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Advice & More May 2018

Put on a Dress, Damn It!

By Fern Smith-Brown

“My mother always said to wear nice underwear in case you are unlucky and get in an accident.” She’d grin and continue, “I say, wear pretty underwear in case you accidentally get lucky!”

Where’s it written we have to look like a frump when we get to a certain age?  No, we can’t wear hair bows or spike heels, but darn if we can’t still look pretty good. Sure, the younger generation may be prettier and sprightlier, but we have maturity, grace and a great personality cultivated over the years. We can’t all be size 8 – and don’t have to be. Women are lovely in every shape and size. Personality is a plus, and well-thought-out fashion sense goes a long way in enhancing beauty.

Here’s where I upset a lot of ladies as I continue to rant about fashion for older ladies.  When did women begin to look like men? And why would a lady with healthy hips want to cram them into skin-tight jeans when a skirt flowing down those hips would hide a multitude of sins and be so flattering?

Yeah, yeah, I know pants are comfortable, but ask your husband. Bet you a chocolate sundae that he will tell you he likes you in dresses or suits with a pretty blouse or feminine jacket. He’ll also say he likes you in jeans and pants — once in a while. And if you don’t believe him or me just watch him as he checks out a lady in a pretty dress when she floats into his vision. He doesn’t take his eyes off her.

And for those spike heels that we have to forgo. There is a plethora of beautiful — and sexy — shoes with a modest heel that any of us can wear. And slides and wedge heels are “in” these days. While not the same as a pretty, sleek stiletto – which gives the leg a fabulous look –  a modest heel is still a viable option. A small heel is just as attractive to a lady’s leg and goes a long way in completing an outfit and showing off to perfection a flirty, floating hemline.

This spring, ruffles (at a minimum for us) and fabrics that float are in. And they are very feminine and look fabulous on our less than girlish figures. A pretty blouse with a bit of sparkle is okay, too.

As for those damn, unflattering pantsuits – how on earth does one manage in the ladies room (especially public restrooms that are often not as clean as they should be) without the hems dragging on an icky floor. Leave the pants to the male in your life and put on a dress.

I know a lovely lady who slipped into the “frump” stage when she reached a certain age. One day, several years after she had been widowed, she was attending a special event and I couldn’t keep my mouth shut another minute. I insisted she toss the plain beige, no-style dress she planned on wearing and wear something chic and elegant. She frowned.

I ignored her and we set off shopping. Even stopped by the lacy lingerie department. She frowned again. But I insisted she had to look just as nice on the inside as she did on the out. When she looked as if to defy me, I told her about my friend, Pat, who liked to shock folks with outrageous comments. She said, “My mother always said to wear nice underwear in case you are unlucky and get in an accident.” She’d grin and continue, “I say, wear pretty underwear in case you accidentally get lucky!”

The lady frowned at me, and my friend’s humor.

Anyway, I picked out this fabulous navy blue sheath dress — a silky, faintly slubbed fabric with a wide satin band around the waist that ended in two long satin ribbon-like pieces of fabric, shaped like the broad part of a necktie, that flowed down the side of the hip. It had a high enough neckline to flatter an older lady and long sleeves. It was perfect.

But she exclaimed, “I can’t wear that! It’s too fancy for me!” And she gave that satin flap a flip.

My turn to frown at her. “Remove that and you just have a plain navy dress. This adds pizzazz,” I said firmly. “It’s perfect. The inset satin band disguises any imperfections around your waist and the eye is drawn to that glamorous side sash.”

I won the battle of the elegantly chic dress — and  lingerie in a matching color!

Back home, we stood before a tall pier mirror. “Oh, my,” she breathed. “I can’t believe how I look.”

I couldn’t keep the smirk from my face, but I did refrain from crowing “Told you so!”

She paired that lovely dress with silver, strappy shoes with a small, slender heel, added her mother’s diamond earrings, and a necklace with silver and navy beads. I insisted she wear a diamond and sapphire ring that had been reposing in my jewelry box.  She looked fabulous. She even had her hair styled, ditching the look (at my insistence) she’d worn for 40 years.

That evening her date escorted her into the room and every head turned. What an entrance!  Her escort whispered, “Every man in the room just poked his fork in his eye because they were all looking at you!”

Older generation? This just proves you’re never too old to look lovely and to turn a few heads. Several ladies came over to speak to her and ask where she found the beautiful dress. Several of them had to give the swatch at her hip a little flip saying, “I just love this.” 

Oh, by the way, this lady was 80 years old. Which just proves, it doesn’t matter how old you are. A little fashion pizzazz and an attitude will carry you through any season.  


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