In last week's Fashion Diary column, I wrote about the wardrobe choices of Gwyneth Paltrow during her recent publicity tour through L.A., when she appeared at events promoting her new cookbook and personal trainer Tracy Anderson's new fitness studio. Paltrow wore an array of super-short skirts, dresses and even a pair of hot pants that showed off her Anderson-sculpted legs and her devotion to the healthful eating described in the book.
I asked readers whether, at age 40, Paltrow is turning the notion of age-appropriate dressing on its head, or if, despite her enviable physique, the hot pants might have been too much — or, rather, not enough.
Well, you answered.
Many of you subscribe to the theory that if you've still got it, it's OK to flaunt it.
"Obviously she feels good in the clothes she wears, so brava Gwyneth!" one reader wrote. "Women should aspire to look as well as her in their 40s, 50s, 60s and beyond. I don't think she cares about what people think. I think she looks in the mirror and likes what she sees."
Several male readers reached out in support of Paltrow's leggy looks.
"A sexy mom wearing sexy clothes in public to promote healthy habits?" said one male. "Cool."
Other men were in favor of modesty and discretion. "A super mini that reveals too much when a woman bends over is inappropriate even for a hot 23-year-old," one reader wrote.
Another reader said, "I am of the generation following the fashion credo, 'If you have worn it way back when, you're too old to wear it again'... How fantastic if the fashion world would show more women who could be role models for young women transitioning into inevitable (old) age with style... But two phrases seem to have disappeared from the American lexicon: 'I can't wear that' and 'I can't afford that.'"
The insightful reader continued: "Perhaps we older types can enlist fashion leaders with a sense of taste to revive elegance and also to help banish the following: miniskirts on middle-aged-plus women, leggings on all but ballerinas, skinny jeans in sizes beyond large, pole dancer shoes and dresses that could double as sausage casings."
As Paltrow has moved on to New York and European stops on her tour, it's been interesting to watch how her wardrobe has changed from what we saw in L.A. At a book signing at Williams-Sonoma in New York City, for example, she wore a button-down Stella McCartney oxford shirt and a Band of Outsiders skirt that hit just above the knee. In Munich, Germany for an "Iron Man 3" photo call, she looked downright demure in a sleeveless white Kaufmanfranco shift dress with black belt. And by the time she hit Paris for the film's premiere, she wore an Erdem two-piece floral ensemble that looked like a pair of chic pajamas.
It could be she covered up as she traveled East because the weather got colder. . Or maybe Paltrow has one idea of what's appropriate to wear in Los Angeles (hot pants), and another idea of what's appropriate to wear in New York, Paris and Munich (shift dresses, button-down shirts). It's also possible that she is simply dressing to please herself, as one reader suggested. In other words, it's just not that calculated.
It's worth noting that in Munich, it wasn't Paltrow, but costar Robert Downey Jr. who was showing a lot of leg, wearing a pair of kitschy lederhosen. Downey is 48, and no one is questioning the age-appropriateness of his look. As one reader chided me, "Naively, I thought the days of age discrimination were over until I read your Fashion Diary."
Perhaps she's right.