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Out of the three classic female archetypes, the maiden and mother in particular are celebrated. Traditional rites of passage to usher in the biological changes from juvenile girl to reproductively capable woman, are replaced with the opportunity to shop for now necessary things like bras and baby strollers. Bright colors and fun prints have an upper age limit, and when it comes to the crone, what remains is a basic beige of support hose and orthopedic inserts.

Sonya is wearing: Knitting Pure and Simple # 294 Summer Open Cardigan by Diane Soucy in Rowan Linen Print; 100 Acts of Sewing Dress no. 2; and Pants no. 1 with the ruffle cuff modification. 

Who amongst us didn’t spend a good part of their adolescence yearning to be an adult and wishing it would happen faster? Of course, once the growing up happens, we realize there’s no going back, and that maybe there wasn’t any need for all that rush. Indeed, the very definition of irony must involve the lengths a teenager will go to try and look older, with makeup and mannerisms, only to turn around years later and spend untold sums to recapture that youth.

Open Summer Cardigan #294 from Knitting Pure & Simple in Ornaghi Filati Natural; Shirt no. 1; Dress no. 1; and Pants no. 1.

I for one am ready for a discussion on how to age. How to grow old without focusing solely on the aches and pains of the body’s inevitable degeneration. How to be old without constantly looking back at our younger selves as a marker of comparison or with a shroud of regret. We are made to view aging as something that is done to us, an outside force that needs to be stifled, and we are led to believe it’s possible to reverse the effects with the right food, the right cream and/or procedure.

Raglan shrug (own pattern) in Svale by Dale of Norway; Dress no. 2; and Pants no. 1. 

The pressure on women to maintain a state of semi-permanent youth has sharply increased in my lifetime. As seductive as the idea is, we can recognize the false promise. But the decades keep shuffling together, with fifty being the new thirty and forty being the new twenty and so on. We need to see the possibility of looking brightly ahead to a future when days are more clearly numbered and not limitless. There are all sorts of hackneyed statements, such as being only as old as you feel or remaining young at heart. Even the idea of growing old gracefully implies as sense of giving up and giving in. Where’s the authentic appreciation of acting your age?

Ten years ago, Ari Seth Cohen started Advanced Style, and what a gift it was to the world. What began as a blog to document on-the-street fashion of older men and women has grown to include and documentary and two books, with a third coming out next year. Looking at the images, one realizes how starved we still are for representations of older faces and older bodies. It is truly a celebration. Of course my eye is drawn to the puckish charm of the clashing patterns, as well as a severe case of hat envy.

img 004: Radiance Shawlette by Tina Whitmore in Freia Handpaints Ombré Sport; Dress no. 2; and Pants no. 2. 

We should strive to channel the Jenny Joseph poem, “Warning,” and start dressing in ways that will hint at our collective futures. So many expectations of how women should age are unrealistic, not to mention hopelessly biased. Grant yourself the permission now to express creative freedom, and you’ll be well on your way for the next and best chapter. Please ready your fingers at the keyboard and complete the statement:

When I am an old woman I shall wear ___________.

About The Author

Sonya Philip is an artist, designer, teacher, and the author of The Act of Sewing. She has made it her mission to convince people to make their own clothes, by teaching classes and selling patterns. When not covered in bits of thread, she can be found knitting another shawl or cardigan. Sonya lives in San Francisco with her family and their scruffy terrier duo, Willie and Hazel.


  • When i am an old woman i shall wear ANYTHING THAT I DAMN WELL PLEASE! Seriously, I love this post and the author for saying what I feel about getting older.I love the clothing and the mixed patterns and the cropped sweaters, too. Thank you.

    • When I am an old woman I shall wear whatever I please, just like I do now. If anyone thinks that I’ll care about that they think about it then, I shall refer them to Five Finger Death Punch’s song Under And Over It and salute them in the way mentioned in the (explicit) lyrics.

      • Are we twins? Because I feel like we’re twins.

    • You’re so kind Janet, thank you! And YES to no constraints on what to wear.

      • Yes, I will try to wear whatever pleases me; not “when I am old…,” I’m already there. In the 70 or so years since I became aware of what I was wearing, my choices were trained by my trim mother to seek clothing that would be SLENDERIZING. As if, if I were to choose the right line, pattern and fit, anyone would think I wear a size 8 or 10 instead of an 18 or 20? Leading to a lifetime of failed attempts to be different than I am, to a closet of boring clothes, and to anger with a culture that expects a woman to be small, delicate and subordinate. Special thanks to Sonya, whose cropped sweater over a longer shirt is sparking new ideas — is this OK? Will I be ridiculed if I dress like this? Will I care?

