Older Actresses Face "Age Appropriate" Fashion Choices

Anyone who has ever sat through a marathon of What Not To Wear knows the importance of wearing "age appropriate" clothing. But who's to say what is or isn't "age appropriate" for Hollywood's older actresses?

Jennifer Romolini of Shine attempts to break down the "age appropriate" question by bringing up recent examples from the Screen Actor's Guild awards. Romolini praises 59-year-old Meryl Streep for her "great, classic, age-appropriate outfit," but then goes after Susan Sarandon for "wearing a massively low-cut sleeveless gown. It showed tons of cleavage and also her arms, which are not what they once were." Romolini tries to cover this bit of nastiness by explaining, "I'm not knocking her, we all can relate to this. Even with working out, at 35, my biceps have begun to resemble grande burritos."

In her defense, Romolini notes that as we get older, what is "sexy" changes, and that's a fair point. Usually it's because we realize the things we thought were "sexy" at a younger age now come across as a bit skankified in a way; as we become older, and more comfortable in our bodies and with our sexuality, we don't feel the need to wear club gear out on Thursday nights in order to attract attention. As Romolini notes, "some of what I used to wear now just makes me feel dumb."

"There are two sides to this, obviously," Romolini writes, "One could argue that Sarandon looks great and younger than her 62 years." Well guess what? I'm on that side! Because honestly? Susan Sarandon is 62 years old and wore the hell out of that dress. And for those of us in our 20's and 30's to knock her for her body not being what it "once was" is to perpetuate the idea that women should cover up and sit down once they reach a certain age, thereby setting up a future in which we, too, will be expected to keep our bodies hidden under suitable pantsuits and long sleeves.

Yes, the idea of what is "sexy" and "age appropriate" can change, but to attack a woman for having the confidence to wear a dress that makes her feel sexy is to essentially tell her to cover up because society might not agree. Was she showing some cleavage? Yes. Was she on the red carpet in a Rock of Love Bus ensemble? No. So picking on her body for—gasp—aging! is unfair and unnecessary.

Perhaps instead of attacking older women for continuing to embrace their bodies and carry themselves with confidence and style, we should celebrate their choices. Both Meryl Streep and Susan Sarandon represented women of their age that night, and continued to prove to Hollywood that sexiness can come in many styles, at any age.

Do You Dress "Your Age?"[Shine]