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Subversive About Age

Subversive About Age

A "subversive cadre" of women are challenging antiquated notions about age, style, and attractiveness, says fashion maven Ruth La Ferla in her New York Times piece "The Glamorous Grandmas of Instagram."

Among them, a 71-year-old Australian artist who also designs knitwear: "We aren't going to be little old ladies sitting in a nursing home with blue-rinsed hair," stated Jenny Kee. 

Researcher Marie Stafford supports Kee and other defiant elders in her introduction to the survey "the Elastic Generation," a 2018 J. Walter Thomson study of 55- to 72-year-old women in England. "Our collective understanding of what later life looks like remains woefully outdated," she noted. "Age no longer dictates the way we live."  (To read the entire La Ferla story, visit

As a self-proclaimed dinosaur, I applaud women of the great- and grandmother generation who assert their confident sense of chic on Instagram and elsewhere, where they strut designer gear and original combinations of stylish attire.

Over the course of my life, which has taken me into my sixth decade, I've come to completely alter my view of what being senior looks like. Aunt Bea, of "The Andy Griffith Show," was the stereotypical old lady, together with her sweet and gossipy cohort, who sported fashion-free print dresses, sensible shoes, and gray hair tied back in an bun or topped with a hat that could have doubled as a bird's nest. Dowdy, in a word. (But also nurturing. She offered domestic bliss for her nephew, the sheriff, and his son, Opie, with a groaning board of comfort food, which was actually normal food in those days.)

Most of the time, "old women" on TV in the mid-twentieth century were variations of the Aunt Bea character. But how old were they, really? Sheriff Andy may have been in his early to mid-30s, given that Opie started out on the show in very short pants. So Aunt Bea may have only just started to collect Social Security. 

Now, boomers, in their 60s, 70s, and beyond, resist checking the demographic boxes that place them in the dumpy mom-and-dad-jeans category. And they should. 

The "elastic generation" may find themselves in fact wearing elastic-waist pants (not everyone can pull off Calvin Kleins), but their wardrobes could as easily be flaunted by someone 30 years younger. Now I'm not advocating embarrassingly plunging necklines or scant coverage of the derriere (demure is my default). But I do celebrate the freedom of self-expression that defines our era. We're not old, we're bold! 

And don't forget...To make the look complete, show your dino pride with an Exquisite Eons brooch, and Be Positively Prehistoric! 

Subversive About Age

Subversive About Age

Comment (1)

Good old Aunt Bea….. Have enjoyed cruising your site.
I don’t know what publication/reproduction rights you retain with the Rhinebeck picture, but people are hounding me for copies. I will give them your contact info. Might be a nice little income.
You made my weekend. I show and tell about that photo everywhere.

mother katherine

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