5 Wardrobe Essentials Every Middle-Aged Women Should Own

Woman sitting in jumper and skinny jeans eating popcorn.
Photo from Unsplash

When I wore a cropped hoodie to work one morning recently, one of the kids suggested I should dress my age.

As you can imagine, I was so enraged I demanded she tell me why I should kowtow to society’s construct of the way middle-aged women are expected to dress.

And needless to say, she looked back at me blankly

Why are women over-fifty expected to dress in a certain way?

Why, when the best part about the recent COVID lockdowns has been the permission to wear activewear 24/7, aren’t we allowed to experience the same fashion freedom as everyone else?

And the sad truth is, it’s not only our choice of activewear that is seen as inappropriate clothing for middle-aged women in certain circles of modern society – and yes, I did say modern. A similar judgment applies to short skirts, sleeveless tops, tight trousers, stiletto heels…

So, what can we wear, ladies?

WHAT THE F*CK WE WANT! However, if I had to choose a few items that (in my personal and not very expert opinion) cross the age ranges, here’s my list:

1. Skinny jeans – Personally, I believe that ANYONE, whatever your size, can wear skinny jeans – especially now they come in a wide range of stretchy fabrics. Dress them up with heels and a blazer, or down with with a tee-shirt and sneakers, and for those of you who aren’t confident about your tummy area (like me), hide it with an oversized or longer top. The skinnies from Zara are affordable and fit my body shape well, but I also like the “Riley” style from Decjuba. Recently, I found a pair in Country Road that are also surprisingly flattering. I was a bit nervous about the high-waist at first – although it is rather handy for tucking in my muffin top – but I really like the ankle bone length.

2. White Sneakers – I have no idea why I avoided this trend for so long, but when I spotted a pair in the Sportsgirl sale for only $40, I couldn’t resist. Needless to say, I’ve worn them to death. The great thing about these shoes is their neutral colour – which means you can dress them up or down, depending on the occasion and your mood. Read Elle’s guide to the best white sneakers.

3. The denim jacket is another classic that, somehow, managed to escape my radar over the past fifty years, even though it’s a wardrobe staple for most of my friends in the UK. For some reason, I decided I was too old for a denim jacket until I spotted the one below at Katie’s , which was 50% off. What I love about denim is its versatility, and because the denim on denim trend is back, you could pull off a Justin/Britney moment if you and your partner are up for it. Don’t worry if you’re not brave enough, this jacket is the perfect compliment to Boho skirts and culottes as we move into spring.

4. Culottes – Love em or hate ’em (and I BLOODY LOVE them), culottes are here to stay. I’m not sure why they seem to be as contentious as the Vegemite/Marmite war, because I think they flatter most body shapes. I own a range of culottes in different fabrics and colours, but I’ve worn my neutral ones to death. I haven’t made a decision about the longer 30s-style version to recently hit the stores, but I’m sure we’ll be wearing this style of pant for a lot longer. (The culottes below are from MinkPink).

5. High-neck jumpers and tops – Whatever season you’re in right now, the roll-neck is back for some vintage comfort and style. If you’re in winter, you’ll love the long-sleeved, chunky polo version, but for those of us in the southern hemisphere, there are plenty of short-sleeved options. Polo-necks, (as I was brought up to call them), are classy in the same way as the twin set. They remind me of “Mad Men” in a good way. I think they send out the message that you are a thinking, sexy woman, although I’m not sure the same can be said about them on men – unless they happen to be Idris Elba, a Russian spy, or a sexy, young professor. Personally, I’ve always loved high-necked jumpers for their ability to conceal my eight chins, one of the reasons I fell in love with the top from Seed below.

Are there any other essentials you would like to share with us?

Photo credits: 1. Top from Seed | 2. Sneakers from Sportsgirl | 3. Culottes from MinkPink | Skinnies from Decjuba | 5. Denim jacket from Katies

I’m Not Quite Ready To Wear A Leopard-Print Kaftan This Christmas

Full-Length Kaftan by MollyKaftans

How’s everyone faring in the depressing search for the perfect dress for Christmas parties and, ultimately, the big day?

I’m going to admit that – having trailed all the stores to the north of Sydney and exhausted the seemingly limitless stocks of The Iconic (and the patience of the very crabby lady at our local post office who handles my returns) – I’ve decided to opt for pants this year.

You see, I’ve reached the conclusion that there isn’t a dress waistband sturdy or stretchy enough to cope with the number of Pigs-In-Blankets and Christmas pud I intend to put in my belly this year.

I’ve also reached a level of post-winter, middle-aged lardiness where shift dresses in size 14 make me look like I’m wearing a tent – albeit that I haven’t quite reached the point of no return that is the Kaftan.

So this year, I figured that a smart pair of natural-colored culottes – neutrals are currently the rage in that center of fashion excellence commonly known as the Northern Beaches of Sydney – with the diamante-encrusted top I forage from the wardrobe every December, will do the trick. 

To be honest, I’m not fretting about my decision, not when to “dress up” in Australia can simply mean the choice of a pair of sandals over a pair of thongs. 

Unlike London, where the refusal to dress appropriately for an occasion is almost as disrespectful as not ordering the roast in the pub on Sunday – a cultural difference that I miss. Albeit that there few rules over there (and certainly no apologies) when it comes to daytime fashion – making it easier for middle-aged women stuck in that impasse of whether to dress for their age or wear what they bloody well want – there are rules about evening wear. Particularly at Christmas, when you wouldn’t be seen dead out at night in anything less sparkly than the Christmas Tree in Trafalgar Square.

