What is a Grown-ass Woman?

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Here on Wardrobe Oxygen, I often share real-life style advice for grown-ass women. What is a grown-ass woman? I often get this question and wanted to explain what the term means and why I choose to use it for Wardrobe Oxygen.

fashion blog for women over 40

What is Wardrobe Oxygen?

I have been sharing real-life style advice on Wardrobe Oxygen since 2005. At that time, I worked in Corporate America and focused my content for fellow Gen X professionals. Over the years, I had a baby, changed from a conservative workplace to a more relaxed office environment, and eventually left my day job to focus on this blog full-time.

I wanted to differentiate Wardrobe Oxygen from the mom fashion blogs, the millennial style blogs, the college fashion blogs. My content was for women who had full lives, but still liked fashion. Women who may have fewer f*cks to give, but still gave a sh*t.

Once I turned 40, I started calling Wardrobe Oxygen an over-40 fashion advice site, but I quickly found that was exclusionary. Looking at the site's metrics and getting to know members of the Wardrobe Oxygen community, I knew that not everyone who reads this site is over 40. However, we all had things in common that fit with the term grown-ass.

woman shopping in new york city

What is a Grown-ass Woman?

A grown-ass woman is a woman who knows herself and owns her life. She is mature, prioritizes quality over quantity, and knows there is more to life than the right hemline or hairstyle. She knows style goes far beyond what is hanging in one's closet but also knows the power of what she wears.

Is Grown-ass a Derogatory Term?

Over the years, some have complained about the use of the word “ass” finding it derogatory or offensive. The word is used as it is used for the term badass. Bad = not good. Ass = jerk, donkey, or buttocks. But badass = a tough, uncompromising person. A grown-ass woman is a woman who is grown and proud, a badass or on the journey to become a badass. Wardrobe Oxygen is for those who are proud to be grown-ass women.

women over 40 shopping tips

Why Not Just Use the Term Grown Women?

For a while, pressured by readers who were offended by “ass,” I switched to the term “grown women.” And it just felt wrong. What is a grown woman? Seriously, I want to know what a grown woman is.

Many of us were called “young women” when we were in our teens, and maybe even through college. In the words of Britney Spears, we were not a girl, but not yet a woman. By time we were 25, most of us felt we were fully grown. We could drink, we could rent an apartment, we could buy a car, get married, vote, drown in credit card debt, and have careers instead of jobs. That's grown, right?

I think we can all look back at our 25-year-old selves and even if we were responsible and life made us grow up quickly and tackle difficult things, we weren't grown like we are now. Back then, adulting was something we were learning. Now we have a PhD in adulting. We're beyond grown, and we're doing it well. We're badass, and we're grown. We're grown-ass women.

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Isn't Wardrobe Oxygen for Gen X Women? Just Use That Instead.

Wardrobe Oxygen is for Gen X women… and Millenials, and Boomers, and Silent Generation, and any generations before or after these. Being a grown-ass woman isn't specific to a certain generation just as Wardrobe Oxygen isn't just for women over 40.

Why Use Foul Language?

In 2005, when I started Wardrobe Oxygen, I would have NEVER used such language on Wardrobe Oxygen. I was taught to behave with decorum, use proper etiquette, and be respected by those older than me; I knew better. I wanted to appeal to the largest audience, with dreams of writing a style book for the masses.

It's 19 years later, and I have fewer f*cks left to give. This is my job, my creative outlet, my passion. I strive to create content that is helpful, motivating, and relatable, but I refuse to lose myself in the process (or for the almighty dollar). And even my mom knew I liked to add a little spice to my language with the occasional four-letter word.

I find that speaking in this manner isn't for everyone, and that's okay. There are literally millions of fashion advice blogs on the internet. There are fashion blogs dedicated to certain regions in the country or other countries, certain religions, certain styles of dress, certain fashion brands, and certain body sizes, types, and abilities. You have options, and if Wardrobe Oxygen offends you, there is a better fit for you out there and I hope you find it and, with it, joy and inspiration and a community of like-minded folk.

