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Elders as Teen Fashion Inspiration

Every now and then something so much fun turns up, you smile until your face hurts. In this case, it is an 18-month-old post from a 30-year-old Brooklynite who calls his blog Kaflickastan. Yes, I know, he uses a black background which makes it almost impossible to read, but he made the effort worthwhile for me and not just because he linked to Time Goes By.

The post was a confession of sorts about an experiment Flick conducted with a friend when they were in high school - to dress like old men:

“Not the typical teenager's act of rebellion, but the style of the American Old Man is not without its merits:
  1. An old man's first priority is comfort, as it should be for everyone.
  2. An old man doesn't give a rat's patoot what you think about his clothes. There's a lot of honor in that.
  3. Old men wear Member's Only jackets. Member's Only jackets are proof that God loves men and wants them to be happy."

Ya gotta respect this guy. He learned at age 15 or 16 what took me decades to figure out. And even though the experiment was short-lived, he obviously had some sentimentality for it:

“I remember getting a cardigan and even some plaid pants, but both remained largely un-worn. One thing we DID wear were old-man chic fishing hats we bought at Christmas Tree Shop (holla!).

“I wore mine with the brim flipped up in the back and down in the front, which I still think is the money way to wear a fishing hat...

“I kept my cardigan until the moth holes got to be too much to take. Other than that, the other mementos of my days of being a wannabe retiree were thrown away soon after high school.”

There’s plenty of time for Flick to dress like an old man again in about 30 or 40 years. Meanwhile, let’s give the kid a round of applause for his appreciation. Any thoughts on what fashions teenage girls might adopt from their elders?

[At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Jessie Landis writes of the strange occurrence that helps her overcome a common elder loss in An Old Woman's Peculiar Pleasure.]


Since I have two granddaughters I would like to tell them that there is nothing attractive about their navels; don't display them. Ditto for their bums; no thongs unless they are built like a movie star. Most of all, I would discourage mile-high heels that throw their pelvis out of whack. I don't care how cute those strappy sandals look. If they want to be comfortable and dress like an old woman I advise slacks and loose tops. Works for me.

Who knew Grumpy Old Men were formed as early as the teens?

I get a mental picture of Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon doing their great shtick.

Hey, old cardigans are unisex in nature....yes?

I look at the way a lot of the girls dress and want to tell them that some things are better left to the imagination. What they call a mini skirt makes what we called a mini skirt look dowdy. I'd just like to see them covered.

Oh yes, comfort. Last week the Nordies shoe salesman told me they had gotten rid of all the brands I wanted and got some that were more comfortable. After spending a hundred bucks on a pair of shoes, I can tell you they are not more comfortable. JC Penney's now carry's the shoes that Nordies doesn't.

Then again, the latest craze here with kids is to wear long loose blouses. They look pregnant. LOL

how about long-sleeved muumuu with tennis shoes? wikipedia, where i went to check spelling, says they're also useful as maternity dress because they do not restrict the waist. of course!

Interesting topic to consider. When I was a teen, we admired women and looked to their styles for what we wanted to look like. Not to say old women as they wore those 'old' lady shoes and house dresses, but just mature women. Now adults want to dress like kids. What a strange world. It made more sense to me the way it was-- not that sense relates to a lot of things.

I asked my neighbor’s high school age daughter what she would wear if her school had a ‘dress like an old person’ day. She said she would wear black shoes with no heel, ankle high hose, solid color ‘stretchy’ pants that are too short (so the tops of the hose would show when she sat down), a button-down-the-front short sleeved shirt (probably a floral print), and a sweater. She said she would pin her hair up into a bun, but probably wouldn’t wear a hat. A lace trimmed handkerchief was essential and a cane was optional.

She was laughing the whole time and I could tell she was really enjoying our ‘what-if’ game. So I asked her if she thought she would dress like that someday. More laughter. She said “No, if I get old” (notice she said if) “I will dress way more cool.” Then she got quiet and thoughtfully said, “I wonder if old people know they dress like that.”

So went my social experimentation for this day.

OMG, Marilyn, I think you just described my usual attire. Except I don't do floral print shirts, I wear loose knit pullover sweaters instead. Otherwise it's spot on. And you know what? I love being old enough to dress comfortably and not feel bad about it. It's like that poem about "When I am old I shall wear purple..."

Waists. Kids have no idea where their waist is.

Slips would be nice, too. Girls don't know what they are.

Croc-like footwear is a gift from the gods. If you haven't tried them, do so. Every store has it's "croc-offs" these days, ranging from $10 to $20 a pair. I'm waiting for black patent ones with rhinestones. I own several pairs in different colours. A young coworker actually gave me a black pair, as she got so offended by my orange ones.

Comfort, comfort, comfort.

I'd certainly advise them to cover up their kidneys in the winter. Makes me shiver to see that bare flesh when the mercury drops into the forties.
However, long-waisted pants are on the way back in again now, I understand. So I'll bet you that by this time next year the kids will be sniggering at those overweight, middle-aged women who are still walking around in low-slung jeans with their 'muffin tops' on display, trying to look 'cool'.

Oh oh - I'm totally guilty of this at 36-years-old. I stopped shopping retail earlier this year because we're grad students, and now shop exclusively at Value Village. Do you know how rockin those polyester silky-looking blouses that have fake pearl buttons and a big ole tie at the neck look over skinny jeans? My favorite is a bright purple one with pink pearl buttons. I also adorn with broaches and long strands of beads like my Granny used to wear. The thing is, I get more compliments now on my wardrobe than I ever did shopping at boutiques, from both the elders I work with, and my 20-something friends. I haven't tried a mu mu yet, but wouldn't be surprised if it brings admiration on the streets of Edmonton. Thanks for this post - I totally relate.

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