Thursday, November 26, 2015

50 & Fab....time for a style rant...


 
I wrote a post recently on finding my style. It's one of my most read posts ever. You can find it here.
 
Clearly there are many of us confused by the many pronged fork of fashion faux pas.
 
I've now read three books by so called Style Advisors, and the first thing that struck me was that in each, they tell you on the first page, to be yourself. Then they spend the next 359 pages, telling you what not to wear. And what you should wear. And how precisely to NOT be yourself.
 
The book I just finished said that we should all be wearing socks with our sandals. They're joking, right? Please tell me they are. What the blazes?? Last time I wore socks with my sandals, I was five years old, and even then I took the socks off as soon as I was out of Nannas sight. Even at the age of five, I somehow knew that it was just wrong.
 
We're also advised to wear anything we like from our boyfriends closet. I don't have a boyfriend, I'm pretty sure my husband would have something to say if I did. And if I raided my husbands closet, I'd be wearing three quarter shorts, surf shirts and in a pinch, flannelette shirts. NOT very stylish. He can't help it. He's Australian, and grew up water skiing and surfing. Poor bloke. They also mentioned that if the boyfriend/husbands jeans were too big, that even we curvier ladies could just cinch them in with a belt. I can tell you right here and now, that this is a very bad idea. And the thing is, that I'm pretty sure I've seen some ladies around my neighbourhood who've taken this piece of advice to heart. See. Scary in the wrong hands.
 
We're told not to wear black or white in one book, unless it's the LBD (little black dress to the uninitiated) because black is so draining and nobody looks good in white, not even brides. We're assured however, that neutrals are always tasteful, in another fashion forward treatise.
 
While we're at it, let's talk about the LBD. I don't wear dresses. I have two dresses in my wardrobe. One I bought just last week, and it may very well be the first dress in ten years that suits me. Like me, it doesn't have a waist, so I think we'll be good friends. I'm thinking of buying five more so we can be friends forever. The other is my wedding dress, which I keep for sentimental reasons. Other than that, my LBD is not an LBD. It's LBP or Long Black Pants. And before we go any further, I'm not talking about anything ending in '-egging', like 'jegging', or 'legging'. Skinny pants, especially black ones, look good on me. So do white ones, which I love in Summer. Skinny pants are perhaps the only thing that looks good on me these days. Although the song that chants 'the only thing that looks good on me...is you' springs to mind should Johnny Depp and I ever meet face to face. That unlikely event aside, I have long legs for a short person and skinny pants suit me well. I wear them with floaty shirts and the occasional trim tshirt that is forgiving over my flab.
 
We're told to mix prints like tartan and Liberty florals in this one, and heaven forbid, warned to never commit such style blasphemy in a conflicting tome. I think that one is the same one that said French women don't care about nice nails. Lies, people, all lies.
 
But of course you don't have to take any of this on board, because you're always remembering to 'be yourself' and 'find your own style' and 'be unique'.
 
The book I just finished said that to be truly stylish we should look a bit dishevelled and that this was the secret to looking French. Hmmm. I think only the French can get away with that one. Where I live, there's a fine line between dishevelled, and couldn't be bothered combing my hair or showering today.
 
I'm actually quite disillusioned with the whole Style Bible idea to be honest.
 
I viewed some pics of a gathering of a bunch of supposedly stylish people a while back, one of them the author of a Style Bible, and well, yeah, they did look a bit dishevelled actually. But not in what I thought was a good way. They all looked like they were wearing art. Or their lounge cover. One or the other, or sometimes both at the same time. One lady looked like she had worn the hat box instead of the hat. I gather that this is probably entirely crafted and intentional, but whatever happened to the idea that we should see you in the clothing, not the clothing on you. I get it, but I don't. Not in the context of my life. And how does looking like you're wearing furnishings, make you stylish??? I'm clearly a heathen.
 
And I'm sorry, but some of the people dishing out this advice, just don't look the way I want to look. I've given up on a couple of style blogs, because I got tired of the gushing comments telling them how fabulous they looked in very unlovely things. Is it some perverse female thing to tell someone they look fabulous, when they look truly hideous? Actually, scratch that question. I know it is. I really just wanted to be honest and say 'no, that looks awful'. There was one time when a couple of people did say that with varying degrees of diplomacy, so it's not just me. And all the while these probably quite lovely people, are putting themselves out there, ostensibly trying to help the rest of us hapless style-clueless folk, and I'm sitting here wondering why I wasted my hard earned dosh on their book, because the sum total of what I gained from their advice is simple darned confusion.
 