I find by using the term grown-ass woman, I filter out those who may not the right audience for my content. I no longer wish to bend to those who want me to change but instead build a community of different people who have similar outlooks and mindsets. And it's amazing, but add this three-letter word to grown does a great job of finding community.

travel advice for women over 40

What to Expect at Wardrobe Oxygen

At Wardrobe Oxygen, you will find the occasional capsule wardrobe. My capsule wardrobes are designed to be as size-inclusive as possible, with garments that are reasonably priced and of decent quality that should last you way beyond a single season. The capsule wardrobes are designed with stylish yet simple enough of garments that you can recreate the look with items from another brand, a thrift store, or from the back of your closet.

At Wardrobe Oxygen, you will find ways to translate trends in a manner that makes sense for grown-ass women. With a focus on comfort and joy, I will share ways to wear certain trends, how to incorporate trends into your existing closet, and give you permission to ignore every trend and march to the beat of your own drum.

At Wardrobe Oxygen, I will offer detailed honest reviews for what matters to you. Is that facial toning device worth your money? What are the best wireless bras for large busts? That product that went viral on social media, does it even work? What truly works well to prevent thigh chafing? I got you, and I will always keep it 100% honest.

At Wardrobe Oxygen, you will see clothes on me, a 49-year-old 5'3″ size 14/16 person with soft curves. I won't just recommend products, I will wear them so you can see how they may look on a body that is more relatable than the website model and without creative posing to hide details and fit.

At Wardrobe Oxygen, I believe style goes beyond the closet. Fashion is the bookjacket to your novel, but who cares how pretty the cover is if the story is a bore?

  • I share my travel recaps, focusing on reasonably priced hotels, restaurants, and experiences. Living in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., most trips are just a few hours' drive, train ride, or flight from my home. I sometimes travel solo, sometimes with friends, just with my husband, sometimes as a family, and sometimes with our dog, and I will share which trips are best for which type of traveler.
  • My outfit posts often include where I wore the look, why I picked the outfit, and how it worked in the situation. I will also share tips on what to wear to certain situations like funerals, weddings, and conferences.
  • I delve into the business of blogging and how we influencers and bloggers make money to ensure you are an informed consumer.
  • I will offer tips for savvy and safe online shopping, and what I have learned in my 20 years of social media, online shopping, and using web-based technology. I will also share which sales are worth your time with my picks and how to style them.
  • Weekend Reads is the most popular series on Wardrobe Oxygen. Each Saturday, I provide links to articles I read and enjoyed or found thought-provoking, reviews of what I read, watched, or listened to, the best sales to peruse, a piece of art from a woman artist, and a song with some info on the artist and why they are worth checking out.
  • Now that I am experiencing perimenopause, I will share what I feel, how I am finding relief, and my thoughts on the menopause business.

I will share my beliefs quite often, and opinions on politics and current events. I know they will not always align with yours, but as grown-ass women we can handle differing opinions and respect that the world is better with them. I believe we grown-ass women can turn our rants into resources and together we can make positive change for women here in this country and across the globe, and help the environment with our purchases.

what is a grown-ass woman

At age 40, we are almost halfway through our lives. That isn't something to mourn, but something to celebrate. We still have as much life we experienced already left to experience. But now, we know how to walk and talk. We're independent and educated. We're grown-ass women and together, let's live this life with comfort and joy on our terms.

Welcome to Wardrobe Oxygen, my fellow grown-ass woman. I am so glad you're here!

A woman with curly hair wearing a plaid blazer holds a green fur coat over her shoulder on a city street.

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  1. What a bracing and heartfelt manifesto. Having worked on legislation and legislative policy for decades? Definitions matter! I love that you just put yours so eloquently. 100 percent there for it and for you and your fantastic content.

