March 30, 2006

"40-year-old men and women who look, talk, act, and dress like people who are 22 years old."

New York Magazine discovers a non-new nonproblem -- and pads the story to death. Could you name any more bands or items of clothing in one story? There's 8 screens of this?

71 comments:

Jeff said...

Hasn't this been going on for at least 35 years?

Dave said...

Yes it has been going on for at least 35 years.

My take here.

PatCA said...

Actually, they just think they have closed the generation gap. Young people think they're kind of weird.

Slocum said...

Hmmm. Kinda guilty myself. I don't wear jeans all the time -- when it's warm enough, I wear shorts (don't worry Ann, I rarely wear shorts in Wisconsin and never in Madison). Why do I do this? Becuse I can (a home office is a wonderful thing).

When my kids were little, their favorite song was "I Wanna Be Sedated". But it's really kind of a kids song when you think about it "Can't control my fingers, can't control my toes..."

$CAV3NG3R said...

I've often wondered what kind of personality bothers about what others wear & do. To paraphrase....as long you don't scare the horses...do what you like even in the street. It doesn't mean I'd rendezvous with you anytime soon but heh thats what freedom of choice is all about.

MadisonMan said...

I couldn't get past the first mind-numbing screen.

I guar-an-tee that the kids of these grups will be absofrigginlutely mortified by their parents' behavior when the kids are in middle school. No artful messenger bag or ripped pants or tony haircut will ever change that.

Forever young is forever denying the inevitable existence of time. How exhausting!

tcd said...

These are the same people who think "40 is the new 30". Ha! They wish.

tiggeril said...

I'm disappointed by the lack of the phrase "mutton dressed as lamb."

Jeff said...

In New York, 40 IS the new 30!

Except for women who can't afford fertility treatments.

bearbee said...

A generation with too much money reared by a generation both which did not have to 'sweat it'

Balfegor said...

Actually, they just think they have closed the generation gap. Young people think they're kind of weird.

As a young person, I can confirm that we look upon these would-be-young with mingled horror and pity.

Well, no, actually, I can't.

(I'm kind of weird myself.)

On the other hand, I wonder whether the younger generation -- millenials, that is (my generation) -- aren't going to restore a generation gap. My understanding is that my peers are on average supposed to be more driven, more career-focussed, more family-oriented, etc. than those who came before, and I would not be surprised to discover that we felt rather more comfortable in suits and ties too.

Honestly, I feel more comfortable in a suit than in, say, torn jeans. Or at least, I imagine I would, since I have not worn any jeans, let alone artfully torn ones, since I was a small child and developed a rabid dislike for them. What I don't feel comfortable in is an expensive exactingly-tailored suit, which feels like me getting above myself. But something a bit humbler, a bit shabbier? There, I'm right at home.

I just wish they'd stop using glue down the front of the suits. So cheap. Aren't there poor people in India who'd love to put that canvas in by hand?

Ann Althouse said...

50 is the new 20.

Joan said...

I made it to page 3, then I couldn't take it anymore.

I'm 42, and I wear jeans and sneakers a lot. Then again, I'm hanging out with the elementary school set, so I don't think anyone need expect elegance.

I think there's a difference between being connected to your kids' lives so you can have intelligent conversations with them (as in, "You're not watching that show," and being able to back it up with reasons why), and actually living a kid's (or teen's) life in an attempt to be young, or cool, or whatever. I do watch stuff that's intended for kids and teens, and I do listen to some of that music -- but it's not to keep me "hip", it's so I know how and what to discuss with my kids about the culture they're steeped in.

My 7-year-old was busting me this morning because she doesn't have her own e-mail address, and my 5-year-old chimed in that he wants one, too. He can only read a handful of words, yet he wants an e-mail address... You see what I'm dealing with here? It helps a little to be prepared for this kind of thing.

Sean said...

There is one real social change here, which is that among the upper middle class, there is much less of a change in clothing styles associated with the transition from being a student to having a job (I mean, e.g., a job like practicing or teaching law). Through the 80s, even first year associates dressed differently from law students, and this change carried even through the weekend to at least some extent. The difference is much less evident now.

As for the rest, although there may be 40 year olds who dress like like 22 year olds, even at the beach, I would state firmly that there are no 40 year olds who look like 22 year olds (especially not at the beach).

J said...

"50 is the new 20."

Thank you, Ann. I thought tcd was getting a little personal.

Nick said...

