15,000 year-old cave drawings in Spain show men and women wearing 'shoes' made of animal skins wrapped around their feet. According to the Bible, Moses wore shoes when he marched dry shod across the seabed of the parted Red Sea. Probably sandals, but who knows? And Jesus wore a distinctive style of sandal that still bears his name. In other words, shoes have been around for a long, long time.
But we don't need to dwell on the history of shoes because that's not the topic of this article. The topic under discussion today is what I call 'old lady shoes,' and more pertinently, what old lady shoes symbolize. And yes, it does sound disparaging. That's because it is. Some refer to such shoes as 'sensible.' For example, those ghastly designs known as Dr. Scholl's or the slightly more stylish models manufactured by Clark's. The brand is irrelevant; what's relevant is the style: flat and insipid. In other words, no style at all.
Unfortunately, the unwritten rules of society declare that so-called older women dress in the following manner: dark colors, which means more often than not, black or dark gray; reduced exposure, which is defined as exhibiting very little sensuality, very little skin, and no cleavage; and temperate or thoughtful style, the implication of which is serene beyond words. Translation: not even a hint of extravagance, boring to the max. And by the way, the term 'older women' refers to any woman fifty-five or older, and more than likely includes any woman around the age of fifty. That's not my definition. Rather it's a cultural definition. One that has been foisted upon women willy-nilly.
Still, let's face it, after all the definitions and intellectual examination, there remains the fact that many older women are not only still very sexy but more, they are, because of their age, experience and accomplishments, remarkably interesting. And when compared to their younger counterparts, they have lived meaningful, noteworthy lives. To be frank, the preponderance of younger women are, although undeniably physically attractive and, well, fresher, immature and lack wisdom.
Ultimately, the virtues of younger women are a socio-cultural construct. The result of the youth-paradigm that presently prevails in America. I mean even the rock bank Steely Dan, not too long ago, recognized it in their illustrative song Hey Nineteen
, which effectively exposed the failings of youth. Often youth is so vulgar. Most of the clich?s are true. The typical twenty-five year old really is self-centered, uninterested in anything other than bravura effects, fun, luxury brands, and their hair. Essentially their tastes and preferences are derived from pop-stars and Hollywood celebrities. In short, they are fake, doctrinaire, artificial, shrill, shallow, uncertain, eclectic, jejune and insincere. They don't know who they are or who they want to be. They utilize the word class as a substantive to denote elegance. Their cars are mobile beauty salons; they smoke cigarettes not because cigarettes are cool but because smokers are cool, chew gum, and text instead of speaking. Their favorite word is 'like.' Of course, it should be remembered that the word 'vulgar' is nothing more, in today's world, than a synonym for popular.
As is to be expected, there are myriad exceptions. But not enough to bring down the cupola of the Bell Curve.
On the whole, despite unwritten rules, older women would be well-advised to eschew popular fashions and pursue style as a means of self-expression. Get rid of the frumpy skirts and ugly cardigan sweaters, the sensible shoes and the compulsory perms. And along that line of thought, were you aware that more than a few haute couture designers are actively researching and tracking the so-called mature market? They'd never admit it, of course. Why? Because the very thought is humiliating. From their perspective, documentation of the fact would pollute their brands, which were nurtured in the loam of youth. There's another aspect to this phenomenon, too. The last thing any young, stylish woman wants to wear is the same brand older women are wearing. On the surface, this might sound specious, maybe, until one observes that fashion is a drug, as it were, a drug that causes the user to live in a dream world, a world necessarily confined to one specific generation. Caparisoning oneself in clothing similar to that of a different generation would be, well, stupid. Akin to eating chalk and cheese.
German model | Photo: | Link |
By the same token, older women avoid the fashion trends of the young because it's demoralizing, if not downright embarrassing, for a middle-aged woman to present herself as a Red Hot Mama, when she is not. It's like a sixty-five year old hippie who thinks it's still 1968, playing Janis Joplin cassettes in a VW Van. The world has changed for good or ill. Miley Cyrus, Katie Perry, and Rhianna are the new Queens of Pop. And don't forget Lady Gaga, who while certainly talented, has perhaps allowed herself to be categorized less as a Diva and more as an entertainer.
So what's the answer? I'm not really sure. Both objectivity and subjectivity enter into the situation. No matter whether one is young or old (it's not a contagious virus) or middle-aged (a ridiculous term), a woman should practice fashionable eloquence, elegant simplicity, articulate brevity. Scorn the vast primitive power of mediocrity, which is dull, colorless and too boring to even contemplate. Though, I will venture to say this: older women are to be congratulated. Through the living of life and the attainment of wisdom they have surpassed the caprice of youth, who find themselves irretrievably part of a collectivity with only mass communications to shape their hopes, formulate their values and arrange their thinking.
Or as Blaise Pascal put it so eloquently, older babes have been given license to "lick the earth."