BOOMERBROADcast

Baby Boomer's social commentary on life in OUR sixties for those who rocked life in THE sixties.


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Avoid these 6 fashion mistakes

Who am I to be offering fashion advice! Boomer gals have always been told “If you wore it once before, you can’t wear it again”. That’s the beauty of listening to us—we’ve been there at least once, made our share of mistakes and are happy to dispense fashion advice to anyone who will listen. So, if you’re willing to listen, I’m going to share six fashion mistakes I’ve made over the years and strongly suggest you not repeat them.

  1. Don’t buy into everything the fashion mags promote. They get it wrong more often than not.

    Jumpsuits or rompers: Several decades ago, an old boyfriend gave me a bubble-gum pink crimpolene (the fabric alone should give you an idea of how long ago it was) one-piece jumpsuit for Christmas. I felt like a circus clown minus the fright wig (that came later) in the outfit and had to completely undress every time I went to the bathroom. The nightmare still lingers. Spare yourself this disaster. No one looks good in a jumpsuit, I don’t care what the fashionistas say.

  2. Shoes that almost fit: Who hasn’t gone into Town Shoes or Nine West when they’re having their seasonal clear out sale and picked up some great buys, only to wear them once. Shoes never stretch and they never get comfortable if they’re not absolutely perfect in the store. Buy shoes late in the day when your feet are swollen and tender to ensure a good fit. Opt for quality and comfort over price. If you didn’t love them at full price, they’re no better at fifty percent off and half a size too small.
  3. Coulottes and jumpsuits never were and never will be flattering on anyone – ever!

    Beware of trends:  Ladies of a certain age (Boomers) have to be discriminating about what fashion trends we buy into and not get sucked in to what they’re plugging in magazines or on television. Our knees have gone south and are no longer what they used to be so that rules out mini skirts and short dresses. (Remember: we did that half a century ago.) Coulottes were never attractive. If you’re going to buy a “cold shoulder” top or wild print, don’t pay a lot because you’ll soon tire of it and next year it won’t work. By the way, Jackie Kennedy never wore prints. Worth noting.

  4. Quantity over quality: When you’re young it’s tempting to go for lots of cheap items of “disposable” clothing. Variety rules and “more” outranks “better”. Unfortunately, the total expenditure often equals that of a few better-made, quality pieces that fit better, are more versatile and get more mileage. We quickly get bored with that over-the-top print or fed up with the drape of a cheaply made dress. There’s merit in calculating the “cost per wearing” factor over the lifespan of the item.
  5. Colours matter: When I wear anything orange I look jaundiced. Same goes for red hair, which I tried once for forty-eight hours. Be conscious of your most flattering colour palette. I’ve also noticed that as we age, colour is our friend; beige is for cadavers. Much as I love grays with silver jewelry, I have to add a citrus green or pink scarf to make it pop. And I don’t think there’s a woman alive who doesn’t look smashing in red, including redheads.
  6. Oh dear! We’ve all been there, or tried to.

    Tattoos: Be very very careful before you ink. Over time tats fade and blur and nothing is more unappealing than old wrinkled skin sporting an indistinguishable wrinkled old tattoo. The same applies for “permanent makeup”. A friend once had her over-plucked eyebrows tattooed in. They looked lovely—at first, then they faded and turned mauve. And, have you ever seen a woman with permanent tattooed dark lip liner when her lipstick wears off? Beyond not pretty! (And this from someone who is contemplating trying the new “microblading” technique to fill in my own over-plucked brows. Do as I say, not as I do.)

Boomer gals have racked up more than our share of fashion “don’ts” over the years. In the seventies, I once sported khaki green hair when I accidentally bleached my hair (the “hair lightening” label on the box was misleading) and tried to fix it by applying a medium ash blonde permanent colour. I won’t even begin describing the perm disasters and styling mistakes I’ve lived through. Am I the only idiot who tried one of those perms that looked like a bushy Julius Caesar laurel wreath around your head with flat hair on top? At least the rage for wearing white nurses’ pantyhose in the seventies wasn’t permanent and quickly passed.

We whipped up dozens of these little beauties in the sixties and seventies.

The upside of these fashion disasters is that it gives us plenty to laugh about when we look at old photos and reminisce over multiple glasses of icey Pinot Grigio. One of my friends still has the lime green leather mini skirt she wore in the sixties, with a matching jacket and expensive long brown boots (both long gone). The saved mini skirt is about a foot long and not much wider, worthy we think of being displayed in a shadow box and hung on the wall. Some things just deserve museum status.

