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.

 

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.

When Will I Feel Grown Up Enough To Wear Grown-Up Clothes?

I know you’re probably thinking that this post is a replica of the one I wrote when I went through the trauma of finding a dress for my dad’s wedding earlier this year, but a second verbal vent is required after my most recent experience of trying to dress this sad, old middle-aged body. shopping-606993_1280

 

When the fuck are retailers going to cater for those of us middle-aged women who aren’t ready for floral tent-age and swathes of fabric un-tactfully placed to conceal our post-partum lumps?

How am I supposed to recover some of the confidence I used to have in my body when the world expects me to hide it away so I don’t offend anyone?

And how many Christmas cookies is too many?

 

After two separate, arduously soul-destroying and unproductive sessions at the mall -mission being to find a dress to wear on Christmas Day – I did something highly impulsive the other night. I ordered a dress online.

 

Obviously an excursion towards madness that turned out to be an unmitigated disaster and the meringue will be going straight back to the online store – mainly because Christmas is not fancy dress and so my version of brandy custard was probs not appropriate. But it’s a shame, because the experience highlighted my continuing sensitivity about this new body of mine and I thought I’d matured and accepted that it’s not what it was a long time ago. It’s not like I’m the star of the Christmas Day show anyway – apparently Jesus is, (although I’m sure NC will give him a run for his money) – but the Leo in me always wants to make an entrance, refuses to lie down and give in to the part of the ageing process that has gathered for Christmas to party on down in the zone where my stomach used to be.

 

For as long as I can remember I’ve treated myself to a new outfit to wear on Christmas Day. It goes back to my childhood, when one of mum’s traditions was that no matter how tight the finances were, at least we would look our best, in much the same way that we always wore decent underwear in case we were involved in an accident.

 

Sadly, my *cough* size 14, middle-aged body is not catered for in the high street stores and I’m learning to interpret the pitying looks the sales assistants throw my way when I make such a ridiculous request – but I can’t deny that acceptance of that is a slow and painful journey, and it’s Sods Law that since I’ve found some level of grace in relation to my rounder edges, every other middle-aged woman I see in the street appears diminutive.

 

Which is why I reached that level of desperation after hours of trawling around various malls, by the end of which I honestly would have sold my children for the perfect dress. I’d even ventured onto that hallowed floor in DJs where where the assistants look down their noses at you unless you are carrying a Calvin handbag , but fortunately no-one took me seriously enough in my Havaianas and Uniqlo dress for me to waste my hard-earned cash on what I know is effectively one dress for one day.

 

After which I decided to change my tactics completely and take a peek at the ranges that cater to my age group – that aren’t maternity – and the racks of voluminous, frumpy dresses that fashion experts believe us poor women who wear the scars of reproduction, hormone combustion and a talent for eating lots of cake, truly deserve. And I nearly puked.

 

I couldn’t do it. I might feel fucking old some days but I’m not ready to give in yet, no matter how much shop assistants try to convince me that flora-vomit pasted over my body and fuchsia tones suit me, or how well a kaftan swamps hides those awkward bits. I don’t feel grown up enough to wear grown-up women’s dresses yet.

 

Have you given in?

 

Help! When Your Fashion Sense Screams You’re Middle-Aged

According to this hugely influential source, 10 Things Style Errors That Make You Look Older, the common woollen cardie is ageing on middle-aged women; which means I instantly lose all my middle-aged fashionista credentials.

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Matrix cardie – Ha! Bloody Ha!

 

 

Because I love me a nice cardie.

 

If Madonna needs to wear a cardie to show she’s grown up in order to improve her relationship with her teenage son, as recommended by one writer recently, I’ve obviously been middle-aged my whole life if wearing cardigans is a reliable yardstick with which to judge. 

 

The cardigan has always been a staple of my wardrobe – I bloody love them! – a passion that may hark back to my British heritage and being frocked up from an early age in Laura Ashley dresses with matching cardies; or may have something to do with my shocking circulation, (up until the recent body thermostat issues, that is, at the hands of Menopause). I’m always cold, you see, and just as toasties are my favourite go-to comfort snack, the cardie is my go-to clothing for comfort.

 

Cardies seem to reproduce in my wardrobe with the speed of rabbits, and in almost every conceivable shade; not bad when you consider I live in a city which has an average temperature of 28 degrees.

 

I’ve recently progressed to the less Nana, I like to think, more sophisticated, full-length version which I secretly believe gives me more height and makes me look grander; as well as the sleeveless cardie which looks stylish in Autumn and the first chill in the air – although in practical terms I’ve discovered a loophole in the design, because you can only wear a sleeveless when its too warm for a real cardie, and then the rest of your body gets too bloody hot.

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The Sleeve- Less Cardie

 

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Power-cardie by Alannah Hill

I have an Alannah Hill cardie that I almost sold my children for to afford because I believed it would be a great power-cardie for work, that I’ve sadly never worn… and I really don’t know why.

 

The boys do their Keanu Reeves Matrix impression whenever I wear my long black cardie, which was my first-born, full-length cardie and has been stitched up several times at the cardie hospital, yet nevertheless has served me loyally.

 

This neutral cardie came from French Connectionlurving FC at the moment – and is soft and light, long and floaty, the only problem being that it is SO LONG it gets caught up in my heels, which provoked a very embarrassing moment recently when I tripped up the stairs to my favourite local Asian restaurant.

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French Connection cardie

 

Luckily, they know I’m a big drinker and barely batted an eyelid.

 

I bought my khaki sleeveless (above) at Zara recently, which looked a shade of copper in the shop and once I got it home I realised it coordinates with absolutely fuck all in my wardrobe, apart from black. Luckily most of my wardrobe is highly funereal for obvious slimming reasons.

 

This grey, woolly mammoth (below) from Witchery adds about ten kilos to my frame but is great for those winter evenings or hormonal humps when all you want to do is hide yourself away, eat loads of pasta, drink hot chocolate and languish in warmth.