"Right now, we've got freedom and responsibility. It's a very groovy time."
...
"There's nothing more pathetic than an aging hipster."

Leland said...

I read through the asterix at the very beginning describing grup. At the end, I wondered why the author had to mention Star Trek, when I saw that whole plot on South Park this week. Watch out for the M.

Maxine Weiss said...

“I spoke to an undergrad class at NYU recently. And it was terrifying how much we had in common. I’m looking at these kids who look about 12, and we’re all going to the same movies and watching the same TV shows and listening to the same music. I don’t know if it’s scarier for them or scarier for me.”

I don't see it.

Nobody listens to the kind of music I do: Julie London, Kay Starr, Jack Jones, Matt Monro.......young people don't even know who those are. Even my so-called rock: Jim Croce, Bread, King Harvest etc....

Apparently, I'm the only one left who still wears nylons and pleated skirts (must have been a Catholic schoolmarm in another life). And I don't wear those tacky low waisted jeans either. Mine are high high high wasted....straight out of the 80s...Sergio, Sasson, etc. And, I get them dry-cleaned with the crease. The younger generation looks at me like I got two heads.

I guess I'm whatcha call "eccentric" these days.

Peace, Maxine

P.S. Guys have a thing about nylons. Every time I wear 'em they notice. Maybe they'll come back in vogue.

Andrew Yen said...

Man, I can't believe I read all of it. It makes me feel a bit sorry for my generation (another fellow Millennial here too) when they grow into their 30s with no adult role models because apparently they are already their own and everyone wants to be like them.

That said, I doing my damndest to keep the concept of "young fogeyism" alive. No post-hippie music, lots of classics, a decent knowledge of the fine arts, a plain and clean wardrobe (no hoodies, sweats, or jeans), and an attitude that would make some people think I've already retired.

Maxine Weiss said...

"We're all going to the same movies and watching the same TV shows"....

It's the age of conformity. A complete lack of originality. Everybody does the same thing. Looks the same. Cosmetic surgeons are creating the same face for every woman. Men walk around with same little pointy haircuts...

No more orginal screenplays or original music. Everything is a remake.

Derivative.

How bland.

Peace, Maxine

reader_iam said...

At a recent children's birthday party, at a country club (!?), we moms were sitting around and this exact topic came up. (Full disclosure: I was the stand-out in all my unhip fashion glory. Heh.)

One of the moms (mid-30s, as most there were) said that she thought her generation had better relationships with their kids because they share the same interests and could relate better to their fashion and music (etc.).

What she was thinking, I do not know, but she asked my opinion.

My answer? Basically: "I was a kindergartner in 1966. Of COURSE, I can't 'relate' to my son. And I'm too old to pretend that I can."

(By the way, this didn't come out as, nor was it received as, snark. At least these stylish sisters have an indulgent sense of humor. Or they pretend well.)

What I wanted to say was, "Hell, you're only ten years younger than I am and I can barely relate to you."

Thank God for technology. That's the only area in which, by any stretch, I can be considered hip. (Doesn't everybody reserve domain names and set up an e-mail account for their kids at birth?)

CB said...

maxineweiss said, "Guys have a thing about nylons. Every time I wear 'em they notice."
Are you sure it's not the Catholic school-style pleated skirt they're noticing? That is the sexiest article of clothing ever designed.

downtownlad said...

Well I'm 37 and I think this article easily applies to how I dress and act. But my last boyfriend was 22, so I don't buy the arguments that the younger generation thinks we look like fools. We're simply following the fashion trends. Fashion applies to everyone, not just young people. Then again, he dressed and acted like he was 40, so go figure.

But I take it as a complement when a 22 year-old complains to me that I party too much.

You only live once. Who says you should stop having fun, listening to new music, and stop buying fashionable clothes just because you turn 30. Maybe if you live in South Dakota. But not in New York City.

CB said...

Ever since Fukuyama announced the end of history, people have announced the end of everything under the sun; now, generation gap has been added to that list. I'm skeptical.

Joan said...

You only live once. Who says you should stop having fun, listening to new music, and stop buying fashionable clothes just because you turn 30. Maybe if you live in South Dakota. But not in New York City.

I totally agree, and I live in the 'burbs of Phoenix (not exactly a hip, happening scene). The reason I'm wearing jeans these days is because they are low-waisted; I could never find a pair of high-waisted jeans that fit. I'm not talking those super-low-rise ones that cut down to there, just the ones that sit comfortably on the hip. I wear clothes that fit properly and look nice, even if they are casual clothes.

