The year of being sixty two: the pleasures of clothes

I like clothes but I don't like shopping.  When I was working and needed business suits and formal evening clothes I used to shop once or twice a year.  I would take a day off work and make a beeline for a particular shop or small group of shops.  A new suit, with both trousers and a skirt, tops to go with it in interesting colours and silky materials, shoes and boots, a new dress to wear for smart dinners: everything had to go with everything else.  I much preferred to do this shopping on my own.  A friend came along with me one year and was exasperated by the way, in her terms, I wouldn't "look at things properly".  "You shop like a man" she said crossly.  Certainly I don't like spending a long time thinking about it and looking at lots of alternatives.  It was important to look good and to get it right but in many ways it was like shopping for expensive school uniform.

Nowadays I can wear what I like.  Mostly, living up a hill in the middle of nowhere, it is jeans and tops (and often fleeces and waterproofs) but I do like dresses for looking as if you have made an effort when you haven't and the occasional foray into beautiful colours and interesting shapes.  I buy a lot of things on the internet these days and have become very disciplined about sending things back that don't fit really well.  In many ways the clothes that I wear have not changed much in ten or twenty years and are not that different from the clothes worn by my daughters and daughters in law who are now in their thirties.  I have been musing about whether they should change.  Do you remember those articles, which have mercifully become less common, telling you what you should give up wearing after the age of forty or fifty?  Sleeveless tops, short skirts, plunging necklines were all on the list I seem to remember.

I definitely remember deciding when I was forty that I was too old to wear jeans.  I stopped buying denim and started wearing black jeans for a couple of years.  That seems astonishing now.  Certainly by forty five I had gone back to denim and these days there are normally a couple of pairs of denim jeans in my wardrobe.  Jeans used to be part of the uniform of the young but perhaps as my generation have grown older and continued to wear them they have become ubiquitous.  Even my ninety year old father in law had a pair of jeans which he bought in a charity shop when he was eighty five.  They did not look particularly incongruous.  Practical, hard wearing, comfortable, he wore them with fine jumpers, generally demonstrating his age by also wearing a collar and tie.

The clothes which I have given up wearing have been abandoned for reasons of both age and shape.  I used to love little strappy slip dresses, sometimes cut on the bias, leaving a lot of bare shoulder and back.  I haven't worn that kind of thing for years.  One of the younger girls on the flotilla we have been sailing with had a number which looked delightful and I did have a brief pang for the time of my life when they looked good on me but these days a good bra is a necessary part of my life and too much bare flesh begins a look a bit creepy when it is also crepy.  I don't wear very short skirts although I do wear shortish skirts with heavy tights and boots in the winter.  I don't wear sundresses or shorts.  I very rarely wear high heels, not because I don't like the way they look but because I really can't be bothered any more with anything which makes me feel uncomfortable.  So I have shed some clothes which belonged to an earlier stage of my life but there are others, the clothes of ageing, which I don't wear either.  I don't wear trousers with elasticated waists, or beige macs, or beige anything really.  I don't wear sweatshirts or anything from Marks and Spencer (that might be my loss, I think they have improved) or Clarks wide fitting shoes or American tan tights.  I wear quite a lot of particular brands which seem to me to have interesting clothes in lovely materials: Seasalt, Jigsaw, White Stuff.  And very occasionally I go into a small independent clothes shop in Ruthin or Tarporley and buy something unusual or one off. 

For me being interested in clothes is one reason for trying to keep my weight in check.  By this I do not mean that I maintain my ideal weight.  I don't.  I am probably about ten pounds heavier than I would like to be.  But I am also about ten pounds lighter than I was before I went gluten free and there is no doubt that my clothes look better and that I feel better and more energetic for carrying less weight.

But it seems to me that one of the great benefits of an interest in clothes is that it is a pleasure that does not have to diminish as you grow older.  I know stylish seventy year olds and beautifully dressed eighty year olds.  If clothes matter to you they make you feel better (or worse if you get it wrong).  They make the world a brighter and more interesting place.  They make you stand taller and smile more widely.
 
So what kind of clothes do all those things for me?

Well cut clothes that fit properly are the first thing.  Clothes that pull at the waist or wrinkle over the bust or need constant tugging and stretching are a real irritant.  Clothes that sag and bag and don't acknowledge the body inside are a different sort of failure.  Something that fits properly achieves the paradoxical result of making you forget about your clothes while simultaneously making you stand taller, perhaps because you are happier.

Clothes in colours that sing to you also make a difference.  I notice that I have a lot of clothes in a clear turquoise.  It reminds me of Greek Island seas.  I also like soft blues and greys and creams and the occasional jolt of deep shocking pink or orange.

