thinking about: the good enough body

comfortable red wedge sandals

I’m beginning to understand that aging well requires coming to terms with our physical selves, and making peace with those changes that we can no longer control (and some we never could). Yes, we can take care of ourselves: wear sunscreen, avoid smoking, eat well, do whatever kinds of activity are best to maintain our strength and flexibility….but if we are lucky we WILL age, and our bodies will change in ways we might not have anticipated. But those changes can also be an opportunity to assess, update and fine-tune our style.

For most of my life I believed that if I just lost enough weight, I’d have the kind of angular body that would look good wearing just about anything. Finding my style would be as simple as strolling along a smorgasbord and picking what looked appealing. Age and (I hope) some wisdom have taught me otherwise. I’ll always be short and “sturdy” (no amount of weight loss will add inches of height or make my broad shoulders narrower) and my first post-menopause decade has further softened my contours. I don’t say this out of disparagement or looking for reassurance, but rather because with acceptance comes freedom from chasing a phantom. I’m still figuring out how to best balance dressing this physical form with expressing my style, but I’m no longer pining for a completely different body.

Yet, I also believe that some limitations are all in our heads, or are untruths we’ve been taught and never questioned.

I still frequently see comments, on blogs and elsewhere, to the effect of “only tall, thin people can wear X.” If I’ve learned anything in the last few years, it’s that this is a myth. Yes, it might look different on you than on the 5’9″, 110 lb. model. You might like that difference, you might not. The proportions or cut may not work for your unique shape. Sometimes an alteration will be needed to make a garment fit well. (And yes, even very slender celebrities need alterations.) But I think what irks me most about that comment is the implied assertion that only tall, thin (and add “young”) people are entitled to wear certain things. We think nothing of pushing back against ageist declarations about giving up short skirts and leather jackets; let’s extend that pushback to the assumption that only certain people look “good” in clothes, or “can” wear certain styles. Clothes that fit your body well and are an expression of your style will look and feel “good,” period.*

And if a piece of clothing truly doesn’t look good on anyone but a professional model, then the problem isn’t our bodies, it’s a poorly designed garment.

Style is about so much more than just size and shape, or hewing to a very narrow aesthetic, or attempting to create the illusion of it. Sometimes how we feel in something (and consequently, the confidence or lack of it we project) makes a far stronger impression than the length of a sleeve or whether the cut of a garment nips in at the waist. We aren’t a blank canvas, or a hanger for a dress. Personal style isn’t about adorning a perfect body, but rather about expressing our own uniqueness and celebrating what we have, who we are.

How has your style evolved to celebrate your own unique self?

(Photo above: my feet may have become more finicky with age, but these wedge sandals keep them happy in style.)

*The caveat being, of course that we all have different tastes, and not everyone may agree.

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77 Comments

  1. shelbeeontheedge1
    June 9, 2016 / 3:19 am

    Susan, very well said! I couldn’t agree with you more! This is a message I can totally stand behind…as I am in the perimenopausal years and all of the changes that come with that! I am coming to terms with my body and defining my style along the way! By the way, your feet are beautiful and those red sandals are amazing and you are fabulous!

    Shelbee
    http://www.shelbeeontheedge.com

  2. June 9, 2016 / 4:14 am

    You are right on point. For the most part, the Internet and social media have amped up what TV started, with narrower definitions of beauty and higher expectations. Women in the ’50s and ’60s weren’t expected (including by themselves) to look like movie stars. Now, women compare themselves with fashion models, many of whom are still teens, and find themselves lacking.
    That said, my mom was convinced, right up until a month before she died at age 90, that if she could just lose weight she would look tall and elegant and could wear anything. She spent her life insecure and unhappy with herself.
    I want to look nice, even chic and fashionable, but I opt for classic most of the time. I am within the CDC’s normal weight range for my height, though under today’s standards I would be considered chubby, but I am more interested in being healthy than being thin. My focus on exercise and diet are about feeling good rather than looking good.

