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When fashion’s in, I’m out. When I’m in, fashion’s out

Loving fashion isn’t limited to those born within the last 20 years.

You would think by now I’d have a pretty good handle on what works best for me, fashion-wise. For the most part I do, at least with the basics. My tastes lean more toward classic with splashes out in accessories—hence the big red glasses, and blue ones, and pink ones, and tortoise shell ones with yellow arms. I’m generally not a slavish follower of trends, usually dragging my comfortable-height heels until I’m absolutely sure the trend is going to become a classic. I thought that was the case with skinny jeans. Now they’re being usurped by flares (again!), boot-cut and even culottes (give me strength!). I realize it’s all part of forcing us to keep spending our hard-earned money through planned obsolescence but I always seem to be on the wrong end of the fashion cycle.

I never did give up on high-waisted jeans (thank you Not Your Daughters Jeans) because boomer muffin top was never compatible with those ridiculous 7-inch rises that excluded most of the female population. Most boomer gals still have decent legs which we’re able to showcase in well-fitted jeans with high waists and loose tops worn over. Great boots or booties amp up the look even more so we can actually achieve ‘sexy’. But when they start moving the hemlines up to mid-calf—well, that’s just going to make those of under 6 ft. tall (which is 99 percent of the population) look just plain dumpy.

A couple of seasons ago, jeans with frayed hems started making the scene. As usual, my cynical reaction was, “What a cheap, unimaginative trick by designers to get us to buy new jeans. I’ll take a pass”. I liked the pictures of bloggers I follow wearing the new look, but figured I’d ride it out. I’m smart like that. Now that the style is on its way out, I’m frantically sussing out frayed hem jeans at a price point I can justify. That means no Eileen Fisher or Rag & Bone.

At least my muffin top would be covered.

It would be quite simple for me to simply cut the hem off an old pair of NYD Jeans and fray the bottom, zip up a line of stay-stitching on my old Singer and call it a day—an investment of an hour of my time and zero money. But somehow, spending hours monitoring on-line sales and comparing prices, styles and spandex content makes it seem so much more satisfying. You know what I mean!

So, when you see everyone on the street except me sporting wide-leg culotte jeans this season, stand by. Next year, I’ll be packing up those home-made frayed-leg jeans for something even more ridiculous and expensive in search of fashion nirvana. I took the same approach toward boot-cut jeans, painter pants, acid-wash jeans and even skinny jeans when they first arrived on the scene.

I’m always just a little bit out of fashion with visions of myself achieving total coolness lurking in my imagination, but forever just slightly out of reach. At this point in life I guess I’ll never get over that feeling of a dog chasing a car—even if I caught it I wouldn’t know what to do. This boomer body just doesn’t lend itself to trends. So I’ll always be on the tail-end of fashion trying to be cooler than I really am. I may never be in sync with the fashion cycle, but it’s still fun chasing cars.

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Who cares if it’s swimsuit season . . . again?

Seriously??

Many years ago I read about a magazine editor who quit her job at a high-profile international women’s magazine because she just couldn’t face overseeing another annual swimsuit edition. I know how she must have felt because I can’t face another swimsuit season either. All the current magazines are full of tips on how to match a bathing suit to our individual figure types, how to look our best and feel confident. Pages and pages in the fashion mags have been dedicated to the latest swimsuit styles. The tropical patterns and colours are yummy and some of those scraps of fabric cost hundreds of dollars. The Photoshopped models look gorgeous. The reality is grim.

I’ll admit some styles are infinitely more flattering than others, but let’s face it, we’re never ever going to resemble anything close to those pubescent nymphets modelling the various styles featured in the magazine spreads. In fact, most boomers are even reluctant to go out in public in shorts much less a bathing suit. Those with cottages or winter homes in Florida can’t avoid donning a swimsuit occasionally but they’re usually hidden under diaphanous lightweight cover ups when we’re not actually under water.

I’ll have what she’s wearing!