Remember the quaint little printed empire-waisted “village” dresses we wore in the mid-sixties? At $14.98 they were a little out of my price-range. Back then, when most of us were broke and still able to sew, we whipped up dozens of little A-line mini dresses trimmed in braid or rick-rack. Fancying myself a bit avant-garde, I liked to buy floral drapery fabric purchased at Toronto’s posh Eaton’s College Street store to make mine and . . . well I’ll leave it to your imagination. Once, I even made a matching purse out of an empty kleenex box (the cardboard was a lot stronger in those days) covered with the same fabric as my dress. And now I have the nerve to offer fashion advice?

A wee bit older and a bit wiser.

While Boomers are not willing to make these mistakes again, perhaps there is some merit in the younger generation baring their midriff and sporting blue hair while tottering around on five-inch platforms. It’ll give them something to laugh about with their friends in the year 2050, remembering when they too once had bodies they thought would last forever. And that’s worth more than the price of a good bottle of Pinot . . . if you feel comfortable taking fashion advice from someone who once proudly sported a purse made from a Kleenex box.

Share your own fashion oopsies with our readers in the “Comments” section.

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Want the secret to a successful career?

The future is no longer in plastics.

If your grandchildren are planning to get a degree in Sociology, Women’s Studies, Art History or Musicology tell them to forget it. They’ll run up tens of thousands of dollars in debt for a degree that will never get them a job in today’s  market and they’ll miss out on an opportunity guaranteed to provide even more secure and profitable work than becoming an orthodontist. And it requires fewer years of education. While they won’t be able to put “Dr.” in front of their name, they will be able to work anywhere, including from home or a small town conducive to raising a family, and make decent money. It’s sad to think that some people keep prolonging their education and growing their debt load to obtain a useless graduate degree in the vain hope it will improve their chances of employment.

It’s getting harder for Boomers to keep up.

The answer to the employability conundrum is called computer software programming. Early last year I wrote a piece entitled “Mothers, make sure your daughters grow up to be coders. A recent article in the newspaper said that by 2020 there will be 1.4 million more software jobs than qualified applicants. Enough said. Get those kids out of career paths directed at philosophy, kinesiology or political science (unless it’s for fun) and get them learning to write computer code. That would never have worked for me because I’m a right-brain thinker and could never get my mind around logical subjects like algebra, physics or chemistry. But I sure need someone to help me with my computer issues. And having that someone in the family (a grandchild?) would make life so much easier . . . and cheaper, assuming they’d help us for free. Or, if they could hack into Trump’s tax returns, that would bring in enough that they’d never have to work again. It’s a no-brainer . . . particularly if you’re a left-brainer.

Click these links:

Mothers, make sure your daughters grow up to be coders.

Both my left and right brain say ‘go for it’

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Boomer girls just wanna look good

We can still rock it.

A couple of weeks ago I introduced Boomerbroadcast followers to a great fashion website and Facebook page for our demographic—Susan After Sixty. I’ve now found a couple more that I think you would enjoy:

Style At A Certain Age

Style Your Way to Success Over 50

The fashion mags continue to ignore our age group so I’m always delighted when I find fashion sites that offer some inspiration for those of us who aren’t stick thin and six feet tall. Most of us have finally figured out what does and does not flatter our particular body shape and that doesn’t necessarily involve elastic waists and granny prints. Personally, I’m always attracted to animal prints and anything with an abundance of tough-looking zippers going every which way. Remember the book “Color Me Beautiful” written thirty years ago by Carole Jackson? We all had our colours done and thereafter adhered to its dictum according to whether we were a Summer, Autumn, Winter or Spring. That advice stayed with me (I’m a “Summer”) although who doesn’t stray and occasionally strut out in the gorgeous saturated colours accorded to the “Winters”.

Who wouldn’t opt for fabulous over frumpy.

Our generation has always loved fashion and clothes. We invented mini-skirts and platform shoes in the sixties. We dropped our hemlines to maxi length with knee-high boots in the seventies and piled our shoulder pads three-deep to look executive in our power suits during the eighties. Boomers gals now have a few bucks to spend on looking great and we still enjoy it. With the dearth of inspiration out there, I’m hoping you’ll enjoy these sites. You can bookmark them, follow their website or friend them on Facebook. You’ll find lots of great ideas for your Pinterest files. Personal fashion choices are somewhat subjective but there are plenty of wonderful options to inspire. Here are the links.

Susan Street’s Susan After Sixty

Linda Waldon’s Style Your Way To Success Over 50

Beth Djalali’s Style At A Certain Age

Save them and have fun.

