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Aug 9, 2010

Not Yet a Woman...

Have you ever noticed how some women, no matter how old they get, always seem to project "girl" more than "woman?"   And the same goes for guys: there are some who read as "men" at fourteen and others who still seem like boys at forty.

It isn't just the way the way they look -- though that's part of it certainly -- it's an essence they seem to have.

I was watching an old Forties Warner Bros musical last night -- Thank Your Lucky Stars; you're forgiven if you've never heard of it.  And the female lead, Joan Leslie, who you may remember playing opposite James Cagney in Yankee Doodle Dandy, was just eighteen, and she had already been playing adult roles for years.

Another nearly forgotten early-starter was Linda Darnell, who was starring opposite actors like Tyrone Power while still a teenager and was pretty much gone by age thirty.

Then you have performers like Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney playing teenagers well into their twenties.

What is that "thing" that communicates adulthood in some but not in others: being full of figure (in a female), height (in a male), voice quality?  Is it just a question of genetics or is there some other mysterious factor?

What has always fascinated me about old movies is how many of the actresses -- particularly in the Thirties -- were barely out of their teens but were playing sophisticated women, perhaps with a career, a family, or a "past."  And completely credibly.

Was it believable because these actresses had already been working for many years, either on the stage or elsewhere and they felt (and lived) like adults?  Was it a reflection of a time when there wasn't a true "teenage" period: you went from being  a child (and dressing like a child) to being an adult (and dressing like one back when children dressed like children and adults dressed like adults, with next to no overlap)?   Was it the impact of the Great Depression and then WWII?

It's ironic, because I think there's a general consensus in American culture that children are growing up faster and faster, and that it's the rare fourteen year old girl, say, who dresses like an "innocent" instead of a stripper.

And yet think how many actresses -- and actors -- in their Twenties seem like adolescents.  Could you imagine Lindsay Lohan dancing with Fred Astaire today, when she's the same age Ginger Rogers was in Top Hat -- twenty-four?  Is it just because we still remember Lindsay in Freaky Friday?

What was it that made those old performers seem so much more mature, IF you agree with me that they did in fact seem more mature?  What is that gravitas they had that is almost entirely missing from most young people, at least the ones in the public eye?

I think it has something to do with American culture and our perception of adulthood and adult responsibilities.  We feel younger longer and often put off many of the classic transitions into adulthood -- like getting married and starting a family -- till later.  Then there's Botox...

I must admit that this has been a challenge for me personally.  For a very long time I felt like no matter what I wore, I looked like a boy -- or at least looked boyish.  Of course I'm talking about male attire here.  

I'm interested to know what you think, wise readers?  Do you recognize what I'm talking about?  It it just an American thing or something that has changed in the world at large?  Non-American viewpoints are most appreciated!

Are we growing up later despite our attempts to "play" looking like adults from an earlier age (with sexy "tween" clothes, for example)?

How about you?  Is your personal style more girl or woman, more boy or man?  If so, in what way?  When -- if ever -- did it change?   What changed it?

Jump in!


  1. I am still unable to look at Leonardo DiCaprio and see a man. He always reads "boy" to me, though for him it may have to do with the roles he takes. Even his most violent characters have vulnerable undercurrents.

    I think that, even though young people are growing up quicker SEXUALLY, they’re growing up slower in other ways. I work at a university and was once told a story about a freshly-graduated student who went on an interview. The interviewer said, "Work begins every morning at 9 .m." The student responded, "Well, I don’t think that’s going to fit in with my life priorities." To which I say WHAAAAAAAAAT?!?!?!?

    I know dozens upon dozens of people in their 20s who are smart, responsible, mature, amazing adults ... but I also know many more who are very far from grown up, and at a complete loss for resources on adult behavior. Because, after all, who teaches us to be grown-ups? And if there's no incentive to act adult, why do it?

  2. You have so very interesting points. I looked like a teenager well into my twenties and that didn't mix well with being a high school teacher at age 22, so I dressed older, but I still looked out of place.

    I think a good bit of how old someone appears has to do with how they carry themselves.

