I've had more than my share of fashion faux pas. I'm the one who went to the bathroom before my court appearance and came back and pled the case for my client with my suit skirt tucked up into my panty hose. At my own engagement party, my future mother-in-law's friend wore the same dress as I did. When someone recently admired my shoes and asked me whose they were, I answered, "mine, who else's would they be?" I often can't seem to get out of my gym clothes to shower until late afternoon, and now that I own loungewear from Mariwear, I am hard pressed to get dressed at all.I don't claim to be a fashion expert--I'm just your typical midlife woman who likes to be comfortable and look somewhat put together --when it matters. I like what I like, and I know what pissses me off. And so, it seems, do other women over 50. I asked my contemporaries what they hated about fashion, and boy, did they let loose. Check this out. Did I miss something?
- We hate catalogues that have 26-year-old Skinny Minnies modeling clothes geared for the 50 and over woman. Have you seen the recent Spanx catalogue?
- We hate low-cut jeans. We do not need to show our plumber's crack when we sit to eat our frozen yogurt and watch Breaking Bad.
- We could write a book on underwear--how much we hate it. We hate that we can't seem to find good, reasonably priced underwear. We don't want thongs, we don't want to be picking at our oversized tuchases. We want to be covering both cheeks, thank you. We don't want tight elastics so that our fat hangs over, we don't want Granny panties, we do want something sexy, and we don't want to pay $32 for a single pair (a la Hanky Panky).
- We hate that there is no gray hair dye that helps you go from anything to natural gray. WTF? They can put a man on the moon, but not make a gray hair dye?
- We hate that unless you are really, really tall, pants always need to be shortened and we have to pay extra for hemming.
- We hate handbags that are heavy even when nothing is in them.
- We hate that "they" lie about needing to dry clean everything.
- We hate heavy earrings that do not come with earlobe supporters and cause our aging earlobes to sag.
- We hate our friends when they ask us how much a recent purchase cost, as in, "That's a pretty blouse, how much did you pay for it?"
- We hate when we show up to a party in the same dress as another lady and they don't laugh it off -- but make a federal case of it.
- We hate "fat" mirrors and bad lighting that emphasize even the smallest of thigh dimples.
- We hate trying on skinny jeans in small dressing rooms -- attempting to get the jeans over the muffin top while simultaneously having a hot flash.
- We hate that there is no such thing as size any more.
- We hate that there is no such thing as customer service any more.
- We hate that we can never please our moms, no matter what we are wearing.
- We hate that we are never happy with what our daughters are wearing.
- We hate that fashion seems like it is only for tall, skinny women.
- We hate that high fashion is often not comfortable or wearable.
- We hate that fashion is too focused on youthful body types and not celebrating our beautiful, aging, fit bodies.
- We hate bra shopping. We always have.
- We hate sleeveless dresses -- don't they know we care about our "bat wings?"
- We hate "See Through" purses (actually, we hate "see through" anything.)
- We hate harem pants.
- We hate neon anything.
- We hate cheap fabrics (especially with expensive price tags.)
- We hate anything that could be worn by a stripper (see #27 below)
- We hate thigh-high boots.
- We hate that the "new" fad is almost exactly the same as the clothes we had been saving for the past 10 years, hoping they would come back into style -- except the "new" look is just different enough to make you look like you're wearing 10-year-old clothes.
- We hate really old ladies in ultra high heels who look like they are about to fall and break a hip.
- We hate that fashion is a luxury for the 1%.
- We hate that hammer pants will never come back into vogue. NB: I hate that I had no idea what hammer pants were until I looked them up on the web (and I agree with #23, now that I've looked.)
- We hate swimwear designers who don't get that if they are selling a "D" cup top (hard enough to find) that it does not need padding, but it does require support. We hate that we have to go up an extra size when buying swim wear.
- We hate camisoles with "built in" bras that have no support and don't fit anyone with a bigger breast than a size B.
- We hate that you can't find a Diane von Furstenberg dress at Bendels in NYC that's over a size 10. Do they not know that the average woman is a size 12 or 14?
