The fashion life of a paper doll must be glorious.  She stands upright and proud in her underwear.  (That’s an accomplishment right there!)  Someone selects an outfit, slips it on, and suddenly, she’s beautifully dressed from head to toe.

The fashion life of a woman of a certain age isn’t quite so simple.  My mom keeps saying, “Just wait until you’re eighty.  It gets worse.”  But even in my fifties, I’m feeling some sadness when I go clothes shopping, a kind of mourning, a slight grief.

A blouse with too much poof.  A skirt that flares from the waist.  A dress in an extravagant print.  Are they too youthful?  Too carefree?  Too cute for someone my age?  And then there’s the issue of hem length.  Hmm, let’s save hem length.  Whole essays have been written about hem length.

“Am I too old to wear this?”  “Nope,” says the husband, always.

“Am I too old to wear this?”  “Nope,” says the daughter, usually.

“Am I too old to wear this?”  “Yes,” the friends say, sometimes.

And when I ask my paper dolls, they don’t answer.  They just smile.  Let’s hope that means, “Lady, for heaven’s sake, wear what you want.”

Photo: These paper dolls are older than I am, yet they certainly wear their clothes, including their underwear, with confidence.  You can learn more about the history of paper dolls on the website of The Original Paper Doll Artist Guild:

Friend for the Ride: Check out more posts by Barbara at





Barbara Younger

Barbara Younger blogs from her home in Hillsborough, North Carolina. Along with Friend for the Ride: Encouraging Words for the Menopause Roller Coaster (, she writes books for children and adults. She lives in an old house with her husband Cliff. and collections of everything from dolls to buttons to bookmarks. She's the mother of two grown daughters and the grandmother to one adorable baby boy!

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