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Woolly Mammoth cardie

 

This very yellow, little mustard number was retrieved from a local market, and although it’s an odd color, I admit, (and is extremely reminiscent of the Princess’s puke on an empty stomach), I’ve worn it to death.

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Putrid-Yellow Cardie

 

And finally, there’s my very safe, caramel mid-length cardie, my all-time favourite because the relaxing but classic colour combo of caramel and black are the colours I feel most comfortable in. It was taking a nap at the time of these photos.

 

And when you feel comfortable, you look good.

 

What’s your favourite piece of clothing?

 

(Images provided by NC. No cardies were hurt during this very professional photo-shoot)

Confessions Of The Worst Housewife

It’s been a hellish week at work so I’ve tried that strategy I used to use on the kids when they were toddlers, of ‘ignore them and they might just go away’, but the overflowing laundry basket is particularly persistent at drawing attention to itself and refuses to play ball – which makes me THE WORST HOUSEWIFE EVER.Confessions Of The Worst Housewife

What is it about laundry and that whole reproduction thing it does, particularly during manic work weeks and over-night?

I swear that I got to the half-way mark of the teen basket yesterday and then some asshole in the house decided that it was suddenly okay to change their fucking bedlinen.

FUCKING INCONSIDERATE, in my opinion. NO-ONE puts dirty bedlinen in the basket without permission in my house.

Adding bedlinen to a pile that is already out of control is like adding fat to a fire and my laundry basket already has some evil fertilising night fairy with an agenda and doesn’t need any allies. Which is why you have to get permission to change your bedlinen in our house; and permission only gets given if there’s enough wine in the house to ease the pain, it’s sunny outside or I can increase my medication.

The worst offender is Kurt, who is ODD and needs to change his clothes at least four times after school, thinks it’s a far better idea to put clean-ish bath towels towels in the laundry basket than re-hanging them (FUCK! SHIT! BOLLOCKS!) and has an irritating habit of dropping CoCo Pop milk down every clean shirt he puts on – although the odds are increased because he eats cereal for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The worst part *deep breath* is sifting through the dry laundry, (and yes I AM AWARE that I’m beginning to sound psychotically housewife technical/anal/vacuous here) – its been a long week. You see, I can manage to get the laundry into the machine on autopilot and then into the dryer with the aid of wine, but once it’s dry I just don’t want to be anywhere near it. Because that involves brain-dead hours of sifting, sorting, matching and putting away and actually, I DO have a brain and there are frankly far more worthwhile things to do with my life, like going on Pinterest and watching The Bachelor.

onfessions Of The Worst HousewifeWhich is why I’ve been forced to resort to foul play this evening. I’ve pulled out ‘key’ dirty clothes from the basket, done the sniff test, carefully re-folded them, got the dog to sit on them for a while for warmth and added them to the ‘clean’ pile. Of course I live in fear of being found out if Kurt finds that giveaway drop of CoCo Pop milk down the front, but if that risk saves my sanity, it’s worth it. 

Father, forgive me for I have sinned. I am THE WORST HOUSEWIFE.

 

 

Women And Handbags: A Love Story

Rather like what they did to Star Wars, this post is the prequel to Women and Shoes: A Love Story and Women and Chocolate: A Huge fucking Love Story.

 

You see I treated myself to a new handbag a few weeks ago. Obviously, I had to hide it in the concealment zone for ten days so that the old man wouldn’t realize that I’d spent vast amounts of our hard-earned cash on something so superfluous, but I finally got to flaunt it yesterday.

 

He hasn’t noticed.

 

Unlike a lot of women I know, I don’t have a wardrobe of handbags to accessorize with different outfits. I wish I did, but a) the old man doesn’t see the necessity of new clothes so I doubt I’d get the latest Burberry past him, and b) I’d waste valuable drinking energy changing over my shit from one handbag to another.

 

Can anyone seriously be assed to change all of the shit from one handbag to another, EVERY DAY?

 

Anyway, I stick to a practical black and brown design that goes with everything and will last me a good couple of years, but I do have a particular weakness fondness for Guess handbags because I like me a bit of tasteful bling. This is this year’s new model:

 

Women and Handbags: A Love Story
Women and Handbags: A Love Story

 

So, when I did the two yearly changeover from old to new model this week, even I was slightly impressed appalled by just how much crap I managed to accumulate in one tiny vessel.

 

My handbag is either a handbag version of Dr Who’s Tardis or Hermione Granger’s beaded handbag with the undetectable extension charm on it.

 

Here’s what I found:

 

  • Five lipsticks, all exactly the same shade, although I’m assuming they must have looked different shades in the shop.
  • Twenty-five tampons, which, (and this could be related to Harry Potter again), breed in my handbag until the day I ACTUALLY FUCKING NEED ONE, and they then become invisible. Tampons are always the first objects to fall from my handbag when I drop it, particularly during client meetings.
  • Sixteen pens, which, like their cousin the tampon, are never there when I need them either but then breed overnight.
  • The business cards of every real estate agent in Sydney, some hot some not.
  • Petrol receipts for all those bank reconciliations that I promised the old man I would do two years ago, but never quite got around to.
  • 2 lip balms from Thredbo 2012
  • Four pairs of reading glasses
  • Massive, mother-sized sanitary towels that look as though they should be for incontinence and not menstruation. Just in case I get stuck somewhere like the Arctic, overnight, with my period on its heaviest day. As you do.
  • Neurofen for headaches, Neurofen for hangovers, Neurofen for periods, Neurofen for backache and Neurofen for Teenagers.
  • 3 dog poo bags in case I get caught short. These are also handy when you pick up drunken teenagers and their hanger-on friends from parties, who assure you that they can hold onto their alcohol until the car starts moving.
  • Notebook – for that moment in the craft of writing when inspiration will assault my senses and send me that life-changing, millionaire-making idea that I have to write down immediately in case I forget it. The notebook is still blank.

 

What crap do you pack into your handbag?

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Is Clothes Shopping Really Therapeutic For Middle-Aged Women?

