The B Word

>> It's Dick Van Dyke day again and I'm edging towards the wonderful precipice that is 30 and weirdly another year has gone by when I don't feel all that bothered about it.  In fact, I'm relishing the day when I start to quiver over a good quality pestle and mortar in a department store.  

Living the good life aside, there is a little niggle that has been festering in my head.  I've turned 28 today and despite advocating free spirited dressing, there is a very silent clock ticking in my head that every now and again, whispers to me to say "Your obsession with cookery channels gives your age away and therefore you shouldn't be donning that feathered mini skirt/sequinned unitard/knitted onesie."

Five and a half years this blog has been plodding on and the signs of this ageing process have of course reared its ugly head.  Every now and again, I'll get comments who have known me for that amount of time who say "You've toned it down A BIT…"  Is that a BORING concession to the conventions of society?  Or is it truly a genuine development of style that supposedly every woman goes through as women in their 30s write off their 20s as the 'lost years' and likewise, women in their 40s dismiss their 30s as a 'growing period'.  This synonymises style with development of mind, lifestyle and interests which would be the practical way of thinking.  Yet I'm never quite sure whether this graph line is fully foolproof - you settle down with life and thus you settle down with your style?

With every lessening degree in the "cray-cray" factor of my outfits, I used to feel an odd pang.  Like I've done wrong by myself or I've not practised what I preached about making oneself happy with what you wear whenever I've avoided say a rainbow fringed cape or a host of bejazzled leggings.  When I came to pick out clothes for this 10 magazine shoot in the current issue, shot by Frederike Helwig, it was clear that the results were clearly more polished and to some, more sophisticated than my current incarnation.  This was me with a limitless budget, styling the A/W 11-12 collections in ways that I'd like to dress to some degree.  And I relished it.  A lot. More than I'd like to admit.

Throwing on one great Dries coat (that would inevitably cover up what's going on underneath) on felt awesome.  Wearing two brilliant pieces rather than ten not so great ones was refreshing.  Mixing prints that were all similar rather than purposely mis-matching was a piece of cake.  Rather than seeing these slightly more well-mannered outfits as a predictable succumbing to the token style/age cliches that women's mags love spouting ("Your style becomes more refined in the 30s", "You feel more comfortable in your skin"), I felt like this was a "me" that has been bubbling (yes, I am entirely comfortable with using that as a verb) up for a while, evident in the fact that I probably buy a broader mix of things than I did five years ago.  One could argue the relationship between finance and style – how fortunes might change what you buy – which is something I can't escape from and fully hold my hands up in admission.  

The goal isn't of course to swathe myself in designer togs and after my mini clear-out, I'm glad to say that the vintage-high street-indie labels-designer stuff ratio is still fairly even.  Hopefully I'll clutch on to that mix till I grow old and facial hair starts popping up in unwanted places.  What I'm trying to say is that *deep breath*…. I'm ok with the mysterious ways of age welding its mystical powers over my outfits (and ergo, the blog).  Boring is fine?  Sensible is ok?  Bland is the new crazy?  Oh dear.  It's already a slippery rabbit hole analysing this stuff on this birthday morn.  The conclusion is still striking fear into me.  I should have stuck on Fantasia and continued to console myself with the fact that the people at Tesco's still think I'm 17 and demand ID… even though I'm buying madeira to go home to cook up Nigel Slater's recipe for a pie.   

(L: Wearing Dries Van Noten coat, J.W. Anderson jumper/top and trousers, Alexander Wang shoes, Louis Vuitton bag, R: Wearing Ralph Lauren jacket, Isabel Marant shirt, Louise Gray shorts)

(L: Wearing Mulberry vest, Stella McCartney dress, Alexander Wang sunglasses, Chanel shoes, Balenciaga bag, R: Wearing Dolce & Gabanna coat, Jil Sander knit vest, Danielle Scutt dress underneath, Versus shoes)

(L: Wearing Thom Browne jacket, Thakoon dress, Y-3 skirt, Dries Van Noten boots, R: Wearing Louis Vuitton cap, Yves Saint Laurent jacket, Balenciaga dress)

38 Replies to “The B Word”

  1. Happy birthday, Susie!
    I’m gonna be 27 soon and I’ve been feeling the same thing… my outfits have changed A LOT. I still enjoy mixing up stuff, only in a different way… maybe the crazy doesn’t really go away, but you start to deal with it in a differently?