And while their climate provides the mature woman with the perfect excuse to drown sagging boobs in voluminous jumpers and tuck escapee paunches into thick woolly tights – and trust me, it is possible to look stylish in winter woollies with such a vast range of jumpers and sturdy winter coats available in the shops – the British take fashion up a few notches at night. Unlike Sydney, where due to the climate or the laid-back culture – I’m not sure which – you’d struggle to spot a sequinned cocktail dress at the ballet.

But understandably, many British fashions simply wouldn’t work over here – and that’s not just because our seasons are out of kilter. Brits embrace color and elements of fun and quirkiness in their style – undoubtedly a concession to the climate – but that could be a terrifying prospect to the breed of middle-aged women who adhere to the motto that “black is the new black”. 

So, while in Britain, the little black dress has been ousted in favor of metallics, luxurious textures in deep reds, purples, and orange, and this year’s print of choice, the animal print – a design that I have avoided like the plague since I hit my fifties…because, cougars – I may have to place my leopard-print kaftan on hold until I reach the true zenith of not-giving-a-fuckery, (which I imagine will be closer to my sixtieth year). Although, admittedly, that time is starting to feel reassuringly closer.

Have you reached the point of no return?

The Best Skinny Jeans For Women That Aren’t Skinny

Not sponsored.

8757PWDE_BLACK_3_largeNothing gives a middle-aged woman more pleasure than great customer service. Perhaps, because we’ve been through the mill of life, getting hurt, feeling under-appreciated and losing friends we once believed to be loyal, given the right treatment, we are about as loyal as a royal Corgi.

And in my opinion, overall, customer service is improving in terms of the quality of staff and that horrid small print about our rights as consumers that we only seem to know about once we’ve lost our receipt.

However, when I returned a pair of new trousers this morning – that I’d worn over the weekend and for which I had thrown away the receipt – I’ll admit that I thought my chances of a credit note for them were as high as an apology from Trump for existing his speech yesterday.

With my trip to the UK at the forefront of my mind at the moment and my concern about Game Of Thrones-style Westeros weather, I’ve wasted a fair amount of time fretting about the limitations of my wardrobe. Here in Sydney, for most of the year we get by with layering – no layers for three seasons of the year and a couple of light layers in winter – but if memory serves me right, “layering” holds little sway in the northern hemisphere and its icy winds, unless they’re made from mammoth fur. Added to which, the weight I have gained this year from eating too much menopause, means that most of my trousers no longer fit.

So last weekend, I ditched my lifelong lie of ditching some weight before I buy new clothes – the lie I’ve told myself since I first discovered beer at university – and I bought myself what I thought was a sensible, safe new pair of cargo-style trousers, with an elastic waist.

E.L.A.S.T.I.C W.A.I.S.T… Sounds so good, doesn’t it? Almost sexual. Almost as good as “early night” or “more wine?”

And, understandably, I was excited to wear them, because nothing says “comfort” or “eat as much as you like,” like an elastic waist. So I did, for most of yesterday, until I discovered that “elastic waists” are not quite as efficient when their flexibility means that they don’t hold your trousers up, and after a day spent yanking them up in awkward places and generally fretting about them, I decided to take them back.

I’m lying, it was NC who convinced me to take them back – which is easy when you’re not the one trying to negotiate a credit on the basis of a design fault that may actually have much more to do with the bizarre shape of your body and which is guaranteed to leave the junior members of staff in your local shop, hating on you.

However, credit where credit it is due, the wonderful ladies in Decjuba, pretended to believe my story and, long story short, I came away with the most comfortable new sausage casing for my legs, EVAR! And they don’t fall down.

According to the lovely assistant that won the short straw of offering me help and advice (even though I was spending a suspect credit note), the Riley Stretch Skinny is their most popular style of skinny jeans – and she didn’t even add “with fussy, middle-aged woman with nothing better to do than give underpaid retail assistants a hard time.”  And I can understand why. Because, if like me you are forever searching for that elusive jean that makes your legs look skinny and long while absorbing the full wondrousness of your full-blown winter muffin top in comfort, these are the jean for you.

But, obviously… I can never go back to Decjuba.

Where Were The Boys From Queer Eye When Meghan Needed Them?

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Most Republicans and anti-Royalists would agree that having feigned disinterest in a royal wedding for months, there are only two reasons to surrender our idealism and watch it on the day:

  • The dress/dresses
  • The potential cock-ups

I know I sound bitter, and perhaps my honesty is not what you’d expect from a British citizen – nor one who physically lined up with the rest of Britain in the Mall for the wedding of Charles and Di. Nevertheless, the intolerance linked to ageing has released a niggling discomfort about the privilege, discrimination, hypocrisy, and refusal to move with the times of this family that is representative of the Commonwealth.

Admittedly, this royal wedding offered the greatest hope of making some of the necessary changes to this antiquated regime, and like many have commented before me, no one (who watched Harry follow his mother’s hearse) could wish the young prince anything other than well in his future with Meghan. And from what I’ve read about her, she represents what modern women (and particularly the royal family), need as a new female icon. 

