What is it about older women?

Whoever came up with the adage “age before beauty” didn’t know Linda Rodin.  Or Laura Hutton.  Or Sophie Fontanel.  The list goes on, but the question remains:  when it comes to style, what do these mature women know that we,  the Kardashian/Hadid/Jenner generation,  do not?

In a word: themselves.

It’s hardly groundbreaking to say that there’s comfort in masses, and validation in viewing one’s self as part of a larger group, particularly if that group embodies something which we find worthy of admiration or emulation.  This is what accounts for the proliferation of trends in the realm of fashion.  But trends, and our adherence to them, say something more.  “I’m paying attention! I’m in the know!” we say when we opt into fashion’s latest offerings.  There’s ground to break, and we broke it. There’s stylistic – and social – capital to be had in being among the first crowd to embrace a trend, and, consequently, to declare it dead.  You become, in a word, a trendsetter.  You set the pace.

When it comes to matters of personal style, however, the line becomes blurred: participation in fashion is a social activity, sure, but what happens when we boil it down to its subsidiary function of dressing the individual, for her own sake?   If we are concerned only with fashion as it relates to other people and their perception of us, are we ever really representing and indeed forging our own identities?

It seems that there’s a certain liberation that comes with age, an immunity to the beckoning of prevailing social norms that dictate how we ought to dress.  This freedom from the urge to conform to the formulaic, and often boring style book is not an overt, raucous rejection of current trends, but instead it’s a certain, joyful manifestation of knowledge of one’s self.

These women have developed personal style and signature looks that have become part of their identities, and have remained consistent while decades of trends go whizzing by at warp speed.

There’s something very cool about these women, and not the kind of cool you can fake.  I suspect – and, as a 24 year-old, I can’t say for certain – that the sartorial choices that these style-savvy women make are informed by their life experience, and by their knowledge.

“It’s when you put nice things into your soul that you understand how to dress well,” Sophie Fontanel tells Vogue.

If that isn’t some inspired advice, I don’t know what is.

Image: Danielle Kosann via Vogue.com

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