To order Color Me Beautiful by Carole Jackson from Amazon, click here

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Living the Golden Girls’ reality

Communal living Golden Girls’-style has its advantages.

As Boomers approach retirement, we’re circling our wagons, in search of a landing pad that is functional, safe, fulfilling and sustainable. Some of us have branched off to follow children and grandchildren only to find they’re too busy with their own lives to have much room for us. Many of us are colonizing with like-minded fellow Boomers who share our interests, value system, taste in music and social activities. We’re moving into retirement bungalow communities or affordable condos with activity centres and handy amenities. These communities are, however, in short supply.

What makes us different from earlier generations is that we’re demanding more creative approaches to retirement accommodation. One of the reasons our parents are so reluctant to move from their suburban split-level is the lack of viable options. The housing market doesn’t offer many in-between choices for that couple of decades between the big family home and the restrictions and finality of a “retirement home”. My friend MaryAnne sent me a link to a recent article in the Toronto Star about a group of Boomer ladies in Port Perry, Ontario who are living *Golden Girls-style. Four retired women pooled their resources, bought a large Victorian home in a lovely community on Lake Scugog northeast of Toronto and had it customized so they could live independently yet cooperatively in a shared home.

Boomers want specific housing to fill that gap between the big suburban family home and the retirement home.

My own circle of Boomer friends has talked endlessly about communal living. Perhaps it’s a throwback to our idealistic hippie days from the sixties but more realistically it’s just plain practicality. Our families are busy with their own lives and we want the support and social interaction offered by our circle of friends while remaining independent. There are so many options in addition to the Port Perry Golden Girls’ model. The one that appeals to us the most is the “colony”—where we each have our own separate unit but are part of a cluster of similar units forming a pod of lifestyle-sharing retired Boomers. It could be linked or detached one-storey homes. Florida is brimming with this type of accommodation. It could be a multi-unit, two or three-storey condo-style building comprising six or eight units with two units per floor sharing a common elevator/stairwell corridor. That configuration would provide windows for light and ventilation on three sides of each unit.

Retirement accommodation doesn’t have to be expensive . . . but we do have certain expectations.

Land prices are becoming prohibitively too expensive to build cost-effective retirement communities in large cities like Toronto and Vancouver but smaller urban centres could greatly enrich their tax base by marketing to us. Smaller towns and cities should encourage developers to build what we’re looking for. We want access to health care, shopping, theatre, libraries and sports facilities. The baby boomer generation is a huge demographic. It’s a mystery to me why developers, communities and investors aren’t capitalizing on this opportunity by providing what we’re looking for. Build it and we will come. Just call me.

For more on this issue, click on:

Build it and Boomers will come

It pays to listen to Boomers

Can we afford to go on living?

Where will you be in twenty years?

Grandparenting Boomer-style

*Meet a new generation of golden girls

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Laundry rooms . . . premium real estate located in the wrong neighbourhood

Lace up. It's laundry day.

Lace up. It’s laundry day.

Imagine a woodworking shop with the wood set up on a work bench in the garage or basement and the tools located in another room at the opposite end of the house. Or, what if your lawnmower and snowblower were stored in a shed a couple of blocks from your home requiring you to trek a quarter of a mile every time the grass needed cutting or the snow needed shoveling. That’s a reasonable comparison to what home buyers are forced to accept every time they move into a house or condo with the laundry room in the basement or far away from where their function is required.

Think about it. Where is most of your laundry generated? In the bedroom and master bathroom. Sheets and towels that require regular laundering are heavy and awkward to haul from one end of the house to the other in search of the washer and dryer, then back again. When you remove your clothing each day you drop it into a laundry hamper located in your bedroom, closet or bathroom. Why oh why do designers of residential spaces still insist on locating laundry facilities so far away from where they are really needed. That’s a major beef I have with the annual Princess Margaret Lottery homes. Wonderful designers have produced fairy-tale spacious laundry facilities that include craft areas, acres of built-in storage, flat-screen televisions and room for setting up an ironing board in beautifully designed spaces that are always located in the basement, miles from where the actual laundry is generated.

In my dreams .. . .

In my dreams .. . .

Here’s a brilliant suggestion. Actually I have a few suggestions for designers of residential space. Build it and we will come.

  1. Laundry facilities should always be adjacent to master bedroom or bathroom. Minimal steps to deposit laundry, remove from washer and dryer, fold, and return to closet or drawers.
  2. Include hanging racks for air-drying frillies and other delicates.
  3. Linen cupboards should be incorporated into every master bedroom or bathroom. Same reasons as above. And don’t try placing a few wired shelves at the end of an already undersized closet and call this a linen closet.
  4. Built-in cupboard space for cleaning products should be located with the washer and dryer in the laundry area along with a countertop for folding. We can always set up the ironing board in the master bedroom near the walk-in closet (another overlooked design must!!) and watch TV while ironing.
  5. A laundry sink would be lovely for hand washing or soaking large items as well bathing family pets but it’s not essential if space is limited.
Size is not the problem. It's all about location, location, location.

Size is not the problem. This works beautifully. It’s all about location, location, location.

A floor plan for a condo comprising nearly four thousand square feet of high-end living space was featured in a recent edition of The New York Times. Starting at $2.5 million++, the unit had a dinky little laundry cupboard with a stacking washer/dryer located near the fourth bedroom, at the opposite end of the apartment from the master suite. Either the maid doesn’t mind trekking that far or they send their laundry out because laundry is obviously not designed to be part of the lifestyle in that household. Toronto condos advertised in our local papers are equally guilty. And seniors’ apartments are even worse which is an issue that should concern downsizing baby boomers. I recently reviewed the brochure for new seniors’ apartments that had no front closet for coats and boots, no linen closet and no room for a kitchen/dining table at all. Where are we supposed to sit to read our newspaper and drink our morning coffee or tea?

Designers continue to ignore the practicalities of doing laundry so the only solution I can suggest is that anyone who does not do his/her own laundry should never be allowed to design residential living space. It’s not the design of the laundry rooms themselves I object to but the location, which is a total washout. If any progressive developers or their wives are reading this, heed my five suggestions above. Or me and my baby boomer friends will never buy your residential space until you start to design for the practicalities of daily life. Wake up and smell the coffee, or we’re going to relocate your three-car garage three blocks away from your fancy house. See how you like that!

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Is fashion advertising hitting the mark?

The anticipation of diving into my Sunday edition of The New York Times is what motivates me to get out of bed on Sunday mornings. It’s the size of a fire log and nearly as heavy, landing on my doorstep in the dark early hours wrapped in a thin plastic bag. I can’t wait to pour a big mug of hot tea, toast my only-on-the-weekends white artisan bread topped with home-made strawberry jam or unpasteurized honey and sit down at the kitchen table for my weekly love-in. Laying out the thick sections, I usually extract the Style section for a first perusal before moving on. There’s so much delicious reading in the Sunday Times I can usually make it last until Thursday at which time I pass it on to a neighbour.

In what universe is this ad supposed to make me want to invest in a designer purse?

In what universe is this ad supposed to make me want to invest in a designer purse?

It was a designer fashion ad on page three one Sunday that immediately and intensely offended me. My reaction was the culmination of seeing so many ads of a similar nature. As a baby boomer who has retired from the corporate world, I consider myself a fairly average consumer. The ad that triggered such a strong reaction featured pouty, anorexic teenage girls casually tossing off designer handbags worth thousands of dollars, dressed in barely-there whisps of clothing unwearable by ninety-nine percent of women. I’m not suggesting magazines should feature wall-to-wall hags and crones but a few more Ashley Graham types would help us feel we also stand a chance at looking beautiful.

Why do designers and product advertisers insist on always featuring skeletal, spoiled teenage girls in print ads? Are the handbags and jewelry not beautiful and exquisite enough to stand on their own merit or perhaps be modeled more appropriately by women such as Lauren Hutton or Carmen Dell’Orifice? Has the fashion industry ever actually polled their market recently to find out what we the consumers like to see in advertising? When I was a skinny twenty-something, I could relate to Twiggy in her mini dresses with her androgynous haircut. We were baby boomers and we represented the bulk of the buying public. But time marches on.

Who doesn't love Iris Apfel, shown here in a Kate Spade ad?

Who doesn’t love ninety-something Iris Apfel, shown here in a Kate Spade ad from last year.

Baby boomers are still where the money is but the fashion and advertising industry refuses to acknowledge this. They continue to cater to the 18-45 demographic as evidenced by their choice of models and I’m becoming increasingly more irritated and fed up with the assumption that this is what sells. I’d be much more inclined to buy a handbag, a piece of jewelry or article of clothing if it were modeled by a better version of me, not a waif-like, sulky teenager. I loved seeing Iris Apfel in the Kate Spade ads. Diane Keaton has a wonderful, quirky sense of style and when infrequent pictures of her turn up in magazines I often tear the pages out and keep them in my inspiration file.

Women who are able to spend big bucks on high-end fashion items have generally earned the right to do so. We’ve worked, many of us for decades, to accrue the fashion sense and budget to be discriminating about our purchases. I’m insulted and discouraged that the fashion industry chooses to ignore us. Our fashion tastes range from budget-conscious to designer and every price point in between. Before I die I hope that our demographic will once again be respectfully recognized for our potential buying power by seeing inspirational, age-appropriate models that reflect our tastes, our body types and our budgets in the media. Is that possible? Is the fashion industry really hitting the mark or am I missing it altogether?

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If you love your pets you’ll read this

petfooledYesterday I watched a documentary film titled Pet Fooled about the dirty secrets of the pet food industry that confirmed my worst suspicions. Commercial pet food is not as advertised and we’re the victims of false advertising and misleading labeling, all with the approval of the FDA. Or, more appropriately, our pet dogs and cats are the helpless victims. Not long ago there was a recall of dehydrated chicken and duck cutlets that were being sold as healthy pet treats. After a great deal of public pressure and undeniable evidence, it was proven that these products were not one hundred percent chicken or duck as indicated on the packaging but in fact contained a number of deadly chemicals including melamine which is used in paint, laminate and other commercial inedible products. I personally know someone who lost their little Shihtzu dog whose kidneys failed after eating these treats. And these products are still on store shelves.

It’s not just treats. Most commercial pet food contains a shocking proportion of useless and in fact harmful, potentially lethal ingredients. Dogs and cats are genetically engineered to eat fresh meat and fish, just like wolves and big cats who lived in the wild for millenia. Most commercial dog and cat food including so-called high-end premium and organic brands is made up primarily of grains and animal by-products. Veterinarians receive their nutritional training from pet food companies which is like letting the fox loose in the hen-house; their only concern is the bottom line. Dogs’ and cats’ digestive systems are not designed to process carbohydrates and will suffer from obesity, cancers, skin disorders and diabetes as a result of being fed a diet high in carbohydrates, corn, wheat, soy, DHA and filler.

About thirty years ago I watched a program on television (60 Minutes or a similar program) that featured a veterinarian who was also a breeder of large dogs. She fed her dogs a diet of “top quality” premium commercial dog food, both dry and wet. Despite her best efforts at providing a healthy diet and trying various brands, her dogs suffered a variety of ailments including allergies, skin diseases and other problems. As soon as she took them completely off commercial dog foods and started serving them real meat she bought from the butcher, all their problems disappeared.

As beloved members of our family, our pets deserve the best.

As beloved members of our family, we want our pets to live long, healthy lives.

I never forgot that and subsequently, over the years I have always given all my dogs a lot of “people food” including real chicken, beef and other natural foods, being careful to not feed them corn or other grains. This goes against common advice from veterinarians who are trained by the pet food industry. When I mix real food with high quality commercial canned food purchased from my vet, my own dogs consistently carefully separate the canned dog food from the real chicken and beef and only eat the canned dog food if they are desperate. Dry kibble is the worst and cats should never be fed dry food; always add a lot of water if you insist on feeding your cats dry kibble. Remember, cats are naturally inclined to eat rodents, bones, blood and all. While we all appreciate the convenience of commercial pet food, be very discriminating about what you buy; research it and preferably restrict it. I am now feeding my dog primarily meat from our table.

Pet foods labelled “organic” are also a hoax. FDA documents specifically state that the designation “organic” may include rendered by-products, chemicals and specifically corn and other dangerous ingredients. Never, ever believe pet food package labeling. We know already to avoid pet food and treats from Asia but Made in U.S.A. or Made in Canada is no guarantee of safety or quality either. There are no practical controls over what goes into pet food and pet treats. End of story.

I couldn’t find a free copy of “Pet Fooled” on YouTube or even a copy on Netflix but it can be rented or purchased through Amazon and Amazon Prime or iTunes. I watched it at a showing by one of the members of our neighbourhood dog park community. The documentary includes a number of helpful websites that can be consulted for more information. I’m including a copy of an information sheet handed out at our meeting which will enable you to (after reading the ingredients on the package) calculate the percentage of carbohydrates in your pet’s food. This documentary is shocking but not surprising. Please watch it and take a stand against what the commercial pet food industry is passing off as healthy, organic and nutritious. Your pet’s life depends on it. The bottom line? DO NOT BELIEVE THE ADVERTISING OR PRODUCT LABELING. I urge you to share this information with other pet owners.

Having a sick pet is heartbreaking and often preventable.

Having a sick pet is heartbreaking and often preventable.

Here are links to some resources:

Pet Fooled Video on Amazon.com (rent or buy)

truthaboutpetfood.com

dogfoodanalysis.com

healthypets.mercola.com

pet-fooled

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