    • EXACTLY my first thought!

    • I do agree your blog is a breath of confidence infused fresh air – thank you.

      • I will be the next to agree with Janet; this post is a blessing. I am now going down the rabbit hole of your links…

  • Agreed! (honestly, it’s probably *still* going be jeans, novelty t-shirts, comfortable knits…)

  • Beautiful handknits, luscious colors and textures. Chances are they won’t be “trending”.
    Oh, hang on, I already am.

    • You had me at luscious colors! ❤️

  • What Janet Tippens said… In the last year I have made a whole slew of 100 Acts of Sewing clothes that I wear every day because they make me feel good. A couple weeks ago I told a friend that I’d spent the weekend cutting out a whole bunch more of Sonya’s patterns and she said, “Don’t you have enough clothes???” I told her, “No, I don’t have enough clothes that make me happy to sew up (mostly in fabric I already have) and to wear because wearing them makes me feel like I look good so give me a break.” I put my husband in a nursing home 2 weeks ago and being able to dress in “happy” clothes has gone a long way toward helping me cope with that catastrophic life change. I’m not up to Sonya’s level of pattern combinations but I’m getting there. And I have an asymmetrical cardigan OTN… I’m getting there.

    • I love that you are loving yourself

    • xoxox

    • Oh Barbara, I wish I could give you a big hug. It sounds like you have had a whole lot on your plate. I am right there with you about happy clothes. You take good care of yourself and keep on stitching and knitting. There’s solace in the making and the wearing.

    • I have no doubt that deciding on the right care for your husband was difficult and making and dressing in happy clothes is a great, productive way to care for yourself during this difficult time. Surround yourself with friends that get it and enjoy your time creating these beautiful clothes. I put on some cheerful clothes today in solidarity. Sending you love across the miles.

      • I hope it’s okay to mention another blog here. (Anne and Kay, just take this down if it’s inappropriate.) This morning my life is reeling with serendipities, and now here’s another one! Barbara in Green Bay, I hope you see this and read this blog post: Raptitude is my second-favorite blog (guess which is first…) and this post is about making decisions, and how there really aren’t any “right” decisions or “wrong” decisions, only stories. You are living out your story and trying to be your most authentic self while doing it. Sending love…

        • Thank you Judy, for that link! Looks like an awesome place, I’m going to sign on for his newsletters.

  • Thank you for starting this conversation, Sonya! So necessary.

    When I am old/a crone – which is now – I shall wear my lifelong uniform of jeans and a white tee, plain of gussied up. Denim is for life. And I hope that my next pair is made by me.

    • You kind of have me all aflutter, because I love your posts. HEART EYE EMOJIS ALL AROUND!

    • For me it’s denim + the Big Linen Shirt. BLS4ever!


        • Chunky jewelry is for any age! The “statement necklace” is right on trend at the moment!

        • I started loving and wearing chunky jewelry in my 40s – love it. Maybe the 40s are the new 60s??

        • Iris Apfel is my spirit animal. I also adore Sara Jane Adams. Both rock the rocks. Embrace it!

  • Help, I tried to purchase a couple more of your patterns and there was nothing available in your Etsy shop. I want more options to add to my pants No. 1 made in my own batik purple and fuschia fabric and Tunic No.1 just completed in orange Marimekko Kivet. I am 65 years old.

    • I am in the midst of moving my online store – everything is up, but all the links are incorrect. It’s now at And Marimekko is my favorite!

  • Could she move to Virginia, please? I need a friend like her!!

    • I’ll be right over! Though I suspect it’s a tiny bit more humid than I’m used to 😉

  • Oh Sonya, I too have hat envy. I love your columns and your clothes. Thanks for the encouragement and the sensibility.

    • You’re very welcome! I’m glad you enjoy reading them and we can be partners together in Hat Envy.

  • Thank you for such a heartfelt article. At 62, I realize that I WANT to change my style and viewing all your wonderful patterns will help me in this journey.

    • I’m so glad you liked it Kathleen. And you’re so right, it’s a journey to discover what your own style is. Have fun!!

  • Thank you for validating the inevitable!
    Eileen Fischer led the way stylistically, and knitters can follow the lead.
    You have presented some great styles as well. Use “older” models as well as the perky young ones.
    You are as old as you feel!

    • Hear! Hear! There really needs to be a greater range of ages in models. I think we’re beginning to see it, but there’s still a long way to go. Also Eileen Fischer is such a terrific brand, their recycling and environmental initiatives are super inspiring.

