Monday, January 17, 2011

Making Peace With Dressing Like A Grown-Up...

With age comes wisdom, but it doesn’t make getting dressed any easier. The thing is, we gravitate to the clothes we wore “in the day.” You know, the wonder years when we felt we looked our best. If you are reading this and you’re under thirty, you’ll understand soon enough…

When I was eighteen, I wore skin-tight bell-bottomed jeans and loose flowing tops. I was a bohemian flower child.(without the dirty hair and hairy legs, which I couldn’t abide) Anyway, I loved the clothes. I didn’t have a clue then who I was or what life was about. But I was fit, reasonably attractive, and I looked really great in those jeans. So, why not continue to wear the clothes I felt good in, right?

Hence, the dilemma. Still love the clothes, but now those low rise, hip-hugging jeans that looked so hot in 1969 create an unfortunate muffin top of mushroom cloud proportions, and those ethereal floaty tops look like maternity-wear. And since I’m obviously too old to be having a baby, it confuses people. Somehow, the look just isn’t as charming today as it was in the sixties.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t expect to look like I did when I was eighteen, and I certainly don’t want to BE eighteen again. I’m wiser, more content, and have a respectable amount of self esteem that I’ve earned over the past few decades. I can navigate the ups and downs of life with confidence…way better than I could then. But now that I finally have my shit together, my torso looks like an atomic mushroom cloud. Rats!

So the question is, what to wear? I hate everything that’s supposed to be “age-appropriate” for my demographic. I’m not ready for polyester pants with elastic waistbands. And those tailored navy blue suits are so NOT me. But I may never weigh 120 lbs again, and even if I actually did lose weight, I’m guessing the distribution of the remaining poundage wouldn’t be the same.

But just for fun, let’s say I did lose the weight, and everything miraculously sprang back into the upright position. The wardrobe of my heyday still wouldn’t work. Why? Have you ever approached a female from behind, with “Farrah Fawcett” hair and a smokin-body, wearing a mini-dress and stiletto’s, only to have her turn around to expose the scary, tightly stretched, plump-lipped, heavily made up face of “The Joker?” A middle aged woman desperately trying to look young again? Or in my case…since I refuse to have work done….a somewhat tired-looking face with dark under-eye circles, saggy jowls, and Howdy-Doody lines? That’s why.

Guys don’t get a break either. How many middle-aged men have you seen…in their Tommy Bahama shirts and tight jeans that emphasis the butt that isn’t there anymore because it morphed into a beer belly years ago…riding around in sports cars? You just have to avert your eyes….

When are clothing designers going to wake up and realize that baby boomers make up a majority of the population now? I’m not suggesting they throw the eighteen year olds under the bus. I’m merely pointing out that we boomers need something to wear that falls somewhere between mini-skirts and muu-muus. We want clothing that says, "we've come to grips with the reality that we’re grown ups, but we still want to look cool."

Eileen Fisher kind of gets it. Her clothes are fabulous…stylish but not trendy, age appropriate but not matronly. What she apparently does not get is that we’re not all NYC executives making $100,000 a year. But she’s very successful, so maybe the trend will trickle down to the masses. There has to be a middle ground, and I’m determined to find it. And when I do, you’ll be the first to know!


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