Too Old to Be Cheugy?

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You know, ever since I let my white hair grow in, I’ve been fussing a bit, and sometimes a lot, about how having white hair affects me, and my idea of “me.” And part of coming to terms with the new/old me in the mirror, is deciding how to dress to reflect who I am now. Or at least who I think I am now. Does that make sense?

I’ve abandoned outfits I’d worn previously as too fussy, embraced a hair style that is looser, and less self-consciously “styled,” and generally tried to dress to reflect how I feel. ‘How I feel’ is comfortable, at least most of the time, with turning sixty-five this month. And being almost sixty-five means I’m old enough to rarely worry about what other people think I should be wearing. And according to this article in the New York Times, that means I am not “cheugy.” Phew, glad I cleared that up.

I chuckled when I first read this article in the London Telegraph. Apparently “cheugy” is “Gen Z’s latest insult to older generations.” But let’s start by defining our terms, shall we?

[Cheugy means one’s style is] not quite “basic,” which can describe someone who is a conformist or perhaps generic in their tastes, and it’s not quite “uncool.” It’s not embarrassing or even always negative. Cheugy (pronounced chew-gee) can be used, broadly, to describe someone who is out of date or trying too hard. And while a lot of cheugy things are associated with millennial women, the term can be applied to anyone of any gender and any age.

Taylor Lorenz in the New York Times

According to the New York Times article, the Gen Z trend prognosticators say that Millennial women are the biggest cheugy offenders. Millennials were born between 1981 and 1996, which means most of them are now approaching forty. So it seems to me that the practice of calling out cheugy-ers is simply Gen Z lashing out at the next older social cohort. Kind of like when the Baby Boomers who were teenagers in the sixties said no one over thirty could be trusted.

Is this outfit of white cropped jeans, black cashmere sweater, black and white bag and black loafers is cheugy? Standing on the deck with the lawn and river in the background.
Is this a cheugy outfit? And do I care?

At first I figured that I’m probably too old to be considered cheugy. Except that it’s a term that is not necessarily totally about age. So, I could still be cheugy if I dressed as if I were trying too hard. Or if I slavishly followed trends, but was a “late adopter,” and only wore them when they were on the cusp of not being trendy anymore. Like those cold shoulder tops that were everywhere on the runways a couple of years ago. And then much later were literally everywhere.

But here’s where I think that age comes into it. At least for me. I feel comfortable wearing what I like, what I think expresses my own taste, and who I am. And that attitude only developed with age. I’ve always cared about how I dress. I’ve always loved clothes. And I’ve always taken note of trends. But now that I’m older, I’m aware enough of what I can and can’t wear to adopt some trends because they suit my personality. And steer clear of others because they look ridiculous, and would make me look ridiculous if I wore them. Or at the very least not like myself. According to Gaby Rosen who coined the term cheugy, “looking good for yourself and not caring what other people think, that confidence exudes non-cheugyness.” It seems that adhering to one’s personal style will always be non-cheugy.

Wearing an outfit I like: black coat and sweater, white jeans, black loafers. On our deck with the river in the background.
Is this outfit “uncool”, “basic”, “cheugy”, or simply what I feel like wearing?

Let’s take the outfits in this post as examples.

I like my Frame, cropped bootcut, white jeans a lot. At only two years old, they are a fairly new addition to my closet. In the shot at the beginning of this post, I’m wearing them with my Stuart Weitzman patent loafers, and my new Everlane cashmere sweater. Because the cropped, frayed-hem jeans are kind of boho in style, they can work with the lady-like black and cream structured bag… IMO. And if I were to wear a jacket with this, I’d wear my black and grey Theory windbreaker, or my old tan linen blazer. I like this outfit. It suits me. Not too lady-like nor too literally boho. I’m not really a boho kind of person. Now, is the trend of raw-hemmed pants over? Maybe. Does continuing to wear these jeans make this outfit cheugy? Maybe. But do I really care? Nope.

