I heard someone say, “I’m just going to wear my sweats” and I thought, really? Maybe it got my attention because I don’t own sweats. But it was more about what “I’m just going to wear sweats” implied. Her tone was “I don’t really care. I’m just going to wear sweats.”
Shortly after hearing that statement someone else told me how sweats have gotten a lot cuter. Sweats are a choice, one that I’ll look into for myself.
That’s because I’m all for fashion freedom. Put it on my gravestone: She championed fashion freedom.
But let’s be sure there’s freedom for all. At the same time as one can choose to dress down, one can also choose to dress up a tad, even in these casual times. Erin and I were making outfits for a client out of pieces she already had. She’s around 70 or maybe 75. She said, “You know what? I think I’m just going to start dressing up more. I like it how it feels.”
The joy of getting dressed
I find the feeling of clothes on my body and the way they make me move to be intoxicating. Since I’m not much of a drinker, I’m happy to enjoy that flush of joy that comes over me when I’m enjoying the texture of a jacket, the movement of an earring, the print of a blouse.
I’m all for daily fashion intoxication. If things go badly at any given hour, when I’ve dressed with intention, I feel like I can handle whatever comes my way.
Office Tuesday dressing
I spend a lot of time on my computer on Office Tuesdays. One Tuesday I woke up with the urge to wear a seasoned Armani textured jacket. I chose a white shirt, my DL 1961 frayed-edge jeans, and my Steve Madden sneakers and added jewelry. I felt supported, comfortable, and entertained by my outfit all day. Did I leave the house? No. It was just one of those what-I-wear-when-n0-one-is-looking outfits.
Dressing for the special occasion that is life
On a recent Saturday, I attended a baby shower. I woke up in the morning wanting to wear a dress and black fishnets. Yes, to a baby shower. Maybe in the past, I’d have pulled back on that idea—thinking about what others would be wearing—and tone it down. But you know what? I’m over sixty and I can dress the way I want!
Being in this decade is a lot like being three-years-old putting together an outfit out of leotards and tutus, and pink sneakers, and a purple velvet hat because you want to. No one says you can’t cuz you’re young and cute and not hurting anyone.
The same is true now. We’re dressing more for ourselves than others, and we’re not hurting anyone with our sartorial choices. These are the freedom years!
(Click here for more fashion tips for women over 60.)
Wearing a silk skirt with pailettes to work
I have this silk skirt that’s got pailettes all around it. It’s tricky because there’s no stretch in it. I have to be a certain weight or shape to wear it without worrying that I’m going to strain the seams.
So I saw it there in my closet on a Wednesday and thought, “Let’s seize the day, pailettes!”
I’ve had this skirt for years and years. When I purchased it, fashion wasn’t as casual as it is today. I would wear a pretty skirt three days a week and not think anything of it.
I could wonder what people think who see me hanging out in a coffee shop in Sausalito wearing this skirt. I could, but I won’t. I’m wearing this to please myself, to enjoy the design and shine of this skirt, right now. It puts a smile on my face. I love the sound of it when I walk. If everyone else in the coffee shop is in sweats, or jeans and a T-shirt, that’s okay. I’ve made my choice.
Fashion freedom is dressing for the occasion of your life in any way you choose.
Do you feel more freedom at this age to wear what you want? I’d love to hear your observations about how you felt about dressing then (choose a decade), and how you feel about it now. Can’t wait to hear from you!
SandiMarch 5, 2019 at 4:13 am
If I had a dollar for all the times I’ve heard, “you’re so dressed up”, I’d be rich. I, too, love to dress up and always have. I’ve always been the one at work that people think is too dressed up for work. Oh well. I will continue to dress up becaue my friend Brenda says it’s ok. I think I’ll start using that line the way we tell people “because my Dr. said so”. Love you girlfriend.
BMarch 21, 2019 at 9:04 am
I have this problem, too. What do people do about it? I want to dress like me, and as a new retiree I’m figuring that out, but I hate jeans and logo t shirt which is what my friends wear, mostly. Plus I’m lesbian, and they kinda criticize “lipstick lesbians:” so I feel self conscious.
BrendaMarch 21, 2019 at 12:52 pm
Don’t wear jeans and logo t-shirts! I’m excited about how you may find ways to express yourself that feel great to you.
SpagsMarch 5, 2019 at 4:57 am
You look wonderful, Brenda. Keep seizing those days. I love finding joy in what people are wearing.
LindaMarch 5, 2019 at 5:06 am
Thank you for the uplift, Brenda. Was going to make it a sweats day, but now I’m not. Love your work at home office.
LindaMarch 5, 2019 at 5:09 am
Oops, I meant work-at-home outfit.
HollyMarch 5, 2019 at 5:14 am
In our casual, sloppy world this is a great message! Thanks Brenda!
KarenMarch 5, 2019 at 5:34 am
Yup I’m over 60 and frankly I’ve decided to dress for me ! I am nt A brand name shopper but try and find similar things that cost a lot less . Frankly some people are surprised at something I wear that are Walmart or another cheaper chain store . I still receive compliments and the fact I hat I wear a uniform at work these pieces last for a long time and I still have some things I’ve worn for years . I do have a few classic pieces that I build on but you don’t need to rich to dress well .