- We hate that it is really difficult to find a dress that hides our midlife knees.
- We hate that we are always at war with mother nature, trying to cover what is happening to our bodies naturally.
- We hate that we can never keep up -- we always seem to be about two years behind the latest fashion trend.
- We hate when we find clothes in our closets with the tags still intact.
- We hate group dressing rooms. We hate them a lot. We hate them with a passion.
- We hate "friends" who tell you that you look fantastic when you know very well you have gained 10 pounds, haven't done your hair, and you have no makeup on.
- We hate those stupid little belts and ribbons they include with dresses.
- We hate those tight skirts that almost no one over 50 can wear.
- We hate shoes with the bondage look.
- We hate ballet slipper shoes with stupid little bows on top.
- We hate dresses that are tight around the hips and sag at the boobs.
- We hate (and love) all the absolutely, really beautiful shoes that give no consideration to comfort.
- We hate that "they" seem to be skimping on fabric.
- We hate yoga pants that show your camel toe.
- We hate lipstick on our teeth.
- We hate that no matter how many clothes hang in our closet, we seem to have nothing to wear. And that has been true for decades.
After a series of nerdy slights and faux boob embarrasment, Mary Anne Payne wasn't surprised when she didn't make the JV cheerleading squad, she writes. "So, not to be left behind, and wanting to be a part of all that was football, soccer, and the local 4th of July Parade in my small New Jersey town, I decided, or rather, was prodded, in to becoming the school mascot in the fall of my sophomore year. I would do anything to be a part of those activities. It wasn’t that cute blue jumper, the band uniform or the pep squad jackets, but it was close. "Talk about a poor fashion choice." To read about Payne's high school fashion and social redemption, visit her blog, Forever 51.
"My biggest fashion mistake was wearing my padded shoulder leather jacket with my leather skirt," writes Raquel Pineira on her blog, Organized Island. "Yep, I wore them together. Here is the photo from the late 80s as proof. The big shoulder pads are hidden a bit by my big hair."
"[This] was a little black velvet number with a fuchsia ruffle Carmen Miranda would have killed for that I just had to have for my engagement party," recalls Linda Wolff. "I have learned a thing or two over the years. I no longer wear anything puffy or with shoulder pads." What other outfit makes Wolff shudder? Read the post on her blog Carpool Goddess.
"I didn’t have much occasion to go to court as a first year real estate attorney. But on my first such occasion, I dressed for success," Ronna Benjamin of Better After 50 recalls. "I carefully donned my pale yellow suit, panty hose, black pumps and briefcase. "As court began ... I walked confidently up to the judge and pleaded my motion. [As] I walked back, the clerk took me aside. 'Your skirt is stuck up in your pantyhose in the back,' he informed me, pointing to my rear end."
"I thought I was fat in 1989 when this picture was taken," Joy Weese Moll recalls on her blog. "Sheesh. I had no idea." To read a breakdown of what's wrong with this outfit, visit Weese Moll's blog.
"The year was 1984," Shannon Bradley-Colleary writes in her blog The Woman Formerly Known As Beautiful. "I was the recipient of the haircut where they shave the sides of your head next to your ears in order to keep your naturally bushy hair from bushing out. Also, you can look just like Billy Ray Cyrus."
"Ladies, let me tell you a few things I’ve learned about hair," writes Anne Parris, sharing her Most Likely to Succeed yearbook photo. "Never get a haircut from the same lady who does your grandmother’s hair, never make a drastic change before a big event like Senior pictures, and -- most importantly -- never shampoo a new perm and use a brush on it." To see Parris' senior year book picture and read more about her battle with frizz, read her blog, Not A Supermom.
"It’s not just that I’m dressed exactly like my 5 year old," writes Darryle Pollack. "In my early years of motherhood, my habit of dressing us as twinsies wasn’t an occasional occurrence; it was a fashion statement -- maybe not daily, but way too often." To see more of Pollack's mommy and me fashions, visit her blog.