I headed into Pitt St Mall with NC on Saturday. My aim was to have some retail therapy to help me compete with the other queens at Mardi Gras.

In my mind I was probably aspiring to end up looking like this…

Is shopping really therapy for middle-aged women?
I really wanted to look like this…

I was certainly determined to spend oodles of cash – the old man has been pissing me off relentlessly for the past week, (for no real reason other than the fact that he’s there), so I decided than an assault on the credit card might be therapeutic.

At that point I still thought shopping would make me feel better – like it used to when my clothes used to fit.

I knew what I didn’t want, which was to end up looking like this…Nightmare on Middle-Aged Street.

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But it was the same old sad, shopping story. Before I left, I got all excited and had envisaged exactly what I wanted to buy, but that was obviously before I discovered that the only shoes left must have been designed for miniature poodles and the only dresses on the rails were a perfect fit for Barbie dolls.

I tried to remain upbeat while NC found item after item and looked like a fucking model in ALL of them, and then I retreated to Myer.

Alas, even in my safe haven of Myer, the brands that I have come to rely on recently – the ones that give me some middle-aged feel-good factor – just didn’t deliver.

Blame those beeatch hormones for trying to confuse me or the painful cloudiness still fogging my brain (a result of four too many Chardies on what should have been a quiet night in) the night before, but nothing looked or hung quite right, so by midday I was red-faced and sweating in the changing rooms.

Two of my favourite brands in Myer of late have been Stella of Myer (www.myer.com.au) and Wish (www.wish.com.au). The Stella range has a lot of loose fitting dresses in trendy (not frumpy) Vintage prints and I like Wish’s floaty elegance – in particular their stylish tops that do the best job of camouflaging the old muffin top without having to resort to kaftans.

By the afternoon, the added FML complication of torrential rain that led to squeaky, painful shoes with accompanying blisters, didn’t help my mood and even the lattes were working against me by blowing up the muffin top to a balloon.

I decided to play safe. I’ve been quite partial to the footless tights/mid-thigh dress combo for a while now and as distressing as it is to admit to needing tights in the summer, (WTF global warming), over the last few days, I’ve been freezing my ovaries off.

So I fancied something like this little dress on the right, from Country Road, but unfortunately the budget said no.

Is shopping really therapy for middle-aged women?

Of course, whenever I’m shopping for sensible, atypical middle-aged, dresses for work, (because I have to look androgynous there), or have no money to spend, those short, funky dresses throw themselves off the rails to tempt me, but alas, with a hundred bucks still burning a great fat hole in the back pocket of my jeans, it was Sod’s Law that there would be nothing I liked.

So finally I did what any desperate woman does in a serious shopping crisis and I grabbed at a handful of ‘possibles’ and marched bravely towards the changing room, determined to buy SOMETHING…ANY FUCKING THING.

The changing room attendant did her best to challenge me about the number of items in my arms, but when I flashed her THAT look, even she KNEW, stepped back and allowed me to pass with SEVEN items.

Here are some of the ones I tried:

Is shopping really therapy for middle-aged women?

Is shopping really therapy for middle-aged women?

Inevitably I bought the ONLY item in the whole of Pitt Street Mall NOT in the sale – a cute little top from Toi Et Moi – firstly because anything with a French name sounds super stylish, and secondly because I wanted the old man to REALLY hurt like it.

But mainly because I’M FUCKING WORTH IT!

Is shopping really therapy for middle-aged women?

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8 Survival Tips For Middle Age

When I was young and had no concept of my own mortality and thought that being over twenty-five was like SOOOO fucking old, I found it hard to believe that life could possibly begin at forty.

Well, I’m now approaching fifty and I’m thinking I might have been right all along.

Admittedly, there are some bonuses to getting older, but there is some shit that happens in middle-age that, frankly, you can never be prepared for.

Here are my survival tips to help you through:

1. The Regret Backpack

Backpack
Backpack (Photo credit: CollegeDegrees360)

Sitting in traffic the other day, the old man looked at the car in front of him, let out a big sigh and said, ‘I suppose I’ll never have an Aston Martin now.’

No-one warns you that if you let it, a permanent ‘regret backpack’ containing all the things you wish you’d done by now, would try to break your back in middle age. There comes a point at this time of your life (and for me it happened around forty-five) when you suddenly realise with earth-shattering clarity that each day might be your last, so don’t waste them with regrets.

My Tip: Dump the regrets as fast as you dump the boring people in your life and remember, it’s never too late….

2. When Your Body Starts Falling Apart

You were prepared for the lines, the wrinkles and the sticky-out fugly veins all over your body, but no-one warned you about gnarly feet, bunions and lumps and bumps that suddenly appear around your joints so that your feet only fit into sensible footwear now.

Or that your vajayay would never really feel the same as it did before you plopped your second nine-pounder and spoilt your chances of having a satisfying sex life again.

My Tip: Learn some Kegel exercises and invest in some vaginal cones so that at least one area of your body remains youthful.

3. Living With Teenagers

You can never prepare yourself fully for teenagers. Teenagers look like adults, eat like adults, think they’re adults but don’t think like adults. They maintain the mental self-absorption qualities of toddlers. Little kids are physically exhausting, mentally taxing (and let’s be honest, quite annoying most of the time) but teenagers suck the life-blood out of you. You spend their childhood trying to teach them right from wrong and then suddenly, overnight, they know everything.

Teenagers treat the house like a hotel and monopolize everything, including the tv, bathrooms, food, every communal space and even your own personal stuff. Teenagers become really invasive right at the same time that you are beginning to crave some inner peace.

My Tip: Don’t make those parasitic critters too comfortable at home and they’ll eventually leave of their own volition.

4. Becoming an ‘Invisible’ woman

Despite what the media would have us believe, ‘becoming invisible’ doesn’t only only happen to women; men just don’t care as much. 

eu era assim

Be honest, ‘Invisibility’ is really just a polite term for becoming physically older and less attractive (in the eyes of youth). Luckily, it happens to all of us and at the same time in our peer groups. The good news is that you are still attractive to middle-aged men, even though you might be looking at them and wishing that they are one of the twenty-something lifeguards from the local pool instead.

