Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Contentedly dressed

"Trends are the plastic surgery of fashion."
- Roland Mouret

I've recently
turned 62 and realize I've lost the taste for trendy.

P
resented with a hot trend, my response is boredom or disdain. Other than some fabric innovations such as linen-metal blends, I have seen it all, including grey nail polish, which my groovy art-major roommate Janie concocted in 1969.

"Trendy" items are typically coveted by 18-to-28 year-olds, sold at hip boutiques for a season, knocked off at H&M the next and forgotten in six months– until five years from now.

I'm also aware of my tendency to lock on to past preferences, not a good thing. I saw a 60ish woman downtown yesterday: helmet hair, mid-1990s coatdress, prissy little bone shoes with those heels shaped like hockey pucks, everything rigidly perfect. And I thought, Sweetie, it is 2010.

You can
do that look if you're 30, with cat's eye glasses, Jimmy Choos and rhinestone earrings, but if you have an AARP card in your handbag, think again.

(By the way, the Canadian equivalent is Canadian Association of Retired Persons, CARP, as perfect an acronym as ever put on this earth.)

So the maxi-sundress will not be my summer treat, though I admire them on young women.

I aim for Contentedly Dressed: pleasing to me right now. "Nicely" sounds like someone else is doing up my buttons, "Well" seems self-absorbed.


Wear the clothes that lift you up, whether Bean or Beene. If ecstatic in vintage Sant' Angelo and Halston, let your freak flag fly, but keep your accessories current– shoes and bags made within the last few years or classics still in production.



When my mother was nearly 85, she came to a casual family dinner in navy pants, a white Egyptian-cotton shirt and this gold-buttoned cashmere cardigan, all from Maus and Hoffman.

Some of these items were likely going on 20 years old (she replaced favourites with duplicates, so it's hard to know), but on her feet she wore glossy new Belgian loafers.

Proud as a five-year old, I thought, She is beautiful.


I have her sources filed.
For now, no trends.

Trends don't make me look younger
, they make me uneasy with my authentic and acceptable age– for which I am increasingly grateful.

25 comments:

aaonce said...

There is a woman in my office who is in her mid-sixties who has such a "fresh" look. It took me a moment to dissect how she managed to acheive this, considering her clothing style was neither classic nor all that current (but it did suit her personality). She keeps her accessories current and also finishes things off with a modern (and somewhat edgy) haircut.

Splurgie said...

Great post. Lots to think about. I'm 55 and a librarian. The fashion image of the profession swings from gray-bunned grandmother to hot repressed young woman dying to cast aside her glasses and undo her chignon. Finding a look somewhere in the middle is a challenge!

Toby Wollin said...

Yep - current haircut, makeup, and accessories are the tickets here.

Staircase Witch said...

I am happy to see young women embracing the retro look (divorced, hopefully, from the attitudes that once accompanied it), but I myself am leaving the period of life when I may do so with impunity.

I find, more and more, that my closet is filled mostly with Talbots and Pendleton. I've given up the long, flowing skirts I used to love in favor of crisper khakis, oxfords, and loafers, softened by the silk scarves and other beautiful things that my husband brings me back from his travels. I changed professions from one that was more humanistic to one that was more technical, and I have come to the realization that in this field women, especially women of my age, need to be a bit androgynous in order to be taken seriously.

Artful Lawyer said...

You hit one of my pet peeves - the bone pump. UGH. My 70 year old mother sadly still favors helmet hair and the suntan pantyhose & pumps combo that she probably adopted in the 1960s. I cannot for the life of me wear pale pumps - cannot. Had one tan pair to go with a tan summer suit and had them dyed brown - something about the pale pump (if it is a "classic" one - Manolo or someone can probably jazz this idea up) is just so incredibly out of date.

Deja Pseu said...

My inclination has always been to keep clothing mostly simple and basic, and accessories updated. I agree that some trends are better left to the kids, however they can also be helpful; I plan to keep an eye out for some nice lower-heeled shoes now that they're back "in". I'll continue to wear them once the Young Things have moved on to the 4" stilettos or Earth shoes or whatever comes next.

