Grown-up glamour

Grown-up glamour
Did you see this Sartorialist shot taken in Paris? Who is she, what does she evoke?

Commenters admired her red lips, black ensemble, gold jewelry. Several said, "I hope I look like that when I get old." Well, "old" is relative, but she is a mature woman; I find her glamorous.

I'd like to be more glamourous at 65 than I was at 35, though perhaps not this fully.  

If we wish to gaze into our cameras when old–tongue in chic, mesdames– with a little half-smile, we might start now.  

Confidence with big jewelery begins before fifty but blooms with that milestone. Start buying real, grown-up pieces slowly, surely– or scout for high-quality vintage costume. 
Vintage costume brooch

Shown, retro flower brooch, Carol Tannenbaum; price, $750.

Buy the striking, then wear it all day long. Her brooch would look as stunning on a blazer lapel as in her décollétage.

Makeup: Her assertive lips and eyes decry the "older women should wear soft makeup" dictum, which I always thought carried a subtext: just go and sit in the corner, dearie. One needs that strength when wearing all black.

Hair: Long and loose on this siren, but whatever the length, neither wash-and-wear practical nor strenuously blown-out, its character erased.  The blowout is the Botox of hair.

And speaking of Botox, a commenter on The Sartorialist said "How refreshing to see a mature woman without Botox".  More surprisingly, Schuman's subject shows her neck, a reveal that puts many 50+ women straight into shock.

I'm going to show my neck when I feel like it– and I do.

Her clothes: Even if we don't muster such drama daily, we can consider the occasional foray. Just like cooking, if you want to pull out the stops sometimes, you need a repertoire, from low-key to vavoom.

That's a skirt, which may not be evident at first because it isn't mid-thigh. At the age of maturity, anything higher than grazing the top of the knee is inelegant no matter how divine your legs. See the velvet detail?
Beaded demin twill

Try a luxurious touch for day, see how that feels. Shown, Lafayette 148 denim twill beaded high-waist skirt with gunmetal and jet stones; price, $296.

Even when I'm in my black-pants-and-sweater, she reminds me to slip on an interesting bracelet, like Aurelie Bidermann's cuff of vintage lace dipped in 18k gold.

Don't save the prettiest piece for a party.

Cuff: Vintage lace dipped in gold

Want to bet she's wearing perfume?

"Mmmm", a brown wren said to me at a recent party, "all the women here smell so good, maybe I'll start wearing perfume." Fragrance changes one's entire aura.

Recommended: Coup de Foudre, by Parfums DelRae, an intoxicating but refined rose.

Youth may be, as they say, may be wasted on the young, but sophistication can be inhabited by the mature woman (or man) like no one else.


Nancy K said…
I love her! Damn straight I don't intend to go sit in a corner now that I'm 60! I have a friend who has reduced her makeup to almost nothing and while piling it on is aging, so is going totally the other way. This woman likes herself and it shows.
Genuine Lustre said…
Gorgeous, isn't she?Reminds me of a 70s perfume ad. Not a top-knot nor pigeon toe in sight. A role model for all of us.
Susan said…
I find the idea of how much makeup to wear at a certain age to be an interesting one. I read somewhere that women 50+ NEED to wear eyeliner. I resumed wearing eyeliner at 50 after many years of leaving it off.

At the same time, I have difficulty embracing a really bright/strong lipstick color. For me, it seems to add a certain harshness---just as really dark hair on a woman 50+ seems to be too harsh on some.

At the same time, I appreciate confidence--and the woman pictures definitely has that.
Duchesse said…
Nancy: Even if we could not pull it off, we can admire her!

Genuine Lustre: Yes,there is something retro about her; I at first thought the phone was a compact.

Susan: If I imagine her with pinky-brown lips and minimal eye makeup-the Bobbi Brown palette- she changes entirely. I think makeup also depends on the setting ,not only city vs country but the quality of light where you are.
Susan said…
Duchesse, City vs Country is a consideration. Also, think about a place like Santa Fe, NM vs. New York City.
Susan B said…
I loved this look too, and the fact that she wasn't afraid to wear multiple items of statement jewelry. (I've decided that I need some serious cuffs in my repertoire.) This is such a refreshing change from the uniformly blown out TrophyWifeBots in their designer jeans and Rachel Zoe-inspired ensembles that one sees around here. I love that she's not trying to dress or look like she's 20-something.