My Tip: You’re as old as you feel. It might take a bit more effort these days, but if you feel good about yourself, that confidence will take years off you.

5. Feeling as Irritable as Fuck (All the time)

So you get irritated by the slightest thing these days. If there’s a man in your life, use him, and make him your target. Part of that irritability is linked to all of the above but the hormones are having a last laugh at your expense too. Everything annoys you, you get bored easily and you have zero tolerance for people. MOST people.

My Tip: Whip your man’s ass every time you feel the need to offload that anger. Luckily, men are from Mars and it’ll go straight over their heads anyway and if you’re lucky they’ll retreat to the shed and give you some peace. 

6. Putting on weight every time you look at food or alcohol

English: Raspberry and cream sponge cake, Down...

You can blame those fucking hormones for this one too, plus the sedentary lifestyle of being glued to your desk chair for work and Facebook as well as that stress-busting nightly glass of wine and bar of chocolate. These days you just have to think about a cream cake and you put on five kilos. And the real bitch is that once you put it on, for some biological reason, it’s impossible to get it off again.

My Tip: Something’s got to give, unfortunately, so replace dessert with wine. The great thing is that it can count as one of your five portions of fruit and veg for the day.

7. Not Fitting Into Clothes Anymore

Even if you don’t weigh much more on the scales than you did in your thirties, your body evolves into this weird shape that simply does not fit into standard clothing sizes anymore. You might be a size 12, but even a Large is too tight. Hemlines suddenly feel way too short and so the only clothing you feel good in these days are yoga and happy pants.

My Tip: The more expensive the label, the more generous they are on sizing – they know their market.

8. Becoming Intolerant to Alcohol

This is the biggest bummer of middle age because to cope with all of the above you really need a solid drinking habit. Even more irritating is that you can probably afford to splash out on the decent stuff these days, but suddenly your body goes into crazyville with a WHOA! CAN’T TOUCH THIS attitude when it comes to alcohol. These days you get blinding headaches from two glasses of wine and a hangover can last a week.

My Tip: Life’s a bitch sometimes, but there’s a reason women are renowned for being stronger than men and that’s because of our tenacity and resilience in the face of impending peril… Suck it up, girlfriends…with a straw if you have to.

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Learning to Cope With Those ‘I Hate Every-Fucking-Thing in My Wardrobe’ Moments

A.K.A…’I have NOTHING to wear’, ‘I have NO clothes’ and ‘Fuck Off, out of my bedroom.’

The Clothes She Wears by Stacy Vitallo
Learning to cope with those ‘I hate every-fucking-thing in my wardrobe’ moments.

I’ve had quite a few of those moments of intense pain in my bedroom over the past few weeks.

Those moments where you’ve tried every combination of separates in your wardrobe and even every dress you swore you’d donate to Vinnies because you wouldn’t be seen dead in it now.

‘Maybe…just maybe…it’ll look ok today?’ you think.

But of course it doesn’t. it’s still too tight, too short, or too young and so you lose it big-time and forbid anyone from even contemplating entry into your bedroom until you’ve pulled yourself together.

I’m no stranger to this type of middle-aged shopping danger as you will remember from my previous posts about shopping here and here.

The problem with this time of the year is that Christmas throws up events that you don’t normally go to, where running pants and sloppy tee-shirts simply won’t suffice.

Every girl (given the choice) wants to wear a new outfit on Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve.

And I was spoilt this Christmas, when the old man prevented any possibility of receiving my shell-shocked look of horror on Christmas morning when I opened his present, (generally caused by his inept attitude of ‘I have absolutely no idea of who you are or what you like after twenty years of marriage’), and gave me some limited access to the credit card instead.

TO SHOP!

Every girl’s dream! I could already visualise myself in some flowing black designer evening dress, laughing sexily as he snapped the box on my accompanying diamond accessories before I even hit Pitt St Mall – (or rather more likely, shouting ‘WTF did you do that for, arsehole?’ and storming off in a mood).

But shopping’s not MY dream any longer, apparently.

Don’t get me wrong, I can still shop until I drop and I still love browsing and trying everything on in the store. But if you looked closely at my ratio of ‘time spent in the shops’ to ‘actual purchases’, I don’t have a very high success rate.

Because nothing looks quite right anymore.

Maybe it’s because I’m still drawn to the mutton clothes I used to wear in my twenties and thirties, but nothing I like seems to suit my new middle-aged shape these days.

BODY SAYS NO….

I did have some success. On Day 2 I bought lots of undies. I had been determined to revamp my underwear drawer for some time with a selection that was more sexy flattering, yet still comfortable. And after substantial research and a lot of misses (that I will have to pass onto NC, because they still ride up my bum or don’t absorb the muffin top fully), I finally decided that the ‘high-leg’ was the style for ‘my bits and me’ and bought in volume. (I recommend the Jockey ones).

On day 3, I also found a dress for New Year’s Eve. It was obviously pure fluke and typically the only dress in the whole of Westfield that wasn’t on sale but (thank you, God) it did fit, wasn’t too short, didn’t expose too much breast tissue or thigh dimpling, and it was black, which is my safety zone colour.

Day 6, and admittedly now feeling desperate, I found a beautiful sequinned, white silky top in the Country Road sale, but then smeared foundation on the neckline and fish sauce down the front panel during its first outing.

Nevertheless, I convinced myself that I was on a roll. If I could find the most elusive piece of clothing known to middle-aged woman, A TANKINI TOP THAT FITTED, (to replace my eight-year-old one that is now so stretched and shapeless, it doubles as a flotation device in the water), I knew that my work would be done.

What can I say? Shopping for swimmers brings me out in a rash.

The only good thing about shopping for a new swimming costume is that you get to burn off a ton of calories in the changing room just squeezing your boobs into apparel evidently made for stick insects – an easy way to justify the evening’s wine consumption.

