Doin’ Denim at Da Job

The biggest deal lately around my office is that, after 10+ years of office wear anxiety, we are now allowed to wear jeans and t-shirts every day — not just Fridays.

This is a big victory for jean-loving employees. Nothing says comfort more than a well-worn pair of Levis. And within certain (obvious) guidelines, t-shirts are the comfort wear of today and tomorrow.

Being an older BoHo chic kinda gal, it kind of amuses me to see the direction of the office dress codes through my past  60+ years.

In my prime I worked in downtown Chicago in the 80s. That was the time of big advertising budgets, big hair, and big shoulder pads. All the women wore tailored suits and dresses so we could be taken seriously. Yeah. Jeans were something you wore around the house to dig in the garden. Not to work.

The years have been turning more and more casual as far as the proper attire for us nine to fivers. Suits turned into pants and tops and pants and sweaters, and accessories turned from Army General shoulder pads to tops that have to have at least two inch straps. We’ve gone from business formal to business casual, and although I liked the idea that shoulder pads made me look taller, I’m willing to let change take over.

So when the freedom of jeansville was brought to my workplace, everyone went wild. Those first few days were seas of blue. Jeans and jeans and t-shirts that went with jeans. Skinny jeans, rolled up jeans, baggy jeans. The place went wild.

Me? I have one stretchy pair of jeans, and two baggy ones. The baggy ones were/are an embarrassment, so I’m relegated to one pair. The blue jean revolution isn’t such a big deal to me, though, for as I’ve gotten older I’ve been drawn to flowy skirts, peasant tops, flowers and sparkles and some narrow-ish pants. I’d toss on a pair of jeans now and then on Fridays, but I’m still fairly old school about work and looking professional, and tops have always taken precedence over t-shirts for me. I mean, damn…I still have a problem wearing pants to church.

The office has calmed down this second week of blue jean freedom. After all, it’s not a novelty any more. Some employees may look for an illicit thrill wearing those expensive jeans with the rips in the knee or t-shirts with bare shoulders between the shoulder and the upper arm, but hopefully those thrill seekers will not get us all in the doghouse for breaking the dress code.

As I reflect on this story, I see it’s really a metaphor for life. Be careful what you ask for, for when you get it, it might not be as exciting as you thought it would be. Everything new eventually gets old, and all that.

But for those days when I am barely dragging my butt out of bed and into the shower and it’s raining and blowing outside and I’m trying to connect with the road to work, the thought of baggy blue jeans and a flowery top don’t seem so bad.

Even if it’s not Friday.

 

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What Should I Wear?

1First I wrote about it — Fashion Faux Pas (http://wp.me/p1pIBL-1kO) for those over 50. I was generous with age.  This includes velvety purple leggings, pigtails, and chugga boots with short skirts.

Then someone else (obviously not far from 30) wrote 24 Things Women Should Stop Wearing After Age 30  (http://www.rantchic.com/2014/10/24/20-things-women-should-stop-wearing-after-age-30/).  This one was a little hard on us middle-aged fashion statements. While I agreed with a few (sparkly pants, short dresses, booty shorts), I took offense at a few others (hoop earrings, cheap bras, old sneakers, scrungies), as that is still part of my wardrobe.

Then my great friend Jilly posted the latest take on middle-age dressing on Facebook: 24 Things Women Over 30 Should Wear   https://warningcurvesahead.com/2016/06/04/24-things-women-over-30-should-wear/#comment-2898) and boy, does the blogger have it right. The pics say it all (along with a feisty refrain). Women of all ages should be able to wear whatever the $#&+ they want.

My wondering is — do you really wear what you want?

I enjoy fashion. I also like comfort. I figure somewhere there is a meeting of the two. Runway model I’m not. Curvy middle-aged babe — closer.  But really I’m more like a pudgy granny with a love for bling. My heart says long skirts, wraps, hats, lots of bracelets…and my wardrobe says prints, black and navy pants, and plain shoes. I honestly think I’m afraid of being laughed at if I came to work with some of the outfits I deem cool. That at this point in my life everyone will think I’m one foot into dementia should I step out of dull.

Why do we let others dictate our sense of fashion? Our sense of art?

Some of my friends have been fashion freebirds forever. They wear whatever and look good in whatever. They have that fashion sense I seem to lack. You can dress up and dress wild and dress classy all at one time. Not me. It was only a few years ago I got that the navy in my shirt didn’t have to exactly match the navy in my pants.

I don’t think free flow fashion means letting go and looking like a clown. I know people who wear too-short tops with too-tight pants and their body is too-endowed to get away with either. But I’m not talking about bad choices. I’m talking about good choices that aren’t always in-the-box choices. Which, listening to myself, is probably true for most of us in most situations.

