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.


What Should I Wear?

1First I wrote about it — Fashion Faux Pas ( 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  (  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 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.


To the Rennie in All Of Us

medieval_castle_decorationI don’t know if it’s a girl thing or a Sagittarian thing, but I really enjoy reinventing myself. Oh, I am the same ‘ol person inside, but the outside influences change every so often.

For years and years I used to be a Rennie Girl. Anything Renaissance would tickle my fancy to the moon and back. Every year I went to the local Renaissance Faire, bought lamps and cups and jewelry with dragons and unicorns and faeries on them. I adored the music, had fun playing the (conservative) wench, and even decorated my B&B with medieval flair.

After that wore off, I was off to being an (conservative) Irish Wench. I became a Gaelic Storm groupie; I went to Irish Fest every year, bought jewelry with my Irish family crest, wore green and drank beer and cried at the sad Irish songs, missing my red-haired Irish mother even more than I normally do.

I still keep the Rennie and the Irish Wench in my heart, and they are a part of me that will never leave. But I am a Sagittarius, and that means I’m always looking for my next adventure, my next reincarnation.

I really want to be BoHoChic. (say…bo-ho-chick really fast).

Now, I know I’ve talked about this fancy before. In the last six months I’ve really cleaned out my closet, getting rid of clothes that don’t fit or have never looked right or blah blah.  I’ve also pulled out the more “conservative” pieces and donated them to other conservative people. What’s left are skirts and sun dresses and a couple of wild, flowy tops.

I need more flow.

My conservative psyche evil step sisters keep whispering discouraging things in my ear: You’re too fat. You’re too ugly. You’ll embarass yourself. I’ve had these sisters since grade school, and while I’ve tuned them out most times, they do slip in now and then like a needle into silk. Why I listen to them at this age and point in my life I do-not-know.  But I DO know that BoHoChic is a whole life experience. And I want to wander off that way.

There are connections between being a Rennie and being an Irish Wench and a BoHo. It’s that feeling of freedom I’ve always denied myself. I’ve always thought more of what other people thought of my looks and outlook than I did of my own. Bad habits are hard to break. But I’m making the big push to throw those step sisters out the tower window.

And it’s working.

Everyone does their own thing. Some women enjoy the way they are all their life. Some like to kick it up now and then. Some want to kick but lack the boot skills. I think it’s the newfound freedom I’ve found with writing and art that makes me want to freebird like the texts and canvases I’m finding. I’ve always enjoyed reading and watching things that are a little off-center; why can’t my wardrobe — and attitude — be the same?

I am offcenter anyway. It might be a prelude to dementia, but if it’s coming it’s coming. Why not go into the last 30 years of my life flowing and mismatching and blinging? In 30 years no one will care. Least of all me.

So take your whims and dress the part. Be a futuristic clip or a black-and-white Chanel or a designer chick. You don’t have to break your budget: Good Will and local second hand stores always have your designs flowing through. Let your outside match your inner calling.

And don’t be afraid. I’ve wasted 50 years of my life doing that.

And after all, there’s always something else waiting in the shadows. Maybe one day BoHoChic will turn into FuturisticBoHoBling!


Not Again

smacking headIt’s only mid-October…the leaves are glowing in their spectacular colors, evenings bring a cooling atmosphere for sleep, the nights are getting longer (more time for sleep and TV!). We begrudgingly  pack away our summer duds and bring our our winter ones (although, in my case, I pack away less and less so I can deal with those hot flashy moments). We look forward to hoodies and joggies and fuzzy socks. The transition is usually painless.

But it is only mid-October…and the outfit is back. The number one no-no for fashion divas of all ages. And it hurts my eyes. It hurts my eyes and pushes my buttons and shivers me timbers.

And it makes me want to repost a warning from April of this very year.



During these doldrums of Winter, I’ve been planning my new fashion statement. Or rather looking for one. I’m up for the Boho Chic style. But I can’t really BoHo now, because there’s something about wind chills of ten below and snow two feet deep in every direction that discourages peasant dresses and shawls and beaded whatevers. I figure between now and Spring I’ll gather up some fun things and have fun being a fun kinda woman.

But lately I’ve been seeing a few “Middle Age Magic” women following their own fashion muse, and, well, the sight is not a pretty one. I am all for comfort, fashion, and practicality. My BoHo is not your BoHo and all that. But good taste should always be good taste. I am all for the “this is who I am” state of being, too, but there are some things Middle Age (and older) women should really think twice about.  Here are a few of my humble fashion suggestions:

1.   Leggings and long sweaters and boots can look good on some women. Velvety purple leggings can not. Ever.

2.   Pigtails should only be worn by women under 10 or those who want to play the baby doll thing with their loved one. In private.

3.   Makeup is not a necessity. A fresh face is. Cleopatra’s eyes looked good only on Cleopatra. On older women it just looks scary.

4.   I know it’s sometimes necessary to run to the store in jogging pants. It’s just the nature of the beast. But jogging pants and chuggie boots and parkas are not a fashion statement now or ever. Remember — you are a woman first. Don’t ever be mistaken for the football player down the street.

5.  The office is as good a place as any to try out a new look. Just don’t be the one to test the dress code every time you do. You do nothing but create army punishment for the rest of us, making us unhappy co-workers and fashion enemies.

6.  Did I mention the thing about leggings and sweaters and boots? The older you get, the more you should think twice about it.

7.   Know you don’t have to spend a lot of money to try new looks. Just use your head. Don’t wear shoes that pinch, pants that bulge in the butt, tops that show too much of your endowments, shoes your father would wear, tops that make you look like a sausage, colors that make you look like a clown, or earrings bigger than your head.

There is fashion, and then there is fashion. And then there is no fashion. And then there is deliberate no fashion. Don’t let your steadfastness close your mind to the colors and sensations of the world. But in the same vein, don’t let your need to make a statement as you get older make you say something you’ll regret later. If a look works, great. If not, make sure you have a great look to go back to. Be proud of who you are and how you got there. Don’t let others dictate the colors of your feathers. But don’t forget you’ve GOT feathers.

And they never look good in velvety purple leggings.

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.