When Style Rules Cramp Your Style

Style blogger Susan B. wears a pink floral kimono jacket. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

A Lifetime Of Style Rules…

Style, to me, has always been about more than just putting on clothes. It’s a way to express who I want to be on any given day, and a way to understand myself better. But it hasn’t always been a straightforward path. Even at my thinnest, I’ve always had a body that felt hard to dress. I’m quite short, broad-shouldered, big-busted, short-waisted, and softer-contoured. I’ve often joked that if I only wore what “works for my body,” I’d have a wardrobe full of fit-and-flare dresses with sleeves.

Between family, friends, and media I learned early on that there was only one “right” type of body: a very thin and angular one. I also learned early that the goal of dressing was making my short, round body look more thin and angular, less…wrong. “Slimming” was the main criteria when it came to selecting clothing. There were many other style rules, but that was always the overriding one.

I’m guessing I’m not alone in this. I think many of us have absorbed the message that “clothes look better on tall, thin women.” Part of the problem is that for years, those were the only bodies we’ve seen clothing displayed on. Another is that modern, mass-produced clothing often isn’t designed well for bodies with contours. (For a deeper dive into cultural imperatives about women’s bodies from a feminist perspective, check out Susan Bordo’s Unbearable Weight or Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Myth.)

Perhaps it was the same for you, or you learned other style rules that have made you hesitate to wear something you love or try a new color or silhouette. We are bombarded with “rules” about how to dress for our body shape or coloring or age. It can be hard to remember that they’re just suggestions, not laws.

Challenging Old Beliefs

You’d think after all of these years of rumination and declaration, I’d have let go of this by now. On a purely intellectual level, I have. But it’s been hard to purge those old enemy outposts in my head that slam the gates shut on any style that doesn’t meet the standard of “slimming.” That vestigial belief was keeping me stuck and often holding me back from wearing or even trying clothes that I otherwise loved.

In recent months, I’ve made a concerted effort to challenge that thinking. My body is not wrong, I remind myself. Sometimes it works. And I focus more on how a garment makes me feel when I’m wearing it. Color, the way something moves, how it reflects the personality of the wearer…all of these factor into whether something is “flattering” or not, and I’ve been trying to focus on these aspects more. I’m still paying attention to proportion and fit, however, maybe even more so now. I’ve been investing the time and money to get things altered if needed, and finding that it can make all the difference.

I’ve been saying for years that I want to have more FUN with style, and to do so I’ve needed to loosen the reins a little bit. If something doesn’t make me look taller and thinner, so be it. That’s no longer automatically disqualifying.

Top photo: this pink haori isn’t a particularly figure-flattering piece, but I feel fabulous wearing it. Outfit details HERE.  

What old rules or beliefs have you learned to let go of in order to more fully express your style?

 

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59 Comments

  1. Trish Jakielski
    October 4, 2018 / 4:18 am

    This is a wonderful post – and it is coming at a time when “woman judging” couldn’t be higher so double thanks.

    For me it has been broad shoulders, short thick neck, long legs and arms, and short torso that I’ve struggled with. Aging adds to the dilemma as crepey arms and neck wrinkles cause me to cover up those issues, which worsens the problem of “too much” in the middle area.

    I’ve recently decided to get back into sewing to do just what you suggest – make what I want out of fabrics that work better and have a few more seams to help with shaping. The more affordable clothing that I can buy are often two rectangles of fabric with two seams -good luck with that!

    This article has re-ignited my desire to create for ME! Thanks for your always refreshing insights into POSITIVE ways to view ourselves. Particularly during these last several weeks I feel such anger at the world’s views and expectations of “what women should be”. This article helped me to throw off any vestige of belief that it matters – truly be who YOU want to be and look and act how you like and the world can just lump it if they don’t like it!

  2. October 4, 2018 / 4:45 am

    Could not agree more.

  3. Kelly
    October 4, 2018 / 4:57 am

    For me its always about how age apprpriate something looks. I’m in my 50’s now and would never wear a mini skirt or crop top, but even hesitated to wear straight jeans and ankle boots because it looked too young. Thanks to all your amazing posts, Susan, I see that a woman of a certain age can look great in stylish clothes. Thanks for giving me the confidence to look good without feeling like I’m trying to dress like my daughter.

  4. Brenda
    October 4, 2018 / 5:24 am

    Thank you for this post, Susan. I have been following your blog for a year now and you have been an inspiration. I too am short and full busted and my first thought on any outfit is always ” Does this make me look fat ?” But I am trying hard to follow your mantra and am now starting to think ” Does think outfit make me smile ?”