And Britain does do pomp and ceremony spectacularly well – as it should, for it has had lots of practice at the expense of its taxpayers – so yesterday, anyone counting on potential cock-ups from half a congregation of commoners and Hollywood social climbers would have been sorely disappointed. There were few, if any opportunities, to make us all feel a little better about our status as commoners, other than Harry’s nervous comments to William, (translated by lip readers before Meghan arrived), the disrespectful reaction to the preacher by some, and the wonderful yawn of that cute, toothless page boy who stole the show.

And the fashion was SO deliciously British. I always forget how much the Brits love a splash of color – an attempt to counter those grey skies, I suspect. On such a stunning day in May, it was breathtaking to watch such a kaleidoscope of fashion risk, although Amal’s outfit stood out for me. To be honest, it would have been hard for anyone to ignore her confident strut down the path with an attractive man – I believe to be her husband. And Camilla always seems to get it right. That JuJu hat with its matching pink dress – compared by one journalist to a flamingo massacre – was the height of sophistication and style, as was the pistachio green outfit worn by the mother of the bride. Posh looked like she was going to a funeral – not the best advertisement for the head of a successful fashion empire – but then she did have to compete with David’s Botoxed boyish good looks, tats and fake tan.

Don’t hate me, but I have to admit to a twinge of disappointment as Meghan’s dress was unveiled, although I luuuurved her tiara and Stella McCartney evening dress. I’m not sure what she and Givenchy were trying to say by its classic simplicity – all the right things, I think – but it didn’t talk to me. I never expected her to flounce down the aisle in ruffles and crystals – and I’m certain that there was a list of rules of decorum that she had to abide by – but ‘boring’ sprang to my mind as I searched aimlessly for any tiny detail of her voice or personality.

That’s not to say that she didn’t look beautiful, but a small intervention from those boys at Queer Eye might have produced some froth and value for our taxes.

The Eternal Battle of Comfort V Style, And If I Really Have To Get Back Into My Jeans?

 

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Sportsgirl curtains, I mean, culotte pants.

 

DON’T MAKE ME, PLEASE DON’T MAKE ME try to get back into my jeans…

 

I dread this time of year as we approach winter and the weather turns in Sydney, because I have to think about squeezing my lardy-ass back into my jeans. Although currently, we are being lulled into the false sense of security posed by some beautiful, temperate Autumn days, anyone who has ever lived in Sydney will tell you that come June 1, we’ll be freezing. And it’s tricky to have to choose between warmth and style, especially when layering simply doesn’t cut it in beach houses not built to withstand winter.

 

And once again, my wobbly bits have defied my minimal attempts to shift them, refusing to miraculously disappear through the salad months of summer. Instead, they remain steadfastly fixed around my waistband, forcing my body into its annual battle with the suffocating constrictions of my winter wardrobe.

 

Comfort versus style. Comfort versus style…it is an eternal battle.

 

The problem with the comfort-thing is that while I know I should be ready for my pink cardie and Uggs – because my children tell me – I still like to look good when I go out. And when it comes to fashion – in spite of my age (and no doubt my children’s desire for me to dress appropriately for my age) – I like to stay on trend, albeit within the rules dictated by my age – apparently. MY rules, I hasten to add, NOT the rules laid out by young people for us. However, there is no denying that I have reached the stage of my life where I hate to feel uncomfortable.

 

Although I have, however, reached an acceptance of my body.  I do what I can to avoid gaining more weight, but I have come to terms with the fact that hormone changes, medications and an addiction to wine and Ben and Jerry’s Half Baked on a Friday night mean that I will never be the svelte size I was on my wedding day – and, to be honest, nor would I really want to be, because fat cells fill lines.

 

So at least 3kgs heavier than I was this time last year, there’s probably less chance of me squeezing into the un-forgiving clinginess of the drainpipe jeans I’ve worn for the past five years than the world’s media leaving Meghan Merkel and her dubious family the fuck alone – at least not without a sous-vide and an oxygen mask.

 

And in all honesty, why should I have to, when leggings exist?

 

I’ve struggled to understand the rap that leggings have received over the past few years. We can probably blame the collection of rather unsightly Kardashian camel toes in magazines or the association of the casual legwear with an attitude of not giving a fuck – and your point is? –  however, my feeling is that with a long top or dress and a pair of high boots, leggings can still look stylish on the pins of older women.

 

However, there is an alternative. Because much to NC’s initial horror, my saving grace in the trouser department this year has proved to be culottes or culotte pants as we call them here. Comfortable and stylish with flats or heels, they look chic without appearing too formal.

 

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Gingham and Heels Culottes

 

 

My first pair was a pin-striped pair from Uniqlo, and since then I have never looked back. In fact, they appear to have reproduced in my wardrobe. I now own the pair of crinkle crop pants from Sportsgirl (see image at top of my post) – that apparently remind the old man of his grandma’s curtains – a floral pair from Cotton On, and I recently acquired this more formal, khaki pair from Gingham and Heels  for those unmentionable days when the old man forces me to leave the house and work.

 

Middle Aged Clothes-Shopping Hell

big-1708092_1920Ahead of my birthday celebrations last weekend, I foolishly chose to waste a whole hour of my remaining lifetime on The Iconic, when I could have been catching up on The Bachelor and drooling over Matty J’s ass with NC. Needless, to say I drew a blank.

 

Now I’m not going to bag the Iconic site, necessarily, because this post is a general burn about the fashion available to middle-aged women and the continued gap in the market for the less subtle physical charms of our physiques and to be fair, they do offer some plus-size fashion.

