One of you asked, what happened to the retirement dressing project?
Good question. Let’s take a look.
After a brief detour through $200 sweatpants (I did find a good pair at La Garçonne), I reverted to something I learned in software. The Use Case Methodology. Dressing to fit my real needs. But those are minimal. I’m 57. I’m newly married. I get in and out of the car a lot, and walk on sidewalks. I have no particular point to make to anyone about anything. In this context, what matters?
As users will, I have requirements.
- Comfortable Feet. I’ve always insisted on comfort, but for now my tendonitis requires extreme measures. Including the only pair of Nike Air Max I could find at the Stanford Shopping Center, in sky blue camo print. Yikes.
- No Tight Pants. I started work in 2011 wearing baggy pants. I sucked it up, literally and figuratively, because ill-fitting pants do not convey competence. But I’m retired. You’re just going to have to trust I’ve got things under control. Despite that loose waistline.
- Layers. Northern California weather is rarely cold, but often cool. Layers, as we tell all the poor shivering tourists, are critical.
- Sense Of Self. Once we solve our base physical needs, we wonder, “Hey, who am , anyway?” My list:
- Unfussy (AKA Sturdy)
- Left Of Center, But Not Too Far (Yes, personal style is political, whether intentional or no)
- Slightly Raffish (Definition #2, please, and there’s the tricky part)
- Drawn To Beauty
That’s Not My Age has suggested that my style be called Elegant Tomboy. As I’m not sure that anyone wearing sky blue camo Nike Air Max sneakers can be called elegant, I’d tweak the term. Refined, perhaps? Except that makes me think of teacups and pinky fingers. Soigneè? Or maybe just Suburban Tomboy, if we throw all aspiration to the wind.
Maybe Goofy Tomboy is most apt.
And the garb? Turns out I’m a button up your pants and get going kind of gal. I like to feel like I could pull my weight, even if I don’t have to. The emergent retirement uniform includes:
- Jeans – GAP 1969 selvedge (these are Original Fit, not available right now)
- Knit top – usually a t-shirt (button fronts constrain my shoulders, fine for work, but to be avoided when possible)
- A tough jacket - is there anything better than a biker jacket for the soignée tomboy? I think not. (Now in brown at All Saints)
- Flat, laced shoes – As my foot heals, I will return to the oxfords of yore.
However, if I stuck to the above list, I’d be ignoring my #1 sense of self. Female. As humans age, the genders converge. I want nonetheless to participate in our cultural constructs around femininity. In a Sturdy way, of course. Since I’ve never been one for girlishness or vamp, ruffles or statement pieces, I have my own way of signalling.
- 100% flattering colors, mixed with a little sophistication. In this very casual mode, I have no style points to spare for questionable colors, no desire to balance out yellowish clothing with blue-ish lipstick. Looks like I’m gonna be wearing a lot of blue.
- To maintain the right masculine-feminine balance for me I add some movement, something graceful. The turquoise earrings dangle just enough. One could still hang upside down on monkey bars. Scarf, which you’ve seen before, is by Etro.
Finally, I’ve decided to let my gray hair grow even longer. Absent work, I really can’t be bothered with blow-drying, so shoulder-length is out. If I’m going to dress this (to put it bluntly, butch, adding a cropped do would misrepresent. So long, and in a braid, it is. Even a hair ribbon. I’ll have a hair person put it up for anything fancy, and wash and let fly for date nights.
This project is by no means over. I want some more dignified sneakers, along with some looser, boyfriend jeans. Still working on raffish. But it’s a start. I could show you something more impressive, but style isn’t stylish if you never wear it out of the house.
Images are mine. Suburbs are everywoman’s. I thought I’d try my hand at a Pinterest manifesto for us midlifers. And some affiliate links used here may generation commission to be donated to Dress For Success.