I do still have a lot of fun. It's just that my fun these days is much more family-centered and doesn't involve late nights at bars or concerts. If I didn't have the kids, I'd be out a lot more! Would it be a sign of desperately clinging to youth, or just doing what I like? Maybe it's hard to distinguish between those things sometimes.

perry said...

I think the article makes sense to me because it is a sort of New York phenomenon (LA Too maybe?) for young (and middle aged) successful folks to dress down and be proud of it.

Its a wonderful thing that you can be 25 or 35 or 45 here and still be into local indie bands and still go out late and have a good time. Likewise, I can walk into the nicest hotel or the most expensive restaurant in the city, and they can't automatically judge me just because i'm wearing Jeans and a tee.

I personally am glad about it. Theres not just one singular way to look like you're doing well in life. There are high end sneakers, hoodies, tee shirts, and just about any piece of clothing that people used to look down at. Its the democratization of success, or at least perhaps democratization of the appearance of success.

Maxine Weiss said...

cb: my skirts are the slim ones that stop at the knee. They're wool, and double lined (no slip needed!) I have a huge dry-cleaning bill. But, yes, guys love gals in skirts, and I've got the edge since I'm the only one who wears 'em. I'm no dummy!

Joan: The high-waisted jeans are so much classier and spiffy--(is that a word?). You just belt them. Remember the double-belts from the late 1970s? Actually, high-waisted covers a multitude of sins. I even have a pair Sasson (Oh-La-La) baggy jeans (1980) with pleats. I've had them dry-cleaned all these years, and the color hasn't "bled".....they're still that dark dark indigo, with the super narrow leg. They look quite cute with heels and a good belt.

All set for a night at the Disco!

Peace, Maxine

Telecomedian said...

They're not bridging a generation gap - young people *ALWAYS* think older people are weird and out-of-it. It's all about finding a personal style and the people in this article have found a style that's comfortable for them. Sure, it may look ridiculous on some and spot-on appropriate for others, but it's a way of saying "I'll grow up but not old." In a way, the men in this article are the antimeterosexual - their personal style is not dictated by "Will and Grace" but more by "Ed."

Why do I sense an air of jealousy mixed in some of these comments?

37921 said...

Based on old movies, I gather that in the 1930s and 40s the young and the old dressed the same, and listened to similar music. Maybe the period in which there was a distinctive "youth culture" was only a brief interlude, and now we're going back to the normal state of affairs.

Balfegor said...

I gather that in the 1930s and 40s the young and the old dressed the same, and listened to similar music.

Based on photographs and such, though, my sense is that in the Edwardian and late Victorian periods, they didn't -- young men dressed rather differently from older men. I think during the twenties that difference became even more marked, particularly for women.

Maxine Weiss said...

37921: No no no no. It was the complete opposite in the 30s and 40s. Back then everyone wanted to look grown-up and sophisticated.

The article is saying that, unlike back then, today, everyone wants to look as immature as possible (men in their 60s wearing baseball caps backward).

You know how, when you look at yearbook photos of the 40s, 50s... all the high school kids look like mini-adults. That was what was "in" back then: the sophistication of looking grown-up. The witty, clever repartee of 40s film.

Today, the goal is to look and act as juvenile as possible. No sophistication whatsoever.

Me, and others, who don't subscribe to that, and are the exception.....we are considered to be living in a time-warp.

Peace, Maxine

Maxine Weiss said...

I'm the only one at my workplace who wears wool skirts, silk blouses, hose. The other gals think I'm crazy.

But not the guys---they notice !!!!

Crazy like a fox.

I'm being obnoxious, but still:

Sophistication + Originality = Romance

I can personally vouch for this.

Peace, Maxine

Palladian said...

"Well I'm 37 and I think this article easily applies to how I dress and act. But my last boyfriend was 22, so I don't buy the arguments that the younger generation thinks we look like fools."

Well he's your ex-boyfriend, so don't be so sure.

Youth culture is so tiresome. There are almost no adults left in cultural life any longer, and certainly little maturity. Everything is fashion, fashion, fashion! Take a walk around Williamsburg, Brooklyn: now primarily inhabited by people in their mid-30's, sausage-packed into ill-fitting jeans, puffy 70's ski vests, battered ironic t-shirts occasionally exposing their doughy midriffs, unshaven and occasionally bearing ironic mustaches, hair that looks like it was styled with Red Stripe beer and sebum, strolling around with aviator sunglasses pretending like they're rock stars when in fact they look like roadies for a Cheap Trick cover band. This is what passes for fashion here in oh-so-fashionable New York.

