First, it was skinny jeans and side parts, and now leggings been declared unfashionable. The news was all over my social media newsfeeds yesterday.
But do you know what, who cares? I mean the Post is just sharing various “hot girls do this and that” videos from Tik Tok and drawing conclusions. If the hot girls have chosen to abandon leggings in favour of wide legged and flared pants, more power to them. Enjoy!
I had a fun bike ride home from work this week. First, fun because I took the long way through the beautiful Arboretum. Second, fun because three different women commented on my helmet saying how much they liked it. Two of them yelled praise from car windows.
I got home and told the story on Facebook, speculating that the Barbie movie was responsible.
My friend Alison commented, “It’s a Barbie moment in history. All the people who like pink and glitter and fun girly clothing are just going for it right now. It’s Barbie’s world, we are just living in it. 💖💃”
Another friend, Connie, added, “It’s like the Barbie movie allowed women to suddenly support and hype each other. I’m here for it! 💖”
Wait until they see me wearing the pink helmet while riding my pink bike!
I’m reupping my no shopping commitment in face of failing during the post holiday sales. I didn’t quite make it through the holiday shopping without buying a few things for myself either.
I now own a pair of very sturdy and warm Canadian made black ankle boots that I can wear to work. I’m extra afraid of falling this year with my knee still in recovery. These have nice soles with serious treads. I do own snow boots but the snow boots are too warm and clunky for merely traipsing between buildings.
In the boxing day sales (online, I wouldn’t go to a store the day after Christmas) I impulse bought a red and black plaid jacket. Luckily rather than decide the no shopping year was over and I could go wild, after that I decided to start again and continue on. That’s my approach to streaks and failures of all sorts.
I also got some things I’m not buying as gifts for Christmas. I now have a new warm and fuzzy bathrobe, new PJs, slippers, and a fun two pom pom hat. Thanks Sarah. Thanks mum!
But now it’s the new year, the no shopping challenge is back on. Here in the blog community Martha has been joining in on the no shopping challenge since the summer. Tracy is joining in for 2023.
The challenge has certainly made me think more about what I need. I have two black wool dress coats, one short and one knee length, that need replacing. I’m keeping a list for next year and even then will work on being more thoughtful and deliberate about my purchases.
I liked this Globe and Mail piece on making do, which is neither all about minimalism and capsule wardrobes and more about careful choices and repairing what you have, rather than continually searching for better and buying more.
Here’s the big picture problem,
“Our bloated culture of consumption extends far beyond clothing. Each year, Canadian adults spend about $9,000 for consumer packaged goods – about twice as much as 25 years ago. We replace our smartphones every 25 months. We swap out TVs like toothbrushes. We browse for Instant Pots, pet-hair-removal gloves and spa bath pillows when we’re at dinner, when we’re driving and when we’re drunk. Shopping isn’t just convenient; it’s inescapable. The shiny and new is seldom more than a click and a day away.
Unsurprisingly, we are drowning in stuff. Despite the average Canadian home doubling in size over the past generation – and family size shrinking – the self-storage industry is booming, with nearly 3,000 jam-packed facilities nationwide. And that’s just the stuff we keep: Landfills are overflowing. China has stopped taking much of our recycling. Africa is refusing our used clothing. And the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is one-and-a-half times the size of Ontario – and growing. Worse yet, we are spending money we don’t have: The average Canadian has about $30,000 of non-mortgage debt. Ralph Waldo Emerson put it best: “Things are in the saddle, And ride mankind.”
And here’s the making do approach explained.
“Making do is about taming the reflex to discard, replace or upgrade; it’s about using things well, and using them until they are used up. Taken literally, it simply means making something perform – making it do what it ought to do.
If Marie Kondo delights in discarding, making do is about agonizing over it, admitting that we probably should not have bought that thing in the first place. Instead of thanking our outgoing goods for their meagre service, per Ms. Kondo, making do means admonishing ourselves for being so thoughtless in the first place. Ditching something costs us, ecologically and cosmically; it should sting. And it should teach us to think more carefully about the real value of things.”
