Social Question

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

How come the showing of skin on an older woman can’t be sexy and attractive?

Asked by Hypocrisy_Central (22072 points ) April 16th, 2011

I don’t know how many times I have heard that after a certain age women should avoid fashions that show skin like minis, halter or tube tops, Daisy Dukes, thong bikinis, etc. It almost seems to me like a tacit admission that older skin is not or can’t be beautiful, attractive or sexy. If a woman took care of her skin, exercised regularly and was toned with good skin quality why couldn’t she wear fashion or styles like that with out scorn or ridicule? Why does she have to be accused of trying to dress like a 20yr? Are 20yr old supposed to have cornered the market on sexy or seductive wear that show skin? Or is telling middle-aged and older women to avoid that is a backdoor way of saying “you have too many sags and wrinkles, you better keep that hidden”?

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27 Answers

seazen_'s avatar

Demi is but one example of this not being true. The more skin the better.

auntydeb's avatar

I think it’s largely a question of aesthetics! We (our delightful western culture) are trained from an early age to look at young, pert bodies and regard them as sexually attractive and ready to reproduce. Youth, bounce and all that pinginess permit tight clothing, with harsh borders to for overt definition. As a woman’s skin ages (and no amount of toning will change this) it softens and loses elasticity. Tightly elasticated clothing tends to push it about into even more wrinkles!

The question is valid @Hypocrisy_Central but I don’t see the necessity for asking that women tone, or hope for ‘good skin’, in order to remain attractive. Better I think, to look at ways of dressing and presenting ourselves for flattering our softer, gentler shapes rather than try to wear the clothes of youth. Those young ones are out to mate and procreate. I for one am quite glad of my maturity and the opportunity to express my personality through my clothing, rather than my availability!

ucme's avatar

I like a well pressed trouser/shirt.

MacBean's avatar

Personally, I prefer a woman with a few years and some age lines to show for it.

optimisticpessimist's avatar

I think it can be. The big issue for me is dressing for your body and the situation. Situational dressing: An older woman should not show up to a professional job in a mini-skirt and see-through top, but neither should a 20 year old. It is probably more acceptable for the younger woman partially because she may get the benefit of the doubt that inexperience may have led to this choice. Body type: It does not matter whether the person is 50 or 20. If you can ‘pull-off’ (figuratively) a thong bikini at the beach or pool, more power to you.

As you mature (or age), I think you can begin to refine your choice of clothing and realize that more skin does not automatically mean sexy or seductive. Clothing, IMO, should flatter what you have not point out with neon arrows all of your body’s flaws i.e. tight pants that push up rolls of fat (the muffin top) and a crop top. I have seen more teen girls with that particular fashion faux pas than any older women.

marinelife's avatar

Here is a picture of Cindy Crawford in a bikini at age 42.

She looks great to me.

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AstroChuck's avatar

Whatever you do, don’t tell Helen Mirren that. She was 63 when this was taken.

jonsblond's avatar

@AstroChuck I was going to use the same example. Helen was just on SNL and they did a funny skit about her magnificent boobies. =)

faye's avatar

Love the implant outline in that last one! But Helen looks amazing.

KatawaGrey's avatar

@AstroChuck: I see your Helen Mirren and raise you twenty years.

I have never understand the need to cover up the bodies of men and women over fifty. I think age should be lauded, not hidden. I mean, come on, these people have done the one thing that no one else has: survived long enough to reach old age. I think anyone who gets there should be able to wear whatever the hell they want whenever the hell they want.

DrBill's avatar

the more skin the better, at any age

woodcutter's avatar

tag for interest

Pandora's avatar

I think there is a different kind of sexy for every age. I don’t have wrinkles or sagging skin yet however I wouldn’t like to dress like a hoochie mama. Doesn’t mean I’m going to dress like someones grandmother either. I still like fun clothing and pretty prints but I don’t think its necessary to reveal all to look sexy. I think it is more about what one thinks of the clothing.
There are clothing that just looks better on a younger person because it looks like something a 15 to 25 year old might wear. Wrinkles or no wrinkles you can tell a difference between someone who looks 35 and older and someone who looks 15.

creative1's avatar

I say go with whatever you are comfortable with and looks good on you. I am 42 now and dress in my own style and the heck with what everyone else feels about age, its only a number. I am not going to dress like I am heading to a convent just because I am over 40 now. I think we hear this more from people who can’t or don’t have confidence in themselves to wear what they want to wear.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Here’s the thing. Say you’ve got a great toned body and dress “like a 20 year old” but once you turn around or people get close enough to you to see in your face that aren’t a 20 something, it causes some, ah… awkwardness?