 

But although I’m sure there was a time in history when it was acceptable for women to conceal their extra kilos in ruffles and frills, peasant tops, kaftans and gypsy dresses – Medieval times, if I’m not mistaken – that style does not work for everyone and at the moment it dominates the High Street. It doesn’t take a fashionista to know that “loose fitting” does not conceal – all it does, in fact, is highlight that you’re trying to hide “problem areas”. Think Elizabeth Taylor – frankly the only woman in the world that could pull off a kaftan and still look sexy.

 

If you’re not Gypsy Rose, don’t want to look like Fiona from Shrek, or aren’t brave enough to squeeze swollen breasts into crop tops and satin night dresses that make you look like a plus-size sex worker – currently en vogue and at the other end of the fashion spectrum – (KILL ME NOW!) – you probably need to migrate to a nudist colony. I like to think that I’m prepared to make the occasional fashion statement when I slip out of my yoga pants, but flashing stretch marks is not the sort of first impression I want to create, no matter how comfortable my fucking hormones have forced me to become in this new shape of mine.

 

I blame Game of Thrones – which brings me to the obvious question of what the fuck are Bishop sleeves about? As far as I can see, about the only thing they’re useful for is for storing food.

 

Anyway… once I decided for the gazillionth time that online clothes shopping is certain to trigger my first heart attack, I bravely headed out to the stores to try out some frills and spills in the vain hope that for once those (predominantly male) designers know what they’re talking about.


 Hmmm….you get my point.

 

This, my friends, is why I only buy shoes and cardigans these days, and why I’m feeling as twitchy as fuck at the flies and mosquitoes that herald the approach of summer because I won’t be able to layer. So I did what I always do when I have a “nothing to wear” low, and consoled myself with (wine) a new cushion mountain. But as the old man pointed out, there are only so many times you can wear a cushion cover as a top to the pub.

 

My needs have changed. I no longer crave to look young – that boat sailed a long time ago – but I do want to look tailored, sculpted, to have the promise of a fine wine rather than a cleanskin. Which is why shorts and short skirts disappeared from my wardrobe a few years back – not because I don’t have the legs, I hasten to add – indeed they remain the only part of my body whose BMI meets the current recommendations. But modern shorts are not tailored for “women” who chafe easily and have nether regions stretched beyond recognition from their reproductive duties.

 

Which is why I’m seriously torn about the current discourse about plus-size models on the catwalk promoting obesity. Fact: the average woman is a size 16 and it really makes it very difficult to imagine your body in something modeled by someone who has only ever dreamed of Mac n’ Cheese.

 

When I posted my frustration on my Facebook page, some lovely friends recommended the following sites, so  you might want to check them out:

Ezilbuy 

Cos Clothing 

Although, in the end, I played it safe and bought a classic, tailored white shirt which I wore over my favourite Zara skinnies (the best for stretchiness), which made me feel very dignified and not too try-hard until I dropped my fifth glass of Sangria down it. Unfortunately, I was upstaged by one of my best friends who wore exactly the same outfit – Bitch stole my look – but I won’t mention her name – FIONA – because I know how mortified she was and although I’ll never be a size 10 again, I try to remain a good friend.

The Fashion Mistakes Teenagers Need To Make

We’ve been through a lot of stuff with our son Kurt, as many of you know, and I can’t deny that there have been occasions when I’ve felt a tad wistful as I’ve walked down the street and spotted groups of clean-shaven, preppy-looking boys in their Polo shirts and boating shoes. musician-664432_1280

 

The weight of loss at my son’s refusal to conform was brought home to me the other day when I took Kurt shopping for some new clothes. Well, I say ‘new clothes’…however Kurt’s shopping destination of choice is an inner city suburb in Sydney called Newtown, a hip, trendy neighbourhood that you’d hate to find yourself in alone after 7pm unless you’re between the ages of 17 and 23, (hence stupid enough), armed, a drug addict or an impoverished student.

 

Kurt has always had an individual style. I remember that we went through his Dalmation phase when he was four or five, when he insisted on wearing a dog costume everywhere he went for at least two years; then there was the phase when he refused to wear anything other than NC’s summer school dress, (until the day the old man decided that enough was enough after Kurt paraded it in front of all our friends at a dinner party), and finally there was his Michael Jackson year with that much crotch-grabbing I wondered at one point if he’d ever be able to have children.

 

We have recently reached his ‘impoverished student’ phase, even though it must be hard for him to carry it off when he lodges with us in one of Sydney’s more exclusive suburbs.

 

Looking back, we all went through this stage. I remember wearing sexless, baggy tee-shirts and ripped jeans at university, in fact anything to disguise the fact that I was a middle-class girl with breasts and hips and not the working class heroine who could talk about the unfairness of life with some authority that I aspired to be. However, in those days we shopped in charity shops to earn our badge of poverty, unlike Kurt, who shops in vintage stores. And we all know that whenever you add the ‘vintage’ label to clothing, it doubles in price.

 

What this means is that I am effectively paying the same money for second-hand clothes as I would pay for the equivalent new clothes in a high street store.

 

I wouldn’t mind so much if his choice of ‘vintage’ wasn’t always the most deplorable, kitsch, eighties-style, insult to fashion you can imagine – the sort of shite you beg, steal and borrow for an Abba party. Yes, I’m talking shell suits, headbands, patterned knitted jumpers and cardigans and button-fly Levi jeans.

 

It hurt me physically to part with the cash on the day and I sensed that even the heavily pierced assistant with the purple hair and tattoo sleeve felt some empathy for me when I moaned about it, sounding every inch as middle-aged as I felt while Kurt writhed with embarrassment beside me.