  5. October 4, 2018 / 5:41 am

    For the record, I think that haori looks dynamite on you.

    • Julie
      October 4, 2018 / 6:18 am

      I agree. It’s lovely and it is flattering on you. I love your thinking in this post.

    • MJ
      October 4, 2018 / 7:15 am

      I agree. The question is not what makes you look more like some supposedly ideal body, but what makes you look like YOU.

      • Pam
        October 7, 2018 / 9:19 pm

        A.aamen!!

  6. October 4, 2018 / 5:45 am

    I agree with you about all the messages received about the “correct” clothing to wear. I have your type of body, full bust, broad shoulders, shorter legs necessitating all pants being shortened (sigh), etc. Add on the fact that I am almost 70 (yikes) and at this age there is a lot to hide, such as the heavy upper arms, the belly fat, etc. Dressing and choosing clothing can be a minefield. I too am trying to loosen up my rules for clothing and have stopped wearing so much navy and black and have branched out this year to other colors. I have purchased some items which I know may not be so flattering, like peasant shirts, but I felt it was time to say to myself, don’t worry so much about what I choose to wear. I applaud you for loosening up your rules.

  7. Lee
    October 4, 2018 / 5:46 am

    Such a great post today! I still worry about if I look “fat” or not and since my weight fluctuates, I think I always will. It’s hard to let those thoughts go. But I love clothes and shoes (shoes the most!), so I have to sometimes get over myself and just enjoy. Thanks for your thoughts, Susan, and your encouragement.

  8. rose floyd
    October 4, 2018 / 5:57 am

    Susan,
    I was glad to see your topic and post today. I agree wholeheartedly. When younger it was easy to wear anything; after the age of fifty, the body changes, weight tends to come on and you don’t feel like yourself nor do you want to wear the clothing that you did in your thirties, in most cases.

    The message from experts and all those style and wardrobe books on my dressing room bookselves is SLIMMING SLIMMING SLIMMING. Remember the duo from England? There was a program in the states with the same “rules.” The rules were pretty good, although most of us intuitively knew them, they were useful measures to keep in mind when choosing our wardrobe selections for each day, and new clothing.

    For over ten years I lived in a major city and employed a wardrobe specialist and stylist. She came to my home twice a year, spring and fall, I tried on everything but the basics. She showed me how to mix and match pieces I never would have, being conservative in dress. She took my pearls and twisted them with a sterling silver link necklace–fabulous look. She broke up my nice suits and styled the jackets with jeans, pearls, and kitten heels. This was the late 90s, and that look became ubiquitious and actually I’ve seen a revival lately We also shopped; she would preshop and pull items and I would try them on. As we came to know one another, we didn’t even have to talk. If she loved it and I didn’t, NO. If I loved it and she had a good reason for me not to purchase it, NO GO. It was a quick process, no discussion. If we both loved it, or she had a good reason for me to look at it in a different way and insisted, I bought it because I trusted her.

    It was at this point that I made some of the best decisions ever and I still have many of those items–a gold satin Anne Klein hooded short jacket with drawstrings, which was expensive and I thought the very antithesis of what someone with my figure–much like yours, should wear.

    I still wear it, to weddings, over black cocktail dresses, with jeans, 10 1/2 years later and do not recall anyone not mentioning that jacket, and how good it looks on me. That’s the key. When I visit every few years she and I meet at Nordstrom for only about an hour, we each pull items, go to a large dressing room and make quick decisions–which are a bit different after 20 years. After a quick session I have an updated, interesting new wardrobe that will serve me several years and some pieces beyond that.

    The takeaway from my experiences is what you commented on in your photo of you wearing the haori.
    Like that gold jacket, I thought it was a no no–it was not necessarily on the slimming list. Dark fitted blazers that deemphasize the bust were.
    But look at your face in the photo–you are happy, that’s what I see. I don’t see that the haori is wrong in anyway, I see a lovely woman beautiful woman with style that is happy–and that is the MOST attractive thing about anyone.

    Ever notice us more mature women do seem happier, even though we’re probably dragging more burdens than younger women? It’s because we know how short life is and how to handle it better.
    We know to pull the pink haori because it makes us feel good, feel pretty and look interesting and although we love for people to recognize us as attractive, well groomed, and interesting if they don’t, it truly doesn’t matter. The way that we feel when we wear certain clothing and accessories is more important than following someone’s rules to appear how the most slim or age appropriate at all times.