  3. And, feeling like an adult sometimes sucks.

    I often get this from other adults and administrators: you're too young to be a professor; I thought you were a student. First, this is a silly presumption because our students are all ages. It's also silly because one can BE a professor as soon as one finishes the schooling. But, in reality I'm going on 40 and I don't look particularly young. I'm not a waif, like Jennifer Aniston, so I don't look like a malnourished teen, and I don't dress like one either. I've been shouldering adult responsibilities for almost 30 years and I have a 10-year-old child. I look tired and overworked and I have dark circles under my eyes. None of these things scream, "hey, I'm a youngster." So, in my case, I think it's a power move by superiors. Which, is another side of this coin.

    Young people think I'm ancient; old people think I'm a child.

  4. Oh, and you might want to check your stats tomorrow to see where your readers came to you from. Or, maybe that would be too scary. I'd say, "if you know what I mean," but I'm sure you do, given your penchant for post titles.

  5. "Was it a reflection of a time when there wasn't a true "teenage" period: you went from being a child (and dressing like a child) to being an adult (and dressing like one back when children dressed like children and adults dressed like adults, with next to no overlap)?"

    It's not as straightforward as that. During the 1930s, child actors were often highly sexualized. Graham Greene was the first to remark on this in print in a review of a Shirley Temple film. He was sued for libel and Shirley Temple won, but he was right.

    If you've ever seen the early shorts she was cast in, it's only a couple of steps up from kiddie porn.

  6. I think when teenagers are forced into adult situations they have to adapt. But at the same time they are still children and will still behave as such long into their twenties to live out the remainder of their childhood years.

    Personally, at 16 I started college not just any college but teacher's college in my country and I was forced to adapt becuz I would essential be teaching people the same age as peers and the fact that was fresh out of high school never helped. I was literally a child in an adult situation. I still behaved as a teenager would around my friends but I couldn't elsewhere and this continued into my very early twenties.

    At about 23 I realized that I wasn't getting younger and that there were certain things that are just not becoming of a young woman and professional and I wanted to be taken seriously so I made a sort of overhaul with the way I dressed and behaved. Dressing went from the oversized T-shirts and baggy jeans to a more fitted clothes. Some of it may still be more girl than woman though

  7. My two cents - and perhaps because I'm of, ahem, an age where I remember this. Especially when you are referencing people as adults during the 30s/40s/50s, there is, I think, something definite here, which is that there were hard lines, fashion-wise and personal appearance-wise between children, teens, and adults.
    Girls up to the age of 11 or 12: hair in braids, standard little girl clothing (play suits, shorts, little dresses without waists until about 10 and then with waists thereafter).
    Teen Girls: Hair got shorter and/or more styled moving toward adult styles. More separates type clothing, dresses with waists. First foundation garments of a bra. No girdles yet.
    Older teen girls: moving more toward adult clothing, more formal, slightly more ‘glamorous” available, suits available to them, and a first girdle.
    Adults: Full adult hair styles, more formal clothing available, full foundations.
    Older Adults: Full adult hair styles, softer dresses, half sizes, darker colors, little lace collars, etc.

    Several things have happened in the insuing 40 years. First is the cult of youth and the chasing after/holding onto youth appearances. Second is a rejection of appearance items that signal ‘adult’ or ‘older’. Up to about 1965, young people aspired to looking and acting as adults, having their own jobs, their own money, dressing and acting the part. To young people now, ‘adults’ are people who are over 50 – they want nothing to do with it. But because the whole culture of dressing up, knowing how to dress according to your age, etc. has been lost (not the least because the different ranges of sizes and styles in those sizes has disappeared – anyone remember ‘Young Junior Teen’?), we have generations of people who frankly dress the same when they are 30 or 40 as they did when they were 18: Jeans, knit shirts, sneakers. Part of this is the acceptance in the mis-90s (courtesy of Dockers) of ‘casual Friday’ and then ‘casual every day’, but we’ve missed something.

  8. GREAT points, people. Sal, I agree. In fact, thinking about it, I think we CHOOSE to idolize more youthful celebrities -- they reflect how many of us feel about ourselves, I guess. They're not simply thrust upon us after all.