I'm not reading or listening to them any more. The only person I might listen to, having seen her at the age of at least 65, getting up close with Ewan McGregor in the film, Deception (and more power to her), is Charlotte Rampling. She looked fab when she was young, seen above at the top of my post, and she looks fab now, at 67 years of age...seen below.
 
 
I like her simple understated-ness in both photos. That's my idea of 'dishevelled but stylish'. She's more covered up here, but from what I see, she hasn't deviated much from a fundamental elegant look. I'm not tall and slender like her, but I think I can manage elegant and understated.
 
If I want to be arty, I'll go Boho arty, like my other style idol, Stevie Nicks, as she was back in the day. That woman knew how to do curly hair and frou-frou without looking like a Nanna and not a Nepalese tote bag in sight....
 
 
I think the people writing these books are having a gigantic lend of us, as the Aussie saying goes. Sandals with socks, ugly plastic necklaces, Nepalese tote bags, Winter pullovers under strappy summer dresses, acrylic rings...I left them all behind when I was 12. Well the socks and sandals thing, you know how that ended. I'm ignoring the lot of them.
 
I'll keep wearing black and white, and to hell with it making me look washed out. I like it and I can wear all my other stuff, like scarves and jewels with it and not worry about looking like I walked out the door without checking myself in the mirror, which I truly think is what some of these style queens do. That's my opinion, and like others, I'm entitled to it. But then again, I'm not making a living out of flogging my opinion as solid gold style know-how. Because you see, that's all these things are...somebody's opinion. Someone who doesn't know you, doesn't understand your life, or your climate or your budget, telling you, who they don't know from a bar of soap, how to dress. It's so silly. These things, I've decided, are actually written for people who are already 'stylish' and who can probably, in their suburb, get away with lurex socks and high heeled sandals, and Nepalese tote bags. Alas where I live, that's likely to elicit pointing and stares.
 
Some home truths for me.
 
The one single piece of useful advice I found, was to look at photos where you're happy with your outfit and build from there. So I did that.
 
Here I am with my naturally curly 'going grey' hair and my specs, wearing black and hoop earrings and lots of silver a la Stevie, at my nieces 21st birthday earlier this year...
 
.
...and here's me, no specs, with my totally silver, straightened hair, wearing white and pearls, more like a Charlotte understated-ness, at home.
 
 
Not much between them really is there. But I'm comfortable and happy in both photos. I like my plain necklines because I love my scarves, and necklaces. I like bare wrists because I have a beautiful collection of bracelets and rings, real ones, not acrylic ones, that my husband has gifted me over the years, and I don't want my clothing competing with them. I like my skinny pants and my fabulous Lanvin ballet flats and pearl emerald brogues. I like my hair long and flowing and think it's actually my best feature, so I'm not covering it with berets and hat boxes and other silliness. I like Chanels advice to look in the mirror and remove one thing before leaving the house. That's stood me in good stead.
 
So maybe that's me. Good old plain Jane, in black or white featuring a plain neckline and skinny pants, long floaty or plain unadorned shirts, ballet flats or brogues on my feet, with pearls or silver and a fab ring or bracelet, but never both together. 
 
With that settled in my mind, I think Charlotte Ramplings 'understated' is probably the right way to move forward.
 
From now on though, I'll try to be less plain Jane, throwing in a touch more Stevie from time to time, whilst sticking to my black and white, pearls and silver.
 
And that I think, is the most valuable piece of style advice that I've heard in a long time.
 
Maybe I'll share more of Understated Me another day. Stay tuned.
 
 One thing's for sure though. You won't see any advice here from ME, on how YOU should dress.
 
That's a journey for you to make.
 
 photo signature_zps33fd9dfd.png
 
Sharing at...
 