This is a tough transition for women to go through, I’m in it right now! I’ve always looked young, had a good figure with or without clothes but now my face is showing age so even though I could still wear clothes I did before, I feel strange like I never did before. I feel so much more comfortable with just a few wardrobe tweaks.

The mention of Demi Moore, she’s GREAT looking, head to toe but few of us near her age look like that and she happens to dress better than any 20 something I’ve ever seen in real life.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@auntydeb Better I think, to look at ways of dressing and presenting ourselves for flattering our softer, gentler shapes rather than try to wear the clothes of youth. The clothes no matter what should match the body or visa versa, I would not suggest to a 280lb+ man to don a pair of Speedos or Dolphin shorts. There are women who age has seem to trot to instead of gallop and could wear fashions that society (at least here in the States) want deem exclusively for the young because of the amount of skin it shows or how body hugging it is. Those who have a tighter, leaner shape should be able to celebrate it if they want; not that they have to.

Those young ones are out to mate and procreate. I would not count out the older gals just yet, with many women putting career in front of everything else or divorcing early they are not about to sit on the porch with their knitting needles past 37yr just yet. I suspect many still care about catching the eye of men and having a family or another family if the last one ended. ;-)

@optimisticpessimist Situational dressing: An older woman should not show up to a professional job in a mini-skirt and see-through top, but neither should a 20 year old. A situation for certain attire to me is slightly different from fashion that is suppose to be sensual or sexy. Office attire can be just as sexy as street clothes hence, also, and lastly.
I would not recommend a 270lb+ man going shopping in Dolphin shorts no matter how hot it was because I don’t feel at that would be ”public appropriate”.

Clothing, IMO, should flatter what you have not point out with neon arrows all of your body’s flaws i.e. tight pants that push up rolls of fat (the muffin top) and a crop top. I have seen more teen girls with that particular fashion faux pas than any older women. I could not agree more. I have seen many young women and teens try to pull off fashions many other teens can do and fail horribly, but I guess since it is said that is their fashion they believe they do it well. No matter what the age or shape you should wear what will complement your body or at least not distract away from the good by accentuating the bad.

@noelleptc I don’t[sic] see old as 40’s so I don’t think these models and actresses count. You would not imagine how many people see the 40s or even the late 30s as old, or at least to old to dress with any sort of skin beyond the arms or a backless dress (if it was a gown or some kind).

AstroChuck Whatever you do, don’t tell Helen Mirren that. She was 63 when this was taken. Which is kinda the point, most 60ish women maybe didn’t age as well as her but because they didn’t she should not be penalized for wearing a 2 piece if she can rock it.
The latter example was probably what most would expect and maybe what is usually seen. Also another great example why not to buy after market boobs, that IMO looks far worse and silly than wrinkled butt in a thong.

I don’t have wrinkles or sagging skin yet however I wouldn’t like to dress like a hoochie mama. Doesn’t mean I’m going to dress like someones[sic] grandmother either. What exactly says “hoochie”? How tight, how much skin, how much skin at what age, if ”bullets” are seen on the blouse? What if no skin was showing but supper clingy “painted on” skinny jeans with camel toe?

@Pandora There are clothing that just looks better on a younger person because it looks like something a 15 to 25 year old might wear. If it doesn’t have the Power Puff Girls or Hello Kitty all over it I think a mini can be worn by any age woman if it complements her; the teen or young woman might be wearing a Hanna Montana mini but the older woman I am sure would have one from Armani, VS, or Versace, etc, but still be a mini.