What’s your approach to shopping these days?
Now I know you might be wondering what the fitness tie in is to this topic. Partly it’s because sports clothes are one area where I over shop. I own a lot of workout gear for cycling and the gym. Partly it’s about mental health. Shopping isn’t the worst stress relieving activity out there but the too much stuff in my house makes me feel worse even if the shopping temporarily makes me feel better. Finally, there’s the feminism and the environment tie-in which is mattering to many of us more and more.
I’ve started making lists of things I’m tempted to buy so I can think about it when this year is over. Are these things I need, will they improve my life in some way, or are they just amusing?
So what I am not buying? Definitely I’m not making some impulse purchases on the internet. Today for example I’m not buying this hoodie, modelled on the Nazgul, from Lord of the Rings. I’m pretty sure it falls on the merely amusing side of things.
Four months ago I announced on the blog that I was taking a year long hiatus from shopping for shoes, clothes, purses, and jewelry. You can read that post for the full back story of why, and you can also see some of my pandemic purchases! Online shopping was a stress reliever during the pandemic but I have way more than enough stuff and it was taking up a lot of mental space as well as physical.
A few people have asked how it’s going.
First, in the interests of full disclosure, I did make some exceptions so it’s not been no shopping. I think I even announced those in the that original post. They were non underwire bras (after I decided not to go back to them once the pandemic was over), a dress for a friend’s wedding that worked with my new knee, and new running shoes which I’d planned to buy after surgery. At the time of the no shopping pledge I didn’t know when that would be.
Second, I’ve had fun watching the clothing ads slowly disappear from my social media newsfeeds. But there are some fun exceptions there too. Facebook is honing in on my personal style. My son Gavin says that with my cane I look like a Muppet pirate. Lately the ads are getting more and more specific. Lots of pink and purple and red. Lots of furry, shiny fabrics. So I’ve resisted but maybe I’ll ask for one for Christmas.
Third, it’s certainly made me realize how much clothing I have. Instead of shopping online, I’m shopping in my closet. It’s led to some discoveries and it’s also led to some clearing out of things I don’t wear. It’ll be a good opportunity to take stock, organize, and prune my existing clothes collection. I’m glad to have that as a focus for the year instead of buying new things.
Fourth, shoes are easiest to resist. I own a lot of very nice shoes and boots. I’m tempted a lot by jewelry since I lose a lot of it. I hardly ever buy purses so there’s not much challenge there at all. And clothes are really the focus of this whole thing.
Fifth, I do need things to distract me on my phone still. And I’ve found a thing that’s not shopping. Instead when I wake up in the middle of the night and can’t sleep or when I’m waiting in the car for people, I’ve been working on my Spanish using Duolingo.
Check out my progress!
Sixth, it’s also not been no shopping. Regular blog readers might recall shortly after knee surgery, while taking strong pain medication at night, I went on a pillow shopping bender. I guess I Google searched for best pillows for getting comfortable after knee surgery and bought them all. They just kept arriving, for days. More pillows!
Here’s Cheddar with one of the new pillows!
And I am keeping a digital scrapbook of things I’ve been tempted to buy so I can check in at year’s end and see if I’m still tempted.
Currency, a display of wealth, and a way to store things,
Making clothing functional (such as jeweled clasps, pins, and buckles)
Symbolism (to show membership, status, political affiliation, or relationships)
Protection (in the form of amulets and magical wards), and
Artistic display (personal style, fashion, etc.)
I normally wear at least some jewelry for most of these reasons. When I exercise, I wear my fitness tracker ring (to “store” data?) and my wedding ring when I want to reduce the likelihood of being approached (a magical “protection” amulet?).
I’ve noticed that my (semi-) regular exercise has had an impact on the jewelry I wear these days: thin, flat, light rings and an equally thin, light, and short necklace that I don’t have to remove. However, I do replace big earrings with small sleeper hoops when I bike or curl or whatever. I don’t normally wear bracelets or anklets, and I have no other piercings (other than a tongue ring, which stays in).
