in her underwear.  (That’s an accomplishment right there!)  Someone selects an outfit, slips it on, and suddenly, she’s beautifully dressed from head to toe.

The fashion life of a woman of a certain age isn’t quite so simple.  My mom keeps saying, “Just wait until you’re eighty.  It gets worse.”  But even in my fifties, I’m feeling some sadness when I go clothes shopping, a kind of mourning, a slight grief.

A blouse with too much poof.  A skirt that flares from the waist.  A dress in an extravagant print.  Are they too youthful?  Too carefree?  Too cute for someone my age?  And then there’s the issue of hem length.  Hmm, let’s save hem length.  Whole essays have been written about hem length.

“Am I too old to wear this?”  “Nope,” says the husband, always.

“Am I too old to wear this?”  “Nope,” says the daughter, usually.

“Am I too old to wear this?”  “Yes,” the friends say, sometimes.

And when I ask my paper dolls, they don’t answer.  They just smile.  Let’s hope that means, “Lady, for heaven’s sake, wear what you want.”

Photo:  These paper dolls are older than I am, yet they certainly wear their clothes, including their underwear, with confidence.  You can learn more about the history of paper dolls on the website of The Original Paper Doll Artists Guild:

27 thoughts on “It’s a Paper Doll’s World”

  1. My mom’s been telling me this for maybe 20 years – she can’t find anything in the stores because all the clothes are designed for younger women. And it’s not just the styles, it’s the fit that also can cause problems. I think we need more designers working for the over 50 set!


  2. Funny how the husbands never think the outfit’s too “young” for us. (Or maybe they’re just too smart to say so…) However, I’m encouraged that our daughters also usually say it’s fine!


  3. It is a fine line between “too young” and “in-style” that we walk. I always feel better when I feel up-to-date instead of my tired old standard look.


  4. Love this post! What is age appropriate? Good question! I guess for me, it’s what I feel good wearing. But I think how I determine what “feels good” is partly driven by culture, unfortunately. So often I hear women voice that they feel less attractive because they aren’t in their twenties anymore. Their skin has changed, their hair is not as full, their hips wider….And it seems like we go to extraordinary lengths trying to hold on to our youth, which is sad. I would love to see more women over 40 represented in fashion who have not had cosmetic surgery, embracing their age. You’re right: confidence is so attractive! Isn’t beauty so often about taking good care of ouselves: physically, emotionally and spritually? When all those things are working, women (and men) can’t help but look their best. 🙂


    1. I’m too new at this. I don’t know how to get WordPress to make a smiley back, but thank you! Oh and look for a huge smiley face in the next post!


  5. You must admit that little “eye slant to the right” of the paperdoll posing in her underwear implies a
    tiny lapse of confidence as she’s thinking “oh, my gosh, my mom is going to kill me when she sees this!” Altho, she could be looking at her stage mother (who was a former Sears Catalog nightgown model) who is living vicariously through her paperdoll daughter. She probably regrets eloping with the hunky Sears Vacuum cleaner salesman. Altho HER mother forgave her when they gave her the deluxe super duper electrolux model that made all the women at her music luncheon jealous when she casually left it sticking out of the open closet door near the powder room.


  6. I have a friend who bought the cutest Ugg boots last Fall but ended up taking them back because of the whole, “They look WAY too young for me” fetish. But I thought she wore them beautifully.

    Have to admit that some may say that I sometimes fall in the ‘aging hipster’ category..oh well 😉


    1. Tell her to get herself another pair. We aren’t going to say “ugg” and throw in the towel on fun clothes. Not yet or ever!


    1. My paper dolls are really pleased that you think they are right. In fact, they seem to think they are right about everything. They say, “Thanks for reading!”


  7. yes…the struggle between feeling frumpy (and i even hate this word) and feeling comfortable! but as the previous comment (susan drake) pointed out it is all about confidence. so true. our daughters are invaluable here in my opinion. i think they try to keep us young!


  8. I sew. And a few years ago (around age 55) I discovered the truth of ‘when I am an old woman I shall wear purple.’ Because my favorite garments, always, forever, are Lanz nightgowns and pajamas. Which my husband hates. So (sew) I began making jumpers – lots and lots of jumpers, out of fabrics that I mail-order from everywhere. Talbots makes ALL COLORS of long-sleeve t-shirts. So a Talbots shirt, a home-made jumper, and those cowgirl boots I bought in Albuquerque a year ago. I am so complete! I am me! I am grown-up Lanz nightgowns!


    1. I love jumpers! I can remember jumpers from my nursery school days all the way through the button from collar to hem ones in fun prints we wore about twenty years ago. You’re so lucky you can sew, Frances, as I never see jumpers for grownups in the stores anymore. Thanks for your comment! Thanks for reading!


  9. Men don’t get this post at all — after all, y’all are from Venus where every outfit must be approved by the planet’s council.


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