    I wonder how much of what I was pointing to in my entry is just a screen image.

    Off camera, a lot of those actors and actresses had miserable adult lives BECAUSE they had been working like adults for years and had never had the chance to mature normally little by little. Hard times and pressures of adult responsibilities really wounded them.

    On screen a woman seemed like a "love goddess," say, but inside she felt like a fraud. (Rita Hayworth comes to mind -- terribly insecure and unhappy privately from what I understand. And worked hard from a very young age.)

    Toby, fascinating comment!

    Cherri - where do you think my readers are going to be coming from?

    Nikole -- where are you writing from?

  9. I'm just approaching 30 myself (OMG!), and I'm only now starting to feel like an adult. I'll admit, going to university certainly didn't encourage "adult behaviour". This seems strange since there are a lot of responsibilities, but I was shouldering a lot more "adult" responsibilities in the 3 years between high school and university. I almost felt like I reverted.

    I'm just about to leave grad school now, and in the last 6 months (pretty much since I started sewing my own clothes), I've stopped wearing jeans and tees, and moved onto skirts and blouses. This change has made me feel more like an adult, where the jeans and tees I've worn since entering high school made me feel like a teen. Seems strange, now that I think about it, but I guess that's the power of clothes and how you view yourself.

    Good post. I always enjoy reading your blog. :)

  10. I came of age in the 1970s and 80s so the concept that teens are more highly sexualized now than then doesn't ring true to me. There was so much more sex, drinking, and drugs in my youth than my 17 year old's -- and so little of the sanctimonious moralizing and abstinence crap I can't stand. The odious stuff they say in high school health classes about abstinence -- oy, don't get me started. Viva women's lib, consciousness raising, and Our Bodies, Ourselves. Of course, I prefer that the book that we were sneaking out of our parents' libraries was the Joy of Sex and its earthy celebratory line drawings and not silicone enhanced pornos on the internet. As to dressing your age, there's far more body acceptance here in Italy than in the U.S. Nobody under 60 wears a one piece bathing suit. And it's great IMO. Women wear low decollete dresses at every age, make up, and the works. I love it. Adults of every age are publicly amorous -- more power to them. I think Italians have held on to the more absolute distinction between child/adult: kids clothes are more childlike (think Oillily, etc.) and then women's clothes are womanly. That's why you can always spot Americans in Italy -- Italian women don't walk around in t-shirt, shorts and sneakers if they are over 20. Perish the thought! Now here I sit in my shorts and sneakers just back from a walk in the park. What can I say . . . I am American and I exercise in public (bizarre here in Naples). Sorry, Peter, I have rambled. But I would add that I think there are people who have more adult features and those who have more childlike ones -- genetically. Small bobbed noses, big eyes, petite figures will always read younger in appearance than aquiline noses, curvaceous figures, or deep or gravelly voices. Of course, you are as young as you feel, right. And I'm still channeling my eternal 30 year old ; ).

  11. It's funny you bring this up, I've been reading some super-wholesome mid-50s teen mags I got hold of and it's somewhat shocking to read of 12-year olds who play kissing games at parties (the advice column said it was fine); 11-year olds trying to decide if they should really be going steady (advice lady said no, 14 is more appropriate for settling down with one boy); and seeing garter belts and "first girdles" aimed at the 11-12 year old set. And the dresses! A tiny bit girlish for the youngest, but for 14 and up, more sophisticated than most adult women wear today (just not slutty), and clearly heavily cinched in the waist. Really this stuff has always gone on, it's just all in your face now.

    I can only guess it's because so many of these girls were getting married right out of high school, maybe out of college -- so they only had a few years to go through the courting process and find a partner. (Ugh, the pressure!)

    As for why some people appear to be immature forever...I'm not sure. We have a few friends like this, they just have never gotten adult looking in the face. I couldn't tell you what it is though.

  12. I can't speak for children growing up to fast, as I don't have any, and do my best to distance myself as far as possible from them.