In the second outfit, I’m wearing my black Everlane cashmere sweater and my black loafers with my Frame straight-leg white jeans. I’m also wearing (or carrying) my Everlane drape trench. This coat is quite new. And looks much better with the longer straight-leg jeans than the cropped bootcut. And because the coat is quite oversized, and a bit slouchy (I bought a size large), I changed my structured bag for my Eric Javits straw tote. I like this outfit too, and I love the coat with the white jeans and loafers.

I tried adding a scarf at the neck to break up all the black but it looked too fussy to me. If I were going to wear the outfit on a cool day with the coat buttoned and belted, I might wear a long scarf wound a couple of times around my neck. If not a scarf, I could add a short, silver, slightly chunky chain at the neck with this. If I owned such a thing. In fact, looking at the photo, I might swap out the white hoops for gold ones, and wear my short chunky gold chain at my neck. The gold would go with the tan bag. But I didn’t think of this at the time.

This outfit feels like me right now. Comfortable, classic, combined with slightly loose and slouchy. Partly what I’ve always worn, partly reflecting the new/old me. Does that “exude non-cheugyness”? I don’t have any idea, nor do I much care. I like what I like, and wear what I like.

So today I’ve had some fun reading about a new word that helps at least some people define cool in 2021. I always enjoy articles which parse the dictates of fashion and the meaning of style. Remember all those French style articles a few years ago? How to dress like a French woman, followed by how to eat like a French woman (and stay thin), and even how to raise your kids like a French woman. I’m serious. Then there are the articles which list the five (or ten) things every woman should have in her closet. I always devour those. They don’t persuade me that I need to buy such and such, I just love to read about style. Even if the article is silly.

And I do think the idea of women over the age of nineteen worrying about whether they are cheugy or not is silly. I hope that goes without saying. Part of me wonders if Gen Z is just having us on with all this cheugy stuff. I mean, they have to entertain themselves somehow during lockdown, don’t they?

One thing I did notice in the New York Times article is that one Gen Z-er says thrifting is most definitely non-cheugy. Gen Z loves thrifting. So repurposing old clothes, sewing one’s own clothes, and mending others is hugely non-cheugy. That’s a good sign I think. Maybe all the Gen Z-ers will jump on the Fashion Revolution bandwagon. And that would be a very good thing.

Now, I’ve talked enough about myself. My white hair, what goes with my white hair, what jeans go with whatever and not with whatever else. And my impending status change. At age sixty-five I will be, according to our government, officially a senior citizen. Ackk. That still freaks me out a teensy bit, I must admit. But it’s your turn, my friends. Do you think you’re cheugy? Or not? Or do you (most probably) not give a damn, as Rhett Butler didn’t quite say.

P.S. Clothing links in this post are affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking my link, I will make a commission.

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60 thoughts on “Too Old to Be Cheugy?”

  1. Sharon Kennedy

    I’m turning 70 this year! I can’t quite believe it. I certainly don’t feel old. I have never looked better in my life. My hair is white. I dress the way I want, what I feel is appropriate for my age, but never old looking. I am never going to be in better health than I am today. I am loving my life! Now if we could only get out of lockdown so I can enjoy it with others, I would be totally happy.

    Love your style 🙂

  2. I’m a few years older than you and one of the best parts of becoming 71 (but who’s counting?) is that I’m comfortable in my skin. I will always try to look as fashionable as possible but only in the way that it suits the way I feel when wearing an outfit. If I feel good in skinny jeans or leggings, over wide-legged pants, I’ll wear them and not give it another thought. I’ve discovered young people compliment me because I’ve taken the time to put on my makeup and do my hair and wear my style of clothing. You always look amazing in your outfits. I say keep doing what you are doing but it’s fun to hear the term…I had never heard that before.
    Karen

  3. Exactly! Who gives a damn? I’m 12 years older than you (gosh I actually wrote that!), and apart from my leather pants (which I am going to wear to lunch on Thursday) I never give a thought to whether my clothes look too young, or worse, too old.