And I don't understand the argument that "it's great that people can still have fun when they're 40!". Well, sure they can. But is your definition of "fun" cryogenically frozen when you're 20? Does having fun and feeling good have to involve crappy "indie" music and shitty looking clothes? Is there any room left for elegance or refinement or sophistication of any kind?

All the jeans and hip music and botox in the world cannot stave off the chill hand of death forever.

me said...

I agree with most commenters....except on the jeans thing. Jeans will probably always be my item of weekend/after work wear. You can wear any top (except more denim) and basically any shoes. There are tons of jean style options (dark denis = more form, light denim = more casua), bootcut, flare, etc. They are comfortable and if cared for do not look ratty. LONG LIVE JEANS! :)

me said...

umm, that was supposed to say:

There are tons of jean style options (dark denim = more formal, light denim = more casual), bootcut, flare, straight letg, etc. They are comfortable and if cared for do not look ratty. LONG LIVE JEANS! :)

Maxine Weiss said...

The dark denim of the late 70s is very slimming, and because of the high waste....elongates and makes you look taller and sleeker. I love all those: "Uh-oh Sergio", "You've got the look I want to know better". I saw a pair of Jordache dark dark indigo jeans on e-bay with the horse logo. Those jeans were slick! Mine were Sasson and Sergio, but I always wanted a pair of Jordache.

I never got into the acid wash because they weren't as slimming as the dark. ---Those "flashdance" type jeans with the zippers at the ankle....very strange. Never wore those.

Never ripped my sweatshirts at the collar ala "Flashdance" either.

1983 was not a good year for fashion.

Peace, Maxine

perry said...

Well Palladian, first i'd say that most of the people I do see wandering around Williamsburg ARE 20 and dressing likewise - what the article more describes what you'd see say.. hanging out in Prospect Park on a sunday. Basically what you're doing is confusing these guys with these guys.

And if you're 40 and like "crappy indie music" and "crappy" clothes, theres a place for you to hang out in the LES or Williamsburg, just as much of a place as if you are "elegant and refined" and choose to spend time sipping manhattans at the rainbow room or whatever else.

Of course, those being generalizations anyways, the hipsters in the east village bar don't really care if mr suit and tie directly from his wall street job comes in and gets a beer.. and THAT is the point. You don't have just one clothing genre choice to choose form if you want to be elegant and refined in whatever way you choose to. And the things that you find interesting to do aren't considered socially unacceptable simply you because you're too old or too young.

SippicanCottage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Timothy said...

The high-waisted jeans are so much classier and spiffy--(is that a word?). You just belt them. Remember the double-belts from the late 1970s? Actually, high-waisted covers a multitude of sins. I even have a pair Sasson (Oh-La-La) baggy jeans (1980) with pleats. I've had them dry-cleaned all these years, and the color hasn't "bled".....they're still that dark dark indigo, with the super narrow leg. They look quite cute with heels and a good belt.

This is a total and complete lie. High-waisted jeans make women look matronly and outdated, as well as exacerbating any potential poochiness just below the waist. My sister and I tend to call this a FUPA, you can infer for yourselves what the acronym stands for. Next Maxine will be telling us that shoulder pads are totally awesome, and stirrup pants are making a comeback.

Timothy said...

And, yes, people 40+ wishing they were 25 is weird and sad. I see those people at concerts sometimes, I just laugh. Of course, I'm 24 and more comfortable in a tux than a sweatshirt.

Balfegor said...

Contra Tim:
High-waisted jeans make women look matronly and outdated, as well as exacerbating any potential poochiness just below the waist. My sister and I tend to call this a FUPA, you can infer for yourselves what the acronym stands for.

I disagree re: high-waisted jeans. Low-waisted jeans (low-rider? I forget) just look awful to me.

Re: "50 is the new 20."

And 20 is the new 50, it's looking like. I count three people in this thread who claim to be within the 20-something range (including myself), and all of us seem to be reacting to the notion of 40-yr olds acting their idea of 22-yr-olds with mild disdain.

Ann Althouse said...

I don't think it's quite right to assume that wearing casual clothes means you're trying to be perceived as younger than you are. Wearing jeans and T-shirts is just dressing casually, as people now in their 50s have been doing since the 60s. It's not a youth trend misappropriated, but just plain American casualness and the continuation of a long tradtion.

