Too hot, too old, just right. We agonize over looking too young or too old, but what the heck is "just right"? Sometimes it's the result of all the pieces falling into place the right way. Combinations that should not work in theory will, if assembled by a master. Sometimes "just right" is a well-honed personal expression that shouldn't be monkeyed around with. You know who you are, Beatrix Ost and Vivienne Westwood. It's the rest of us who hesitate wearing the Forbidden Fruit of Fashion for the Fifty-Plus: elastic waists, short skirts, sleeveless and oxfords.
Elastic waistbands have long tripped the alarm that says "too old". Imagine my surprise to see them on pants in the Lovely Boutique Where I Work, a place that does not cater to septugenarians. Flowey palazzo pants often flow better when the material is less constricted at the waistband. I've even seen some straight-legged pants with a flat waistband front and an elastic waist at the back. I've avoided them like the plague. It is imperative to not tuck. But with a tunic top in the right proportions, who is the wiser?
How short should short skirts be, and how much wood could a woodchuck chuck? Never-ending riddles. We've been told the most flattering skirt length brushes the top of your knee-cap. This is fine for a pencil skirt and a classic look, but fuller skirts are another story— too long and you are Pat Nixon. Even if you have "great legs" how long can you wear short? My solution to the short skirt dilemma is wearing tights. Tights and a short skirt look equally fetching with flats, chunky heels or boots. Black, navy or gray tights of course, but color does not have an age stamp. You can have fun and make a statement without carrying a banner.
|Right, left, right, left|
Sleeveless! We are not all Michelle Obama. It has nothing to do with the fact that our husbands are not the President. Michelle Obama has fabulous upper arms and will undoubtedly have them when she's 80. Her sleeveless looks are Power Dressing to the max. You have only to compare her in Jackie style dresses to the actual Jackie wearing hers to see that those upper arms say 2013. Nevertheless we pretty much aren't thinking twice about going sleeveless until the day we see something wave goodbye before we do. Then self-consciousness sets in big time.
|Michelle Obama— well armed|
I've had a saucer -sized scar on my upper left arm since my mid-20s and have eschewed sleeveless ever since. It's not just a scar, Padma Lakshmi-like. It's the one thing you would first meet on my body. I admit to feeling thwarted at times— my bathing suit is a Danskin leotard with short sleeves— but I'm more grateful to be alive. Enough said. I Understand Your Pain, but I think women are mostly being silly about this sleeveless thing.
There are choices. I know because I've found them. There's the cap sleeve that gives an illusion of sleeveless or a cowl neck/draped neckline that can be made to cover upper arms. The dramatic one-arm bare/one covered takes the focus off your other (uncovered) arm, but you can't be shy about wearing it. The pashmina scarf wore like a stole was nice for a while, but that skews really old these days. Upper arms are visible proof that the body is aging, and most of us (who feel 23) don't like to be reminded. Nevertheless you have to be comfortable in your own skin, and if sagging skin freaks you out, opt out.
|Look, Ma, no sleeve!|
Oxfords are not students at that British university. Borrowed from the boys they are an irreverent, cute shoe look as worn by the girls. My grandmother wore Enna Jetticks. It took me forever to see the pun in the product name. Oxfords and old lady shoes have meant the same to me ever since. My mother did everything (including breaking her foot in three places) to avoid wearing them. Alas, time marched on— in sensible, sturdy oxford shoes. At first I thought this new fashion among the young would be an acceptable substitute for wearing athletic shoes around town. Alas, I am sadly too old. I already know I'm becoming my mother, I'm just not ready to hit the pavement in her shoes...
|Could these be just right?|