"How about the horizontal striped sweater? That’s a no-no in any decade," says Sharon Greenthal on her blog Empty House, Full Mind. "That was [also] the last perm I ever had. For good reason."
"Let's face it, a cigarette is not exactly an attractive fashion accessory. But apparently I thought it was at the time," says Bonnie Dingus of the blog Home Place. "That cigarette, and many others, caused discolored teeth, premature wrinkling, and at one time, excessive coughing, chronic colds and upper respiratory infections. Talk about a fashion nightmare!"
"Half the fun of going to work in the mid-‘80s -- for me -- was wearing the businesswoman’s bow tie. Floppy or stiff. Bright red, blue or black. It didn’t matter," Julie Danis writes. Danis remembers a closet full of menswear pieces as she tried to follow the "to be as successful as a man, you have to dress like one" school of thought on her blog.
"I traveled two hours for a dinner date, just to realize as I stepped out of the car that I was wearing mismatched shoes," writes Renee Baribeau on her blog The Practical Shaman.
This faux pas had a pretty important audience -- Donna Highfill wore this to meet President George H.W. Bush in 1990. "The only piece of clothing I could fit into was my jean jumper and tennis shoes with no laces," she writes. "In addition, I had gotten a perm in my last trimester (which was considered safe for the baby) and my short hair kinked up to an unfortunate, Marge Simpson-like point on the top of my head. Luckily, the weight of my hair was balanced by the girth of my cankles." To read Highfill's funny tale of a Senator's embarrassing social faux pas, read her blog here.
"I wish I only had one bad fashion moment," Pamela Lutrell writes. "Actually, it is more like bad fashion decades. My typical wardrobe...over sized men's shirts! ... As years passed, I neglected me for so long I forgot to even notice what was going on." Lutrell writes about the moment she knew she had to take control of her life, and style, in her blog post "From Worst Fashion Moments to Best Fashion Years!".
"The real fashion mistake here, aside from the tight curls that looked as though Harpo Marx dipped his head into a bowl of India ink, is the fact that this woman is not dressing for who she was," writes Marci Rich. "Can’t blame her, really; she didn’t even know who she was." Rich talks more about who was trying to be in this photo on her blog, The Midlife Second Wife.
"This is perhaps my sexiest look," writes Connie McLeod. "The oversized retro tie-dye t-shirt also hide those holiday pounds. Tie it together with the exercise capris and you’ve got a look that will take you from daytime cleaning to that late afternoon yard work." To read more of McLeod's tongue-in-cheek fashion tips, visit her blog.
"Surely I wasn’t the only one channeling Elvira," writes D.A. Wolf.
A perm that was supposed to make the new mom feel better about herself led to an unexpected reaction, Lois Alter Mark writes on her blog Style Substance Soul. "[My son] took one look at me, opened his eyes wide and burst out laughing. I burst out crying," she says. "This was the first time Alex had laughed! But the little devil was laughing at me!"
Janie Emaus was never mistaken for a fashionista, she recalls on her blog The Boomer Rants. "Take this outfit I wore to my sister’s wedding," Emaus writes. "Looking back on it today, I can’t help but cringe. If I didn’t know better, I’d say that girl was looking to get laid."
"I revisited some scary fashion moments: saddle shoes … hot pants … white go-go boots … halter tops … clunky clogs … the list goes on," writes Helene Cohen Bludman. "But with the turn of each yellowing page, I came to realize that no fashion faux pas, not one, could surpass the extreme fashion dysfunction of my hair. To read more about how Cohen Bludman tried to wrestle with her natural curly locks into the stick-straight 70s ideal, visit her blog, Books Is Wonderful.
"Going through my old photos recently brought back lots of great memories," Laura Lee Carter says. "But my decision to perm my hair for over a decade was certainly not one of them." To read more of Carter's musings, read Midlife Crisis Queen.
Leigh49:Though my paisley jeans and pink sweater vest were cute, my frizzy hair was a disaster. My boyfriend nicknamed me Q-tip, and not lovingly.