As I ease into semi-retirement, I'm reflecting on the three eras of my clothes-buying.
When I was in my mid-20's through 30s, working in the financial district, I'd drop $600 on an Armani silk blouse, and who knows what on a suit. I liked Japanese designers, Maud Frizon heels.
I would graph my Visa bill, tape it to my refrigerator door, and force myself to get the slope running downward, but I don't think it was ever entirely paid off.
On a business trip to London, I almost bought a $4,000 Claude Montana leather jacket with a red eagle on the back, till I realized I'd have to declare it and pay customs duty, thank god for that shred of sense.
Late 30's to late 50's: Marriage and a family changed my habits; no longer willing to live on toast for a month to pay for a pair of turquoise suede boots. Became a "bridge" customer, with occasional splurges at the boutiques.
With the advent of business casual, let go of "fashiony" looks. At the same time, very important to me to avoid anything mumsy. I looked for simple shapes like the look at the left, and did not wear much colour.
In the last decade, found several local designers who are so talented they pass the "I'd Wear This in Paris" test.
I'm in another state, not a return Era 1, but different from Era 2.
I think about Holding Up the Side. I don't want to be that sad senior on the wrong (Never Cool) side of Sherrie Mathieson's "Forever Cool" book.
On the other end of the Senior Style Error continuum, I recently came across the term Fifteen-Fifty (fifteen from the back, fifty from the front) and cringed. Not that I could, even if I were tempted.
Thumbing through an old copy of Germaine Greer's "Menopause", I read her comment that Italian women my age drape themselves in gorgeous fabrics. I thought, there's a plan: simple, current but not desperately trendy clothes in beautiful fabrics.
Finding these fabrics is not easy; the houses renowned for them (such as Etro, Missoni, Hermes) only rarely make something in my size and I get sticker shock. Even finding a white shirt in a fine Egyptian cotton is a challenge.
But now that I know what I want, the hunt is on, with focus and reverence.
As you'd expect, my price point has flown up again. But this time I'm not in pursuit of the latest trend. The pieces should last longer, so I apply the time-honoured cost-per-wear formula.