5 Wardrobe Essentials Every Middle-Aged Women Should Have

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

Recently, I wore a cropped sweater to work and one of the kids accused me of not dressing my age.

I was so outraged by the comment that I demanded to know why she expected me to kowtow to society’s construct of the way women should dress in middle-age?

And needless to say, she looked back at me blankly

The comment reminded me how much I despise the assumption that the minute they turn fifty, women should be expected to dress in a certain way. Which is why this week I decided to forgo another doom and gloom commentary on the state of the world (or mention of the word Victoria, for those of you here in Australia), and instead provide you with some light relief on another topic I’m also not very qualified to write about.

I’m talking fashion, ladies!

Before I go any further, let me say that I do understand the unbridled bliss experienced around the globe by middle-aged women as a result of the Covid-related excuse our governments provided us with to wear our activewear all of the time. BUT…if you’re anything like me (who quite likes getting dolled up once in a while), you’ve got to be pretty excited about the reopening of stores and the prospect of not having to spend a large proportion of your week in the “returns” aisle at your local post office.

Don’t get me wrong, I love comfort, but sometimes I also like to dress up, and the past four months of sanctions have been hard on those of us who are not naturally online shoppers. Added to which, I’m feeling a bit more body-confident, having lost 5kgs in a torturous diet imposed on me by my shaming, fitness-crazy husband between January and March, the results of which I am eager to flaunt.

And let’s be honest, it’s only a matter of time before I get back on the carb bandwagon

Fortunately, we’re in winter at the moment here in Australia, and the best part about this three months of the year is that we can camouflage the truth. We can tuck the muffin top away in stretch jeans, hide the bat wings under oversized jumpers, and conceal the greys under caps and woolly hats. But my list of wardrobe essentials work for most of the year, wherever you are in the world. So if you’re a middle-aged woman who enjoys clothes and getting dressed up (on the rare occasion there’s nothing on Netflix), CHECK THEM OUT, and let me know what you think:

1. Skinny jeans – I know, I know, but hear me out, because it might surprise you to know that whatever your size, you can probably carry these off – especially now they’re available in a wide range of stretchy fabrics. In terms of Australian stockists, I like the Zara ones and the Decjuba “Riley” style, but I recently bought some at Country Road that are surprisingly flattering – because normally, nothing fits me in there. Make sure you get the high-waisted version for tucking in the muffin top and full-length – which gives you the option to roll them up. You may as well write “middle-aged” on your forehead if you go for the cropped version.

2. White Sneakers – I’m not sure why I avoided this trend for such a long time, but when I found a pair in Sportsgirl (for only $40), I couldn’t resist. Needless to say, I’ve worn them to death. The great thing about these shoes is that they’re neutral in colour (so they go with literally anything) and you can dress them up or down, depending on the occasion and your mood. Here’s Elle’s guide to the best white sneakers.

If you follow my socials, some of you will know that I splashed out on a black pair of sneakers from Guess this week. My son assures me they’re not too glitzy, but put it this way, I could compete with Tutankharmun’s tomb for the amount of bling on them.

3. The denim jacket – Another classic, which is a wardrobe staple for most of my friends in the UK that I decided I was too old for until I saw the one below in Katie’s (at 50% off). This is another wardrobe must-have because it’s just so versatile. And guess what, denim on denim is back, so you can pull off a Justin/Britney moment if your partner’s up for it. But if you’re not brave enough for that, this jacket is the perfect compliment to your patterned skirts and culottes as we move into spring.

4. Culottes – Love em or hate em (and I BLOODY LOVE them) – these are here to stay. Culottes are as contentious a topic as Vegemite and Marmite between women, but I think they flatter most body shapes and are more versatile than cargo pants. I’ve got culottes in a range of colours and fabrics, but I get most use out of my neutral ones. From a comfort perspective, I couldn’t live without them. I haven’t made a decision about the wider, longer 30s-style ones to recently hit the stores, but I’m sure we’ll be wearing this style of pant for a while longer. (Culottes below from MinkPink).

5. High-neck jumpers and tops – Whatever season you’re in right now, the roll-neck is back for some seventies comfort and style. There are long-sleeved, chunky versions for winter, and short-sleeved options if you’re in summer. Polo-necks, (as I was brought up to call them), are classy (in the same way as the twin set) and send out the message that you are a thinking, sexy women. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about high-neck jumpers on men – unless they’re Idris Elba, a Russian spy, or a sexy, young professor in search of their Mrs Robinson. Personally, I’ve always loved high-necked jumpers because they hide my eight chins, and I love this top from Seed.