  3. Robyn
    June 9, 2016 / 4:25 am

    Hi, I agree with I’m not tall enough or too old to wear something. In saying that, it it is nice to dress respectfully. A blog I read said that only tall, thin, and young women can wear long dresses. Well, I have a long gray tank dress that I wear all summer and generally recieve positive comments. Wear what looks best on you. Have a friend who will give you an honest opinion. Right now the styles out do not look best on me. I live in the south and my summer clothes take a beating. I would love to by some new clothes but the styles aren’t what I feel best in. So maybe next year???

  4. Janice
    June 9, 2016 / 4:35 am

    Susan–
    You really highlighted these issues in a way that speaks to me…
    I applaud your writing style.
    For some women (people), fear of coloring outside the lines clothing -wise can lead to a less than stylish exterior. Accceptable, safe.

    I’ve always thought that either you have that ability to express yourself, or you don’t.
    Until I found blogs like yours, instead of “what to wear when you’re Over 50”–I was fairly uninspired.
    Just wanted to say-Thank you:)

    • Nicole Kowalski
      June 9, 2016 / 10:46 am

      Janice-
      I just want to echo your comment regarding feeling uninspired before finding Susan’s blog. I agree. I was struggling with moving from my 40 year old wardrobe into my 50 plus lifestyle and body. It’s helped immensely.

      So, add another thank you to the pile Susan!

      • Kathryn
        June 9, 2016 / 4:06 pm

        Me too! This is the blog that has inspired my every day look and I always look through the travel wardrobe section before I board a plane.
        …and here’s another thanks!!

  5. Francoise Reynolds
    June 9, 2016 / 4:38 am

    Well said!

  6. June 9, 2016 / 4:49 am

    I so enjoyed reading this post. It is right on point. As the years come and go, it is so hard to find a style that we can feel confident and pretty in our ever changing bodies.

  7. Laura
    June 9, 2016 / 5:04 am

    Oui! This is beautifully written. I am hopeful that blogs like yours and Advanced Style (gotta love Ari Seth Cohen) will liberate people from “the rules”. I wear what I feel confident in; what makes me feel alive.

    Coco Chanel said it best, “Look for the woman in the dress. If there is no woman, there is no dress.”

    • suburbohemian
      June 10, 2016 / 7:45 am

      Genius quote! This entire blog post is a celebration.

      • September 1, 2016 / 4:15 pm

        Yes, bravo for that quote. Good on Chanel and Good on Une Femme!

  8. Naomi
    June 9, 2016 / 5:07 am

    I really enjoyed today’s though provoking post! We all must balance what is comfortable with what is flattering. I just love the photo of your red toenails in those wedges! Let’s all agree to throw out rules that are arbitrary and embrace what makes us happy and feel beautiful.❤️

  9. KarenLA
    June 9, 2016 / 5:21 am

    One of the best things I ever did in my life was to have my colors done by a consultant that studied the susanni Caygill method. Not only did she show me my colors, which harmonize with each other creating endless outfits, but she brought me in tune with my essence that I was born with, freeing me from the dictates of the fashion industry. When you are wearing your colors you not only feel good, but look younger or ageless.

  10. June 9, 2016 / 5:21 am

    I find that the most challenging aspect of aging isn’t how we choose to dress ourselves, but how we choose to adjust to our changing bodies new limitations. Accepting the fact that I no longer have the same amount of energy is one of the hardest adjustments I’ve faced.

    bisous
    Suzanne

  11. June 9, 2016 / 5:30 am

    Spot on! Sales assistants or shopping buddies rarely say, “Oh, that is perfect on you! It makes you look short and sturdy and look how it gives the effect of a very short torso!”
    And if my inner critic is on full alert about a look I’m checking in my mirror, she’s saying, of an outfit or a garment that I love wearing,”Hmmm, that does NOT make you look taller and slimmer.”
    But with all that there is to dislike about aging, the wisdom of self-acceptance is a powerful benefit, and perhaps we can contribute to a small ripple effect that shakes up all those bossy and constraining rules.
    Great post, Sue!

