What Not to Wear

October 28, 2008, by Connie Stetson

I was standing in the grocery store line the other day perusing magazine headlines: “Madonna Gives Birth to Satan’s Love Child,” “Brad and Angelina Adopt Cat,” “Bulimic Brittany Barfs Barrels—Spagos Diners Disgusted,” when something so mind-boggling, so shocking caught my eye, I gasped.  Glamour magazine’s cover page, in all its glossy glory headlined, “What to Wear at 20, 30, 40, to be Your Sexy Best.”  I was aghast.  All I could think of was when did it happen?  When did I fall off the fashion radar?  What about MEEEEE?????

It hadn’t occurred to me that I would be facing this dilemma so soon.  I’m standing at the crossroads of Juicy Couture and Talbot’s.  I’m pretty clear that at my age wearing the word “JUICY” on my ass is just false advertising, but I’m also not ready for the muumuus and leisure wear that I see in the next department, and I sure as hell don’t want to look like a Republican, all coiffed and suited up so tight I squeak.

One of my favorite TV guilty pleasures is the fabulous What Not to Wear.  Our experts, Stacy and Clinton, take a mousy, blousy, wrong, wrong, wrong frump and transform her into a magnificent, self-confident creature.  I love them (tho’ if I hear the word “chic” one more time, I think I’ll barf barrels), and they are right about how you turn up on the outside says oodles about how you feel on the inside, BUT—what about MEEEE?????  I’m not in my granny years yet, am I?

I have yet to see anyone really stand for our age group.  I ain’t dead yet, so I’m not ready for shroud wear.  Where do I shop?  Not at the mall….Abercrombie and Fitch doesn’t make a size that one of my breasts will fit in and their music makes my ears bleed.  I’ve never seen Stacy or Tim Gunn (love him) take on anyone in their fifties, sixties or beyond, and here comes that “invisible woman” feeling again.

Our Boomer generation has pushed the lines of age, health and wealth far beyond anyone’s expectations.  Can we not insist that designers market something stylish, wearable and economical for us?  And because it’s just the kind of gal I am, I am willing to offer myself to Stacy and Clinton, body, soul and wardrobe, as the sacrificial lamb for all my fifty-plus sisters.  Or—turn me in, I promise not to be offended.

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13 Responses to “What Not to Wear”

  1. dearpru Says:

    I saw this issue of Glamour Magazine and had the exact same reaction as you did, Connie. But, before I got too bent out of shape, I had an epiphany. Even when I was a member of the demographic the editors of Glamour care about, I found the outfits they chose for my age group to be universally inappropriate and silly. At least now, Glamour’s fashion experts and I are finally in agreement — they were never into me in the first place, and now that I’m 50something, they are finally admitting it.

  2. rosemary Says:

    Lets turn this thing on its head right now. Glamour Magazine has always been a poor relation to all of the other equally insensitive fashion magazines. No one (I know) has ever dressed the way these publications suggest that we do…and at one point in my life, I worked in fairly fashion forward industries. So just blow them off completely. They are designed for killing time…to be leafed through at doctor’s office, super market lines and other equally boring places.

    Now, lets think about my current favorite American woman: Michelle Obama. Several nights ago (after the Palin $150K wardrobe disaster), looking just great. She indicated that she shops at J.Crew and other online outlets. I actually believe her. I do. She looks and dresses like people I know. So enough already with the stupid fashion magazines. I’m going to urge all of us 50 somethings to do what I urge my teenage daughter to do: create your own look, feel good and be comfortable.

  3. Cathy Says:

    I guess the magazines have put us into their own box now – we’ve got More and Oprah. Since baby boomer women are a huge segment of the consumer market, we’ve been relegated to our own villages. I used to subscribe to Marie Claire until they did one of those 20,30,40 things. Too bad for them.

    What to wear is a midlife challenge sometimes. Muffin tops and menopots be damned. And the workplace is so darn casual that my wardrobe is mostly jeans now. As far as a makeover goes, Connie your makeover would not be dramatic enough to make good television. You are just too glamorous. But maybe if you wore that horrid rugby shirt, I could turn you in.

