Is Gwyneth Paltrow rewriting the age-appropriate dressing rules?

Los Angeles TimesApril 24, 2013 

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Actress Gwyneth Paltrow signs her new book 'It's All Good: Delicious, Easy Recipes That Will Make You Look Good and Feel Great' at Williams-Sonoma on April 5, 2013 in Beverly Hills, California.

JASON MERRITT — Getty Images

— Actress and celebrity lifestyle entrepreneur Gwyneth Paltrow blew through Los Angeles recently, appearing at a handful of events and signings for her new cookbook, “It’s All Good: Delicious, Easy Recipes That Will Make You Look Good and Feel Great.”

Paltrow wore spring looks by Isabel Marant, Victoria Beckham and Stella McCartney. Paltrow’s incredibly toned and tanned legs were front and center in every outfit, including the black Lycra hot pants she wore with a white Stella McCartney blazer to a book signing at Williams-Sonoma in Beverly Hills. That’s right, hot pants.

The “Iron Man 3” actress looked great; no one is debating that. But Paltrow is 40, and although her physique is unquestionably perfect, thanks to a strict regimen that even has hubby Chris Martin and their kids cutting out carbs, her wardrobe choices raise the question: Is there such a thing as age-appropriate dressing anymore? Or are Paltrow’s diet and fitness plan turning that notion on its head?

We all know that 30 is the new 20 and 40 is the new 30, but to those who are 40 and up, I have to ask: Would you wear Lycra hot pants anywhere, except maybe to the gym? How about a miniskirt so short, you can’t bend over to pick up your children without giving them a peep show?

An informal survey of coworkers and friends yielded different opinions on Paltrow’s ageless bod-as-branding tactic. One person said, “If I had legs like that, I would wear them (shorts and short skirts) until the day I died.” (And certainly, many women subscribe to this belief, Tina Turner and Diane von Furstenberg among them.)

Others think Paltrow is out of touch with reality in the micro-minis and midriff-baring tops that have become her style signatures over the past couple of years. “It looks desperate – like a 40-year-old woman saying, ‘Look at me, I’ve still got it,’” another friend said, adding that Paltrow wearing hot pants at age 40 isn’t fooling anyone; it’s just reminding us that she’s too old to be wearing hot pants.

It’s tempting to think that she’s just doing what actresses have to do to compete – try to stay sexy and relevant in youth-obsessed Hollywood. (Remember the midriff-baring Emilio Pucci gown she wore to the 2011 Emmys?) But it’s not just on the red carpet or at media events where she’s showing off her middle-aged, metamorphosized bod.

At a party the other night, a guest and fashion industry vet gave me an earful about the spring fashion edit on Paltrow’s online lifestyle newsletter Goop, in which she models looks from fashion e-tailer Net-a-porter.

The most questionable look, described on the site as “Shorts, Dressed Up,” has Paltrow exposing her tanned tummy, belly button and all, in a white leather tank top by Theyskens’ Theory, worn over a pair of Maiyet orange, iridescent pleated shorts.

“C’mon, Gwyneth! We’re the same age! You have two small children! You’re not going to wear that to take them to school,” my friend said.

So what do you think? Is Paltrow rewriting the rules of age-appropriate dressing? Or are there no rules, and should women’s magazines such as Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar give up doing annual issues devoted to age and fashion and move on?

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