  • When I am an old woman I shall NOT wear old lady clothes. When I am an old woman I shall NOT wear stupid undergarments. When I am an old lady I shall NOT wear clothes that are uncomfortable period. When I am an old lady I shall NOT wear something just cause it is in fashion.

    Oh wait-I am already an old woman. Tee hee and I already wear exactly what I want, when I want.

    • PREACH!! And yes to wearing exactly what you want.

    • Agree on all points!!!!! I
      Enough with uncomfortable clothing! I basically live in yoga pants and choose to cheer them up with bright tops. If I weren’t so busty I’d find a way to go braless as well!

  • This November I will be officially over 60 when I turn 61. 😉 Just yesterday I was wondering about my choice of my planned ensemble for my niece’s August wedding. Heck with it. I am going to wear the pink sundress with the little purple flowers and my hand knit lace cropped cardi – I need to get knitting since it’s still in progress after I ripped it out yesterday. We all know how that goes.

    • Oh ripping out knitting, it’s a painful thing. Lace AND cropped? You’ll get it knit in no time and look beautifully bright with your pink frock.

  • When I am old, which is any day now, I shall wear whatever I damn well please. Bright colors. All black. Comfy shoes. And I shall NOT wear: most undergarments most of the time. Sleeveless anything. Short shorts. Apparently a lot of us echo that first sentence – and we should be that way from the moment we can pick out our own clothes!!

  • When I am an old woman I will wear what ever I damn well please. Hopefully it won’t be in need of a wash but it’ll be exactly right for the day! No matter who thinks it’s inappropriate or is embarassed!

    • I love that attitude! Exactly right for the day. We can and will rule the world.

  • Jeans, tshirt, and my handknit sweaters – now and forever! The only change I want to make to my forever wardrobe is more of my own sewing – it’s the craft I have not yet fully embraced but your happy outfits in your posts make me want to dig that sewing machine from my closet and get started.

    • Embrace it Wanda. Pick some fun fabric, thread that machine and sew something to wear with your handkints!

  • …PURPLE !

    • YES. And fuschisa and chartreuse too!

  • When I am an old woman I shall wear whatever I want to and I will rock it !!! You might call me an ” old ” woman right now ( 66 ) but in my heart & head I just don’t believe I AM 66. But of course my body sings another song but that’s a whole other thing. !!! Right now I wear what I like don’ t care if it’s in style as long as it fits !!! Same goes for my hair – the length I want & color too even if its purple. !!! Oh and I am taking up crocheting again & gonna get very proficient at it so I will be making some of my clothes !!!!

    • Linda, I hear you about the heart and the head. My kids are always amazed that I can forget how old I am, of course they know their ages practically to the day. And hurrah for crocheting! You can match (or contrast) your hair color

  • Have always worn what I want and what I like. Never been “ a slave to…”. Have come back to sewing through your patterns. Wear mostly my own hand knits. Tee shirts. Still wearing dungarees ( that alone should date me!). Been dressing this way since I can remember. ( because I started out wearing my older brother’s hand me downs )
    Getting older is some trip. I try to tell my younger friends to keep laughing, and to realize that getting older is a gift not everyone gets.

    • Oh Jane, you have just threaded the needle with such beautiful precision – Getting older is a gift not everyone gets. Something to think about and appreciate the time we have.

    • I sooo agree with you Jane Noble about “getting older is not a gift everyone gets”!
      You only live once; no regrets!!

  • When I am an old woman I shall wear what I wear now and hope to accessorize with the twinkle of someone grateful to be well loved and engaged with the world.

    • That sounds like *just* the thing!

  • Advanced Style inspires me no end! At 65 I feel only middle-aged: not young but not old. Retiring improved my health so much that I feel better than I have in years. Decided to let my hair grow, no more short cuz I’m supposed to. I’m changing my wardrobe back to my old hippie days with more flowy and ethnic clothing. Not yet confident enough to wear lots of jewelry but I will get there. When I am OLD I will combine more patterns/fabric/embellishment/knits and wild colors. Maybe I’ll stop having red hair and go to white…or maybe not!

    • Isn’t Advanced Style so great? And here’s to the re-discovery process. While I greatly admire the large earring and loaded-on necklace look, it’s not something I can wear comfortably, so I keep my eye out for interesting textile and leather pieces.

  • The ultimate irony is that that marvellous poem about breaking all the rules was turned into a special club with rules: The Red Hat Society which meets up for events where all the women wear purple with a red hat. They kind of missed the point.
    As for me, I wear clothes I’ve made, Saori woven garments, things from thrift stores, and lovely artisan made garments from Maiwa.

