This article was originally published on Better After 50.
Entering my closet to look for evening wear is not a joyful experience, which is too bad because I love to dress up.
It's not that I don't own dress up clothes. It's just that my "collection" was curated over the last few decades. It's not the quantity or even the quality of offerings; it's the timeliness factor. My stuff looks dated.
I am not a hoarder -- I'm sure of it -- I'm an optimist. (My husband laughs when I say this but it's true.) After five decades I've learned a thing or two about style; my favorite old stuff will eventually come back into fashion. For instance, I have plenty of great stuff from the 80s but I'm not sure we've seen that decade's fashion re-emerge (or did that already happen)? What decade is being recycled right now anyway? I believe it's the 60s. In 10 more years my dress up clothes from the 70s will be fetchingly vintage but I will be too.
I'm bummed because I may be at a recycling impasse. And, I need some outfits ASAP. My wardrobe library for this season's special events is not looking promising.
Nevertheless, I'm relieved that unlike food in my pantry, clothing doesn't have a toxic expiration date. I'm holding onto the decades old dresses that are not stained or spotted because Nana's voice screams inside my head "Wait a few years, it will be back in style." My Nana believed in buying a few quality outfits and wearing them forever. I'm down with that! But -- after decades in the closet, my stuff isn't back in style YET so I'm facing a wardrobe gap.
By the way, everyday wear is conversely quite easy for me -- it's the special events that challenge. I actually wear my daily outfits down to the thread each season so recycling is not an option. Whether I'm putting on my face, footwear or body wear -- I've opted for simple but not necessary discount. Since I live my life with a suitcase half packed in the hallway ready for weekly trips between Boston and NY -- I've reduced my daywear to "carry in, carry out, and carry on."
My daywear uniform consists of an overpriced belt, which I have no regrets about as I always wear it. I love the Theory white blouses; I have three, and rotate them throughout the week. And because I look dreary in black, my sweaters are mostly navy. Sweaters from J. Crew, and a few Soho finds are the go-to choices that have carried me through this insanely cold winter.
Black Frye ankle boots cover my feet and the face is covered by Laura Mercier tinted skin cream. No stress dressing for daytime.
But evening wear, well there's the challenge. This week, I've been looking for two outfits to wear to spring weddings -- not formal but evening nonetheless -- 5 p.m. cocktail to dance, non-black tie wedding guest dresses.
In my 50s, I know what I want to look like -- I've got the image fixed in my head but finding the outfit to match the visual is tough.
After perusing fashion sites I've learned a few things about what's out there this spring. Dresses are short, fitted and tight and hard to imagine how they'll fit without trying them on. Internet dress models are 20-somethings so envisioning these outfits with a little more hip and a bit of tummy makes it hard to visualize how they'll look -- (definitely not like they do on a 20-something). I decided to cut off the heads of the models in these dresses so the 20-something faces didn't interfere with my visualization.
Nevertheless, there's only one way to find a dress these days and that is to get out there and try them on or order in (and return).
I decided to contain my Internet search to one color -- blue -- and see what I could come up with.
Looking at major department store sites, Rent the Runway and my tried-and-true favorite affordable designers produced a few options.
Would these work for the evening festivities from 5 p.m. to the dance floor? What do you think? Got another suggestion?
1. Nicole Miller: love the blue color, may need serious Spanx!
Ruched Taffeta Dress
2. Nicole Miller
Stretch Linen Tuck Dress
This only comes in white. A Robin Wright (House of Cards) looking number which would take wild confidence to wear but you only live once. Red wine drips could be deadly.
3. Anne Klein Tie-Dye Print Dress $139.
Great shade of blue and soft print, could be easy to wear -- feels a little hippyish. Is it dressy enough for evening?
4. Kay Unger Kay Unger New York
Mesh Embroidered-Top Cocktail Dress, Navy
Blue and navy blue -- love the boat line neck and mesh sleeves. Length could be good as it apparently comes right above the knee. Problem, a bit more pricey than the other three.
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The actress told Huff/Post50 that with age has come more clarity and focus -- attributes she said she didn't necessarily have in her 20s and 30s. "I think it gets more difficult as you get older because you're facing the end and endings are ... unbearable. Our lives are basically about facing that tragedy. And I think the sooner we face that we're going to die, the easier it is to appreciate the moments in life... When we realize that our lives will end, we take less for granted. That is what I've learned from loss. The whole thing is a fantastic mystery so all we can do is appreciate each moment."
When it comes to aging and beauty, Sarandon takes an admirable "to-each-their-own" mentality, telling The Independent she would never weigh-in on what people do to make themselves happy. Her best advice? Sarandon has said: "The only thing I'd say is that learning how to forgive yourself for not being perfect is probably a really positive step."
The legendary crooner has a straightforward, make-no-apologies take on age. "That number doesn't mean a thing," she told Oprah in 2008. "It just doesn't."
"I think you have to enjoy getting older. That's the most important factor. If you sit around and think, 'Well, at 21, I was doing this,' or 'at 31' -- or what have you ..." Eastwood told CBS news back in 1997. "A lot of people maybe do their best work when they're 40 and then tail off. But I think that's a mental attitude. I've done my best work, I think, now," he said.
Modesty and a healthy dose of humor are keys to Mirren aging so gracefully. When a gym recently gave her Body of the Year, she told the women of The View that she just sucked in her stomach. "It was a beautiful thing that these fitness people did, I have to say," she said. "I think it was recognition of the fact that you don't have to be perfect."
The cancer survivor told Health.com that she is enjoying the aging process: "I definitely am embracing aging. When you shoot your face with Botox and stuff, you rob yourself of your ability to have youthful expressions, and that's why sometimes people look a lot older."
