A study by a parcel delivery service – perhaps based on the number of pairs of jeans that get sent back – found that most people think other people shouldn’t wear jeans after they’re 53. Why 53? Come to that, why jeans?
The answer to the second question may explain everything. Jeans are universal, intergenerational and global. They can be invisible or absolutely in your face. Nine tenths of the world’s population – not a scientific number – must have owned a pair at some time. So pretty well everyone is going to have a view on when to stop wearing them. Why 53? Just to be annoying.
Like all the most irritating “studies”, this stinks. It is random fashion police activity that is nothing to do with fashion and all about making one group of people feel bad about themselves with a side of schadenfreude for everyone else. Maybe there are now thousands of people squeezing themselves into their skinny jeans thinking, at least I’m not 53, while those of us who are a) over 53 and b) rely on jeans for daily wear, feel if not foolish then at least a bit self-doubting.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that age is irrelevant, just that judging what is age appropriate is totally subjective. It’s a factor along with all the other factors that interfere with leaving the house, like does my bum look big/my legs fat/insert personal phobia here. The only rule is that there are no rules, just like all the other so called rules about what to wear.
From long and sometimes costly experience I have learned that if I ask myself if it looks a bit young, the answer is that it does. Not that I always listen to my inner adviser, which is why there are dresses in my wardrobe that I never wear because they make me feel a bit like Grayson Perry. Obviously, a subliminal yearning for girly frocks is some kind of eruption of suppressed regret for the curvy figure I never had.
Maybe jeans, in the eyes of the judgmental, are a bit less forgiving than most other clothes. If you look like Kate Moss, then in a way that absolutely no other single item of clothing can, they convey the I’m-not-trying-but-God-I-just-can’t-help-looking-amazing school of style. Maybe, if I peer into my underdeveloped fashionista soul, I should acknowledge that jeans, more than any other personal choice, do carry a subliminal “don’t write me off” message, a teeny scintilla of street cred that clings like a ghost of what one once imagined one was.
But the thing about jeans is that, just like bodies, they come in an infinite variety of shapes and styles. For each pair that makes some bold statement about the wearer there are a thousand others that just happen to be the nearest clean thing in the wardrobe. And the more ancient and decrepit I get, the more pleasure I shall have from the one thing that looks mildly in touch with fashion, while also being machine washable and never in need of the iron. I wonder if they make them baggy enough for wearers of continence pads?