Anything you’d like to add to the list?

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Middle Age: Time To Stop Worrying About Our Bodies And Start Focusing On Our Brains

I’ve had a mixed reaction in my circle about my decision to shed a few kilos. There are those friends who have been supportive – in that they understand the need to manage my weight gain through menopause, if possible. Then there is the other “life’s too short to be miserable” camp, who don’t believe I should worry about a few extra rolls at this stage of my life.

Photo by Jairo Alzate on Unsplash

Truth be told, I’m not so vain that a few extra kilos worry me, but I am conscious that carrying extra weight at my age is no good thing. I had also reached that point where I was climbing the dress size mountain a little faster than I wanted and was starting to feel the effects – physically and psychologically. There were several nights over Christmas when I had a ‘nothing to wear’ crisis, because nothing fitted.

Middle-age is hard enough when it comes to style, but it’s that much harder when you are heavier than you want to be.

However, I do believe that it’s important to put your health goals into perspective. It comes down to that balance thing that’s so hard to get right in life, which is why it saddens me so much when my girlfriends admit that they hate parts of their bodies. Because while none of us are immune to the ridiculous pressures of perfectionism created by women’s magazines and reality tv shows, I do feel that at some point we have a right (and it is healthier) to age and accept our age, along with the inevitable leaks and creaks that go with that.

I’ve mentioned before the glorious sense of liberation I have taken from the invisibility that has come with middle-age. I feel much freer when I go out without makeup, when I’m not wearing a bra, or can happily swan around the house in my pjs – and I’m loving the fact that I can get on public transport late at night without having to worry about being harassed.

In general, I feel much more confident in who I am.

However, there is no denying that we are the product of the expectations placed on our gender by the media. And many women have been victims of men who take their best years, use them as a vessel for their children, and then discard them during their mid-life crises for a younger model, thereby diminishing their confidence.

My body is a physical map of my life, that bears the scars of childbirth amongst other experiences. I am not ashamed of the physical evidence of that miracle of life or the way the intensity of my love has cracked the skin on my face. But I would point out that when it comes to ageing, there is no gender divide, and the old man’s body bears the same ravages of time as mine.

But imagine if women left men when they started to lose their hair?

I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t like to fit back into a size 10 and have the choice of high street fashion, or that I wouldn’t like my teeth to be whiter or my jowls to be less like my dog’s – BUT WHY? I’m fifty-four, not twenty-three.

And for the record, I wouldn’t want to be twenty-three again.

So does it really matter if the skin under our arms swings with the wind or if our faces looked like crumpled paper? I’m satisfied that I made the most of the beauty of my youth, and I wouldn’t choose to turn back time. But now is the time for my brain to shine.

Those Awkward Gumtree Moments…

We’re on the move again. As bonafide empty-nesters, we’re going for a proper “downsize” this time into a grown-up, executive apartment with posh fittings, a dishwasher that works, and voluminous sheer curtains that we hope will keep the outside world at bay.

Collection of pieces of furniture.

The latest move means, of course, that I’ve had to rekindle my love-hate relationship with Gumtree to get rid of more of our shit – an experience I return to with mixed feelings.

While I like the premise of the online marketplace, (and so far, I’ve had a pretty good track record with it), I am always surprised by what people sell and buy on the site, ie. Kurt’s “chef set”, as well as the sheer audacity of buyers who persist in negotiating on items that are obviously already bargains.

But I like that the process is simple – even for me, a technophobe. And for most people, the prospect of a bargain or getting something for nothing is invigorating, hence it’s impossible not to get a little bit excited as you upload the prized images of your loot and its enticing copy. And there is a real sense of power as you watch your virtual pack of buyers fight over your item – YES! THIS IS MY STAINED MATTRESS! – somewhat akin to what those unsavory sellers on “Antiques Roadshow” must feel in those few precious minutes before the valuer tells them that the old, fugly plate they inherited from Grandma is worth zilch.

But there are, inevitably, trust issues that you need to be careful about: the buyers that turn up and still try to negotiate, in spite of the price you agreed – safe in the knowledge that you’ve already visualized your gorgeous new sofa in your lounge and will accept just about anything to get the old one out of the way; or the Photoshopped photos that conceal chips on furniture or that large scratch across the top.