 

Just another stage, I reassured myself as we left. I know I need to encourage my son’s freedom of expression but it did hurt to watch him leave the shop looking like he needed new clothes.

Finding The Perfect Cocktail Dress At Fifty

Exciting! I remember thinking facetiously as I ripped open the invitation to my father’s third wedding, which takes place in London this week – (hence journey from hell mentioned in previous post) – unable to repress the feeling  of being every inch the middle-aged Cinderella, when it dawned on me I’d need a dress.

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Eat your heart out, Kate Moss!

And not just any dress, but a cocktail dress.

 

To be followed by a loud fuck (!) and a serious wallow in ‘I’ve got nothing to wear-land’ when I also remembered who else from the fam was going and why I had zero chance of being one of the belles at this particular ball with stunning future step-mom, beautiful (much) younger sister, new potential sister-in-law (close in age to NC) and a couple of new step-sisters’ who are far from being wicked.

 

And then there’s the fact that I’m more of a leggings and tee kind of a girl.

 

And it was blatantly clear that the Pretty Woman moment where your man says ‘you need a dress’ and points you in the direction of the most expensive boutiques, just wasn’t going to happen.

 

Finding the perfect cocktail dress is testing at any stage of your life; at fifty-plus, it’s terrifying. You only have to look at some of the monstrosities at the recent Met Gala, where the women have money and stylists! 

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Registry office wear

 

And  I really fancied dressing to impress for what may be my father’s last wedding. I wanted the posh frock – something we rarely get the chance to wear out here in flip flop/thong land.

 

But eventually I got myself some Helen Mirren balls and decided to visualise myself as the fifty-something version of Kate Moss, rather than Olive Kitteridge.

 

And I actually started to feel excited. Right up until the finance Nazi got involved, rapped my knuckles by spelling out the impracticality of spending a fortune on a dress I would wear once, and came up with some ridiculous budget to aim for.

 

Which was obviously plain silly, because like fine wine, evening dresses don’t come cheap when you’re a woman of a certain year and size…and I’d used up my lace card at my father’s birthday party last year and just about every fucking cocktail dress in the shops was lace …and did I mention that it is a principle of mine never to buy from any shop that suggests my body is a size 14 rather than a 12, which narrowed my choice by about eighty per cent?

 

But not one to be defeated, I tried on a lot of dresses, growled in front of a lot of very unflattering changing room mirrors and swore that I would lose weight. But then…food. In desperation I even looked above budget, and if you have a caring, giving partner and $300-$500, I strongly recommend Myer’s Montique brand or Karen Millen as a great starting point.

 

But the thought of listening to the old man’s moans of grief when he checked out our bank statement was enough to bring me back to reality.

 

I couldn’t even decide on a colour. ‘Red’ made me look like I should be in the Pretty Woman cast, ‘maroon’ washed me out and ‘blue’ wouldn’t match my shoes. At one point I even hunted out an old Cue dress I’d worn for Melbourne Cup a few years ago, starved myself on cabbage soup for a week and cut my wine allowance by half – sadly, the zip on the side still refused to budget.

 

So this is the final result, ladies – a black and cream classic from Portmans at a very budget-friendly $99.95, which although really a work dress, I’m glamming up with some huge cream drop earrings. I’m still not sold on the floppy hat for the registry office, and it turns out that my half-priced raincoat from Gap is not waterproof, (so let us all unite and pray for uncommon occurrence in London of sunshine, please), but this girl IS going to that ball.

 

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‘Evening Wear’

Photos patiently (!) taken by Kurt in exchange for a box of Goon.

 

Style SOS: Can I Still Wear Leather Now I’m Middle-Aged?

For all this newfound confidence in my middle-aged style,  (here), as NC often reminds me, (because one of the reasons God gifts us intelligent adult daughters is for them to consistently rip us apart by reminding us about our failings), occasionally I’ve come a cropper with my style evolution/revolution. 

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Sandy from Grease, anyone?

At the moment I’ve got this crazy thing about black leather biker jackets. So you see my problem.

 

Nc will remind me about when I told her you couldn’t possibly mix black with brown, or when I decided that ankle boots were only a fad, and one which I was way too old for – because the last time I’d worn a mid calf boot was back in the eighties, during my Madonna days, when my lace up booties looked really quite resplendent with my permed hair, head scarf, baggy shirt and pencil skirt.

 

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Like A Virgin Kymsara Rayna @flickr.com

And before anyone gets on their high horse about middle-aged women being allowed to wear whatever they damned well choose, let me say for the record that I’m all for that….BUT…(and hear me out here)…there are a few looks that make me just that little bit queasy.

 

Which is not to say that NO-ONE can wear them. I have a tall, super-elegant Indian friend who would look fuck-off fabulous in a sack… and I hate her.

 

So here are the six items of clothing I’m careful about splurging on now I’m fifty-…:

 

Leather – as I mentioned above, the black leather biker jacket is everywhere in the high street at the moment, and if you knew how many times I’ve hovered over them longingly… but something…and I think it might be THAT look from the young retail assistant… stops me in my tracks. Even though… another equally luscious, long-legged, blonde friend of mine rocks leather pants…

 

Methinks it’s time to change my friendship group.

 

Denim jackets – I know many women, as well as successful fashion bloggers my age, that still support the denim jacket. So why is it that when I put one on I feel like such student and I didn’t even wear them when I was a student?