It is virtually impossible for swimsuit designs to overcome what makes so many boomer broads self-conscious about beach wear. No amount of underpinning, tummy panels, supportive straps or bum tuckers will compensate for what nature has bestowed upon us after many decades of living our lives. By the time we’ve tried on dozens of unflattering designs in cramped fitting rooms with unflattering fluorescent lighting, cried a river, paid our dues at Weight Watchers, spray tanned our cellulite and waxed our lady parts to an unsightly, red rash, we’re fed up with the entire exercise. Sure, they tell us to feel good about ourselves regardless of our body shape—easy to say when you’re in your twenties or thirties. I sympathize with that fed-up magazine editor. This summer you’ll find me sitting in the shade and privacy of my back-yard gazebo, wearing elastic-waist shorts and a tee shirt, reading the latest New York Times’ best seller on my iPad mini. The beach is no longer my thing and even if it were, give me a birkini any day.

You’re beautiful mes très chères.

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Girls just gotta have shoes

The objects of my affection.

It was love at first sight. As soon as my eyes landed on that incredible pair of Jimmy Choo python pumps in the May issue of Vogue I found myself longing not only for the shoes but for my twenty-year-old feet to put in them. Even though it’s been years, or more like decades since I’ve been able to strut my stuff in killer heels, the old longing and feeling of empowerment bestowed on us by stilettos never leaves us. I could so easily picture my former self wearing those python beauties around the office in my power suit or slipping them on with skinny jeans (the jeans, not me) for a stylish stroll through the mall on a Saturday. Just looking at those babies made my heart beat faster; my imagination conjured up fantasies I haven’t had in years. There was a giant smile on my face just thinking about the possibilities those beauties could bestow on my life. Boomer women totally understand how Cinderella was completely transformed as soon as she put on those magic glass slippers. It’s no fairy tale.

If only we could buy new feet.

In the late sixties and early seventies I lived and worked in downtown Toronto. Too broke and too cheap to invest in subway tokens, I hoofed it everywhere—in heels, usually on the run. From Bloor Street to Front Street I made my way around the downtown core to and from work, to meet friends, to shop and out at night, always on foot. And those young, size seven feet were always shod in the latest fashion. I’ve twisted ankles falling off my platforms, caught spike heels in sidewalk grates and suffered burns and blisters on the balls of my feet from the heat of summer sidewalks burning through thin leather soles. Not once did I think my feet would outlive their best-before date.

Baby boomer women now have a different set of criteria when shopping for shoes. Toe cleavage and strappy high heels have given way to arch supports and low heels with rubber soles, and not the kind the Beatles sang about in 1965. Back in the day, our shoe purchases were treated like decadent works of art, affirmation of our sexiness and stylishness. I’d actually set newly purchased shoes on the diningroom table to admire them when I brought them home. Or I’d place them on my night table so they’d be the first things I’d see when I woke up in the morning. Talk about getting a high. Gorgeous shoes were like little magic carpets that carried us into a fantasy land where we were invincible. And, unlike dress or pant sizes, shoe size was immaterial. In fabulous shoes, our feet looked great no matter what size they were.

After clomping around in rubber sandals I recently squeezed my feet into a pair of stylish suede boots that don’t see much action these days. My back hurt from bending down to put the socks and then the boots on and my feet felt like they were going to explode by the time I got home from shopping. Mes pieds are just not used to such harsh discipline and they object strenuously to any form of confinement. I soooo miss the feet I had when I was twenty years old.

I wonder if those python Jimmy Choos come with industrial strength arch supports and cushy rubber soles? If I win the lottery, perhaps I’ll buy them and prop them up on my mantle, just to admire them like the works of art they are. I could reflect back on the days when I used to listen to the original Rubber Soul in my Mary Quant mini skirts and platforms—back when I could still wear fantasmic shoes. As the Everly Brothers sang so eloquently and in perfect harmony, “All I have to do is dream. Dream. dream, dream”, the siren song of Jimmy Choo and those fabulous shoes.

You’re beautiful mes très chères.

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