You may have a different approach–you don’t wear jewelry of any kind, or you take take off some or all jewelry then put it back on after exercising. And, of course, it depends on the sport! But there aren’t any sporty people I know who leave on all their regular day-to-day jewelry on while exercising.
I wear some jewelry when I exercise because I like the jewelry I have and I lose what take it off. Also, the jewelry I wear allows me to exercise unimpeded. If I’m honest, I might also keep jewelry because I think it communicates that I am a recreational athlete.
My assumptions about exercise and jewelry
Somewhere along the way I picked up the idea that exercise and jewelry do not go together, that the more competitive the athlete the less jewelry they wear. Where did this idea come from? Practically speaking, jewelry can hinder performance and even increase injury risk. But I have also assumed that “serious” athletes care more about performance than appearance.
I admit to holding the converse assumption as well: the more jewelry, the more the exerciser cares about appearances. For sale these days is a bevy of “exercise jewelry” that is advertised as waterproof, sweatproof, and non-tarnishing. But do serious exercisers really go for these? The workout jewelry and charms on Etsy are cute but not all practical for the exercise they represent.
While I do not want to police what people wear, my immediate thought about the “strong AND pretty” message of workout jewelry is that it reflects what Andi Zeisler (2016) describes as “marketplace feminism”–reducing social movements and personal empowerment to beauty and fashion items for purchase.
Challenging my assumptions
Then, recently I saw a web news article whose accompanying image made me question these above preconceptions.
I was struck by the size and amount of jewelry worn by track and field athlete Sha’Carri Richardson in recent photos on the Yahoo news site. Richardson is photographed while competing at the 2022 USATF outdoor Championships at Hayward Field wearing multiple hoop earrings, nose rings, a necklace, a bracelet, and a belly piercing with a full chain (not to mention flowing hair, false eyelashes, and long fake nails). She did not qualify at that event, but later at a different international event, wearing similar jewelry she did qualify.
Recently, jewelry wearing, jewelry design, and jewelry store ownership have all gained attention for their historical and cultural meaning and significance for African North Americans. I do not claim to know why Richardson wears what she wears, but I imagine her exercise “look” might go beyond personal beauty and fashion choices to deeper personal and cultural symbolism. A recent article on Serena Williams mentions her wearing Love earrings in her very last tennis match as a tribute to the game, and braids with beads she wore early in her career to honour African cultural traditions.
Perhaps Richardson, Williams, and other non-white athletes wear their jewelry styles precisely to challenge dominant white-centric stereotypes of competitive athletes as de-jewelled and unadorned. Their accessories lead me, us to realize there is in fact a whole world full of athletes engaging in various types of sports and exercise while wearing jewelry and other body adornments.
Old habits, but some new thinking
I probably won’t change my own minimal jewelry-wearing habits while I exercise. But, this reflection has given more insight into what drives my current jewelry-wearing choices. Some of it is fashion, but mostly it is simplicity and convenience.
It has also invited me to confront the narrow range of imagery that reinforce what is “normal” for athletes to wear (or not wear) when it comes to jewelry. I’ll think twice about my ideas about the relationship between jewelry and exercise. Some competitive athletes wear jewelry for its social and political meaning, not (or not only) to make a fashion statement.
It is summer swim season! I know this because I see on my Facebook feed “beach body” memes and a dramatic uptick in swimsuit advertising.
I normally don’t pay much attention to swimwear ads because swimsuits are not that important to me. However, I can understand the appeal of shopping online: no store assistants, no dressing rooms, no drama with wrestling with ill-fitting suits.
But this year, I have noticed that a few swimwear ads that feature either 3D-drawn images or the actual suits put on photoshopped-out mannequins. I don’t remember seeing before ads with these hovering bodies that are legless, armless, torsoless.
