Fashion is a funny thing. On one hand, it is the ultimate form of self-expression and the most obvious way in which we tell the world who we are. It’s like freedom of speech through fabric. On the other, it’s bound by sets of invisible rules that, if broken, sentence the offender to judgement and ridicule.
For people, once they reach a certain age — say 45 and older — there is an odd expectation that you will suddenly shift your sartorial choices and start dressing “age appropriately.” While women endure the brunt of these “rules”, men are not exempt with attempts to change up their looks after a certain age being labelled as the sad side effect of an apparent mid-life crisis.
“Age-appropriate” is a term that has never sat well with me because I’ve never understood what it is supposed to mean. How can we throw a giant blanket over every single 55-year-old woman, for example, and tell them that certain styles, patterns or shapes are no longer acceptable for them to wear?
It’s natural, for sure, for your style to evolve as you age and to find yourself drawn to pieces you may never have considered previously. I know I have evolved from my tomboy phase in which I thought backwards baseball hats, oversized shorts and Timbaland boots were the height of fashion. However, it’s unreasonable to think that you will completely shift away from the things you love just because you rack up a couple of extra trips around the sun.
Case in point, when I was 15 I had dreadlocks and wore nothing but ratty band t-shirts and Doc Martins and I still incorporate two out of three of those things into my wardrobe choices today (hint: it’s not the deadlocks). Am I to conform to the idea that just because 25 years have passed, I’m supposed to tuck away my Soundgarden t-shirts forever because, at 40, it would not be appropriate to wear them, even though I still deeply love the band?
What’s more, if fashion is so cyclical, how can we put a statute of limitations on it and tell people they shouldn’t wear the same outfit 15 years apart, lest they be labelled “mutton dressed as lamb” or “desperate to still be relevant.”
Fashion should be about dressing for the person you are, at any age, not the numbers on your driver’s licence, and this is something that And Just Like That…despite all of its other flaws, gets so very right.
Miranda, Charlotte and Carrie are now in their 50’s, but they are still expressing themselves through their outfits. Sure, they are all showing a little less skin these days, but they still dress like them. Miranda is still rocking bolder prints, Charlotte is still on the demure, but extremely expensive, side of things and Carrie is still pushing boundaries with creative print mixing and unique accessories (see: the Fez she wears in the first scene of episode one.) And if Samantha were in the reboot, you know she would still be pulling out colour-blocked ensembles in her 60’s and looking fantastic in the process.
The fashion choices these women make have been inspiring others since the show’s inception and it’s great to see a series that also caters to older women who still feel young at heart or who simply have no desire to start dressing like an austere schoolmarm whose days of galavanting around and brunching with her friends are but a distant memory now, even if they are.
It should be acknowledged that there have been times when the franchise has also fallen prey to societal silliness when it comes to style — such as in the fifth season when Carrie says it’s time for ladies her age to “cover-up” to Samantha and when, in the second film, she cautions Sam about a red carpet outfit being “too young” — only for Miley Cyrus to show up to the event in the exact same dress. Thankfully, Miley is a little more open-minded than Ms Bradshaw.
On the whole though, while the women of And Just Like That... may struggle with finding their places in the modern ways of 2021, their sense of style — evolved yet consistent — tells us that they remember both who they are and who they used to be.
I’m not saying that the actual clothes they wear are accessible to the masses because many of us don’t have the kind of cash to spend on designer labels, one of a kind pieces and vintage couture. But I am saying that their lack of fear in dressing exactly how they want, regardless of age, should be something of an inspiration.
In a series that is all about ensuring that the best relationship you have is with yourself, by flying the flag for fashion past 40, Carrie, Miranda and Charlotte remind us that while the world may want to put us in boxes defined by age, sometimes the best form of rebellion is waiting right there in our closets.
And Just Like That… is now streaming on BINGE.