Just passing a newsstand in Manhattan, Morton noted the celebrities on the covers of the glossy magazines — Jessica Alba, Eva Longoria and David Beckham, all in their 30s, and "everyone else was even older."
And saying something is "modern" or "contemporary" is no longer shorthand for "young."
"You look at the Apple store. It's what contemporary life looks like, but there's not an upper age limit on it. ... There was an assumption of people growing out of things, but that's not happening," Morton says.
Adam Glassman, creative director of O, The Oprah Magazine, says more people are comfortable in their own skin. Women aren't necessarily using fashion and beauty as a tool to look younger, he observes. Instead, they're using those tools to be the best 40-, 50- or 60-year-old they can be.
"When young people wear it, they looked pulled together, polished. When older women wear it — and, yes, they do have to be careful about going too far this way or they risk looking a bit like a dowager — they like the trends of being more covered, the return to hosiery and vintage jewelry. A lot of women appreciate sleeves on dresses," he says.
Younger women are learning that sophistication doesn't mean matronly, and they're seeing these grown-up styles as a fast track to confidence and credibility, Glassman says.
One might think the plugged-in culture that allows one to run a business from a local coffee shop is an excuse to dress down, but it's not, Kneen says. "You're never doing just one thing. You have to prepare yourself for the unexpected: What meeting you'll be called into unexpectedly, who you'll bump into, if you'll have coffee with a friend or go from there to dinner."
He adds: "It's just easier to be a little dressed up."
Knowing you look the part of a responsible, respectable adult can make you stand a little straighter, says Jacqueline Durran, the costume designer of "Anna Karenina." She worked with Kneen on looks inspired by the film to be sold at Banana Republic during the holiday season.
"As I see with my working in costuming, the act of simply putting on a piece of clothing can truly transform someone's attitude and make them carry themselves in a different way," says Durran. "This obviously translates beyond acting to everyday dressing, which is about feeling confident in what you're wearing and looking poised in all situations."