  4. First, I turned 65 this past year in lockdown, so it was just another day, and to tell you the truth, after I got over the fact that no one remembered the actual age, it did not make a bit of difference after the day. I do hope someone does celebrate with you and remembers. I must say, that is one fashion term that I have not heard of until today. I try to look like I made a bit of an effort when I go out, but that may be the fact that I put on makeup and added a couple fun pieces like shoes or jewellery. We are much luckier these days to have so many options to choose from and still be presentable. We can wear a variety of lengths in pants and skirts according to how we feel that day without the scrutiny of decades past, within reason (there will be no short skirts or shorts for me) but that is just my personal feelings. So glad the younger generations approve of thrifting, which I have been doing for 30 years. It is a fun way of discovering new ideas for less. They do it so well in most cases.
    I am with you on the articles of must wear etc. not for making changes, just for the fun of reading anything about fashion past present or future. Some of those lists of must haves are not in the least reflective of my closet and that is OK too.

  5. As a lover of words, I’ve been trying to get my head around cheugy lately as it’s shown up in several things that I’ve read. What I have determined, just like you, is that I don’t care one iota whether someone considers me cheugy or not! I enjoy fashion, but I don’t dress to satisfy or impress anyone but myself.

  6. Frankly my Dear … I never gave a damn. I won’t begin now at 61. As I freshened up my buzz cut this morning, I was happy to see that my hair is now mostly white! That made me think about age. Two months ago, I received a very nice letter, thanking me for all the years as a potential donor and informing me that my spinal cord was no more needed because of my age. Who would have thought? I’m a logical and rational person, mostly, but it never occurred to me that my spinal cord had an expiration date. I don’t feel it and will continue to dress like myself , the new “older” me is not very different from the old me, organs aside.

    1. Ah well, you must have been much more confident than I was in my twenties and thirties. I always gave too much of a damn how I appeared to others. I was a people pleaser. Took me years to figure out that, with respect to dress, anyway, the only one I had to please was myself.

  7. I’m truly amazed that you are turning 65!! I can honestly and sincerely say that is a shocking revelation. You are such a lovely, stylish woman.

  8. Mary Lou Hartman

    Thanks for introducing me to a new word today. I really don’t think about my age and dress to please myself since I feel that I’ve earned that right at this stage of my life.

  9. Pat from Ohio

    You amaze me with your lists and how you edit and add to your closet. I wish I was more like you but although I have too many I don’t love clothes. I went to private schools and had to wear uniforms. My first job was a waitress with another uniform so I never really learned how to shop. Then I was in college I just wore jeans and t-shirts so when I got jobs that you needed to dress it was hard for me. I don’t like trendy and I like clothes that fit me or I look good in. I have an inverted V shape so I am always looking for blouses that don’t gap and clothes that make me look less busty and I want to be comfortable. So I guess maybe why I am not as diligent as you is that it’s work to me.

    1. It’s hard to learn anything later in life, even how to dress. I have a friend who used to buy whole outfits for work and then hang everything from the one outfit on the one hanger. Never occurred to her to mix and match.

  10. Cheugy….hmm, sounds like Chewy in Star Wars movies. I am definitely just me. Cropped pants, definitely a favorite, topped with a pullover sweater, absolutely. Love your outfit, definitely my style…except the trench, don’t own one, not a good fit on me. I wear a cardi everyday until it gets too hot. I call my style, my uniform, it fits my lifestyle. Being comfortable within your own skin is the best feeling. Cheugy made me smile, thanks for another fun post.

    1. Silly me I thought it meant that rash you get wearing unlined wool pants (had a homemade pair as a kid and the rash that came with it) ! Glad Sue gave the definition!

  11. OMG were you watching the über adorable Stephan being interviewed by those hags on The Social? I had not heard of the term cheugy until then…
    You do you! I don’t really care any more about what others think of my ‘outfits’ They like, great…they don’t, who cares!? I dress for me not ‘them’.
    What others think of me is their problem, not mine.
    Cripes Kate after reading some of my ‘old doll’ blogs I can’t believe the anxiety about white hair vs dyed or the time spent perseverating on ‘am I wearing the right season’ or ‘have I styled this correctly’ or even worse…would a French woman wear this?…crazy! Man, I grew up with a woman who set such store in the inanity of ‘what would people think’ that her life held no joy and every fashion choice a failure. Not until dementia stole her mind did she forget about what others would think and finally felt good in her clothes.
    The lesson: when you are comfortable in your own skin it doesn’t matter what you wear you will always be au courant.