Peer pressure is hell. I would guess that a lot of my readers were made fun of some time in their life…from  snickers to cooties, it hits us all. It is within these over-blown memories of days past that our sense of self arises. And often times who we want to be is never who we become.

I think it’s not so much dressing/being conservative vs. liberal. I think it’s more a reflection of how you feel about yourself deep down inside.  If you’ve ever liked that person that hides in the closet. If you’ve ever given that person a chance.

I encourage all of you to take a peek at afore-mentioned 24 blog. Look into the eyes of the women who are dressed just how they want to be dressed. Ladies of all sizes. In all sorts of fashions. Feeling, being, who they are.  Then find a way to be your own self. They are not, nor ever will be, you.  Don’t let other people tell you what to wear and how to live.

Except for velvety purple leggings. Please — don’t wear velvety purple leggings.

 

Fashion Rule Number Two

CAM01211I didn’t think I’d be adding to my Fashion Advice Blog (my FAB blog…heh…) so soon. After all, I just packed two paper bags to give to Good Will.

But dressing this morning Lesson Two dawned on me:

Don’t let the crabbies dictate your outfit.

Now, being on a different shift than my other half, I’m often looking through my closet in the morning with the flashlight app on my smartphone. Yesterday I woke up crabby, and neglected — no, downright ignored — the outfit I had picked out the night before. I couldn’t fall asleep, I didn’t want to wake up. So why should I look fresh to the world?

Because of that frumpy choice I felt off-center all day. Even my bling of a necklace couldn’t push me left or right of the funk. By the end of the day, though, the temperature outside was near 60, the sun danced between the clouds, and I had a great time outside with my grandbaby.

Just think that I could have had that feeling all day long if I’d just dressed in what I had originally chosen.

We’re not big dresser-uppers at work; the younger generation does wear great outfits, but the middlers and post-middlers don’t often follow suit. Well, I want to follow suit. As I said in my earllier blog (Be a Fashion Plate — Not a Platter, http://wp.me/p1pIBL-ZR), I don’t want to be that monochrome person (paraphrasing, of course…)

This morning I was again crabby. Not the I’ll-knock-your-socks-off-if-you-talk-to-me crabby, just a why-do-I-have-to-do-this-five-days-a-week crabby. The sun was rising over the trees out my back window; the promise of 60 degrees in the air. So I went back and picked out yesterday’s outfit: a blue top and flowered skirt, and a pair of blue sandals.

And I feel young again.

Now, I hear many of you say, “I’m not a skirt/dress person.” During the winter I’m not either. But there’s something in a flowy skirt blowing in the breeze that makes me feel fresh. Different. Lighter. As if my cares have fluttered away. Lightweight pants and flowy tops can do the same. Or colorful scarves.

Kinda like church on Sundays back in the old days.

So that will be Lesson Two. Pick out your outfit the night before (when you still have some fun left in you), and don’t be swayed by the grump you can sometimes be. Lighten Up. Take a Chance. If you can’t do the night-before-thing, take an extra three minutes and do it right in the morning. Don’t go searching with the flashlight app. You may pull out blue bottoms and a different blue top.

Think of the horror of mass boredom you might create.

Be a Fashion Plate — Not a Platter

giphyFor all of you who are tired of making sure your blues are all the same blue and you wear only one pattern at a time:

This morning I complimented a girl on the color combinations of her outfit. She was wearing a purple t-shirt over a pink shell, with a bright green jacket. I didn’t notice her pants, because I’m sure they were the basic black/navy/dark brown. And that’s point number one.

I didn’t notice her pants because they were very basic.

Despite the fact that she was half my age and weight, she carried off the rainbow pretty well. And I told her so. (I like to give out compliments when I can.) That led to my second thought — if I were dressed like that, I’d look like I was heading off to the circus.

Tada dum. An instant putdown to a healthy thought.

Now, the outfit wasn’t offensive in any way. It wasn’t too short, too small, too tight, too sloppy. It was a play on colors I had not seen together. And — I liked it.

Yet I hide in my black-on-black and silver-and-black and pink-and-black. Summer may throw in some whites and greens, but it’s pretty much old lady old. Last year I wrote a blog called Old Lady BoHo (http://wp.me/p1pIBL-uu) where I was going to lighten up my wardrobe and wear flowy skirts and peasant tops and whatever felt good.

And here I am, writing this blog, dressed in black pants and a black-and-white mosaic shirt.

Woo hoo.

And I think — I can’t do this any more.

I know there are plenty of women who are perfectly happy in the monochromes of the world. But deep inside I am not. I think I’m so afraid of “stepping out of the (color) box” because I’m afraid of looking stupid, so I pass on a lot of fun, comfortable, ME things.