MarciaMarch 5, 2019 at 5:38 am
Hi Brenda, I always look forward to your posts. Your observation about “dressing for the special occasion that is life” really hit home for me. After many years working in an office with a dress code that essentially said “you can’t wear _____” (insert all my favorite pieces), my closet seemed to be full of stuff I didn’t really like. I then opted for sweats after I retired. So boring! I realize now I can wear whatever I like and I am finding so much joy in doing just that. Dressing up a bit makes me feel better and every day a bit more special, even if I’m grubbing in the garden. I can still wear a colorful shirt, funky jeans, some favorite earrings and sparkly gold nail polish just because I want to. My inner child is so much happier!
La semaine d'une gourmetteMarch 5, 2019 at 6:19 am
I always dressed up, even as a teen. It may be, at least partly, because trousers never looked as good on me as dresses and skirts did, and partly because I’ve always been in love with the 1920 to 1950 period (and 40 years ago, vintage clothes were cheap if you knew were to shop), but I always wore silk, satin, a mix of vibrant colors and black, costume jewelry, stuff like that. I’m not going to stop now, and the hell what anyone thinks!
EileenMarch 5, 2019 at 6:28 am
I have a friend who has re-named casual Friday to “ Fancy Friday “. I’m in! I’ve been wearing jeans for 50 years, and frankly, I’m tired of them, the same goes for black pants. Practical yes, fun, not so much. I dared myself to wear dresses this past summer, and I did, people actually smiled. Yes, they did ask where I was going, I said nowhere, it’s just fun, and they smiled again!
BrendaMarch 5, 2019 at 9:58 am
Brilliant! Fancy Friday! I pictured the whole scene of you wearing dresses and getting compliments. My daughter Erin wears dresses really well. We were together visiting a shop owner and she was in a dress. A gentlemen, realizing she was my daughter, spoke to me about how great dresses are and how he appreciated seeing a woman in a dress. Believe me, this wasn’t creepy or anything. I had to agree with him and not just because she was my daughter!
CindyMarch 5, 2019 at 6:32 am
I like the way you think! I, too, prefer to be “dressed up”. Due to being housebound by chronic illness I’ve fallen into the trap of putting comfort first but this post has inspired me wear and enjoy dressier accessories with my comfy clothes.
Linda BMarch 5, 2019 at 6:36 am
How I adored this post! Totally makes my day. I am all about crafting an ensemble to suit my mood, every single day. If I weren’t rushing off to work I’d say more, but if I have the energy tonight after my long work day, I’ll do it!
BrendaMarch 5, 2019 at 9:54 am
Linda, I’d love to hear what else you have to say about crafting your ensemble to suit your mood. I hope you have some energy at the end of your workday. I’d love to hear more!
jodie filogomoMarch 5, 2019 at 6:36 am
I’ve been feeling the same thing, Brenda!! More freedom in what I wear. Even to the point of dressing my inner child. I just bought a sparkly pink sweater from the kids department. In my previous life, I would have never done that. I wanted to be more professional (not that I don’t want to be professional now), but I LOVE the freedom we can have with our clothes now.
Next thing you know, I’ll be wearing tulle….LOL!!
Mary DilesMarch 5, 2019 at 7:00 am
I read an article on home decor by a designer that changed my thinking. Her advice on picking a paint color was to pick a color based on how it makes you FEEL. That really makes sense to me because that how I pick what I wear. I see you mentioned how your clothes make you feel also. I think it’s a great way to dress and live. Thanks so much, I love your writing, ideas and style!
Sandy B.March 5, 2019 at 7:19 am
I’m just a regular kind of girl (over 60 now), and it is SO refreshing to know that someone else “gets” me and the way I feel about my clothing. Love reading your styling tips. Thank you!
Diane BMarch 5, 2019 at 2:44 pm
I have recently upped my game at home just because it makes me feel better. I have always been told “Oh that looks like you” because I may be wearing a dress when everyone else is in jeans. Love to dress up when we go on vacation just for me and also my husband loves it. I have never been one for sweats but may wear leggings and long sweaters at home, not out the door. If you dress to feel good it shows in your demeanor. Of course the jewels always help as well.
MaryannMarch 5, 2019 at 3:04 pm
I often get the “your so dressed up” comment when really all I have done is thought about the accessories I am wearing with a simple outfit of pants and a shirt. I also find that I can handle situations better if I feel good in myself and this is reflected in what I wear.
MaryMarch 5, 2019 at 5:41 pm
Love all these comments! The freedom to wear what we want to wear and what makes us feel good is uplifting. The “You’re so dressed up” remarks remind me of people who say, “Don’t fuss” when you’re entertaining guests. Of COURSE you fuss — you want people to eat good food and feel welcome and happy in your house. I believe it’s part of a courteous society that cares about other people. Wouldn’t you rather see a thoughtfully dressed person than people whose clothing advertises how little they care about the rest of the world?
Mary AnnMarch 5, 2019 at 7:08 pm
Great attitude and style!!!