In addition to maintaining a healthy love life with his wife Trudie Styler, the musician throws himself into yoga and embraces a positive outlook on life, telling USA Today: "When you reach a certain age, you realize that life is finite. You can be depressed by that, or you can say, 'I'm going to appreciate every minute to its maximum potential.'"
"I consider 50 to be young. People are living so much longer, and besides, I don't think I look 50. I take really great care of myself," the actress told BlackBook magazine. Which is not to say Cattrall's afraid of her wrinkles. According to BlackBook,when the actress was asked if she wanted to have some photos heavily retouched she said, "F*** it. Leave it all in."
When it comes to aging well, the stunning supermodel embraces kindness in its many forms. "For me, skin care rituals are a form of meditation -- they keep me balanced. I am kind to my skin. I remove my makeup as soon as I get home and I apply moisturizer," she told O, The Oprah Magazine. "But just as important as being kind to my skin is being kind to younger women," she continued. "Kindness is a lovely quality to nurture as you get older. It makes you feel good about yourself."
Often known as the great actress, Streep has embraced her age -- and recently being a rom-com leading lady -- with admirable glee. "I'm 60, and I'm playing the romantic lead! Bette Davis is rolling over in her grave!" she joked with Vanity Fair in 2009.
Julianne Moore is a natural beauty, and plans to remain one. When asked about Botox, Moore told Allure magazine that she, herself, is not a fan. "I hate to condemn people for doing it, but I don't believe it makes people look better. I think it just makes them look like they had something done to their face," she told the magazine. "When you look at somebody who's had their face altered in some way, it just looks weird."
The actor has been refreshingly candid about both his accomplishments and his struggles as he ages. When Reader's Digest asked him what one thing he'd change about himself, he answered: "My weight! Mind, body and spirit. It's a discipline, and the body has been lagging. Mind's really good right now. Spirit is strong, but body's been lagging. And the body helps the mind. I feel better today having worked out."
Pfeiffer is measured, but honest about how growing older makes her feel. "Honestly, there's certainly a mourning that takes place," told the Los Angeles Times in 2009. "I mourn the young girl, but I think that what replaces that is a kind of a liberation, sort of letting go of having to hold on to that. Everyone knows you're 50. So you don't have to worry about not trying to look 50."
"This great fear of laugh lines and wrinkles and getting old is really unnatural. It happens to the best of us -- what are we going to do? It's a matter of whether you want to go to war with that and have surgery," the actress told iVillage UK. "Ultimately it's a slippery slope. I think you wind up looking like a thing rather than a younger version of yourself. I think you have to make peace with what you have and keep it all in order," she continued.
After being dropped as James Bond because, according to some reports, he was "too old" for the role, the actor had a positive take on things -- embracing the unknown with gusto. "Oh, it turned out very lucky," he told Parade. "Within the space of the punch and the pain of being passed over or rejected or the bottom of your world falling out, within that same breath came this liberation of, 'I'm free. I can do anything I want.' It's up to me to have the guts to make the next stage of my career as interesting and as exciting and unexpected as possible."
"Actors' faces have to move," Weaver once told ABC, weighing in on cosmetic surgery. "It's a personal choice. It depends on what you want. Yes, we probably want to see perfect people, too, but we also want to see people who look like us. It's just about skin care to me and maybe exercise." And her laugh lines? "I've earned them," Weaver said.
AARP magazine put The Boss on its cover when he turned 60 a few years back, because the editors believed he exemplified aging well. "He's one of these crop of 50-plus and 60-plus celebrities who are busier than ever in their older years and doing some of their best work," editor Nancy Perry Graham told The New York Times. "The message with Bruce Springsteen is that 60 rocks."
According to The Telegraph, the beauty loves her changing beauty, believing it reflects a rich life. "Our wrinkles are our medals of the passage of life," she said. "They are what we have been through and who we want to be."
The British actress has said that she, personally, is all about aging naturally. "I'm not fiddling about with myself," she told The Telegraph. "We're in this awful youth-driven thing now where everybody needs to look 30 at 60."
The actress has been open about embracing her age-related changes, famously posing for a magazine shoot sans clothes and sans Photoshop. But she's equally candid about how building self-confidence is a gradual process -- one that's gotten easier as she has aged. "I feel much more authentic," she once told More magazine. "I'm not saying I'm a spiritually perfect person. I'm flawed and contradictory and fraught in many areas. But I'm better. I'm growing, and that's all I really want.
"In interviews, the first question I get in America is always: 'What do you do to stay young?'" Rossellini told O, The Oprah Magazine. "I do nothing. I don't think aging is a problem ... I'm so surprised that the emphasis on aging here is on physical decay, when aging brings such incredible freedom. Now what I want most is laughs. I don't want to hurt anybody by laughing -- there is no meanness to it. I just want to laugh."
Lane told Glamour magazine that aging has given her welcome perspective. "I wouldn't go back to being 20. Because here's the thing ... there is something wonderful about coming to terms with time -- that it is finite," she said. "You want to have as much joy in your life as possible, and you take responsibility for your own joy."
"I do yoga every morning, then I run for half an hour and take a sauna," the actor told AARP magazine of his healthy-aging routine. "And I eat properly. I drink a lot of white tea -- it's a very powerful antioxidant.
Though people look to her as one of the top models of aging well, the actress said she's never given it much thought. "I never thought about age much," Betty told AARP magazine. "I learned that at my mother's knee. Age was not important. It was where your head was."
The writer-director of The Kids Are All Right said she cast Bening in part because she wanted someone who was real and who would not shy away from showing her age on screen. "We never had a wrinkle conversation," she told The Wrap. "I just said, 'I want the make-up to be super-modest,' and that was the end of it."
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