Creating Yourself at 50 and Beyond

I find myself wanting to talk about fashion more often in here. To talk about topics central to being a woman in today’s world apart from fashion too.

I will recommend again the book Nothing to Wear? A 5-Step Cure for the Common Closet. In it Jesse Garza and Joe Lupo walk women through the steps of discovering our style and dressing in a harmonious way.

Julie Morgenstern is quoted in the book after the two consultants gave her a makeover:

“Wearing clothes that nurture and embrace me is a way to love and care for my body.”

I couldn’t have said this better.

I checked this book out of the library and have been reading it over and over for its sage advice. At some point I’m going to buy a copy of the book.

At 53 I reckon with not wanting to wearing stilettos and a cleavage-bearing mini skirt.

In the September issue of Bazaar jeweler Gaia Repossi talks about gender fluidity and fashion choices.

Perhaps you can relate to thinking that you fall down in terms of what is accepted in the mainstream?

Using Nothing to Wear? to find your style and having the courage to flaunt it could be the antidote to feeling sub-par in mid-life.

I say too: having the courage to flout convention in a sartorial or other way shouldn’t be frowned on.

Am I the only woman who has hit mid-life with the sudden desire to remodel her self and her life and her clothes?

I want to talk more about mid-life matters in the coming blog entries.

Cleaning out your closet and restocking it with a few stylish pieces could be the start of feeling better.

This is not frivolous. It’s also not the only worthy goal at mid-life.

Coming up I’ll talk about other things I think might strike a cord in readers.

 

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Fresh Lipstick

In extolling fashion and beauty in this blog it’s not my intention to dwell on fluff and not substance.

In my Visionary way I simply wanted to branch out from the typical standard mental health reportage because there’s so much more to life than the pain a person can be in.

If dressing up and wearing makeup is going to make a person feel better I’m all for this. It’s precisely when we’re in pain that we should do what gives us joy.

From my view today I understand what it’s like to be going through “the Change” or menopause.

Our bodies and our looks are evolving. Some of us don’t like that the direction everything’s going in is south.

There are genetic wonders among us who have creamy flawless skin and look good without makeup.

There are other women who simply choose not to wear makeup at all.

I honestly believe that everyone living on earth is beautiful.

I admire women who can rock their natural face and look good without makeup.

I say: to hell with what other people think of you, your body, or your face.

Living in menopause is precisely the time to tell our critics: “I’m hot. Are you blind? Can’t you see I’m hot.”

We need to look in the mirror and like what we see by the time we hit mid-life. If we agonize over our looks or our bodies now it’s only going to be worse when we turn 60 or older.

I’m a 53-year old woman. I don’t feel so hot going out without wearing lipstick. My new favorite tube cost more than I care to admit.

This week I checked out of the library Fresh Lipstick: Redressing Fashion and Feminism.

The book flap inside Fresh Lipstick:

“Argues that wearing high heels and using hair curlers does not deny you the right to seek advancement, empowerment, and equality.”

In here I will argue too that dressing in your own authentic way and taking pride in your beauty can empower you to take risks to achieve other goals you have in life.

It’s a double-edge: looking good to feel good and feeling good to look good.

Let’s face it: post-50 most of us aren’t going to have bodies that are Thin AF.

This is precisely the era in our lives when we should think about remodeling ourselves from the inside.

We benefit from asking ourselves now:

Where do I want to be tomorrow? What can I do today to get closer to that goal?

Is there a habit holding you back? Are there negative thoughts persisting in your head?

Changing what we’re able to and accepting what we can’t change–the Serenity Prayer–is a good solution.

At 40, at 53, at however old you are, this isn’t the time to give up on yourself.

I say: make your own happiness a priority at mid-life. Do what gives you joy.

If that’s swiping on fresh lipstick or putting on your dancing shoes, by all means go for it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Number on the Scale

I want to write about how following trends in fashion is a mistake.

Not every item of clothing offered in stores or online will fit and flatter every person’s body. This shouldn’t deter us. In the Bobbie Thomas book The Power of Style she has a section on determining your body type and the clothing choices that will flatter it.

Now Loft and Banana Republic online have Plus sizes as well as Petites. It has been a long time coming for this victory.

Repeat after me: the fit of your clothes is what counts not whether the clothing is popular this season. Going to a tailor for alterations will perfect the fit of your clothing.