I dragged my middle-aged body from shop to shop and tried on a multitude of fun-size, ‘you’re having a laugh’ tankinis. It’s astounding how complicated the art of tankini design has become. There were different cup styles, padding, strap styles and swathes of superfluous fabric built into the front panel to conceal the post-Christmas salt and Balsamic vinegar chip tummy.

I must have shed at least 200 calories just positioning my empty teabags into what were often vast cups, and throttling the muffin top with serious lycra.

I had wanted a tankini top in black, a slimming colour I thought, because I believed it might help me to merge better with the sea of beautiful young people in their itsy-bitsies on the balcony of North Sydney pool. Unfortunately, the only costume that fit me was a vibrant shade of burnt orange, so I am now the beacon on the balcony at North Sydney pool, guiding the flotillas of boats from Manly to Circular Quay.

My work was done. As much as I love shopping, my confidence has been dented again and I need time to debrief and work out my physical priorities now.

Do I put fashion before comfort or comfort before fashion?

Fuck, I’m getting old.

The Clothes She Wears photo courtesy of stacyvitallo at http://www.flickr.com

 

I Bet Brad Pitt Doesn’t Wear Thongs To Dinner!

How do you think Angelina would react if Brad put his thongs on to go out to dinner?

I Bet Brad Pitt Doesn't Wear Thongs Out To DinnerOne of the biggest battles my marriage faces at the moment, (successful parenting of Kurt aside), surrounds the old man’s malfunctioning wardrobe.

His consistently juvenile refusal to make any kind of effort with his attire (and desire to emulate the look of Woody Allen) is creating a rather large rift between us.

I thought that when we moved to the city he might upgrade his wardrobe accordingly, save the beachwear FOR THE BEACH and make a trip to David Jones to update. I don’t expect him to trounce around in designer slacks all the time, I’d just appreciate a bit of colour co-ordination occasionally.

I know all the baloney about ‘what’s on the inside’ being important and I agree wholeheartedly with the principle, but occasionally I’d like my fella to look hot.

However, his response is that he outrightly refuses to kowtow to any suggestion that he ‘make a fucking effort’ with his clothing, and accuses me of being shallow.

Who, moi?

I don’t think that I’m being unreasonable, but I do believe that he may have some innate fear of being controlled or disempowered by me (or any of the other verbs he uses that equate to the word ‘henpecked’). He doesn’t seem to understand is that I would hate to be married to a ‘yes’ man. Nevertheless, there are a few rules that are sacrosanct to our relationship and he broke one of the cardinal ones on Friday night when he wore thongs to a bar.

THONGS TO A BAR!

It’s not that I don’t appreciate that we now live in Australia where thongs are almost as iconic an emblem of the country as the kangaroo or emu, and I am glad that he is that keen to naturalise; yet I defy anyone to describe thongs as stylish.

They are beach apparel, designed to wade through sand easily, dry quickly when wet and to prevent the undersides of your feet from barbequing in hot sand. They say ‘I can’t be bothered’ rather than ‘I’m hot!’ and if a man can’t be bothered in his choice of footwear, what does it say about his lovemaking techniques? They are about as attractive as nylon rapper running suits and high-waisted trousers and do nothing to accentuate the allure of a man in a bar.

If I was some 40-something woman already comfortably resigned to wearing my Sportscraft checked shirt and slacks, they might be acceptable. Unfortunately for the old man, I’m not.

Which is why I felt very aggrieved on Friday night when after I threatened to leave him for not making enough of an effort , on a whim we decided to go out for a quick drink. Although it was a spontaneous decision, I, however, still bothered to put on some lippy, a few sequins and heels.

As we were walking to the bar, I looked down at his feet, and to my horror noticed the offending Havaiana thongs.

‘Hun, you really need to buy some casual shoes,’ I said, trying to quell the irritation from my voice, ‘because it’s just not acceptable to go out at night in flip flops.’

‘Who says?’ he snapped back, hackles rising. ‘What’s wrong with them?’

‘You look like crap, like you’ve just come off the beach’, I responded haughtily, ‘they don’t even match!’

‘Yes, they do,’ he retaliated, checking his feet to see if he had on a matching pair.

I give up. Why can’t he make an effort for me for the very same reason that I make an effort for him? There’s nothing sinister about my request, no hidden agenda, I just want him to look stylish and attractive occasionally. But it seems that the more I nag him about his lack of style or the necessity to dress up, occasionally, the more he retaliates like some toddler by donning his oldest tee shirts, dirtiest jeans and fugliest footwear.

I can see that it has become a bit of a game for him. On Saturday evening I jokingly commented about how glad I was that he was wearing his fugly poo-coloured tee-shirt, rather than wearing it on Sunday for our Christmas party. In hindsight, the poo-shirt would have been a better fit than the shrunken crop top that he chose to wear in front of our friends, and if it hadn’t been for the negotiating skills of NC who has a way of appealing to her father that I lost somewhere along the marital timeline, I may have left him and our guests to it.

I don’t need him to dress in Ralph Lauren, but I would just like him to look smart occasionally, rather than like the guy who dressed during a power outage in the local Vinnies.

Am I being unreasonable? I bet Brad Pitt doesn’t wear thongs to dinner.

10 Fashion Disasters You Should NEVER Make In Middle Age

It was not my best look when an ill wind gusted across Bradfield Park the other day and exposed my voluminous flesh-toned granny cacks to about two hundred St Aloysius catholic boys who were innocently playing soccer nearby.

What was I thinking? Even ‘comfort’ is no excuse for wearing granny knickers in public.

180. She Uses A Machete To Cut Through Red Tape
180. She Uses A Machete To Cut Through Red Tape (Photo credit: lism.)

Those wise words of my mother immediately came back to haunt me –those indelible ones about never leaving the house in fugly undies. I think she was about me being compromised in a road accident or something, but I now realise that this must be a widespread piece of motherly advice because, let’s face it, how often do you spot fleshy, nylon trunks in those ER scenes where they have to cut through clothing, anyway?