I’m not totally helpless yet — I do have tops with promise, and I have bought a few of those cotton dresses from India for summer evenings.  But I sure could use some advice — and a boost of confidence. I’m sure there are other readers out there who could use a boost in the wardrobe department, too. Or who have taken the plunge and never looked back.

I want to be that person.

I know I cant (nor do I want to) dress like I’m 20 or 30. I might have the legs for mini skirts, but my buttocks and stomach aren’t quite as accommodating — or forgiving. But there has to be fun colors and patterns out there I can put together and not look like the a haushalterin. But my color palate is like the image above and right. Always moving, always confusing.

So I am starting a class on Midlife Wardrobe Changes. Not a book/notes/regular attendance kind of thing. Just a blog now and then that gives suggestions on what looks good on a 62-year-old hip, fun granny.

And I sure could use your input.

Lesson One: Closet Cleaning.

Less is More. And less makes room for more. Get a paper bag. Open it. Go to your closet. Pick out three things you haven’t worn in a year. Ask yourself why not. If there is ONE NANO-SECOND of hesitation, put it in the bag.

Pick out three pieces you love to wear. Ask yourself why. If there is ONE NANO-SECOND of adoration, put them back.

Pick out three more pieces that you haven’t worn in quite a while. Ask yourself why not. And this time wait for the answer. Was it a little too tight? A little too short? A little too baggy? Be honest. Then put them in the bag.

It might take you a few weeks to do this, but trust me, you will have a thinner collection. It’s the too small/too tight/too silly looking pieces that make you look stupid, not some peasant blouse or Hawaiian shirt.

The next step is stepping over the conservative barrels your youth set out for you. Catholic schools are at one end of the horror spectrum, big city public schools the other. You either couldn’t afford the newest duds, or weren’t allowed to think about them. We have to shed this heavy coat of conservatism.

But that is Lesson Number Two. Fodder for another day.

In the meantime, if you want to give me some fashion advice, please do. What works for you or what you’re looking for.

I only have 20 or 25 years to get this right. Better start sooner than later.

 

 

I’m….Too Sexy for My (too small) Shirt….

1950vogueLiberation!

At least that’s what my mind calls it. I’ve been going through my closet and getting rid of ANYTHING that doesn’t fit/has a stain/looks frumpy.

You do that all the time, don’t you? Or don’t you?

I am the first to admit that sometimes it’s hard to donate that great-looking, swingy dress that looks smashing with those gold sandals. How many parties and barbeques did we attend together?  What doesn’t compute is that it’s not as flowy as it was 15 years ago.

15 Years?? What kind of fashion maven am I?

Fashion for women is a very touchy thing. I still have my mother’s mink stoles in the front closet that she wore 50 years ago. I can’t think of a party or dinner that they would fit in, though. I still am a fan of shoulder pads in women’s sweaters, but the look I get when I wear any that are left in my closet is worth ripping them out. I am not a fashion dinosaur — I’m more like a make-the-most-of-your-bad-purchase kinda gal. Some things I thought would look great once I got them home looked just as “iffy” as they did the day I plunked them off the shelf. But I stubbornly hang it in my closet hoping they will look better. They never do.

Now, men — in an odd, pretzel-logic sort of way, this goes for you, too. I mean, how many wrenches does one man need? How many fishing lures?  Bottle openers?

And clothes? Shoes? Bling? I am all for the odd piece, the one-in-a-million outfit. I am for keeping shoes that are comfortable and jewelry that is inherited. But between those two places is a bizillion pieces of collectables that would be better off being collected elsewhere. Think of all the little kids who would LOVE to start their fishing tackle box with one of the eight identical lures you are holding onto. The unemployed woman who would look smashing in the shirt and pants that haven’t fit you since 2001.  And what granny wouldn’t give her eye teeth (if she still had them) for a pair of comfy slippers that someone gave you years ago and you’ve never worn because they’re too big?

Perhaps there is a deeper psychological issue here, one that my little fried brain can’t digest right at the moment. I believe we are always “spring cleaning.” Our collections define us, mold us. If we don’t get out from under our old trappings we can never evolve…never follow our beautiful, wandering, growing nature. There is so much out there for us to experience. So why not? Keep a bit of the old, opt out for the new. If you haven’t worn it in a year, toss it. If you haven’t fished with it in a year, stash it. Quit cluttering up your todays with yesterdays. It’s a fact of life. You can only use one wrench at a time. Having six of the same size doesn’t increase your chances of fixing whatever it is you are fixing.