    1. I agree that being comfortable with who we are is key. Doesn’t stop me from experimenting with this or that outfit, not necessarily wondering if I have styled it “correctly” but wondering why one combination works and another doesn’t. I just love to analyze. Maybe I should come up with an analytical template like we designed for kids to help them analyze literature.

  12. Read somewhere recently that you should dress for your personality and for your actual lifestyle and not your dreamed about lifestyle. That made sense to me. I am closer to 70 than 60 and retired. My taste is pretty classic and unfussy so jeans and jumpers in winter and cropped pants and tee shirts in summer. Is this cheugy? Don’t know and don’t care.

    1. I think that’s why we change how we dress as we evolve and our lives change … suddenly something doesn’t feel right on the current person I am.

  13. I just read an article about this neologism, and hear you are, using the word already! On point, girl! (I think that exclamation was probably a textbook example of “cheugy.” 😉 Cringe. . . . )
    Interestingly, though, the article I read in our local media publication “Vancouver Is Awesome” put the emphasis on the part of the NYT’s definition that equated the word with “trying too hard” rather than the part about being out of date. And in that writer’s interpretation, it’s a term that could apply across age bands (he uses the example of certain local spots that get jammed with long line-ups of Instagram Selfie-snappers, a great non-sartorial example of thinking you’re cool when you’re really just “cheugy”). So as long as we’re not smugly or noisily strutting our skinny jeans as if they’re oh so “dernier cri,” we’re good. We can be cool wearing them if we’re not caring about being cool. Or something like that.
    This was a fun post, Sue! Not cheugy at all, says this Boomer, but I guess we’d need a GenZ’er to confirm. Except we’re too old to care?! xo

    1. The trying too hard is the part of the definition that I can identify with. Although it seems that lots of users of the word (i.e. those young ones on Tik Tok) dote on looking for huge trends that are just slightly out of date. Hence the focus on those tassel earrings. I love what you said, you can be cool as long as you’re not trying tp be cool. That reminds me of when I was single and 24 and my roommate and I despaired of even finding a beau. Ha. Just like in Jane Austen. A co-worker of mine said that no one even finds a date when they’re looking for one. And I replied, “Should I cover my eyes and say ‘I’m not looking now’?” The fun is just trying to figure out what the heck it means.

  14. I appreciate and admire those above who learnt early on not to give a darn about what others thought and just wore what they wanted. It’s taken me forever to get there. Like you I am turning 65 this year (how did that happen)?the funny thing is that I am still discovering who I am and what I like. I have been surprising myself in some of my clothing choices as my body shifts and changes yet again. I retired this year and am playing with my clothes trying to see if they suit my new lifestyle. I do need to say that all of those articles on how to eat and dress like French woman made me feel clumsy, chunky and unworthy….I mean really I am positive that not every woman in thin and chic in France and have 4 items in their wardrobe that can be made into 95 elegant outfits.

    1. Me too, Kat. It took me years to not worry about feeling judged on what I wore. I’m sure some of that was imaginary, although I do remember older women passing comments on my clothes when I started teaching at a school here in Ottawa. When lace-up, chunky, Oxford-style heels came back in the nineties I loved mine. Partly because they were so on trend and partly because they fit my narrow foot and looked good on my skinny legs. I still remember a colleague looking at my feet and laughing and saying that the nuns at her high school in the sixties wore shoes just like mine. I remember biting back a nasty reply and feeling the better for it.
      Love your comment about having 4 pieces that make 95 outfits. Ha. I’ve come to believe that many capsule wardrobe aficiondos have a small amount in their closet at the moment, and a vast closet where they can switch out for new items when they want. 🙂

  15. Cheugy sounds like some kind of energy bar to me LOL
    I have always cared to like nice/put together as opposed to what I wear for painting the house but I don’t care what anyone else thinks about it. Mostly words like cheugy (spellmesser just suggested cheesy as a replacement LOL) that are used as put-downs are a reflection of the person using the word…..mostly lack of self confidence. The world teaches using put-downs so no surprise that this is another version.

