Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Fashion Inspiration for the Woman of a Certain Age ( and Size)!



If you have read my blog over the years, you know that I love fashion, and despite being a woman of a certain age (and size), I still like to dress up.  I have also always enjoyed fashion magazines, ever since I found my older sister's stash of "Seventeen," way back when I was about eight. Since I love clothes and like to make a fashion statement, I always found fashion magazines inspirational. 

However, now that I am a woman of a certain age, I still enjoy them, but find that more and more, they relate less and less to women like me. It seems as we age, we become invisible, not just to the opposite sex and in fashion magazines, but to the world in general. 

So now, I still like to read fashion magazines and books not so much for the fashion inspiration I once sought but so that I can become outraged at the expectations laid out for us older women ("What Rosy Loves and a Rant About Fashion Magazines.")  Not only are we faced with 18-year-old size zero women, we are told what we should and shouldn't wear, what's out and what's in.  Because of that, it's easy to just say, "Screw it!" and give up on ourselves.  If the expectations are so great and yet nobody sees us and nobody else cares what we look like, why should we?

But we should.  We need to fight invisibility and make strong statements about the fact that we may be old but we are still alive and kicking, we still care about how we look and we look GREAT!

I recently posted "Make-Up 101 for the Woman of a Certain Age," in hopes that I could inspire the more mature woman not to give up on herself just because she is, uh, mature and a bit wrinkly.  I also wrote that post because I think we women should fight invisibility by slapping on a little color and not giving in to the ravages of old age.

So I am going to continue that theme, but this time, regarding fashion, in hopes that, despite a little extra poundage and a bit of thickness around the middle, we women of a certain age and size can still look good.  Especially if you are retired, I know it's tempting to just let it all hang out, wear sweatpants and old lady shoes because they are comfortable.  When you have put on weight, one of the first things to go is a waistband, but in the immortal words of Billy Crystal as actor Fernando Lamas on SNL  "It's better to look good than to feel good."

Actually, I am just kidding, well, sort of kidding.

I don't want you to be uncomfortable, but I also don't want you to give in to comfort to the point of not giving a damn what you look like or to think that because you weigh 20 pounds more than you should why bother to dress up?

I had fun awhile back writing a blog post called "Parisian Chic (it's one of my most popular posts, too!) where I reviewed all of those books that came out a few years ago extolling the virtues of being French.  You know the ones I mean, "French Women Don't Get Fat," etc., books meant to make us American women feel shlumpy and lazy.  We may not be French and we many not know 20 different ways to tie a scarf, but we are not shlumpy and we are not lazy.

As I said, though I am a mature woman, I still enjoy dressing up and reading about fashion, so if you, too, are interested in this kind of thing and feel like we women of a certain age and size are left out of the fashion party, I thought I would check out a few recent books on fashion to see if there are any tips that would not only make us less invisible but help us feel really good about ourselves, despite our age and size.  I am also going to see if these are inspirational, and if so, glean the best, share what I have learned and save you the trouble of having to wade through all of them yourselves.

And you are very welcome!

Oh, and I will throw in a few pictures of outfits I have thrown together too.




How To Get Dressed: A Costume Designer's Secrets For Making Your Clothes Look, Fit and Feel Amazing by Alison Freer (2015)


The title of this book is a bit misleading. It's not actually how to put on your clothes but rather how to take care of your clothes so that when you put them on you look amazing.

According to Freer, fit is the true enemy of great style and we need to get a tailor! 

"For example, for us curvy girls...

"Buying bigger and then taking in only where needed is the costume designer's ultimate secret weapon for dressing curves..."

You see, basically this whole book is about either tailoring your clothes yourself or getting it done.  I see lots and lots of dollars flying out of my bank account.

But she also talks about figuring out your own signature style, which I think is good.  Well, I thought it was good until she interviewed women in various professions and, wouldn't you know, one of them was a librarian...I had to say, "Oh no she didn't...

As you know, I am a retired librarian and have been fighting the librarian stereotype and the "you don't look like a librarian" comments all of my life.  Not sure what a librarian is supposed to look like, but I know what the stereotype is.  It's either an old fussy lady with a bun, glasses and double-tread floor gripper shoes or a buttoned up younger woman (yes, she still has glasses and a bun), who hides the dirty books under her desk and is just waiting for a man to come along so she can shake out her hair, take off her glasses, reveal how hot she is so that said man can ravage her on her desk.

So you can image what I thought of THIS then when a young librarian was interviewed about her personal style!

She was a twenty-five-year-old librarian and she had come up with "Librarian Noir" as her personal style.  Now I know she is making a statement about books with the noir part but when I read the blurb I had to cringe. 