 

Mini Skirts – I admit that with my recent surge of confidence I’ve raised my hem level over the past two summers, but only when I wear flats or sandals, in spite of what the Sex and The City girls got away with. I just can’t do the mini skirt with heels look anymore, because frankly I look like a sex worker – my body simply says no, it feels all wrong… young-woman-1268531_1280

 

Crop tops – … just no.

 

G Strings – I’d be lying if I said that my personal decision not to wear a G string has anything to do with style, when it’s so obviously a ‘comfort/hygiene’ thing, (because how the fuck can it be good for you to have string stuck up your crack all day?). But does anyone really think G strings look attractive on old bums?

 

Platform shoes – Unless you’re vertically challenged, (and I know I’ll be accused of being an old fuddy-duddy for suggesting this by aforementioned daughter), but what is the science behind adding a two-inch platform to the sole of your shoe? It looks clumpy and trashy even on younger women… so on the mature woman…

 

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Studded platform shoes by Lynn Friedman @flickr.com

 

Now in our day, we wore real platform shoes.

 

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Elton John: Platform Boots by Craig Cutler @flickr.com

 

Anything you’d like to add to the list?

Help! When Your Fashion Sense Screams You’re Middle-Aged

According to this hugely influential source, 10 Things Style Errors That Make You Look Older, the common woollen cardie is ageing on middle-aged women; which means I instantly lose all my middle-aged fashionista credentials.

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Matrix cardie – Ha! Bloody Ha!

 

 

Because I love me a nice cardie.

 

If Madonna needs to wear a cardie to show she’s grown up in order to improve her relationship with her teenage son, as recommended by one writer recently, I’ve obviously been middle-aged my whole life if wearing cardigans is a reliable yardstick with which to judge. 

 

The cardigan has always been a staple of my wardrobe – I bloody love them! – a passion that may hark back to my British heritage and being frocked up from an early age in Laura Ashley dresses with matching cardies; or may have something to do with my shocking circulation, (up until the recent body thermostat issues, that is, at the hands of Menopause). I’m always cold, you see, and just as toasties are my favourite go-to comfort snack, the cardie is my go-to clothing for comfort.

 

Cardies seem to reproduce in my wardrobe with the speed of rabbits, and in almost every conceivable shade; not bad when you consider I live in a city which has an average temperature of 28 degrees.

 

I’ve recently progressed to the less Nana, I like to think, more sophisticated, full-length version which I secretly believe gives me more height and makes me look grander; as well as the sleeveless cardie which looks stylish in Autumn and the first chill in the air – although in practical terms I’ve discovered a loophole in the design, because you can only wear a sleeveless when its too warm for a real cardie, and then the rest of your body gets too bloody hot.

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The Sleeve- Less Cardie

 

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Power-cardie by Alannah Hill

I have an Alannah Hill cardie that I almost sold my children for to afford because I believed it would be a great power-cardie for work, that I’ve sadly never worn… and I really don’t know why.

 

The boys do their Keanu Reeves Matrix impression whenever I wear my long black cardie, which was my first-born, full-length cardie and has been stitched up several times at the cardie hospital, yet nevertheless has served me loyally.

 

This neutral cardie came from French Connectionlurving FC at the moment – and is soft and light, long and floaty, the only problem being that it is SO LONG it gets caught up in my heels, which provoked a very embarrassing moment recently when I tripped up the stairs to my favourite local Asian restaurant.

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French Connection cardie

 

Luckily, they know I’m a big drinker and barely batted an eyelid.

 

I bought my khaki sleeveless (above) at Zara recently, which looked a shade of copper in the shop and once I got it home I realised it coordinates with absolutely fuck all in my wardrobe, apart from black. Luckily most of my wardrobe is highly funereal for obvious slimming reasons.

 

This grey, woolly mammoth (below) from Witchery adds about ten kilos to my frame but is great for those winter evenings or hormonal humps when all you want to do is hide yourself away, eat loads of pasta, drink hot chocolate and languish in warmth.

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Woolly Mammoth cardie

 

This very yellow, little mustard number was retrieved from a local market, and although it’s an odd color, I admit, (and is extremely reminiscent of the Princess’s puke on an empty stomach), I’ve worn it to death.

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Putrid-Yellow Cardie

 

And finally, there’s my very safe, caramel mid-length cardie, my all-time favourite because the relaxing but classic colour combo of caramel and black are the colours I feel most comfortable in. It was taking a nap at the time of these photos.

 

And when you feel comfortable, you look good.

 

What’s your favourite piece of clothing?

 

(Images provided by NC. No cardies were hurt during this very professional photo-shoot)

Susan Sarandon’s Lovely Lady Lumps

Shock! Horror! A woman ‘over a certain age’ dared to brazenly display her cleavage in public. Apparently, this is far more controversial news than ISIL’s latest terrorism threats, because it’s not even like Susan Sarandon is some cheap B List celebrity that needs the publicity. vintage-931540_1280

Liberated mammaries are usually celebrated. They usually serve the purpose of titillating, (if you’ll excuse the pun), rather than horrifying. And it’s not that Sarandon doesn’t have a fine, generously proportioned pair to display.

 

But it’s her age, you see. She’s just too old to be flaunting her physical assets.

 

It’s simply not acceptable for the mature woman to consider herself as an attractive, sexual being, or to take pride in her body. It makes young people feel a bit icky and men feel like they’re ogling their mummies.