    • Now that is ironic. I didn’t realize the two were connected. As for what you wear, it sounds lovely. I’m a great admirer of Saori weaving <3

  • Wellll…since I am old, (70) my apparel is, and always has been, chic and practical. I’m an outdoor girl who loves to knit my own designs, so right now I create/wear whatever works in the forest!

    • Sounds very practical. Knitting and the outdoors = perfect combination!

  • I’m not too old, Lol, and I wear what I make anyway. Thanks for the inspiration.

    • You’re ahead of the curve Mary! 🙂

  • I really liked your choices. You looked really nice in the longer cardigan…the uniform one?
    I make vests and sweaters for everyone else but me…I tend to give what I do for myself to my friend.
    Don’t know why I can’t wear my knitted or crocheted things….?

    • Thank you very much Kathleen. As for wearing what you make, I would maybe take a look in your closet, see what it is you wear on a regular basis and then try and find a pattern that’s similar. I know I can get really influenced by all the pretty things in pages and screens. I went through my old issues of Interweave Knits all flagged with post its and with almost everything, my tastes had changed!

    • Just try it. Promise yourself you will wear one thing you made the next time you go out, to lunch, to the market, to the mailbox, wherever. Sometimes the first step is the hardest. Been there. You can do it.

  • One of the things I do now (age 54) is pick patterns I can find on Ravelry so I can see how it fits on A Real Person. I wish more pattern designers would use more diverse models, and not just for weight. Things look different on short women! Give us a turn, too!

    • From one short woman to another, I agree! And isn’t Ravelry such a gift that way? I find it so valuable to be able to see how a pattern looks from different angles and on all kinds of figures.

  • I started going grey when I was 19, and colored my hair on and off during my adult years. During my late 40s I returned to college to finish my undergrad degree and to earn a masters degree. I colored my hair because my degree was in vocal performance, and because I didn’t want to look too much older than the students I was learning with. As soon as I graduated (and started teaching at the same university) I let the grey come back. I hate coloring my hair, it’s like putting toxic waste on your head, and I resent very much that it is somehow expected of me. I got so tired of hearing “You’ll look so much younger!” Well, I’m NOT so much younger, and I’m tired of thinking that’s the most important thing.

    • I totally agree with you Brigid! So much of hair dye is pretty toxic and the maintenance of touching up roots, ugh I can think of ten things I would rather spend my time doing. The irony is, young folk are dyeing their hair silver, it’s a trend.

    • I’ve cooked my hair on and off since high school and love it To each his own. 🙂

    • Sing it. My hair started going gray when I was in my late twenties. I decided then not to fight it so have never colored my hair. At 62 it’s mostly white around my face, still darker in the back. If people think I’m older than I am, whose problem is that? Not mine. When I am old I shall wear whatever I like, more of it sewn by me. That fabric stash calls my name just as my yarn does. I am planning to retire at the end of the year and will unload all the work clothes that I am so, so tired of wearing. That will be a celebration.

    • Amen, sister. Happily gray since it started turning in my 40s (now almost 75), and I still think my hair is my BEST feature.

  • Sonya you are a gift to the world too! At 55 I feel I finally have some sense of personal style. Always going for comfort with style, natural materials, clogs, rings, hand made things. For me it takes confidence to wear color and this time of life has been all about explosive confidence for me. You are an inspiration.

    • Explosive confidence, I totally love that Sarah! And you are too kind. Hurrah for finding our style! <3

  • Just one addition. While we should change many of our attitudes toward aging, we should also be GRATEFUL for the new emphasis on taking care of the bodies we DO have. I think that exercise and eating well, watching our numbers, etc have made the years we have more pleasant, giving us more opportunity to continue to enjoy life. My mom, who was a walker before walking was “in,” lived to be a lively 100. Yes, she aged. But she was clear-headed and active until the very end!

    • I could not agree with you more Bette! And walking is one of my favorite things to do.I think we’re at a really interesting point in time as far as what and who we see. The internet gives more people a platform, instead of being filtered through agents or editors. So we see people like Jessamyn Stanley with yoga, promoting a healthy lifestyle for people of all ages and sizes.

  • …whatever makes me happy.

    • Yes! Yes! Yes!

  • For quite a while I have been moving towards natural fibers only. I also avoid tight waist bands. So I tend to wear leggings and am moving more towards homemade, natural fiber, looser fitting pants. Much like Sonia’s pants number two. A work in progress and each year my wardrobe gets closer to my ideal. But it all must be comfortable, always!

    • Kym, we are riding on the same bandwagon – the one that’s comfortable with cool natural fiber and loose waistbands! And your attitude about your wardrobe being a work in progress is so super key, it can’t happen overnight or with the one perfect outfit – it’s a slowly evolving process.