    However, I do think our current social climate trend leans heavily on extending post adolescence as long as possible (says the 37 year old who wears pigtails on a regular basis)

    Especially here in NYC, one is able to dodge the milestones of capital-letter-scary Adulthood - no mortgage, no car payments, no responsibility....
    I think people are waiting longer to find a career (if they ever do), get married, longer to have children.

    In the past, by age 25-30, most people were settled down with wife, an entry level job that would promote & carry them through their life, children, a house, etc etc etc.

    Nowadays, these same 25-30 year olds are heading to grad school instead of taking an entry level job (and entry level jobs don't necessarily promote like they used to), living with their parents after school, still dating, and NOT settling down.

    Maybe it's just my particular viewpoint, but as someone who is domestically partnered (NOT married), renting an apartment, childfree and has never had a job last more than two years (through no fault of my own) I definitely see myself more as 'girl' than 'woman'

    sorry, that was a bit point is, one doesn't have to 'grow-up' as much or as concretely as one did in the last century.

  13. I frequently have been considered younger than my age throughout my life. I have not been considered more attractive because of that. In my case, it probably is part genes and part a full face that doesn't show wrinkles. Perhaps I act younger. Believe me, I am not petite nor do I have a boyish figure!

    It has never been either advantage nor disadvantage to me.

    For movies, I think men choose younger women to play older roles because they like to look at younger women, and they think other men do too. Also, film shows every facial line. It is unfair of course for the lines in the face of George Clooney to be fine, but lines in the faces of his costars are not.

    It is no wonder that women want to remain smooth skinnes and quite thin, even though this is unrealistic. This is how beautiful women of all ages are portrayed in the popular media.

  14. I'm writing from Jamaica. It's actually common here for student's to graduate at 16 from high school and being too young to enter a local university they end up spending 3 years at the local teachers' college before moving on. But i think it's so much more pressuring being a teacher.

    I agree with Sal and she's right; No one is taught how to be a grown up it's all about trial and error

  15. As a 37 year old woman, from Arizona, who has not only 5 children left at home, but has a son attending college in Alabama, I struggle to get people to see me as almost 40.

    I was married at 18, and chose to start my family early. However, my inability to age much, which everyone says is wonderful, leaves me with peple assuming that I am the *step-mom* to my 3 teens (they are 18, 15, and 13).

    I have to walk a fine line between clothes that are stylish and yet older, but I try NOT to dress like my mom or other 40-somethings (because I think they dress like fuddy-duddys).

    My hairstyle and make-up tends to be the same way.

    I do have a hard believing that not only am I almost 40 , but many of the stars I grew up with are that or older!

    I think that this is an issue related to our desire to remain as young as we can for as long as possible. No one wants to get old - nor to look like their grandparents'age.

    I think it also has to deal with maturity and what society expects of people at what age. What sets me apart from my teens, is that I don't ACT like them. I may like some of their music, tv shows, and movies, but I do not act like them.

    I also don't encourage my children to grow up before they are that *age*. Thus, my girls are not allowed to wear make-up, perfume, or have "hip" hair styles until age 12. I don't allow sexy clothes - at all. (that is another post entirely). I don't allow my boys similar things.

    It possible to allow children to remain children...and for adults to be adults...

  16. Also think of Lauren Bacall, only 18 in her first movie with Bogie, Key Largo. She was definitely playing a character that had been around the block.

  17. I'm sorry folks - it is all my fault. (I'm from northern Europe). In my native language there is a saying about the "seriousness of life". Some aunt or uncle said something about this seriousness of life when I started school and I was appalled. I knew I was just a child.
    But the damage was done, to this day I cannot hear this phrase without wild protest in my heart.
    As a teenager I grew mortally afraid of waking up some morning having mutated into the kind of adult my parents were. This only ended once I was 25 and knew I could be who I want to be. I still cherish this feeling.
    Can I alone be responsible for a shift in society that spans the atlantic? I'm quite convinced, because I'm not alone, having been born during the latter end of the babyboom.
    So what have I done? Sometimes I think there was no need to throw out the baby with the bathwater and supplant all things grown up with myriads of lifestyles. Some certainly look grown-up, but they are called business these days and you can still don your jeans and t-shirt for your weekend barbeque.
    I think we did well when I see a family photo of the early sixties, we were on our way to our summer holiday and my father is wearing a suit and tie, poor man.
    And don't get me started on my grandparents who donned their formal attire not just for the car journey, but went to the beach in leather shoes, silk stockings for my grandmother, a high starched collar for my grandfather.
    Having said all this, I sometimes feel the nostalgia for the elegance of adulthood that Peter evokes. Yet I don't despair. We may no longer dress for dinner, but if we wish to look sophisticated, elegant or just dressed to the nines we will - because we can be who we want to be.
    Oh dear, what a ramble...