 

Once we hit fifty, we should know that it’s all over for us. We’re supposed to switch off physically when our periods stop, to wilt away and protect the public eye from such heinous sights as eye bags, saggy skin and wrinkles.

 

But the reality is, we don’t. Stop caring, that is. Not these days. Because mentally we actually don’t feel that dissimilar to how we did in our thirties. Sure, some women may grab at the excuse to become more invisible (physically) and the opportunity to become noticed for their other attributes. But for others – those that enjoy the femininity and theatre of fashion, style and self-expression – why do things have to change?

 

Public perception.

 

Did you know that society has created a whole list of rules about what we can and can’t wear once we reach middle age? I myself have been guilty of kowtowing to those rules, not questioning how anyone has the right to tell me what to wear.

 

It’s no secret that looking stylish after a ‘certain age’ is made harder by the limited offerings of the retail giants that dictate the fashion market, yet refuse to accept that much of the female population is not a size 8, nor do they want to walk around in denim cut-offs.

 

But that doesn’t mean we have to surrender.

 

For the first time in thirty years I wore a bikini this year. Admittedly, it was more of a sport’s bikini than an itsy-bitsy – with its fifties style knickers and sports bra top that help restrain the wobbly bits that make me so self-conscious – but I felt brave.

 

Would I have the confidence to pull off Sarandon’s look?

 

Yes, probably, if I had THAT suit. The cut of that suit needed ‘something’ – a bit of sass – in a statement accessory or bling. Sarandon chose to use her natural assets and her inner confidence to finish her outfit.

 

And she bloody well owned it. She looked like a strong, elegant, confident woman, aware of the power of her success and sexuality.

 

And it was absolutely terrifying for those who haven’t moved beyond the fifties ideology of women as the obedient birthing vessel/housewife, resplendent in their flowing dresses, waiting in the kitchen with open arms to welcome the family home for dinner.

Stylish, Shifty Summer Dresses For Middle Aged Women

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STEVIE MAY Dont Tassle Me Dress (Myer)

There’s a hideous, fine line to tread when you’re middle-aged and decide to wear a floaty, summer dress. It’s the line between looking ‘hot’ and looking like a sack of potatoes. 

Shifty Summer Dresses For Middle-Aged Women
TRENT NATHAN Splice Panel Shift Dress (Myer)

Especially if you’re vertically-challenged like me, as well as being over-forty.

I really like the idea of dresses for this summer, (which promises to be a scorcher here in Australia), mainly because I feel too over-exposed in shorts these days, but also because I don’t want the VERY visible panty line of my granny-knickers demonstrating just how much I don’t care.

But sadly, wrapping swathes of excess fabric around the Ruben-esque physique can be a perilous risk, because it can make me look actually bigger than I am, and I’ve never been able to wear anything waisted or belted at the waist because I’ve never had a waist.

Shifty Summer Dresses For Middle-Aged Women
Tie Waist Rib Dress (Country Road)

I had hoped that when maxi dresses came back into fashion a couple of years ago, I was sorted. Maxi dresses are the western version of the Burqa and ideal for the middle-aged woman who likes to be invisible, thank you very much.

But if it’s possible, they make me look shorter and dumpier than I am. I’ve also tried the Victoria Beckham-style condom, hoping it would suck all my curves into submission, but frankly, I’m too old for that level of torture. So what a relief when I noticed that some of the high street shops such as Cue, here in Oz, have brought in some rather cute little shift dresses this season.

The shift dress is the middle-aged woman’s BFF.

Shift dresses don’t get around the problem that the high street stores, in general, (by refusing to cater for women over a certain age, even though that’s where the money lies, bitches), seem to think we older women still want to wear dresses that flaunt our sagging butt cheeks and no-entry vaginas… but it’s a move in the right direction.

If the hemline is short, however, and you’re nudging or over-50, and really don’t want to look like a hooker, can I suggest flats with these dresses rather than fuck-me slingbacks that the models pose in.

Shifty Summer Dresses For Middle-Aged Women
Spliced Lace Flare Hem Dress by Cue

Anyhow, I’ve had a browse on your behalf and found a few cute little dresses that I’m going to try out next time the old man is forced to give me money for sexual favours. Don’t be afraid of the gangly models in these photos with their legs up to their ears – they are actually martians sent to test our superior strength. We all know that REAL women don’t look like that, nor would we want to look like that…except when it comes to being able to see at concerts

Let me know if any of these styles tickle your fancy because I’m tempted to bury my last ounces of self-esteem and go try them out NOW.

I’m feeling stronger. Hell! I went swimming costume shopping a few weeks ago. 

Shifty Summer Dresses For Middle-Aged Women
WAYNE BY WAYNE COOPER
Silver Cut Out Neck Shift Dress

Shifty Summer Dresses For Middle-Aged Women
Contrast Lace Shift Dress by Cue

Shifty Summer Dresses For Middle-Aged Women
Print Wedge Dress by Country Road

Shifty Summer Dresses For Middle-Aged Women
Spliced Dress by Witchery

The Annual Torture Of Buying Swimwear When You’re Middle-Aged

We’re approaching summer here in Sydney and my annual fear of publicly outing the middle-aged, cuddly bod, to a beach full of unsuspecting and judgmental sunbathers already has me reeling with fear.

The Annual Torture Of Buying Swimmers In Middle Age

 

I moved to Australia for the temperate climate but as much as I love the water, the idea of posing in swimmers and having to hold in the muffin top for most of the weekend, is hardly a relaxing idea.