@Neizvestnaya I’ve always looked young, had a good figure with or without clothes but now my face is showing age so even though I could still wear clothes I did before, I feel strange like I never did before. And it always seem to come back to the age of the woman no matter how you try to get around it. You feel differently wearing it because someone else will have an issue with it. If it was anything other than a pair of jeans, a skirt, top, etc no one would take a second look. They won’t say “look at her, she is drinking a 20something coffee, or using a teen dictionary”. They would not say you are buying a 20something lasagna, they won’t sit about distinguishing this or that as being for the young, that is for the old or older. But because it is a mini it can case as you say awkwardness, if some young buck wolf whistle you to discover you could be his mom or aunt then he feels he has egg on his face. But because of that you get collateral damage by not feeling cool enough to wear a mini you could still wear and rock.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central: It’s not the amount of skin showing so much as the style of clothes. I think I would look silly and also tacky in Daisy Duke style jean shorts yet I do still wear short shorts as long as they are well tailored and of nice materials- I even wear them with heels. Same thing for tank tops- I won’t wear a plain cotton tank top except to bed but I’ll wear one that looks like it’s got a bit of tailoring to it. My ripped jeans and tee shirts are fun for going shooting in but not shopping, I just feel because of my advanced age, I can enjoy some refinements now.

optimisticpessimist's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central I completely agree that office attire can be as sexy or sensual. I meant a mini-skirt and see-through shirt is more appropriate for a club than work no matter what age the wearer may be. It does not happen all the time, but many women mature and realize overt sexiness in clothing (meaning showing a lot of skin or being really tight) is not the only sexy, and maybe not even the best sexy.

In my late 30’s, I still wear a bikini, short shorts and tank tops. I just know where to wear them and where not to.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Excellent @optimisticpessimist, said what I was thinking but couldn’t articulate.

Haleth's avatar

I’m so sick of the pressure on women to look or dress a certain way! If we’re young and in shape we’re pressured to dress sexy, but if we’re old or overweight we’re supposed to hide our bodies so nobody has to see them. It doesn’t matter if we’re comfortable, people just want to see sexy young female bodies.

optimisticpessimist's avatar

@Haleth I would really like to know where this pressure comes from because I have never felt it. This is an honest question. I do not know if it was how or where I was raised, but the only pressure I ever felt in dressing was wearing clothes appropriate for the setting and my body type. When I say body type, I mean I am short so some clothes do not look good on me that do look good on women who are taller. I wear what I feel comfortable wearing.

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Aster's avatar

You guys in your thirties or forties really have no idea how young you are but someday when you’re really old you’ll look back and think, “why did I think I was getting old then? I had decades of life ahead of me and I looked great.” Keep wearing your tanktops and shorts; I know you look terrific and you’ll feel so much cooler this summer. No one is laughing at you or talking about you. They all think you look wonderful. And you do.

Haleth's avatar

@optimisticpessimist

“the only pressure I ever felt in dressing was wearing clothes appropriate for the setting and my body type.”

There’s a whole industry of media, like fashion magazines, tv shows, and online content, telling women to “wear this, don’t wear that.” Older relatives have told me what I should and shouldn’t wear and made unsolicited comments on my appearance, when they don’t do the same thing for men in the family. I’m not saying we should purposely dress in an unflattering way, but why are there so many things telling me I should only wear boot-cut jeans because I’m a pear shape? Why does a term like “pear shape” even exist to describe a woman’s body?

“I am short so some clothes do not look good on me that do look good on women who are taller.” That’s no different than “I am old so some clothes do not look good on me that look good on women who are younger.” Once men reach adulthood, the dress code stays pretty much the same whether you’re short/tall or old/young. It shouldn’t be any different for women.

optimisticpessimist's avatar

@Haleth Okay, I did not spend most of my youth in the US and never read fashion magazines so I guess I understand why I missed it. Nor do I watch fashion shows or anything like them. My TV usually has the History or Science channel on if I am watching it. The height factor, IMO, is totally different than age. Perhaps, I should have said looks better on taller women, and I also think some things look better on shorter women than taller. Better is the operative word.

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