I imagine that selling on Gumtree provides a thrill similar to the sense of gratification you get from gambling or the chase in a new relationship. Unless your item doesn’t sell, there’s little to lose from the sport other than your pride, (from the public confirmation of your obviously terrible taste) and the cost and inconvenience of getting your rejected piece taken to the dump.

But even in the event of a sale, there are compromises to be made, such as the loss of your privacy and comfort zone when the buyer turns up to collect their goods – particularly when you are of a socially anxious disposition.

This time – somewhat surprisingly – our most popular item was an IKEA chest of drawers. But in my haste to get rid of it quickly, I under-sold it to the first buyer that contacted me, and so – after the old man and I chipped it, lugging it (like two old people) down the stairs – any hope of a decent profit went out the window. Egg on my face, I called our buyer to inform him, and after re-negotiations that mirrored a car purchase, eventually, we agreed on a price. Suffice it to say, however, I was pretty deflated by the time we got around to discussing the pick-up instructions.

‘Make sure you bring a big enough car,’ I warned him, unable to mask the bitterness in my tone from being robbed in broad daylight and the impending invasion of my privacy for so little financial reward.

‘I’ll take it apart,’ he said.

‘It’s from IKEA,’ I reminded him, ‘and instructions weren’t included in the price,’ I added, under my breath.

‘It will be fine,’ he said, while I reached for the Valium.

He turned up at 6.30pm on a Saturday night (!) with the enviably large toolbox of a “man who can”, leaving the old man drooling behind the curtains of our front window as we watched him take the chest apart on the front lawn. I can’t describe the level of discomfort as the two of us – socially anxious adults – watched this stranger, (who also expected to converse intermittently), hack away at our sold IKEA chest. I assume that he expected to put it back together again.

You may also be able to imagine our relief as his tiny Sedan swung out of our drive.

Our earnings almost paid for two drinks at our local. However, I’m certain that this, our latest experience of the potential perils of Gumtree, will not deter us in the future. We finished the day with extra dollars in our wallet, and the high from that close-to-profitable sale was all the recompense we needed for a slipped disc and the PTSD from tough negotiations and a stranger with a hammer in our home.

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.

 

Eyebrow Problems In Middle Age

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I went through another of those middle-aged duty calls in order to meet the aesthetic expectations placed upon womankind the other day – the utter onerousness of a waxing session. I shouldn’t grumble really, hair-care it is the only beauty treatment I pay for to meet society’s expectations of beauty so that I don’t terrify small children. And as men probably say, no pain no gain!

 

And what a true pleasure it is, lying on a bed in the hands of some aggressive Asian while she hacks out clumps of hair from the most sensitive parts of your body.

 

It really hurts, waxing. In my experience, it’s an old wives tale that it gets easier the more often you do it or that over time the hairs stop growing back quite as fervently. On a pain scale of “one” being someone running their clammy hands through your hair and “ten” being childbirth, the upper lip wax is definitely an eight. 

 

But it’s either that or turning into a man.

 

In the same way that my menstrual flow seems to be defying the biology of my age, I appear to be accumulating more hair in my brows, and they now include a selection of grey, wiry ones that spring out at odd angles and at odd times of the day and are, as you can imagine, particularly attractive. Many of my friends have the opposite problem, and have been forced to invest in eyebrow pencils (with interesting results) or are considering tattoos with which to frown at their entitled adult children more convincingly. Eye brow pencils remind me of my paternal grandmother, who thought that her purple tint coordinated perfectly with her orange brow line.

 

I could plait my eyebrows if I wanted to and the only reason they have to be yanked out by the Thai psychopath down the road is that I can’t see them, thanks to that other life-changing disability of middle age – long-sightedness. One day I think they look fine, the next day, the look of horror on NC’s face at the sight of the two hairy caterpillars crawling across my forehead, tells me everything I need to know.

 

How come men can get away with bushy brows? The old man has his own set of salt and pepper eyebrow curtains, yet they look quite distinguished on him – although nowhere is nature’s cruel sense of humor more evident than by that mass of tangled hair that frames his eyes rather than his head.

 

I know that big brows are in! – thank you Cara Delavinge and Lily Collins – and that you can sculpt them, tint them and even turn them into the Golden Arches if you really want to make a feature of them. Recent styles have included bleached brows, dragon brows –which I assume we can blame GOT for – feather and plaited brows, and now there are even squiggle brows.

