We recently attended my MIL's 80th birthday party, a mid-afternoon garden party for two dozen family and friends.
Besides enjoying a warm, affectionate fete, I learned a few things for the journey ahead. Notes to myself, if I make it to 80:
1. Though long in the tooth, do not be gray in the tooth! Whether they are yours or created for you, make sure your teeth are are a somewhat whitish, even shade. Snaggly, stained teeth take the whole face down. I spotted some cosmetic dental opportunities amid those a generation younger. Spend here; it's worth it.
2. Avoid perms. They look tight, fussy, and do no favours to thin or fragile hair.
3. Keep (or acquire) a bit of glamour. A lot is fascinating, if you can carry it off.
My MIL, Monique, looked elegant in a mauve Moroccan-patterned tunic and white linen pants with a mauve pinstripe. An artist, she has keen colour sense and dresses to flatter her figure. She wore the perfect shade of lipstick, eye makeup and a pale, glossy manicure.
Her BIL Bernard arrived with his companion, Claire. There's a type of Québéciose woman renowned for their flashy, full-on glamour; this look is called "chromée" (chromed), shown here in a shot of singer Marie-Chantale Toupin, who looks very much like a young Claire.
At around 80, this ravishing lady wore a leather blazer, leather pants and booties, all in deep raspberry. Her impeccable pink manicure drew attention to five huge rings. And gold galore! Several chains dripped charms, thick hoop earrings: the Costa del Sol meets Montréal. Needless to say, she stood out. I thought she was fabulous!
She may have seemed heavily dressed for the third week of June, but the day was cool and overcast, and older folks chill easily.
4.Though your shape has shifted, but don't forsake pants with waists or tops with darts. Abandon dressing in unremitting neutrals.
SIL's mother wore a charming ruffly white peasant skirt, just below knee-length, with a big link necklace over a black, yellow and white flower-printed tee; she looked festive and current.
SIL, in her plain white blouse and black capris, with no jewelry, looked carelessly-dressed in comparison. Colour, even if only the third colour in a black and white tee, lifts skin tone.
5. If colouring your hair, go pro.
I'd better start an annuity for a good colourist. Expert highlights, lowlights or bayalage really earn the price.
One of my MIL's artist friends, Colombe, wore a hot pink cotton shirt over white slacks. Her discreetly-highlighted blonde French twist brought out her cornflower blue eyes.
MIL is strawberry blonde; I'm guessing it's a home job. Well-placed light highlights near the face would make a good colour even better. The glamourous Claire's upswept hair was about four shades of honeyed blonde, an effect that Scarlett Johannson would envy. SIL's mother is a light brown with a few highlights near the face. Come to think of it, no one was gray except the men.
6. Just move, any way you can.
Claire walks, gardens and stays flexible with yoga-like stretches. You can see the results in her posture. Le Duc's aunt Béa walks up to five miles most days. Other elder friends attend strength training classes to keep up bone density. Exercise is far more valuable than creams or most pills.
7. Do not worry about wrinkles in your elder years, because at 80, you will have a radiating burst no matter how many facials you got.
So what? The children who helped put them there will be making speeches brimming with love, and your eyes will fill with tears. No one counted the wrinkles, only the blessings.
8. Wear beautiful fabrics.
I was stuck by the ready smiles and abundant laughter amid MIL's friends and family. 'Inner beauty' is real, but don't give up on the outer.
When MIL opened Béatrice's gift of an Italian shawl in pearl gray with heliotrope flowers, the exquisite swath wrapped her in glowing luxury. How spot-on Germaine Greer was, when she wrote that older women look their best in beautiful fabrics!
If this post is way too early for you, I hope it assists your choices for your elders. There is beauty to every age, but it takes effort and attention, especially as one copes with the inevitable physical challenges of the eighth decade.
PS. Note to those who gave advice re her gift: We wanted to give a joint gift of a trip, but the sibs did not agree. Le Duc and I gave MIL a pair of coral double drops set in 18k yellow gold. Not only did she love them, but every women there eyed them enviously.