This article was originally published on Better After 50.
If I were 20, 30 or perhaps 40-something, I don't think I would have found my latest fashion debacle particularly funny. I don't think I could have of handled this "extremely outrageous" turn of events. In those earlier years, if someone had told me I should have worn a razor back bra - I had the wrong one on - or my bra straps showed --- I would have run to the ladies room to confirm my faux pas. If I had a dirt stain on my white paints - I would brush my backside nervously to try to remove the unresolvable for the duration.
My fashion self-consciousness over the past few decades has been driven by sloppy vs. style issues. Frankly, I'm comfortable with my taste in clothes -- but I hate wrinkly, stained, spotted, tattered clothing. I like to look put together. And, since I live out of a suitcase most of the year, as I travel between New York and Boston each week, my clothing is often a victim of whatever is in my trunk -- such as bike grease, hiking boot crud and my dog Jazz's paws.
My comfort with fashion came together for me at 19 years of age during my year in Paris. It was then I embraced my "look" and proceeded confidently for the most part -- except when I was told my hem was unravelled or there was a hole in my stocking.
I have always loved vintage clothes. My Nana was the most stylish woman I know and I wore everything she gave me from age 13 and beyond. When I find an outfit that resembles Nana's style, I am thrilled. That is why, what I wore to the dinner dance party this past Saturday night was particularly fun for me.
I have been savoring my ultra-suede, multi-colored neon, strappy short cocktail dress for 25 years. This dress was crazy cool in the late 80s and I've been waiting for the right decade to bring it back out. It's been living in the back of my closet all this time.
So, when I excavated it for this summer for some "special occasion" I didn't have a particular event in mind. When I grabbed it from the closet, I saw the ultra-suede had worn thin along the seam, so my trusty "Clothes Doctor" gave it a good stitching and it looked like new.
When we got an invite to a summer dinner dance, I thought this could be it's coming out. As I slipped on this little ultra suede number, I chuckled. "Oh this is fun -- I am going to have a blast tonight". (First premonition.) As I made my living room entrance -- my husband's brows lifted and he chuckled. My son Jake and his two friends gave me a whistle. "That dress is fun -- so cool." I stood a little taller.
Arriving at the party I joined the huddle of women who were admiring one another's dresses. The mood was light and playful and it seemed all were ripe for a different kind of night.
The weather was spectacular -- one night shy of the "super moon", the light of that magical lunar orb lit up the sky. My husband and I settled onto an outdoor couch with our dear friends laughing and sharing our latest summer tales. After a bit -- we decided it was time to dance and as I hopped up off the couch my friend Gwen said to me, "you're not going anywhere -- sit down." She was hysterical laughing -- she couldn't contain herself.
"Your dress is split up the backside."
I leaned hard into the couch so as not to "reveal" and slipped my hand behind and all I felt was skin. OMG -- outrageous, the suede had dissolved! Vintage had vaporized on my backside. This was a riot! I laughed so belly-laugh loud, tears were streaming down my cheeks, and I couldn't catch my breath. My husband took a gander and our laugh track was growing -- Gwen's husband was aghast -- "are you kidding -- this is a riot" and we were a full orchestra. We couldn't stand it -- it went on for what seemed like hours.
What I felt at that moment was sheer delight. This was so much fun! My first thought was I'm so glad I'm not 30, or 40 -- I'm so glad I'm over 50 because this ridiculous fashion "crisis" is truly priceless -- vs. devastating. And let me add -- my butt is not my favorite "asset" (excuse the play on words).
I had no interest in sharing my shredded suede opening with anyone. Luckily, the venue we were partying in had a pool and lockers and a friend got me a bathrobe as a cover.
We all took to the dance floor, and laughed and danced a bit before the heat of the heavy robe became impossible.
When we arrived home, my husband and I were still hysterical and we looked up at the almost full moon and he chuckled -- that was the best "super moon" I've ever seen.
"I started this blog in 2009 as I see no reason why we should not continue to enjoy fashion whatever age we are," writes Josephine of Chic at Any Age. She hopes her blog will be "a useful resource on what works from underwear to special occasion dressing for more mature women."
Mis Papelicos is all about Sacramento, an English professor and a nutrition and diet expert in Andalucía, Spain (hence the bilingual captions). Her bi-weekly posts feature the funky and elegant ensembles she puts together, as well as other images that inspire her style.
Grey Fox adds a male perspective to the post 50 fashion and style blog community. The site is dedicated to "a man's search for style in middle age." Recent posts include tips on "[keeping] the costs of style in control" and a roundup of stylish bald "grey foxes" in popular culture.
Don't be deterred by the name -- Style Crone is a blog "dedicated to the older woman, in her most creative, outrageous, authentic, powerful, adventurous, funny, and proud era." Far from a crone, Judith writes, "choosing my outfits, which always included a hat, was a way to express myself creatively and as a form of meditation as I approached my day." Along with snapping pics of her outfits for her blog, she also owns a hat shop, sells vintage clothing and designs hats for chemotherapy patients.
Une Femme D'Un Certain Age is a blog focused on "living a stylish, adventurous, balanced [and] delicious life after 50" -- with a francophile twist. Recent posts include a review of flattering skinny jeans for post 50s by Not Your Daughter's Jeans, and a reflection on being "the boss of what our age means" style-wise (spoiler: Une Femme believes it's important not to confuse trying to pretend you're 25 with looking "current").
Blogger Susan documents her quest to find fashion post 50 in Flattering 50. "I'm doing my thinking publicly in my blog ... in the hopes that others might join in the conversation," she writes. With posts such as "Top 10 Dress Styles for Women Over 50" and "Swimsuits over 50: Where to Shop," it's hard not to chime in.
"Hip past 50 doesn't have to refer to surgery," blogger Joni quips on her blog, Walking Colors. Sharing photos of her outfits with an online community allows her to "unleash the side of me I've been hiding for way too many years [and] receive support and encouragement...there is definitely a camaraderie here in these blogs that we all share," she writes.
Okay, so the "girls" Kim France is writing for haven't quite hit 50 -- but Kim herself was 48 when she left her post as editor in chief of Lucky magazine and turned her energies to Girls of a Certain Age, a blog for "grown-ups who can't quite part with the notion that motorcycle boots, if styled properly, can make for a perfectly acceptable evening look." Its focus is primarily on shopping, though it also occasionally delves into pop culture.
"I am a fifty-something woman, wife, professional, auntie and crazy cat lady. Though pressured by society to recede gracefully, I prefer to burst out with a love of fashion and style. We are not dead yet, so let's enjoy every sandwich and gild the lilies." That pretty much sums up the aim of Patti's Not Dead Yet Style. Her blog also features a weekly "Visible Monday," where readers are invited to share an image of themselves sporting an "outfit, accessory, piece of jewelry, cosmetic or other adornment" that makes them feel alive and confident.
Fashion After 50 features fashion advice by category (bohemian, travel clothes, fabrics you love), a "fashion archetype quiz," dos and don'ts for fashion after 50 and opportunities to buy some of the blog's featured items.
"'Growing old gracefully' is an outdated concept. We prefer 'growing old with verve.' This blog documents our efforts to live up to that motto, in photos and essays," the Idiosyncratic Fashionistas write. Sample post: an ode to fashion journalist and muse Anna Piaggi, who recently passed away at the age of 81, featuring photos of some of her memorable ensembles.
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