There was some buzz that went around my blogging community recently about an online chat that took place between three 50+ women bloggers around the topic of how to go from "Frumpy to Fabulous". At the end of the discussion, the topic of what messages do we send with our clothing. Specifically referencing women who appear on Advanced Style, the suggestion was made was that women who dressed "loudly" did so because they were "hurting inside" and that they were desperately trying to combat the "invisibility" that can come with ageing by being the "loudest presence in the room".
A couple of my friends, Suzanne and Melanie, addressed this in posts on their blogs, and while I didn't want to duplicate what had already been written, it did inspire me to take a look at some of my recent outfits and wonder, "does this woman look desperate/insecure/in emotional pain?
I felt very chipper in this outfit. Orange and grey is one of my favourite colour combinations (it avoids the Halloween associations of black and orange). I think that aside from the colour, this is a pretty tame outfit. The Biba jacket and Danier skirt were both thrifted.
For the sake of making a less boring photo, I did this. I would agree that in this photo, I do look like I could be having an emotional breakdown, but I also could have just found out that I won $60 million dollars, and I think this would have been the perfect response had that been the case.
This was what I wore today. It was cold, so I thought I'd get in one wearing of this wool patchwork skirt I purchased a couple of months ago at a neighbourhood vintage store. Unfortunately, the owner of the store is not very careful about the quality of the stock she's selling, and most of the clothing, including this skirt, has multiple moth holes (I had it dry cleaned and it's kept in a plastic bag to prevent any infestations). The hat was a gift from a friend of the Style Crone, the moto-style jacket from Le Chateau and my trusty 1990's raver Swear boots, which still make an appearance now and then. I got a few side-eyes, but I also got a lot of smiles, which made an already bright day even brighter. I don't know what the people who smiled thought of me, most likely they just appreciated the whimsy of my hat and its faux dreadlocks. Or maybe they thought I was desperate for attention. Who knows, and more importantly, who cares?
I will agree, I look silly here, but it was because my boxy, cotton 80's sweater and my giant jeans were making me feel that way, and even though it was not one of my most flattering outfits, I felt comfortably visible. I am even flashing my 54 year old midriff (which was just for the photo -when my arms are lowered, the sweater covers my mid-section). OMG, a woman in her mid-50's is showing her bare stomach on the internet. Cover your children's eyes, everyone!
All decorum is restored, except for the fact that the sweater is made of knit strips of different colours, woven together which means there are little squares through which my actual skin can be seen, if you look hard enough. Who knows what the people in my office thought about me the day I wore this.
My point is, does it really matter what others think your choice of clothing says about you? In certain situations like a job interview, an audition, or a meeting with the Pope, the answer would be yes. But on a regular day, most people are too wrapped up in their own life to give much thought to what some over-50 dame is wearing, and if they do, and the thought is along the line of "what crazy shit is that woman wearing?", is that going to make me question my style choices? No. I know I'm an intelligent, creative, and interesting person who encourages and supports creativity and self-expression in others. What is crazy (and sad) is when women publicly question the mental stability emotional well-being of other women because of their non-conformist style choices.
Late addition - Kathryn, who is the line of communication to and from my lovely St. Louis fan club (whose members are dwindling as the ancients depart this world) sent me the Weird Mantra today:
Blessed are the WEIRD people.....
The poets and the misfits,
The artists, the writers, the musicmakers,
The dreamers and the outsiders.....
for they force us to see the world differently
and that is how we become real.