BOOMERBROADcast

The voice of baby boomers, the silenced majority. Rants and reflections on lifestyle, fashion, current events, books and movies.


2 Comments

To remain fashionable, I might have to get a job . . . again


Blazers are making an encore performance.

The reason? Blazers are back in fashion and I love blazers. I gave all my office clothes to charity when I retired but kept a couple of items that I was particularly fond of. One was a beautifully constructed double-breasted gray pinstripe wool blazer with matching vest that was part of a suit (due to waistline issues, the pants retired too). It was made by Mondi, a German brand that no longer exists but I paid a ridiculous amount of money for it thirty years ago and I just can’t bring myself to part with it.

It’s fun to reflect on the spectrum of fashions boomer gals have worn to work over the years. In the sixties we were just starting out and riding high on Twiggy and our newfound fashion and lifestyle freedom. We had a collection of mini dresses and skirts that make me cringe now when I think of bending over filing cabinets, riding up escalators or climbing steps in the subway. But that was when we still had firm thighs and no cellulite so we bounced around without a thought about modesty. The seventies ushered in maxi length skirts in Laura Ashley prints with go-go boots and form-fitting finely knitted turtlenecks. Those skirts often had matching cowl scarves and we felt oh-so elegant. Our sky-high hair was permed within an inch of its life and sprayed until it wouldn’t move in hurricane.

In the eighties the rules were clear and we abided by them.

By the eighties we were maturing into our ‘careers’ and dressing for success with neat little suits and soft bow ties. Power dressing was the big news in fashion and that’s when I bought that Mondi suit. One year I received a particularly generous bonus at work which I immediately blew on a burgundy-coloured ‘Ultra-suede’ skirt suit that cost me a fortune. I wore it for only one season. The memory of that folly is still a major ouch. Ports was a big brand name back then. We loaded up on their corduroy suits, dresses and silk blouses with dry cleaning bills that nearly bankrupted me. That was before I realized that despite the warning label, silk can be hand washed.

Our fashion tastes in the nineties were restrained by the nearly decade-long recession. Most of us were lucky to even keep our jobs and I was on the receiving end of downsizing that was characteristic of that terrible decade. Discretionary spending on our wardrobe was severely curtailed. By the time we bounced back, Jones of New York was the safest and most affordable fashion brand for working women. Once more we suited up for power but at a better price point and using a little more common sense. By the time I retired in 2005, casual Friday had grown to nearly every day of the week. Pantyhose became a thing of the past, bare feet appeared in open-toed shoes. The old career-advancing adage “dress for the job you aspire to” soon became irrelevant as everyone turned up at work in whatever struck their fancy.

I never felt more powerful, however, than when I was turned out in a smart, tailored blazer with a classy silk blouse. There was something about the structure, the shoulders, the architecture of a blazer that gave me a feeling of supreme confidence when I walked into a meeting. I never had that same sense of empowerment when dress codes relaxed and I wasn’t wearing the blazer and serious wardrobe. Now they’re back and I’m loving the wonderful Glen plaids, houndstooth and windowpane checks. I’ve always loved the look of a well-cut blazer and today we can wear them casually with skinny denim jeans and good shoes or boots. Proper blazers cover errant bums and disguise long-gone waistlines. It makes me want to go out and load up on wonderful blazers again but I’d be all dressed up with no place to go.

Take your time, dear. We don’t have to go back to the office anymore.

I still have an off-white cotton twill Michael Kors blazer trimmed in black grosgrain and leather that I bought nearly twenty years ago. Maybe it’s time to haul that and my Mondi pinstripe out of the back of the closet, brush them off and feel the power once again—even if it’s just to go the grocery store or the mall. It would save me having to get a job to show off my power blazers. Or, better still, I could meet my boomer gal pals for lunch. The best part? After lunch, we don’t have to rush and head back to the office any more. We’re retired, just like those lovely old blazers, but there’s still lots of life left in us yet.

You’re beautiful mes très chères.

