BOOMERBROADcast

Enjoy, laugh, disagree or simply empathize with those who lived life in THE sixties and are now rockin' life in THEIR sixties, and beyond.


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Are baby boomer women becoming less invisible?


Is it a mirage or are we gaining ground? The October issue of Italian Vogue, The Timeless Issue was dedicated to ‘mature’ women and featured Lauren Hutton on the cover. I was hoping to share some of their wisdom and bounty with Boomerbroadcast readers but I tried everywhere and couldn’t score a copy so we’ll just have to take their word for it. The good news is that when I was in Chapters/Indigo in October I did spot the British magazine woman&home (which sounds rather mumsie but is actually refreshingly ‘broad’) and it was all about us. Yes. It’s true. A magazine targeted at and about our generation—the smart, educated and hardworking demographic with a bit of experience under our elastic waist belts and some disposable change in our purses to spend on fashion and lifestyle. Imagine my delight. If you can find a copy of the October edition of British woman&home I assure you it’s worth the hefty $9.99 price tag as it was cover-to-cover full of relevant material for baby boomer women.

Lauren Hutton’s back on the runway and from time to time I see great fashion coverage on the internet of Ali McGraw in all her boho splendiforousness. I don’t normally look to celebs for fashion and style inspiration but Diane Keaton is a major exception along with the amazing Helen Mirren. Maye Musk is high-profile these days and although these ladies are all stick thin (which most boomers are not), the recognition is definitely encouraging.

Kudos to CITY-TV’s CityLine and CTV’s The Marilyn Denis Show for including mature and normal-sized women along with the requisite skinnies in their fashion presentations. Seeing an amply proportioned mature woman confidently walking out in stylish fashion is inspiring and gratifying. Blogs and websites for women our age are proliferating. I enjoy perusing these sites and try to share the good ones with Boomerbroadcast readers. It’s where I get most of my personal fashion inspiration since magazines are totally bereft of anything we can relate to. If you come across something you like and would like to share, please do so. We’re all in this together. Stay beautiful mes très chères.


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It’s the most glamorous time of the year


Everyone is busting out their sparkles now for the various seasonal celebrations. There are office Christmas parties—his and hers, black tie charity fund-raisers, family get-togethers and of course, New Years’ Eve. I’m no longer a young party animal. I’m now enjoying retirement and prefer a quiet evening in my LaZ-Girl chair with my little dog in my lap and a nice cup of tea at my side, binge-watching the latest Netflix offerings. Since retiring I’ve passed most of my sparkles and evening dresses on to better causes, tossed the stiletto’s and said farewell once and for all to small talk with business associates and people I hardly know over lavish dinners under mirrored disco balls.

Despite entering this quieter phase of my life, I still can’t resist admiring the bling and excess that confronts us at this time of year whenever we enter a store or mall. I marvel at the gorgeous sequined cocktail dresses and evening bags displayed on the mannequins in store windows. Those strappy silver heels that would cripple this old boomer’s feet after one step still emit their siren’s call. I imagine my former twenty-something body in those shimmery mini party dresses, then sigh at the realization I’ll never look that great again. The upside of the current state of affairs is knowing that I was never as happy then as I am now, so all’s well.

Give me strength, for this too shall pass.

November and December are when the major cosmetics companies bring out their big marketing guns, the AK47’s of the beauty business. Promotions, gift sets and purchase-with-purchase collections abound and I’m a sucker for all of it. Forty or fifty years ago I got a ‘free’ Frosted Apricot lipstick as part of an Estée Lauder promotion at Eaton’s and I was hooked. Miraculously, they still make that colour and it’s my go-to lipstick for all occasions and outfits. Those freebies were so much fun and introduced me to products that I soon incorporated into my ‘beauty’ routine. That’s the genius in their marketing. My biggest weakness with the most potential for being sucked in are those giant makeup and treatment kits offered by Clinique, Estée Lauder, Lancôme, Elizabeth Arden and other cosmetics behemoths in the weeks leading up to Christmas. You know the ones—buy this incredible assortment of products valued at $450.00 for only $65.00 with any Estée Lauder purchase. A dizzying array of blushers, eye shadows, multiple lipsticks (in colours I would never wear), mascara, eye liners, full-size bottles and jars of skin care products are all seductively displayed in a faux-croc travel case (usually in red) for my greedy pleasure. And I love it all.

