My friend, the fantastic writer, actress and all-around fascinating gal, Joan Juliet Buck just penned a piece for Harper’s Bazaar on how “great style is timeless —until it isn’t”. She knows what she’s talking about too…. besides having been on the International Best Dressed List, she was also the editor of French Vogue too, so TRUST, she’s knows whereof she speaks. (You may also have seen her in the movies, as she is a good actress and was the french cooking school mistress in Julia & Julia) I’ve been thinking lately of what I CANNOT wear as a bald, gay man his mid-50s. As I told Joan, the list is l o n g . . . and getting longer. I’m not sure if these rules (or any) apply to men in dresses. I’ll ask Joan the next time I see her.
When I was 30, my necklaces were ironic. The single row of baroque pearls with the intaglio clasp that I wore along with my grandmother’s double strand were a cheeky nod at Coco Chanel in her late-revival prime, say, when she was 78 or 80. Now that I’m barreling toward my mid-60s, the last thing I want to do is remind anyone of Coco Chanel at 78.
Necklaces age me.
So do black jackets.
So do shoulder pads.
So do earrings. Any earrings.
So, alas, do printed scarves.
So does red lipstick.
So does smoky, sexy eye makeup.
And high heels I can’t walk in.
Now that I’m a lady of a certain age, I have to drop the costumes. Everything that put me in the Best-Dressed List Hall of Fame in 1987 must be left in 1987, and the same goes for the Lartigue look of 1972, the dust-colored suits of 1991, and the rest. Fashion is a time capsule and becomes a time machine that only the young should enter.
I hang on to the Saint Laurent smoking coatdress that I wore to a lunch in 1983 because I hadn’t slept in my own bed, the Missoni camisole I wore to a magical dinner at Maxim’s in 1974, the Hermès chestnut leather dress from 1996 that was the coolest thing in the world. But the world moves on, the Saint Laurent coatdress is a fashion history lesson, the camisole can’t be worn with a bra, and the leather dress is oddly tight. I haven’t gained weight, but things have moved around.
We find our style in our 20s and hang on to everything that makes up our look—hair, shoes, colors, shapes—through our 30s and 40s, at style cruising speed. But somewhere between 50 and 60, there are bumps in the road. Physical changes, social changes, contextual changes.
The face changes shape. From the age of 23 onward, I wore a particular expression in photographs until I saw evidence that the pensive, dreamy, three-quarter profile had turned grumpy. Now it’s full face, with a smile, and as much light as possible.
Last fall I longed for Saint Laurent silver boots identical to the gold ones I had in 1973. Missoni makes me as happy as ever, Uniqlo’s collections by Jil Sander and Ines de la Fressange are beautiful, and I look forward to what Christophe Lemaire will do there this fall. The wardrobe now comes down to the essentials: black sweaters, good trousers, boatneck tunics, and dresses that are cut, shaped, and fitted to me. A good trench coat, and then a few more good trench coats. I found a silk one at Pamela Barish’s shop in Los Angeles, with pleats in the back so that it can be worn as a dress, or thrown—the way I used to throw my pearls—over a plain top trousers for that abstracted I-just-got-out-of-bed look that signals cool at any age. It’s the ideal garment, but the one in my size was snapped up by some 30-year-old movie star, so I’m going to have to wait.
For the full treatise on what works fashion-wise (for Joan, anyway) in your 60s, go here. (via Harper’s Bazaar)