Showing posts with label Seniors. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Seniors. Show all posts

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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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Good and Bad News About Aging: How To Advocate For a Happy Old Age (and it's never too early to start)!

I am going to deviate a bit this week from my cheeky pop culture and lifestyle observations and talk about something more serious.

I was recently invited to attend a White House Conference on Aging Forum here in Seattle (sponsored in part by the AARP), where I listened to Federal and local politicians and others talk about what needs to be done to address the needs of the increasing aging population ("The Age Wave"), and then, in small groups, I was given an opportunity to also weigh in.

The Federal priorities regarding aging that were discussed at the White House Conference on Aging Forum are Healthy Aging, Long-term Support and Services, Retirement Security and Elder Justice.

What I came away with was...that when it comes to aging,

there is some good news and some bad news.

The good news is we get old.  

Which is a good thing when you think of the alternative.  We are living longer than those before us.

However, the bad news...

Bette Davis was right.  "Old age ain't no place for sissies."

With a longer life comes chronic illness (you live long enough, you are bound to get something), Alzheimer's, financial issues, we don't die as fast and easy (we can be kept alive longer, sometimes to our and our loved ones' detriment), etc.

But despite that, if we are lucky, we will all get old, even those of you reading this now who might be under 40. 

And it's never too early to start planning for how you want to spend the last years of your life.

I was invited to the White House Conference on Aging Forum, because I am currently a member of our local Council on Aging.  When I retired I wanted to do something meaningful with my time, and issues of aging are of interest to me, not just because I am an old lady, but because of what happened to my mother.

My mother outlived my father by 8 years.  For some strange reason she thought she would die first and because of that, she didn't plan to be on her own.  However, despite the fact that her children were flung far and wide around the country, she had relatives and friends because she lived in the town she grew up in, and she was physically active, engaged and well until she turned 89.  But then she had a stroke that didn't affect her physically, but threw her into a haze of dementia that belied her living on her own any longer.  Because there were no affordable services in place to allow her to stay in her own home, she was forced to become indigent to pay for nursing home care and the last three years of her life were not pretty.

My mother was not alone in this.  Women are in a particularly precarious situation when it comes to aging.  Women who leave the workforce to care for children lose $650,000 in earnings over their lifetime and still only make 78 cents to the dollar that men make when they are working outside the home. That wage gap leads to a Social Security gap.  Add to that the fact that women usually live longer than men, and you can see why one in ten older women live in poverty.

So because of my mother and my not wanting to end up as she did, "Aging in Place" is an issue I am very passionate about.  If there had been services available for her to stay in her own home for those last three years of her life, she would have been able to die with the dignity she deserved.

But there are also other issues of concern:  end of life issues, Social Security, Alzheimer's Disease, lack of savings for long term care, elder abuse and the home care workforce needs.

End of Life Issues

We don't like to think about dying but the best gift we can give our loved ones is letting them know how we want them to handle things if we can't handle them ourselves.

Social Security

There has been an organized campaign to discredit Social Security by its opponents.  So much so that young people actually think it won't be around when they need it.  That is not true, but if people think something is not relevant to them, they are not likely to support it, right?  So our young people need to be educated about it so they will support it.

Alzheimer's Disease

Alzheimer's Disease is the only disease that cannot be cured or slowed.  If we live long enough, that could be in our future.  Continued research is a must.

Long-term Care

People should not have to use up all of their resources in order to be eligible for nursing home care or other services.  They should be able to "age in place" in their own homes. Home health care workers need to be trained, paid well and given benefits.  Being a home health care worker has a bad reputation and it needs to be made a "good job" so home health care will be available to all.

Elder Abuse

Elders, especially those who are disabled or have had setbacks, need to be protected against scams and fraud, often from their own family members.

So whether you are now 65 or 25, those are the issues we will all face and whether you are 65 or 25 it's never too late or too early to get involved to decide how you want to spend the last years of your life.

But things don't happen on their own. 

If you want something to happen, you must advocate.

This year marks...

These laws are in place to give older Americans a better life as they age.  But they are constantly under attack. If you want a happy old age, you need to protect these important laws and advocate for more long term care and services for our older population, a population that YOU will be a part of one day.

Advocacy is not rocket science.  It's just a matter of picking up the phone, writing an email, introducing yourself to your legislators.  They are there to work for YOU, so be sure they know what you want.

Thanks to a workshop I took last year from Nancy Amidei, a renowned local advocate and author of the book "So You Want to Make a Difference," I learned some tips (and added some of my own) that can take the mystery out of advocacy and that everyone can do: 

Five Easy Steps to Turn You Into an Outstanding Advocate!


