Does this make me look old?

ashleigh 72 dpi

Ashleigh Brown, writer, blogger, columnist, is a graduate student in the English program with a concentration in creative writing. She works in Web communications at UWM and is an educational assistant at MATC.



 am 28. I feel 28, I think I look 28, and I hope I exhibit the maturity implied at 28. That being said, I find myself in a crisis of age: when I shop for clothes I start in the juniors’ section, then find myself checking out with an armful of ladies’, women’s and petites’ clothing. How did I get there? And when did I leave the juniors’ section?!

When it comes to fashion, I just want to look presentable and age-appropriate. I don’t want to be the woman driving a mini-van in a mini-skirt. I also don’t want to wear lounge pants to a cocktail lounge.

But for once, it’s not me I’m worried about; it’s the clothes. More importantly, it’s how the clothes are divided by age and segregated accordingly. If I’m willingly leaving the juniors’ section, suddenly I’m not just buying a shirt anymore. Suddenly, I’m giving in to a subconscious self-observation of maturity and existence!

As I mentioned, I always start in the juniors’ section because it’s always in the front of the store. Even at predictable big box retailers, I’m still thrown for a 20-something loop. I certainly don’t want to see a 14-year-old with her backside peeking out of a pair of shorts — and I sure as heck wouldn’t try it myself. Not only do the shorts get shorter, but the tops get shorter too. I think there is a time and a place for a crop top, which is Jennifer Grey’s dance practice montage in “Dirty Dancing.”

Try going to a mall or boutique shop and it’s even more of a mystery. Unflattering shapes, bizarre designs, and crazy patterns that invite more motion sickness than fashion inspiration. It’s not just the clothes, either – Tootsie Roll-scented body sprays, 5-pound, gel-filled bras, silver-sequined UGG boots … who are these things for?

In all honesty, I know I’ve worn plenty of hideous things in the name of expressing myself. Now, though, I don’t mind letting my voice and body language do the talking. Maybe not needing to express yourself in a superficial way is just part of being an adult, and maybe clothes are just clothes.

Though I’ve graduated from junior, I’m a long way from senior, and so I still visit from time to time. So how do you know when to leave the juniors’ section behind? Here are some indications you may experience:

  • You find shirts with messages that don’t apply, such as “Here to Party” or “I Love Dorks.”
  • You can’t tell if what you’re holding is a dress, a skirt or a tube top.
  • You remember wearing the 90s comeback clothes you find, such as overalls, platform shoes, acid wash denim or  flannel prints.
  • If the other shoppers, the cashiers and even the mannequins look younger than you.

Until the CEO of “Forever 21” responds to my request by introducing “Forever 30,” I’ll just have to wish all of you shoppers good luck in navigating the age barrier. There are plenty of stylish, appropriate options for all – you just can’t expect to find them in the same places.


1 comment

  1. Ashleigh let me introduce you to a brand we like to call “Forever Beautiful” or what is officially called CAbi – Carol Anderson by Invitation. Not only is this a brand that has shown over and over to span the generation gap, but it also allows you to shop in the comfort of your own living room! I just heard a story again yesterday about another fashion consultant in the Milwaukee area that within a week sold the same item to both her daughter and then her mother! CAbi allows you to make the clothes your own and I think that is the true secret to this brand and to breaking down the barriers on where to shop. As an Independent Fashion Consultant I love to make women feel beautiful from the inside out!


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