Beautiful fabrics are essential and that does not necessarily mean something individual or expensive.  The feel of a favourite fleece can be like an all day hug.  I  call that a beautiful fabric just as much as a fall of shimmering silk or a crisp cotton shirt.  I love things that roll up to nothing and slip in a case.  I am not keen on things that need dry cleaning.

So here are a few of my current favourites



Day to day uniform: denim cutoffs, Merrell sandals (possibly the most comfortable sandals in the world), bamboo black t shirt (soft, soft, soft) and the aforementioned hug in a fleece.  Not smart but makes me feel comfortable and at ease.


Slightly tidier: new version of same Merrell wonder sandals, Jack Wolfskin skirt sold as a travel skirt, dries in half an hour, rolls to nothing, needs no ironing, and Seasalt top. 


Pure dress, made of really fine jersey, again rolls to nothing and looks good with flats, mid heels like these and high heels.  This is a great example of how wearing a dress  makes it look as though you have made an effort when in fact it is a single piece of clothing, so slightly less effort than the jeans!


 And up at the dressier end of life.  This one is by Boden and closer fitting than I usually wear.  It is a good measure of whether I need to cut back on the crisps and the wine!

What do you wear that gives you pleasure?  Have you found particular issues with clothes as you have grown older or particular forms of clothing or brands that work for you?  Do you care about clothes at all?  Do you too have clothes that make you smile?


Comments

  1. What an interesting post and so much I could relate to at 51. I am still at work so need smart clothes but like you used I tend to bing buy twice a year although very often its online shopping and I am very disciplined at sending things back. I also avoid elasticated waists as it feels like slippig over the edge but I do often buy tops in M&S. There is one very close to home and I have discovered that Sunday morning at 10:15 is ideal as it is quiet. As long as I dont go looking for something in particular I often find a top. I like their 3/4 length smart cotton trousers which I wear for work and my most comfortable shorts come from them too. I love moshula sandals as I think they are the most comfortable but will check out your recommendation. As for going gluten free I did this a year ago and felt loads better, at the moment I have slipped a little due to work but am determined to get back on the GF wagon

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    1. It is so fundamental to us to find clothes that fit, both literally and to our sense of who we are! Yes to the sandals and yes too to shopping successfully when I don't go looking with too prescriptive an idea.

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  2. Am so with you on Merrels, jeans and SeaSalt. I also wear a lot of FatFace stuff and love anything bamboo. All my knickers are made from bamboo now, and most of my socks, and as many of my T shirts as I can mange.

    I do pretty much all my shopping online nowadays as I hate shopping for clothes and like you, demand that my clothes fit well and make me feel good. Or at least really comfortable! So I like to try things on and if it is not an instant 'yes', try again the next day or in different light in case I was just in a bad mood.

    I admit I have dress envy, you wear yours beautifully, and I rarely allow myself a dress. I bought one last year - from Sea Salt - for a funeral. I love it, but rarely wear it. What I most want are pretty and effortless tops that will make me feel feminine, disguise the fact that I could stand to lose some weight, and can dress up a nice pair of jeans. I've sent a lot of things back in the past two weeks!

    But although I now tend to avoid wearing really strappy tops, I love the fact that women of our generation can wear what we like. And enjoy it.

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    1. Now bamboo knickers sound rather lovely! I do so agree about the freedom we now have. When I think of my dearly loved grandmother I am aware now as I certainly wasn't when I was young of how very narrow her clothes choices, like most of her life choices, were. I see her now in her corsets and crimplene dresses and wide fitting clarks shoes. She was probably about fifty.

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  3. I would hate to stop wearing jeans, or to think that I had to stop wearing them as I don't wear them all the time, but lately I have started wearing more skirts and am enjoying that. When the cooler weather returns though I will be back to jeans and a variety of tops, but I am trying to fancy the tops up a bit more these days. You look great in all of the outfits that you shared and they suit you well. I am glad for you that you have found the style that suits you and more importantly that you enjoy! Happy clothes wearing and shoping!

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    1. I would be lost without jeans. They are what I put on in the same automatic way that I put my knickers on and brush my hair. But like you I do like the way that other clothes work better when the temperature rises. Loose, lovely dresses are cooler and surprisingly flattering!

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  4. This is a lovely post. I've read your blog for awhile, but not yet commented. I'm 60 and feel much the same way about clothing. Comfort is a high priority. Your description about fleece as wearing a hug all day is most apt. I'm still teaching, because I love it, and although it's a casual atmosphere, I still enjoy figuring out what to wear and how to mix and match my small-ish wardrobe in creative ways. How good to see photos of you and your clothing - I especially like the dresses.

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    1. Lovely to have your comment lorrie! Welcome. Comfort is interesting I think. Elasticated waists and sweatshirts are comfortable but what is more interesting is, as you say, dressing creatively! So that is more than comfort, maybe it's even artistry.