Now that I've gone darker again with my hair color, I'm finding I'm able to wear more intense lip color. Yippee!
Unknown said…
Wow - she gives me something to aspire to! I lacked the confidence for the strong makeup, bold brooch and glamour when I was younger - maybe by 50...

I agree about perfume. My tastes are probably narrow and classical, but Shalimar and Mitsouko parfum both do give me a lift and make me feel stronger and more elegant. No fruity florals for this gal (though in winter, by the holidays, Cinnabar/Opium does just as well - I feel like a human clove/orange potpourri ball).
Fuji said…
Whew, she looks fabulous.
Elegant and sophisticated, nothing wrong with striving for those. :)
I love this look...she exudes a confidence that comes through this image.
I am somewhat surprised by the amount of jewelry that she is wearing...but it works.
I aspire to look better as I is more difficult than it was when I was younger...having said that I am not giving up...still working at it!
LPC said…
I may never wear bold jewelry in my day to day life, but I'll be damned if I am going to hide my neck either.
materfamilias said…
Isn't this a wonderful shot?
More inspiration for those of us who refuse to be invisible. . . we might not achieve her level of glamour, but we can try. I agree with Nancy K -- you can clearly tell this woman likes herself -- I love that little smile.
(And I'm not hiding my neck away either.)
Duchesse said…
Susan: Santa Fe vs NYC is the country vs city contrast I had in mind- and also a good example of how the quality of light differs.

Pseu: Trophy WIfeBots, LOL! I love seeing people who are not cookie cuttered,

Artful: Oh, are you one of the under 50 readers sneaking into the Passage? You are most welcome here.

Fuji: I remember Germaine Greer writing years ago that beautiful fabrics were what one gets to wear past 50, "like Italian women", she said.

hostess: When I'm in Paris I notice bigger (and more) jewelry worn than in most North American cities, and try not to stare... sunglasses keep me from being too obvious.

LPC and materfamilias: Ths Sisterhood of Visible Necks rises!
Rubiatonta said…
She's a glamour-puss, that's for sure! While I don't think I could carry this whole look off, I like the way you've parsed it.

Perfume is crucial to being fully dressed, as far as I'm concerned. I like wearing scents that I don't smell on the multitude, and have had oodles of complements on my "winter signature," L'Occitane's Cedar. It's quite androgenous, warm and alluring without cloying.

Someday when I'm rich and famous, I'm going to have Christopher Brosius of "CB I Hate Perfume" design me a scent. I can't think of a greater luxury!
Duchesse said…
Rubi: Wonderful to have 'your scent'; I've found most scents created only for one person not entirely unique.

I like the big, old-school opulent scents for evening and something lighter, usually by L'Artisan Parfumeur or Eau d'Italie by day.
Susan said…
All of you have such good comments here. I need a scent!!!
L'age moyen said…
It's just such a pleasure to find someone over 35 on this site! I just can't believe that in Milan, Paris, New York or Madrid that there aren't hundreds of mature, stylish women worthy of a view through The Sartorialist's lense. Some of his photos recently have been downright confounding to me - yet this one is pure style. Can one hope for more? Sadly, I think it's unlikely.
Duchesse said…
L'age moyen: The Sartorialist includes infrequent appearances by older men and women, but like most fashion photographers, his head is turned by the beautiful young things. However, the older people he shows have real style, unlike those featured in the blog Advanced Style, who stand out, but usually for the wrong reasons.

When he does show us someone older, it is wonderful, in many different registers.
Anonymous said…
Your analysis of the photo, and how it can inspire, is superb.

