Be Glamorous….even just a little.
When I was about twenty years old, my God-Mother Isabelle shared the following poem with me. I remember thinking how wonderful it was…particularly the part where the author says, “But maybe I ought to practice a little now.”
by Jenny Joseph
WHEN I AM AN OLD WOMAN I SHALL WEAR PURPLE
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick the flowers in other people’s gardens
And learn to spit
You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes
But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.
But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.
The other day I stumbled upon a book by Ari Seth Cohen, called Advanced Style which brought this poem to mind. Cohen, a New York based blogger has created an amazing site dedicated to women of advanced age and their fantastic personal styles. As a former New Yorker I am all too aware of the constantly documented “street style” which always seems to focus on the young folk. Cohen realized that there was a wholly untapped bevy of beauties with glamour to spare. His experiences in creating the blog, book, and upcoming documentary reflect what it’s all about,”They will inspire us all to look at aging in a new light. People are so scared of getting older, but the ladies in this film embrace their age and live active, creative lives. They also have incredible insight and wisdom that definitely needs to be passed on.”~Fashonista.
Josephs’ poem and Cohens’ mission statement made me realize one of the simplest things that I have always done which makes my life better….adding a splash of glamour and style, no matter what. When I was a young line cook I spent 12 hours a day 6 days a week in chef’s whites, clogs, and black and white checkered pants. There was little or no way for me to maintain my sense of femininity in the kitchens I worked in which more closely resembled men locker rooms. Yet, every single day, I smoothed my hair back, changed my earrings, and pencilled my lips then filled them in with perfect rich red which became my signature look. These small things helped to remind me that I was, in fact, a girl, that there would be time for party dresses and sparkly heels and feathery headbands when work eventually ended. Three little efforts. Thats all it took. Every day.
Our older sisters in Advanced Style show us how to do it properly and to push the envelope but as Warning tells us…’Maybe I ought to practice a little now.” I could not agree more. Adding a splash to your everyday is easy. Maybe it is trying to coordinate your bra and panties…knowing that there is something sexy underneath your clothes just for you. Earrings, bracelets, shoes, barrettes, a colour, any of these things can become your personal signature ‘thing’.
I have had a wealth of women of all ages who have influenced my personal style. My fathers side of the family has a particular flair for the dramatic. Firmly believing that they descended from French royalty and invented Dr.Pepper somehow made then think they were some kind of New Jersey aristocracy. The style of these women was remarkable. My grandmother, Harriette, who I know only from pictures had a flair for accesorising that borders on the unreal. Here you see her with my Grandfather and her Pomeranian Rhett Butler. Please note that her shoes match her dress. As does her dog. Intentional? Definitely.
You can see from the first photo in this post that Harriette was not afraid of the size of her accessories….I’m not sure exactly what is going on with those giant earrings but I know that I like it. You can live big with small embellishments if that suits you better but doesn’t THIS look fun?
I was shocked (not really) to find that my Great-Grandparents divorced and Great Grand-Dad married this woman. We should all have a formal black and white portrait done, at least once a decade.
And then there is Nana Donna Baker. I am unclear as to who she was exactly but I believe she was some kind of Auntie. What is happening here? Is it a necklace? Is it a pin? Is it attached to a corsage? And LOOK at that hair.
All of these women, bring an almost Auntie Mame quality through these old photos, a reminder to be fabulous and be yourself. Don’t be afraid to go a little bigger with those earrings, step out of your comfort zone a little and see how it makes you feel. You will be surprised how many people, women particularly that are perfect strangers who will stop you to comment on how great you look. Most importantly, don’t wait until you are 70, start to cultivate that style now!