  12. June 9, 2016 / 5:35 am

    Sing it sista! My bikinis are packed and I don’t care what others think of my thighs flapping in the wind like a kite or my tummy bulge. It’s all about personal comfort!

  13. Kathryn
    June 9, 2016 / 5:40 am

    Well written!
    I have struggled with the “I’m not …(fill in the blanks).. enough” mindset ever since I began to take an interest in fashion. It seems that I have spent too many years being frustrated with my short and strong body instead of enjoying what great things it has and continues to do for me.

    Funny thing is that I have had strangers come up to me to complement an outfit and friends who have complemented my style. I always think, “Me? But I have big hips!” sheesh!

    I am so glad to have your blog to read and to inspire me to keep it stylish.
    merci!

  14. susanburpee
    June 9, 2016 / 5:49 am

    I think that social media and blogs have put many more older women “out there.” Blogs like yours (and maybe mine, a little bit) show real women in their fifties wearing their clothes. And looking good. Not photoshopped or airbrushed, and often not professionally photographed. That must be doing something to reassure women our age that they look good…and can look good without being a fashion model.

    I was amazed when a friend said to me over coffee a few weeks ago, about trying to shop for an outfit, that she didn’t know where to start because all she ever saw in the “media” were young, thin women. And I remember replying…”Margaret, you’re using the wrong medium if you think that. Get on the web. There are thousands of us there.” And I sent her a link to several blogs by women our age…including yours.

    Having said that, it’s hard to see the real you in the mirror sometimes. Poor cuts, wrong shapes, or length, or colour of garments can make you look worse than you really are. But if you keep trying, eventually the right cut and colour and shape makes you feel like a million bucks. It’s persisting in finding it that’s the challenge. Sometimes I think that women our age should form shopping support groups in our own areas. Like “Uber,” but free and for shopping instead of taxi rides…you can go on-line and see who’s available in your area to go with you and help you choose great outfits, that suit your body type. Gad. Maybe I’m onto something…do you think???

    • Naomi
      June 9, 2016 / 5:58 am

      I’ve often thought that! “Rent a shopping girlfriend!” But free:) You’d have someone with a gentle critical eye say “That looks amazing!!” Or “that, not so much”
      You’re on to something…

      • Sandy
        June 9, 2016 / 12:00 pm

        This is an excellent idea! It could be an adaptation for the use of a video type app or a website where people can meet others in their area for shopping. Hope someone develops this.

    • LoriM
      June 9, 2016 / 8:31 am

      Great Idea, SusanBurpee!

    • Beverly
      August 26, 2016 / 3:56 am

      I would absolutely love this!

  15. June 9, 2016 / 6:07 am

    If we are eating healthfully and walking and stretching, our bodies are how they are meant to be. The average height of a woman in the world is 5’3.7″ and weight about 160 pounds. As women of a certain age, we should care for our bodies and adorn them in the ways that are pleasing to us. Once this is done, we can turn our energies to other matters.

  16. Suz
    June 9, 2016 / 6:11 am

    Another great well written post. You have, once again, given me food for thought.
    And lovely shoes and toes! Thank you

  17. June 9, 2016 / 6:12 am

    Bravo Susan! Half of what I wear is probably a “shouldn’t” because of my height. Women need to pat themselves on the back more often instead of comparing themselves to an unrealistic standard.

  18. Gisele
    June 9, 2016 / 6:49 am

    You rock, Susan. Thanks for this thoughtful and wise post.

    Even as a tall skinny gal, I have struggled with thinking my body “should” be different, that I somehow owe it to the onlooker to appear to have a bosom and flat belly. It’s only in midlife that I’m gaining the confidence to just be myself. I hope that our gorgeousness and confidence are inspiring to younger people.

  19. Tessa
    June 9, 2016 / 6:51 am

    Thirty years ago, my mother and I had our Colours “done”. Bad mistake. It took away my confidence to buy what I liked and forced me into a box. If I could turn back time, I would go with my gut. I wore khakis for years, even though I depised them just because they were in my base neutrals.
    My new mantra is to love something immediately or leave it. But I still can’t get those colours out of my head.