1.  Sign up with an advocacy group that tracks issues you care about and then do what they ask e.g. write letters or emails in support of an issue, show up at a meeting, etc.

2.  Know who your legislators are and introduce yourself to them when they are at home and not in session (when they are not in session they can focus on you).
You can find your U.S. Senators and Representatives here  

For local legislators and to find what legislative district you are in in Washington State go here, and for everyone else, just Google "what legislative district am I in" and add your State.

Also call your County Administrative offices and find out who the County Administrator is and the County Council members.  Do the same for your city - who is the Mayor and who are your city Council members?

Better yet, call the library. 

They can do all of that for you.  You want to find out who your U.S. Representative for your U.S. legislative district is, who your two U.S. Senators are, and your State Senator and Representative for your district as well as your local legislators.  Get their email addresses if you are comfortable with email or their office addresses if you want to write a letter.  Also their phone numbers so you can call them.

When you introduce yourself by phone or in person, say your name, what district you are in and what group you might belong to.  Strength in numbers.

If you want some guidance on writing an advocacy letter, check this out. Be sure to include your legislative district so your legislator knows you are his or her constituent.

Find out what committees your State and U.S. legislators are on
Bills go to committees and that is where they either move forward or are quashed.  Does your representatives sit on a committee that affects an issue you care about?  If so, yay!

3.  Advocacy is only a phone call away. 
Call your local Legislative Hotline. You can Google this for your State or again, call your library for the number.

They track issues and will make sure your legislator gets the message. They can also help you understand the legislative process.

4.  Advertise your issue at every opportunity. 

Have a little 30-60 second "elevator speech" in your head and when you meet with your legislator share it. I can tell my mother's story in 30 seconds.  But don't stop there, share it standing in line at the movie theatre, at the grocery store and with your friends while playing cards.

5.  Know who to ask and who has the power to make a difference with your issue.

Don't ask the Mayor to protect Social Security and don't ask your State Senator to help you with the barking dog next door.

So there you have it.  It's that easy to get involved and make a difference. 

However, I don't want to minimize the efforts of advocates.  There is much more you can do, too, but if you just did these things - if you just took five minutes to email, call or write your legislator - you will make a huge difference.  You can certainly spare five minutes to make a difference, can't you?

But lest you think it's all bad news about  getting old.  It's not.

With age comes wisdom, deep expertise, a better ability to solve conflicts and a desire and chance to make a difference. 

One last takeaway from the White House Conference on Aging: 

Regarding health, "Sitting is the new smoking."


So get up off that couch and use your wisdom, expertise and conflict resolution skills to make a difference for your golden years and for those who come after you!

Thanks for Reading!

See you Friday
for my review of the new movie
"Woman in Gold"
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."


If you enjoyed this post, feel free to click on the share buttons to share it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn, email it to your friends and LIKE me on Facebook at

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Getting Old: A Retired Baby Boomer Reflects on Aging

We all get old.

Even us forever young Baby Boomers.

As I reflect on aging (and that's what old people do, we reflect), I am inspired by this Clint Eastwood "spaghetti western."

Is there anything good about getting old?

What's bad about it?

Worse, what's ugly about it?

Even Clint got old, though he is not a Baby Boomer.
But he is still a great filmmaker as his new movie "Jersey Boys" will attest (see my review in my post "Kevin Costner Sports Movies and The Week in Reviews"), so that's good.

But now he's cranky...and that's bad.

And did you see that mess at the Republican Convention?

That was ugly.

I am not commenting on his politics. I am embarrassed for his showing his age by being so unaware of how bumbling he appears.

There really are some good things about aging and definitely some bad and ugly things about it.

Let's discuss.

The Good

I asked Hubby what was good about getting old.  He said perspective. 

Perspective means we now have the power to see how our lives fit in.

Then I asked him if he would give up perspective for a 32" waist again.  He didn't answer.

If you were to ask me that question, my first answer would be "nothing." 

But then once I start thinking about it, I can come up with some things.

Senior discounts. 
If I can remember to go to the movies on Tuesday, it's only $6.00.  Likewise, if I rode the bus, my senior discount would also kick in, but, please lord, don't make me ride the bus.

Social Security.
I get paid for doing nothing though I worked my ass off for 50+ years to get an amount of money that no one could live on.  Thank goodness I had the foresight (well, actually it was dumb luck) to work in public service so I also have a pension that also pays me for doing nothing.

If you have the means to do so, being able to retire from an 8-5 job to doing what you enjoy is a good thing.  Now my new job is watching movies and talking to you!

You know some stuff.

You have an endless array of stories and adventures to bore, I mean, share with your friends.

You don't have to worry anymore about how your life is going to turn out.  You already know.

And you ladies will enjoy this one.
No more visits from Aunt Flo!