  16. That’s a new word for me so I did a bit of research. It all sounds as unpleasant as those nasty girls in senior school who wore the latest fashions and decided who was or was not worthy of attention, more interested in boyfriends and ganging together to be vile to other girls than anything else. Fortunately for me, I was in a different crowd and just thought they were idiots. I may well be a bit cheugy (I own two denim jackets) but that’s fine. If I actually cared, that would be tragic. Almost as tragic as attempting to wear low-rise jeans because someone has decided they are back. Not today, Satan.

  17. Cheugy shmoogy, like Rhett, I don’t give a damn. I’m 67 and I’ve known for a while what I like and don’t like to wear. Classic, comfortable, natural fibre garments of the best quality that I can afford and I wear my clothes for a long time. I loathed the cold shoulder look, and the visible zipper look before it and ignored them both. I used to dress in an effort to appeal to boys, then I was more conscious of what other women might think but now, I’m finally dressing for me. Took me a while but I got there.

    1. I remember writing about the cold shoulder look. I never quite understood the appeal of that one. Although I have a lovely dress with a visible zipper. I didn’t know that was a trend. 🙂

      1. Amanda Hudson

        I thought the same thing. I rather like a visible zipper but never thought the cold shoulder look was cute. If you want to show off your shoulders do it! Wearing what one likes, what looks good on you, what makes you happy, and doing it with confidence. That’s the ticket. I am glad to learn a new word. By the way I turn 70 this year and have clothes from 25 years ago and this year. Are the really old garments vintage? I say yes.

  18. I read this yesterday, but wasn’t inspired to comment until I had my “what do I wear so I look good but don’t look like I’m trying too hard?” moment this morning, when I set out for my first social event since landing on Portugal’s shores. Add to that my limited wardrobe (container hasn’t arrived yet), so I spent a few moments visualizing before I got dressed. Happily, my visualization worked, and my white jeans (rolled, which I almost never remember to do, but it worked a treat) with a white linen tank and my oatmeal Jenni Kayne cocoon sweater, and chestnut suede ankle boots were perfect for the event – I was right in the slot, stylewise (casual, but not too, and not fussy), and felt great. And that last part is what matters, right?

  19. Ah really you north americans do like your new words…
    Just saying with very kind word…
    I would never ever even imagine such word here in France… yet at least.
    Actually I do not remember really giving a damn to whatever others would think about what I was wearing, even when I was at school: yes I had some tough years but I persisted.
    I only changed my clothing once I started working and thinking that wearing dull and neutral outfits would help me seems and feel more professional and… taller?!
    Fortunately I stopped this quite quickly (and no, wearing grey and black and overly classic did not help me to appear more professional!!).
    Nowadays… I am “cheugy”? I don’t know and I don’t care.
    I am still in my early 50’s and will certainly not stat now to follow trends or loose my confidence because my clothing or my trousers are not trendy, or wearing bright colours is not what people wear.
    I am definitely not your typical french woman if there ever was one!
    I live in an area where there are a lot of migrants, either first or second generation.
    People tends to wear cheap and dark clothes, because that’s what one can find in the fast fashion stores.
    I tend to stick out with my clothing, my shoes.
    Don’t care, don’t mind. I feel myself and this is the best.

    1. That is best, you are so right. Nothing wrong with trying to look professional when you are young and starting your career. I’ve often found that young teachers need to be careful to NOT dress like the students. They should try to at least look as if they are a grown up. Ha.

      1. I’m a teacher as well and I do find that younger teachers look more like students than the students do. It’s finding the balance between honoring your personality and dressing respectfully for your job. My best friend, who is a teacher too, is a fiery red head who glows in color. She always looks professional and colorful. I’m not one who’s comfortable making a statement with clothes but if that’s you go for it.

  20. Lucretia Roletta

    I really enjoy reading your blog. I think the main fact is as we grow older is our whole body changes. Our hair becomes gray and our skin becomes paler, among many things. What once worked, no longer does! Colors and styles don’t look the same. It’s another journey we must take. Trial and error!