    • Sandy
      June 9, 2016 / 12:03 pm

      I agree with you on this. Although, I think color swaps work for some people(if their eye isn’t developed.) When I tried it , I felt less confident with fashion choices. I learned that one can often change their makeup so that most colors work for them. You can also wear less favorite colors on the lower half of your body.

  20. June 9, 2016 / 6:55 am

    Extremely well said, thanks for the pep talk!

  21. sybes1
    June 9, 2016 / 7:12 am

    Great article Susan. At 69 it’s an uphill battle for sure. I’m having to unload YEARS of of clothing that is simply too unflattering (off the shoulders? not for me at this point) or too uncomfortable (high heels, tight tee’s). You set a wonderful example of ongoing style. Sally

  22. Linda
    June 9, 2016 / 7:30 am

    What a great and insightful post! A friend of mine, who is three years older than me said to me over dinner, “You just wait! Once you turn 50, your body will change dramatically. You’ll put on weight, and you’ll get a belly, no matter what you do.” Those words became my fight song as I vowed that I would never let age become my excuse for putting on excess pounds or looking frumpy. I started really watching what I ate, and began a regular exercise program. I lost 12 pounds and have been able to keep off the weight for over a decade.

    With my newfound health regime, I realized that I had a pretty great body, not so much for how it looked, but for what it did and does for me. Granted, I don’t have a willowy model’s figure, I’m built a lot like you, Susan, petite with athletic shoulders. But, with age I can now accept my body type and find clothing that fits and suits my lifestyle. That’s why I love to follow blogs, like yours, of women my age who aren’t necessarily stick-thin models.

    Sometimes I have to laugh when I look at fashion pins of much younger women. There are scores of pins of 5’9″ 110 pound models in jeans, heels, and plaid shirts. All of the models have long flowing hair! I couldn’t look like them even if I tried, even when I was 30 years younger!

  23. roxannesteed
    June 9, 2016 / 7:34 am

    I am SOOOOO incredibly grateful for your blog posts! You have resurrected my sense of style (which I had been really struggling with these last few years. Menopause has been doing a real number on my bod – which I used to never worry about. You always look great – and your posts have been so inspiring (and real!). You seem to have a similar build (though until you mentioned being ‘short’ & broad shouldered, I thought you WERE probably 5’9″& 110lbs). Yes, my feet can no longer run in stilettos, (can’t stand much of a heel anymore) – comfort rules in that kingdom now. Anyways….I just wanted you to know- you’ve brought back my clothes confidence (and helped me to find some new style ideas that really work for me!!). Now….to decide what to do with this crazy curly hair….(any good ideas for a guest interview blog there?). Cheers, Roxanne

  24. Lori
    June 9, 2016 / 7:35 am

    Great post. I have struggled all my life to find a look that is “me” and that I feel stylish and comfortable in. I am 5’7″ tall and have been thin most of my life and still never felt confident about my body. I love what Gisele said about feeling like you owe the onlooker an expectation of perfection.(whatever that may be)I always felt apologetic for not “getting it right”. Now that I am 54, I am putting all of these expectations from others and myself aside. Oh, and the voices of the past in my head and in the media/culture telling me I can’t wear certain things. Those voices that I gave so much power to and let them shout down my own voice.

  25. Anita
    June 9, 2016 / 7:44 am

    I am 67, widowed 3 years ago, and retired. I spent the last 9 months in treatment for Stage 3 breast cancer. There’s nothing like not having hair or breasts (I am not having reconstruction) and al, the lingering effects of chemotherapy to make you rethink female beauty! I am proud of my body, I have had a wonderful, full life and
    I hope it shows.

    • Susan B
      June 9, 2016 / 8:44 am

      Hi Anita, I’m sorry about your illness and hope you’re fully recovered or will be soon.

    • sueinspain
      June 9, 2016 / 1:42 pm

      Hi Anita Just wanted to say how inspiring your comment was. I’m sure you’re a beautiful person on the outside, just as you are on the inside.