 

The way forward is “micro-blading”, apparently, for those of you that need a bit of help with “filling”. Alternatively, I could donate – at a price.

11 Things I’m Bloody Loving Right Now

I’m sorry, I really am for ignoring you over the past few weeks, but in all honesty, while everyone else in Sydney has been fighting the flu, I’ve had a bad case of Blogger’s Block. Hence the decision with this little piece to reconnect, even if it isn’t one of the typically self-absorbed, cerebral pieces of drivel I normally churn out.

I don’t want you to think I’ve died.

Anyway, a loyal friend of mine who reads these little outpourings of mine, always tells me how much she loves my recommendations, lists of which I usually put out when I have fuck all else to say or can’t find the latest controversial piece of feminism or neo-Fascism to stir up with my wooden spoon.

I could lie and blame my “block” on how quintessentially busy my life is right now, but you’d know I was lying, and that in fact, my life is very boring. We’ve battened down the hatches as it’s winter here, Kurt is being suspiciously well-behaved, NC is working hard to complete her thesis and as sit in the grey area between winter and Christmas, there is frankly nothing to get my creative juices flowing.

So, without further ado, here are some of the things I’m attempting to spice up my life with at the moment:

drink-19202_1920Sangria – A bit retro, I know, but the old man decided to knock up a vat of this for my recent birthday celebrations and it was a massive hit. Recently reminded of its ice-breaking powers on our trip to Queensland, although I was initially cautious – from memories of painting the toilet bowl red on the Costa Del Sol in the eighties  – with an element of discipline, the drink didn’t wreak the havoc on my head in the way cheap red wine does these days. The old man chose a brandy-based version for his concoction and you should have seen the bun fight between middle-aged men to get to the punch bowl.

White-Fucking-Everything – It’s no secret that if I had only birthed Spoodles, my whole house would be white, and I am now converting my wardrobe to a similar colour scheme. I’m absolutely loving the classicism and simplicity of white jumpers, shirts, and trousers, which I lift with accents of gold or ocean blue. When we move back to The Beaches later this year, all my vibrant city colors will be out again and in will come the calming blues and neutrals of the ocean as well as my new, very expensive Hamptons furniture, which the old man will agree to invest in because he loves me so much. 11324TWDE_1

Rose-Gold Jewellery – Talking of gold, I treated myself to some new jewellery for my birthday and even though I hated rose-gold with a passion when it first became stylish a few years ago – mainly because it gets lost in my Rosacea – I’ve done a complete turn-around on this one because it warms up my three staple colours of white, black and blue of my wardrobe.

Decjuba is a clothes shop I’ve been frequenting recently, mainly because they make it so easy for me with their core colors of black and white, but also because they love stripes, are generous in their proportions and reasonably priced. I got this classic white shirt from there ($79.95) and if you’re a member you get a 10% discount, which really means it’s virtually free.

diamond_cushion_cover_in_seamist_by_ecodownunder_4Eco Down Under is another shop whose wares that offer “better environmental options”, I salivate over at the moment. Frustrated by the Princess’s paw prints on my white bed linen, the old man had a domestic hissy fit and asked me to invest in some muted pastels recently, and Eco’s simple, calming collection of bed linen and towels is fabulous. I think the cotton is a superior quality to other sets in the same price range and their sales are great – I got this Queen cover set for $59.

Pinot Noir – Friends and family have been on a mission to convert me to the red grape for decades, but I can be an obstinate bitch at times, dug my heels in, and stuck loyally to Chardy. Then one morning, (after a raucous night on the white), just like that I was converted to red. Pinot Noir is at the milder end of the red grape spectrum, according to those in the know, and having trialed and tested several from the budget end of the range at Dan Murphys, I can highly recommend the Frontera Pinot Noir, a steal at $10 a bottle. 824024_0_9999_med_v1_m56577569855120487

Game Of Thrones – If you’re not watching GOT, you have to question if you are truly existing. I had no choice with two die-hard fantasists in the house who both asked me when the dragons come in when they read my manuscript. Admittedly, the plots can be tricky for those of us middle-aged folk on a fast-track to Dementia with armies of characters with easily forgettable names, but it is nevertheless compelling viewing if for no other reason than to increase your appreciation of a good heating system. There is also Kit Harington, Nikolai Coster-Waldau, Iain Glen and Jason Mamoa…

maxresdefaultTom Hardy – And on the topic of talented actors, Tom Hardy has been on my radar since his performance as the mad Alfie Solomons in Peaky Blinders. Tom is very good at playing psychopaths and what woman doesn’t like a fictional bad boy? He also stole the show in The Revenant from Leo de Caprio and is currently mesmerizing as James Delaney in Taboo on BBC First, so imagine my surprise when he turned up as a very stiff-upper-lip World War 2 hero fighter pilot (swoon) in Dunkirk.