Tracy has noticed how the swimsuit edition of Sports Illustrated gives women equal opportunity to be objectified. Obviously that’s not good. If sexified suits objectify women regardless of age, and if a steady diet of these images still perpetuates body ideals, then is no body in the swimsuits our inclusive and evolved solution?
The decision to dis-embody models in these ads is likely far more economic than activist: I’m sure it’s cheaper to use realistic pictures or torso mannequins than to hire real people, and shoppers may have an easier time imagining themselves in the suit without a real body in it for comparison.
And maybe I’m making too much of these ads, but they weird me out. They make me think of Kevin Bacon as the Hollow Man in a tankini. The disembodied swimsuit model–as imperfectly resembling a human being in a way that causes “uneasiness and revulsion”–should be added to the graph visualizing the uncanny valley hypothesis.
From my feminist perspective, the no-body in these ads is not equivalent to everybody: it removes the one thing people need to wear these suits in the first place. These ads may avoid replicating images of so-called ideal bodies, but they also remove the bodies people have–complete with colour, fat, wrinkles, blemishes, scars, and hair. Ironically, the absence of real bodies features the ultimate normative body, one that is stripped of all uniqueness of size, shape, and mobility differences. In the case of the leaky, hysterical cis-female body so feared and scorned by patriarchy, what body is more “perfect” than the one that does not exist at all?
I tried to find answers to my questions (except the last one, which was rhetorical) with more Internet. While many web articles give advice on purchasing swimsuits by size, fit, fabric, style, cost, coverage, quality, versatility, quality, and “features” (like pockets), none described whether I should buy online a suit modelled by a real but photoshopped body or by an invisible but perfect fake body. I did notice that a few articles–such as Teen Vogue and TripSavvy–used these body-less swimsuit images in their feature banners as well.
For the record, in all this web searching I did notice more body-diverse swimwear than I have seen in the past. After staring at row upon row of swim-suited no-bodies, I was comforted and excited by these all-too-human ads.
Then, I realized that online shopping has its own trappings, and I closed my laptop altogether. Maybe going into an actual store to try swimwear on my own body is looking not be so bad after all.
Not having much stuff with me is one of the things I loved about my sabbatical years in other countries. I arrived with a suitcase of clothes and wore them for the year. I had a few work outfits, a few hanging out at home outfits, some bike clothes, a bathing suit (not 7!) and a raincoat. That was about it. I spent a lot less time deciding what to wear and since I only brought clothes I really liked with me, I was pretty much always happy with my choices.
Simpler life on sabbaticals suits me and while I haven’t been able to make that work at home, I’d like to try.
I’ve also been stress shopping in pandemic times and I’d like to stop that. In terms of pandemic stress bad habits, it’s not the worst but who really needs a nap dress or a #workfromhome llama onesie! I also now own Pride Hunter rainboots AND bright pink UGG rainboots, and leopard print crocs with fur inside. Really, that’s enough frivolous footwear for a lifetime.
Regular readers know that I’m a critic of fast fashion and I used to teach about the ethics of consumption in the context of fashion. While I mostly buy made in Canada clothes, not fast or inexpensive, there’s still not much good in owning as much clothing as I do.
I also hope to get rid of stuff I don’t actually wear. Possibly that might include the nap dress. Lol.
Finally, I’d like to put some money away for travel once the pandemic travel panic eases a bit and I feel like, for me, the bother/pleasure is right again.
I get a lot of pleasure out of clothes, and clothes shopping, and putting outfits together. Why quit one of things that makes me happy? The thing is I’m curious. Can I get a different sort of pleasure working with what I’ve got? That’s its own sort of sartorial challenge, right? I confess I was tempted by Nicole’s challenge, wearing the same dress for 100 days, but when I went to the website that sells the wool dresses connected to the challenge, I somehow ended up with three different styles and colours in my cart. I don’t think moderation is the path for me here!
Why blog about this here?
