Thursday, February 27, 2014

Comfortable, Visible . . . It's a Style. . . Mine . . .

Susan, at Une Femme, has written a great post about finding Comfort in Style. . . or would that be vice versa.
and Lisa, at AmidPrivilege complements that post with her look at (In)Visibility at a Certain Age--she actually stipulates 50+, postulating different iterations of what that might look like.
The conversations that have built around the two posts are lively and interesting, fun to read through for a variety of perspectives.


I've already expressed some skepticism in this much earlier post about some of the projects concerned with our visibility as we age. But because I am interested in what others wear, and because I garner some enjoyment in putting together my own OsOTD, I am happy enough, if always a wee bit shy, to share What I Wore as part of the way I move and express myself in the world. Comfortably. Visibly. Mine is an idiosyncratic sharing, though, and I never intend it as any kind of generalization about what might work for anyone else.

This has been a week of hunkering down (since Friday, I have only left the house to run or walk around our little island), but I have a few photos from the previous week or two.

Some of these photos show the camera's brutally imposed honesty. Breaking up a column of colour turns out not to be such a good idea, below. . . .

Those runner's legs are short legs, aren't they?!
And although that cardi did make me warmer, cozier (it's cashmere!), it seems to fight a bit here with the rest of its cloth companions, doesn't it?
I do like these two-tone oxfords, though . . .  I've had them for about 4 years (here's another outfit featuring them, quite a different one). Don't you love pulling out those wardrobe items you've put considerable mileage on and affirming the consistency of your own style after a few years?






















And one more outfit, if you don't mind, just so that I can clean out my files. . . .

I suppose this is the most Visible of these three outfits, but it is still very Comfortable to wear. The leather Banana Republic skirt is not everyone's choice for a 60+ woman,

 and may even incite those Mutton Dressed as . . . sniffs (I hate the epithet with a passion, and find it the most anti-feminist phrase imaginable, with its butcher shop provenance, but it's certainly part of the lexicon and its chastening effect can be tough to ignore). ADDED: I should hasten to acknowledge that the phrase is effective, pointing very clearly at a recognizable phenomenon. I don't mean to accuse those of us who use it of not being feminists. It's just a personal peculiarity of mine to dislike it on account of its origins long, long ago in an equation of old flesh being "dressed" -- in the butcher's sense of the term -- to fool the buyer into thinking they were purchasing lamb. Yuck!  

I like its flounce and pounced (sorry, that rhyme caught me) when I spotted it just before Christmas -- I've been looking for a leather pencil skirt for some time. I had a faux leather one I loved, but seem to have outgrown, thanks to WW. So this purchase was easily justified as wardrobe replacement/rebuilding.  I know, this skirt isn't pencil, is it? Whoops!

And there are those shoes again -- I think they do much to ground the leather and, with the dark tights, to mitigate against the skirt's length. The cashmere v-neck (Bompard) made the whole outfit such a treat to myself on a cold winter's day. . .

Top Outfit: Equipment silk shirt (and yes, you can hand-wash it -- I did!); charcoal Bompard v-neck sweater, black waxed J-Brand jeans; Ink boots bought in St. Germain, Paris, 2 or 3 years ago
Middle Outfit: J Crew camel-appliqué sweater bought on sale (yay!) before Christmas; Anthropologie skinny jeans (Piloro and the Letterpress!).

Although my rather ill-composed photos, even snapped on the fly, slow me down a bit on my way out the door in the morning, it's fun (albeit occasionally disconcerting, sometimes horrifying) to have them to reflect on. I'm currently aware of my style having shifted its expression slightly over the last year or two, and through the photographs, I can discern a coalescence. Not sure I could distill it into three magic style-defining words.  Sue recently suggested I was sporting Utilitarian Chic in a recent post, and I admit to some resonance with that -- if I could somehow throw in Whimsy or Romantic or hmmm, Evocative, or something equally contradictory without blowing the whole project to bits, I'd be happy. . . Actually, looking at these photos, I realize that I've kept to a slightly sterner silhouette than I might usually -- probably in response to the weather which has demanded practicality.  . .

What about you? Have you been following this larger conversation at all? Or do you prefer to save your energies for making Nutella Crepes? (that was a wild card -- just to keep you on your toes!)


16 comments:

  1. I can see why you'd pounce on that leather skirt. It is kind of flirty and fun and we can only be serious for so long...I have been reading theses posts and do wonder if we are content to be invisible. I think I am enjoying a new ease and freedom with clothes. No need to stand out in a crowd dressing to please myself for a change, not a fashion victim or a fashionista, comfortable garments that fit and function with a nod to style are all I need now.

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    1. I think it's a good time for us to enjoy dressing as we now know suits us. You seem to have a superlatively clear sense of what works for you and it's impressive how you've managed to rebuild your wardrobe on such clear principles to suit your taste and your lifestyle.