Anyway, here is what our little librarian said:

"I run the library at my local university, so proper bookish styles have always been the cornerstone of my personal style.  But the older I get, the more I find myself wanting to break out of the classic 'librarian' mold.  I still need to look professional -- I'm just looking to add a bit of zip to my existing work clothes.  After writing down all the books and films I love, I realized that what I really wanted was to add a little classic Hollywood sex appeal to my wardrobe.  That's how I ended up with 'Librarian Noir.' I've plugged a few fluffy angora sweaters and seamed stockings into my existing closet of pencil skirts and ballet flats.  The result is a look that signals to the world that I'm a very proper lady--with a few secrets hidden just beneath the surface, should one want to scratch."

If ever there was a librarian stereotype, this is it. 

Librarian plus angora sweater and seamed stockings?  "A few secrets hidden beneath the surface?"  And scratch what?  Every man's fantasy, giving her a scratch and waking up that poor sex-starved librarian and finding out she's a sexual hellcat?

I also take issue with her talking about "bookish styles" - not sure what those are.  Likewise, don't know what the "classic librarian mold" is other than more stereotypes (reading glasses on a chain, pencil in bun, matching sweater set?)

(**As you can see, I feel strongly about the "librarian stereotype."  I actually wrote a whole blog post about it a couple of years ago called "Librarian Fashion. Others must care about it too, because that blog post has turned out to be one of my most popular ones. If you are interested, take a look).

After Freers finished discussing the importance of our finding our signature style, and I got over all of that librarian noir nonsense, she went on to list:

"Dumb Fashion Rules That Were Made for Breaking" which I mostly agreed with:

  • Be afraid of stripes
  • Don't wear white after Labor Day
  • Don't mix your metals
  • Don't wear leggings as pants
  • Don't wear boots in the summer
  • Don't mix patterns
  • Don't double up on denim

I agree that all of those are dumb rules except I think NOT doubling up on denim is a GOOD rule unless you want to look like you are just off the farm, and if leggings should be worn as pants, somebody should tell United Airlines.

Freers also offers some fun and strange tips that supposedly come from Hollywood actresses she has worked with: spraying your feet with cooking spray makes it easy to fit into stilettos - ladies, are we still wearing stilettos? - and "irons in a can (also known as wrinkle releasing sprays)" can work in a pinch.  Likewise, when it comes to our intimate wear, she says don't waste your money on expensive shape wear when granny panties and cotton bike shorts work just as well.  Good to know.  I've been wearing granny panties for years.

There is a chapter on shopping vintage and thrift and even one for the guys, but mostly this book is about clothes maintenance - stain removal, storage, shoe care and how to wash fabric the right way Yawn.

Rosy the Reviewer says...Inspiring for us women of a certain age and size?  Not really.  Some handy tips if you want to get into tailoring your clothes and need some advice on stain removal and greasing your stilettos, but this all sounds like too much work for me.  But at least all age groups and sizes can relate, though I'm still reeling from that 25-year-old librarian and her "Librarian noir."




This is what a librarian looks like!



How To Look Expensive: A Beauty Editor's Secrets to Getting Gorgeous Without Breaking the Bank by Andrea Pomerantz Lustig (2012)


No this book is not about how to look like a high priced hooker.

The title seems like it should be the title of a movie about high class call girls, but it's not.  In fact, Lustig takes issue with looking loud or tarty.

"Looking expensive is about looking chic and understated, polished and professional...It's about not being flashy or a show-off or a showgirl...It's luxe, not loud.  More Paris France than Paris Hilton."  Ouch.

This is yet another book revealing fashion secrets.  Who knew there were so many secrets about fashion out there and why are they secrets?  But in fact, rather than revealing secrets, this is more like a pep talk to not let yourself go.

"When you upgrade your look you are setting yourself up to upgrade your life."

"Improving your looks is a way to improve your life."

"Feeling like a million bucks makes you look like a million bucks."

You get the idea.

Lustig comes up with four styles to emulate to look expensive:

  • Park Avenue Pretty
  • Think Kate Middleton or Gwyneth Paltrow

  • Hollywood Boho
  • Think Taylor Swift or Chloe Sevigny

  • Glam Globe Trotter
  • Angelina Jolie or Sienna Miller

  • Modern Movie Star
  • Sandra Bullock or Jennifer Lopez


She also goes into make-up essentials, the top eyebrow mistakes. wardrobe rules and more pronouncements:

  • Less is always more
  • Build an edited beauty collection (check out my Make-up 101 blog mentioned above)
  • Knowledge is priceless - DIY or know how to not get overcharged
  • You can't put a price on good taste
  • Maintenance is everything
  • Buying new beauty products is a lot cheaper than buying new clothes
  • The key to a look that reads high worth is to enhance what you've got without trying to be someone else (then why did she list those stars)?