At least I know whom to blame for my anxiety issues.

So I added the incident to the growing list of fashion disasters I seem to have committed since I entered this arena called middle-age. As you know if you have followed my journey, it’s taken some practice to adapt my wardrobe to my advancing years and increasing volume, especially the ‘dressing your age’ part. And in my quest to remain stylish and attractive, I have made more than a few embarrassing fashion faux-pas.

Hell! I’m not afraid to admit that I’m still learning. But I do think that my dress-sense may have disappeared around the same time as the firmness of my boobs.

I’ve been more than a little guilty of being the proverbial ‘mutton dressed as lamb’ on more occasions than I’d like to admit and I also admit to resorting to ‘comfort’ fits prematurely, in the naive belief that I still looked good.

Here are 10 of my best disasters for you to learn from:

  1. That time in recent history, (before I discovered the maturity to understand that a high neckline can be more flattering for women of almost any age), when I foolishly assumed that a lower neckline and ‘getting the tits out for the boys’ might distract the eye from, let’s say, my less flattering areas. But I sometimes went WAY TOO FUCKING LOW and, frankly, I set off the mutton siren. I then often compounded my error by enhancing ‘the girls’ with a pumped up, ‘come and get me boys!’ push-up bra. Oh, the shame!
  2. Adorning my body with cheap and gaudy jewellery is one of my biggest faults. What can I say? My need for self-expression through a bit of sparkle increases as I get older! My excuse is that when they brought out my signature Lovisa range, the urge to ‘bling’ was far too overwhelming to ignore.
  3. My investment in a wardrobe of tent dresses to conceal my wobbly bits, because they looked so dressing gown comfortable. I know now that they make me look EVEN bigger, of course – just think about Liz Taylor and her range of kaftans.
  4. Alice bands –WRONG! WRONG! JUST SO FUCKING WRONG! NC actually smacked my hand yesterday morning when I picked up one of those uber-trendy floral headbands. I think her words were: ‘Are you fucking serious?’
  5. Big bold patterns that make a statement and look as though the dog just vomited on me. I now know they don’t make the kind of statement I want.
  6. Those cutesy, Cue, retro dresses with the cinched-in waistband that break the bank and look so good on the hanger or on young women. They’re too twee for us mature women of the world.
  7. The times that I’ve worn NC’s wardrobe in pathetic retribution for all of the times she wore my clothes and looked better in them, trashed or never returned them. I shudder when I remember face-planting in the drive in NC’s shoes.
  8. Going wild for fluoro colours, especially orange – hmmm – I’m not sure you should be allowed to even wear those colours if you’re white, to be honest.
  9. Crop tops – the less said the better.
  10.  The old combo of a tight top that’s just a little too short, over a skirt where the waistband is just that little bit too tight – P.L.E.A.S.E! – a squashed Big Mac springs to mind. A compromised muffin top is not a good look on anyone.

NC* suggested I add ‘bikinis’ to the list. WTF! Obviously I have cut off all her uni allowances, cancelled her subscription to Rock World and locked away her science and Harry Potter books for a week.  I also intend to flirt outrageously with NB* on his next visit.

NC* Nerd Child

NB* Nerd Boy

5 Winter Fashion Must-Haves for Middle-Aged Women

"Winchester Bag Lady"
“Winchester Bag Lady” (Photo credit: Flicktone)

It’s f*cking freezing at the moment and in a perfect world I would be allowed to just hibernate for the next two months and left to exist on hot chocolates and Schnapps like I tried to in Thredbo.

Unfortunately, reality dictates that I have to work, shout at horrible teenagers and pretend to live life to the full.

Which means that in spite of the urge to simply alternate my two warmest and fugliest jumpers, (which is exactly what I also did in Thredbo), occasionally I have to look like a normal human being, rather than my preferred winter alter-ego of a middle-aged Bag Lady.

The whole winter style issue becomes further complicated by my predicament over who exactly I want to be in my late forties, in terms of style persona.

Do I aspire to be Sarah Jessica Parker or am I going to settle for Kathy Bates?

I’m still desperately trying to find that outfit that suits my middle-aged spread physique, and to be honest, it gets harder in the winter. I have tried ‘layering’, but it has to be done right in middle age, otherwise you just end up looking bigger. And in my experience, to layer successfully, you need to spend money.

Five Winter Must-Haves For Middle-Aged Women
Stella Dress

The ‘need to be comfortable’ mindset is definitely edging out my old sense of style; although I’m not quite ready to roll over and die just yet. Deep down I would like to carry on enjoying fashion, but I need to stay warm too.

Age is definitely just a number; it doesn’t have to be an outlook too.

What I have found since resisting embracing my late forties by the balls is that the old man was quite right about one thing –  ‘quality is far superior to quantity’ – at least when it comes to classic wardrobe essentials.

I have recently adopted several trial ‘looks’ that seem to work on my evolving pear shape during the cold winter months, and these are: classic dresses, skinny trousers with loose tops and shorter dresses with boots and jackets.5 Winter Fashion Must-Haves for Middle-Aged Women

Although I am slowly veering towards more classic/Vintage-style pieces, I still like to have some fun with my style and offer the occasional Wow! factor (especially in the evening), so I’m not averse to pimping up my outfits where I can. I ‘sexy up’ plain classic dresses with colourful or sparkling accessories so that I still feel attractive and not dowdy.

So here are my five winter fashion must-haves for every middle-aged woman’s wardrobe:

Little Black Dress – There are some gorgeous classic-styled black dresses out there at the moment, and in my opinion you can never go wrong with an LBD; no matter what your age or size. I love the classic shift dress (which designers are thoughtfully designing in more ‘giving’ fabrics now, or the more vintage A-Line and Hepburn-esque shaped dresses with a belt or tie. I dress my LBDs ‘down’ for work with a contrasting belt, cardie and boots, or ‘up’ with some statement jewellery, heels, a metallic or animal-print belt and patterned tights for the evening. I love a black dress, black tights and contrasting shoes – the strappier the better.