  21. I love learning new words! But I’m betting as soon as THEY realize WE have begun using it, that in itself will be cheugy. If one can’t win (barring cloaking oneself in turtlenecks, long sleeves, long pants and sensible shoes, to spare the world a view of one’s no-longer-taut epidermis and musculature), then I suggest wearing whatever TF one wants. For this nearing 67-year-old that will always (or until someone else is tasked with dressing my incapacitated self) be something flattering, comfortable, and classic with a wink at what is trending. 😉

  22. Thank you for a new word!
    When I was between 40 and 50,I’ve met a male colleague who commented :”Why are you dressing like you were young?” What!!! I was wearing some kind of classic jeans and modesty(!?!) top,not a mini bodycon dress and(if I was a car 😎) I was in an excellent condition. I’ve just answered “Why do you want to know”. It was completely rude from him,but I’ve realized that you can’t please all people so it is best to please myself
    You look great,stylish and are such a lovely person and inspiration!
    Dottoressa

    1. Wow. I can’t imagine someone saying that…especially a colleague. However I did have male colleagues make somewhat snide comments about my outfits at work a few times. Happily not until I was old enough and confident enough to put them in their place. Ha.

  23. First, you look very elegant in your black and white. It’s a breath of fresh air. Having grown weary of all the florals, puff and flounce your outfit combination is one I wear on repeat. I like simple, timeless, classic basics, call it what you will. Wearing timeless basics are always okay. For example; many years after Carolyn Bessette Kennedy has passed away her classic style is still current. I’m one who votes for quiet style.

  24. Not only is it a silly word – why do we have to be put in categories? Surely we can look in the mirror and make up our own minds about we want to wear? If it makes you feel good, wear it – end of story. We’re all different with different tastes, lifestyles, budget etc. and there is more to life than worrying about whether you’re creating the ‘right’ impression with your clothes. I’m 78, living in rural Ireland and haven’t lost interest in clothes or makeup and don’t suppose I ever will but I know what suits me and my lifestyle and what doesn’t and I’m comfortable with that. Trends come and go but not in my wardrobe. I’ve only just discovered your blog and it was the post on ‘kindness’ that caught my eye. I knew you had to be Canadian, as I am and I went to Nepean High School in the late ’50s. My son used to watch The Gentle Giant when he was a child. It was a lovely program for children and thank you for that trip down Memory Lane.

    1. What a coincidence, Gail. Good old Nepean High School. I loved working there. What a wonderful neighbourhood. Living in rural Ireland must be lovely. We so enjoyed Ireland the year we drove from one end to the other. I particularly loved County Kerry from which my Sullivan ancestors emigrated.

      1. I just had to reply after reading about your trip to Ireland. I live just outside Kenmare, Co. Kerry and having lived here for 28 years, I know all about teeny, tiny, winding roads with grass growing up in the middle which is exactly what the road to our house is like! Drop by for a cup of tea on your next visit – you’d be most welcome!

  25. Having learned of this newest “it word” last week, I groaned! Turning 68 this year, the age transformation I find freeing! COVID isolation provided the impetus to see the face in the mirror is rapidly being graced with gray hair when you can’t go to the salon!

    AND… we can embrace the gray in the comfort/privacy of home and endure the less-than-pretty process without a large audience! I found the updated countenance energizing and exciting. Who knew gray brought new life to that favorite black leather jacket or the leather pants TOO?! How gray hair turned my always green eyes into beacons. Perhaps COVID influenced having a graceful attitude about the transformation we wasted fearing too long. Mind over matter is key to surviving a pandemic or a life stage.

    Sue, you look incredible accented by white hair on top of your classic fashion sense and the easy aplomb pulling it off! Ageing with grace shows: comfort in our style, we finally get what is flattering on us, and let go of self-criticism or concern for arbitrary fashion rules and opinions. We are wise to how fickle style and the fashion industry are. We know how expensive and wasteful it is to maintain fast fashion or impulse buys at great sale prices.

    PLUS… vaccines now making it possible to get out there and shine!

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