You can say we should get more dressed up, but saying we're acting like kids because we don't is stretching it. Why don't people in their 20s get dressed up? They are the ones who need to climb in the careers. We older folks have found our place in the economy, and if we enjoy it by dressing casually, you can just deal with it. Why does it irk you so?

The same with music. The article bitches about a guy who "won’t shut up about the latest Death Cab for Cutie CD," and while I agree that it's lame to insist on informing people that you listen to current music, it makes perfect sense to listen to this kind of pop music, because it is quite like the music we've loved since the 60s. We aren't horning in on your music, we're appreciating the continuation of the music tradition that traces back half a century.

A lot of the young kids today are making the music they are because they grew up with Boomer parents who played the Beatles, and the whole family loved the Beatles together.

downtownlad said...

20-year olds cannot afford $300 jeans.

When a 40-year old is wearing $300 ripped jeans, everyone knows that they cost $300.

The 20 year olds wish they could dress like that.

downtownlad said...

And people are underestimating the impact of the ipod on people's listening habits.

My older sister stopped listening to new music in the 80's. Now with her ipod, she is finally getting caught up on the last two decades.

She has two kids and lives in the suburbs. She's not suddenly trying to act young. The ipod simply made it easier to learn about new artists.

And the most recent Death Cab album (I can call it an "album" right????) does kick ass.

mdmnm said...

I think the author is a bit confused and incorrectly patting herself on the back for being up on youth culture, thereby inadvertently disproving her thesis.
First paragraph about staying out to see the New Pornographers: those guys have been around since the mid-90s or so, many of us picked up on them while in our 20's. Neko Case is one of the hotter 35 year old women I've ever seen and has a series of solo albums usually considered alt/country. Not exactly the latest thing, I'd expect to see thirty-somethings at a New Pornographers or a Neko Case show. Echo & the Bunnymen, listed as one of the beginner "grup" groups of choice, hit the US in the mid-80s. Two of the original band are gone/dead, if the current iteration is popular with kids, well, good for them, but they aren't exactly a last-minute phenomenon, either. Similarly, the advanced "grup" is supposed to be reading Phillip K. Dick? Gee, edgy skiffy from thirty or forty years ago. If all those pierced and tatt-ed kids are listening-to or reading this stuff, good for them. I'll bet they're also tapped into a bunch of other books and music produced by their own cohort.
Being Gen-X myself (37), single and childless, I wear a suit to work but I'm not so old that I can't stay out to catch a good live show, even if it is on a week night. I don't think that's so much a matter of aspiring to current youth culture as setting priorities.

Joan of Arc said...

I agree about the Ipod. I got one and suddenly I could buy music by the song. I've tried out lots of new music finally, after 10 years of being stuck with two kids. And, yes, I like Death Cab.

Palladian said...

"20-year olds cannot afford $300 jeans."

They can if they have 37 year old sugar daddy boyfriends.

I agree with Ann, I don't think casual wear is the problem, it's the entire lifestyle package that's the problem. But what do I know? I hated the same tiresome youth culture crap when I was 20.

Perry, I was using the Williamsburg people as an extreme example of the basic phenomenon described in the article. I do, however, like those weird baby sling things, as they accentuate the true parasitic nature of babies. But the men they're attached to still look like shit. And they look like Europeans. Maybe one in the same, depending on the part of Europe. The people in the second link could very well be 22 year olds; an object lesson in the dangers of drugs, booze and syphilis.

I love my iPod because I can carry the complete recorded work of Glenn Gould and all of Henry Purcell's semi-operas wherever I go. But I hate that the iPod is rather unfriendly to classical music in the way it cannot smoothy transition between tracks, not to mention the difficulty of properly tagging tracks.

knoxgirl said...

If you want to dress like a hipster at 50, fine, but the people worried about their *kids* being cool win the award for the shallowest ever. When you're a little kid, part of your innocence is not caring if you look like a dork or rock out to "Copa Cobana".... I can't imagine scolding a kid for not being cool enough in his tastes. Parents grooming their kids to like the Hives is just gross.

"Sophistication + Originality = Romance
I can personally vouch for this."

Maxine is obv. getting some serious action from the guys at work! you go girl

Balfegor said...

I love my iPod because I can carry the complete recorded work of Glenn Gould and all of Henry Purcell's semi-operas wherever I go. But I hate that the iPod is rather unfriendly to classical music in the way it cannot smoothy transition between tracks, not to mention the difficulty of properly tagging tracks.