Halloumi – Since NC has guilted us out of eating meat most of the time and the egg debate has restarted – according to a recent article published in the Journal of Atherosclerosis Research, eating eggs is the equivalent of smoking five ciggies a day – I’ve switched to halloumi for lunch, (although I’d prefer the ciggies). The only problem with working from home is having to think about another meal, but halloumi has paved the way for some wonderful creations in our house. My fave is halloumi on toast with wilted spinach and roasted tomatoes, while NC knocks up a mean veggie burger with avocado (of course!), caramelized onions and chili. According to the Greek shelf stacker at my local Harris Farm, the Greeks sprinkle lemon and black pepper on the top.

Superga Sneakers – My Sciatica has now committed my body to flat shoes and since I threw anything higher than a few millimeters out in our recent Council clear-up,  I am living in these Superga Sneakers. I secretly wish I’d gone for the rose-gold version now (see anal-ness about colour coordination), but as these sneakers are available in an array of wonderfully kitsch patterns and colors and around $80 a pair,  I could probably have a pair for each one of my black outfits. download

And finally…

566349_xlarge_6Nude Magique BB cream by L’Oreal – I recommended the Clinique Redness Solutions foundation a while back which is great, but this is a lighter cream for daytime and it is fabulous for covering blemishes as well as making your skin feel as soft and velvety as your Granny’s. It is also about half the price at around $25 in Australia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Middle Aged Hair And Bad Grey Days

When I part my hair in a section that falls outside of the eight-weekly dye zone, I’ve noticed some ominous course grey hairs sprouting through. Do you ever wonder how they grow so goddamn quickly before you get the chance to ambush them? cat-1280122_1280

 

I haven’t been too concerned about this tell-tale sign of ageing before, because peroxide has been my best friend since my early twenties. I have noticed that my hair has begun to thin out over the past few years, mainly because of how often the old man complains about the hair accumulation on our bathroom floor and in our food, but I’m not even close to the step of letting myself go grey, even though I have great admiration for the confidence of those who do.

 

Like most women, I’ve played around with my hairstyles and colour over the years – one year short, the next long – but I always end up going back to the same tried and tested formula where I feel most comfortable – a choppy, mid-length, honey-blonde cut – nothing too dramatic. If anything I could be accused of being boringly safe.

 

Whenever I see middle-aged women with blue hair or scarlet hair, or balayage, I’m in total fucking awe of their strength and freedom of expression to be so ‘out there’, and of how ready they are to demonstrate to the world their new confidence in their own skin. My natural instinct is to merge into the scenery rather than be the focus.

 

Perhaps I’ve learned my lesson about hairstyles over time. In my mid-twenties, during a testing point in our relationship when the old man refused to move in with me even after my ultimatum, I booked myself the first appointment I could get, had all my hair chopped off and reinvented myself as Lady Diana in a typically impulsive ‘fuck you’ gesture.

 

Then there was my first and only perm in my late teens, which ‘took’ a little too well and ended up in the sort of mesh of tight curls a bird could happily nest in and definitely not the natural waves I’d hoped for. It meant I had to wear my hair in a French plait for the following six months.

 

There have been several colour disasters experiments – something that every girl needs to do as part of her journey to a woman – although NC will tell you that I begged her not to do it each time she got the home dye out. My most recent experiment was a few years ago when I decided to revert back to my own particular shade of ‘mouse’ to save on hairdressing costs and ended up looking like some prison escapee who had dyed her hair to avoid capture.

 

I’m not fixated on my hair like some women, because thinking about how to conceal my muffin top and eight chins is a pretty full time job. On the whole, it’s not ‘great’ hair like Jennifer Aniston’s – whose style I asked for numerous times but which sadly never quite materialised out of my hair ‘type’ – but it’s never been too demanding; never really let me down.

