Reject Modernity, Embrace Elderly

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Before quiet luxury was flattened into blandness, before normcore was diluted to mean “basic clothing,” there were elderly people and their aspirational approach to getting dressed.

Today’s old people dress really, really well. No irony: I’ve always been fascinated by how effortlessly the elderly wear clothes and it feels like the greater culture is only just now starting to catch on.

I most pondered this upon seeing the costume that actress Lily James wore while filming thriller flick Relay in mid-April. Minimal makeup, trench coat, modest v-neck knit, flowing slacks: “this is the stuff that stealth wealth inspo pages are made of,” I initially thought.

But then I took a closer look and realized that I was wrong. Folded newspaper, functional hiking sneakers: James is actually affecting the wardrobe of the elderly.

And I don’t mean that as a diss. I think she looks fantastic; huge ‘fit and an incredibly imitable one at that.

It made me wonder, why aren’t we giving older folks due accreditation for being incredibly stylish? And why do their clothes dovetail so neatly with the current fashion zeitgeist?

Everything starts with the clothes.

I’m aware that I’m generalizing here but the point is, elderly folks don’t care about impressing anyone; they dress for themselves, according to tropes they’ve internalized over decades of dressing. Oh, and they dress for comfort.

Big tops, easy pants, chusioned shoes. Hell, there’s a reason they call ’em dad shoes — guess who was wearing those ASICS walking shoes and New Balance 992s long before you whippersnappers started buying them?

But we aren’t collectively paying attention to pages like @gramparents just because of what elderly people wear — it’s how they wear it.

Like, the excellent BEAMS x LL Bean campaign from the other week wasn’t hot fire simply because the clothes were nice.

I mean, they were, but it was the adorable elderly models who sold the collection’s fairly normal-looking checkered shirts and beige hoodies.

This sort of casting isn’t new.

Part of the appeal, honestly, is that anyone of a certain age innately comes off as authentic and thus their outfits do as well.

A human face weathered by time looks authentic (authenticity and effortlessness are key here). Fresh-faced models airbrushed free of any pores or grey hairs can’t compare.

That’s partially why nearly every photo of model Lono Brazil that gets posted on Instagram inspires a flurry of comments asking for his @ — dude isn’t just handsome, he’s downright debonair.

But this ingrained appeal is also why an aged Adam Sandler looked legitimately cool in his Uncut Gems getups.

These are ridiculous clothes but Sandler’s slightly wizened features make them look genuinely lived-in and, thus, cool.

That’s the authenticity but there’s also the effortlessness.

These are the two universal truths that any well-dressed person lives by, intentionally or not. You look cool when you look unbothered, like you just tossed on whatever you had lying around and made it look natural.

This is why the folks who stroll New York’s Chinatown invariably look so much cooler than the self-conscious kids preening across the street in Nolita. Effortless vs high effort.

You see this with celebs, too.

A$AP Rocky, Tyler, the Creator, and Jennifer Lawrence all dress with aspirational ease, frequently wearing variations on the same types of oversized trench coats, argyle sweaters, and faded jeans worn by denizens of the Upper East Side.

Yeah, Rocky and Lawrence can afford to wear extremely expensive clothes but one could easily recreate their Martine Rose, Goyard, and The Row outfits with thrifted gear, which is what old folks have been doing for decades without even trying.

That the above people look so good is simply because they’re channeling the same secret sauce that makes the elderly so damn good at wearing clothes.

This brings us back to Lily James billowing trench coat and pooling slacks.

Her look trumps today’s quiet luxury — who needs subtle monied flexes when you can simply affect an extremely good silhouette and shut shit down? This is personal style 101.

By and large, older folks have it dialed in. They’ve had a lifetime to master the art of dressing effortlessly and the sooner you start taking notes, the better.