I hate that too. I recently purchased a complete set of Wagner's Ring, which is all composed straight through each act, and there's an annoying little disjunction at the beginning of each track. Same with my copy of Tristan und Isolde. I haven't even bothered to rip my copy of Mahler's 9th since the CD breaks each movement up into a bunch of separate tracks.

On the other hand, being able to listen to an opera straight through without having to change CD's or get a CD-changer is a real plus.

nedludd said...

Ohmygawd!!

I was so busy being hip, cool and ironic I forgot to grow the hell up!

How embarassing.

Balfegor said...

How embarassing.

We blush for you in sympathetic shame.

downtownlad said...

They can if they have 37 year old sugar daddy boyfriends.

Ha ha. Actually, he works for a private equity firm, so he was perfectly capable of taking care of himself.

I don't believe in welfare.

knoxgirl said...

Gimme a break, it's not all "democratic" now... wear the wrong KIND of jeans or tee-shirt, and you'll be sneered at for sure.
All the guys in the article that shudder at the thought of wearing a suit and rejoice in their jeans are equally repulsed at the thought of being caught in, say, the kind of jeans my grandpa wears.

nedludd said...

I think the biggest part of it comes down to why you are doing it. Think back to highschool (where some of these grups seem stuck). There was always the odd kid who managed to pull off being odd to the point where he was cool. Then there were the posers who worked very hard at cultivating the image of being odd and ended up looking like dorks.

Some people can pull off the Peter Pan act because that is who they are. Far too many can't pull it off and look like pathetic losers.

I turn 40 this year and when I lie about my age I go older, not younger (that way I hear "Hey, you look good for your age" instead of "my God, man, what the hell happened to you") and I have friends in midlife crisis who are back to hanging around college bars and thinking they are hip because they know the current bands and fashions. Hell, I was hip to the point of being cutting edge back in my day, but I really don't want to go back to the shredded clothes, Clash and Germs pins and my old Mohawk. My day for being cutting edge has passed, much as Meg Ryan's day as being the adorable pixie has passed. Of course only one of us seems to realize this.

Life is about growing and seeing what is next. Getting stuck at a certain age just seems sad to me.

Palladian said...

"I don't believe in welfare."

I prefer to think of it as a fair exchange of assets (cough).

;)

Maxine Weiss said...

I wouldn't exactly say I'm getting "action" at work. Just some office mates, of the gentelman species, have noticed that I look somehow, more crisp, and snazzier than the other gals.

I should hope so; I don't pay such a huge dry cleaning bill for nothin.

I don't necessarily consider myself "dressed-up" just because I wear a silk blouse and hose.

If other people want to run around in cargo pants and floppy fleece....fine that's their right. Makes me all the more unique, and original, for not doing that.

I've chosen to express my individuality in a different way....and certain people have said they appreciate my style.

And, no I don't do shoulder pads, and never did. I like a sleek-streamlined look.

It's a choice. But, it seems to be paying off.

Peace, Maxine

Mary said...

Pictures please, Maxine!

SippicanCottage said...

What, exactly, is "casual" about all this? Nobody minutely sifting through the silk foulards at their Carnaby Street bespoke tailor ever spent as much time, effort and intellectual energy fussing about their appearance.

The appearance of being casual is not being casual. The article describes the most priggish kind of self absorption and attention to the minutest sort of detail, down to picking out the soundtrack you'll agree to be viewed in front of. No court of some Grand Duchy ever had a more elaborate rite of gestures.

It's Marie Antoinette, living in a little Disneyland of faux bohemianism, writ large.

Clowns.

Sean E said...

"All the guys in the article that shudder at the thought of wearing a suit and rejoice in their jeans are equally repulsed at the thought of being caught in, say, the kind of jeans my grandpa wears."

...and...

"The appearance of being casual is not being casual."

This has it exactly right, it seems to me. Reading the article, I got the sense of people nearing forty still basing their self-image on whether or not they're cool. It's high-school peer pressure and narcissism extended indefinitely. They talk about walking away from jobs as if they're bragging about cutting class.

There's nothing wrong with dressing casual, listening to indie bands or choosing a less demanding job. Still being a poser at 40 is a little sad though.

ashtabula said...

