Robert Maxwell photo
Sometimes I beg my husband or friends to "Tell me! Tell me! if I start to look like that." I am usually pointing (subtly I hope) at a 50-ish woman dressed as a walking Craft Show. She has Birkenstocks, a lampwork bead necklace, an appliqued coat, maybe a Guatamalan vest... you know the look.
My friend Missi says, "It's an attempted substitute for a good body, it's a way of distracting the eye from what's no longer so hot." I am equally terrified of looking (as my mother would say) like I hit a sale at Eileen Fisher. I can't wear this austere look, the styles read like elegant drop sheets on me. Why don't I look like the ads? Is it 30 extra pounds or that I'm not at the seashore?
I didn't have a consistent real-life role model till Helen Mirren started getting accolades by the armload, and thank god she did, and thank god she's photographed frequently. Every woman I know looks at Helen Mirren with admiration, relief, pride, hope and a wish that you could order bone structure from Ikea.
My only complaint is that Dame Helen is not often photographed in what she might wear to a Saturday night movie or a walk around her neighborhood. This photo from the online addition of Ranch and Coast magazine is the most casual I could find. I like how the ruffles soften her look, without going all girly.