As you know, I’ve been thinking a lot about fashion, style, redefining style over 60, clothes, wearing our clothes, not saving good things for good. While I’m thinking about style, I’m also thinking about psychology and philosophy. Why do we feel the urge to change things up? Why don’t we want to wear certain things that we used to love? What inside of us wants to be expressed now?
Talking to women about fashion and age
I have a few avenues to be in conversation with women about self-image and the factor age plays in all that. There are my clients, my social media community on Facebook and Instagram, my friends and blogging buddies. A few points seem consistent.
- We care about how we look.
- We care to varying degrees about how we’re perceived.
- Many of us are over the heavy lifting of raising kids.
- We’ve made a difference for others through our careers or our focused endeavors.
- We have or are facing big changes in life like loss, grief, retirement, the introduction of grandchildren.
- Some of us are asking ourselves, “Who am I now?”
Life happens and wardrobes change
I know three women who are ending the chapter of their life that they most identified with for years. Now they’re either resting, fidgeting, or toying with where to go from here.
There’s no rule book with a chapter for how to get dressed for the unknown.
One of my clients lost her husband suddenly. They worked together but when he passed, the business folded up, too. Life was suddenly less formal. There weren’t meetings to attend, business trips to pack for. I worked with her through this unknown time and her wardrobe went in directions that neither of us could have predicted. Her look is relaxed, casual but put together and suddenly, there’s more color in her closet.
Reflecting on my own style changes
When 40 over 40: 40 Things Every Woman Over 40 Needs to Know About Getting Dressed came out, the publisher asked where I wanted to start my book tour. I said, “Back home in Fargo.” That tour included giving a talk at a Women’s Expo in Fargo, ND. (Richard Simmons was the headliner. Boy, did he have energy!)
That night, after my speech and book signing, Dad and I sat in the living room where my old bedroom was just down the hall. “Let’s talk,” he said. He was eager to give me feedback. He pointed out the things women wanted and how I could help with that. How did he get so smart?
I was puzzled about one thing. “Dad, I’m getting all this attention for being funny. How can that be when I’ve been so serious?” Mom had told me once that they worried about me in high school because I was serious.
“Oh Brenda,” he said, “your inner child has always been playful and funny.”
My inner child? My farmer and farm implement dealer father was talking about my inner child?
I mostly remember serious. I was the responsible one, the one who fought serious causes in high school. My adult life has had serious challenges. Haven’t we all?
But I love funny. It’s my favorite thing. It’s probably my favorite thing about Russ. Yes, he’s supportive and kind but wow, he can really make me laugh.
I love fun. I must say, “Have fun” ten times a day in conversations.
Part of what’s happening for me in this chapter is that I’m going backward in time. I’m remembering things I used to love doing. I’m yearning to be in an adult kindergarten. I feel like playing with stuff, reading picture books, building things, enjoying recess and naptime.
I love playing with my version of toys: clothes and accessories. I want to keep making stuff with them.
I have a new role. I’m grammafoxy. Playing with Baby Viv is all fun. Is there a theme emerging? Fun, fun, fun.
Time to put together a fun outfit
I won’t deny it. August was very rough for me. I used more than a few tissues sopping up the tears. I worried about my sweetheart who had surgeries in August along with complications.
There was the anniversary of my brother’s death followed two days later by my Mother’s birthday. I miss them with a deep ache. The feeling of loss was relentless this August.
Russ was well enough to be alone for the afternoon the day I was to meet my friends, the Bellas, in Yountville. They promised some tender loving care and I was ready to receive it.
I wanted to feel happy. I was ready for a fun day.
I looked in my closet for my happy clothes and realized I might have to improvise.
I looked at my
Prada Chico’s jacket. I wouldn’t call those blues and mushroom colors fun–they’re soft and pretty. But I was determined.
Could I, would I, dare I put a collar under the jacket and cover up some of the detail around the neck, which is what makes this jacket so Prada-looking? Heh, who’s making the rules here? Of course, I can!
I pulled out one of my COS collars and put it on under the jacket. Oh, I like that! I love how white brings freshens the face.
I was having fun putting together the outfit but it wasn’t fun looking enough yet. Accessories. What about accessories?
I pulled out my pins. I held up the soft blue silk floral pin to the jacket. I loved how the colors blended with the jacket. Would I pin it to the shoulder of the jacket? I tried it and it didn’t excite me.
I held up the tan/taupe feather and satin pin which I’ve always wanted to wear, have tried to wear, but never created an outfit where it worked.
Wait a minute! What if I put these large pins down the front of my jacket and made it look like they were buttons? My inner child was clapping her hands together. Suddenly the jacket got whimsical, almost theatrical. I had a flashback to French designer, Paul Poirot who had such a theatrical flair in his designs.
I added my linen blue/gray pants and my tan/taupe Gabor wedge sandals. And my bag? Well, the gifted Soul Carrier clutch was only perfect.
It says on the front Soul Carrier For Your Journey. This bag was the catalyst for a closer look at style expression. You can read about that in How Style Exercises and Soul Searching Go Together
Inside that Soul Carrier clutch is my phone, lipstick, credit card, small notebook, pen, and handkerchief. The message on the outside of the bag reminds me to use this chapter of my life to be free, have fun, enjoy the moment I’m in, dress to entertain myself, to posture my attitude to say definitively, “I’m happy with this.” I’m happy with me.
The client I was with today summed up her attitude about life and living it. She said, “My friends talk about doing that special thing someday, buying that thing they love someday. Wait a minute. Do the math. Put the pedal to the metal and do it now.”
I think she’d say make dates with friends, dine under the chandelier, take more than two hours to have lunch, play hooky from life, crank the music up, share secrets, see two plays in one day, wear two big pins on your jacket just for the fun of it.
What about you? If you put the pedal to the metal, what would you do?
Can we create a big long list of the things to do now, not later? I’d love to see that and I bet everyone else would too!