  2. I enjoy your posts but I decide if a blog is of interest based on the content and not on some label an author or anyone else chooses. And by the way, do we really need labels to define ourselves and each other in 2024? SMH.

  3. As a grown-ass woman of 77 and a years-long follower of your terrific writing, observations, and heart, I can only say: please keep on being the Alison we love to read! You might enjoy this: I live in conservative-clothing Central NY and am a die-hard Lagenlook woman. At a meeting this week, I got this comment: ‘I always love how you look! What you wear looks just like YOU. You really know yourself.” I almost cried.

  4. I respect you and the work you do and share with us.

    I’m not a grown-ass woman, I’m an adult. I don’t like the label you’ve chosen but you have good reasons for your choice. I’m glad I read your post in full.

    Still don’t like the term but that’s my choice as an adult.

  5. Bravo, Alison! It is your honesty and authenticity that attracted me to your content and keeps me coming back! Many thanks;)

  6. Yes! I 100% agree with your capture of your usage and concept of grown ass women. I think it’s a concept we all need to promote out in the world as well where any of us ( on a bad day) can almost succumb to some external expectation of what women “should” do that is almost always connected to appearance.
    I can’t even remember when I started following you, but I so appreciate your dedication to honesty and integrity along with thorough reviews and interesting musings.

  7. Yes! I love everything about the phrase grown-ass woman. I’m another longtime reader, I’d guess since 2009? I started reading when I got my first office job and was trying to figure out how to dress myself for it. I’m now a 40 year old grown-ass and I really appreciate what you do here. Keep up the good work Alison!

  8. Alison, I love the term grown-ass women and I am happy to be considered one. Thank you for always providing relative, important, and GOOD information! 🙂

  9. I’m a 72 YO grown ass woman and I love the term because it fits many of us. I sing in a rock band and totally enjoy my retirement life. I continue to seek your inspiration, Allison…your style, courage and finesse. Keep on Rockin, girl friends.

  10. Keep doing what you’re doing Allie! I’ve been reading your blog for years now. Who cares if some get offended? That’s the point of being grown ass! And as someone born and raised in NJ, let’s just say colorful language is something I’ve used close to forever, lol. If someone is offended, there’s always another blog they can follow. I love your content — the fashion, the travel reviews, the food reviews, you name it. I’m here for it and thank you for the hard work you put into this site.

  11. So thankful for your authenticity! You are right – there are other folks to follow if some find you offensive. You feel like one of my fun friends who keeps it real and a complete badass! A big part of that is because you are true to yourself.

  12. I’ll be 86 next week. Long-time reader since your daughter was an infant. I cherish your writing, your take on fashion (especially plus-size resources), your openness, and your authenticity. Given the difference in our ages, I can count on reading your offerings for the rest of my life (or until senility sets in, whichever comes first…).

  13. Keep doing what you are doing!

    I am a Grown Ass Woman and am proud of it. I think of the phrase as a way to own the strength I have developed over the years and how I am on equal footing with the men and women in my life.

    If someone is offended by “colorful” language, I just don’t care anymore.

  14. This has nothing little to do with being grown-ass—except to note that the term has never offended me, and I definitely believe in a difference between grown women and grown-ass women. But in my irreverent way, when I saw the blonde woman with the red coat, my first thought was “love child of Patrick Stewart and Helen Mirren.” Yeah, I know she is probably too old, but something about her reminds me of both of them.

  15. Huzzah! I agree with your words and priorities. No matter what content I choose to consume, I like it to be AUTHENTIC and curated by someone/s with integrity and personal vision. Having been recently lambasted for “unladylike language” at 56, I am all for terminology that fits…no matter what! Must be a GenX thing! We need wisdom with a twist.

  16. Thank you Alison for your honest take on being a “grown ass woman.” As a 76 year old woman, I seen fashion come and go. I wore DVF when wrap dresses were an alternative to pantsuits. (my daughters want to know why I got ride of them.
    Anyway, keep doing what you are doing and let the naysayers go somewhere else.