. . . and visions of sugar plums.

Several years ago I caved and bought one of those purchase-with-purchase combos. Most of the products didn’t suit me so it languished in the drawer for months before I finally tossed or gave away its contents. And the travel case turned out to be neither efficient or practical. Even now, I have an embarrassing inventory of makeup and skin care products in my bathroom that mostly collect dust. As we age, we find that less is better and I no longer need or use so much of what was once part of my regular routine. Smokey eyes, facial contouring and iridescent shadows are and will remain distant memories. Moisturizing eye drops, industrial strength retinol and biotin are now front and centre.

So, if you happen to spot me drooling in front of the Estée Lauder counter with my credit card quivering in my hand, give me a smack and tell me to get myself off to Tim Horton’s and cool my heels. But first, I have to pick up a new Colour Envy lipstick in Defiant Coral at Estée Lauder and a Lancôme Hypnôse mascara with the corresponding eye makeup remover. That should qualify me for the cute promotional bonus. How’s that for step one in my 12-step programme to correcting my wanton ways and creating a better me?

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Dreaming of a whiter shade of pale . . . and other old lady fantasies


We’re never satisfied.

We’re never satisfied are we? If we’re blessed with natural curls we spend all our days with the flat iron or depending on our ethnicity, subjecting our hair to harsh chemical treatments. If we have straight hair, we’re forever frying it with the curling iron and spraying the bejeezus out of it in our quest for natural-looking curls. If we have glorious red hair, we want blonde. In fact, as many of us age, regardless of our natural colour we opt for blonde—all-over or strategic tone-on-tone highlights—to soften the face. I was a serious user of Clairol’s shampoo-in Light n’Easy Strawberry Blonde in my early twenties but the upkeep was tiresome and hard on my hair.

Then, there was that time I accidentally bleached my entire head during an impulsive and disastrous late-night attempt at brightening up my look. I had to go to work the next day with orange straw for hair, looking like a scarecrow. When I tried applying a light ash blonde shampoo-in colour to tone it down, my hair turned green. That fiasco was followed by lashings of cheap yellow shampoo to fix it but basically my hair was so damaged I just had to wait until it all grew out. Most of us have similar stories. I soon resorted to minimal impact, safe highlights and have been a dedicated fan for fifty years.

Maye Musk. Maybe in my next life.

Many baby boomer websites and blogs are now glorifying grey and white hair, letting our natural beauty shine. Canadian-born super model Maye Musk (mother of Tesla founder Elon Musk) represents the pinnacle of what I aspire to look like. Slim, fine-featured and gorgeous with a shock of lovely white hair, she’s the personification of aging gracefully. For those women who starting turning grey in their late teens or twenties, early intervention at the salon was followed by a lifetime of time-consuming maintenance and the accompanying hefty financial commitment. On the plus side, technical advances in professional hair colouring have made it so much easier to keep our locks looking beautiful long past our best-before dates.

When I look at pictures of Ali McGraw, Helen Mirren, Glenn Close, Maye Musk and other ladies of my generation sporting gorgeous white hair, I’m truly envious. I loved Meryl Streep’s hair/wig in The Devil Wears Prada. But there’s a caveat. Half-way doesn’t have the same effect. It’s the drama of pure white hair juxtaposed with great cheekbones and stylish, colourful fashions that achieves that crescendo. Even though I’m seventy years old (ouch, still can’t believe that number), my own natural hair colour has little to no gray. Don’t know why that happened, but when my natural growth reaches the one or two-inch mark, I totter off for a high-light refresh. Some might consider me lucky to not have to worry about touching up grey roots every three or four weeks, but, I want to look like Maye Musk. Sigh . . .

Am I now paying the price for all those years of sleeping on brush rollers in high school?

