Clothes shopping and ageing

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A couple of decades ago, I was on tour with a company comprising folks of several age groups. Most of the tour was in Europe, but we finished one phase in New York. It was my first time in NYC (and in the USA). I was keen to check out the garment district in Manhattan and to buy some clothes that would remind me of this point in my life. I remember being out and about with a group of older men (who happened to be Nigerian). I made my excuses to leave their company, to do some window (and possibly real) shopping. My colleagues were scornful and dismissive of my intention, suggesting that it was only due to my youthfulness that I had the inclination to take an interest in clothes.

I was puzzled by their attitude, possibly because my own father liked clothes and accessories and he was older than them. It made me wonder about the link between maturity and taking pride in one’s appearance.

Now that I am in the same age range as those men were at that point in time, I am still interested in clothes and dressing up. A friend accused me of being narcissistic (even though he is also interested in grooming), because I take selfies of myself every day to post on Instagram.

Perhaps dressing up and grooming could be seen as chores by some folks, but there are others who regard these facets of daily life as outlets for self expression. One famous jazz trumpeter was scathing in his criticism of the great Miles Davis, because Miles took an active interest in his appearance, seemingly till the end of his days.

Isn’t it ageist to expect people to give up on taking care of themselves in this way, simply because they are advanced in years?