Feel free to comment and/or

share this blog on the links below.


Leave a comment

Sleeping on Jupiter is a clash of dreams and reality


This book first came to my attention when I heard the author of Sleeping on Jupiter, Anuradha Roy being interviewed on CBC Radio. Listening to the background story of a young girl from India being told in the author’s lyrical accent prompted me to immediately put it on my ‘To Read’ list. The characters’ stories are linked by their common voyage to the seaside temple city of Jarmuli. It’s beautifully written with many sensory touch-points that take the reader deeper into the scents, sounds and texture of India.

Two story lines run parallel. Three grandmothers have decided to make a pilgrimage to Jarmuli for what baby boomers would call a girls’ week. They have never been away from their families and this act of independence allows them to communicate and explore their separate and different personalities. Latika is slender, not religious and the most modern of the three. She dyes her hair deep burgundy and is the most adventurous. Gouri is devout, traditional and the most conservative. She’s also in the early stages of dementia and its ravages are becoming evident to the point her two friends realize they have to keep close tabs on her to prevent her becoming lost or worse. Vidya is the intermediary and the one least inclined to rock the boat. During their travels and excursions their different personalities both irritate and reassure each other, which is common among old friends.

The fourth woman Nomi’s story begins with a guerilla attack on her family in their local village when she was only seven years old. Her father and brother were killed while her mother managed to escape with Nomi on her back. After days on the run, her mother turns Nomi over to an unknown man on the beach who embarks on a journey with a dozen other young girls to a distant ashram where they are left in the care of a famous guru. They are told he is God and they are to be fed, clothed and educated while in his protective care. Nomi meets the three traveling grandmothers as an adult when she shares a cabin on the train at the beginning of their trip to Jarmuli. As their lives intersect we are introduced to secondary characters whose lives are equally complicated and challenging.

Sleeping on Jupiter is beautifully written. The narrative alternates between first person (Nomi) and third person, and times in Nomi’s life as a child and an adult. The characters and their experiences are described in language that is compelling and descriptive. The darker side of life in India such as child sexual abuse and poverty are handled with sensitivity and understanding. My only complaint with the book is that it ended too soon. There were loose ends and unfinished story lines that I would have liked to be wrapped up. But life does not always have happy endings and satisfactory answers; this book is a slice of life.

To order Sleeping on Jupiter from Amazon.com click here.

Feel free to comment and/or

share this blog on the links below.


4 Comments

Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.


The only thing more annoying than those television commercials for personal alarms is when you actually are down and can’t get up. Who hasn’t gotten stuck at least once on your hands and knees trying to retrieve that scrap of something from under the kitchen table or the dog’s ball from under the couch? The other day I got stuck on the floor after getting down to put felt pads under furniture legs. In fact, it’s reaching the point where I’m sometimes challenged to even hoist myself up out of a chair. The parts just don’t work like they used to. So many everyday functions I used to take for granted now require effort and a bit of choreography. During my daily walks with the dog, I’m conscious of every step—feet hurting, joints creaking, cracking or not responding the way they used to. Sigh!

Jane Fonda’s Instagram pictures confirm she’s really not that different from the rest of us.

It happens to the best of us. Jane Fonda recently posted a picture of herself the morning after a red carpet event wearing the same gown she had on the previous night. She had been unable to unzip herself and was forced to sleep in the dress. It’s reassuring to know that someone as glamorous, strong and capable as Jane Fonda is also affected by mechanical failure from time to time. We also appreciate her candor in showing her ‘morning after’ face that backs up the old saying by so-called beautiful people, “I don’t wake up looking like this”.