  18. Nommh, I think you make an excellent point. A lot of the things I refer to in my post are superficial things -- the way one dresses, how "grown up" one looks, and not about what is going on inside a person's heart (or soul).

    Dressing "young" or choosing not to marry or settle down does NOT mean one is less of an adult. It merely means one likes to dress young and has chosen not to marry or settle down. And today we have the real, socially-sanctioned choice!

  19. That descriptor you're looking for? It's "Class."

    While teens today may play at dressing "adult" it's more "adult industry."

    In days gone by, you went from childlike to elegant in a steady progression. There was no place for the "prosti-tot" look. I have two girls, ages 10 and 11, and I find it increasingly difficult to find them appropriate clothes that allow for their age without flashing bits they haven't even grown in yet.

  20. Speaking about things as superficial as looks. My sister lives in USA and when she was in her late 20's and very much married a librarian tried to shoo her from the local library becuz she was supposed to be in school....She had to show her driver's license.

    Another incident; my mom went to visit and was out doing errands with her and my sis said to the person at the bank Oh this is my mother and the person replied, she can't be you're mother isn't she 19 (my mother was in her 40's).

    I can just imagine the remarks I'll get considering that when I was 21 my bro-in-law told me I looked like 16/17

  21. Let's not forget that the average age at marriage in the 1950s was lower then before or after - in 1900, the average age at marriage for a woman was 22. It dropped to around 20 in the 1950s and early 1960s, symptomatic of many people marrying in, instead of, or right out of high school. (source.) It was not a generation that had successful marriages, either.

    I do think sexism, intriguingly, plays a role in dressing like an ingenue forever. Our culture agrees that ingenues and very young women are appealing to look at, and our culture also agrees that the most important thing a woman can be is appealing to look at. There are fewer templates for women to copy to dress like successful, notable, important adults - truly adult or middle-aged women often report feeling invisible unless they try to preserve their ingenue-like qualities for as long as possible.

  22. My 2 cents seems so shallow after the thoughtful conversation I just read...

    I was just going to say that I think there are some objective traits that do make a person look younger, like small size, large eyes, round cheeks, etc. Leonardo DiCaprio, Judy Garland, and Mickey Rooney all have what I can only think to call a "scrunchy" face, which looks younger. (I don't mean that in a negative way; I also have the scrunch face :)

    Some people have an ageless quality that lets them get away with fooling us about their age, within a decade or two. I think the lovely Jennifer Aniston is more in that category. She looks younger because she has carefully cultivated the "beachy" look, with the hair and the tan and the rosy cheeks and all. If she were paler and had more serious hair and clothing, she could look older and more sophisticated.

    The Hollywood studio system is largely responsible for the perception of the age and sophistication level of the stars of yesteryear. The studios tightly controlled the public images of their actors. When you mentally strip away the "glamour" elements of that Bette Davis shot (clothing, hair, makeup, pose), she looks very young to me.

  23. Living in the hippie capital of Australia, I am convinced that some people NEVER grow up. You can pretend to be an adult and marry, raise children, own a house, but somehow some people never seem to quite take responsibility and own their actions fully. On the other hand, some people seem to grow up way too fast. I don't know about the US, but here in Australia kids are living at home well into their 30's. That's got to have some effect.