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you feel like a pep talk will get your butt off the couch and motivate you to put on some make-up and try to look like Jennifer Lopez, then this book might be for you but I found it a bit smug.



I am channeling my inner Jennifer Lopez!

 

 






Parisian Chic Look Book: What Should I Wear Today? by Ines de la Fressange and Sophie Gachet (2017)



You cannot escape the French and their superior attitude about fashion and not getting fat.

According to them, you should wear a lot of denim and a lot of black.

Through a series of pictures, the authors show you how you should dress for various events from going to work,



going out to dinner



and what to wear to visit the Eiffel Tower.

Huh?  There's a particular way we are supposed to dress to see the Eiffel Tower?

There is also a list of fashion faux pas, because, well, like I said these authors are French.

Not sure why Bermuda shorts with pockets are bad.  I am thinking Bermuda shorts in general are bad.  The authors also don't like leggings, knockoff bags, platform sneakers, culottes, long down jackets, head-to-toe fur, crepe-soled shoes, Crocs, bras with clear straps, piling on jewelry, cat T-shirts, Mom jeans, and more.  I mostly agree though I have to say the last time I was in Paris everyone looked like the Michelin Man in their long down jackets and I have to admit I am prone to piling on a bit of jewelry.



They end the book with what you SHOULD do - "Fashionable Style Tricks" such as pairing a straw bag with an evening dress, cinching your blazer with two belts, turning your V-neck backwards and using a pearl necklace as a belt.

Two belts? And they think culottes are a fashion faux pas?

The book is nicely illustrated with full outfits for many occasions but the models are all young, skinny bitches wearing nothing but black and denim.

Rosy the Reviewer says... If you can get past the skinny bitches and you like black and denim, you might find some inspiration here but once again, it's those damn French women trying to make us Americans feel fat and frumpy!



Gee, I wonder what they would say about an old lady in bell bottoms! 
 
At least I am wearing black!


 
 







The Power of Style: Everything You Need to Know Before You Get Dressed Tomorrow by Bobbie Thomas (2013)


Another fashion pep talk.

What's with these pep talks?  Are all women giving up on themselves that they need pep talks to get dressed?  I'd better read this book fast since tomorrow will be here before I know it!

Before you can even get dressed you have to go through these steps!


  • Step 1 - See yourself and ask Who Are You?

  • Step 2 - Act the part - body language and first impressions

  • Step 3 - Brand yourself

  • Step 4 - Know your worth

  • Step 5 - Put a plan in practice

OK, Rosy who are you?  I am an old gal packing a few extra pounds who just wants to be able to get dressed tomorrow and look presentable without having to ask myself "Who Am I?"  All of that just to get dressed each day?


She then goes into colors (do we still do that? - I'm summer, by the way) and finding out the best styles for your body type but for one thing - who does colors anymore and the whole body type thing has been debunked.  We curvy girls CAN wear skinny jeans.

This book is less about fashion and more of a pep talk but reading 111 pages of pep talk would keep me from getting dressed by tomorrow.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if I have to do all of that before I get dressed tomorrow, I would never get dressed!



I just threw this together!




The Capsule Wardrobe: 1,000 Outfits from 30 Pieces by Wendy Mak (2017)


Here is the formula: 80/20.  80% basics and 20% stuff you actually like. 

Literally 109 pages putting those 30 pieces together into outfits. Mak shows you how to take 30 pieces and turn them into 1000 outfits but I have to ask, Why?Yawn.  What fun is it to wear the same 30 pieces all of the time even if they are in all different combinations?

Rosy the Reviewer says... I don't think I am a good candidate for the capsule wardrobe.  In jackets alone, I have more than 30 pieces and I like the idea of being able to shop my wardrobe.  I don't think I'm a capsule wardrobe person.



After all is said and done, here is what I have to say about fashion for the woman of a certain age and size:

DO WHATEVER THE HELL YOU WANT!!!

Read fashion magazines if you want.  Read books about fashion if you want.  Both will give you some ideas but don't let those skinny bitches tell you what you can and cannot wear because the bottom line is - WEAR WHATEVER THE HELL YOU WANT!

It's your life.  Enjoy it!

EXPRESS YOURSELF!



 
Thanks for reading!

See you Friday 


for my review of  

"It"  


and


 
The Week in Reviews

(What to See or Read and What to Avoid)


 and the latest on



"My 1001 Movies I Must See Before 

 I Die Project."

  

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