Fashion is putting an end to the ‘dress your age’ mentality and you should too

Because life is too short to dress boring.

By Isabelle Knevett
We've all heard the saying "mutton dressed as lamb" being thrown around when talking about celebrities, strangers on the street or even friends - hell we're sure we've been guilty of it ourselves.
Once women reach a certain age, they seem to be expected to don the frumpy and modest and say goodbye to the sparkles, short hemlines and fun of their youth. But why should bold and beautiful dressing be left to the younger generations?
Recently, we've seen a tidal wave of mature style icons and fashion influencers hit our social media pages, and brands have started to pay attention.
You'll find influencers such as Grece Ghanem in the FROW of international fashion weeks, collaborating with well-known brands like Farfetch, Mango and Luisa Via Roma (to name a few). The 57-year-old fashion aficionado styles baby tees, plunging necklines and mini skirts in bold colours and patterns, cementing her place as a fashion force to be reckoned with.
57-year-old Grece Ghanem has become a staple of the international fashion scene, known for her bold sense of style and age defying dressing. (Getty: Edward Berthelot, Valentina Frugiuele)
Oscar winner Michelle Yeoh is the new face of La Mer and actress Vanessa Redgrave was spotted in Burberry's rebrand campaign with their new creative director Daniel Lee.
At this year's Australian Afterpay Fashion Week, onlookers were thrilled to see an increase of diversity on the runway across the board, including mature-age models storming the catwalks of top Aussie designers like Mariam Seddiq, Ngali, Alemais and Henne.
These models braced the runway in bold hues, sheer fabrics and edgy silhouettes - a far cry from the boring and basic we now expect to see from brands who cater to mature consumers. For Australian label, Cue, Lena Holt modelled a head-turning sheer metallic knitted maxi for their show, whilst Henne showed an edgy and modern unbuttoned denim jumpsuit on Abigail O'Neill.
Mature models graced the runways of Australian designers such as BLANCA, Henne, Cue and Ngali at the 2023 Australian Afterpay Fashion Week in Sydney. (Images: Getty)
When looking to cast her show, Australian couture designer, Mariam Seddiq, wanted to ensure she represented who she envisioned in her clothing with who walked the runway.
"We cater and design for all types, ages, shapes, cultures and sizes", Mariam told Now To Love. "We as a label do what we want and how we want, diversity is second nature to us we don't follow trends [and] we do what we like. Brands should be more open to working with all demographics, everyone deserves to feel beautiful."
On casting mature models Jan Jacobsen and Lena Holt she said, "Jan had this elegance with a bit of edge which is the Mariam Seddiq women, elegant and edgy with a bit of sass. Lena exudes confidence like no other, she can wear anything and your jaw drops, she has the vibes and presence. Both were standouts and fitted the mood I was going for perfectly."
Models Jan Jacobsen and Lena Holt on the runway of Mariam Seddiq at AAFW. (Images: Getty)
Rachel Waller, a model who graced the runways of Bianca Spender, Gary Bigeni, and Alemais (to name a few), is in her sixties. Her unique sense of style has garnered her a following of over 10,000 on Instagram, and she has also led campaigns for brands like Emma Lewisham and NAK.
"Throughout my life, I've never been interested in listening to or adhering to what other people think regarding how I dress", Rachel tells Now To Love.
Rachel's style is anything but boring, the model regularly is seen sporting bold-coloured suits, tie-dye and tartan - she recently posted a photo of herself enjoying her morning coffee while wearing a stunning off-the-shoulder, figure-hugging vintage evening gown in her garden.
"Don't be afraid to try new things. As we age a lot can change, our hair colour, skin tones and body shape but we might still love a certain look," says Rachel.
As for her own style inspirations, Rachel looks to the past and is an avid collector of vintage clothes, "I scour vintage stores for 70 per cent of my wardrobe. The only thing I buy a lot of that I didn't when I was younger is trainers. I love them."
"I've always bought quality pieces in beautiful fabrics and looked after them. Cashmere sweaters, tailored coats, great leather goods, wool suits, silk scarves, shirts, and trousers. I learnt quite early on in my life what suits me and I don't deviate from that, that is key."
Rachel Waller has found herself a following of fashion fans who flock to her socials to take inspiration from her bold outfits. (Instagram @inhersixties)

What does the future of mature dressing look like?

It seems that lately there has been a shift in the idea that women, even as they get older, should dress how they like - no matter how bold. And no one seems to champion this movement more than their daughters, nieces or even granddaughters.
In late 2022 a TikTok trend took the app by storm which found Gen Z users dressing up their mothers in their own wardrobe to roaring applause.
"Ok all the moms are killin' it in this trend!!!"
"All these moms need to dress like this all the time"
Said commenters.
WATCH: TikTok trend of daughters dressing their Mum's in their clothes (article continues after video)
This societal peer pressure to dress to fit a certain standard seems to be a self-enforced one, so how can women fight against this and embrace dressing how they want?

How to break the fashion mould as you age

"My advice is to wear it if you like it…" says Mariam on the 'dressing your age' rule.
"I think as long as they are not uncomfortable and they love what they are wearing and don't care what anyone thinks… life is too short to be dull and boring."
If you're on the lookout for mature style icons to inspire and dare you to dress bolder, you need not look far. Australian fashion designer, Jenny Kee AO, is well-known for her love of colour, texture and print. Whilst journalist Jess Rowe is a rainbow-coloured light in the often beige and basic world of mature fashion.
Australian fashion icons Jess Rowe and Jenny Kee AO, alongside 101 year old interior designer Iris Apfel, make the case that fashion doesn't need to change as you age. (Getty, Instagram @iris.apfel)
We could hardly forget 101-year-old interior designer and fashion icon, Iris Apfel, who lives by the phrase "more is more and less is a bore", and whose eclectic maximalist style has been an inspiration for fashion fanatics for decades.
It seems the idea of "dressing your age" is one for the history books, and personally, we couldn't be gladder. Ageing is inevitable and something to enjoy, rather than hide and shy away from and what better way to do that then with your wardrobe?
So next time it comes to getting changed, no need to shy away from leathers and plunging necklines - say hello to print and goodbye to beige. Opt for a risque cut out if the occasion calls for it or dye your hair blue like Dame Helen Mirren. Bring on the sequins and the glamour, who says fashion has to be boring once you hit 50?
It's time to enjoy fashion again!
Feeling inspired? Below we are taking a look at some of our favourite pieces to add to your wardrobe, no matter your age - because fashion is about fun and these pieces are anything but dull.

Shop our favourite bold and beautiful fashion pieces of 2023

  • undefined: Isabelle Knevett