    • I I to love this designer. Color, short long style for arms and legs. Full figures if you can get the style. Going. Great. I’m new at knitting. I want to be like you when I grow up. Greatlook….

    • I meant to say pants number one, although my love for leggings would also allow pants number 2!

  • White hair takes dye beautifully. I keep a small part of mine purple,teal,magenta,or blue for the fun of it. It coordinates with most of my clothes, makes me visible to young people (to whom the old are usually invisible), and keeps me from a life of crime!

    • I am looking forward to going gray for EXACTLY this reason. Especially as someone who’s hair has never ever taken dye easily or beautifully.

  • Years ago, I knitted a cropped, gathered little summer cardigan. I stopped wearing it when someone told me I was too old for it (I think I was around 52 at the time). Everyone here, Sonya and all the comment-ers, have got me thinking. I’m going to dig out and wear it again!!!!

    • Dig that cardigan out and wear it proudly!!

    • Right on!

    • Hooray for you! So glad that you will return to wearing something you love.

  • When I am an old woman I will wear my jean’s, Doc Martins and big cashmere sweaters, (and Eileen Fisher at the opera)

    • Love it! Sounds both comfortable and practical.

  • When I am an old woman I shall wear “what makes me feel great!”

    • That seems to be the knitter’s rallying cry and I love it!

  • Yes! I’ve thought often over the last couple of years about “aging gracefully,” but it hasn’t been in the context of resignation. It has been in the context of gratitude. Every stage of my life has been better than the last, so as long as the world doesn’t devolve into a Mad Max scenario…I have nothing but excitement for what’s to come.
    When I am an old woman… I will wear the softest natural fibers I can find so my husband and grandchildren will want to hug me often, and for longer.

    • We should all be so lucky to avoid a dystopian future! I have hope and I am also excited about the future. As for softest fibers, that is some very excellent reasoning!

  • my mother always said you don’t want to look like “mutton dressed as lamb” an old British stand-bye expression. At age 61 it is my motto now, along with Grandma’s motto ‘you want to wear out, not rust out”.

    The small shawl in the last photo is inspired in its colours together with other aspects of the photo. All those little cardies look so practical for a slightly chilled but not cold environment.

    • I have heard of the mutton dressed as lamb saying, but not the wear out not rust out. I think that might be my new favorite expression. Thank you for sharing it Wendy!

  • I am old – 2 weeks away from 67. And I wear what makes me feel comfortable & beautiful. My style was set long ago – tailored but colorful – & there’s no reason for it to change. Other than maybe a little more ease through the waistband. I will NOT be wearing “purple With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.” Or anything else that doesn’t suit me.

    I’ll be wearing purple or turquoise or hot pink – as an accent to grey trousers or jeans. With one of my hand knit, colorful scarves or shawls. If I feel like wearing a red hat (or a purple, or yellow, or green one), it will be a hat that does flatter my face shape & my features.

    I will not be wearing overdone makeup, clown barf color combinations, outrageous designs, or unflattering cuts in a sad attempt to draw attention away from my age or less than svelte shape.

    Know who you are & own it, regardless of your age.

    • Mary, very eloquently stated. You are absolutely right, knowing who you are is the best thing. And Happy early Birthday to you!

      • Thank you. Much appreciated.

  • When I am an old woman I shall wear Stripey T-shirts and Overalls 🙂

    • Yes. Stripes forever!

  • My comment was far too strident for such a bunch of lovely knitters. Here I have edited myself . you are wecome. I am old. I wear what I want and I am a big advocate of freedom. freedom from bras, pantyhose, high heels , makeup, hair dye and the fashion world in general. That being said I have been sewing since I was 12 and I am so happy t see independent pattern companies emerge who reflect our beaury and strength in all forms. Thanks Sonya!

    • Well now Martha, I want to read the strident version now! I am ALL for freedom. It sounds like we a very much on the same page, freedom from the constraints and expectations of the Female Fashion Complex. I love the way you’ve put it – beauty and strength in all forms. Because funneling the multi-various expressions of what it is to be human into one standard body or standard ideal that is so harmful.

  • Yay for 100 Acts…I cut out and sewed side and shoulder seams for Shirt No. 1 yesterday. I also have more No. 1 patterns: Dress, Pants, & Skirt. There is a place in Seattle (DRY GOODS DESIGN) who use the 100 Acts of Sewing patterns for their Apparel Sewing classes. I hope to take the classes in the Fall, but could not resist starting the Shirt No. 1 with the amazing coaching of Heather Bond.

    • I know Drygoods very well! I’ve taught there before, it’s a lovely store. And it makes me so happy to hear that you’re using my patterns.