The Bad

It's a bad thing if you don't have the means to do so or are forced to retire when you don't want to.  Some people are married to their jobs, define themselves by their jobs and won't know what to do with themselves when given freedom.  That's too bad.

There are those who think of wrinkles as something they have earned and they wear them proudly.  I am not one of those people.

Weight Gain.
For some of us, it is inevitable, especially if we are in the "saving our face" camp instead of the "saving our butts" camp.  (See my post "How Not to Look Old" for more enlightenment on that topic)

Aches and Pains.


You are Invisible.
I started noticing this when I hit the dark side of 40.  Wolf whistles (not that I approve) and compliments were replaced with...nothing.  I no longer existed.

Being called Ma'am.
On those few occasions when I wasn't invisible, being called Ma'am was just as bad. This may seem like a small thing, but we Baby Boomers don't like that sort of thing.

The Ugly

Bette Davis got it right when she said, "Aging isn't for sissies."

Bette knew what she was talking about.  She didn't age well.


Yes, there is the physical ugly we have to deal with as we age.

But there is ugly and then there is UGLY.

Yes, Bette didn't age well, but to her credit, she didn't try to stave it off with tons of plastic surgery like so many big-lipped actresses have done who now have 23-year-old faces with 65 year old necks.

But apart from the physical ugly, there is the emotional ugly of getting old.

The really ugly thing is what happened to her relationship with her daughter.

She had to live with the fact that she had an ungrateful daughter who wrote a "Mommy Dearest" book about her. 

That's pretty ugly.

I read the book and from what I can gather, Bette wasn't a bad mother who inflicted the kind of mistreatment on her daughter that Joan Crawford did on her daughter.  She in fact was a doting mother who supported both her daughter and her husband financially. It comes off as a daughter who married a guy who was a born again Christian and didn't approve of her mother while at the same time taking her money. Her daughter then denounced her mother for just about everything and made money off of her by writing a cruel book.

But then Bette let her daughter marry this 20+ guy when her daughter was only 16, so go figure. 

That's another ugly thing about getting old.  We have to live with our mistakes.  

It's interesting that she and Joan Crawford were contemporaries who aged at the same time  and even starred in horror films in their later years.  Remember "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?"
Both of their daughters felt the need to castigate them in public.  Joan might have been a "Mommy Dearest," but I didn't get that from the book about Bette.  What I got was an ungrateful daughter whose husband didn't approve of her mother.
What did Shakespeare say in King Lear about an ungrateful child?
"How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is
To have a thankless child!"
That's pretty ugly.
In old age, family troubles are ugly.
Another thing that can be an ugly part of getting old is regret.
I don't trust people who say they have no regrets about how they have lived their lives.  That seems to be the height of arrogance.
Yes, it does no good to dwell on the past, but it certainly helps to have regrets, so that you don't repeat the bad stuff you did in your past or miss the opportunities you passed over the first time.
I have three main regrets and they probably are not what you would think. 
I mean, I could regret getting married young and missing my chance to live in Europe during my junior year of college.  Gee, now that I think of that, I do really regret that.
I could regret following that marriage with a few more, but then if those hadn't happened, I wouldn't have met Hubby or had my children.
No, these are my three main regrets.
I regret not flying to Sweden when my son had an eye injury.
I regret not going to help our daughter through an emotional emergency and sending Hubby instead.
(In those days, I had an irrational fear of not just flying, but of doing things alone).
But my biggest regret, and it should have been the easiest thing to do, was not getting in bed with my mother the night before we had to admit her to a nursing home after she suffered a stroke that brought on dementia.
My sister and I were at her house making arrangements, and I couldn't sleep.  I was sleeping in the basement and then went upstairs to try to sleep on the couch, then back to the basement.  It went like that all night, me wandering around, upset by my mother's condition, and wanting to slip into bed next to her and tell her I loved her.
But I couldn't do it.
I'm not sure why.
Maybe I was reacting to the fact that our family wasn't particularly cuddly.
Maybe I was afraid she wouldn't realize who I was and I would scare her.
Maybe I was afraid she would reject me.
The bottom line was - I was afraid and I missed that last, quiet opportunity to say my goodbyes to my mother because she was never the same after that.
As I've gotten older, the fears have dissipated but the regrets remain.
Regrets are an ugly part of getting old, but a natural part.
So there you have it.
Getting old has some perks.  Getting old is crap.  Getting old can be ugly.
But despite the wrinkles, the fat, the mistakes, the regrets, getting old also means you are still here. 
Because what is the alternative to NOT getting old?
What do you think is good, bad or ugly about getting old?
See you Friday
"Celebrate What's Fabulous
and The Week in Reviews"
Thanks for reading!

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