  24. Angie, you nailed it.

  25. Has anyone else noticed that most of the 'young' pics in Peter's post have the people smiling naturally and broadly, while the 'older' looking ones are generally more serious? If we want to seem grown up, do we have to stop smiling? Peter, you seem to smile largely and often. I think this is part of your 'boyish' appeal. Smiles may cause wrinkles eventually but I think a great smile is one of our best accessories :-)
    Thanks for the thought-provoking post Peter. I'm nearly 40 and have always been mistaken for younger, although my rounded cheeks are starting to sag a bit now! Also I'm in Australia and didn't get too much sun damage as a kid so my facial skin looks a bit younger than many 40 year olds. But don't look at my hands... ugh... they reveal my real age!

  26. Maura, Peter (and everyone!)
    Given Jennifer Aniston's centrality here as someone with a resiliently youthful appearance, what's the opinion of her latest layout in Harper's Bazaar where she channels Barbra Streisand who, I think, had a more adult yet somehow ageless persona . . . I think Jennifer looks younger somehow in her evocations than Barbra in the originals, though Streisand was probably in her 20s in some of the shots and Aniston is early 40s (I think). Is it improved phototouching techniques? Different physiognomy? Or do you think Streisand looks younger? Here's a link to some of the shots -- I've only seen them online -- takes a while for American magazines to get here.

  27. I think some of it is due to the media and their coverage of celebrities. Back in the golden ages of Hollywood, the media tended to focus on the image that the studio wanted to portray. It was easier to hush up an embarrassing story or to simply maintain mystery.

    There are so few mysteries about today's celebrities. We are reminded on the national news about Ms. Lohan's escapades. I can go to any number of web sites to get a live feed of celebrity news. I think this helps keep some celebrities pigeonholed. I cannot believe Lohan as a woman struggling to hold her family together in a film, when I know that her real life is soooooo different. It takes a really good actress for that to happen.

  28. I'd always thought it was something to do with shoulder pads and elaborate (and rigid) hair setting styles. This is something I think about as I'm often told I look young for my age and resent it, but can't bring myself to "dress like a grown up".

  29. I'm with you Tilly, I think I'm going to simply transition from 'girl' to 'little old lady' with no 'woman' in between....

  30. I have to agree with Toby. Clothing and expected behavior used to agree with age and gender roles. An adult did not dress like a child nor a child like an adult. I'm sure that there were other normative factors involved as well.
    Also the generation of, and just after the Great Depression, probably took their adult responsibilities and jobs (acting jobs) seriously and so were more adult in their self-perception.

  31. Just to let you all know, I thought, if I mention old photos, I'd better show them and here they are:

  32. Judy Garland playing a teenager in her twenties is nothing... Czech actor Ladislav Pešek played teenagers well into his 30s (in the 1940s), and much more recently, Indian actor Aamir Khan played a college student in his forties: - both of them quite successfully, I must say. They both have that boyish appeal. In fact, Pešek had a sort of boyish appeal even as a white-haired, white-bearded old man in 1970s...

    In first four years of Grammar school (from 11 to 15, roughly), I had a teacher who was very petite and had HUGE blue eyes, and looked like a porcelain doll. Even in the first grade, when we were 11, she was smaller than some of my classmates. When she arrived at the school, students from higher grades mistook her for a fellow student. After our fourth grade, she left the school and settled in a relationship and had a baby. She came to our graduation ball four years later. She still looked like a porcelain doll and younger than some of my clasmates.

    Some people simply look like that. I personally am apparently somewhere in the middle, because on Monday one person mistook me for my mother's sister, and another thought I was a teenager (I'm 22).

  33. I have to agree with some of the comments above with the idea of the cult of youth here in America. If you look at advertising, it is really focusing on promoting the 'kid within,' such as referring to cars as 'toys,' telling people that they deserve a break and to play (ads for vacations), etc. This is continued in the procrastination of responsibility.

    By age 16 I was responsible for almost all my personal finances except housing (I lived at home) and car insurance (I borrowed my dad's car if I needed it, but still had to pay for gas, change the oil, etc.). I paid for college completely on my own, was married at age 20 (my husband was completely financially independent and out of his parents house by age 17) and am now starting my career at age 22. This seems absurd to many people, but when I compare myself to my peers, I can understand why. Most of the people I know had their parents pay for college, still got spending money from their parents well into college, even have their parents paying for their apartments out of college (this is truth). They can't imagine getting married or starting a career at age 22, but that's because they haven't been independent thus far. It's a very interesting situation.