My friend Perry has the kind of pure white hair I would kill for. She wears it short and sporty and it sets off her perfect skin and large blue eyes so beautifully. Meanwhile, I motor on with my light mousey colour enhanced with blonde highlights. Maybe, like Marie Antoinette I need a good shock, like facing the guillotine (although turning seventy came close) to give me the white hair I covet. But then I wouldn’t be around to enjoy it so where’s the fun in that?

At the rate it’s thinning, I should be thankful I have any hair at all. I’m tempted to sprinkle a little Miracle Grow on my scalp. It can’t hurt. When I was at the hairdresser’s a couple of weeks ago, the young woman in the next chair actually had the bottom half of the back of her head shaved below the occipital bone so her perfect bob would fall properly. I’m watching this in stunned amazement as my stylist carefully cut my hair one strand at a time to preserve as much volume as possible. I nearly pass out with envy. Some of us have so much and others so little. Please pass the estrogen. I could use a top-up of that too. I’m entitled to my fantasies.

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There’s no business like shoe business


While we can understand Carrie Bradshaw’s appetite for shoes, most of us don’t have her budget.

You’ll definitely feel less guilty about what you spend on shoes when you learn that design mogul Michael Kors Holdings Ltd. just shelled out $1.5 billion to buy Jimmy Choo Ltd. I know I felt vindicated when I compared that shoe purchase to my own weakness for buying too many pairs of FitFlops™. At least my brand of choice provides a level of comfort. Fabulous shoes are like little magic carpets. When we’re wearing great shoes we feel like we can soar above the crowds. We achieve a level of fabulousness that is unmatched and unrelated to size. Yummy shoes are works of art, transporters of emotion, a reflection of our personality. Regardless of our waistline, when our feet look great, we feel great.

It’s obvious to women that most shoes today are designed by men. The styles offered are tantamount to foot binding and even that’s illegal in a certain country not known for a strong history of human rights. Do the stores actually sell those five-inch heels to real women, of any age? So many shoes today are not designed to actually walk in but should be displayed in a curio cabinet or alongside the crystal decanters on your diningroom buffet. And who uses crystal decanters any more. They’re obsolete; their practicality has been usurped by their lack of practicality, which is why I see so many Louboutins, Valentinos and Jimmy Choos on a resale site I like to spy on (my guilty pleasure), with the notation “worn once”.

This must be what heaven looks like.

Boomers are past wearing stilettos. We had our day several decades ago when we could run to work in high heels, eschew arch supports and gad about town in flat-footed cheap sneakers. Who among us hasn’t fallen off our platforms and twisted an ankle? We’re now in the market for industrial strength arch supports and deeply cushioned soles. Many of us swear by Birkies although my foot doc isn’t a fan saying Birkenstock soles are too hard. Others prefer sneakers. I’ve had good luck with Eileen Fisher shoes (only when I can get them on sale) while anything by Franco Sarto cripples my feet. One thing I have learned over the years is that good shoes are worth the extra money. They’re more comfortable; they last longer and they generally fit better. Quality leather is flexible and it breathes. If you’ve ever been afflicted with plantar fasciitis (an inflamed ligament running from the ball of the foot to the heel which generates severe pain when you put your heel down) or other foot ailments, you’re forever diligent about footwear.

With some research and consultation with friends, stylish, comfortable footwear can be found. The internet and various fashion blogs for baby boomer women are helpful in finding what is comfortable and fashionable for our generation. It’s not mission impossible. My personal favourite brand is FitFlop™ designed by a British foot doctor. I own several pair of the sandals and now that they’ve started producing sneakers and other shoes and boots, I’m expanding my inventory. The soles are soft with a slight rise at the heel and good arch supports. I normally wear a size 7 shoe but FitFlops fit large so I wear a size 6 in the sandals and a 6.5 in shoes. Absolutely love ’em. Here’s a link to Amazon if you want to check them out. Click here for FitFlop on Amazon.

I’m not sure Michael Kors got good value for their $1.5 billion investment in Jimmy Choo but we’ve all made our share of mistakes in shoe purchases over the years and have the dust collectors in the backs of our closets to prove it. Shoes evoke such intense attachments, even our mistakes are hard to part with. I’d love to hear your comments on what footwear works and doesn’t work for you. Tell me your stories (click Leave a Comment, above, top left), the good, the bad and the ugly so we can share and learn from our experiences.

