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I don’t know very much about the finer points of aging gracefully, but am pretty sure it involves limited color palettes and houndstooth. At least, that’s what the chic older ladies of New York have led me to believe. The Upper East Side isn’t one of my usual haunts, but any self-respecting people-watcher knows that every once in a while you have to visit unfamiliar places to refresh your eyes and see what life looks like with a view of the East River. Also, a lot of museums are up there, which was the reason for my sojourn into that part of town. (There’s an Egon Schiele exhibit at the Neue Galerie right now.)

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Walking around in that part of town will show you a spectrum of age within the same class and income bracket. Small, impossibly well-dressed children cling to their parents’ manicured hands on their way to whatever the hip after-school activity is these days, and a few blocks away a clump of teens who could be Gossip Girl extras eat froyo and giggle at each others’ jokes. Angular women dressed in minimal silhouettes and neutral tones click down the sidewalk in tasteful but towering heels, and hundreds of navy blue business suits over dress shirts with contrast collars swarm and scatter after their power lunches. And then there is a white-haired lady with knifelife posture, wearing red glasses and impeccably-applied lipstick and nail polish to match. The black turtleneck, a staple of the aging wardrobe, calms down the aggressive houndstooth enough to make it look refined instead of overwhelming. I bet the shape of the coat she’s holding over her arm is regal and capelike.

There is one small element missing, however. I can’t believe she doesn’t have a dog. How can she not have a dog? Come on, a black scotty would be perfect. Some people say that you’re never fully-dressed without a smile, which is a ridiculous thing to say if you’ve ever looked through a fashion magazine. How many smiles do you see in there? On the other hand, I think that most fashion editorials could probably be improved with the addition of a dog or two. It would be an excellent way for the fashion industry to distract critics. Who can get mad about racism, sexism, and unrealistic body standards when there are cute puppies running around? You’re welcome, Vogue.

Follow The Art of Style by Kit Mills.  For more of Kit’s work, check out their website.

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