There are some obvious, yet subtle signs of getting older such as the occasional gray hair here and, well, there; your mom transitioning from fearing you’ll have an unplanned pregnancy to hoping you will because it may be her only chance at a grandchild before your ovaries dry up; going to bed at 10 pm on weeknights. You know, things like that; they sort of creep up on you. But then sometimes getting older slaps you in the face.
I remember the day I first walked into Coldwater Creek, store for women. The memory is burned into my brain. The moment I crossed the threshold all my internal alarms sounded and I thought, “I don’t belong here! Look at all the turtlenecks and ankle length jean skirts; there are tweed jackets and blazers with “funky” prints as far as the eye can see. The walls are filled with posters of women in body covering trench coats throwing leaves in the air. Where are the women dancing with low-cut tops and skirts so short you could see their hoo-ha if they walk too fast? Why are the models all weight appropriate? Where is the super loud music and over saturated perfume smell? All the women shopping here look like my 7th grade guidance counselor. I have to get out of here!”
I turned to leave and realized I needed to pull myself together; I had a business transaction to make. I plunged forward into the soft earth tones and sounds of light, peaceful music to return the scarf my sister-in-law had gotten me for Christmas.
I approached the counter, dodging displays decorated with pinecones and vanilla beans and signs imploring me to use a wide belt to cinch my cow neck sweaters. The woman at the register had the peaceful vibe of a yoga master as she informed me I was only eligible for store credit.
“Forty-five dollars worth of store credit? What the hell was I going to buy at Coldwater Creaky Bones?” I thought. I longed for cold, hard cash.
I headed straight for the socks, an age neutral option. As I moved toward the back of the store, I noticed several signs offering 70% off the latest fashions. No matter where I am, I’m a sucker for a deal. I headed for a display. I was pleasantly surprised.
“Wow, these Classic ShapeMe jeans are soft and have a more flattering fit than the rainbow of skinny jeans offered across the way at BeBe.” I noted. I had just grabbed a pair in my size when I came back from crazy town. “No! Put them back. What the hell is wrong with you?” I scolded myself. “Just go get some trouser socks and get the f*ck out of here.” Then I saw another sign.
“What the? Old Creaky Bones has button down dress shirts you don’t have to iron? Well that seems convenient.” I thought one or two couldn’t hurt.
Before I knew it, I was leaving with an arm full of linen blended sweater vests, smocked cardigans and cleavage covering camisoles. I rationalized it away. Temporary insanity. It was just good sale is all.
Then it happened again a few months later at Marshalls, where you never pay full price for fabulous. I was heading towards the Junior’s section, you know, the place where I belong, but something called to me from the Women’s section and I bee lined towards a rack of professional wear. The next thing I knew I was checking out with a shirt by Eileen Tracey and a sweater by August Silk. What happened to Roxy Girl, Delia’s and Miss Sixty?
What could all this mean? I had to do a quick self-assessment using a series of youth testing questions.
- When I see a group of teens walking down the sidewalk do I cross the street and think they’re up to no good? Yes.
- Do I prefer J.Crew to Express? Yes.
- Is getting a new vacuum cleaner cause for celebration? Yes
- How many years ago did I stop shopping at Forever 21? 20
- Are bars too loud? Yes
- Nighty or robe? Robe
- Flats or heels? Flats
- Thongs or briefs? Briefs
“OMG, it’s happening, I’m getting older!” my mind screamed. “The next thing I know I’m going to be wearing caftan dresses, a ring on every finger and yelling at my husband to turn down the TV while I'm polishing off a tube of Mentos.”
I had to do some damage control. I quickly flipped over my receipt and authored a set of guiding principles for myself. I’ll share them with you now.
- Do not get a sensible hair cut. It’s like feeding a Mogwai after midnight. If your hairstyle choice is made based on ease of styling you are on the fast track to being a curlers and blue-haired gremlin. Add some inconvenience back to your life.
- Wear graphic tees that say things like “I kiss and tell” and “Hey Lover” or for the hell of it have a word like “Slippery” printed on the butt of your shorts. It may be age inappropriate but it lets the world know you will not go gently into that Coldwater Creek.
- Do not buy Borns or Hushpuppies or other comfort-wear shoes. Even if they’ve been styled to hide their practical design, don’t be fooled. At one point you’ll take them off and the world will know you require air-cushioned support.
- Show the cleavage now and again. The minute you put the girls under lock and key you can kiss your youth good bye.
- Always own at least one pair of jeans that are too tight. As we get older a desire for loose, comfort wear distorts our ability to pick size appropriate clothing. If you think it’s one size too small, it’s one size just right.
- Remember, there is a fine line between hipster fashion scarf and librarian scarf. Unless of course you are trying to pull off an ironic librarian scarf, then they’re the same. Choose wisely.
- And whatever you do, don’t go in Chicos. It’s like being bit by vampire. You’ll be turned and that’s how you’ll stay for all eternity.
Staying youthful requires vigilance and dedication ladies. You have to have a plan. I may not always be able to follow all of these rules but I’ve tried to think of ways to integrate these principles into my every day life. For instance, I’ve found these rules are nice to reflect upon as I’m gliding into my Muk Luks slippers and flannel pajamas and settling down with my evening cup of Sleepy Time tea. I hope you find some benefit in them too.