Black Polo Neck Jumper – I have one of those chins that with time has sub-divided into about five levels and just about the only reason I like winter is that I can hide them with scarves or roll neck jumpers. I have always loved the loose-fitting, chunky-knit black roll neck jumper with either skinny jeans or a short skirt and boots (faux leather and metallic woven skirts are in at the moment and look super-hot with tights and boots).

Loose-fitting patterned dress – I admit that in previous posts I have said that women over forty shouldn’t be seen dead in short skirts or dresses, but I still really love a short, loose-fitting dress over leggings or skinny pants and boots. There are some great Vintage prints out there at the moment and colour energises aging skins – especially in winter when our skin tone becomes more corpse-like. I absolutely love the Stella range at the moment for Vintage prints, and their dresses are loose-fitting and reasonably priced too – find the range in Myer.

CardiganNOT (I repeat NOT!) Granny in style! I’m talking about the longer, more fitted style of cardigan that hangs mid-thigh and has some cotton in its mix. I have bought these in Country Road and Witchery in the past. Go as bright as possible if you wear them over your LBD – mustards, reds, olive green or electric blue or white all look divine.

Boots –My favourite are 70s-style vintage brown boots at the moment and I mix them with black all the time – something I never thought I’d do – I bought my pair in Witners. They don’t have to be high, but pick ones with some heel to lengthen your legs and make the look more slimming. Flat boots say ‘country’ to me – country style is about practicality not style.

Brands I head to for reasonably priced classics are Zara (www.zara.com.au) for jumpers and tops), Stella (www.stellamccartney.com for Vintage-print/smart loose dresses), Cue (www.cue.com.au – sale items only) and Portmans (www.portmans.com.au for classic dresses) and finally, Wish (www.wish.com.au for whatever else I can afford.

You don’t have to hide your body in winter, or run around like those crazy teenagers with barely anything on because Vodka Cruisers are obviously keeping their circulation going.

Embrace the winter cold with style, (and just wear your thermals and your grundies underneath).

Top Tip For Shopping with Men

I understand that men who like shopping do exist, but I have yet to meet one.

In my experience, shopping with a man who doesn’t ‘shop’, is worse than dragging a kicking toddler.going shopping with my (other) two men (DSC02536) by King of Monks at www.flickr.com

The old man is not what you’d describe as a male fashionista. He buys clothes when he needs them and for no other reason than body coverage. Clothes are functional. He doesn’t care about fashion or trends or frankly, what he looks like.

I am lucky if he commits to one shop per year. If I am fortunate enough to get him into a mall, he can buy everything he needs for the next twelve months within ten minutes. ‘Browsing’ and ‘window-shopping‘ are not words he comprehends. He never buys a lot, because a) he is an accountant with associated tight-arse sensibilities and b) he would wear the same outfit every day if society let him.

One of his work friends told me the other day that he owned in the region of 150 office shirts. When I told him that the old man has five, he blanched. If I allowed the old man to carry on wearing his baggy pink sweatshirts, high-waisted jeans and hightop runners from the 80’s, he would.

The annual shopping trip has to be prepared for rigorously. It has to be booked at least two months in advance so that he can mentally prepare for it. During that time he will convince himself several times that he doesn’t actually need anything and attempt to back out.

Surely his one pair of old jeans are fine for another year, he will try to justify.

He did try on-line shopping once – a few months ago when I inadvertently dyed all five office shirts pink in the wash. It seemed the obvious solution for him at the time. The process was relatively stress-free until the new shirts didn’t turn up on time, then two batches arrived at once, (rather like buses), so he had the torture of having to return one set to the UK which involved finding the local Post Office – can you imagine the horror?

When he finds ‘his’ shop, he is loyal to it. He is a committed one-stop shopper.

Last Sunday he was forced to add a second shopping event to his very busy weekend diary of sport versus naps because he needed snow boots for Thredbo – (for the ski trip that he forced on the family but due to his recent wrangle with the courtyard steps he can no longer actually participate in because he is under doctor’s instructions not to ski).

I had in mind some nice waterproof Ugg boots for him for his morning walks in the mountains (scheduled before his first nap of the day); he had firmly decided on some cheap Target work boots. True, Ugg boots are in the region of $200 but they would probably have lasted him a lifetime; the Target $29 work boots will last him this holiday.

But he could not physically part with $200 for a pair of boots – the ensuing physical and mental anguish would simply be too much, especially as he is still recovering from his recent dice with death.

You see, any money we spend is allocated to the ‘retirement’ spreadsheet and every item of what he deems ‘unnecessary’ spending is like a dagger straight through his heart. Expenditure, such as my hairdressing costs, the kids extra-curricular activities, Kurt’s medications and medical bills and Nerd Child’s academic books all fall into this category. Ugg boots would be thrown into the ‘Shamefully Wasteful’ column.

My anxiety levels began to mount as soon as we entered the mall. Even though the mall is home from home for me, the old man’s malaise is infectious.

We raced through the crowds of relaxed Sunday shoppers on a mission to complete our purchases well within the first hour of our free parking time – a first for me. Mothers and children were forced to part as the old man marched through them, his eyes firmly set on Target, his shopping mantra still ringing in my ear of ‘a quick shop is a good shop’.

He was paying for his work boots ten minutes later. Great, I thought, that gives us time to buy the new heater we need.

Woman logic. (Have I ever mentioned that logic often deserts me in shopping malls?)

‘We could get the new heater while we’re here,’ I ventured nonchalantly.

‘Why? I’m not cold.’

‘But we are.’

‘Hmmmmph! (Much eye-rolling, looking to the ceiling, teeth-grating, clenching of fists – you get the picture).

I hurried off in the direction of Harvey Norman without looking back at him in case he could smell my fear. Eventually I heard the distinctive dragging of his fifteen year old boating shoes behind me, like some resistant toddler. (Yes, he is still wearing boating shoes; and no, we don’t have a boat).

Did you know that ‘heating’ is actually quite a complex subject and can be quite scientific in its detail? (There is now the complication of balancing heat output with cost and carbon footprint).