If you’re in a store trying on clothes refrain from attempting to squeeze yourself into a smaller size because it’s “your” size. Size doesn’t matter: only the fit of the clothing item does.

To wit: I have four different sizes of pants and jeans hanging in my closet.

It’s also a mistake to rely on a single number on the scale as a barometer of how healthy you are. Some experts believe each of us might have a “set point” where our body stays in a certain weight range.

This is undoubtedly true. I’ve been lifting weights for over 7 years so far and I’m the same weight I was as before I started this intense exercise regimen.

The difference is I dropped one pant and skirt size because I gained muscle.

If you think you have to be or should be “skinny” that’s a mistake too.

I’ve excoriated Bethenny Frankel in here before for writing a book that claims you can be skinny forever.

It might not be realistic to want to weigh 127 pounds when you weigh 200 pounds now. Even losing just 10 or 20 pounds to start can be perfectly fine if you ask me.

Improve your health by exercising in some fashion and you’ll feel better even if you don’t lose a significant amount of weight (according to research).

Thinking in terms of having “functional fitness” is the way to go.

I’m happy that I’m fit, energetic, and can carry packages home from a store.

Yes–I’m not naturally thin. I’m “thin” because I exercise and eat mostly healthful food.

In my twenties I used to be 20 pounds overweight. By changing what I ate, seeing an M.D. that had a private nutrition practice, and starting to exercise consistently, I lost the weight in six years and kept it off.

You’re going to be miserable if you aspire to be “skinny” because a reality TV housewife star tells you it’s possible to do this by adhering to her latest scheme.

I’ll end here by telling you: relax. You shouldn’t feel or be made to feel guilty or ashamed because you’re not a certain acceptable number on the scale.

When I was 20 pounds overweight in the 1990s, I wore nothing but Esprit mini skirts.

So there–your weight shouldn’t deter you from dressing in style.

Buy clothes with the perfect fit or that can be made perfect with tailoring.

Doing so you’ll look and feel like a million bucks.

Fashion and Makeup Books

Today I want to give a directory of books on fashion and makeup.

I’m 53 and here to tell you that mid-life is not the time to give up on yourself.

There’s a world out there that would look better with you in it.

Wanting to feel and look your best isn’t a sin nor is it frivolous.

__________________________________________

Fashion Books:

50 Ways to Wear Denim Lauren Friedman

Before You Put That On Lloyd Boston

The Cool Factor Andrea Linnett

Know Your Style Alyson Walsh

Life in Color Jesse Garza and Joe Lupo

The Lucky Shopping Manual Kim France and Andrea Linnett

Nothing to Wear? The 5-Step Cure for the Common Closet Jesse Garza and Joe Lupo

Parisian Chic Look Book Ines de la Fressange and Sophie Gachet

Paris Street Style Isabelle Thomas and Frederique Veysset

Paris Street Style Shoes Isabelle Thomas and Frederique Veysset

Parisian Chic Ines de la Fressange

The Power of Style Bobbie Thomas

Ready-to-Wear Mary Lou Andre

The Sartorialist Scott Schuman

Terms of Adornment Deborah Chase

Makeup and Beauty books:

Bobbi Brown Living Beauty Bobbi Brown

Bobbi Brown Makeup Manual Bobbi Brown

Editor-in-Chic Mikki Taylor

Commander-in-Chic Mikki Taylor

Makeup Michelle Phan

Makeup for Ageless Beauty Linda Mason

The Makeup Wakeup Lois Joy Johnson

 

Write Your Story to Heal Your Self

Today I presented a memoir writing workshop at the 12th Annual Peer Conference at the NYU Kimmel Center. The title of the session was Write Your Story to Heal Your Self.

I firmly believe everyone can be creative. The premise of my workshop was that you can heal the self-stigma by writing your story.

Michael Jackson sang in “Man in the Mirror” that if you want to change the world you first have to change yourself.

Healing yourself is the start of healing the planet.

I told attendees that I healed via self-expression using art forms. My love of music, writing, books, and fashion helped me heal.

Here I’d like to reprint the questions listed on page 2 of the handout I gave attendees.

Feel free to Write Your Story to Heal Yourself using these Qs as a guide:

You’re a true original.

How do you define yourself?

Language is power. Written and verbal communication are a playing field.

Whoever controls their self-definition has the power to create their future.

