“I loathe narcissism, but I approve of vanity.” Diana Vreeland
Black is the color of my wardrobe. Almost all of it is black, black slacks, blacks tops, black jackets and black sweaters. That is my “canvas”, the background for my colorful collection of jewelry.
That is not to say I don’t have any other clothes. I do have a few pairs of jeans, some sweat shirts and T-Shirts (I especially love our “Vegas Attitude” T-shirt), and some summer tops – but these are always worn with black slacks or jeans.
I learned this method of dressing in black from Joan Rivers, the Queen of Classic Dressing. But unfortunately she has now branched out into colors and prints – and too many low-cut, strapless, and/or bright colored gowns quite unsuitable for her. I wish she would go back to wearing her “canvas” black. She was so spectacular in showing off her jewelry against the black “canvas” of her clothing. That is what made the sale – nothing shows off a piece of jewelry as well as black. And it is time that she started wearing lower heels. I realize she is very tiny, but I do worry about her falling and breaking a hip – something that happens too often to older women.
And, of course, Chanel was the epitome of wearing classic solid colors, mostly black. These days I often pass a Chanel Store, at least once a week, and am so saddened by the clothing shown. I think Chanel would also be sad to see her name used on clothing that really negates what she was all about.
“A woman has the age she deserves” Coco Chanel
Anyway, I wear black for other reasons than just my jewelry. Being a Celtic Wedding Officiant I feel I owe it to the couple not to clash with the bride, the groom, and/or the wedding party. Seeing Wedding Officiants wearing bright colors, or flowery dresses really takes away from the bride who may be wearing a very simple dress.
And, as an Ordained Minister, black is the color I choose to wear when appearing in front of a congregation. Of course my black shirt and white clergy collar keep me from competing with the parishioners.
But, putting all that aside, I believe black is the perfect “canvas” for a pearl necklace, a beautiful colored crystal pin or crystal bead necklace. The black shows off everything so beautifully. As a very famous costume jeweler has said – “Too much ain’t enough”. And against black it never appears to be too much, however much you wear.
Women of a certain age (let us say between 50 and 90) should dress as an example for other women of the same or similar age, or even for younger women coming up the ladder of age. Too much of women’s clothing these days is geared to the youth and the woman who is starving herself to death so she can squeeze into that size O or 2 – if you don’t believe me just really take time to watch “The Devil Wears Prada” or any movie/episode of “Sex and the City”. Real women don’t starve themselves to wear the smallest size, real women don’t mind having curves, and looking like a woman. Look at Lisa Vanderpump, (on “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills”) she is a beautiful older woman who doesn’t look emaciated. In my opinion she wears her dresses too short and her heels too high, and she wears a lot of color in the pink range, her favorite color I imagine – but she is a beautiful woman of a “certain” age (she has been married over 29 years to the same man). She shows up all the other women on the show, especially those that are younger.
Another woman who is a mentor to me is the Jewelry Designer, Joan Boyce. Boyce is a very successful woman in her own right, married almost 50 years, and while she doesn’t state exactly how old she is, she hints that she is an older woman. She is gorgeous, wears mostly black or charcoal as a “canvas” for her fantastic jewelry, and isn’t afraid to say so when she doesn’t want to stand up in front of a TV camera because she is wearing her comfortable shoes. While she never lets on, an astute viewer watching her can see that she has many of the normal aging problems. Perhaps some arthritis, bad back, feet that hurt from too many years of wearing high heels, and bad eyes. I love her very large glasses, and she does admit to being quite nearsighted. She and I would both be blind without our glasses. As the late Carrie Donovan (1928-2001 and spokesperson for Old Navy) said “If you have to wear glasses, make them noticeable”. She was known for her very large red or black framed glasses.
Who else inspires me? Well there is Judi Dench, born in 1934 and growing more beautiful every day; Maggie Smith, born in 1934 and still working hard (see her in the “Harry Potter” movies) even after her bout with cancer; Beatrice Woods, who lived to the age of 105 and had a gathering at her home just few days before she died; Marge Champion, born in 1919 (she was recently profiled in an Issue of “O” Magazine) is so lovely, and there are many more women who have reached that wonderful “certain” age.
As I’ve stated in a previous post, age is all in the mind. Right now I am forever an age between 25 and 30 and will be to the day I die. Yes there are aches and pains, yes the eyes are not much good any more (well to be truthful they never were any good), and yes I have put on a few pounds, but I am still that young woman who loves high heels, tight clothes – but never short, lots of handbags, planners, and anything that is feminine.
But we all reach a time when we must change or suffer the consequences. Lately several of my friends have suffered broken bones from falling – at least 2 of them fell while coming down a flight of stairs in high heels, 3 of them tripped over their dogs, and a few others fell simply because they were too vain to wear their glasses. Is a broken foot, broken leg, or broken hip worth the vanity of vanities?
Food for Thought – If you are carrying a basket of laundry up or down the stairs and can’t hold the handrail, why not put the clothes in some plastic grocery bags and carry them up or down the stairs holding the handle of the bag, AND the handrail.
Here are some suggestions to help women get over their aging phobias:
- Stop wearing high heels when you find yourself holding on too hard to something sturdy when you have to get up from a table or go up and down a flight of stairs.
- Wear your glasses when you are driving, going up or down the stairs, etc. It makes you look even older if you are trying to read something and can’t hold it far enough away from you. Glasses can be beautiful –
- Stop wearing mini-skirts after the age of 16 (even that may be too old seeing how some of the young girls look these days). And if you are over 30 or 35 – mini-skirts only make you look older, not younger. It is especially difficult to watch a woman wearing 5 inch heels and a mini-skirt. She is moving forward on her heels, and trying to pull her skirt down at the same time. Not a good sight.
- If you have a tattoo, something I don’t oppose in general, you should try to cover it up when dressing for success – unless of course your name is Kat or Rise and you are known by your tattoos.
- Tons of makeup is for the movies, the stage, or the young. Wearing a lot of makeup will not make you look younger, just the opposite. It will make you look older and strange. Look at photos of Diana Vreeland. Or watch “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?”
- And most of all, enjoy your life, enjoy your age, enjoy your home, your car, your everything. Women spend too much time on “what might or could have been” instead of truly enjoying “what is”. If your children are all grown and don’t make contact with you as often as you would like (and I don’t mean everyday – once a week is plenty) then build a new group of young people. Surround yourself with young women who need a mentor.
For me life is so good, even if I do wear black clothes and low heels every day – because black is only the canvas for my life – it is what I put in and on that canvas that really matters. Is your canvas blank, dull and drab – even if it is full of color – or does your canvas sparkle and glow with joy?
We all need some shine and sparkle in our lives, so sprinkle a little Stardust out to the world, stand outside your door and say, as I do each morning –
“Today is a mystical, magical day of miracles, a day of abundance and prosperity, a day when all of my dreams will come true” Aurore Leigh Barrett