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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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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