  • There’s that dichotomy between having 74 years under my belt and still wanting to be the fun person that I am inside. What is available in the marketplace is either too young, i.e. has sleeves that reveal too much upper arm, or is drab beyond compare, or is too expensive for my wallet. There’s also the fact that I am still under 5’1” and weigh at least 60 pounds more than is healthy for me. Thanks for addressing these issues!

    • You’re very welcome Pati! And I have to say, you just listed several reasons why I started making my own clothes: I couldn’t find things in my size or the colors and prints I wanted or when I did, I couldn’t afford it.

  • The great thing is that we all get to choose what we wear! At almost-62, I’m happy not to wear heels anymore, but I love makeup, I love dying my hair (right now, darker brown than usual, but with a magenta stripe), I love jewelry, I love my tattoos … and I’m not going to change those things just because someone else tells me that I should! Work still has a little bit of influence on what I wear there, but not as much as it used to. Mostly, if they don’t like it, I figure they don’t have to wear it!

    • You are SO RIGHT Janna. We do get to choose what we wear. I decided to wear what I love. I think that’s the common thing – really being attached and invested. It’s what you want and love, not some trend or dictated to you by someone else.

  • OK, not to be too blunt here, but I AM ALREADY OLD. My mother died when she was 50, when I was 20, so I had the number 50 in my head for all those years, wondering if that was when it all would end for me too. I’m now five years past that date, so I revel in every day that I get. And I wear a truly random mishmosh of whatever is in my closet—a T shirt with my son’s college on it at the moment because I’m missing him. But I also have crazy fancy clothes too and ridiculous heels for whenever the urge strikes. Let it rip, y’all–nobody cares about what we’re wearing more than we do ourselves. When we’re wearing clothes that amuse us, that’s just huge fun.

    • PREACH ANN! Amusing clothes. Just for us. Big fun. Dries Van Noten. Wool.

    • My mother died at 45 years old, when I was 20. I did the same thing as you, believing that I would only get to 45 myself. Here I am, two years later, and so grateful but not taking anyth8ng for granted.
      I wear what I like, and try not to worry too much what other people think. I can’t see any reason that this philosophy would change with age. If anything, I’ve become more confident and happy with myself as aging has set in, despite the less-than-awesome effects on my appearance.
      I have great role models here at MDK!

  • I turned forty last year, and discovered I’d been waiting two decades to do so. I’ve never felt comfortable trying to compete with other women to look good, and honestly I just don’t care what society thinks about my clothing choices, my body shape, or whether I have makeup on. At forty, I feel like I’ve finally evaded the societal radar, and as much as I resent the media’s dismissal of anyone over 35, I’m really happy to feel less pressure to conform. It takes less energy to do what I want when I’m not simultaneously battling all those expectations.

    • Heidi, it’s uncanny, I had the same experience turning 40. It’s like the equivalent of suffragettes wearing pantaloons and smoking a pipe in public – who gives a fig? And the time and energy! I have wasted so much of both those valuable commodities. No more!!

  • Sonya,

    Thank you so much for this post! Our society has so many conflicting messages for women: Stay forever young, but dress and act your age, but don’t let them know you’re already nearing 40! Flaunt it if you got it, but don’t flaunt too much because you don’t want to look like a “slut”, but don’t be too buttoned up because you can’t look too stiff or prudish. And the constant marketing towards staying young and not aging…Yeesh!

    I love what you say about not having, for lack of a better phrase, good role models for aging women. Sure, we have celebrities, but that is not the “normal” person. For me, I hope I am able and witty enough to be like Queenie Turrell from the British period-drama From Larkrise to Candleford. I’ve also been fortunate to meet older women with wisdom and spunk and both an appreciation and lust for life.

    It’s so easy for women to critique ourselves and others based on what we wear; I’ve seen women clinging to their youth wearing “teenager” clothes and others “giving up” with their “old lady” clothes.

    So when I am old, I will wear what makes me happy, comfortable, and what I think looks good on me. Maybe the dominant colors will change, since I too will also be changing, but whatever it is will continue to be a reflection of what I feel, what I’m doing, and what makes me feel good.

    And thank you to the many others who have replied on this post! As an almost 32-year old, it inspires me to hear other women who are blazing the trail ahead

    • Allison, you are absolutely right about the conflicting messages. And I’m coming to suspect that it isn’t a coincidence. Being off balance and unsure, you’re easier to manipulate and sell things. And the criticism is also super corrosive – both self-criticism and that aimed at other women, more often that not to shore up the choices of the critic. I’m hoping these things can start shifting.

  • acts of sewing is not sold out, fear not. a little sleuthing found them here.
    you may wish to update your link to prevent panic and despair. great post!