Simply Neutrals

33 comments:

  1. Ha ha, Mimi. I am sitting here having a giggle. I thought I recognised the face in the first photo. Goodness me, Charlotte Rampling has aged well. She is my age too. I always think of you when I walk past Millers and chuckle to myself. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Chel. Glad I gave you a giggle! She is stunning, isn't she? I'm honoured that you think of me when walking past Millers...don't tell them what I said about their clothes...lol! Mimi xxx

      Delete
  2. this is such a great post, you had me laughing and agreeing all the way through. I need to look up some Style Books for over 50. I can't even imagine some of the stuff they are putting out. There are a few bloggers that talk fashion that I really enjoy, but I'm with you, wear what you feel best in, but be sure to have a full length mirror on hand! thanks for coming by and leaving a sweet comment. It's hard putting yourself out there!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Debra, and thankyou! How lovely to see you. I thought your post was very open and honest and touching. And yes, a full length mirror is a must...lol. Mimi xxx

      Delete
  3. Well, Mimi, you have certainly averted any risk of me spending money on style advice books. I don't think there was much risk but thank you, anyway.

    Like you, I am a black/white/pearls/silver girl although I do love a bit of colour, especially cherry red or emerald green.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lol Fairy! You can always borrow mine. I don't think I'll be needing them again! I like emerald too...preferably as a ring ;-) Mimi xxx

      Delete
  4. Dearest Mimi la bonita,

    I stumbled across a book that changed my life at about 40. The title went something like "Fit and Fabulous at 40 Plus." I decided I would be the real me, the one God said I could be. Me. I ditched every piece of black from my closet--- it covered the bed and the floor. I always loathed myself in black. Oh, those Filipinas had a heyday. That was back in 2005, I think. The exhilaration I felt, to start from scratch with what was left and build into my closet my own style. Me.

    I've never looked back. I say that "brown is my black." In the Pacific, I wear white, lots and lots of cream (it's everywhere in my home, too), green in every shade on God's earth, and the colors of the sea. Oh, Mimi. I love my life. I express it, too.

    Thank you, Mimi dearest. Whatsoever things... Amen.

    From the United States, Happy Thanksgiving Day,
    Kelley Dibble xo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh Kelley dear, I miss you!!! Please stop by more often. Now, I'm going looking for that book. And your colours sound so YOU. Thankyou my lovely lady. And Happy Thanksgiving. We have been invited to our very first Thanksgiving with some American friends. We are excited and honoured to be asked. Much love. Mimi xxx

      Delete
  5. That was so funny. I read it out loud to my husband. He actually laughed out loud, which was good for both of us to have a chuckle today.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh I'm pleased! Thanks for the lovely comment! Mimi xxx

      Delete
  6. A great post. I for one am fed up with self help books and magazines that tell women what to think and what to wear. I can't even describe my style because I really don't have one. I think that good hygiene and grooming are very important. It's no good having a posh frock if you have grubby nails and dirty shoes. I say enjoy your life it's not a rehearsal. Don't pay for self help books that make you feel like you failed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes Ronnie, yes! Good hygiene and basic good grooming go a long way! Couldn't agree more. And yes, life is not a rehearsal. Enjoy it and have fun. You're dead a long time. Mimi xxx

      Delete
  7. You look fabulous both ways my dear!! In the past,
    I have paid hundreds of dollars to have your curls!
    Those of us with super straight hair are jealous!
    I gave up perms & color back in my 40's & just go
    natural now in my 60's - so much easier & the grandchildren
    don't know any different-they love me as is.
    Thank you for such great insight and enjoy your "American"
    Thanksgiving - all the best!
    the other Mimi !!
    http://inmyprimetime.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello namesake! How lovely to see you here. I agree that colouring your hair is all too hard. But funnily enough, I think you then have to work harder on your grooming so you don't look like you've given up...lol! Happy Thanksgiving to you too. Mimi xxx

      Delete
  8. You crack me up Mimi!!! And I have to agree, the style police ought to be arrested themselves... I am visualizing a classic Audrey Hepburn style that will last forever! But that is just me... :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, a few arrests need to be made for sure Jes! Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Sophia Loren...all stunning. Look at Sophia now. I'm pretty sure she's not wearing socks with her sandals! Mimi xxx

      Delete
  9. Wonderful words of wisdom there! But have to disagree with the Aussie blokes lack of style. My hubby carries off the flanno shirt with a great deal of panache! Ive been fighting with the idea of what my own 'style' is for years, and now in my later 50's Ive decided that jeans, t-shirt with simple neckline (like yours for the scarves and necklaces) and flats are generally the 'go'. I am not yet ready to lose my hair dye, but am currently growing it long again. What fashion police said that once you hit 50 you had to have your hair short?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh I didn't say he lacked style, Julie. He has that in spades! I just said that it would be slim pickings if I had to dress from his side of the wardrobe....lol! He's tall, and tanned and has piercing blue eyes...I'm not complaining! Clearly though, he hasn't got your man's magic with the flanno shirt. Let's just say I keep binning them, and he keeps buyin' more! I agree, simple, well groomed, and long hair if it suits you, are a lovely 'style'. Great comment. Mimi xxx

