So, with 50 in the rearview mirror, here are a few — actually quite few — things we should probably never wear again:
- Juicy sweatpants or anything with writing on the backside, including Hollister (which is the name not just of a clothier but also of a company that makes colonic irrigation supplies).
- Miniskirts, mini-shorts, anything to wear that's been deliberately diminished. Or deliberately ripped — unless it's you and your muscles.
- "Strappy" accessories. Yes, they're adorable. Yes, your daughter can wear them to the prom.
- Low-rise pants that showcase low-rise anatomy. In some critical places, more really is more.
- Super-tight skinny jeans, even if you are both.
- T-shirts that say "Sexy Grandma," "Vote for Ozzy" or "I Am the Man from Nantucket." The ideal tee should fit well and keep its mouth shut.
- Thigh-high boots.
- Thigh-high boots with stiletto heels.
- Plunging V-neck shirts. Plunging V-neck sweaters. Not just for women, here. Maybe especially not just for women.
- Purses with dogs on them. Purses with dogs in them.
- See-through tops. This is really true for everyone, of any age, including movie stars.
- See-through bottoms. Don't need to say more. Wish I could say less.
- Seventh Avenue cruiser couture: Underwear labels on the outside. Bra straps on the outside. Jock straps … let's not go there.
- Pajama bottoms during the day, outside the house.
- Gold chains with your name on them.
- Gold chains with anyone's name on them.
- Gold chains.
Although her own fashion sense routinely won her the privilege of being called "Mrs. Robinson," my mother was right about one thing: Taste is something you can buy. Class is not.
My own closet went from being a garden of gypsy prints to a palette of winter, with a riotous, kicky rainbow ranging from black to lighter black to charcoal and the odd slash of blue, crimson or gold. And yet, wearing smock tops from Forever 21 didn't keep me forever 21. They made me look as though I wished I were.
And truth be told, most of the time, I don't.
Jacquelyn Mitchard, the best-selling author of 20 books, lives near Madison, Wis., with her family. Her next novel, Second Nature: A Love Story, will be published in September by Random House.