Duchesse said...

aaonce: If neither classic nor current, what is it? Vintage?

Splurgie: The librarians I've seen in the public library wear jeans, and the corporate ones wear business casual, Repression is strictly a projection!

Toby: Also, I can no longer wear cheap sweaters, they just pill and bag.

Staircase Witch: I love calf-length skirts, usually full or gored, so always look a bit out of it compared the the thigh-high trend. So be it. A closet full of Talbot's and Pendleton is going to give you good to excellent wear and fits our more mature bodies.

I worked in tech for over a decade and avoided the khaki/oxford shirt thing (and t-shirts). My uniform was pants (not jeans) and a cashmere v-neck or blouse with a scarf and jewelry.

Artful: I have seen some killer bone shoes, but since I can't wear 4 inch spikes... Whether bone or other colour, there is a low, wide heel, kind of the proportion of a shot glass, that looks dowdy. I'd rather wear a flat.

Pseu: "They can also be helpful"- do you mean lower heels? I don;t see these as trendy, someone is always making a low-heeded loafer or oxford.

Current trends here are tie-dye, maxidresses, about three yards of scarf wound on the neck in 30C weather, and ultra short-shorts (essentially swimsuit bottoms)- worn on the street. I feel absolutely ancient regarding these.

Deja Pseu said...

Duchesse - what I meant by that is that items that are au courrant are more readily available. At least here in LA, heels with less than a 3.5" heel have been rarer than hens' teeth. Now that kitten heels are trendy, I'm hoping I'll be able to pick and choose in the 2-2.5" range.

I'll stay away from the more extreme versions of trends, however.

Mary said...

You expressed beautifully what I've been feeling & moving toward. This past weekend, I bundled up all the vestiges of my past corporate life and went off to Goodwill to make a healthy donation of Talbots and Nordstrom clothing. Plagued with lower back problems along with an extreme desire to simplify, I donated all my biggie purses. I am now using small cross body bags with only the bare essentials - one key, couple of cards, phone. I am so with you - comfort first iced with something current. Great post!!

Belle de Ville said...

I consider my style post trends and I just concentrate on what is flattering to my specific figure.
I leave the trends to the under 30 crowd.

Duchesse said...

Pseu: Gotcha. I notice many marinieres on sale racks, especially the dress versions, challenging even for 20 yr olds. So, good time to pick up a few- they are classics and will be useful once the trend has passed.

Marsha said...

Belle de Ville says it perfectly - after decades of discovering and rediscovering what is truly flattering for me (colors, shapes, styles, etc.), I no longer give a tinker's dam about trends, whether or not something is "current" or modern (by the way, how long does "current" last?), or how old a particular item of clothing might be. Does it suit me? Do I enjoy wearing it? If so, I wear it happily and let the others envy my mental health. My only fear (based on experience) is that I will try to wear something that is uncomfortable because I like the way it looks.

hostess of the humble bungalow said...

I'd like your expertise and comments on glasses for the over 50 crowd...I see so many wonderful funky edgy styles but am not sure that they are age appropriate...are kitty cat glasses aging?

materfamilias said...

I agree with you in general, but part of my contentment often comes from adapting trends or even embracing them full on, as they suit me and depending on the price points required to invest. I picked up some black patent Oxfords last fall and some saddle oxfords this spring -- altho' this trend, admittedly, is an adoption of a perennial classic.
And I was very contented in my maxi-dress on several occasions this summer -- altho' I'd only wear it on a rural restaurant patio or an island garden party or hostessing in my own back yard.
Some trends do resonate with me and I see no reason to refuse them simply because others have finally caught up to my inclinations ;-)
I'll just try to be judicious about them, balancing them with more classic choices, and if I don't quite achieve that balance, well, I'm old enough not to fret too much about a fashion faux pas here and there . . .

Rubiatonta said...

