Monday, December 5, 2011

What Would a Goddess Wear?

When I started this blog (not even three months ago!), I was in a state of uncertainty about my appearance as it related to my age and that nebulous concept called “style.” It’s been a joy and a revelation to become acquainted with all the hundreds of wonderful sewing and style bloggers out there; women (mostly) of every age and background, all interested in looking good for themselves and creating beautiful garments. What a huge help it’s been to discover all the over-50 style bloggers who have gone through the same confusion I was experiencing. I am just so proud and pleased with our generation of women, taking all that post-feminist angst and transforming it, finally, into all the power and confidence that all the previous generations fought for. We are goddesses.
Goddesses can still be confused though. Apparently I’m not the only one, as the topic of dressing for our age arises repeatedly in these very blogs. Last week, Pam of Over 50 Feeling 40 recounted her own realization of a gap between her age and her personal style. The responses to her post showed that a lot of us are still struggling with that gap.

I am still puzzling over the idea of whether we define ourselves, and thus create our style, based on what is around us. I’m probably repeating things I’ve said before, but for most of my life my style has been directed by where I was or what I was doing: college (all three times) – jeans; finance career – suits; corporate – the dreaded “business casual.”

Now, without any daily activities to define my look, I’ve ended up with no look. To be honest, my style or whether I have one doesn’t really matter. I’d planned a wonderful new career after my “retirement”, but that never did happen, and due to health reasons I probably will not ever have a full-time job to get up and get dressed for.

In fact, I don’t have much reason to leave the house except for the occasional run to the bank or pet store. I make myself go out at least once a month to visit the botanical garden or the museum or just tour around the lovely old neighborhoods. Once in a great while I have lunch with friends or a dinner date. I could have one dress and that would be enough for an entire year of social activities. I could get by for the rest of my life with only one suit.

At this point, five years into retirement, I could even be one of those people who wears sweat pants every day. (Hmm… elastic waist…) But that doesn’t set well with my love of color, art, fashion and creativity! Not to mention my acquisitive nature, little magpie that I am. I always want to be touching or seeing or making something new and colorful.


At one point in my confusion of several months ago, I posted this question to the blogoverse: “What does age-appropriate mean to you?” (in regard to clothing.) I love the common-sense response from Anita of Sew Vintage Sew Fun:

“To me it means wearing anything that I feel wonderful in! If I have to pull it down, pull it up, or otherwise adjust it every time I move, then it's not for me.”

Smart! She’s not obsessing about what category her clothing falls into, she just goes with what fits well and feels right. I’ve had too many garments that prevented me from walking with my long stride, or from sitting comfortably, and others that I had to constantly hitch up or hold on to.

Patti of Not Dead yet Style is all over this topic, and her opinion is that with our wider experience and deeper self-knowledge, women our age are both better equipped to make wardrobe choices and more comfortable in those choices than we were when we were younger.

I want that to be true, and I agree many women of our age have excellent personal style and seem perfectly comfortable with it. I, however, still feel slightly unmoored and it may be that I’m trying to force a direction or category on myself when it is totally unnecessary. The good news is, through all these wonderful “style at a certain age” blogs, and my own experimentation, I think I’m finally starting to focus in on a style, or a set of styles that a) I love to look at, b) I feel comfortable wearing, and c) are enjoyable for me to make myself.

Anna Sui

To my eye, the things that are best for me are long, flowing garments that are slightly fitted around the shoulders and waist to give shape, but mostly skim the body with graceful waves of fabric floating over the lumps and bumps of age. Goddess dresses, I like to call them. (Appropriate, right?)

Duro Olowu

As was probably obvious from my obsession with caftans, I’m drawn to ethnic, bohemian, peasant and gypsy styles, things that are draped and gathered and layered and long, but lightweight and full of movement. Yes, I'm a genuine product of the Age of Aquarius. The wrap dress is the perfect shape (not to mention adjustable!) except for its annoying tendency to fly open at embarrassing moments. I also love the modern silhouette of the shirtdress, as long as it has a full, long skirt and a defined waist. Anything in a maxi length will make me happy, and peasant styles are great as long as I stay away from lacy frills.

So, after a lot of projects that didn’t work for me (the pencil skirt, the bombshell dress, the boxy tee, the loose chemise), and some that did work (the flared skirt, the long shirtdress, the fitted blouse, anything in knit), I think I can start to focus on sewing styles I’ll really love to look at and wear.

Of course, you can still expect to be entertained by plenty of poor decisions, beginner sewing mistakes, and unexpected results from my sewing room.


Images source


  1. Some tempting maxi dress pics - what about on shorties? Those models look really tall!

  2. Ooohhh, I'm so happy to be mentioned in this fun post! As I sit in a hospital waiting room all day today, I am dressed in stylish leggings made by Sandmaiden on Etsy, a jersey tee, my Cher-tastic fur fringed Ugg boots, and a vintage faux fur vest, which has gone on and off with the air conditioning. (65 degrees today, snow in the forecast for later!) My point is, I can sleep in these clothes! And I will later, as I am not leaving until he Mister does. Yesterday, for a day of pre-surgical testing, I wore a wrap dress; just as comfortable, but not as appropriate: I don't want to be flashing the night nurses when I fall asleep!
    I love the caftans also; I wore one of those on Sunday while entertaining company at home. Keep exploring this topic; your posts are awesome!
    xo, Anita

  3. Hi Snippa, I've read a few blogs by stylish ladies who were pleasantly surprised when they tried maxi dresses on their shorter frames - a lengthening illusion, maybe?

  4. Anita, thank you for taking time out from the hospital vigil to stop by. I hope you have lots of good books and a stack of vintage magazines to pass the time.