The Myth Behind Millennials

Tom Wolfe wrote in New York Magazine about the “Me Decade.” The “Now Generation,” characterized by a sense of entitlement, self-absorption, and laziness heralded the breakdown of civilization. This was written about Baby Boomers growing up in the 1970’s. It turns out there’s a common thread that runs through the maligning of each new generation coming up. It’s the qualities of the young—the fallout of youth. In our twenties it’s who we each were and are–every generation.

If you’re in midlife and beyond you’re probably thinking the reference to Tom Wolfe was a dead giveaway that the article was written in the ‘70’s. In your mind did you go to, “The Millenials wouldn’t even know who Tom Wolfe is!” That’s right, Millenials may not be familiar with The Bonfire of the Vanities author, just like the Millenial-resonating work of Lena Dunham may be completely lost on us Baby Boomers.

The Bridging The Gap campaign aims to blur the lines between us. An offshoot of the Facebook group, Forever Fierce: The Midlife Revolution, this project paired 100 Midlife bloggers, with 100 Millenial bloggers to be featured on one another’s blogs, to gain a better understanding of each generation. The 200 stories are being published simultaneously, all over the world, today–October 17, 2017.

Millenials keep us current, savvy, and significant, as a counter to growing old. Those of us in midlife teach from experience, resilience, and wisdom to show a hopeful side to aging. Allyson Burgess, my Millenial partner in the campaign, exhibits the qualities of the people I know in her generation. She holds two jobs, is invigorated in her community, lives a healthy lifestyle, takes smart risks, and dreams big (there’s that sense of entitlement). From Nashville–by way of DePaul University–to San Fransisco, her blog Authentically Allyson, encourages women to,

“embrace authenticity in how they look, feel, act and dress,

in and out of the workplace.”

Allyson, 23, began her career in finance, but took a leap of faith when she moved to San Fransisco to switch careers and work in the sales force at Adobe Systems. Her lifelong love of fashion persisted to consume her creative side, and so began her second job as blogger. Over the phone, Allyson and I have laughed about the fashion goofs of women my age, gushed over classic blazers we both love, and shared our admiration for the important role modeling of women like her mom.

What is your process for deciding what to write about on Authentically Allyson?
I write down different subject headings, and let them sit for awhile. If those ideas keep coming back to me, I develop them into something more. Then I go back in and create my posts—that accounts for about 50 percent of it. The other half of my inspiration comes on the fly. Walking around San Fransisco there’s so much creativity, and then everything starts to align. I’m so big on messaging lately—I want my images to resonate so people respond to them. I’m also getting more interactive with my readers—I like to give them something to think about. Like if I post an image of sunflowers, rather than just ending there, I’ll ask a question like, “Anyone else buy flowers for themselves?”

How do you like to experiment with fashion?
I like to play with different eras—like the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s. It’s not one thing that defines my style; I like to try everything and adapt it to me. I don’t overgeneralize things with boundaries and lines of masculine, feminine, etc. I try to overcome those limits and mix and match. So I’ll put together an outfit with a polka-dot vintage blouse, a black, ‘80’s, zip-up skirt, and gray modern clogs.

Favorite stores to shop?
I try to stay away from fast fashion companies, but sometimes I can’t resist. Because of pricing, Zara is a go-to. I like to shop stores that do campaigns with artists, like Oak & Fort. Founded by a Korean designer, with its first store in Canada, it has an eastern, modern, neutral aesthetic. They have a few stores in San Fransisco now. I first discovered Sandro when I traveled to Paris with my mom. Everything is so nicely made—there’s a lot of craft behind the design. I also love The Kooples—it’s a street style brand that a lot of Parisians wear, with a rock ‘n roll vibe and neat tailoring.

What is your next fashion must-have?
If I could wear a blazer everyday, I’d be a really happy woman! Right now I’m lusting after a brown, plaid blazer—like a man’s blazer, but cut for a woman. I’ll be on the lookout for it when I’m thrifting.

How would you wear it?
I mainly wear skirts, because it’s so hard to find pants with a good fit. So I would pair it with a maroon, brown or black leather skirt that hits a little above the knee, a plain shirt, and ankle boots. All business on top, fun on the bottom.

What items do you splurge on?
Shoes. A good-quality, black, leather purse. Or a purse that’s really unique but is destined to be a classic. Like the Marc Jacobs Silicon Valley Satchel that I bought when I was younger. And now YSL has a small, black clutch with a silver handle that is edgy, but still classic-looking.

What is one thing your generation wears that my generation should too?
This is an unexpected response for me, but I like the way my generation does Athleisure. It’s empowering to wear Nike’s, hop around the city and go to my next activity feeling stylish. Stella McCartney does a great job with athleisure in her line. And of course there’s Lululemon and Athleta.

What ages plum-aged women?
Jogger suits—velvety, coordinating bottoms and jackets. Gaudy prints, and wild patterns that are out in left field—not out of an emerging trend. Clothes that swallow a woman and aren’t flattering.

What makes a woman look current and with-it?
Modern jeans–denim looks great—like 7 For All Mankind. Wear pants, not jeggings. Shoes are a big one that can make or break a look—like ankle boots. And jewelry—be up-to-date with it—follow the trend, whether it’s chunky, minimal, whatever.

What do you wish you would stop hearing about your generation?
Please stop saying that we’re unappreciative, that we don’t want to work hard, that we don’t want to commit, that we expect everything on a silver platter. It’s not true. We are so hungry to work hard, and I know a lot of Millenials who are killing themselves to get ahead. When you say these things it makes us sound inhuman, and it limits the extent of our capabilities. We actually have a lot of parallels with Baby Boomers. We’re fighting some of the same social and political issues, and like that era, changes in fashion reflect it.

What would your 50-year-old self say to you at this stage in life?
That I should stay focused in a healthy way on myself, rather than trying to please men, friends, employers. Although I’m young and having fun, that I need to keep an eye on what I want to accomplish in life.

Someday I’ll meet Allyson. I picture us lunching at some café that’s haphazardly thrown together in just the right, artistic way. Then of course we’ll do a little shopping at interesting, and undiscovered stores. What a treat it would be if her mom joined us—the woman who imbued in Allyson the go-getter persistence and confidence that brings this Millenial meaning. Millenials are sometimes known as Echo Boomers because there was a surge in births in the ‘80’s and ‘90’s, and most are the children of Baby Boomers. So often what we judge in others, is what we don’t see in ourselves.

All 200 Bridging the Gap stories can be found on the blog of Catherine Grace O, The Founder of Forever Fierce: The Midlife Revolution. Check out Authentically Allyson for her Midlife Blogger post on moi.


Photos:  Authentically Allyson . Duo Photo:  @annaalexia 

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