It seems I’m destined to write this ‘buying swimmers’ post each year, because I know that I can’t be the only middle-aged woman out there who would prefer to disappear on leave with Tony Abbott than try on swimming costumes.

At the end of every summer season I swear that the following year I will opt for the burqini or don a kaftan, yet here I am again, the vanity of wanting to add some colour to my sallow, English skin forcing me into apparel designed for the young and nubile.

I get sucked in by the ads, you see. What wafer-thin model doesn’t look good in swimmers? As soon as Jets and Seafolly reveal their new range of full-pieces, I get excited, kidding myself that this year things will be different.

Even though they never are …unless I had the spare cash to spend on some blood-constricting, Spanx-style miracle suit, I imagine; a snip at only $300.

Nevertheless, this year I started out with a positive outlook. The experience couldn’t be any worse than last year, I kidded myself, and I know I’ve gained weight so I wasn’t exactly expecting Elle McPherson to peer back at me from the torture chamber changing room mirror. So I confidently dragged an assortment of full-pieces and tankinis ranging in price from $60 to $120 back to my secret lair of doom.

The Annual Torture Of Buying Swimmers In Middle Age
Burkqini by Giorgio Montersino at http://www.flickr.com

They’re crafty, those swimwear designers. The $60 generic swimsuits fitted my body surprisingly well, but in terms of design, they had obviously been created for nanas. With their thick, wide straps, over-zealous padding in the boob area and the fugliest patterns on the front panel, (that would have looked much better on curtains in a nursing home), I just couldn’t give up that easily.

So I moved to the tankini, my favourite type of swimmers, the obvious advantage being that if like me, you need to pee every twenty minutes at the sight and sound of moving water, they’re quick and easy to disrobe. But again, while most designers make tankini tops to support lumpy, middle-aged breasts with enough boning and lycra to crush the muffin top into submission, the bottoms don’t get even close to covering a real bush.

Fifteen costumes and what felt like two hours of body contortion later, I decided that enough was enough and that if I really wanted to torture myself I could give up wine for another evening.

The Fabulousness Of Clothes Shopping When You Don’t Actually Need Anything

Found on seedheritage.com
Found on seedheritage.com

The old man gave up on buying me a proper birthday present a long time ago. He will tell you it’s because I’m fussy and difficult (and probably, a complete bitch), but basically it’s because he has no fucking idea (see previous post), and I would end up disappointed that he had wasted valuable shopping money on something I wouldn’t be seen dead in.

So what we’ve agreed on is that he gives me a token gift to open on the day (which I look suitably appalled at) – this year it was a dead bunch of flowers and a card that somewhere in his planning he had forgotten to sign – and he also allows me access to a guilt-free wad of cash from the bank, to (his words) waste at the local mall.

Another reason why men must have come from fucking Mars, is that he simply doesn’t get the whole clothes shopping thing, particularly the aspect of buying something you don’t really need.

And this is what I am living with on a daily basis.

Luckily, therapy has stopped me from him making me feel guilty and spoiling all my fun, and so a few days ago I set off to the shops to spend my wad, an excited glow lighting up what has become a habitual greyness around my middle-aged face.

One thing he was right about, was that I didn’t really need anything – but that was actually great because it took the pressure right off.

I took along with me my own advice about shopping for quality rather than quantity now that I’m fifty and mature and dragged myself away from my usual high street faves like Zara and headed instead towards the grown up end of town and David Jones.

I’m not actually a wasteful shopper. There are very few clothes in my wardrobe that I’ve NEVER worn and many of them I’ve worn for years. Well, apart from the black and caramel striped jacket that Kurt says I look like a bee in, several pairs of shoes I’ve bought at the market that I was hoping might someday fit my bigger than Asian feet and several tops that I think make me look fat – chosen hastily in changing rooms with trick lighting or bad mirrors. Or perhaps I was having my period. Or I just needed to buy something.

Found on seedheritage.com
Found on seedheritage.com

I also start to feel a little queasy at spending close to the $100 mark on one item.

But it goes without saying that I couldn’t NOT go to ‘Seed‘. I’ve mentioned my obsession with the Seed brand on my blog before, because I think it personifies me. Most of the range is in my colour scheme of black, cream and caramel, (apart from this shitty khaki green shade they insist on using, which I’m sure I can adapt to, given the time). But what I really love about Seed is that it offers more shades of cream than Dulux, the perfect range of linens and silks and and fucking loads of black, which is my comfort colour.

So, of course the minute I entered it’s haloed doors I just fell in love with this to-die-for black skirt because I decided recently that I need to get my legs out more as they are the only part of my body that hasn’t been swollen by hormones or etched with lines. Then I found this sleeveless jumper that makes my boobs actually look illogically pert AND BIG, and I’ve always loved that cut on the shoulders. And I could have gone on and on but wisely decided to head to DJs at that point because they have a Champagne bar there and as we all know, shopping can be a very stressful business.

Found on frenchconnection.com.au
Found on frenchconnection.com.au

Fortified by bubbles, I was on a roll and found this cute top in French Connection which, admittedly looked pretty shite on the hanger, but I knew would sit so nicely in the cream section of my wardrobe, and when I put it on I realised it’s one of those versatile tops you can dress up with nice trousers or down with shorts, and most importantly it will hide my muffin top without looking like that’s why I bought it.

It never ceases to amaze me how many clothes you can buy that you don’t actually need.