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  5. What an interesting post. I agree with you about nice fabrics, recently I've started making some clothes again ... tops from Liberty fabric and vintage cottons. When I'm at home working in my studio I usually wear jeans or a chinos skirt with a loose top or tunic. As a knitaholic I also like cardigans or knitted jumpers. I've never worn traditionally smart or formal clothes or high heels. I love Wolky sandals and wear them all summer long.

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    1. wolky is not a name I've heard of but add I like your style a lot I shall look out for it!

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  6. I enjoyed reading this post and seeing the photos of you looking well dressed and comfortable at the same time...you have a wonderful sense of style. (Having been fortunate to have met you, I know that what I've written is true.)
    It amuses me to think of how differently I have dressed over the decade, often as a results of the demands of my employment. It's even more amusing to think that in my last 15 pre-retirement years I actually helped hundreds, or perhaps thousands of women to chose clothes for themselves. It's grand to now be spared that responsibility! Like you, I am all for comfort and quality of fabrics, and pretty much know what suits my shape best. I'm pretty sure that I rarely dress to suit my age.
    I was interested to read about recent editorial upheavals at British Vogue, and was pleased to read that the new editor-in-chief has asked Grace Coddington to return to help him out. I am a great fan of Ms Coddington's sense of style.
    Although I still have some shoes and boots in my closets with heels, I cannot remember when I last wore any footwear that was not flat...and comfortable. xo

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    1. having met you i know you have a very distinctive and elegant style. the fact that you can combine that with comfort is inspirational!

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  7. Having now lost (most!) of the 9lbs acquired in Australia I'm back in jeans. I live in them and always will but absolutely refuse to go a size bigger. It's a good discipline. Otherwise it's Boden, Joules or Crew. Clothes I feel confident and comfortable in and look the part in a casual country environment. They are ageless too I think. I still have strappy dresses and would still wear them.. the opportunities are just few and far between!
    Love your spotty Boden dress. It's perfectly flattering!

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    1. I don't think my personal style has changed that much over the years. I'm still waiting to get back into size 14 clothes I have from the 1970s and 1980s - whilst I'm buying "size 14" clothes in the shops nowadays. Roll on losing the excess weight (around 28 lbs in my case) so that I can go from 2010's "size 14" to 1970s size 14 and get back into them again. I've given up on Marks & Spencers - as they've gone dull/dull/extremely poor quality these days. It is a problem to find stylish clothes in this country.

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    2. I so agree about the discipline of refusing to go a size bigger in jeans Jessica! When I put a bit of weight on I can ignore it for a while and the existing clothes tend to expand a bit. A new pair of jeans is less forgiving though and provides the perfect quick kick up the backside!

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    3. I think I'm quite glad not to have hung onto my 70s and 80s clothes ceridwen although there are some I miss. For years I kept my biba dresses and I still don't understand where they went! While I might never wear them again they were a fabulous bit of both personal and style history!

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  8. I enjoyed reading your post. I am 68, like wearing nice clothes, but hate shopping for them.
    Being retired and spending a lot of time gardening or at the allotment I wear jeans most of the time. I have one or two dresses in my wardrobe but don't have much occasion to wear them. When I do go out shopping if I see something that is right for me I buy it rather than waiting for when I need something and then can't find the right thing. I hate clingy dresses or tops, so go for looser fitting styles. Tops with a sleeve to hide my ageing arms, or a cardigan to cover them up. I like long tops too, I hate tops which ride up and I am constantly pulling them down. Shoes are a problem for me. Comfort is really important, I don't have good feet, so I wear flat shoes or sandals. I shop a lot at Fat Face I find their clothes fit well and I like the casual style.

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    1. It sounds as if you have sorted your style Maragret! Shoes are an interesting one. I like shoes but have become uncompromising in requiring them to be comfortable. That has hugely reduced my wearing of heels! Heeled boots work fine and I have some good sandals with heels but so many shoes are really not a pleasure to wear for more than about five minutes!

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  9. You look great. And I love my friends to look great - I so enjoy people's clothes and jewelry when they look good - one of the great pleasures in life.

    I love clothes too and esp Gudrun's. https://www.gudrunsjoden.com/ She's pretty round herself and seems to be able to cut well for those of us who are also round. Colourful and comfortable - I usually wear a dress or tunic with trousers and a blouse or similar: lots of shape disguise as well as pattern and colour. I love it when I meet fellow Gudrun fans here in coach parties (happens surprisingly often) - we greet each other with all the enthusiasm of members of a secret special club.

    I also love that Charles loves clothes - his own and mine. I can buy him special things and he will love them. One of our favourites is a silk shirt I bought on Etsy from New York: vintage and now so so fragile. Every time he wears it it seems it may be the last and we hold our breath... And a great waistcoat he bought in a charity shop goes well....