 

Which is fortunate because another of my pet peeves is visiting the hairdressers and being forced to fork out hundreds of dollars as well as make inane conversation with someone half my age with whom I have zero in common with, when I’d much rather make the most of two hours of peace and devour their trashy magazines.

 

In fact, it’s quite shameful how rude I am to hairdressers. I figure that if I tut enough, slurp my coffee loudly enough and make it patently clear that I don’t want to communicate with them they’ll eventually get the message and leave me alone to ‘Who Wore It Best?’

 

I may have to change my attitude with the advent of these ‘Bad Grey Days’.

Women + Shopping = Happiness

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Look how happy this woman looks!

I had a bit of a shite week last week and needed some release, so I decided to go shopping. It’s not something I like to admit to – needing to spend money to feel happy – because I’m sure it undermines my intelligence and makes me sound likes some weak, ‘hysterical’ female, but the need to buy new clothes isn’t a gender-related issue because I know a lot of men who get off on it and a lot of women who don’t.

 

Just not my husband, unfortunately.

 

Have I ever mentioned that my husband doesn’t understand me?

 

It seems that the longer your marriage – and we’ll be grieving 23 years this weekend – the more those minor things like the way he moves his mouth in that sniffy way when I say I’m going to the mall, that suggests I have no control over my emotions or my purse, can make me so flipping mad and full of retribution.

 

What men fail to understand are the benefits of shopping. Aside from saving money on REAL therapy,  we also burn more than 10,000 steps during a good session, which counts as exercise and therefore saves on gym membership.

 

They should also appreciate that shopping doesn’t have to be about ACTUALLY NEEDING ANYTHING, that it has much more hidden depth and is related to personal growth and space, regaining control and feeling good about yourself.

 

Happiness.

 

Not that I have to find excuses to shop when I’m an independent woman who works hard and earns money and if I want to go out and fucking spend it, I will. Anyway, it was the beginning of the month and what was I to do when those fresh dollars in my account taunted me, flashed at me from my online statement, begging me to spend them.

 

Spend meSpend me…Spend me!

 

And that glorious six hours spent trawling through retail heaven cost me less than an hour of therapy, and didn’t involve any snotty crying in that ugly way that I cry in public.

 

And in spite of being at that awkward seasonal stage of the year in Sydney, between winter and spring when the shops are flogging their winter woollies, there were plenty of bargains to be had, especially if you like sales. Personally I don’t, because I feel a bit vulnerable with hoards of crazed people fighting over a bargain and ill-assorted stock that falls off the rack in your hand, is never your size and always that bit naff.

 

Nevertheless, I persisted because I was a woman on a mission.

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Gazman shirt

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Jockey knickers

 

And the sales are good enough for the old man, so to make him feel really bad for winding me up in that evilly, patronising way that only husbands can, I treated him to a lovely, COLOURFUL shirt from Gazman (reduced from $90 to $60) –  ie. not plain blue like every other freaking shirt in his wardrobe because he’s an accountant and very left side of the brain – so he doesn’t look quite as nerdily shite when we go out.

 

Then I found myself the best new power jacket/cardigan for work from H&M because I feel that I’ve lost my style mojo in my work wardrobe recently and at $40, it was almost free. 

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H&M jacket/cardie for $40

 

New earrings? Yes please, because those fuckers disappear all the time – usually in the local pool or in bed…and finally, a pair of my favourite granny pants from Jockey because knickers and shoes have become my go-to happiness fix when it comes to clothes, now that brands use pygmies for their sizing, and because my knickers have all turned an attractive shade of grey since the old man took over the washing.

 

And he wonders why I need to shop.

 

 

 

 

 

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?