  4. rosemary Says:

    Michelle Obama on The Tonight Show talking about her outfit courtesy of J.Crew:

  5. Laura Says:

    I think whatever word you chose to blaze across your ass would be lovely, Connie.

  6. Tracy Says:

    since we do not have TV reception at our house…if YOU, Connie dear, are on ANY TV show, I will be on your couch popping bon bons and smiling at the screen.

  7. cfinhollywood Says:

    That JUICY word on your ass being false advertising is hysterical. What a great line. Great blog. Reminds me of how every time I look at a Vogue magazine (at the hair salon) or a New York Times Magazine Fashion issue, all I do as I flip the pages is mutter, “Ugly.” “Ugly.” “Ugly.” Who wears that crap?? I like a combination of Urban Outfitters–even though I have to spend a lot of time sifting through the stuff that will never be appropriate for someone my age (not to mention the ear-bleeding music), the stuff my two or three designer friends let me buy at half price and jeans, jeans, jeans that don’t make my ass look fat.

  8. Linda Collins Says:

    You poor “baby” 50s gals. Wait until you hit the 60s and try to look fabulous, without looking like an “old” hippie in spandex.

  9. Ellen Says:

    Until I can fit into JCrew again, I am relegated to LLBean and J.Jill. Which means that I look like a dowdy old preppy mommy though I am neither a preppy nor a mommy.

  10. Sue Says:

    I find I cannot go wrong with Kaspar, Anne Klein, Ann Taylor, and Jones New York. Always stylish, pulled together, slimming, and I look like I have a lot of money.

  11. Joan Says:

    My favorite moment recently was on “Project Runway” when the mothers and daughters came out on the runway and the “poor” designers muttered to themselves “Oh God, I hope we don’t have to design for the MOTHERS!” Well . . . they should! I’m always complaining that I’m stuck between clothes that are appropriate for my daughter and clothes that are appropriate for my mother. If I had a limitless budget I could afford to be Stacey and Clinton “chic,” but, LET’S GET REAL! And now a plug. Ladies . . . for a great laugh tune in to “50 To Death” A web series about three boomers jousting with the 21st Century. Just go to http://www.50todeath.com

  12. TrendSetter Says:

    I have always been into fashion, and style, and panache. And there is plenty to wear in the stores. All the stores. By this age women should know their own style, and your colors and your look, which means you can shop very efficiently, knowing a good value when you see one, what to buy for investment (designer) and what you buy for fun (H&M, Target) and ,my personal favoerite, The Gap. Of course shoes are fabulous and sexy, and handbags are Kate Spade.

    My look is basic and hardly changes. a black pencil skirt, black fishnets, a T shrit–cotton, silk, cashmere, in one of “my” colors which would be mauve, purple, blue/red, and , a black jacket.or black silk blazer.

    Accessories changes season to season. new earrings, add a scarf, add some leopard etc. Here is where i show off my vintage brooch collection.

    and everything is a variation of that. change the blackl skirt to a black A-line, to a black gored, t I have one silk camy, and two cotten to wear undernearth for layering.

    I’ve told me frined, if i ever even think of buying something at coldwter creek, kindly shoot me.

    I think the problem is that the women are too fat, or don’t know their own style. it doesn’t matter what the stores are selling there are always the same basics and that’s what you buy, the basics that work for you. then you fill in w/ your personality and accesories and a few extra pieces to just look great., Good quality stuff is better, but selectivly buying cheaper can really work well, too. I love my stuff from Target, and it usually cost between $10-$25.

    i also note that many women want “comfort.” I strive for “look fabulous” and as a result, that’s what I end up looking like. And I like comfort, too, and I usually AM comfortable. I mean, since when is comfort 24/7 a criteria. why do i want to see you in your sweats, when i’d rather look at something more pulled together and lovely? Comfortable is what you are at home.

  13. elizabeth Says:

    My recipe is to mix 2 parts classic (such as a blazer or black anything) 1 part fun (trendy blouse/tee or jewelry) 1 part sexy (heels baby!) Then if the fun/sexy is a bit too much, the classic tones it down. I say: wear it now, because when you are 80 you’ll wish you did!

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