Once you thin out your earthly possessions, you will be amazed at how the clutter in your head thins out, too. You wear what you really enjoy wearing — what really looks good. You catch  fish with the reliable lures your daddy gave you…you don’t need to keep the “maybe” ones that have cluttered up your tackle box for so long.

There is a double meaning somewhere in here as well. But I’ve no time to think about it. I see those dreadful, adorable sandals that pinch my feet sticking out from beneath the bed.

I’m sure there’s a bitchy boss out there who would love to wear them.

 

Fashion No-Nos for Summer

thSummer is much more forgiving of fashion faux pas than other seasons, as the variety of dress and style dances all over the board. Gone are the black and dark browns, in with the peach and lavender. Hats and jewelry and sandals take over the sanity of minds both male and female, as we try and beat the heat by being chic. Even the velvety leggings are put away for the season!

But there are many ways us summer “kids” give away our age and our sanity when it comes to fashion sense. It’s more like nonsense. So here are a few tips to keep you in the game and not locked in the yard somewhere.

Too Much Bare is Hard to Bare.

Unless you are at the beach or in the privacy of your own home, showing more skin than allotted in the Garden if Eden is frowned upon. Showing way more than a healthy proportion of legs, middles, breasts, and other body parts is not safe nor wise. This includes too-short-shorts, too mini mini’s, and too skimpy shirts.  No one wants to see bubba thighs or pooky middles. I’m not saying hide those parts — hey, we all have them. But find ways to cover without confrontation. Besides, getting sunburn on those rarely-shown skins is pretty painful.

Two Piece or Not Two Piece

I am all for whatever kind of bathing suit fits your fancy. Bodies come in all shapes and sizes. Just do the rest of us a favor and wear one becoming of your age and style. Bright fluorescents and too-small tops are just as bad as big, flowery things. A splash of color, a cup size too small, bottoms too big, all can be uncomfortable and distracting. Do yourself a favor. Be pretty, be masculine, have fun, but wear something that fits.

Strap This

I am of the do-not-show generation, but I have lightened up quite a bit the last 15 years. You can’t always hide your bra strap with today’s fashions, especially if the shoulder straps are thinner than vermicelli. But if you are going to show the strap that holds your all, make it a part of the look, not apart from it. With all the colors and patterns of underwear these days, there’s no reason why you can’t color coordinate your straps and tops.  And BTW, straps that fall down your shoulders aren’t sexy…just annoying. To all of us.

Stained for Life

Sloppy is as sloppy wears. Get real. And know everyone at Walmart can see the spot that never quite washes out. Get rid of all positively, slightly, and barely perceptible duds with tell-tale duds. Take pride in your look and know you can do sooooo much better.

Too Small T’s and A’s

Most people are not the size at 50 or 60 that they were at 20 or 30. Face it. Until the day you wake up pencil thin (unless you are pencil thin), stop dressing in the past. Stop wearing shirts that gap, shorts that rise, tanks that squeeze, and Ts that don’t meet your pants. The hot weather may tempt you to wear less, but spare yourself — and us — a lot of embarrassment. We all hate to get rid of the t-shirt from Woodstock or cargo pants from the start of millennium, but you look so much better these days in clothes that FIT.

Grown Up Feet

With all the gorgeous (and inexpensive) sandals around, the last thing the world wants to see are socks shoved into them. Although this is a popular “man” thing, is also is a “silly” thing. Wearing socks with sandals makes you look fuddy duddy, not to mention uncomfortable. If you must sock, white socks with shoes, bare feet with sandals. You are allowed splashes of colors if you want to match your outfit, but, again, keep the shoes tenny or loafery.  (You think I wouldn’t have to mention something so obvious, but you have no idea how many toddling adults walk around looking like that).

Flower Gardens

The sun and shine of a beautiful summer day is often a temptation to bring nature into our wardrobe. A splash of nature’s pattern here and there is bright and fun. Looking like a giant sunflower isn’t. Avoid the temptation to be covered in daisies, sunflowers, or unclassified species. Pin one to your hat, clip them to your sandals. Know that there is nothing more uncomfortable for the viewing public than seeing huge flowers winking at them as you and your body creases walk by.

Getting older is a wonderful time to establish yourself through what you wear and how you wear it. I don’t have a big wardrobe; I hate most of the stuff I have most of the time, so I make quite a few visits to Good Will and  Kohl’s and Aeropostale. I finally am getting used to this body and want to make it stand out in unique and refreshing ways. What I don’t want is someone snickering behind my back because I look like Granny Does Disco or the Writer-Who-Wore-Too-Tight. There are so many opportunities to create a new and sparkling version of the women I’ve come to love through the years.

I just want to be able to breathe while I create that version.