As I near 40 years of age, I find that I am so much more comfortable in my skin than I have ever been. I also find myself more immersed in the fashion world than I have been in over a decade. The combination of these two facts has resulted in me taking a very different view on how I dress myself. I do not feel as defined by what I wear as I once did. Nor do I feel compelled to be as “on trend” as I have in the past. Rather, at this point in my life, I see what I wear as a form of self expression; almost an art form. Some days I may feel free and light, others perhaps I feel powerful,or some days even daring. I find that I can illustrate these facets of myself quite deftly and artistically through how I choose to clothe my body. For me, my style is even sometimes a political statement. I will not be constrained by the stipulations or expectations of society on how I, a 38 year old size 20 woman, should or (worse yet) should not dress myself.
I can so clearly remember being in my 20s, bedecked in my finest ensemble of just-right-vintage garb, hairs curled into place, lipstick and eyeliner perfectly applied; looking just how I thought I was supposed to look. I remember staring at my chubby self in the mirror and saying to myself, “Yes. This is me. This is who I am. Finally.”, just knowing that I’d found my style. What I had found, in truth, was a phase; a fantastic and beautiful phase, but still a phase. I had not yet grasped the concept that I couldn’t be defined by what I wore; that it should be the other way around.
Now, over a decade later, I finally feel free from the self inflicted pressures of dressing just so. I am still just as invested in the aesthetics of life, I just see them differently. I also see this in the women around me. Maybe this is just one of the benefits of ageing. We talk about ageing “gracefully”, but that is usually about looking younger for longer. For me, it is about making peace with my body, as what was once firm and round begins to soften and even droop a bit. It means caring for myself and allowing myself to feel beautiful. It means taking inspiration from current trends and adopting them into my wardrobe in a way that feels authentic to me. It also means not giving two fucks about what anyone else thinks or says about how I choose to adorn this temple that is my body. I am my own greatest accomplishment and I choose to celebrate myself
There are many definitions of the word style. My favorite is this, “a way of behaving or approaching a situation that is characteristic of or favored by a particular person.”. We are so fortunate to have women setting the tone for us, as well. Women like Queen Latifah, Velvet D’Amour, Jill Scott, even the illustrious Elizabeth Taylor (may she rest in peace). All of them prime examples of plus size women over the age of 40 with fantastic style. Women who only go better with age. Women for whom age and size are merely numbers, not dictators. Women for whom style is ageless.
I choose to be one of those women.