Magazines are full of articles about fashion for women over 50. Some give good advice, others not so much.
I want to talk about fashion that enhances our lifestyle. Is your lifestyle healthy with lots of movement? Do you enjoy hobbies that dirty your clothes? Are you attending small group events? Do you travel or like relaxing at home?
These activities require different clothes that offer comfort, ease and style. Not style dictated by fashion magazines, but a style that expresses your uniqueness.
Remember the heels you wore in your teens? My stilettos had very pointy tips which squeezed my toes together for the duration of a night on the dance floor or an afternoon going shopping.
The bunion and hammer toe that adorn my feet now make me cringe how shoe fashion in my younger years affected my feet.
Luckily, fashion changed, and in my early 20s, when the counterculture was in full bloom, I wore wide toe box, flat Mary-Janes, followed by Birkenstocks and sneakers.
I thank that fashion era for saving my feet so I can hike and walk at my current age. Professional life did put its constraints on my shoe wear, but I managed with a minimal heel and a roomy enough toe box.
With age my foot has expanded, and I buy a larger size that accommodates my foot changes. I walk and hike many miles each year, and I won’t let ‘fashionable’ shoes impair my active lifestyle.
The shoe market now carries at least a few pairs that match comfort and style for the dress-up occasions that happen less and less in my life.
I recently did a purge of my closets. I looked at my dresses, reminisced over the graduations and weddings of my children when I wore them, and tossed them.
I looked at the jackets and blouses I wore to the office and kept only my top two favorites. They were made from a knit material that moves with my body, which doesn’t crumple when I stuff it in the overhead compartment in the plane. They give me European travel style when I combine it with a scarf and a decent looking pair of slacks.
Skirts are out, and shorts serve me fine in hot weather. Comfort, style and travel worthiness are my criteria for the clothes that make it in my shopping bag.
Blouses are still in my closet and I follow the yearly design changes that make for an attractive fit. Out are the straight boxy style that hang off my shoulders and need constant pulling to stay put. Out are the flowery kind that make me look like an old lady – patterns do matter!
Out are the sequined, glittery ones for sparkling in low light. Those late-night escapades are over, and I’m in bed early every night.
In are the fitted dress shirts with stretch to accommodate my still muscular arms and shoulders, which are stylish enough to wear when I speak to a group or any other slightly official event.
In go the SPF40 sun protective shirts with side ventilation and a long tail to accommodate a backpack. Short-sleeved shirts have had to undergo the same scrutiny. Does the material wick? Does it enhance my sagging shapes, hide my curving spine?
At first sight, pants hanging in my closet all look the same. Conservative fit, not too tight, not too loose. Jeans and jeans-like cut. A variety of colors to match shirts and sweaters. A few slacks have more drape, are made of a finer material. I haven’t worn them in the years since I retired.
I switch between loose yoga pants for morning writing and home-office work, and a pair of jeans for working in the garden.
I keep an array of hiking pants, light or heavier depending on the weather. Some of them work for dining out on my travels. I have an array of tights for my work-outs in the gym, on the water and in my exercise room at home.
For style, I have a pair of moderate skinny jeans that tuck in a cute pair of slip-on boots and with a good-looking tunic or shirt make an attractive outfit. This is the style I now consider more practical.
I’m a walker and a backpack is my go-to carrying device. I need my pants to have a pocket that holds my phone securely and keeps it accessible.
I want to live long and be healthy, so I need clothes that serve that purpose. I still enjoy compliments on my looks. I will consider the latest fashion when I buy a new piece, but only after the live-long, be healthy, and comfort criteria have been met.
What are your criteria for life-enhancing clothing? Do you follow fashion trends, or do you prefer to be your own style guide? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.