Just Because you Can, Doesn’t Mean You Should

The other day, I came across a blog that is dedicated to stylish looks for women over 50.  I was delighted to find it -if for no other reason than to reaffirm my belief that not everyone upon hitting age 60, resorts to Alfred Dunner  and Sag Harbor separates – you’ve seen them – stretch pants and a T-shirt or a sweatshirt with season appropriate embroidery across the chest.  But, that doesn’t mean that everything you wore when you are young is still appropriate.

I worry about this a lot.  Every time I shop, I ask myself not only “how does it look” but also is it age appropriate.  I get a vision of a woman in her 50’s, wearing sweat pants with “Juicy” written across the butt – ah, NO.  I don’t want to be the woman that people see and wonder what the hell she was thinking.

I once worked in an office with a 70 year old secretary with flaming red hair.  After she lost her 3rd husband, she took the insurance money and had everything lifted and tightened.  She looked great and could have passed for 60, but apparently she believed that surgery had magically restored her back to her 20’s.  The hair got even redder, and she must have gone shopping in the juniors department judging by the frilly dresses she now sported.  It was sad, but for years now, that has been my example of what I did not want to be when I got to be a “woman of a certain age”.

One of my watch words is “trendy”.  Stylish is one thing, fashionable is another, but trendy usually means that it is mean for someone far younger than me.  Just because I may fit in the clothes in Forever 21 doesn’t mean I should be shopping there.  No midriff shirts, now that my body has reached mature status.  It just is not happening, because I am pretty sure no one wants to see my midriff, lest I become a candidate for What Not to Wear.  Could you believe how humiliating it would be to have everyone examine what you wore every time you left home?

Another thing is make up.  I had my days with make up when I was younger.  Now I just wear what I need to keep from scaring people.  But, in an impulsive moment about a year ago, I allowed a department store cosmetologist to seduce me into trying a new look.  Now, this was a beautiful young woman.  She worked on me, lining and powdering and highlighting and shading.  At the end of her work, she handed me a mirror, likely expecting me to be thrilled with the result.  Instead, I gasped in horror!  I looked like a hag.  Make up crept into all the little lines, my saggy eyelids looked like crepe paper.  All that highlighting and contouring looked like a mask.  I thanked her and sped away to the ladies room as quickly as I could to wash my face.  I just knew everyone who saw me on the way was whispering and nudging to look at me.  Did I know better than the pretty young woman behind the counter?  Maybe, but then, she has never been 60.  Her skin is still fresh and light, her eye lids tight and unlined.  I hope she appreciates it.

There is one thing that I have wanted to do that I may do yet.  I’ve wanted to put a colorful hunk of hair in my hair.  One time at a salon, I saw a young Asian woman with a red hunk of dyed hair in her hairdo.  It looked beautiful.  I couldn’t do it before, as my conservative workplace would have found it unacceptable.  But now I find myself pondering it again.  I wonder if it falls into the “just because you can doesn’t mean you should”, but maybe, just maybe one day I’ll make a bold move.  I’m thinking blue.

Until next time – Elsie