FWIW, I think there may be a raceand class based component to the concept of the traditional generational gap. Or at least how its perceived. My boyfriend is 30 and recently mentioned that he's been wearing the same style of clothes (basically urban hip hop) since he was three. I made him confirm this with photographic evidence -- and its true! The same is true of all his friends (white or black or latino) -- none of whom could remotely be called yupsters. So he's coming at it from an inner city working class black man's perspective and it doesn't really seem to be about remaining cool or young so much as it is about comfort and a stable sense of self. Of course, as a midwestern farmgirl I can't exactly get away with wearing in chicago what I wore as a kid (i.e., a pair sh*tkickers and an oversized flannel shirt. But, I'll add this -- my dad's been wearing the same thing (jeans, work boots, flanner shirts) since he was a teenager. So may be its only the middle class/upper middle class perspective that is changing.

Neil said...

Ridiculous story. In Los Angeles, you have seventy year olds dressing like twenty year olds.

sam cullum said...

In the UK and 40 today (18th April 2006) - and loving every minute of it. Lovely husband has given me a trip to New York and a Broadway show with the best seats in the house - how fab is that. If this is 40...............bring it on!!!!!!!

milfette said...

Ah, how the ageist stereotypes do fly. Who gives a frig if some geezer wants to pretend they’re 20? As far as I’m concerned, they’ve earned the right to dress and behave in any way they want. Anytime someone wants to buck convention then people get their knickers in a bunch. There’s this ridiculous convention that all young people are hipsters and older people (over 30?) are supposed to morph into some type of stodgy pre-elder curmudgeons who don’t get it anymore. That’s asinine! I’m 40, I know how old I am, I have no delusions that I’m 25, but yes, I wear low riding boot cut jeans and sleeveless tops on the weekends because they flatter me, and high-waist-close-at-the-ankle “mom jeans” as they’re now called, do not. I even keep up with the latest bands and like to party occasionally. And oh yeah, I will be getting an i-pod real soon. Does this make me less of an adult? Am I denying my age? That’s a dumb notion. I can’t deny it, I’m 40, and ain’t nothing gonna change that, I wouldn’t want it to. The fact is, I’m alive and I’m going to live until I’m dead. And if living until I’m dead means listening to Greenday on my i-pod wearing cargo capris and a tight, sleevless low cut shirt, then that’s what I’m gonna do. If it offends some punk kid or some older chick who wishes she had my body and wants to tsk tsk me, then oh well. Sounds extremely personal. Each of us is an individual. We’re not an age. As long as you’re a productive member of society and you’re not hurting anybody, what you wear, or listen to or do should be of no concern.

milfette said...

There's nothing wrong with dressing casual, listening to indie bands or choosing a less demanding job. Still being a poser at 40 is a little sad though.

Sean e, being a poser is sad, period. Whether you're 12, 20 or 40.

Anonymous said...

For me this is a scary conversation. I grew up in Brooklyn in the 70's when fashion consisted of dungarees, sneakers and t-shirts for the most part. When you went out you tried to look nice, adult style. I just moved back to NY after 23 years of living in Northern California where fashion is somewhat less important than in NYC. I dress for the occasion but when I just want to hang out I'm in jeans, t-shirt and sneakers. This has nothing to do with wanting to feel young. It has to do with comfort and not needing to impress 24/7. I have always dressed this way. Maybe I’m lucky because I’ve lived my adult years in high tech where many CEO’s are in jeans and t-shirts. Shorts and flip flops are acceptable work clothes as well. Now to what scares me. Brooklyn used to be a predominantly working class town that the "yupsters" would avoid like death. They invented the term “bridge and tunnel crowd” which they can stick up their ass. Strange and alarming that this side of the bridge and tunnel is now a battlefield for trendy urban culture. While I enjoy what the new Brooklyn offers in the way of food and music (some music) I miss the older values of judging for who you are, not what you wear. (Although certain styles in the old days would result in a beating for sure) This is all that should matter. If a person 40+ dresses in the current style and looks good, great!!! If they look ridiculous they deserve traditional Brooklyn ridicule. The same applies to youngsters dressing this way. Some of the 20 something’s look like penultimate posers. They can be more ridiculous looking than their 40 something fashion counterparts. This evening, I’m heading out for a night on the town in Park Slope. I’ll enjoy gourmet food followed by some great African music. This is no attempt to capture youth. This is the simple enjoyment of life. I’ll be wearing Eddie Bauer jeans, a gray button down textured shirt, and black Rockport loafers with my ten year old leather Averix jacket. I hope I pass the fashion audition New Brooklyn. Now, live and let live or get the hell out of Brooklyn.

Anonymous said...