I think detaching oneself from the need to follow trends is a sign of maturity -- but it also has a lot to do with how you learned to dress, even as a kid. I'm lucky to come from a family of snappy dressers.

My gran is my style icon - she is always band-box perfect, and at 97, still buying new and fashionable clothes -- ones that suit her and that are also comfortable. She has a great haircut, and does accessories really well, especially scarves. Gran doesn't dress like a little old lady, though she's had to put vanity aside in favor of shoes that don't hurt her bunions. (But she hates 'em.)

When I get back to the States, I'll take a few snaps of her and send them your way -- I think you'll find she's quite an inspiration!

metscan said...

An interesting post. Last summer I had no hesitation wearing T´s and jeans for a city visit. This summer I have not gone downtown in that combination. Winter is easier, I just grab a great coat. It is hard to avoid hearing and seeing, what is in, what is out. At this certain age I do wish to wear clothes, which are comfortable, but which have a certain edge to them. Investing in good accessories, is wise too.

Duchesse said...

Mary: That is a whole new life! Congratulations.

Belle and Marsha: I agree, but wish the marketplace was not so trend-oriented

hostess: I pretty much avoid the "is this aging?" concept, as I don't see anything wrong with aging. (As they say, especially in light of the alternative.) But I do consider the inverse, "is this too young?" Inconsistent, I know!

Glasses need to suit the face and personality. more than age. And I think those string things on glasses are dowdy even if they are pearls.


materfamilias: My opinion is that very trendy clothes look odd after a certain age (an age that each woman will decide for herself). I recall one of your posts when you wondered about a particular dress. Neither of us is headed for the St John knits, but it seems we are thoughtful about trends, and my caution has increased. But I am considerably older than you :)

metscan: I find myself attracted to items I once would have walked by, like a classic cashmere cardi (but in an unusual colour). Today I was in a shop with a friend, full of exquisite clothes, all very edgy. but I wondered if I'd want them in a year.

Rubiatonta: I think I can speak for all, we would *love* to see photos of your grandmother!

Imogen Lamport, AICI CIP said...

So true, grandpa shirts should not be worn by grandpa's the latest retro trend works on the young and hip, but dated and old when it's been worn more than once before in your lifetime.

metscan said...

Duchesse: I really do wish my few clothes to have that piece of "something". These clothes don´t need to stay with me forever. I don´t save clothes; the ones I no longer wear, I pass onwards very quickly. Maybe I have one or two classics, no more. Handbags have a longer life with me. I only have 6 of them, could survive with four. One for each season.

Mardel said...

I've just turned 52 and am in the midst of a refining process which is in some ways more classic, or perhaps the items I am gravitating toward are more classically "me". Some trends, like maxi dresses, I have long worn entertaining on the deck and for me these are classics, but I would not wear one in town. I like long flowing skirts, calf length, and will continue to wear them, particularly in the winter with boots. Perhaps there is some kind of wisdom that comes with time, that hopefully, if we are open to it, we come to accept ourselves and our own style. Accessories, grooming, and how one assembles oneself shows a spark of character and can keep one current. Blindly chasing fashion no longer interests me at least.

Duchesse said...

mardel: Well put! Like you I would like some character and individuality, that "something" but jeggings, no.

Imogen: SO for me, that will rule out saddle shoes (which look best on fairly small feet, anyway) but maybe I'll sneak in a pair of penny loafers.

lagatta à montréal said...

I don't like jeggngs on teens or twenty-year-olds either. They look slutty.

I've never been one to follow trends, but I do like to keep up with what's in style. Don't see anything wrong with maxi-sundresses though. Guess it depends on the sundress, but I think that can look nice and summery on any age.

cheeky curves said...

Interesting post, I feel trend is a matter of taste and your interpretation of what is current, how it suit your lifestyle, your age and your personality

Duchesse said...

cheeky: A trend is a marketing device, the "new thing" one "must" have. What you have described with your words "how it suit(s) your age, lifestyle and personality" I would call personal style.

Susan said...

I really loved this post by you. Just wonderful thoughts--all of which I agree with.