Thursday, 27 February 2014

Appropriate At Any Age

Closet Analysis: Keep your wardrobe updated as you get older, but that's not all . . .

It was 2012 when American Apparel used 60 year old model Jackie O'Shaugnessy in an advertising campaign. Iris Apfel, who is 91 years old has adopted "eccentric" as her in-the-now fashion phase of life. As well we are seeing more and more older women and men on the red carpet. Or is it just me and the fact that I am getting older that I am noticing these things?

A friend suggested I write about appropriate dress past the big 6-0. Insofar as dressing goes, my thoughts are that the rules are the same at any age. I can't think of anything else to say but that size, shape, proportion, colour and comfort are important no matter how many candles are on your cake. The exception of course is that one should only dress like a teenager if one is a teenager. As well, I don't mean comfort as in oversized sweats but rather the clothing you feel good in wearing. As for Iris Apfel, I would imagine that most of us think that eccentric does not work for us. We seem to have this feeling that others can do it, but we can't. I get that, but if classic is your schtick, what happened to the classic, upscale clothing worn while working? In all likelihood "classic" has now been replaced with "casual" clothing. I guess that's why I still take on temporary contracts; it forces me to dress up. I think retirees (and many are not over 60) are guilty of overrating the casual. As I reflect upon aging, I have made a few "growing old gracefully resolutions". . .

1) Maintain classic even in more casual clothing. I was in the habit of wearing suits or blazers and pants/skirts when I was working in a public institution. Now, I am maintaining the blazer look, albeit more often with jeans and pants than in a formal suit or with skirts. The blazer is a marvelous carry-over from formal to casual. A t-shirt or crisp white shirt and blue jeans is a great casual look and also camouflages in wondrous ways. Wear only what fits well.

By the way, I googled "classically dressed older women" and saw nothing remotely near, in the images category, to what is in my mind's eye. Another search engine came up with more than one full frontal nude shot of women of a particular age - what part of "classically dressed" was that search engine taking me to? Never mind . . . let's move on . . . 

2) Study fashion magazines. Take the time and adopt a new style, maybe someone like Eileen Fisher. Find one you love and you will remain true to it, making dressing at home or going out easy. At the same time, find something colorful, fun and fashionable. You might surprise yourself.

3) Speaking of color - I know you - beige and black; I'm with you. But make this a 2014 resolution: add color to your wardrobe. 

4) Maintain the most stylish shoes you can manage. My feet have been good to me, no bunions and only tolerable minor callouses; therefore, I can still wear stilettos. I don't go dancing for hours so I can manage stilettos at dinner parties and wine tastes. But really, the height of the heel is not important. Flats are fashionable and so find the most stylish that your feet can tolerate. Ballet flats are a great choice, (as this blog has pronounced) for men and women, since there are so many beautiful  and functional varieties out there.

5) Wear signature jewellery. No matter whether it be a collection of bangles, pearl necklaces, statement turquoise . . . pick something and make it your signature. Remember what Sonja Henie said, Jewelry takes people's minds off your wrinkles.

6) Posture - you were told this when you were 10 and you need to be reminded when you are 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90 . . . no matter when, good posture gives you a positive attitude. Stand up as straight as you can. Head up, shoulders back and, unless you have a physical limitation, do not walk bent forward from the waist as if you are charging to knock down a locked door. Tai Chi and yoga might help if you are concerned. 

7) Ladies - wear a good fitting bra and create the illusion of a waist with your clothing choices. 

8) Smile; after all, everyday on this planet, the older you get, the greater the odds that you have all ready beaten.

9) You don't have to dye your hair but certainly keep your cuts updated with a good stylist. 

10) Get fit starting now. You've heard it on fitness sites and now you're reading it on a fashion blog: "you're never too old to get fit". You could be 20- to 90- something and this still applies. Of course the first thing you do is stop smoking. Follow that with eating healthful foods in reasonable portions and exercise at your particular level of intensity three or more days a week. Yeh, yeh I know you've heard it before. Another couple of things: keep your blood pressure and cholesterol under control and visit your doc annually. Oblivion is not a good state at any age.

When you are fit you feel better in your clothes, no matter your choice of style. Now what three aging gracefully resolutions will you begin today?

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