I keep wondering if the biased attitude of the larger world against “old people” (can’t hear well, can’t see sell, can’t walk or count money fast) is because that’s the most obvious things they notice when we are out in public. And we often don’t look like getting old is much fun. (Granted, if you are in pain, it’s not.)
But what if you are like me and don’t mind getting old and want the world to see me as having fun while it lasts? What if the first things they notice about an older female is not that she’s old, but rather than she’s having fun with the trappings of getting old?
Well, you could do it by dressing like these stylish elders. If you live in New York City, or Paris, or London — and if you have occasion to dress more elaborately than the usual pants and sweater (or, if you’re like me, jeans and a t-shirt) — the notices you would get, no doubt, would be positive. But I’m not sure that small town living calls for that kind level of creative dressing. And what I’m more concerned with is turning our frailties into fun.
OK. So, I have to wear glasses. I go online, find a pair of funky oversized frames for $35 and have my prescription put in them. When I get noticed, it’s not because I’m old. It’s because I’m being old with a flair. And, instead of strangers glowering at me because I am in their way, they comment on my glasses when I look them in the eye and smile. (It’s also very important to look them in the eye and smile.)
Now, what I wish is that the folks who are experimenting with these glasses/hearing aids would actually mass-produce them and include some funky frames.
But for now, I have to wear hearing aids. So, to make wearing them a fashion statement, I just sent for a pair of these. If I decide I like them, I might order a set of hearing aid charms from the same entrepreneurial young woman who makes and sells them. (Hearing impaired little kids seem to love them. Check out these photos!)
Now, we are down to the shoes. As we get older, our feet often become a real problem from the wear and tear of all of those years supporting our weight. (And if you subjected yourself to high heeled pumps, then the problems are even worse.)
I have blogged before about my addiction to sneakers. The reason I am able to wear funky sneakers (even though I have a tendency toward plantar fasciitis and years of ballroom dancing in high heels have taken their toll) is that I invested in really good orthotics. You can fit orthotics into almost any shoes, but you have to try the shoes on with the orthotics in them (because you need a longer and wider size than usual, and not all shoes will work). The smart thing to do is to go to a specialist who makes orthotics for dancers and athletes. Almost very city has one. If the orthotics are prescribed, Medicare should pay for them (minus co-pay). I have been using the same ones for 25 years.
Finally, we come to canes (which I don’t need — yet). But, for those who do, catalogs and drug stores carry all kinds of colorful ones. If you have to use one, flaunt it.
I’m wondering what other ways we might be able to encourage those impatient “others,” as we move through the public world, to actually “see” us elders as being more than just a necessary nuisance.
[Addendum: My friend Ronni Bennet at Time Goes By has written about wearing hats to put flair over thinning hair. I’m not a hat person, so I’m looking for other possibilities (other than a wig).]
I keep my hair colored a very bright red. People stop me all the time and comment on how great it looks. I also wear purple glass frames. I do think these make a difference in how I am seen.
I used to color my hair a red color. Now I refuse to color it, and it’s gray. Gray needs to be the new red, only I have to figure out how to embellish it without looking like I’m trying to be a teenager. Purple framed glasses. Hmm. I might copy that.
It looks to me like many in our generation are in the mood for this freedom. Where my mother lives, there’s a woman who always has a balloon attached to her walker. Otherwise, it’s a pretty staid group – no one wants to stand out. I’m glad you and dkzody are willing to take it on and have some fun. I still haven’t gotten beyond glasses with brown frames.
Andrea, I suspect the balloon is so that she can identify her walker if she parks it and sits somewhere. When I was volunteering at an assisted living facility, I make brightly colored crocheted “walker bags” (each one a different color and pattern; lined with fabric and attached with velcro and straps) so that the women could easily find their walkers. Sold them for $20 each.
When it comes to fashion, women are lucky. They have a variety of flamboyant and non flamboyant clothes to choose from and, as long as you are not too absurd in you fashion choices, you can get away with anything. Unfortunately, this is not so for men. When an elderly (I really hate that word) man decides to dress his age he has very little choice. He either dresses in a suit and tie that he has worn since his Bar Mitzvah, or he goes the other way and dresses in silly sportswear like team logo jerseys, baggy sweat pants or what they use to call “cruisewear”. Most old men wind up looking more like their 12 year old grandsons than the dignified older gentleman they are. I wish someone would publish a book or a pamphlet for us older guys. I’m tired of looking at my fellow seniors walking around in those stupid newsboy caps, pants with waists up to their chest and white patent leather belts.
I recently switched to bright red lipstick for first time, and changed from conservative metal and brown framed eyeglasses to bright burgundy ones. My very funny winter hat and shocking pink spring raincoat are so distinctive that smiling people stop me on the street all the time to tell me they much they love them. Suddenly — not so invisible!
Yes. Absolutely. Someone should design clothes and look good on older men — although khaki pants and a sweater is always a good look. One of the problems — for both genders — is that the shapes of our bodies when we are older don’t fit right into clothes designed for younger people. (And, historically, men don’t really like to shop for clothes anyway, right?)
As for fashionable old men, check out http://www.thesartorialist.com/tag/old-man-style/
Lots of good looks for men. My husband does a pretty good job of keeping in style. Many people at church compliment him on his fashion sense.
I love the fashions that those older men are wearing — although, because I dress so casually, I still prefer men in sweaters and chinos. Even jeans if they fit well.
My husband is almost always dressed better than me! Last night we went out to dinner and I wore my “work” outfit for the day–black slacks and the t-shirt for the organization for whom I volunteer with a pair of geometric print flats. Terry wore a white shirt, green tie, black trousers, and a herringbone black sports coat. I even mentioned, as we stepped into the restaurant, “you’re sure dressed a lot better than me,” to which he replied, “yes, I thought you might change your shirt before going out.” Never occurred to me!