Well, mental health is health and we write about well-being broadly construed here on the blog. I like Mina’s description of making room in her head for thoughts other than shopping. Also, there are some fitness implications. See exceptions below! Most importantly thought putting it out here makes it real, makes it more likely that I will stick with it. I’m also taking all shopping apps off my phone. Do you have any other advice to make this easier? Wish me luck!
I will make exceptions–say if my cycling shoes break–or if I need a new pair of cycling shorts. I’ve been shopping for a new non-underwire bra for work clothes and while I am hoping to snag one before the 1st of July. If I don’t, then that too will be an exception. I am not putting off the challenge for the sake of finding a decent bra.
Goodbye Luc Fontaine, goodbye Lesley Evers, goodbye Fluevog and Poshmark too (used clothes are still clothes…)!
In case you’re not a big Met Gala red carpet fan (don’t judge me; it’s a way to avoid end-of-term grading), Kim Kardashian (who I still can’t figure out why she’s a celebrity) showed up wearing a dress of Marilyn Monroe’s. She wore it for a few minutes– long enough for selfies seen ’round the world– and then changed into an identical dress for the rest of the evening.
This was a very elaborate and expensive publicity stunt, which I think is Kim Kardashian’s stock in trade. That’s not why I’m bringing this to your attention. Rather, it’s the fact that this stunt involved very extreme weight-loss methods in order to fit into a fragile 60-year-old dress for less than 10 minutes– basically long enough to pose and ascend the stairs at the Met Gala. I won’t post anything about those methods, but you can read more about it in the Teen Vogue article.
In my view, Ms. Kardashian was ill-advised in her desire for attention on the Met Gala. Had she asked for my input, there are lots of other ways she could’ve drawn attention to herself without doing potential damage to her body and encouraging lots of women and girls to do the same:
1.Ms. Kardashian could have set up a sewing machine and table to sew a one-minute dress, put it on and strut up those stairs. Yes, it’s possible– check it out here:
2.If Kim didn’t want to go to all the trouble of sewing, but wanted to make an impression, she could’ve taken tips from these folks, who certainly went all-out for the Met Gala too, but didn’t worry about fitting into too-tight clothing:
Honestly, a great hat can really spruce up an otherwise-ordinary outfit. Had Kim’s people done their research, they would have found these examples to help turn the spotlight on their client:
My fashion take-away: there are so many fun and elegant and whimsical and hilarious ways to go all-out for special occasions. Why focus on clothing that doesn’t fit in the first place (which isn’t your fault or the clothing’s fault)? Imagination and a little courage can send us all out there into the world and onto whatever red carpets or boardrooms or conferences or galas with panache.
I don’t currently have any fancy dos on my agenda. Do you, dear readers? What do you wear when the dress code is schmancy? I welcome your advice.
This week I turned 60. It’s kind of exciting and also a little daunting. I’m excited at reaching what feels like a milestone. My father died 15 days shy of his 60th birthday, of metastatic lung cancer. My mother is 78 (yes, she had me young) and still chugging along. At 60, it feels like I’ll be joining her, my aunts, and older women friends, being inducted into the membership of… some metaphysical organization of which I currently know not.
So, given that some aspects of my future seem ineffable, I’m pragmatically turning to the mundane: what does turning 60 mean for my wardrobe choices? What do various clothing styles mean for women, 60 and older?
Again, I find myself soaring into abstract territory; perhaps it’s just pre-birthday flutterings. Maybe I should just talk about clothing now. Okay, I’ll do that.
Most of what I read online was a miscellany of what NOT to wear, of which I’m choosing to ignore ALL their ill-considered tips. However, I continued searching for articles on style, and style for older women. What are my choices?
There’s always classic and elegant:
They look lovely (the women and their outfits), but this look doesn’t really suit my personality, lifestyle or bank account.
I do love me some color, though, and you see bright-colored costume-y ensembles on some fashionable older women.
These are fabulous, but… not really for me. I like the harem pants and also the flowing green coat, but these are bolder style messages than I think I want to send on a day-to-day basis.
