Children, Fashion, Menopause, Shopping

Guest Post: Shopping with Mom

A guest post by my daughter Laura:

When I was a little girl, my mom always took my sister and me shopping on teacher workdays. She’d tell us we had to get up early, so that we could be there shortly after the mall opened.  It was those trips that sparked my love for shopping (and my love for samples of Chinese chicken in the food court).

These days, it’s not as fun to go shopping.  Money is always tight, and I have to actually work on teacher workdays.  But when I do get a chance to go to the mall with my mom, we’ve starting focusing our efforts on her wardrobe: operation maximize fashion, minimize frump (at her request.)

At first, she was resistant, “I’ll never look good in that; my friends will say that’s too young for me; I can’t do heels.”

But with a little pushing and a few forced trips to the dressing room, she’s been quite surprised at how good she looks in some of our finds: a teal pleated dress with a coral-colored patent belt, a flowy peasant blouse with dragonflies, and, yesterday, these metallic mini wedges:

Pretty cute, right?

I keep telling my mom  not to worry so much what other people think,especially about wearing something that to her, feels too young.  If you feel good wearing something, then you probably look good too!

And the best part is, if mom finds even just one thing to spice up her wardrobe, she’ll take me to lunch at Panera.

Laura Younger is a psychologist for the Durham County Schools. Her fiance, Matt Allen, is in the MBA program at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business. A June wedding is planned, meaning Laura will soon be at my side as we shop for my MOB dress!  She blogs at Taking Back My

Mother Disclaimer:  I will add that Laura usually receives  at least a small addition to her wardrobe as well as lunch. I will also add that daughter Kath is a good shopping buddy too; she’s not around as much since she lives in Virginia.

Fashion, Menopause

Let’s Talk Hem Length!

Okay let’s get a little gritty here on Friend for the Ride.

Who gets to decide how long we wear our skirts?

About five years and ten less pounds ago, I wore a dress above the knee to a bridal shower for my daughter.  A friend let slip that there was some discussion about my knees showing.

What?  My friends discuss me?

I suppose they can discuss me.  After all, that’s better than being so boring you’re undiscussable.

But I’m not sure how I feel about a fiftyish woman not being able to wear a shorter dress, especially if she has pretty good legs.

So what are the rules?  And if we don’t like them, are we going to obey them?

Should we fight fight fight and go out punching?

Or does the time come when our knees are no-no’s?  If so, at what age?

I find longer skirts more comfortable and generally wear them that way, but I’m not sure I want to go gently into the good night of HAVING (or feeling like I need) to wear skirts of a certain length.  I’m not talking about short short here. Just some knee.

So kick up those skirts and let us know what you think!

Photo above is from an article on flappers on this vintage website.

Photo below is from an article on hem length on this vintage website:

Aging, Fashion

Will She Wear Purple?

Most of you know the poem that begins, “When I am old, I shall wear purple.”  The poem’s title is “Warning,” and it was written in 1961 by British poet Jenny Joseph.

In 1961, wearing purple was a much bigger deal.  I had a great-aunt, who made pronouncements.  Her name was Ann, but since “Aunt Ann” was hard to say, we called her “Auntie.”

One of Auntie’s pronoucements was:  WE DON’T WEAR PURPLE.

Another one was :  WE DON’T WEAR PRINTS.

I loved Auntie dearly and named my first daughter Katherine Anne after her, but you can see me above, wearing purple and a print.  I think getting older is all about breaking rules, even a beloved great-aunt’s, and it’s all about knowing which rules are okay to break.

Anyone want to offer up some recently broken rules?

Now about the title of Jenny Joseph’s Poem:  “Warning.”   Is ours the only family where the expression “warning” is sometimes used in reference to the future?

I’m just warning you that when I’m sixty-five, I’m not going to…

I’m just warning you that as soon as I retire, I’m thinking of…

I’m just warning you that if I’m a grandmother, I plan to…

I’m just warning you that someday, I might decide to…

I’m just warning you that when I have my own kids, I won’t ever…

I don’t think it’s bad to warn someone of an action or attitude to come, but what I think the person is really doing is stating  a yearning for a change he or she would like to make right now.   Speak up oh family, and I will speak up too.  Let’s be purple-wearing brave!

Jenny Joseph ends her poem:

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

What about you?  What warnings could you put into practice right now?

Jenny Joseph’s photo is from  an article in the Stroud News and Journal.

Here’s the rest of the poem, with a link to a bio of Jenny. You can hear her reading Warning” in this video.

The photo of me was taken at Thanksgiving on Kath’s porch in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Join the discussion!  Leave a comment.  To do so, click on “Comments” below.  Thanks!

Aging, Fashion, Shopping

It’s a Paper Doll’s World

The fashion life of a paper doll must be glorious.  She stands upright and proud in her underwear.  (That’s an accomplishment right there!)  Someone selects an outfit, slips it on, and suddenly, she’s beautifully dressed from head to toe.

The fashion life of a woman of a certain age isn’t quite so simple.  My mom keeps saying, “Just wait until you’re eighty.  It gets worse.”  But even in my fifties, I’m feeling some sadness when I go clothes shopping, a kind of mourning, a slight grief.

A blouse with too much poof.  A skirt that flares from the waist.  A dress in an extravagant print.  Are they too youthful?  Too carefree?  Too cute for someone my age?  And then there’s the issue of hem length.  Hmm, let’s save hem length.  Whole essays have been written about hem length.

“Am I too old to wear this?”  “Nope,” says the husband, always.

“Am I too old to wear this?”  “Nope,” says the daughter, usually.

“Am I too old to wear this?”  “Yes,” the friends say, sometimes.

And when I ask my paper dolls, they don’t answer.  They just smile.  Let’s hope that means, “Lady, for heaven’s sake, wear what you want.”

Photo:  These paper dolls are older than I am, yet they certainly wear their clothes, including their underwear, with confidence.  You can learn more about the history of paper dolls on the website of The Original Paper Doll Artists Guild: