It’s those sly French women who are responsible for my latest wardrobe folly. Watching them dash about the streets of Paris wearing simple basics with a gorgeous scarf lufting in the breeze, classic, art-inspired jewelry and an expensive leather cross-body bag, I imagined I could also achieve that air of je ne sais quois. All I had to do was buy good pants, tops and jackets in neutral black, white or gray, throw on a marvelous scarf and I too would be elevated to their level of chic sang-froid.
So I got to work. While my intentions were good, I’ve gone a bit overboard in stocking my wardrobe with basic black and white. Any modern woman will totally understand that we need more than one pair of black pants but how many is too many? The same issue applies to white tops—and black tops too for that matter. I’m embarrassed to tell you how many I have but Boomer Broads will understand how we need long-sleeved blouses, short-sleeved, three-quarters sleeves and sleeveless because our needs vary depending on the occasion and the weather. And this includes tee-shirts as well.
What about those colourful scarves guaranteed to ensure my passage into French chic-dom? I now have too many and have not yet found a suitable filing system for them. I’ve tried draping them over hangers, clipping them on laundry rings, stuffing them through special from-the-organizer-store looped hangers and rolling them in drawers. The result is
This week’s articles tickled my fancy like no other in a while. For those of you who care about how you look and have even a passing interest in fashion, you’ll enjoy reading this section today. It focuses on fashion in relation to aging, and I could hardly find a word I didn’t agree with—which as you know if you read my blogs is most unusual. You’ll love Apfel’s comments, such as, “If they don’t like my style, it’s their problem, not mine”. The HotDoc film about her that recently played in Toronto was thoroughly enjoyable. I left the theatre with a big smile on my face and feeling very inspired.
The Globe Style centrefold has a piece titled #OWN YOURAGE which clearly and accurately depicts our evolving views on fashion expressed by real women aged 29, 37, 47, 55 and 70. Even Jeanne Beker’s column on page 10 about underwear for millennials was relatable for an old Boomer like myself. Two young feminist women have launched their own business Me and You because “Our friends don’t shop at lingerie stores . . . most lingerie stores don’t cater to women. A lot of women pick their lingerie based on what they think men will think, which is not our approach.” Gotta love that, eh!
If you’re not a subscriber, pick up today’s Globe and Mail while you can still get a copy in the store.
P.S. This is not a paid endorsement. My opinions are my own and not for sale.
The name Iris Apfel has been mentioned in previous blogs and if I were allowed only one word to describe the ninety-three-year-old style icon it would be inspiring. Apfel is the subject of a recent documentary as part of the Hot Docs series being shown at the Bloor Cinema in Toronto. Apfel describes herself as a geriatric starlet. The documentary about her late-life celebrity status was made by filmmaker Albert Maysles who died recently at the age of eighty-eight.
Iris Apfel’s parents were originally in the fabric business and after marrying, Iris gained a reputation as a talented interior decorator with an unusual flair for one-of-a-kind objects picked up during her twice-a-year trips overseas on buying excursions. Apfel’s husband Carl, and love of her life recently celebrated his one hundredth birthday and the couple have been married for nearly seventy years. Watching them interact on the film was like witnessing a comedy tag team. They’re constantly feeding and responding to the other’s one-liners.
In her younger days, Apfel liked to shop at Loehmann’s discount designer emporium in Queen’s New York where she was given a valuable piece of advice by Mrs. Loehmann. “She used to sit on a raised chair watching all the customers in the store like a tennis fan looking back and forth, back and forth” she said. “One day she called me over and told me that I’ll never be considered pretty but I had a great sense of style which was more important.”
Apfel disdains natural beauty as perishable and rejects cosmetic surgery, “The young face doesn’t match the old hands“. She expands on this by suggesting that plain-looking women generally have to work harder for recognition by making themselves better conversationalists and generally more interesting people. She feels these qualities are not perishable and serve women better than beauty in the long-term.
The theatre was full of women with a few men sprinkled in and we watched the entire documentary with a smile on our faces and left feeling happy. Apfel is incredibly smart and articulate which is no doubt the result of her enduring and passionate interest in and ongoing involvement in fashion and colour. She’s a regular guest speaker at retail and social events. She also lectures at fashion and design educational institutions, taking lucky, naïve young students on field trips to fabric and design houses offering a perspective very different from regular curriculum.
Apfel’s personal style has resulted in frequent coverage in Vogue and she was recently selected to model in Kate Spade’s print advertising. Her clothes are exotic, colourful and, at risk of understating it, wild. She piles on the accessories, both expensive high-end designer pieces and inexpensive flea-market finds. Her haircut is short, hip and stylish. And the entire presentation is always punctuated with her signature round bug-eye glasses.
Watching Apfel on-screen for nearly ninety minutes was sheer delight. Although she is often frustrated by the lack of energy inherent with her age, her spirit, intelligence and joie-de-vivre are an inspiration. I left the theatre feeling uplifted and inspired to take a freerer approach in my own fashion choices. I was also reminded of the importance of staying involved in what we love to do as a means of living a happy, fulfilled life for as long as we’re “still vertical”.
P.S. The Bloor Cinema is on the north side of Bloor Street just east of Bathurst Street in Toronto. I mistakenly went to the cinema in the Manulife Centre at Bloor and Bay Street (a common mistake according to the ticket takers there). Fortunately I was fifteen minutes early which gave me enough time to hop the subway at Bay Street and take the four-minute ride to Bathurst Street. This brings home again the benefits of underground subways with no waiting on the street corner for a slow bus held up in traffic (in case any Toronto politicians read this blog). An energetic bag lady yelling in the subway station about how women will never achieve equal pay was just some bonus entertainment in a great day. I even had enough time left over to get a cup of tea to take into the theatre with me. Life is sweet.
My recent blog about how much I enjoyed the March issue of ELLE Canada was the result of how relevant and well-written their articles were that month. The March issue was dedicated to feminism which is a subject dear to my heart and I appreciated their coverage. So I wrote them a fan letter—actually I sent them a copy of my blog posting (You can’t always judge a magazine by its cover) and they printed an excerpt as their “best” letter on the May 2015 issue.
If you subscribe to ELLE Canada or wish to pick up a copy, you’ll find my letter at the top of page 40 as the month’s best letter. I’m a subscriber and I always enjoy this bit of Canadian eye candy, which you can pick up at any drugstore or grocery store. Here’s a link: http://ca.zinio.com/reader.jsp?issn=elleca-123&o=int
One of my (many) dirty little secrets is that I’m a subscriber to ELLE Canada magazine. I don’t advertise this as I wouldn’t want anyone to label me as shallow, superficial and materialistic. Subscribing to a seemingly fluff magazine targeted at young, hip fashionistas would certainly lead one to think this is the case, but after reading the March 2015 issue I feel somewhat vindicated.
First of all, it’s the Canadian edition so I’m supporting Canadian retailers and contributors to the publishing side of the magazine. But it also surprises me from time to time with content that is intelligent and relevant to all age groups. For example, the March issue’s theme is feminism and that’s definitely a subject dear to my heart. Baby Boomers cleared the way for a lot of the rights and freedoms that young women take for granted today such as subsidized maternity and paternity leave, gay/lesbian marriage, abortion rights and pay equity. The struggles are far from over but progress is being made.
Vakis Boutsalis in A Dangerous Game wrote a thought-provoking article about his conflicted feelings (yes, a guy discussing “feelings”) surrounding sports. As the father of a daughter, he wants her to appreciate the positive values inherent in sports such as teamwork and the value of hard work. However, he is equally concerned about the violence displayed by the players of professional sports and acknowledges that this is not a new phenomenon; professional sports has a history of domestic violence but with social and expanded media today we are now more aware of it. Boutsalis struggles with how to best explain this aspect of sports to his daughter.