  34. i am now closer to 50 than to 40. people are shocked to find out my age. i have fared well in the wrinkle department, but my size, imho is the biggest factor. i am just shy of 5 feet tall and weigh less than 90 lbs. people see petite and assume young.

    finding clothes is a problem, which is why i sew. even the junior sizes are too big. a girls' size 12 is about right. you can imagine my fashion choices!! when selecting patterns, i try to avoid excessively youthful styles like ruffles and puffed sleeves. but i also have a hard time pulling off a super sophisticated look too. the quandary is how to dress for my personality (creative, fun, and a little off beat) without looking like a kid, but not ready to look like a grandmother either.

    clothes definitely make a difference. when i am shorts/jeans and tank top, i get stopped for a hall pass at the high school. since i work at a high school, this is a little embarrassing for both parties. :) i try to project a professional image, but i am not the suit and heels type.

    if i did not sew, it would be awful

  35. I think it depends where you live (in my case on the moors in Devon) and your adult influences (my parents ensured I had a childhood (Although I was brought up near Manchester)I am doing the same with my daughter) Until I was 30 I was still asked for ID, since I had my own child 5 years ago I feel old! I began teaching at 22, and none of the parents believed I was in charge of a class of 30. (I dressed sensibly, and had 'boring' hair)Now I wear what I like, and have funky hair; but have begun wondering what is now too young for me to wear? Love the Blog BTW :)

  36. I'd like to throw in an observation I made recently in the supermarket: Somebody crossed my way and I thought "older woman" but as I looked at her face I realized she actually was younger than me. So what caused me to think she was older? Answer: a nondescript baggy t-shirt, jeans and a short haircut all screaming "I am beyond caring anymore and it's convenient". I guess she was at most in her mid-twenties. So much for jeans and t-shirt making you look younger.

    Another option to date people: there is a certain look that was ubiquitious when one was young that one tends to go to when aging, like blousons/bomber jackets for men around 60/70 who were young in the 50s/60s. (At least here in germany there is this market.) ;)

  37. Your thoughts had me remembering when people used to look their age. I remember old grannies looking like old grannies. They used to wear calico dresses and had grey hair. Now,with so many cosmetic procedures available, there are no such frumpies to be found. They all have coca-cola-colored hair and look at least ten years younger than they are - and wear youthful attire. No calico dresses with lacy ruffles, no wire-rimmed glasses.

  38. I think there are some people who look more mature (Jon Hamm) and some who look youthful (Tom Cruise) regardless of age, and it has less to do with height or figure shape than facial features and general presence.

    I think actresses in their teens and 20's from past generations look older than today's actresses partly b/c of their different hair/makeup/clothing but also partly because of their different older-looking faces and bodies. Largely, those women were the ones who became famous actresses b/c that was the look for the time, and they dressed adult too.

    Now, actresses in their teens and 20's look younger than yesterday's actresses partly b/c of different hair/makeup/clothing and also partly because of their different faces and bodies. Largely, these women are the ones who become famous actresses b/c this is the look for the time, and they dress youthful too.

    Meaning, there are probably an equal number of younger-looking and mature-looking women in the 20's/30's/40's and 80's/90's/00's, but different looks are popular at different times, so women with the right look at the right time are the ones who "make it" in professions like acting. Then, the older-looking actresses of yesterday dressed in a way that reads as "very old" or "very mature" to our modern eyes.

    Tom & Lorenzo mentioned something about this in their post about Betty's costuming from season 3 of Mad Men.

  39. Gina, you make some great point! Thanks.

  40. Well, I'm 21 now, but I remember watching Captain Blood as an eighteen year old and realizing that the girl on the screen was eighteen and just being like "WHAT? WHY DON'T I LOOK LIKE THAT?" I think it's a combination of body & face & dress that makes you look like an adult, but I know that I'll never look as adult as Olivia De Havilland haha.


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