And on the subject of muscles that have atrophied, am I the only one who’s also having trouble writing now? I mean by hand with a pen and paper? I’ve discovered that today’s young people are not the only ones unable to execute cursive writing. Even scribbling out a few Christmas cards was a challenge. I spend so much time typing (that word surely dates me) everything on my laptop that I’ve almost forgotten how to use the mechanism that drives my handwriting. My hand stalls; the words don’t flow gently from my pen. In fact, my penmanship has become atrocious. Gone are the days of personal letters and notes beautifully written by hand using a fountain pen with lovely  “washable blue” ink. We’re all using laptops, tablets and phones. In reviewing my own handwriting as I go through old scrapbooks, I can see my evolving personality over the decades. The beautifully executed cursive letters Mrs. Thompson taught me in Grade Two changed over the years—from forehand to backhand, to straight-up-and-down; from careful to downright sloppy. Use it or you lose it. (Click here to read In praise of cursive writing.)

We’re now witnessing a diminishing in the efficiency of our basic motor skills despite our best efforts at keeping active and mobile. Many boomers have already had hip and/or knee replacements which has restored our mobility to some degree. I consider my own double hip replacements a huge blessing. Not that long ago we would have been permanently immobilized and perhaps housebound if we didn’t have the option of being given new joint replacements thanks to our health care system. In fact, even the word ‘joint’ has taken on new meaning in our senior years. As we creak and groan through retirement, we can now celebrate the possibility that our creaks and groans may soon be alleviated by legal medicinal ‘gummy bears’ which don’t require that we inhale. Getting “up” with a little help from our friends may have taken on new meaning, if you know what I mean.

To read the full story about Jane Fonda’s ‘morning after’, click here.

You’re beautiful mes très chères.

Feel free to comment and/or

share this blog on the links below.


1 Comment

Brushing away wrinkles and imperfections doesn’t fool anyone


Kudos to American pharmacy chain CVS who recently announced they will stop using digitally altered images in promoting their beauty products. Helena Foulkes, President of CVS (it’s no coincidence the initiative is launched by a woman) credits this decision as a response to “the bigger conversation women are having over their own level of empowerment”. Foulkes rightly objects to being complicit in sending women a false message of perfection by digitally altering photographic images. The practice has the effect of diminishing women’s level of self-esteem and generating feelings of inadequacy.

Boomers are still beautiful without all the digital altering of pictures.

We all know that advertising images are carefully and extensively altered to correct imperfections and it is depressing to compare our own faces to those used in beauty ads. We also understand the motives and intent. It’s about chasing dreams. Dreams sell product. Showing wrinkles does not sell so-called miracle cures. One way advertisers have of overcoming the restrictions on ‘Photoshopping’ is by using ever younger models to promote their products. But we’re not fooled. In fact, we’re angered and offended that manufacturers and advertisers actually think we believe we’ll achieve the skin of a 20-year-old if we use their products. Truth in advertising rarely exists and probably never will.

That being said, I commend the CVS decision. We’re not stupid and women do want to feel better about ourselves not worse. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out. I really wouldn’t object to looking as good as Diane Keaton or Helen Mirren look in real life, without digital enhancements but whether others feel the same remains to be seen. We all want to look our best and most of us have finally figured out how to do just that with a little help from our cosmetics friends. We’re not going to be snapping selfies when we first wake up. By the time we’ve slapped on some blusher, mascara and a bit of lipstick or gloss we’re ready to face the day and our public. Good lighting helps too.

Youth and beauty are not mutually exclusive.

Boomer gals may no longer have the long, slender necks, poreless complexions, perfect bone structure and soft, full lips artfully concocted in the ads, but each of us knows we possess an individual kind of beauty. Some of us may no longer have a waistline but are blessed with beautiful skin. Others have fascinating eyes that come alive with a bit of mascara and liner. I know many boomers whose smiles alone can light up a room. We love fashion. We love looking our best and feeling good about ourselves. Digitally altered promotional photos only make us feel worse as we sigh and flip to the next page of a magazine. The movement toward respecting women of all ages is gaining momentum as evidenced by mature models on magazine covers and fashion features about gray hair. Give us credit for the beauty we each possess and let’s hope more companies have the courage to follow the lead of CVS.

You’re beautiful mes très chères.

Feel free to comment and/or

share this blog on the links below.