Late last month I packed my bags and headed to Anaheim, Calif., to attend VidCon, the fifth annual gathering for YouTubers (or “creators,” as they prefer) and their adoring fans. As you can tell from the shot below, however, I’m not sure “adoring” quite covers it.
Why, many people asked, would I put myself in the path (literally) of thousands (nearly 18,000, to be exact) of mostly teenage girls who frequently screamed as they ran after the newest, hottest, cutest, funniest creators — the bulk of whom, not coincidentally, are teenage boys?
Because roaming amid those fangirls was an abundance of mature advertiser-types, eager to connect with a new audience — precisely what I’m trying to do as the creator of The Best of Everything After 50, my lifestyle series on AARP’s YouTube Channel.
I knew I’d be vying for attention with YouTube superstars claiming millions of followers. But here’s the thing about being over 50: Precious little can intimidate us.
In fact, after “Takei’s Take” starring George Takei, “The Best of Everything” is the channel’s second-most-watched series. Which makes sense, when you stop to think about it, because a whopping 80 percent of boomers are online. And lots of us — even those with, alas, no cats — love to watch YouTube videos.
And guess what? According to Google, the No. 1 most-searched word by people over 55 is … wait for it … “YouTube.”
I doubt I’ll ever have fans screaming their heads off as they race toward the spot where Twitter or InstaGram report I’ve just been spotted. But I do think it’s vital for marketers to see creators over 45 well represented at such gatherings.
And so I went.
Ah, but what to wear?
Sensing I might not fit in with the bared navels, purple hair, short-shorts and nose rings in evidence, I chose outfits that I hoped would make me look:
- Polished, but not too business-y
- Age- and weather-appropriate (it was warm in sunny Anaheim)
- Cool, as in “hip” (to approach this ideal, I made my two teenage daughters bless every ensemble before I zipped my suitcase).
I guess I chose wisely, for several VidConners asked about my two favorite outfits: “Whose jacket is that?” “Love the jumpsuit!” I’m grateful to those anonymous admirers; they emboldened me to share the details with you:
Day 1: “Industry Day” consisted of all-day sessions and keynote speeches by some of the brightest stars in the online video industry, including VidCon founders and brothers Hank and John Green (the latter is the best-selling author of The Fault in Our Stars). To absorb their pro tips on how to create viral video, I wore a comfortable and flattering-on-anyone sleeveless black jersey jumpsuit from Norma Kamali, then paired it with a washed-out denim jacket by Rag & Bone and wedge espadrilles by Michael Kors. The jacket is pricey but I got it on sale, and — as you may notice from the next outfit — I wear it All. The. Time.
Day 2: Today was all about creator-fan interactions. It was inspiring to watch teenage girls queue up for hours to snag an autograph from favorites such as entertainer Sam Pepper, world traveler Fun for Louis, vlogger (video blogger) Tyler Oakley and makeup guru Michelle Phan. I still had to look polished and appropriate, though, so I went with a favorite fit-and-flare summer knee-length dress by ChaudryKC (above). (Not always easy to find, this line frequently turns up on eBay; a good backup is from Nic+Zoe). I paired it with my go-to denim jacket and some comfortably stretchy nude-colored wedge sandals — perfect.
So … did I learn anything “actionable” at VidCon? Oh, yeah:
- a soft, well-worn denim jacket is the “black leather moto jacket” for summer;
- nothing beats a simple black sleeveless jumpsuit (you can layer it for any occasion);
- half of everyone watching YouTube is over 45;
- teenage girls are adorable, even when they’re screaming — possibly especially when they’re screaming.
Until next time, remember this: We can’t control getting older…but we can control how we do it!
For more tips on living your best life, look inside The Best of Everything After 50: The Experts’ Guide to Style, Sex, Health, Money and More, and subscribe to The Best of Everything After 50 video series on AARP’s YouTube Channel.
Photos: Barbara Hannah Grufferman personal photos; LA Times