A fine site

Finding Suitable Clothes

Iris Appel in her oversized glasses and bold boas has been in the fashion news later. And although I’m never impressed by too loud or. Overly extravagant clothing , at age 95, she is worth a second look. In a recent interview, she addresses the fact that there are not really great choices in clothing for “ mature” or older women. I absolutely agree. Whether checking out cheap pieces or even ready to dole out big bucks. I find it frustrating to locate something that wows- even subtlety.In fact, most outfits are geared towards much younger women, and surprisingly, prices are such that I gasp, incredulous that those who still own their youthful shapes have the big bucks to pay for these adventures in fashion.

I’ve always looked at fashion as wearable art. When the trend turned clothes inside out so one could see how the piece was put together , coupling the process with the product, I was impressed. People have always appreciated fine craftsmanship and design, but to declare it on the outside rather than keep it hidden in the seams of a garment required a fresh and interesting approach.Today, a zipper will not recede behind a placket, but may be employed as part of the sartorial statement. Come des Garçons years ago exaggerated , folded and used cloth in unique ways, changing and obscuring the actual shape of the wearer. Now I’m not asking for such dramatic inversions, but something that flatters the female form: that has sadly softened, sagged and morphed over time.

Clothes matter and many people I know still “ dress up” when they have occasion that requires more than jeans- although designer jeans or ones festooned with jewels or embroidery can look pretty spectacular. Maybe that also means more attention to fixing one’s hair, a special piece of jewellery or a dress kept at the back of their cupboard only taken out when a little glam is required. But unless you are an executive who is presenting to an audience on a fairly regularly or consulting with clients, it’s unlikely you put great effort into work clothes on a daily basis. In fact, my daughter tells me the techies at her firm look as if they have rolled out of bed, hair askew and in combinations that might as well be their pyjamas.

However, if you are over 60 and hit the shops, it is difficult to discover something chic and I hope that like me, you have hung on to some old pieces, now considered “ retro” to which you can return when you need to dress up just a little.

Clothes hold special meaning- at least for me. My earliest memory of an outfit is of a rose red suit my mother knit for me when I was 13. I had been invited to a bar mitzvah. That would have given her a 6 week leeway so likely she would have begun her work months before the event because a pleated skirt that swirls has hundreds and hundreds of stitches alone. Sometimes.I imagined her like the elves that appeared at night in a fairytale , spinning hay into gold thread. When she completed the skirt, I recall it felt heavy but hung perfectly with three levels of symmetrical pleats overlapping. . The jacket to me resembled a Chanel double- breasted trimmed topper with the most luxuriest of wools, in the barely affordable angora wool. She would have been able to purchase only one tiny ball ( no doubt scarfing it up on sale and saving it for a later creation) so likely the trim at the edges must have been composed of only two, or maybe three rows. I worried she wouldn’t be finished in time, but she of course, she did. And in spite of all the rich girls attending the festivities, I felt proud and elegant in my suit.

Of course since then, there have been other dresses. Of special note was a three piece velvet ensemble tastefully enhanced with a few well placed gold embroidery pieces by a now defunct company called Mondi. I first glimpsed the outfit in the pages of a magazine, and gasped out loud. I thought it so beautiful, the textures so rich, yet elegant that I knew I must possess it

As if captured by an addictive drug, I searched for that outfit everywhere. But sadly when I located a shop where the startling ensemble was sold, the price was prohibitive. So I stocked that outfit, visiting it every few months, hoping it would not be sold, and maybe should I be lucky, find the cost reduced. Months passed and seasons changed along with the trends. And eventually the pieces did go on sale and then thankfully, deeper reductions were added ( although I could not comprehend why some socialite hadn’t fallen in love with the ensemble) , until my guardian angel must have whispered in my ear, keeping it safe for only me from the hands of other covetous shoppers, until I could seek my reward for patient waiting.

When my husband and I were invited to have dinner on the royal yacht Britannia when Prince Charles and Diana were still together, I proudly wore the exquisite jacket and matching cami, renting a long skirt as required by royal protocol. Although Diana looked spectacular in her own black silk dress with the hugest pearl earrings I’ve ever gasped at, I felt great in my ½ outfit, my Mondi fantasy.

I like to be noticed in my clothes, again not brazenly, but to be considered well put together. For that, I commandeer my artist’s eye, and consider the colour or tones ( usually white, black or a subdued shade), a contrast of textures rough and rich and something eye catching. Besides my passion for art, perhaps my obsession, harks back to the millions of paper dolls I cut out as a child, creating new and unusual dresses for them. I don’t recall playing dress up, for likely my mother’s old clothes were stored at the back of her cupboard awaiting an opportunity to be taken out for a stroll; and not rearranged or dragged about by her child in play. But my mother would comment on the overwhelming heap of paper scraps that overflowed everywhere. And she too often demurred about the days of her youth, when she helped her own dressmaker design uneven hemlines, snoods, decades before they were popularized in pedestrian fashion.

Yet now as a “mature” lady myself, I ponder that it cannot be that difficult to hide the overflowing 😊figure flaws one assumes with age, and I don’t mean squeezing the body into Spanx so you cannot breathe or pee. I’m talking about flattering necklines and shifts with dropped waists that do not remind one that their mid sections have expanded and that their boobs no longer are perky. For women my age, shopping for a new frock is a horror, not a delight and so we must return alas! to scour our own cupboards making do with a golden oldie or begging a dressmaker to let out seams so that the over stretched cloth will conform to a now enlarged body.

I truly don’t get it: why designers haven’t cottoned on to the needs of my boomer group, most with a bit of cash to pay out for a beautiful flattering dress. No wonder, there is such a focus on dieting: so that you can fit into a younger style; or conversely just throw on shapeless items to avoid revealing any strange dislocations in your form. I guess that is the reason for your aunt Minnie in Miami wearing terrible tropical muumuus. The For my generation whose heads at 69 and 70 still feel bright and active and young, the fashion industry should take a hard look and create anew for us

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