There’s a lot of commentary on what older women wear, and most of it isn’t good. They get lampooned on TV and elsewhere. Who can forgot grandma Yetta from the TV show The Nanny?
By the way, here is what actor Ann Morgan Guilbert, who played Grandma Yetta, looked like in real life:
You may be beginning to get the message that, for older women, style means bold and extreme, maybe bordering on satire. That’s fine if that’s what you want. But I don’t want these to be my only options:
I mean, they’re totally fab. But not to go into my wardrobe rotation.
Don’t despair for me, gentle readers; I did find a fashion exemplar whose style works for me. I present, for your consideration, looks of Queen Latifah:
Queen Latifah’s looks feature comfortable shoes, unfussy components, some tailored style, and above all functionality. These are clothes to live in, not pose in. I admit I might pick some pieces with bolder colors too, but I like the combo of useful and chic. Thanks Queen Latifah!
Now, time to go shopping in my closet and see what combos come out of it. Stay tuned for updates.
Readers, what kind of looks are you sporting these days? Any fashion tips or aspirations you want to share? Let me know.
As if life weren’t already hard enough… Town and Country came out this month with “Style Secrets” for women over 50. Whenever I read “blah-blah for women over 50”, I feel like I have to either 1) step away from the breakables in my house; or 2) put on my mouth guard while reading to keep from grinding my teeth away.
And yet– I couldn’t resist sharing a few tips with you, dear readers. Worry not, though, as I have accompanied them with healthy (or at least, amusing) commentary. And pictures, too. So here we go…
Town and Country says to us: Opt for daintier jewelry.
Hell to the no. First of all, I can barely see the catches on itty-bitty necklaces to put them on. Secondly, I enjoy color, texture, dimension and materials. That translates for me to having fun with jewelry, which is sometimes large and in charge. I present to you exhibits 1a and 1b.
Next tip from Town and Country: Find the right jeans.
They go on, offering us more sage wisdom: Wearing a skirt? Mind your knees.
What is this? Random orthopedic advice? Nope. Some bozo named Paul Cavaco dropped the following quote:
“I think that after a certain age your skirt should really be at or below the knee, no matter how beautiful your legs are. It looks more appropriate and it doesn’t look like you’re trying to look young.”
That’s a load of crap. Take this, Paul:
Don’t we all look super cute? I thought so.
Their next tip sounds okay, but it’s actually bad: Chose where you want the most attention. The creepiness is in the details below, from creepy guy Andrew Gelwicks:
“A lot of the women I dress have a certain area of their body that they don’t feel as confident of. If you’re going to be more conservative with one part of your body then you need to compensate by highlighting another area. Have a leg moment if you don’t want to draw attention to your shoulders.”
No No No No No No No! I can choose to highlight NO areas of my body if I want. In fact, that is my preferred default state moving through the world. If I have to pick one part of my body to highlight, it guess it would be this one:
Town and Country clearly doesn’t like women over 50, as they then suggest the following: Shapewear is key.
In case you don’t know what that is, they’re talking about spanx and other sorts of tight elastic garments designed to constrain our bodies and render us less like people and more like sausages. Why? Because over-50 bodies and movements of those bodies are seen as less smooth or graceful or uniform by some in the fashion world and everyone on the Town and Country Editorial staff. All I have to say here is this:
It *is* a trap, in more ways than one. First, once you manage to get into these elastic torture garments, it’s not easy to get out of them again. Second, it traps us into thinking that our own unfettered bodies are not acceptable for public outings. A pox on all shapewear and the truck they rolled in on.
They go on to make lots of suggestions about high heels (always have a pair at the ready), as well as what color of high heels you should have (black is a requirement, but color is okay). I’ll stop here.
In summary: my style tips for women over 50?
Find your own style
Ignore the whole idea of style
Find your trends at your local thrift shop
Wear pajama bottoms all the time
Do whatever you want
That’s my plan. What are your style tips for women over 50? I stand before my closet, awaiting your advice…