There’s a lot of ink these days in the blogosphere about how older women should be able to “wear whatever the f—- they want.” Well, of course, I applaud the sentiment and the theory. But in practice, for me at least, there are some things in my closet that have outlived their usefulness. I have thereby made the conscious decision to be a bit more moderate in my dress than I was in my 40s. That doesn’t mean I intend to go gently into that good night. On the contrary, I intend to continue to annoy people by being more visible every year. But I also refuse to go as a paler version of my younger self.
So — out go the above-the-knee miniskirts. I will wear a shorter tunic but only with tights or leggings or skinny pants. Out with the crop tops (does anyone NEED to see my scars?) and four-inch platforms. Yes, I know platforms are back, but the spectacle of me toppling over and breaking an osteoporotic hip isn’t worth a few more inches of height, in spite of the fact I’m shrinking as I write this. There are plenty of wedge-soled shoes and slightly platformed sandals and sneakers that give me a little height but that share a closer relationship with the ground. And speaking of relating to the ground, as gravity has contributed to the spread of my metatarsals I’ll be damned if I’m going to cram my pre-bunioned toes into pointy shoes. I’d rather build an entire outfit around a pair of very comfortable and expensive flats than sacrifice a fancier outfit for a constant grimace.
I’ve also let go of a lot of the cute hair ornaments I wore when my hair was longer, straighter and sexier because, face it, my hair isn’t ever going to look like that again. And my face doesn’t want it to. I need all the uplift I can get. (Refer to previously-mentioned shrinkage.) So the curly, pert cut that looks like the perm my mother foisted on me when I was a kid is as close a nod as I will give to “trying” to look youthful. Frankly I have no choice; my straight hair caught my reflection in the mirror one day and sprung up into coils. It’s just who I am now.
The one thing I am having trouble letting go of are the handbags: my first Coach backpack — the most expensive purchase I made when I sold my duplex; a Carlos Falchi studded satchel that weighs four pounds empty (I refuse to schlep that much weight on one shoulder any longer); the elegant basket woven Cole Hahn tote with braided handles that my sis gave me for my 50th birthday; the dark green quilted suede bag with the chain strap that I bought at I. Magnin’s going-out-of-business sale; a silk tropical printed tote with bamboo handles from my first trip to Cabo San Lucas. I haven’t been using any of these in great rotation, but you may have to pry them from my cold, dead hands.
I’ve also revisited my jewelry drawer, which over the years has been crammed with impulse-bought costume jewelry like my brass and multi-colored skinny Indian bangles, boho dangly earrings, statement pins — not Madeline Albright-like statements, but little tin ones with messages like “Are We Having Fun Yet?” and toe rings. (I never was much of a bohemian; the toe rings always hurt my adjacent toes.)
There are a few classic sentimental pieces in there like the pearl necklace my aunt Ethel gave me, antique pins from England from my dear friend’s British mum, a silver gecko pin I bought in an antique store in the Czech Republic shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union. I’m earmarking them as inheritances for my nieces and their daughters, who will no doubt reject them as being bourgeois and who likely think the Soviet Union is actually kind of cool.
But as far as my new jewelry goes, I’m thinking “minimalism.” And this minimalism comes with a price. I’m following the advice of one of my readers who said, “Whenever it’s time for me to get rid of something that’s worn out or dated I replace it with something similar but of better quality.” So for me, now, quality is king. I recently bought a gorgeous necklace at the DeYoung museum in San Francisco — linked gold little square paillettes that shine and sparkle and elevate everything I wear it with. I also have a pair of gold Tiffany starfish earrings that I kept saving for some “special” day, which I am now wearing to the supermarket. And my gemstone rings are every day adornments, originally purchased because an astrologer told me they’d bring me luck. I guess they have. I’m lucky to be alive, to see what doesn’t work, and savvy enough to keep what does. And I may ask to be buried in these items. I don’t want some ungrateful heir rejecting them as bourgeois.