  2. happy b day susie…. i always do the thing – u know – It’s Dick Van Dyke day again – every 2nd december i say happy bday gianni versace….nelly furtado or britney spears ha ha haa 🙂 .and yeah tesco would say 16 again :)….love ur photos here and all of them all the time… and u know that but just have to say again…u give so much to think and so much to love…. i can see u as a real sagittarius…. have a wonderful day….. wanted go and say hello saturday coming … but i dont think i can make it…. enjoy ur day!!!!!!

  3. First of all, Happy Birthday!
    It’s funny that you should post about this now, as I have been thinking about the same subject. I’m hitting 35 next year and I also feel like I’ve been toning down on the way I dress. I don’t think it is a conscious choice in my case, as I have no constraints about what to wear for work. (Even though I work in the financial area, our office is quite relaxed and I can wear whatever I want.)
    I do think that with age one becomes more polished, like you say and expurgate certain elements. – The other day I got rid of a collection of H&M skirts I had that even though the cut was fairly sober, had skulls and cross bones or stars or big polkadots. It somehow doesn’t feel right anymore and even though I can still wear the occasional skull and cross bone item (punk’s not dead and all that) it will be a lot more discreet.
    I also think that with age one craves more quality rather than just novelty for the sake of it.
    I don’t think there is anything wrong with this… it just shows that we grow up and evolve- It would be a lot stranger if we carried on dressing like teenager.

  4. Top notch post, my major growing old concern has historically been the increasing amounts of beige and navy, and colour becoming pretty alien to my wardrobe, sadly!
    Although, innit just a continuing evolution of tastes and styles, from yourself as well as from the cultural millieu, identity is fluid and impermanent and so, therefore, is its expression.
    Super shots by the way!

  5. It’s a toughie isn’t it? They say getting older isn’t for the faint of heart and I would totally agree with everything you’ve said…apart from that you’re dressing safer, blander a little more cautiously! It’s not the case my friend! I put it down to the fact that by the time you reach your 30’s you kinda have a good idea about what suits you, what looks good and most of all, what feels comfortable. I say your 20’s are for discovering and experimenting and should definately not be seen as ‘the lost years’ {if anything the teenage years of spots and boob growing should be seen as that!}but should be seen as the research years. Your young enough to experiment and get away with anything. But don’t think the fun stops there…You’re 30’s are wicked too. For me, I won’t put up with cheap, tatty clothes anymore, I want investments and I know what suits my body shape and my style. It’s still evolving each season and I still get it wrong from time to time but that all part of the fun.
    The clothes for your shoot are still Ms. Bubble in all her glory but they show that you are comfortable in your style and that you have a kick ass sense of style….All hail getting older!! {well, as old as 28 can be!} Happy Birthday.

  6. This post is so witty, you really are a good writer.
    Also, happy birthday! May your blog and your personal style constantly develop, I really don’t think you should worry about your style toning down with age, since it’s a proof that your style is somewhat related to your personality, which does change (that is generally considered supermature!).
    I suppose that even with one garment you can make a big statement (preferably one by Dries that is).

  7. OK I am 42 and this is what I can say to those in your twenties: PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE have as much fun as you can, experiment with everything, wear those crazy silver skintight jumpsuits / mohicans / skulls’n’crossbones / furniture fabrics / bin bags / something really slutty / fruit on your head / whatever… I would just look dumb (and old and fat) in that stuff now, but I am so pleased I wore whatever the fancy took me in my misspent youth. You should get away with it just fine till you’re 35, or much later if you have panache. And then you’ll have all the time in the world, another 35 years say, to be elegant, tasteful and approved of. Enjoy! (PS. Complete rubbish that in your 40s you are all settled down and “know your style” i.e. always look exactly the same and slightly conservative – the reality is that life is always a journey, perpetually changing and turning up new ideas and fresh likes and unexpected fantasies)