  17. *standing ovation*
    As someone approaching 47 this year, yes, grown-ass is the correct term. I was a grown woman, technically, in my 20s, but as I age and gain more life experience,
    I am rapidly losing the few f*cks I was still hanging onto that don’t serve me or who I want to be or the world I want to live in, and I lean more and more every year into bad-assery. I will no longer filter myself for others’ comfortable consumption and I will speak up for important issues. That is grown-ass.
    I’ve always found you, your approach to style and just “being,” very relatable and also aspirational (a hard line to walk), and you routinely influence me–not always to buy, but to reevaluate my wardrobe and my approach to dressing and style while still being true to myself.

  18. I really never comment on anything, but I’ve been reading your blog since I was a freshman in college in 2008 (found it through that wardrobe staples piece!) and I’m still reading it as a mid 30s mom of a 10 month old. Wardrobe Oxygen is awesome and I think that having a niche is always going to be more of a win than being a digital generalist. Thanks for the effort you put in to producing your content!

  19. Hell! I’m a 75 year old retired elementary teacher and as decorous as they come. Since retiring I have become a grown-ass woman and I thank you for giving me the term.

  20. Maybe I’m the oldest at 75? I do read a couple of other “over whatever” blogs but other than not dressing like a teen, age seems irrelevant to what I want to wear.

    Right now I have the huge luxury of planning for a month-long cruise and circumstances don’t require me to do the light and minimal packing I usually do. I’m looking forward to wearing the clothes I bought that sit in the closet. I’m referencing your capsules, poking around my closet, and prepared to buy some new stuff!

    1. YES! Age is irrelevant to what one should wear. It’s about lifestyle, priorities, and what brings comfort and joy. Our preferences and style may change as we age and live a different life in a different body, but nothing is set in stone regarding age and dress. I’m honored to have you as a reader, Gelinda, and based on my last reader survey you are not the oldest! <3

  21. It’s hard to believe it’s 2024, and there’s apparently still a need to explain that this is YOUR blog and you’ll run it the way you want to. How is this even a thing?? Please keep doing what you’re doing — those of us who admire and benefit from your expertise and perspective will keep following right along.

  22. I’m 62 and have been following your blog for YEARS! In recent years more so than ever no matter what you post on social media will always be someone who takes offense, disagrees or criticizes whatever you say and no matter what you say. Can’t please everyone! A “grown-ass” woman doesn’t bend to please others. She is true to herself and doesn’t conform to pressure. That’s one of the things I like about this blog. Keep rockin’ on!

  23. I LOVE THIS!! I’m finger snapping you from my couch, over morning coffee! Thank you for your writing, wisdom, and authentic self! Your voice is so refreshing and I value you in the honoring of your truth! At 43, I continue to learn that my most valuable resource is time. If I am engaging in “people pleasing,” “party manners,” or just generally doing things I don’t want to do, not only am I not in alignment with my values, I am exploiting a precious resource. The 40s are ushering in the art of not giving a f*%#?!€* Not in a cruel way, rather in a grown ass woman way! Which is the way of self-love and authenticity. Thank you!

  24. Fuck yeah, Alison! Being a grown-ass woman also means showing up authentically and fully as yourself. In following you, nearly from the start, you’ve always done just that. Keep that shit up.

  25. Good message. I am turning 67 and don’t have time for others opinions on what I wear, how I no longer color my hair. Your articles/blogs are a needed refreshing breeze on a lot mornings. Keep doing what you are doing, and have a blessed week!

  26. I can’t believe people are not only *STILL* getting upset at what you post on your personal (& clearly successful) blog, but are actually trying to police you on it! I’m here for *all* of your opinions & writings – seeing it distilled into the fashion posts is just a bonus!

    A grown-ass woman who isn’t even 40 yet, isn’t in the USA, doesn’t have kids yet has still been reading this blog since mirror selfies & E peeking shyly behind your leg.

    You’ve got this, Alison!

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