“Fashion has this youth mania. But 70-year-old ladies don’t have 18-year-old bodies, and 18-year-olds don’t have a 70-year-old’s dollars”. — 97-year-old fashion icon, Iris Apfel.
The meeting of youthfulness and fashion can be a strange topic to get your head around. There’s a sense of irony in the way that many of us desire to look, or be perceived as, older or younger when it comes to our sense of style, depending on where our actual age lies.
When we move into our teenage years we want to look older, dressing ourselves in disguises to appear more mature than we actually are. I’d suggest that a couple of us have even added a few extra years on when we were asked our age!
Conversely, as we age many of us want to appear younger. Why are so many of us continually embarking on the epic quest to find the fountain of youth? This lust to wind back the clock can spread to all aspects of our style: what we dress in and how we wear it, and our hair styling. The absolute irony of this is that we are also conscious of things being ‘too young’! As a hairstylist, common phrases we hear include, ‘I’m too old for long hair, we better cut it shorter’, or ‘I have to cover my grey hair so I don’t look old’. We still want to achieve looks that look natural and effortless when often they really aren’t. Then funnily enough, the younger demographic are in the background, cutting their hair shorter and trying to make it grey!
The conclusions I have been able to make, whether right or wrong, is that perhaps as a younger person our inspiration and fashion influences are coming from iconic figures who are established within themselves: their style is usually distinctive and polished. Our personal style icons are confident in their looks, so we aspire to appear similar. Unfortunately, as we become older we lose the confidence to experiment with our looks as we would have as when we were younger.
As children, we’re not exposed to as many outside influences. As adults, especially young adults, most of us get a little brainwashed by the sheer amount of fashion-related media out there. This likely has us striving to achieve a certain ‘look’, but with our own flair. Then as we age, we go through certain changes in lifestyle, body shape, skin tone and hair type. This can leave us feeling unsure as to what is right for us, making us stick within our safe limitations or dive into something we left behind deep in our past.
A cool thing about the fashion world is its cyclical nature; trends tend to repeat themselves in new ways. I’ve recently found myself questioning, ‘Why did I get rid of those hair clips and accessories I had as a teenager?!’ We are currently seeing a major return of 90s fashion trends — to a point where it is almost the uglier, the better!
Fashion is expressive and should be fun. The beauty of it is that there are no rules to fashion. You shouldn’t dress in what society says is right for your age, your look is open to interpretation and you should do what makes you feel good. Act your age, but don’t dress for it!
Concept/Art Direction: Si Billam (@unit_hq)
Concept/Photographer: Andrew Northover (@andrew.northover)
Model: Evie Billam (6)
Hair: Ash Burns (@ash.burns.toast)
Makeup: Lucy Santos (@lash_room_on_franklin)
Clothing: Rachel Smith & Andrew Northover.