    • Thank you for sleuthing that out Laura, you beat me to it!

  • When I am an old woman I shall wear something that fits and is comfortable and warm (or cool, depending on the season). I will wear it for many years without worrying about what is fashionable. I will accessorize with fabulous scarves that I have made and wear crazy coloured wool socks. Whatever I wear, I will have an excellent bra on.
    There will be many days when I wear PJs all day.
    Actually, forget waiting until I’m old – this is what I already wear.

    • Brilliant. All the wool, in all the beautiful colors and intricate stitch patterns. And the excellent bra! Love that.

  • What’s an old woman anyway? Years on earth? Looks? Attitude? Personally, I acknowledge that my aches and pains are signs that I am growing older. I am experienced. I am interested in the world, and have an active mind. But I do not feel like an old woman, and I stubbornly refuse to become one!

    • I am all for being keenly interested in the world around me, as an ever-changing and evolving spectacle. Staying curious – sounds like a youthful trait you have Irene!

    • Oh, and I will wear what I like.

  • I haven’t seen anyone eating support house and orthopedic shoes for probably twentt or thirty years so you may be speaking of a stereotype that is long gone. Most of the people I know have dressed the way they pleased for a long time. It doesn’t exactly feel like a revolution.

  • …shocking pink and bright green, what I wore as a teenager in India. And Fluevog shoes, and handknits.

  • A

    Work in Progress’s

    • WIP! Just one more row!

  • …comfortable shoes. Sure wish “they” made more “cute” comfortable shoes.

  • Thank you so much for your joyous approach to creating, and as importantly, to philosophy of aging w sense of self intact and most worthy of celebration!!
    I love your clothes patterns, which I make by hand w pleasure.

    • You are so welcome Barbara, I’m glad you enjoyed reading this month’s post!

  • I am an old woman who wears what pleases me!

    • You’re living life right Cathy!

  • comfortable, practical clothing. Lots of skirts. with animal prints and sparkly accents.

    • Sounds like you have it all planned out and I love it.

  • I, too, absolutely love this post!! In a world infatuated with youth and the next new thing, it’s a pleasure to be appreciated for just what we are – old! I just turned 70 and I love to just look put together. It makes me feel good about myself. If I’m going to Costco I will be in a skirt or dress, jewelry and makeup. That’s me, that’s how I feel comfortable and I’m doing it. You will hardly ever see me in pants or sweatshirts but perhaps in yoga pants and tunics – I love yoga and knitting

    • I think discovering what makes you feel good about yourself is like the key to the universe. You’re doing it for you, not to prove to anyone. If it puts a smile on your face, keep on doing what you do!!

  • My mum has had that poem pinned on the front of her fridge for many years, always makes me smile when I see it there.

    I’m 46 and I like to dress in what I want and how I feel every day. I work from home so I really like to make an effort to dress for work each day, including makeup and heeled shoes. It really helps me to get into the right mindset when working.

    I don’t feel like I’m a certain age inside my head, so I don’t feel I need to dress in any particular way as such.

  • When I am an old woman I shall wear every bright colour I can find

    • Definitely a worthy aspiration!

  • When I am an old woman I shall wear ___________. Whatever makes me happy!

    • That’s the way to do it!

  • When I am an old woman I shall wear whatever makes me smile.

    Sonya, I always look forward to your articles and the photos of you and your clothes always make me smile. You make me want to learn to sew 🙂

    • Thank you so much Cath! And dive on into the sewing pool, it’s lovely. What’s one more hobby? 😉

  • I shall wear all the linen things (Harper tunic 4-evah) and a-line skirts with prissy blouses and cardis.

    • Hurrah for ALL THE LINEN!! <3

  • Yes yes yes! I am a crone. I’m 76, short, tubby, and I like myself. I stay clean and neat. I do not do fashion, nor do I think about style. I wish I could sew, but I hate it so I don’t do it. I wear loose pants and shirts ( linen and light cotton in the summer), often in the same color, usually neutrals. I decorate myself with bright shawls and scarves and wraps and sweaters that I spin/knit, and I am partial to bright, “different” earrings (short ones in the winter so they don’t tangle into my shawls). I almost never wear makeup, lipstick only if I have to. Keep my hair very short in a sort of bedhead do because spending time on hair is a waste! I’m usually barefooted or sock footed, have a couple of flats to wear for “formal” occasions. “Dressed up” mens wearing a bra. My face is messed up because of a LOT of skin cancer surgery. You know what? My friends who know me see who I am, not what I look like (if you get my meaning), and I don’t give a damn what strangers think. I guess I’m an old hippie… but I know who I am, and that’s the great joy of getting old!