    • Laurel Kniskern
      June 9, 2016 / 5:34 pm

      We should all consider what our bodies do and have endured. Thanks for your inspiration.

      • September 1, 2016 / 4:19 pm

        Your a proud representative of what life is really like. You seem to have grabed it by the horns and are showing us they way! Bet you’re a beauty when you smile.

    • June 10, 2016 / 4:28 am

      Thank you for this reality check. Absolutely!

      • Beverly
        August 26, 2016 / 4:00 am

        Susan, thank you for this thought provoking post. It could not have come at a better time in my life. I am learning to walk away from all my self-criticizing comments to myself about not being able to wear this or that, about being too short, too wide, shoulders too round, etc.. Thank you.

  26. Cris
    June 9, 2016 / 8:03 am

    You are so right! And I love the red sandals.

    • Angela
      June 9, 2016 / 8:42 am

      I have struggled with the same issues. If only I was 10 pounds lighte. If only my thighs were thinner. If only my arms were smaller. I have always eaten healthy, exercised and was the picture of health. Then last September out of the blue I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. The sentence in your post that we are lucky if we will age het close to home. I have learned to be thankful for the body I have for as long as I can fight to have it. Dressing issues such as head covers during chemo baldness, and an even thicker waist line due to surgery

      • Angela
        June 9, 2016 / 9:08 am

        Are my new norm. Your post was right on today!

        • Kathleen
          June 9, 2016 / 6:52 pm

          Angela, I too had an out of the blue cancer diagnosis and have addressed the same issues you describe. Everyday I’m grateful for my new head of (grey) hair and changed, but so far, healthy body. Clearing out the closet and embracing clothing styles that satisfy the new me emotionally and physically has been challenging, but refreshing.

          Thanks, Sue, for an on the mark topic.

      • Susan B
        June 9, 2016 / 9:21 am

        Hi Angela, I’m so sorry to hear of your illness. I hope you have a complete recovery. It’s true, we can take nothing for granted, and every day is a gift in these imperfect bodies.

      • sueinspain
        June 9, 2016 / 1:44 pm

        Kudos to you too, Angela. Your comment, and Anita´s, puts everything into perspective for those of us who are moaning just because we aren’t as slender as when we were in our 20s.

  27. Sisty
    June 9, 2016 / 9:04 am

    So glad to see this post. I thought you had gone a little off your rocker with yesterday’s post about “What to Wear to the Dentist.” 😉

    I agree that there shouldn’t be outright prohibitions on what women should wear — as a lot of funny and NSFW Facebook posts have emphasized recently.

    On the other hand, part of determining a personal style that works for you necessarily involves narrowing the choices. So it’s a balance.

  28. June 9, 2016 / 9:13 am

    So well said, Susan! The fault lies not in ourselves but in whatever piece of clothing isn’t flattering us! While I have been fairly tall and thin for a long time, I still prefer to cover my skin, and wear easy-fitting clothes. I still do the “if only” thing, but less and less, xox

    -Patti
    http://notdeadyetstyle.com

  29. June 9, 2016 / 10:59 am

    I have always been curvy, sometimes thin, sometimes substantial. It has been quite awhile since I’ve longed for the model-thin, tall body of the media darlings. I will not get taller and I can’t wear heels, so I’ve come to grips with the current me as much as possible. While I don’t feel like I am approaching my 60s, knowing that I am helps me relax a bit and say, “Good enough.” I dress for comfort first now, though I do like to know I can ramp it up when I need to, so I keep a few items on hand that I know will look good and look appropriate in a (slightly) more formal setting than we have here in the mountains. I enjoy seeing your choices, especially the travel wardrobes. I know you are also vertically challenged, so I see ideas that I wouldn’t have thought of myself here.

  30. June 9, 2016 / 11:03 am

    Yes!!! I love that you’ve called out that outrageous concept that only thin tall young ones are ENTITLED to wear certain things. Thanks for being a sane and wise woman voicing important truths!