For me this is a scary conversation. I grew up in Brooklyn in the 70's when fashion consisted of dungarees, sneakers and t-shirts for the most part. When you went out you tried to look nice, adult style. I just moved back to NY after 23 years of living in Northern California where fashion is somewhat less important than in NYC. I dress for the occasion but when I just want to hang out I'm in jeans, t-shirt and sneakers. This has nothing to do with wanting to feel young. It has to do with comfort and not needing to impress 24/7. I have always dressed this way. Maybe I’m lucky because I’ve lived my adult years in high tech where many CEO’s are in jeans and t-shirts. Shorts and flip flops are acceptable work clothes as well. Now to what scares me. Brooklyn used to be a predominantly working class town that the "yupsters" would avoid like death. They invented the term “bridge and tunnel crowd” which they can stick up their ass. Strange and alarming that this side of the bridge and tunnel is now a battlefield for trendy urban culture. While I enjoy what the new Brooklyn offers in the way of food and music (some music) I miss the older values of judging for who you are, not what you wear. (Although certain styles in the old days would result in a beating for sure) This is all that should matter. If a person 40+ dresses in the current style and looks good, great!!! If they look ridiculous they deserve traditional Brooklyn ridicule. The same applies to youngsters dressing this way. Some of the 20 something’s look like penultimate posers. They can be more ridiculous looking than their 40 something fashion counterparts. This evening, I’m heading out for a night on the town in Park Slope. I’ll enjoy gourmet food followed by some great African music. This is no attempt to capture youth. This is the simple enjoyment of life. I’ll be wearing Eddie Bauer jeans, a gray button down textured shirt, and black Rockport loafers with my ten year old leather Averix jacket. I hope I pass the fashion audition New Brooklyn. Now, live and let live or get the hell out of Brooklyn.

John said...

Im 45 yr old man I keep myself in excellent shape . I run a 1 hr 30 min 1/2 Marathon and this winter races Snow shoes losing only once to a 31 yr old beating many 20 and 30 yr olds along the way . Its well known in endurance sports that middle age men and woman our some of if not the most competitive racers in races . It been a life time of living a healthy life style and exercise to stay at the level Im currently at . My wife who still gets carded at clubs I believe is hotter than any 20 yr old out there . Its well known our current young generation is more over weight probably cause they watch too much tv , have been playing video games and been on the computer too much unlike my generation .

chickkerouac said...

Phew, what a relief to read that article and all these well phrased comments. On the internet, you so often find illiterate morons debating with misspelled, inarticulate and fruitless rage, it's refreshing to find intelligent commentary and discussion!

I am 38 years old and just recently quit a job that would have placed me on a career track to executive entitlement, a cushy salary and financial security. I am about to hit the road on a cross country relocation to God-only-knows-what.

I was in terrible angst, wondering if I am completely insane, what is wrong with me... and then I happened upon this article and I feel much better.

My job was killing me - I aged ten years in one; I was miserable; I was getting a potbelly from stress cortisol. I don't want to manage staff; I don't want to wear a suit; and now I know I don't have to feel like s*** about not wanting the bullet points of "adulthood."

I am not sure what I do want. But I know what I definitely do not want. And right now, I've got a window of opportunity to actually LIVE my life, God-willing - and not suffer a daily grind.

I am glad the notions of success and maturity are changing. I am glad I am not a singular freak. Thank you all for your blogs and insight!

Matt said...

I look and act younger than my 45 years, maybe because I never smoked nor took to excessive drinking and I'm athletic. I suppose the torn jean thing is appropriate upon where you may live.

When I used to live in wealthy neighborhood, I dressed casual but in the latest adult designer wear.

Once I moved out of the area, I found there are more of the blue collar or construction type that wear t-shirts and jeans (torn or not) and that is pretty much the norm.

Since I'm usually wrenching on cars or similar type of laborious duties, my jeans go a long way. I don't even have to worry about changing them when I run to the store. I fit in with everyone else around here (well, at least fashion wise).

Unfortunately, in some cases I'm dressed even better than the locals.

I'm surprised, after letting my hair grow long and not sporting a large beer belly (like most the guys my age) I find the younger women always flirting with me. ;)

Larissa Canales said...

Oh well i dont care what others think,i am 40 yrs old and i can wear $300.00 jeans,i dont act like a 22 yr old,but if i look good why not? wheres the rule? i have seen ugly girls in their 20s!!!!that cannot afford an expensive pair of jeans and look terrible in any kind of clothes!!

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