Dear Shopping Savage,
I am a woman of "a certain age" that has a teenage daughter who says I'm starting to dress too provocatively. I reason at my age if you still have something left you should flaunt it! (To give you a general idea of my age: My now ex-husband and I got married in our mid-twenties and were together for close to 20 years.) I spent years feeling like I was under someone's thumb; controlling what I wore, where I went, who my friends were. Now after this divorce I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders and I can breathe again!
Maybe I could stand to buy the dress in a size 6 instead of the 4 but if it fits am I wrong for wearing it? Who's right in this situation - me or my daughter? Should I dress less "sexy" to appease her or because it's the "proper thing" for a woman of "a certain age" to do?
Cougar vs Cub
First and foremost I'm happy to hear that you're happier than you've been in what sounds like quite some time. It would seem natural to feel this sudden "freedom" after feeling stifled for so long - sounds similar to the same euphoric feeling most teenagers feel when they move out of their parent's house - however, try to take a step back and see things from your daughter's vantage point: she's a teenager, her parents are (I'm assuming) newly divorced and in the midst of it all, her mother has gone from mom to milf. That's a lot to digest on top of your typical teenage angst.
I offer this to you as a compromise: until all of this change begins to solidify, reserve wearing the size 4 dresses for special occasions - i.e. going dancing with your girlfriends, for a date, or even better: when you have to interact or see your ex-husband.
In the meantime, ask your daughter to go with you the next time you want to go shopping and let her pick out an armful of pieces she believes you should wear and in turn pick out what you believe you should wear. Try to mix-and-match the pile she chose with your choices and get her opinion before you make a purchase. This exercise will not only serve as a good bonding experience, but you'll now have clothing that you both can agree on.
Good luck with your new outlook (and outfits) in this leg of your life. Don't try to recapture your "lost youth" through your wardrobe, instead take all of the lesson's life has shown you and nurture your daughter into becoming a strong, confident woman. One day she too may be faced with a similar "clothing-life crisis" and if that day should ever come, she'll know what to do, all thanks to her milf, I mean mom.