  31. Sandy
    June 9, 2016 / 12:09 pm

    Love these shoes and you wear them well. In line with your thoughts, I’m working on getting over how my toes look with cutout shoes. Maybe they don’t really look that bad. I’ll keep an open mind.

  32. Roxann
    June 9, 2016 / 12:15 pm

    Thank you for a wise and eloquent piece. One of the things about being in my sixties that I am grateful for is the sense of perspective that aging has provided about what really matters. For me this includes staying as healthy and strong as possible and cultivating the inner resources to deal well with whatever comes my way–and helping those I love to do the same. Spending time on “if only” statements or denying ourselves an orange scarf if it makes us feel great–whether or not it is in our seasonal palette–seems a waste of what poet Mary Oliver calls this one “wild and precious” life.

  33. sueinspain
    June 9, 2016 / 1:58 pm

    I absolutely loved this post and agree with everything you, and others, have said. When I was younger, I just wore whatever I loved (Shocking pink zipped top anyone? Purple mini skirt?). When my children were growing up and I didn’t have much money to spend on myself, I wore whatever I could find in the charity shops (thrift stores?) that fit me. Did I mention that I’m just over 5′ and not skinny? Now I’m 68 and retired, I have more money to spend on myself so now it’s back to choosing clothes that I love but also ones that I think love me. Shocking pink doesn’t do me any favours nowadays! I wouldn’t wear mini skirts either, however I do occasionally wear skirts and dresses that show my knees as my legs are my best feature. Should over 60s wear short skirts? Why not!

  34. Kelly
    June 9, 2016 / 2:37 pm

    Bravo! I so appreciate this post, Susan. I’ve been having this same conversation with myself lately. For years, every decision of what to wear was based on whether the outfit made me look bigger or smaller from any angle. Enough! Now I choose what makes me feel happy and confident, other opinions (and the occasional view of my muffin top or back fat) be damned. So long as it’s not too low cut, high cut, sheer or tight, I think I’m ok. And anyone who disagrees can avert their eyes and find somewhere else to look. 🙂

    • Lori
      June 10, 2016 / 7:54 am

      Love this!

  35. georgett cummins
    June 9, 2016 / 2:37 pm

    Thank you for telling what I know to be true. Sometimes the heart needs to hear what the brain already knew. Older, maybe wiser but sure not getting any taller!

  36. June 9, 2016 / 4:30 pm

    Bravo!!!!! Very well said. We women of a certain age have the guts to wear what looks good on us. We are very fortunate to be able to have the courage to follow our own style.

  37. Marie
    June 9, 2016 / 8:09 pm

    So beautifully said! Thank you, Susan, for this great post. (And, as an aside, what color of nail polish are you wearing? I am in search of that particular perfect summer-toenail red.)

    I was just reminiscing with a family member about how, when I was in high school — at 5’10’ and 115 pounds — I was dissatisfied with my body and my “wide” pelvis and “thick” thighs, which I thought ruined my look in certain clothing styles. Now, 35 years older and 20-30 pounds heavier, I know that if a garment is properly tailored, it will probably look nice enough on me. Which doesn’t mean I will want to wear it, but the shift is that I’m judging the garment, and not myself!

    • Susan B
      June 9, 2016 / 8:38 pm

      Hi Marie, thanks! The polish is one from Chanel from last year that’s been discontinued. But the color “Shantung” looks to be pretty close: http://bit.ly/1WHtOkb

      • Marie
        June 10, 2016 / 7:23 am

        Oo, that’s a pretty one, thank you!

  38. June 9, 2016 / 8:40 pm

    Oh man, when I had society’s pet body I was bulemic! And now I’m old and mottled and I am quite comfortable and happy. I always wish we could give young women the older woman’s equanimity. I guess the thing is just to be glad we get peace of spirit at SOME point:).