She is indeed very striking - and a former model, Andrea Dellal - according to pictures on blogs L'Age Moyen and RduJour. No wonder she is so confident. No doubt the experience of modelling - and her wealth - have nurtured her self-esteem.
- Louise
Duchesse said…
Louise: It is! Her hair is darker now. And yes, she certainly has the means. Not sure wealth nurtures self esteem but it certainly nurtures a jewelry collection :).
Marguerite said…
Googled Ms. Dellal for more pictures. The large gold brooch shows up in several other shots. Must be a favorite. Her daughter looks to be following a similar path. Wonder about her exact age. Would never have thought she was Brazilian from this picture.
Anonymous said…
I had to find something to wear to a party recently, and kept coming back to this picture (one that my Sartorialist-fan 22-year-old daughter also loves, interestingly) and your "Smokin'" views of Mirren and Deneuve for inspiration. Tired of the "safe" black-pants-plus-top routine, I wanted a dress--one that was discreetly sexy, but not too dressy, bare or girlish. It was shocking how unstructured, over-embellished and SHORT most of the dresses were--even on my 5'2" frame. (However are you able to cover your long legs, Duchesse?) At the last minute I found The Dress at Ann Taylor: an aubergine wool jersey with long tight sleeves and just a bit of ruching to one side of the waist. But the real secret turned out to be shapewear underneath--what a revelation! The slimming camisole and pants I found were completely comfortable, and they made it possible to wear such a narrow knit dress (in a size smaller than I'd originally tried!) with confidence. With it I wore tights, high-heeled (15-year-old) cordovan boots, and a long, looped strand of 1950s aurora borealis crystal beads removed from several necklaces and restrung randomly on fishing line. I felt great, and while the crystals gave the dress some holiday sparkle, it's clearly going to be what Deja Pseu calls a "workhorse" that can be dressed up or down with different jewelry and footwear. So thanks for the images, Duchesse! And to those who haven't tried the new shapewear: it could change your life--or at least your wardrobe.
Duchesse said…
Anonymous; This sounds so marvelous! Just love what you did with your crystal!

Read article this week in NYT about a socialite's b'day party; she looked everywhere for a dress- and has a biiiig budget-finally found one at Ann Taylor, marked down to $50- which she wore with silver Loubotins.)

Only way I can get dress long enough is to go to several designers, find current model and have it cut longer.

The right undergarments are key. For me it's a supportive but pretty bra.
Duchesse said…
Anonymous: Did you do the restringing yourself?
Anonymous said…

What a lot of work to get a reasonable length of skirt--I sympathize! I spent many years cutting 4-6 inches off the hems of everything I bought. Now most of the dresses out there look like shirts. My dress, too, came from Ann Taylor's sale rack. No Louboutins, alas, though the dress could stand up to them.

I did string the beads myself, when stuck at home with a miserable cold--just dumped them all on a tray along with some vintage crystal seed beads, and plopped them on a length of fishing line, nursery school style. The string got longer and longer--I ended up wearing it looped 4 times around my neck--and I think the randomness of the big and little beads gave it a more modern, airy look.
Duchesse said…
Anonymous: Your example tempts me to play with some unworn pearls. (After my disastrous necklace-making foray at the bead store, feel a lot more confident with monofilament, and prefer the look to heavy links.
Anonymous said…
"Play" is the operative word, isn't it? I read your beading post and thought at the time that the workshop sounded way too serious and difficult. I found my own chunky turquoise necklace in a thrift shop. It was short, heavy and stiff, but cheap, and I love turquoise, so I brought it home, took it apart, and restrung the turquoise cushion-shaped beads, interspersing them with some smaller old darkened silver beads. Now it's one of my favorites. I'm always finding inexpensive necklaces in my thrift shop rambles, and they are rarely the right length. Taking them apart and recombining to my taste is fun. If I don't like the result, I just take them apart again. Hand knotting between beads is beautiful, but I don't have the skill or patience for it. Tiny, unobtrusive seed beads can take the place of knots, giving the same suppleness and finished look without the headaches. If the strand is long enough, you can simply knot the filament well and weave the ends back through several beads. Otherwise I buy simple, attractive silver closings (the ones on vintage costume jewelry are often rusty or otherwise unusable.) Have fun with those pearls, Duchesse! I'd love to hear how they work out.
Duchesse said…
Anonymous: You have both the eye and the skill. Would love to see your restyled pieces.

I have a deep, unwavering bias, for knots, even when told tiny beads look "just like". Should have seen me at my pearl stringing class (another one, different shop), tiny gnarled string and bleeding fingers. For this reason I am a regular patron of jewelers and stringers :)
Anonymous said…
Agreed. Knots are best, nice fat silk ones especially. Wish I could do them well--or that I could fight my inherited do-it-all-yourself impulse long enough to let someone else do them for me!
Mardel said…
I want to be her!

That said, I bare my throat more often than I did even last winter and I find I need eyeliner and lipstick unless I just want to fade into the woodwork, which is most definitely not the goal! Still I would wear more makeup in the city than I do here.

I have been dressing more the past two months than in the years before, including heels, makeup, and jewelry. Especially jewelry. Why? Just because I want to.
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