What shoes work best for you?

 

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I’m glad I don’t have to outfit children for Halloween


It’s a political mine field.

The PC’ers are now targeting Halloween costumes. It has been deemed politically incorrect to appropriate a variety of ethnic looks adapted for Halloweening at school and in your local neighbourhood. Dressing as a Japanese geisha, an indigenous North American or an Arab sheik is considered disrespectful appropriation of other cultures. Don’t even consider outfitting your child in a striped Breton T-shirt and beret to pretend they’re French for an evening of fun. Our go-to home-made costume as boomer kids was usually a tramp because, unlike today where everyone buys their ready-made costumes at the store, we fashioned our own from whatever we could scrounge from around the house. In today’s world that would eliminate a tramp costume in case it disparages the economically underprivileged. Even dressing as a witch supposedly demeans the Wicca religion.

Let me state clearly up front, I agree that Halloween costumes that are intended to negatively represent cultural or religious symbols are absolutely not acceptable. However, some of the most creative and endearing Halloween outfits I’ve ever seen were never intended to demean but most often were aspirational. The children considered their look a compliment, an homage to whatever style they were portraying. Many years ago, a little bi-racial boy in my neighbourhood regularly turned up hand-in-hand with his mother at my door in his dalmatian costume, until he outgrew it. I adored his costume and him. Another little curly-haired brown-skinned seven-year-old was decked out in a three-piece pinstriped suit with crisp white shirt and tie depicting Johnny Cochrane. We may not have admired Johnny Cochrane’s cause, but the costume was brilliant and deserving of an extra treat.

Could this offend farmers?

These issues must present incredible challenges for parents trying to create imaginative costumes for their children. No more cowboys and ‘Indians’; no turbans, no ‘blues’ musicians. Will we be offending a particular group if our children are dressed as rappers or crew members from McDonald’s? If I answer the door dressed as myself, an aging baby boomer in a comfortable T-shirt and yoga pants will I offend my entire generation? That just leaves the graphic not-quite-human comic book heroes like Batman, Spiderman and Wonder Woman. Or would that offend the acting profession? Should we revisit the ethics of actors wearing ethnic costumes of any kind? Would dressing your child as a pumpkin offend farmers? Would dressing as a farmer offend farmers?

When I was little, I dreamed of being a saloon girl, just like Kitty on Gunsmoke. I couldn’t imagine anything better than wearing beautiful, sparkly evening dresses all day every day, feathers in my hair, a handsome Marshall as my boyfriend. I often pretended I was Kitty when playing with friends. But dressing as a benevolent hooker for Halloween in today’s world is unimaginable. I’m just glad I’m not the parent of young children faced with running the gauntlet of political correctness. Oh no! I said ‘gauntlet’. Did I just offend indigenous people? Give me strength. Do I need sensitivity training? Now I can’t even dress up as a ‘Smartie’. I’m so confused. I think I’ll just turn out the lights and hide behind the sofa on Halloween rather than offend someone in the LGBTQ community by giving candy to a small child dressed as a princess.

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Is the fashion media still relevant?


As someone who is not rich, not thin and not young, I am not exactly in the cross hairs of the editors at current popular fashion magazines. Nevertheless, I love fashion and I love to critique Vogue’s annual  ‘September issue‘. Once a year I put on my probably-not-stylish bitch hat and go to work. The September issue is always a biggie—almost 800 pages—and requires an extra effort on the part of my mail carrier to get it my door. To his credit he also delivered my Restoration Hardware catalogues the same week so I’ll owe him a compensatory tip at Christmas. So many times I’ve been tempted to cancel my subscription to Vogue but it’s fashion eye candy and who doesn’t love candy.

