comfort is the new black.
I do not write a fashion blog, but if I did it would be for (choke) une femme d'un certain age (women of a certain age). It would be a about that transitional time from Forever 21 (if you are my age, for God's sake, get out of that store) to Talbot's (that's an extreme example because if you are my age for God's sake, get out of that store). But I couldn't get on board with that concept. I couldn't see myself taking selfies of what I was wearing day in and day out. I wanted to write about life.
I do at times, face the dilemma of what to wear at this age and, as always, I am happy to share my opinions with you, and I would like to be able to commiserate with you about the fact that fashion for us older girls can be tricky.
If you are standing in the dressing room asking yourself "can I get away with this?", you might be answering your own question.
Fashion at this age is a topic I think about, and from time to time has made me a bit nervous, because I've seen it go terribly wrong. Mama looks like she's raided her high school daughter's closet. I totally get this because, in my head, I'm barely out of high school myself.
And so I contemplate. Acid washed jeans and mini skirts, probably not. Boots with shorts, please don't. Can I still get away with hippie skirts and a leather jacket? I'm guessing no but against my better judgment, I wore that combination last fall like I knew what I was doing. What about baring my arms or showing some back? Possible gray area. Remember the times in your life you have purchased an item of say, bold color? Remember how you regretted it the very next season?
Or the very next day?
I did that. With orange pants. Who would have thought orange pants would be challenging? There was no way to see that coming. At times I become infatuated with certain colors. This was my orange crush. And because it's a one season deal (is it though? Is it even that?) I had planned on wearing them once a week to squeeze every last style bit out of them. I wore them once. The moral to that story? "Don't buy orange pants" semicolon unless you have trash detail on the freeway.
Now, so that all is not lost on my style reputation (did I have one?), I shall remind you of something I said that was smart...
Always buy a dress.
I'm telling you, if you are not this age or if you are a guy (and don't give a crap, which let's face it...), you don't know how tormenting these questions can be.
What about make up? Is red lipstick okay? For me not so much. It creates a weird composition that kinda says "Grandma's got on her lipstick". But for some women, maybe yes.
What about hair? How long can I get away with this beachy blonde look before it actually begins to age me? How much longer can I wear it longer? You know this discussion. You've had it. Many of you think Goldie Hawn still looks great in her locks. For me, her time for long hair has passed. On the other hand, I think Diane Keaton's hair looks terrific shoulder length. This thing is a labyrinth baby.
As I'm yammering on about fashion, I have decided on a few (a very few because what the heck do I know?) mantras about style.
so, back to the dress.
Here's what I mean by that. If you're walking in a mall or shopping online (which is my poison), and you see a great dress with a classic cut and style AND it's on sale AND you look terrific in it, BUY IT.
Buy it with no event coming up. No cocktail party on the horizon. No mid day wedding at the beach. No holiday gala impending. Nothing on the calendar.
Buy it if it's a black cocktail dress and you love it. Buy it if it would be so cute at a day time baby shower. Buy it if it would look good with your black boots. Buy it if it could be worn on an anniversary dinner date. Just BUY the dang thing.
We all complain about how terrible it is to shop for a bathing suit. But if you poll women, dress shopping comes in a close second. I think it's because we don't go looking for a dress until the event is upon us. Usually about a week out. And then what happens? Sheer panic. A hundred stores in a hundred minutes. Nothing is the right color cut shape or size for the particular event we are attending.
And so the nightmare day of the event arrives and I'm pissed and sweaty from shopping in my own closet. I contemplate whether or not I could just wear pajama pants to the wedding. As I am changing for the umpteenth time I scream down to the hubs, Yeah dude, HONKING ONLY MAKES ME GO SLOWER.
Buy the dress. When you don't need it. You'll be happy that it's hanging in your closet. I promise you, one day you will need it and you won't have the pressure to find it tomorrow.
The last dress I bought that made me smile was a silk shirt dress belted with the same fabric. I bought it at the Trina Turk online store along with another dress for no reason like I'm telling you to do. I purchased it because I loved her take on what appears to be Pan Am flight attendant colors. Her whole line that season looked like this and was styled in that fashion as well. It reminded me of the movie "Catch Me if You Can".