Bettye L RainwaterMarch 6, 2019 at 11:58 am
I have definitely trended towards “dressing down” as I’ve gotten older (and heavier). I love the LOOK of fun clothes but usually resort to what will be easiest to put on and most comfortable to wear. But I have my moments – and they give me enough “style life” for the other days.
But I have never worn my pajamas to Walmart, I’m proud (?) to say! Ha ha.
Catherine GMarch 6, 2019 at 1:40 pm
Would you let us know the brand of the striped oxford shoes you’re wearing in the top photo? I love them and they look great with your outfit!
BrendaMarch 10, 2019 at 8:08 pm
Catherine, they are by Steve Madden. Very comfortable!
SueMarch 7, 2019 at 1:00 am
Hi Brenda, I have always dressed th suit my shape and had my colours defined for me many years ago and that was a revelation! I love to wear dresses as now that I have given up work at 59, I do not intend for they to change,. I know people say that they feel so much more comfortable in trousers (pants) or jeans, but really, want is more comfortable than a good fitting dress?! So much goes now a days that we should embrace that and wear what suits us and never mind what the fashion industry or others say. Love your posts, Sue
Susan DunlopMarch 7, 2019 at 5:22 am
This is such a great post! Words for everyone.
AnonMarch 7, 2019 at 1:00 pm
Did you know that some elementary schools have “dress up” days now? They’re usually timed to go along with school photo day, or as a replacement for Halloween. etc. Maybe that will be the next teenage rebellion: wearing a suit and tie to go out for supper, when mom and dad wear sweats. I can dream!
Cathy D.March 7, 2019 at 1:53 pm
This post really reflects how I’ve been feeling lately. I’m so sick of dressing down. After many years of dressing for the office, I dressed down. Now I’m ready for something else. I don’t quite know what to call it, maybe dressing just for me.
Thanks for all the work you put into your posts!
Sophia MontgomeryMarch 8, 2019 at 3:24 pm
WhenI wear a hat, I get a look from lots of folks that seem to say “why dont I wear one”?
Worth the mimimal effort!!
Cindy ScurryMarch 13, 2019 at 9:06 am
Fashion freedom – isn’t that just pure bliss! No rules. No judgements. No cares!
Carol BentonMarch 14, 2019 at 8:30 am
I love your posts! I’m 68. In recent years, I’ve given each new year a logo or catch-phrase that I focus on for the entire year. For me, 2019 is “The Year of Fitness, Fashion, and Creativity”. I’m retired from my profession but love getting dressed up just because it feels good. Thanks for your inspirational posts. I’m loving it!
Elizabeth GMarch 16, 2019 at 4:29 am
Oh, Brenda! So glad I joined your posts. I was always who dressed “up”. Was always more dressed than anyone one else. It was something people expected. Then a year ago I retired and all of a sudden I started “sshlepping”. Couldn’t put my finger on it from day to day, but something didn’t ever feel right. I was Retirement casual and it affected my mood, my drive, everything! Then I started reading your blog. I realized that I was the one who needed me to be “dressed up”! Not everyone else! Not my former co-workers! ME!! Now I get up and give myself permission to live my life by wearing EVERYTHING in my closet! How freeing! Over 60 is better than I thought! I learned that from your inspiration. Than you sooo much Brenda! Love you and your work!
Elizabeth G in CT
Kimberly AndersonMarch 19, 2019 at 12:12 pm
I love you! Thank you for your inspiring words!! I just turned 60 and have been experimenting with dressing “however the heck I want to”. Because really no one else cares what I wear, and I am 60 after all. Your blog is fun and informative and helpful. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!
SueMarch 21, 2019 at 2:17 pm
I love your skirt and even more your attitude!
Trinnie qMarch 21, 2019 at 10:54 pm
Yes, yes, yes! Freedom to be ourselves, and love who we are, and our own unique styles! Thanks Brenda, and all of you . sending love from Oz.
LauraApril 13, 2019 at 8:03 am
I love to dress up, every day, even if I’m not planning to leave the house! It hives me a chance to play with different combos, plus I’m ready for anything! What’s wrong with feeling chic while reading on my Kindle or working on my computer? I’m only sorry there aren’t more opportunities to dress up where we live—in church at least dresses are still OK (I love dresses)!
BrendaApril 19, 2019 at 12:50 pm
I LOVE hearing this, Laura!!! And yes, we can make our own rules. I’m picturing you on your Kindle right now!
EmmaApril 13, 2019 at 7:16 pm
I’m 28, from the city, and I’ve been a person in Sausalito coffee shops. I can tell you sincerely, if I saw you I would think you look great wearing that skirt/outfit at a coffee shop! Cute, fun, comfortable, chic, playful, not trying to hard, and fashion forward all come to mind.
BrendaApril 19, 2019 at 12:50 pm
Emma, thank you! I’m taking your comments to heart. I hope we run into each other at a coffee shop! Please do come up to me, okay? It would be fun to chat! Now that’s all I can think about! I’ll stop off at Sausalito coffee shops every chance I get, hoping that happens. Thanks for your comments!