  39. Melissa
    June 9, 2016 / 9:54 pm

    Love this post Susan. It hits home about how I am feeling this past year. I never felt good about myself. I was always thin, perimenopause changed that and working behind a desk. I can also relate to Suzannes post about coming to terms with lack of energy.
    But this past year a broken foot limited my mobility and taught me to be thankful for my mobility once it came back.
    Another breast reduction cause perimenopause brought the girls back, brought me physical comfort but also.more confidence. Exercise has helped me look better and feel better.
    Mind you others always told me I was thin and lucky I just never saw it. But the exercising has lifted things tightened things so I just feel better and clothes fit nicer, but most important I buy clothes that fit right.
    Buying clothes that fit right and compliment your body can make you feel better and more confident that shows on outside.

    Now about how we are dictated to about what we should and shouldn’t wear. Well they can all kiss my ….. I wear what I want, what makes me feel good. The only thing I think society should dictate to us as human beings no matter who we are is to not offend with our clothing choices. Meaning if I bend over in my dress is said …. hanging out? If it is then it can be offensive to some so I shouldn’t wear it.
    All this being said I like wearing a column of color, why, because it makes me look taller and thinner. I feel frumpy stumpy bigger in blocks of color. To me it is what asthetically is appealing that counts. I also like that look on others no matter their size.
    I don’t look in the mirror anymore when choosing an outfit and think what will others think. I look in the mirror and literally talk to myself only discussing with myself and what do I think about the outfit I chose.
    Has given me way more confidence, I feel so much better in clothes.I choose better and buy quality versus quantity. I also finally learned if I really love something that might not fit quite right don’t put it back on the rack dissapointed think if it is worth the extra investment to tailor it. I also went throught stuff in my closet and had things tailored, it brought new life to pieces because now are worn more and with more confidence cause I feel better in them.
    I have a mantra love yourself first or nobody else will. Another one, they don’t pay my bills so I don’t care what they think. Oh and my all time calm yourself girl mantra…. it isn’t how they act that matters, but how you react. (I have learned most times no reaction is best, this puts the power of me back in my hands and no longer gives others power over me)

    This post opened up a great can of worms:) I love reading everyone’s thougts on it.

  40. June 9, 2016 / 11:45 pm

    So perhaps we could think about why we allow the fashion “industry” to peddle an aesthetic that cannot be achieved by the majority of women. Most industries seek to broaden their customer base and logically as the majority of women are between 5ft3 – 7 (even the young ones!) and most women over 25 are a kind of middling weight you would think wouldn’t you that the industry would allign itself to that demographic. Instead we carry on responding to a barrage of photos of young (sometimes very young) women who are 5ft 10 and taller and clinically underweight as though the rest of us are the ones with a problem! Lots of PhD theses have been written about the influence of sexuality in the fashion industry and its construction of an androgynous female aesthetic so think about it ladies and stop beating yourselves up! At 57 I love style rather than fashion, I look good and I’m really glad I’ve still – for the moment – got a relatively healthy body. Thanks for a great post Sue!

  41. Caro
    June 10, 2016 / 3:45 am

    Thank you.

    • Caro
      June 10, 2016 / 3:52 am

      Oops pressed prematurely. See full comment below.

  42. Caro
    June 10, 2016 / 3:51 am

    Thank-you. We need to hear this more often.

    I’ve been shopping the last couple of days. The racks are full of sizes 2 through 8, but not so many larger sizes. Many shops do not even carry petites in store – you have to order online and pay the extra postage, just to try things on. The average American woman is 5’4″, weighs 166 pounds, and wears a size 12 or 14. Who does the fashion industry think they are dressing?

  43. June 10, 2016 / 3:15 pm

    Thank you Susan for addressing this! As a 48 year old peri-menopausal woman I recognize that my body is real and the photos online and in magazines are not. I’ve lived a life, gave birth to two live human beings and like pasta and wine! Clothes need to change to fit our bodies. We do not have to change our bodies to fit clothes. It is such a female thing to blame ourselves rather than blame the fashion industry for being idiots and missing opportunities to make money! Ladies, stop blaming yourselves! Just because they don’t make clothes to fit your beautiful shape doesn’t mean you’re in the wrong! They are!

    Julia
    http://www.whenthegirlsrule.com

  44. Susan B
    June 12, 2016 / 12:43 pm

    Thanks so much everyone for the inspiring, thoughtful and supportive comments!