30 Fascinating Things I Realised In 2015

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  1. Whenever I think I’ve finally reached rock bottom, I can always rely on my teenagers to up the ante.
  2. The word ‘meringue’ springs to mind whenever I wear a cream dress.
  3. I need stop at one whisky.
  4. All diets are lies.
  5. The upside to being ‘invisible’ is not giving a shit about what I look like in public.
  6. Yoga pants and leggings get a bad rap these days; personally, I think they’re underrated.
  7. Men CAN change – don’t let them tell you any different.
  8. Skiing is like glamping – an endurance test dressed up by men to look like something fun.
  9. ‘Loose change’ will never be a problem in a house with teenagers.
  10. If a size 12 equates to a size ‘large’ in Zara, I don’t need that level of shit.
  11. Sexy ‘big knickers’ are still to be invented.
  12. The most-used word in my vocabulary last year was ‘thing.’
  13. Mad Men is the finest historical documentary about sexism and John Hamm’s developing sexiness.
  14. I want Jon Hamm’s babies.
  15. Albeit horribly undignified, the process of home poo testing is now a reality.
  16. I still have no idea what the difference is between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ cholesterol and continue to stare blankly at the doctor when she explains my results.
  17. 10,000 steps is way more than a fucking walk.
  18. I made a mistake – men cannot be conditioned to wipe down bench tops, replace toilet rolls or answer when spoken to the first time.
  19. Teenagers have a gap in the synapses of their brain vis a vis hanging up wet towels, walking the dog and emptying the dishwasher.
  20. It’s impossible not to get wee all over yourself when you use the ‘pull to the side’ method for a full piece swimming costume.
  21. Netflix is the welcome third wheel to a long marriage.
  22. You can use the camera on your iPhone from that little camera icon at the bottom right of your screen.
  23. NEVER ride a motor bike or climb a ladder (thank you 24Hrs In Emergency)
  24. My most over-used phrase last year was: ‘why did I start telling you that?’
  25. Bacon is still worth the cancer risk.
  26. Colouring-in is still boring.
  27. I could be a really good swimmer if swimming goggles existed that didn’t leak.
  28. Although my ovaries no longer function in the role they were designed for, they do however, become highly activated these days at the sight and smell of babies.
  29. From my limited experience so far, Dementia is gonna really suck.
  30. You must never accept that you’re too old or too cuddly to rock a bikini.

 

Too Fat To Party

Too Fat To Party
Cinderella by Nikki.Jane found on http://www.flickr.com

I am facing a first-world quandary of epic female proportions. It is every girl’s worst nightmare.

Alas, I am too fat to wear my party dress to my own birthday party.

This Cinderella may have to wear Spanx and an old dress to the ball. ‘Epic proportions’ being the key words here.

I have no-one to blame but myself and my insatiable appetite. I’ve eaten every fucking pie put under my nose over the past few months and now my dress refuses to compromise.

It’s annoying because this was supposed to be a magical moment in my life and my marriage where I proved to the old man that I can save money and am not as shallow as he thinks I am. Which is why I decided months ago that I would wear a previously-worn dress (*shudder*) to my birthday dinner in an effort to show him just how much I’ve grown up, now that I’m nearly fifty.

I’ll give you a few minutes to absorb that information, ladies.

It wasn’t THAT dire a decision in reality. I’d only worn it once before, during my recent trip to Europe – so it isn’t like any of my friends had seen it on me before and I was told it flattered my more delicate curves then, before I lost all self-restraint and respect and piled on several kilos because I thought it would make me feel better to add a packet of vege-chips each evening to my glasses of wine and to finish off Kurt’s Pods whenever he wasn’t looking.

(Who doesn’t finish a bag of Pods? How did I produce such a lightweight for a son.)

So, all in all, I think it was a pretty damn mature decision of mine to resist buying a new dress for such an epic event in my life. But I figured that this new-found 50-something wisdom that I’m supposed to have found, means that I understand now that it’s not the superficial stuff that counts.

Not the wrapper, but its contents.

So I sated my need to spend by buying some new shoes instead…which were in the sale…so effectively I actually saved us money.

But every time I try on the bloody dress, it gets tighter around the waist, pinches my boobs and exposes my bat wings. When did I forget that women of a certain age shouldn’t wear ‘sleeveless’ dresses? And I can’t help questioning if I really want to hold my breath in all evening so my muffin top doesn’t make an impromptu Kravitz-esque appearance.

And then there’s the galling fact that the Spanx cost me more that a new dress and yet they still struggle to contain my Pods baby.

So I have two options left: a frantic and disastrous last-minute expedition to the mall that I know will end in more self-loathing and tears, because the first law of being a woman is never to buy clothing when you feel fat, or option 2: to wear an even older dress from my wardrobe – preferably maternity – with ‘give’ in the waistband, but which everyone will have seen before.

THE SHAME!

What I have to avoid is the inevitable immaturity of the ‘I’ve got nothing to wear’ tantrum on the night, minutes before the guests arrive, because VERY deep down…SO deep down that I can’t really locate it, I know I SHOULD know that what I wear is not why people are coming.

My friends are coming for the wine.