If You’re Gonna Get Old, Could You At Least Stay On Top Of Your Looks?

And Just Like That—we’re bringing the same beauty standards to aging that made the first half of life hellish

L.L. Kirchner

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The cast of And Just Like That in impossibly bright clothing.
Photograph by Craig Blankenhorn / HBO Max

In the awkward opening of HBO’s Sex And The City reboot, And Just Like That, Samantha’s absence is explained as a new job in London. The woman who asked after her, Bitsy, is pleased to hear it. “Sexy sirens are still viable in their sixties over there!”

I have a lot more to say about this, but here I’ll stick with the subject at hand, style for olds. In this scene, not surprisingly, everyone is dressed to the nines. The message is clear—older women can stay fashionable.

Is it just me? Or do these outfits make you look ahead and say, “Ouch.”

Don’t get me wrong. As a Gen X woman I am pro-aging. But when I see an 80-year-old influencer in stilettos, or an ad for lingerie worn by a 73-year-old former fashion model, I fear we’re bringing the worst of the fashion industry’s ideals to bear on older women.

Do I want to be invisible? No. Do I want to be held to the kinds of unrealistic beauty standards that made the first half of my life a hellish chase on a hamster wheel? Hell no.

When the trend began in 2014, it could’ve been a blip. First Jessica Lange was the face of a Marc Jacobs campaign. Next Donatella Versace put then-55-year-old Madonna in an ad campaign. And finally, and Kate Spade and Alexis Bittar worked with then-93-year-old Iris Apfel. By 2015, Adweek put out an explainer, “Why Older Women Are the New It-Girls of Fashion.”

Far from abating, the craze has filtered into social media, where style influencers like Senior Style Bible creator Dorrie Jacobson and Accidental Icon Lyn Slater bring the same impossible impishness to aging.

Like the 90s fashion models now occasionally gracing the runways, these Instagram stars are slim, possessed of an enviable ability to vogue for the camera, and overwhelmingly White. This is not the world of high fashion bending to consumer demand, but another imposition of some fashionista’s “perfection.”

I get the celebration of the women behind these images—from the looks to the tech, it’s…

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L.L. Kirchner

I write entertaining stories that sneak up on you. Florida Girls, my new novel, comes out May 28! Stay abreast of it all at IllBehavedWomen.com.