    My wardrobe consultant would ask when I balked at clothing because of these rules, “why do you want to not emphasize the slimmest part of you?” I explained I did not want to look like a lollipop with larger top and small hips and legs; I needed to balance my larger torso with more loose pants or skirts–we have all heard that “rule.” She told me it just made me look larger all over! While still on the lookout for avoiding Lollipop Head, she had a point.

    Thank you for your blog and observations–you have become my wardrobe consultant these days because I often order items you feature!

    • Denise
      October 4, 2018 / 4:14 pm

      Do you have any suggestions for finding a wardrobe consultant? I have tried personal shoppers at Nordstrom’s and have had success one time. I love this blog as it is inspiring, yet I still don’t trust myself and end up buying the same clothes or type of clothing over and over again. I know I will need to travel as Tucson has limited shopping options.

  9. October 4, 2018 / 6:24 am

    Susan,

    When I read your body description, it was like you were describing me! Yes, slimming. But that’s simply timing. Just remember that the “slim” girls wouldn’t have been really popular in the days of Ruben, but we “rounder” girls would have been a hit!

    As I have aged, I have realized that I have to dress for the life, and the body, I have. Not for the body I think I want. Casual everyday, or business casual when required, is all I need. A few outfits for outings where jeans and a t-shirt won’t work. I’ve found what works for me, most of the time.

    I appreciate the thoughtful nature of this message, and your blog posts, in general. Keep up the good work!

  10. Pamela Gray
    October 4, 2018 / 6:27 am

    I let go of all the black in my closet and accessories. Color is what really makes me happy, and it shows in my face, my walk, my everything. Looking “slimmer” wasn’t the key to self-love- being true to my heart is!

    • October 6, 2018 / 6:00 am

      I love black. It is basic, and a wonderful background for colour. I prefer deep, rich colours – I’ve never liked pastels, and it has nothing to do with the fact that I’m also short and curvy. More that I worship black cats – in the aesthetic sense. To each her – or his – own.

  11. Chris
    October 4, 2018 / 6:33 am

    I love reading your column every day, Susan. We have plenty of bloggers with different styles to choose from. You would be doing a disservice to your loyal readers if you were not true to what you like. To soak up YOUR style is why we’re here. Keep it coming and ignore the turkeys. They can just change the channel.

    Dressing to accommodate my flaws keeps me in a style-appropriate zone. A couple times in my life when I was very thin I would go into the danger zone of wearing clothes that were too young or revealing or trendy. Being honestly 50 something gives me helpful parameters. I’m just now realizing that some of the way I dress now is modeled after my well-heeled grandmother. I would never have tried Gucci anything when I was young. It seemed ridiculous. But now? Maybe soon.

    Your observations and writing are honest and thoughtful. “WINNING!” as the kids would say. Thanks for writing.

  12. October 4, 2018 / 6:35 am

    Hi Susan, It’s true: Fashion designers only have one woman in mind when they design, and she’s tall, thin and young. So very frustrating. In the last couple of years I’ve been tweaking my style. For the most part, those pieces of clothing that fall out of what I know has always looked good on me, hang in my closet. I will continue to reach for new things, but my wallet cringes when I do. Brenda

    • RoseAG
      October 4, 2018 / 8:19 am

      I think that some designers have only one body type in mind when they design, but sucessful mass market designers/brand managers aim at who they think is buying their designs. If you head over to Eileen Fisher their clothing is cut and designed with a different body in mind than if you drop into Tory Burch, where the clothing is much more likely to feature a defined waistline 🙂

      It’s OK to ditch fashion rules, but for most readers of this blog, it’s done with a smart eye. In the photo with this post I see a flowy jacket that might not be totally flattering, except that’s it’s paired with a column of color that’s darker across a bust line the wearer doesn’t want to jump out. As a pear-shaped person I’d have reversed that line of color, putting the darker blue on the bottom and a lighter blue up top.

      With the pattern the jacket is always going to be a little busy, but our stylist/blogger has made it her own with good choices.

  13. October 4, 2018 / 6:58 am

    I am grateful to be here, where “slim” is still in the healthy BMI range and not in the underweight range.
    Feeling confident and comfortable are important. Nobody looks good when they’re tugging at their clothes. But as Rose Floyd points out, sometimes we don’t see how good we look in something because we are focusing on our (self-perceived) faults instead of flaunting our strengths.