In Feminism’s On-Line Renaissance Antonia Zerbisias takes on the issue of feminism and social media in describing the outpouring of discourse from women responding to #BEENRAPEDNEVERREPORTED. As the victims of Jian Ghomeshi have proven, women are finally speaking up and demanding action.
In The Ties That Bind Heather O’Neill, author of The Girl Who Was Saturday Night and Lullabies for Little Criminals describes her experience with friendships lost and friendships found and the value of female friendships, something Boomer Broads live and experience every day. And, there’s the usual assortment of eye candy—fashion, the latest birth control news, as well as skin, hair and makeup must-haves that promise to make all our dreams come true. I particularly loved Kate Spade’s ad with Iris Apfel.
As a confirmed magazine junkie (I subscribe to eighteen each month) I appreciate many forms of print but the March issue of ELLE reminded me that all may not be as they appear on the cover. The issue of feminism is still important and young women shouldn’t toss it off as not relevant to them. Boomer women covered a lot of ground over the years but we still don’t have equal pay and we are still subjected to prejudices that many men will never experience or completely understand.
My annual subscription to ELLE Canada costs only twelve dollars and I’d say I get my money’s worth. And my girlfriends love my hand-me-downs. We get a lot of mileage out of my bad habits. We just wish more publications recognized that we’re a huge demographic and Boomer women are not yet ready to be put out to pasture. And when we are, it’ll be with red fingernails, blonde highlights, sexy shoes and tight jeans. Because we are women and we still care about important issues beyond fashion.
For further insights into the Boomer perspective on business, fashion, mind and body, book and movie reviews, order my book, BOOMERBROADcast. It makes a great hostess or birthday gift as well as just a fun read.
The other day as I was listening to a story on the radio about a house fire the announcer wrapped up by saying, “And the elderly woman who lived in the home died in the fire. She was sixty-two.” That comment nearly knocked me on my flabby old fanny. Since when did sixty-two become elderly? I’m older than that; most of my friends are older than that and we hardly consider ourselves elderly. In fact, neither did my grandmother when she was well into her nineties. She always respectfully referred to older people (who were most often younger than her) in the third person, “old Mrs. James or poor old Mr. Holmes who lives around the corner”.
Remember when we Boomer’s didn’t trust anyone over thirty? Now we discount everyone under thirty as being too young to understand anything, including their perception of our generation. Just because I’ve had two hip replacements and wear hearing aids doesn’t mean I’m old. I can still rock around the clock with the best of them, sometimes even as late as 9:00 p.m. My maintenance issues are keeping me broke and when I get down on the floor I sometimes can’t get back up but that still doesn’t make me old. And the fact that I qualify for CPP and OAS (Canada Pension and Old Age Security, for any kids who might be reading this) just means I worked for a very long time and have earned it.
The other day I went for Japanese food at lunchtime with eleven girlfriends. The hostess seated the twelve of us in a private room so our screaming laughter and rude jokes wouldn’t disturb the other restaurant patrons. Does that sound like a group of elderly women? After lunch, we split up and went our various way— shoe shopping, to the esthetician, to tennis drills, and the liquor store. I drove home with the top down on my car and found a new pair of red shoes I’d ordered on-line waiting for me in a box on my doorstep, along with the new February issues of ELLE and MORE magazine in my mailbox. No pilled pastel cardigans with a snotty Kleenex up the sleeve for us.
When we look at pictures of our mothers, aunts and grandmothers at our age, they did not look like we do now. Maybe they accepted aging with more grace than we do. Call it vanity, taking care of ourselves, good living or just plain denial. Just don’t call us elderly! Or you might not live long enough to know what elderly really means.
For further insights into the Boomer perspective on business, fashion, mind and body, book and movie reviews, order my new book, BOOMERBROADcast. It makes a great hostess or birthday gift as well as just a fun read.