A fortune cookie message tells us:

The sure way to predict the future is to invent it.

Here are some questions to get you thinking.

Jot down whatever comes to mind after reading them.

What is your diagnosis? How old were you when you received it?

How did your life change after the diagnosis?

What is it you don’t like about having a mental health issue?

In what way has good come of living in recovery?

What’s better about your life now?

Write about something you have that the illness didn’t take away.

Write about an event that was one of the happiest times in your life.

If you could have a super power what would it be and why?

What do you like about yourself?

What makes you a true original?

What’s your favorite color and why?

What are you the proudest of in your life?

To sum up write a six-word memoir. Use only six words to talk about yourself and your life.

Kate Spade – A Tragedy

Today Kate Spade–the designer of iconic handbags–took her own life.

She had everything going for her in terms of external success.

It’s a tragedy that inside at her core she wasn’t doing very well.

A year or two ago in my Flourish blog I wrote about the phenomenon of “smiling depression.”

Women are suffering all alone because no one takes them seriously.

“How could you be depressed when you have a great life?”

“Just pray and go to church and you’ll be fine.”

“Get married and have babies and raise a family.”

That last sentence contains actual words a young woman was told years ago.

The other two sentences are oft-repeated ill advice that women are given too.

I remember vividly when I was going on a job interview in the 1990s.

I rode the elevator up to the office with another woman. She held a Kate Spade tote against her shoulder. I coveted that Kate Spade pocketbook.

It wasn’t until this spring that I dared splurge to buy myself a Kate Spade pocketbook.

I bought it at a reduced yet not cheap cost at an off-price discount retailer in New York City.

Kate and her husband sold their company years ago. Yet American women have coveted the Kate Spade handbags since their first creation.

Disability is no joke.

Mental health issues strike everyone from all walks of life.

It’s a tragedy that Kate Spade and hundreds possibly thousands of nameless faceless individuals feel the only way out of their pain is to end their life.

What if Kate Spade could’ve gotten treatment? What if she had bipolar or another mental health issue that wasn’t diagnosed?

A part of Kate Spade lives on in the pocketbook I bought this spring.

Yet that’s no consolation for the fact that another human being’s life ended in tragedy not recovery.

God bless you Kate Spade. God bless everyone living with a mental health issue who suffers. You are not alone.

The Suicide Prevention Helpline can be reached at (800) 273-TALK (8255).

You can use the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741.

Please. The pain you are in can be healed. People care about you. Help is available.

There is a way out of the pain that will enable you to live a better life.

There’s no shame. What you feel is real and true. What you feel can be healed

 

Radical Chic

I’m fond of this sentence Kim Gordon wrote in her memoir:

“I believe the radical is more interesting when it appears ordinary and benign on the outside.”

This rock star/artist/author (the former Sonic Youth singer and bassist) wrote a great book, Girl in a Band. I urge you to buy this memoir.

Sonic Youth are my favorite band–I played them on my 1980s radio show.

Her words are prophetic, because you can’t judge a person. How we look on the outside ultimately tells others nothing about our character, our personality, and the things that matter.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s dressing in trendy clothes was my way of telling the mental health establishment: “Screw you, I’m not going to conform to how you think a person diagnosed with SZ should look and act and live.”

That’s the truth folks: I rebelled the role of mental patient. You should do the same–and the sooner the better.

I think of this now as 53 beckons in a couple of weeks. Not all of us are destined to get dressed every day like we’re Nicki Minaj performing on a concert tour.

There’s a benefit in only looking like we conform when in reality we’re rebels, dreamers, and free thinkers marching to a different drum on the inside.

It can be liberating to fool others with our persona. We don’t have to be who they want us to be. We can and should only be ourselves.

Acting true to yourself will always be in style. Act true to who you are today. Reserve the right to be who you want to be tomorrow.

You don’t have to dress like a Pop Diva to make a statement. You can be radical dressed in ordinary clothes like Kim Gordon admires.

I too admire everyone for having the courage to get up in the morning, choose clothes, and get dressed in a way that is true to who they are.

The older I get I’m less impressed by what passes for normal in society. The mundane–in thinking, acting, dressing, and living–isn’t something I covet having.

Thus the title of my own memoir: Left of the Dial.

So you could say I look ordinary–yet I’ll always be a Girl on the Left Side of the Dial.

You can be radical and chic.

A woman in her fifties should leave people guessing.