  14. Eileen
    October 4, 2018 / 7:01 am

    Great post, and a good dialogue to start all of us to think about. My body rules involved being very small chested, and pear shaped, and trying to “ balance “ the upper and lower shapes. But a funny thing happened when I was in Paris in May. I noticed the grown women wore more dresses, and occasionally hose or tights. As a pear pants don’t fit well at all, and low rise is the worst cut for my shape. So I tried on and bought 3 knee length dresses with a fitted torso, and belt. To my amazement it worked very well. So I took a leap of faith, at 67, no pants and tops. So with a little self tanner, and a lot of courage, I’ve been in dresses for four months now, just simple cotton June Cleaver shirt dresses. After wearing jeans for 50 years ( ! ) I am loving the change. I am now on the hunt for cool weather dresses, and tights, and I am going to buy pantyhose, what a turnaround. Thank you ladies of Paris!

  15. Risa Wolfson
    October 4, 2018 / 7:03 am

    Thank you so much for your truthful words! YES, that is exactly how I feel about clothes. I keep trying to narrow the gap between the reality of my short zaftig versus the tall slender woman that I will never be! Three cheers to you who has opened my eyes to not only wearing horizontal stripes, but also to spicing up my wardrobe with new textures and colors!

  16. Hsien
    October 4, 2018 / 7:17 am

    Totally agree but you cut yourself short (no pun intended!) In your photo caption – not “figure flattering”?! You look great ! Y- O -U look fabulous! Love the print! What figure would a diaphanous fluttering no shape in itself haori (? never heard that before) flatter? Or would a dumpling wear it because she wants to “minimize” her dumplingness?

  17. Char
    October 4, 2018 / 7:34 am

    Love this post and all the comments! Very relevant! Great post..thanks!!

  18. October 4, 2018 / 7:42 am

    Your body sounds a lot like mine; but no matter how cute it looks on a hanger, I know that a skirt or dress or even wider capris that hit me mid-calf will always make me look and feel “dumpy”. Similarly, a wrap dress or fit and flare dress with sleeves and a collar is always a good look for me as is a jacket with 3/4 sleeves. I have none of the former and several of the latter, but there is a wide area in between. Some of my old “style rules” still ring true–“buy the entire outfit that you tried on at the store”. Don’t just come home with the pants or shirt or jacket and wonder why it doesn’t work. If you can’t decide between the green top or the pink top, “buy them both.” Nobody will even notice/care that they are the same. I think the haori top looks great on you and I would try something like that as long as I knew I had on cute shoes and jeans or leggings. Maybe I will try something FUN as long as I like it.

  19. Vancouver Barbara
    October 4, 2018 / 8:16 am

    The haori is very pretty and you look beautiful and happy in it. “Figure flattering” doesn’t even enter the picture. I’ve had unusual garments in the past that went with everything and made me feel good. I wore them until they were shreds and lamented their demise. Now I think I’ll look for fabric to make a beautiful haori too. Is yours made of silk?

    • Susan B
      Author
      October 4, 2018 / 8:22 am

      Hi Barbara, thanks! Actually it’s Viscose, but looks and feels like silk.

      • MARLA
        October 6, 2018 / 4:35 pm

        So what’s not flattering? You look great as always!!

  20. Jude
    October 4, 2018 / 8:17 am

    You always look fantastic. I think one of the most difficult issues women have to deal with is not makeup or clothing. It is HAIR. A good style can make a huge difference. One style on one woman does not look great on another. Texture and fullness make the same cut look different. Love yours growing a bit. I have had long and very short hair. I am still searching for the best option for me at this age….almost 60
    Is it too old for long hair? Does short hair make you seem older? My stylist is 30 with long blonde hair. She tells me men hate short hair. Well maybe her husband but not mine. When I was working in TV news I got more comments on my hair than anything else….mostly good but some bad. Glad I am not dealing with that judgement any longer. I am free to be me. Love all your suggestions and style.

    • October 6, 2018 / 7:01 am

      Definitely not too old for long hair – it depends on hair texture and might not look good on thinning hair; Now there are many examples of women 60s or older with long or mi-long hair.

  21. Jane2
    October 4, 2018 / 8:22 am

    I disagree with one thing you said – the haori is lovely on you. One of my slimming rules is never wear tight tops – until I was in Paris and found no one looked at me twice when I wore a tight merino sweater day after day due to the weather. I never wore animal prints – until I did and think that an animal print scarf or footwear looks really good. I still haven’t gotten to the point of horizontal stripes, but maybe some day…

    The “rules” are limiting, and buy what makes you feel great.