    There's so much fun and wonderful stuff out there. Wish so many people didn't dress dull. My mother in law told me she thinks people don't want to look at her. But - she does put some great stuff together often these days, so I'm hoping she's dropped that idea after some encouragement. Though I wonder how many people think like that about themselves. Sad.

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    1. I do so agree that there is such pleasure to be had in clothes. I very much tune it or out depending on what I am doing so I can have days of fleeces and jeans and then really enjoy the difference of wearing something more interesting sometimes to go out, sometimes just for the sake of it. It always wakes me up a bit to go to London or Manchester, not because I want to dress like anyone else but just because it reminds me of how much choice there is out there!

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  10. O - and I had great delight one day in getting rid of every pair of tights I possessed! It was like losing the corsets must have been!

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  11. My relationship with clothes and shopping is terrible. I never think I look good in anything and end up fed up when trying things on. I'm not overweight, just mid-50s which means slightly bigger waist and boobs in my case. Sigh. My move to England after decades in the US will be interesting. I am a lazy dresser given that I work from home. Americans in general wear much more "ordinary" clothes than most Brits so I will definitely have to up my game.

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    1. It will be fascinating to know how you find the difference now you have got here. Love to know!

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  12. I saw this and thought of you... http://www.manrepeller.com/2017/07/menocore-fashion-trend.html?utm_campaign=MRnewsletter&utm_medium=mail&utm_source=daily&utm_content=719

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  13. I very much enjoyed reading this post , l am 63 and currently trying to lose a few pounds for an upcoming wedding. I wonder if you would mind telling me the names of the shops you visit in Ruthin and Tarporley, as a live in Gronant these lovely small towns are quite local to me

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    1. Sorry Lynette, this is a very late reply. Hope it is still current. I am hopeless with shop names but the one in Ruthin is on the square where the post office is on the side opposite the eye house. There are lots in Tarporley but some of it is very expensive. There is a row of shops set back a bit from the road and the one at the end of row is very reasonable and has lots of interesting stuff. Good hunting!

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  14. Hello! I turned 60 in April! I wrote a few sentences about myself on my blog once and your first sentence is what I wrote! (I love clothes but hate shopping.)
    I love your style, classic and stylish but not TRENDY.
    The older I get, I appreciate softer materials against my skin too. I have noticed the difference in the t shirts that I buy in England from the ones that I can get here in the States.
    I will have to search for loose, lovely dresses! Yours look very nice on you!

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    1. I do agree about the feel of material on the skin. I love natural materials like cotton and silk. I don't think I will ever wear a slippy slidy synthetic again!

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  15. I enjoyed reading this post and seeing the photos of you looking well dressed and comfortable at the same time...you have a wonderful sense of style. (Having been fortunate to have met you, I know that what I've written is true.)

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  16. Hm. I think I'm out on a limb. I don't like wearing nice clothes. They make me feel self-conscious. I like having nothing to live up to and to be invisible. Being invisible is important when crawling around in bushes and gutters looking for plants and insects. I feel most comfortable in floppy clothes and old jumpers. I love Gudrun's designs. If I could work backwards, I'd ask to be of the right shape and height to look good in them.
    I've just moved to Halifax and most of my new neighbours come from Pakistan. They wear wonderful clothes: fantastic designs on bright material - lots of sparkle too. And the fortunate thing about light cotton tunics over light cotton trousers is that they adjust themselves to your shape. Most of the women here wear beautiful scarves over their heads and shoulders - and scarves are the only point at which I become a clothesy person. I have masses of scarves.
    Because urban Halifax is very different from coastal Dorset, I've started a new blog - Loose and Leafy in Halifax - https://looseandleafyinhalifax.blogspot.co.uk/ Maybe I'll see you there?

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    1. Wow that was a big and adventurous move! Will definitely come over and have a look at your blog. Hope it is all working out well for you. I have blogged before about the pleasures of invisibility and I think that is one of the good things about clothes: you can be visible or, especially as you get older, you can quite deliberately not be! I do both and like the contrast.

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  17. I have been reading a blog lately for inspiration. It is called Susanafter60.com. I am older than either you or Susan but not so old that I don't identify with the ups and downs of figuring out what is right. While I wouldn't wear a lot of what Susan wears, she does have some good tips about jewelry and make-up and fashion in general so you might enjoy that. I have enjoyed looking at your photos here and I really like your style. Right now, I have no style -- I have gone frumpy so I am looking at lots of things from people our "vintage". I really like your white skirt and yellow top -- it is very sunny and complimentary to you. I love the dresses and the fact that you are wearing flatter shoes -- I can no longer wear heels and I am always looking for ways to wear lower shoes in a stylish way. Your top photo is what I would like my jeans outfits to look like so I am taking that as a guide! Very nice post.

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    1. Thank you! I will have a look at the blog you recommend. It is good to engage with other people still interested in clothes!

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