So there I was, under-researched, flailing amongst a bed of assorted heaters that all looked the same with the old man giving me ‘that’ look. So I resorted to ‘phoning a friend’ – Nerd Child.

Meanwhile the old man slowly became more and more agitated as Nerd Child and I discussed the ruminations of wattage and cost, and he began rubbing his forehead fiercely – (the warning sign of one of his middle-age shopping tanties). Unsatisfied by NC’s logic, I then decided to consult Google for further information, at which point the old man let out a loud roar, briskly turned on his heel and left.

So this is what I have learned about shopping with men who don’t shop:

  • DON’T

Going shopping with my (other) two men (DSC02536) by King of Monks at http://www.flickr.com

My Top 5 ‘Young Fashion’ Shops For Middle-Aged Women

I refuse to dress like my grandmother just because I’m over 40. I might not have the body I had in my twenties, but I still have my pride.

Shopping Bags courtesy of richmondsquarephotos @ www.flickr.comI have made a few concessions to my age in terms of fashion, admittedly – wedges, flats and loose fitting dresses have become much more prominent in my wardrobe these days, but I’m proud to say that there is still not a Hush Puppy or kaftan in sight.

But even though I want to stay fashionable, I don’t want to look like ‘mutton dressed as lamb’ either.

So what’s a girl to do?

Well I’ve come up with this great little list of ’young’ fashion high street shops in Australia that provide great casual wear for mature women too; for those amongst us who are not ready to swamp ourselves in pastel tents or kid ourselves that Sportscraft smock tops are actually flattering.

 

But aren’t the clothes in ‘young’ shops poor quality and a little bit ‘mutton’, I hear you ask? 

Not necessarily. If you find the right items, they can be value for money and stylish.

Here are my reasons for not shopping in ‘wrinkly’ shops just yet:

  1. Lavenders, peaches, pistachio green and florals that look like wallpaper do nothing for my skin tone
  2. High, elasticated waistlines accentuate my post-natal baby baggage rather than concealing it
  3. I want a visual experience when I shop, not rack upon rack of of ‘meh’
  4. Sometimes, I still want to look sexy as well as stylish

And to be honest, I rarely buy my clothes from the high street retailers that are supposed to cater to my advancing years either. Mainly because they are just too damn expensive. I just can’t justify $250 dollars for a Cue dress, for example, no matter how much I orgasm over the designs of their cute little retro numbers. I might part with a week’s earnings for a special event, but not for everyday wear.

‘Witchery’ is another example. Love their look, but their focus on the colour ‘beige’ stumps me – that innocuous, fleshy colour palette may look sophisticated on younger or darker skin tones, but it washes me out completely.

So I’ve had to be resourceful and find shops that suit my lifestyle and budget, because even though I’m middle-aged I still want to look sophisticated and on trend.

So here are my top 5 ‘young’ fashion shops that are great for middle-aged women too:

Zara Zara

There’s a lot of hype about Zara and justifiably so. Stylishly European and offering clothes with an affordable price tag, Zara caters for all your wardrobe needs. Shoes are often expensive in Australia and you can buy well-made, stylish leather shoes in Zara for half the price of other brands and the  styles of their separates and dresses are so effortlessly chic, that even celebrities are happy to endorse them.

Bardot

IMG_0718 

Bardot sell sexy, loose-fitting tops that are fantastic for a casual night out over jeans or leggings. I simply love the high rounded neckline tops in particular, such as the Shimmer Cami which is flattering and priced well at the $30 level. Most of the dresses are a bit too short for me but some of the looser styles can still be worn over leggings and boots.

Forever New IMG_0720

I have a thing for sparkle and this season has been awesome in the bling department. Golds, sequins and studs are everywhere and Forever New has noticeably recently transformed its designs and the quality of its clothing. There is an assortment of great sparkly tops, vintage-style dresses and cardies, as well as shoes.

Cotton On

Cotton On

Nerd Child loves the vintage, layered look and Cotton On is a great shop for simple, lightweight, patterned cotton dresses (2 for $50 at the moment). I bought a couple for myself over the summer as well as a really useful ivory lightweight jacket for around $38 which looks great with a sparkly top over jeans, or even for work. Admittedly, there’s a lot of sh*te more suited to the younger kids but rake around and there are plenty of surprises.

Attik

Attik

Described on their website as ‘inner city festival edge’, Attiik is about colour and fun. It has a retro, hippy vibe and they offer beautifully patterned, loose fitting dresses and tops which look quirky over skinny jeans or leggings. Their colours are vibrant with a liberal use of the Indian palette such as vivid pinks, reds, mustards and turquoise but their designs are quite retro offering a sense of fun and individuality. I bought a great dress there that I have lived in over the summer, for $50.

BUT REMEMBER, there are still RULES with styling when you look to younger fashion for your wardrobe.

What to avoid:

Forget most of the skirts, because unless you want to look like you should be standing with Roxanne under her red light, in general the skirts are just way too short for the older woman, even if your pins are still fabulous. Ignore most of the accessories too, because at our age we just can’t get away with cheap and nasty bling or vinyl, poorly-made handbags. As for the ‘at the moment’ trends like gawdy floral jeans (probs not), faux leather jackets (not convinced), crop tops (NEVER, no matter how perfect your abs) and camouflage jackets and pants (ABSOLUTELY NO F*CKING WAY) – Walk away quickly!

I love buying new clothes and looking good and having some more expensive ‘basics’ in your wardrobe is vital. I spend my ‘serious’ money on shoes and dresses, but I also like to mix it up and wear new stuff, so sneaking a few cheaper tops and jackets into my wardrobe is how to keep it fresh. I’m not at all averse to the occasional op-shop either, as I mentioned here (You Don’t Have To Be Dita To Look Good In Vintage).

Don’t let the shops dictate what you should be wearing and how much you should be spending based on your age. After all, ‘age is just a number’.

Shopping Bags courtesy of richmondsquarephotos at http://www.flickr.com