  45. Anke from Bremen
    June 16, 2016 / 8:09 am

    Dear Susan,
    thank you very much for this well-written and passionate article! Someone else already said how helpful it was for her to get the advice of a colour and style coach: I’ve had exactly the same, liberating experience. Having always half believed and half-not-believed that getting the “right” weight would make life easier all-round, learning that my curvy hourglass bone structure was a given and that the feminine, romantic style I had always felt attracted to but never quite dared to wear was just that: my style. From one moment to the next I felt immensely relieved: I am what I am – and hey! I have a distinctive style and it’s not just my odd taste! Looking for further inspiration I have started to follow several blogs for 40+/50+ women interested in fashion and keep on developing my wardrobe so it reflects “me” better and better. At 55 I have more confidence than I ever had about what I wear and how I present myself to the world and I almost can’t believe how much fun I have with fashion all of a sudden! – The only problem is that I am far more critical which makes it hard to find those things that exactly fit me and my wardrobe, but that’s a small price to pay.
    Cheers from Germany,
    Anke

  46. Linda Strand
    July 1, 2016 / 9:24 am

    Dear Susan,

    What I appreciate so much on your website is your good writing and thoughtful presentation of topics. There is something about the way you organize your postings – I can’t quite put my finger on it – but I come away with a new understanding of how to think about something. You have a real gift for writing, and are a pleasure to read.

    Linda

  47. Jill Pontiere PO Box 560733 Orlando, Fl 32856-0733
    September 1, 2016 / 2:57 pm

    Well I think you hit a cord with me today! I am getting rid of my mid-rise jeans. I don’t like the way they sit below my waist and I won’t stop having my glass of wine or French bread so therefore, I’ll get rid of the mid-rise pants in my life! On to the high rise jeans and such, after all, they look good on every age. At 68, 5’8″, 136 pounds, it is not to difficult to find fashionable styles that fit well and I feel I can carry them off. But I’m leaning more toward a classic look and using accessories for the trendy part of my wardrobe. Always love to hear and see what you have for us on your blog. Thanks again for your honesty and inspiration.

  48. Lynda
    September 1, 2016 / 3:32 pm

    Susan, So we’ll said!! This is common sense speaking out against the dictates of strategic marketing. We come in all shapes and sizes, and all of us can look our best. Your column is filled with wonderful ideas. I usually like very much what you wear, yet on occasion, not so much. And that’s okay! If you feel good in it, rock it! If I feel good in something, I know that’s what I feel I’m doing, too. Everyone doesn’t have to swoon over every look that comes along. Our uniqueness keeps us and life interesting. How boring if we all were built the same and dressed the same. My body has gone through changes too. Some things I used to wear just don’t look good anymore, but some new things I’ve tried suit me to a tee. We must free our own minds from all the self-imposed style dictates we think we must adhere to, and embrace life (and our bodies) right where we are. That’s a much happier way to live! By the way, I think by the number of responses, it’s clear you put in words what so many of us truly believe. Good job!!

  49. Cher
    September 1, 2016 / 4:13 pm

    thank you for helping me find my 65 plus age style!!! i get lots of compliments!! thanks to you!

  50. September 1, 2016 / 9:05 pm

    Thank you so much for articulating what I am learning myself. At 67 weight loss is very difficult and I’m trying to express my new shape with a degree of style, albeit in a more casual world.

  51. September 2, 2016 / 1:09 am

    Very well said! Style is an individual expression. If the item brings you joy, then you should proudly wear it for as long and as often as you wish. (I’m thinking of my high heels that I get negative comments about every time I wear them. I own lots of them, I love them and I can walk in them, so why steal my joy.) It’s your stage. Shine on!

  52. Vicks
    September 2, 2016 / 7:29 am

    Susan, Thank you for expressing what most of us mature females are thinking.
    Personally, I feel that with age comes an acceptance and a need for us to relinquish or let go of things that no longer suit our lifestyle.
    That letting go and moving forward is the hardest thing.
    To accept that how we are is just that!

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