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  2. All of my 55+ (mostly60+) aged women friends are their own amalgamation of diverse elements that make them unique. I would hate to see a standard "uniform" for women of a certain age. That would be as boring as pink polyester. I am tending to avoid ootd's because I don't aspire to be a fashion icon!!! Only me. If I were to label me (why would I?), I would surely be whimsical eclectic francophile book woman. That being said, I find value in reading the blogs of others who offer so many valuable suggestions for creating a basic wardrobe. Right now, my travel wardrobe is being compiled with a lot of consideration of the blogs of Sue and of Janice Riggs. I'm waiting until Paris for the Nutella crêpe and am savouring the story of the "perfect" Paris bookshop.

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    1. I like that description: I wouldn't mind being a whimsical eclectic francophile book woman myself! ;-)
      Mmmm, that Nutella crepe, eaten perhaps somewhere in the 5th. . . (the ones I made were so much smaller than ones Paul and I have occasionally shared on the Rue Mouff.).

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  3. I love that leather skirt! I saved up and bought a divine burgundy leather pencil skirt two years ago. I have worn it zero times, because I can never quite work out how to style it ...
    I've been reading the invisibility conversations and thinking about it quite a bit. Sometimes it bothers me; sometimes I relish it. I do think it is probably hardest on women who were particularly attractive in their youth (not a problem with which I was burdened!). I don't think it (the thought of invisibility to others) especially affects how I dress or present myself although I suppose as I am getting older I am making more, rather than less, of an effort. But not so much because I want to be noticed, but because I want to be visible to myself. I'm not sure that makes any sense :)

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    1. No way! You must get that skirt out and about. I think Alison at That's Not My Age would tell you to pair it with a sweatshirt for some Casual Glamour. Although length is always an issue for me with a pencil skirt. Depending where it hits, I find that cut, on my short self, does better with heels than with flats, and I don't always want to wear heels.
      And your comments re invisibility absolutely make sense. Like you, I suspect it's the women who counted on their attractive visibility who mind its changing the most. I never counted on that force, and I developed other ways of interacting, of getting the visibility I want when and where and from whom I want it. That kind tends to last, perhaps most of all because we do work at being visible to our own selves. There, now, I'm not at all sure I've made any sense at all! ;-)

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  4. i am very content to be visible only to those who want to look, rather than worrying about garnering attention. I like these clothes and have long had a leather skirt as a wardrobe staple myself. Since my mother used that phrase, tit seems dressing younger than one's years has been a criticized mode of dress for some time.

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    1. Yes, it's been around for at least 200 years, that phrase, and I suspect the phenomenon has been around much longer. Does it makes us uncomfortable -- and hence disdainful -- because we can sense the desperation and the emptiness that makes an older woman try so very hard to do the impossible?

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    1. Turning to my Gender Studies self, have you read Carol Adams' "The Sexual Politics of Meat"? I read it as an undergrad and was fascinated to learn about how we use the language of meat/animals to discuss/deconstruct women. (Deleted my earlier comment because my Saturday-morning brain misremembered the author's name.)

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    2. I haven't read this, but I'm going to now. Thanks!

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  6. Your post set me off on a long round from blog to blog and still has me thinking about this Visibility thing. I must admit that most of the time I don't feel there is a problem at all. That is, I don't feel invisible, or less visible than I used to be. Maybe that is (as you mentioned some other place) because I am a teacher, which means that I spend several hours each day being the centre of attention for a group of young people. They cant't help noticing me, so to a great extent I dress for them, trying to strike a balance between giving them something pretty to look at without distracting their attention from the intricacies of Spanish grammar or the complexity of Recent German History.
    At the same time, there are many lovely colleagues at my school, and quite often we compliment each other on an especially attractive outfit. I feel that I get as many kind comments as others, age doesn't seem to matter at all here.
    But even outside the realms of work, family and friends, I feel more, rather than less visible than I used to. That may be because I feel more confident and more prepared to speak up. Until a few years ago I would avoid a conflict at any cost - now I am much more relaxed about giving my opinion or defending my point of view, and I feel that this change of attitude has something to do with getting older. The result is higher visibility, although most of the comments I get do not refer to how I look but to what I said or did. But that's OK with me.
    Oh yes, on my last trip to Peru I realized that my visibility in the street had declined considerably. No more comments on my "beautiful blue eyes" etc. But I find that advancing from senorita to senora makes life much easier!

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    1. Your thoughts on this question sound very similar to my own, Eleonore, and I do wonder if my time at the front of a classroom makes a difference.
      I like your emphasis on being noticed not necessarily for how you looked but for what you said or did. I know we live in an all too visual world, but there are other important ways to appreciate and to be appreciated. Grieving a perceived loss of visibility seems a bit of a fool's game to me, in some ways, except for the occasional reassurance that others are experiencing the same thing. . . But that's just what I think today. Next week, who knows? Thanks for commenting so thoughtfully

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    2. Thanks for all the food for thought YOU are giving me.

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  7. Love it all! Especially the leather skirt. I think I may wear my leather pants ot first day of teaching ( University) Tuesday!

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    1. I teach at a university as well -- but mine is a small uni in a small city, where I think leather pants might be too much of a statement. I remember that my doctoral supervisor looked pretty fabulous in hers, though, and we were all very impressed (and more than a bit intimidated).

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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