Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Personal Style for Women of a Certain Age

I have always had an interest in fashion.

Through the years, I have devoured fashion magazines and books about fashion and tried to replicate the outfits.

I think I must have gotten that from my mother.  She was always well-dressed.


Contrary to popular belief about women of a certain age, even though I am in my 60's and retired, that doesn't mean I am dead. I still have an interest in fashion and I like to look good.  So I am likewise still drawn to books about fashion, make-up, health, etc. But these days, there are few books and magazines that cater to, should I say, the more mature woman.

I recently came across a book called "The Elements of Personal Style" by Joe Zee and the Editors of Elle Magazine (Joe Zee is a stylist and was the resident fashionista on the short-lived Tyra Banks daytime show "Fab Life."). I liked the outfit on the cover.  It's the sort of retro chic I always went for. The book features 25 "modern" fashion icons (from 2010) who strive to tell us women "how to dress, shop, and live."

For example, Lea Michele (remember her from "Glee?") says "I try to stay away from super tight dresses, but I love something low-cut, and, of course, it's always got to be short!"  Why, of course, Lea.  Thank you.  I don't know what I would do without my low-cut short dresses. NOT! We women of a certain age have already been through the low-cut, super short and even super tight phase, but now we are more likely in the cover me up, pull it down and let it out phase.

And that's what I am ranting about today.

We women of a certain age may be old, we may be retired, we may be, heaven forbid, a bit on the chubby side, but that doesn't mean we are no longer interested in fashion.  But we can't really relate to fashion advice from a much younger woman and most of the fashion books and magazines cater to that demographic.  Almost all of the women giving advice in this book are under 40, except for Diane Von Furstenberg, Anjelica Huston and Charlotte Rampling.  Yes, they are mature, but they are also skinny bitches (and I use the "B word" in the nicest possible way), which some of us more ample women can't relate to.  But I give the book props for including some older gals, even if they are not only skinny bitches but rich bitches, too (again, I say that in the nicest possible way). But I am more Dita Von Teese (she's in there, too) than Diane, Anjelica or Charlotte.  It's because of her love of retro and vintage clothes, not the stripper thing.  But who knows?  Could be a new retirement gig for me.  There is something for everyone out in that crazy world of ours!

Anyway, I digress. 

One of my most popular blog posts is "Parisian Chic," where I review several fashion books about looking like a French woman.  French women are always held up as the epitome of chic, and for some reason, everyone wanted to write about how to look French in 2013. 

Anyway, re-reading that post reminded me that we women of a certain age not only get left out of many of the books and magazines about fashion, but when we are included, they are not so much about how we can maximize what we have, they are more about what we are NOT supposed to do, as in how NOT to look old, how to NOT get fat and what NOT to wear, as in skinny jeans.

For example, referring back to my "Parisian Chic" post, one book made the point that if you are over 26 (and since when is 26 the cut-off between young and old and fashion forward and fashion left behind?), you should not be wearing Converse sneakers or quilted jackets.  Another book, "Forever Chic," actually did address the older woman, but when she talked about using her Hermes scarf as a cumberbund, she lost me.  Number one, who of us can afford a Hermes scarf and since when do we women wear cumberbunds?

Over the years, as I have aged, I have been told to not wear leggings or skinny jeans, no berets, show no cleavage, no hippie items like tie dyed shirts or fringed jackets, no tattoos, not too much bling and nothing too trendy. And be sure to wear sensible shoes. Then there is the whole issue of size. Heaven forbid that you should be on the plump size. No big prints, no bright colors, no white skinny jeans. There is nothing for you but black bottoms and hip skimming tops and maybe some pearls.

So as I clutch my pearls, let me briefly address the issue of being fat.  We women are not just bombarded with how to dress so we don't look old, but we are also bombarded with books on how not to look fat and no matter what your age, if you are fat, you most likely also can't relate to most of the fashion books and magazines.

I know I could stand to lose a few pounds.  OK, I could stand to lose a lot of pounds, but it's all relative.  Yes, I am fat compared to Charlotte Rampling and I always was, even when I was a skinny-ish young thing 50 years ago.  That woman is S-K-I-N-N-Y!  But when I compare myself to Rebel Wilson, I am my own version of a skinny bitch, so I have given up trying to look like the women in the fashion magazines.  As long as I don't have to shop at Lane Bryant, I'm fine.  That's my bottom line (and believe me, I've been there).  When I lost a huge amount of weight ten years ago, it was one of the hardest things I have ever done and I've gained half of it back, so I have nothing but compassion for people who are overweight and struggling not to be.  No fat shaming here on myself or anyone else.

But being old is one thing.  Being fat is another thing. Put the two together and you might as well be invisible when it comes to fashion books and magazines.

So I am putting an end to all of that negativity toward us women of a certain age and certain weight.  It is no longer about what we can't or shouldn't wear, it's all about what we CAN!

Personal Style for a woman of a certain age?

I say that Personal Style is:  

Wear whatever the hell you want!

If you want to stuff yourself into leggings or skinny jeans, do it!


If you are over 50 and want to wear a beret, Viva La France!


If you want to wear big prints, go ahead!


If you want to show some skin, by all means!


Like bling? Bring it on!

If you want to wear bright colors, let your colors shine!

No tattoos?  Too late!

(And there are two more I don't dare show you!)

If you want to wear fringe, let your freak fringe fly!

Sensible shoes?  Hell, no! 

Ladies, we've paid our dues and we have the big butts and floppy arms to prove it.

Enjoy the time you have left! Wear whatever makes you happy!

Now I am going to try to put together that outfit on the cover of that book I talked about at the beginning of this post.  I wonder if I have any ankle socks!

Thanks for reading!

See you Friday

for my review of

"The Secret Life of Pets"



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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  1. The fashion experts always say that if you were around for the trend the first time (bell-bottoms, tie-dye, platform shoes, etc) that you should not be wearing it again. I would say that for the most part I honor that advice. I grew up in the 60's and 70's, and can honestly say that most of that era's fashion was horrible, so leaving it on the rack this time around is no problem. But it's the whole, "Thou shalt not" from the fashion advisors that I object to as well. In my mind, I might think I was pretty hot! On the other hand have you seen the fashion mags trying to bring back the high waisted jean? Those mom-jeans were gawdawfull in the 80's. Why in hell would I want to wear them again?! By the way, those non-sensible black shoes you are rocking in the last photo are killer!

    1. Thanks, Susan. I love those shoes too. I just wish they were a tad easier to walk in. I wouldn't wear the big bell bottoms anymore or some of the stuff I wore back in the 60's and 70's but I sure miss those outfits. I loved the mini dresses with long Victorian coats over them and the embroidered coats lined in sheepskin. Sigh. I always wanted to be Cher and I had some clothes even she would have worn. Heck, I still want to be Cher!

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