The indoctrination to sartorial rules began for me back in the days when women were “ladies,” and ladies paid strict attention to certain rules, if they didn’t want to be referred to as “women.” It was a time when white gloves for ladies and hats for men, while they would become quaint anachonisms in a few short years, were still the norm. I’m sure there were variations on the old rules, depending on one’s background and culture, but for a middle class girl in the suburbs, these were designed to help cement one’s social standing and demonstrate that one had class and taste.
So here are the style commandments as delivered by my mother (in no particular order):
- Never (ever) wear white after Labor Day and/or before Memorial Day (cliche, yes, but people lived and died by this one)
- Do not mix patterns. (florals+stripes = tacky, tacky, tacky!)
- Your shoes and bag must match.
- If you are of corpulent stature, you should not wear any of the following: horizontal stripes, bright colors, shirts tucked in, two-piece bathing suits, sleeveless shirts, large prints.
- If you do not want to be marked as a harlot, do not wear any of the following: red nail polish, tight sweaters, animal prints, cha cha heels or anything with rhinestones.
- Patent leather shoes are to be worn for Sundays, holidays and parties only.
- Do not pierce your ears or wear dangly earrings during the daylight hours. (part of that harlot thing again)
- Never wear black and brown together. (it’s like matter and anti-matter, dude, it’ll tear a hole in the time-space continuum!)
- If you are over 40, you should cut your hair short.
- Thou shalt not wear black, except to funerals and cocktail parties.
I for one, have broken everyone of these rules over the years and have evolved (and devolved) some commandments of my own. While I may stray on occasion, these are the guidelines I generally return to that help me feel grounded. These work for me based on my body type (short and curvy) and the styles/silhouettes that appeal to me. So here are my own Style Commandments, New Testament version (also in no particular order):
- Keep the Frou-Frou to a minimum.
- I may wear the spots of the leopard, but shall wear only one animal print at a time.
- Step. Away. From. The. Gaucho. Pants.
- remember the amortization factor. Divide the price of the item by the probable number of times I will wear it to help decide whether to whip out the plastic.
- A little bit of lycra is my friend. Empire waists, not so much.
- I will not wear anything that results in physical discomfort.
- Classics shall be the foundation of my wardrobe, and I will use more trendy accessories to minimize the Stodgy Factor.
- when in doubt, simpler is better, less is more.
- At all costs, shun the matchy-matchy.
- wear clothes that are fun and make you feel good.
Thank you for joining me on Style Talk for Older Women Who Feel Like They're Still in High School. So just to sum it up, I love a style that is simple. Besides a classic three's company pantsuit - I think the only other style standout is a cute hair cut. I like it a bit shorter. Slightly understated. It helps to keep me from getting it too wrong.
I feel like here is where I'm supposed to say that a happy outlook is the best style accessory. But I don't care how delighted you seem in your house dress - that's probably going to be a tough look to pull off.
I'm searching these days for older women who are still pulling it together in such a beautiful way. It gives me hope. It is possible to age with style and grace. I'll buy something I look amazing in. I'll wear it with confidence. I'll smile and be engaging.
And if all that fails, yoga pants and plain white T.
8 to 10 sprigs fresh thyme
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as necessary
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup dry white wine
4 cups beef stock or low-sodium beef broth
2 cups chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 cups cubed ciabatta bread
3 cups grated Gruyere cheese
In a large heavy-bottom pot, melt the butter over low heat. Add the sliced onions, thyme, salt, and pepper and continue to cook, stirring occasionally until the onions become a deep golden brown and very soft, about 30 minutes.
Add the flour and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the white wine and scrape up any dry bits on the bottom of the pan, increasing the heat to a boil for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the beef stock, and the chicken stock, and allow the soup to simmer for an additional 30 minutes as the flavors develop. Season the soup generously with salt, and pepper, to taste.
Preheat the oven to broil, or turn on the broiler. Arrange the ciabatta cubes on a baking sheet and toast until crispy, about 3 to 5 minutes.
Remove the thyme sprigs and pour the soup into 4 to 6 oven-safe crocks or bowls. Top with the toasted ciabatta cubes and a generous amount of grated Gruyere.
Place the crocks or bowls under the broiler for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and begins to brown.