    • Kay, I LOVE your attitude! Knowing who you are is truly a great thing. I think that the comfort, confidence and individuality shines through. I was reading through your list and thinking, Earring: same! Makeup: same! Hair: same! It made me laugh out loud. In fact, I am actively trying to switch all my shoes to the slip-on variety because I would rather not wear any and if I have to, I want to be able to take them off as quickly as I can.

  • Bright Colors!

    • You and me both Lisa!

  • I saw a horrifying store window in Paris recently. It said something like clothes for women 40 to 62.
    No thanks I don’t think we should have such categories.

    Sonia, thanks for your terrific posts and photos! Keep up the amazing work.

    • Non merci to those kinds of categories. And thank you so much, I’m glad you’re enjoying my posts!

    • Auggh I meant to type Sonya, not Sonia. Apologies.

  • I will be 63 in a few weeks. I wear WHATEVER I want, I shop in ALL stores and departments. If it fits and I like it, I wear it. I have more regular mani-pedis now, than I did in my 20’s-50’s because I am not focused on raising anyone. I wear makeup because I like the way I look with it on NOT because I have to. I am coloring my hair because I like it, in fact last month I got a strip of hair dyed blue and orange for my favorite baseball team (hasn’t helped their losing streak) but it’s been fun.

    If you’re on Instagram find Accidental icon and Silver disobedience

    • I love Accidental Icon! And I also love your attitude Sandy. Doing things to please yourself, if that isn’t the secret to happiness, I don’t know what is.

  • Love everything that you make, especially the pants w/ruffle……

    • Thank you so much Pat! Nothing like a kicky ruffle. Well, maybe polka dots.

  • I’ve heard of the mutton-dressed-as-lamb saying, but not the “wear out not rust out”. I think that might be my new favorite expression. Thank you for sharing it Wendy!

  • Thank you for this post! I AM an older woman and I am learning to wear what I feel like. Lately, it has been wrap-around skirts made from recycled saris (Darn Good Yarn sells them) with almost-matching tee shirts. More handmade (not by me) jewelry. Handknits of course, especially loud socks (but not with the sari skirts). Loud leggings. And experimenting with new (short) hairstyles. It’s very freeing!

  • Thank you! What a wonderful and uplifting article. The pix are inspirational. I will wear what makes me feel confident and happy.

  • I am 54 years old and recently bought some No Boundaries brightly colored skull leggings. My husband is flummoxed and not sure what to think of his normally conservatively dressed wife wearing this. He is seeing my bohemian side steadily emerging…Have fun, honey!

  • Sonya – thank you, from a 60yo who’s done, and worn, pretty much whatever she wanted for a looooong time, & pretty much hasn’t cared what anyone else thinks about it, since forever. Go all you folks! Find your freedom & revel in your choices – there are no age police & no clothes police !

  • All the colors and patterns that make me happy in whatever mix that makes me feel like me! – Love this post and love your combinations of patterns and colors.

  • When I am an older woman (face it, I’m retired. The bones don’t lie, I’m old) I will wear comfortable clothes that gloss over my bulges, in colors that I love that let me feel and look good. I’ll never again be a size 12 and that’s fine with me.

  • When I am old?? I AM old 🙂 72 in fact. This past year I have made, and wear, three scout tees, three pair of pants #1, one pair of pants #2, a box top tee, arenite pants in silk noil, a linden and a willow, two uniform tops and sweater, and a carbeth. Not one is boring beige. I join the chorus for wearing jeans til I draw my last breath.

  • You are my hero! Thanks for this great article, what an inspiration. Rock on

  • Very well stated. Thank-you.

  • Love your take on dressing as we age. I’m 81 in Oct 2018. I’m just grateful to get up in the morning. I’ll wear my knitting and knitted tee shirts and size 16 white jeans and be proud to walk.

  • I will wear comfortable underwear (when necessary at all) and and only things which please me and make me feel good.

  • When I am old, I will wear comfort and ease and style. My style whatever that turns out to be.

  • I love your freedom of design.

  • I will wear anything that will put a smile on my face ! Fantastic article,it should be in the New York Times ,,

  • Actually you just passed me walking and I saw you later and realized that it was you! You looked fabulous! I wish that I had stopped to say hello. Visiting Nashville too.

  • I really, really love your clothes. I’m buying at least one of your patterns. How do I order them.
    Thank you so much, Kim

  • Love it-lovely bold colour combinations – brilliant

  • When I am an old woman I shall wear whatever makes me happy.

  • Fun that i am opening my first pair of compression socks while Im reading your article.

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