      Delete
  10. I think you are spot on with this. You need to be you and be comfortable in your own skin and not try to be someone you are not. I know there are certain things that I look really bad in, no matter what they current "fad" is. I avoid them like the plague!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So true Debbie. For me, that's dresses. Except for my new BFF dress that is. It's satisfying to reach an age, where at least you know what DOESN'T suit you. That at least narrows down the choices somewhat! Mimi xxx

      Delete
  11. Hear, hear gorgeous Mimi!! xx Fiona

    ReplyDelete
  12. You made me laugh with this, Mimi. Who in the world could recommend wearing socks and sandals??? Almost all grown ups and kids know this is a no-match relationship! Not to tell anything about wearing my husband's pants... there could be two Pili inside of them lol.
    I don't read magazines or books about style because I don't care what they say it's trendy. I wear what I feel comfortable with and I know it suits me. Nevertheless, I do color my hair. I have a white strand of hair Gremlin style at my forehead which I don't like at all. Maybe when my whole hair is white it will be different.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh it wasn't just the socks and sandals Pili. It was the pullovers under strappy dresses, the tights with holes, and the 'interesting' accessories. Maybe the book was aimed at 4 year olds?? I laughed about your hubby's pants! I'd love a white strand of Gremlin hair. But that's just me ;-) Mimi xxx

      Delete
  13. I must admit, I was a bit worried about reading a style rant, because I don't do style, but of course, you didn't let me down Mimi:) Yes, I will be myself in my comfy few outfits from the op-shop that fit and are just my colour. I love that I have a slender wardrobe that covers all possible outfit requirements, with classic clothes that last forever. I love that I don't care that I only have two posh frocks that I will trot out for weddings and funerals for the next ten years, and look nice but not stylish! Like you, I love that I feel I can go grey gracefully and look my age if I want to. Like you, I believe clothes are to make us feel good about ourselves, not to make a statement. Thanks for your wonderful, empowering posts as always:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jo, I love the idea of a 'slender wardrobe'. That sounds perfect. And we should be empowered by dressing in whatever way makes us feel good. If we can do that, the rest will follow nicely. Mimi xxx

      Delete
  14. Thank you for a wonderful post. I'm guilty of spending too much time reading " the over 50 fashion blogs." I'll be 55 in the coming year and I think I've finally found my own style. I hate jeans ( after years of trying to wear them and never being comfortable). I wear black pants most of the time now, but my tops are where I get creative - I love lace and white/ cream and pink and wear lots of it along with my pearls. A nice simple handbag, ballet flats, simple makeup and I cut my own hair. There you go. Thanks again for the post. I just have to stop beating myself up for wearing what I love and going against the "fashion gurus!"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Laurie, your 'style' sounds perfect. Fashion gurus begone I say! Mimi xxx

      Delete
  15. You need a column in the local rag. Can I ask them????? I love this. I am still doing what I have always done, but DO have TOO MUCH black..... I am doing the grey transition thing.... You wouldn't believe the comments, 'What's this grey hair??' was one.... Hello, I am 50 and loving it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hahaha Flora! Ask away! What's wrong with black, really? It's neat, stylish, and suits just about any occasion. As for the grey hair comments...to heck with them. Go for it! Mimi xxx

      Delete
  16. You gave me a good giggle! I've seen young girls wear their boyfriends clothes and get away with it, (actually looked cute), but this 63 year old can't pull it off! lol! Socks with sandals is beyond me? I like to look nice, but I have to be comfortable! I think you look cute both curly and straight! Thanks for sharing with SYC.
    hugs,
    Jann

    ReplyDelete
  17. Hi Mimi,
    To thine own self be true - wear what you love and be comfortable, that's my motto!
    Jesse

    ReplyDelete
  18. Hahaha, great read! By the way, I'm French. And yes, of course I do look fabulous in a curtain and with a cereal box on my head. Duh. Lol :) xx

    ReplyDelete

I love hearing from you! I always respond to comments, so don't be shy! Mimi xxx