Inspired by materfamilias' touching and observant post pondering whether her beloved dress-leggings-cardi ensemble might be too young for her, I've been thinking about what you have the right to wear at 50+.
Le Duc says "When a woman grows older she has the right to wear things she could not before."
One might wear the items below at 25 or 30, but they have a different effect on a mature woman.
Not the tarty old trout look, but the discreet flash of a lace bra. European women know how to do this (see Catherine Deneuve at left); North American women seem to handle cleavage by thinking "Full-out Ho, here I go!"
A beautiful jacket with a lower-cut shell, or a tailored blouse with one more button undone is the right of the older woman.
A cheetah cloche, a taupe felt bowler, a wide-brimmed straw with a scarf tied as a band. What looks costumey when younger looks (with the right proportioned clothing) striking when older.
I'm talking real, if you are willing, because a "fun fur" on a 70 year old woman will not work unless she is Iris Apfel.
Several years ago I saw a woman that age wearing an impeccable knee-length mahogany mink coat, low walking shoes and a ruby red beret. This offhand combination was fantastic; I imprinted it in memory to someday duplicate. Same goes for a fine bag in an (unendangered) exotic skin.
4. Jewelry with presence
My friend Jeri told me about a family wedding she attended, all the matriarchs in their diamond rivieres or huge dinner rings.
Her 80 year old aunt wore a damask cocktail suit accessorised with a Schlumberger Bird brooch the size of a turkey egg.
The piece shown is French jet and diamante, from Heritage Jewellery Company.
5. Dressed Up
This is more an attitude than actual pieces; it's forgoing dress-down when appearing in public or accepting an invitation to someone's home- preferring to be what the French call "sortable".
When my 50+ friend L. came to a dinner party in running shoes and a dress over jeans, I thought, there is a time to dress like a grown woman instead of a grad student, and by 50, the time has long come.
To every dress, there is a season
Probably 30% of the clothes in a typical 'better' department store are ageless: the well-cut trouser and cashmere tee, for example. These classics, in the best quality I can afford, are the foundation. Then I look for twists, updates, amusing details, but not too-junior trends.
Though classic, I avoid menswear; mens'-styled jackets make me look like an usher. The preppy young-guy look no longer charms: high crew-neck tees, polo, rugby or button-down shirts, bermuda shorts.
Skull-printed anything, things prefaced with "baby" (tees, pearls, blue), madras, Juicy track suits, smocks, neon colours, bitsy jewelry (much as I like Ten Thousand Things, I need One Big Thing), running shoes for anywhere but the gym, banana clips, and 98% of all denim- over for me.
You can guess I'm not a Charla Krupp fan; I think she looks plastic and hard. Compare to Ellen Burstyn, below, age 76.