So, Boomerbroadcast readers, here is what I see as relevant and irrelevant in the September 2017 issue of Vogue:

  • Overall, I’d rate it higher than last year’s edition, which came as a complete surprise to me (click here to read my review of the September 2016 issue). I was all set to be majorly disappointed but there were a few nice surprises along with the usual clunkers.
  • It was their 125th anniversary edition. The cover fold-out included reprints of vintage covers including a July 1967 one of Twiggy with flower power painted eyes which I particularly liked.
  • Absolutely every brand in existence bought ad space congratulating Vogue on their special anniversary. Just in case we forget their names.
  • Dior’s all-navy spread a few pages in had definite merit and was appealing. And I’ve never seen a Dior bag I didn’t love.
  • Ralph Lauren showed a Glen plaid suit for women with a nifty watch chain draped from a belt with silver padlock that is totally do-able. I could repurpose a silver chain and charm I already have without having to buy the pricey real thing.
  • Gucci’s metallic makeup and glitter overload were just too over-the-top to find anything I could relate to. Boomers and anyone over thirty simply do not do iridescent or shiny. For perfect pubescent skin only. #gucciandbeyond
  • Tiffany rarely disappoints. Their new line of horse-bit styled chain jewelry is to die for. Sigh . . . as if I could ever afford it.

    What’s not to love about this? Sigh!

  • Neiman Marcus advertised a fun Calvin Klein (205W39NYC) full-length coat that looked like a quilted Mennonite bedspread with Glen plaid arms that I actually liked. Cool!
  • Canada’s own Holt Renfrew sprang for a two-page spread of retro painted-lady dresses. Wear once. Bored. Toss. Disposable clothing with a big price tag.
  • Stella McCartney’s people were truly innovative with their two-page spread showing a prone young woman in a green turtleneck dress lying on top of a pile of recyclable garbage, alongside a couple of Stella’s leather-free purses. Says it all. Simply. Green. Absolutely loved everything about the concept.
  • Anne Klein’s black and white ads were rather introspective with memes like “My worth is not defined by other people’s perception of me”. Honourable intentions but I’m not sure it’ll induce me to look for Anne Klein in stores.
  • Page 382 was all about yummy belts. Ouch! If only I still had a waistline I could resurrect that drawer full of gorgeous belts I already own.
  • Buried in the barely there pseudo editorial content was a half page blurb on the latest face-brightening non-thermal laser technique called PICO (page 462) which promises to banish rosacea and broken capillaries. If there were an effective treatment for rosacea I’d be first in line to try it as I’ve had no luck with anything so far. False hope?
  • Eternally tasteful St. John showed a gorgeous soft pink (looked like cashmere) open coat with matching turtleneck and grey pants that I would love to buy when I win the lottery.

    Yummy coat by St. John, but at $2K Canadian it won’t be keeping this boomer warm any time soon.

  • The GAP’s double-page spread of denim jeans and white tee shirts is perhaps indicative why their business is slipping. Nothing new. Nothing original.
  • The book page (616) usually grabs my attention but the selection of books, all focused on young characters should come as no surprise from an editorial staff of young people who have no awareness of generations beyond twenty-somethings. No range.
  • Hallejuliah for the “Good Jeans” (play on words) section featuring ‘older’ super models like Amber Valetta, Cindy Crawford and Linda Evangelista—some photographed (by Annie Leibovitz) with their daughters. The dark lighting smoothed out imperfections but we know we’ll never age as well as they have. The inclusion of Kendall Jenner totally pissed me off though as I’m so sick of the Kardashian klan. Sick, sick, sick of them.
  • I did notice that most of the models in this issue wore minimal makeup which was interesting.
  • Oprah’s Bliss provides an update on her current state of mind which is a slice of welcome editorial content.
  • For tennis fans who care, there’s a piece about Serena Williams photographed in all her pregnant glory. I’m not interested in tennis, Serena or motherhood so I skipped that one. Purely a subjective choice on my part that not everyone would agree with.
  • Other interesting women were featured. Nicole Kidman turns fifty; Megyn Kelly turns to NBC, Chelsea Manning turns over a new leaf, and Calvin Klein (obviously not a woman) turns heads.

    Really?