  8. Well, I fucking love how your style is evolving. Somewhat conversely, as I edge toward 30 (I’m a year ahead of you!), I find myself slipping into a more creative closet vernacular…perhaps I shouldn’t say more creative, as the direction you are moving in is maybe even more creative than ever…you are still mishmashing, but the edit is smoother, the combinations more considered, the pieces more carefully chosen, and I think that takes time and lots of creative energy, to balance exuberance and refinement.
    For myself, I think its more like…I feel secure where I am in life, I don’t need to question whether people will take me seriously based on how I choose to present myself (or give a shit about it if they don’t), so I feel more free to dress more eccentrically. But while its a far cry from the conservative corporate uniform I felt I had to adopt as I took on more professional responsibility, its definitely not the zany thrift store mash up of my early twenties barista/painter self!
    Of course, back then, I was on a tight budget, so if I felt a cheap piece had potential, I snapped it up, even if it was tacky, or falling apart. And I still wear, and treasure many of the items from that period…but I’ve learned what looks good, how to gauge quality, what to invest in, and what to leave on the rack for some other bright eye’d young liberal arts grad…
    Anyway, Happy Birthday!

  9. First of all happy birthday Susie, I like you am headed towards my 30th birthday and its a scary prospect, though I intend to have as much fun as possible before I’m forced to finally grow up and become a proper grown up! Keep up the good work on the blog its great 🙂

  10. I’m all for style at any age – and I’m still experimenting in my forties. As you get older you just have a stronger idea of what suits you, but that doesn’t have to mean a one-way ticket to Frumpsville.

  11. Oh Susie, you’re far from bland. But I get where you’re coming from. I toned down my outfits too as I got older, but that’s mainly because I started working. I wanted my (many, many, and all male) bosses to focus on what I had to say instead of what I was wearing. But since your job revolves around clothes that shouldn’t be the case for you. My two cents: you slowly look and dress more like a woman than a girl. (This is coming from someone who’s also born in ’83 – I sometimes catch a glimpse of my reflection in a window or something and vaguely think I look like a woman… on other days I think I look like a girl. Don’t know which I prefer.)
    And Happy Birthday! (same day as my brother, I must point out the Dick van Dyke club to him) May you have many gorgeous years to come.

  12. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!!!
    I am approaching 30 and completely understand all you wrote – I don’t fear getting older, I actually can’t wait because I know with that age comes wisdom, experience, and the diminished teen angst that used to rule my life.
    Style wise I am still quite confused about who I ‘am’ given budgetary restraints and running my own business there is VERY little time/funds for myself and exploring what my style is. But nevertheless that’s a separate issue I suppose. Anyway, thank you for being an inspiration Susie!!

  13. Happy birthday!! Well, I would have never known you’ve toned it down because (as a fairly new reader) your outfits always seem outrageous and amazing to me. You have truly original style, and you’re FABULOUS. I turned 30 in July; I don’t dress as crazy as I used to, but I wear what I want. Wear what YOU want!

  14. Happy birthday, dear Bubble. If you are having a good time now, wait until you are in your 30s. I’m sure you won’t look a day older by then, but you will perhaps feel even more beautiful as every bit of knowledge and experience would add to one’s personal beauty. I would have loved to come to the yard sale, too bad I live in New York… boo hoo

  15. It’s funny that you should post about this now, as I have been thinking about the same subject. I’m hitting 35 next year and I also feel like I’ve been toning down on the way I dress. I don’t think it is a conscious choice in my case, as I have no constraints about what to wear for work.

  16. Age is just a number how you feel and your personal style that’s what defines you! You should have as much fun to express yourself when it comes to fashion, which is how you feel inside! You don’t even look a day over 20 for real Love your blog and happy birthday!

  17. It’s a constant style revolution and evolution, being a woman, rather than a downward slope. Look at Madonna (not for style tips but) for how well she mixes things up and how age defiant she is (good or bad?). I’m only 21 so I may change my tune by the time I’m nearing my 30s but I have to agree about knowledge of what suits you and so on aiding your style choices. In my teens I wore statements that were rebellious and outrageous. Now my statements are coated with sophistication that exude a contentness that I have acheived post turbulent teens. As we will all agree what you wear reflects your life, personality and mood, thus maybe you are at a more content point that doesn’t require quite such attention seeking attire?
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