  • Every issue of Vogue includes a fashion spread toward the end that I never ‘get’. That’s where the creative people get über creative and go crazy with arty concepts that I think are supposed to win awards or something. This issue’s theme is post-war boom years in suburbia with retro-fifties fashions photographed in caricatured suburban settings like back-yard barbecues with swing sets and white picket fences, the Sunday roast, console televisions as the focal point in living rooms and models channeling June Cleaver. Cute. Sounds so much like it’s finally something that should appeal to boomers. Perhaps I missed the point but there was not a single inspirational visual takeaway for this old boomer. Nice idea but where’s the beef?
  • Lena’s Dunham writes about becoming a redhead. Good writing. Universal theme. Read it yourself (page 728) to see how it turns out. You’ll like it.

Where do you get your fashion inspiration? When I canvassed my own circle of friends, it seems we prefer to scope out what we see other women wearing in the malls, on the streets, at the grocery store (well, maybe a bad example). Observing street style from a sidewalk café is great fun. I’ve often approached someone in a store and asked them where they got a particular item they’re wearing that I love, or asked who cut their hair. Some people refer to Instagram or they collect pictures on Pinterest. Another source of my own fashion inspiration has increasingly come from on-line blogs such as:

There are some excellent fashion blogs such as Lyn Slater’s Accidental Icon targeted at boomers that are infinitely more relevant than mags.

Some of these sites are far better than others and I have my favourites but fashion is subjective and you can pick for yourself which ones you would like to follow.

The reason we’re turning away from the fashion magazines is because they’ve become irrevelant to so many people. Who among us can relate to pouty, stick-thin genetic mutant teenagers wearing faux fur vests with combat boots, ripped leggings and carrying five thousand dollar handbags? The same logic applies to the media’s myopic worship of celebrities. We don’t expect to see an entire issue of Vogue devoted to lumpy baby boomers (or do we?) but a few more Helen Mirrens, Diane Keatons or Isabella Rossellinis would be a welcome addition. Long live Iris Apfel. We do have an interest in fashion and a few bucks to spend.

It annoys the hell out of me that we continue to be so invisible to the fashion industry. Do they ever ask their readers what they like? Really? We want fashion media to succeed but when are they going to produce material that actually inspires its readers to go and buy what they’re selling? The September 2017 issue was better than I expected it to be but imagine what they could do if they acknowledged a broader market. Just imagine . . .

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Airing my dirty linen for the benefit of all


Not all linen is created equal.

I’ve always loved pristine white linen summer blouses as well as the yummy fruity colours that appear in the spring. When I see a linen blouse in the store it’s always just the right degree of rumpled and soft but until recently I couldn’t duplicate that texture at home after laundering. Putting linen in the dryer, even on a low air setting, never produced the kind of soft look and feel I wanted. It came out too wrinkled and some styles just don’t lend themselves to being ironed. I avoid using dryer sheets or fabric softener because they sometimes leave marks on clothing and add a layer of unnecessary and perhaps dangerous chemicals next to our skin. Although freshly pressed linen is lovely, that’s not the look I’m always after. So, I found the perfect way to handle linen so it’s not too wrinkled, not perfectly pressed—just the right amount of softly rumpled and wearable looking.

Here’s what to do.

  1. Put the laundered blouse in the dryer for no more than ten minutes until it’s still damp but a little bit dry.
  2. Lay it out on an ironing board or flat countertop.
  3. Using both hands, smooth the fabric using just the palms of your hands to iron it. Do not use your electric iron.
  4. Hang to finish drying.

Easy, peasey. If it needs freshening up after wearing briefly, simply mist it with water or linen spray and do the hand ironing thing again. Works like a charm. This will work with your partner’s linen shirts too if he’s the kind of guy who’s ‘cool’ enough to wear linen. Enjoy it. You’re welcome.

Footnote: Some linens demand ironing, such as tea towels and because I’m a huge fan of linen tea towels (as opposed to cotton), ironing is de rigueur. Fortunately, I love ironing linen tea towels. With a lovely bottle of scented linen spray, I mist and iron them into a fresh folded pile all ready to go to work. Feels good, looks good and smells good. (My apologies for sounding a bit Martha-like.)

3. Ta da! Just the right amount of soft casual linen hung to finish drying.

1. Not the right kind of wrinkled linen.

2. “Iron” damp linen with the palms of your hands or mist first if linen is dry.

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