  22. Ainsivalavie
    October 4, 2018 / 8:53 am

    Susan, you look happy in the photo. Truly happy! A happy woman looks gorgeous regardless what she is wearing. Probably because she is comfortable in the garment physically and it makes her feel great emotionally! How wonderful if we could drop these stupid rules..I have. I don’t dress like my mother did at 63 because her elegant clothing did not make her happy!! She would have liked to have been in black leggings and tunics with black suede ankle boots ( unthinkable in the ’80’s!) Me, I wear what makes me feel good all over in mind and body. Forget age appropriate! Look at the lovely Jane Birkin in her hi tops and jeans, tousled hair! A grandmaman but still rocking her sexiness! Me too! I don’t question my dark lob or black leggings with black suede boots I am 5’1″ and 175lbs and I get lots of compliments on my outfits even if I didn’t I wouldn’t care because I dress for me not THEM!! But when the young girls ask where I buy my clothes”Ohh you are always so well put together” that’s a compliment!!

  23. StylishGarb
    October 4, 2018 / 9:58 am

    Great post – I appreciate your honesty. I think that you hit upon many points that we all struggle with and offered an important perspective. It is really about what makes us happy in style and life Thank you.

  24. Ann
    October 4, 2018 / 10:05 am

    Susan, what a JOYOUS blog post you’ve given us! And what KILLER (in the good way) comments from everyone above!

    I’m nearly 73 years old and have completely stopped dressing for anyone other than myself and what makes me feel good. This morning I’m wearing camo leggings, a long black pullover sweater, a below-the-hips olive green military jacket (with the waist drawstring pulled tight), black/white skate shoes, and a brown leather backpack.

    I love the way I feel in this get-up. I also would have loved wearing this outfit when I was 23. Because — duh! — I’m still me. 🙂

    Ann in Missouri

    • Kathleen Ludgate
      October 7, 2018 / 10:39 am

      I love your post!

  25. Susan W H
    October 4, 2018 / 10:36 am

    Enjoyed this post–and it brings back my growing up years in the era of the voluptuous actresses–and I was too tall and too skinny. Looking at old photo I now I see I looked just fine. Then the goal was to conform to the current teenage look. I spent years looking at books and articles for rules. What a shock decades later to talk to former cute cheerleader types I so envied and find out they were as miserable as I was about their looks.

    We were all made to feel judged and criticized for our bodies and clothing choices. I’m glad I’m still here to enjoy blogs such as yours, where real women can be seen looking comfortable in their own skin and clothing styles. I especially appreciate your blog and your willingness to experiment and to share.

  26. Téa
    October 4, 2018 / 10:39 am

    Great post! I’m petite and curvy. I sew and alter “ready to wear”. I love that we live in a time where “anything goes” and my clothes “spark joy”…the only style rules that I cannot break yet are “visible bra straps” and not coloring my hair. When the day comes that I am fully grey, I will cut it all off and wear it like Jamie Lee Curtis.

  27. October 4, 2018 / 11:19 am

    It might sound strange and a little suspicious, coming from a tall, somewhat thin looking woman, but I have these rules as well. Always trying to hide my small butt and hips, hiding my belly, dealing with broad shoulders and big boobs.. But I will admit, my inverted triangle body is still easier to style. I try to make an hourglass figure as that is my “garden of Eden”. Sometimes I achieve it. But I don’t mind killing my one asset, my legs, by wearing wonky, short wide boyfriend jeans. Not figure flattering, but I feel great in them.
    You look perfect in your haori. Please continue on this road.
    Greetje

  28. Daniella
    October 4, 2018 / 11:28 am

    I grew up in a country where there were no fashion rules other than “look tres chic and be soignée” even when only crossing the street to buy your daily bread!! Tall, short, skinny, not skinny, big chested, small chested, etc.. never entered my fashion vocabulary!! As a result, I have no rules and will wear anything and everything that pleases me and that in my eyes and that of my lovers enhances my appearance, regardless of rules. “L’’Attitude” ladies, that’s what it takes. And “LOVE YOURSELF”!!

  29. Christina Smith
    October 4, 2018 / 11:38 am

    Removing you from the conversation (You do look really good!) – I find it interesting and depressing that the most noteworthy bloggers and influencers – even when they are identified as representing the mature, boomer female age cohort – are really thin. Think about the most commercially successful and followed women such as Accidental Icon, Linda Rodin, and the fashionable woman that Allison/That’s Not My Age featured and tracked down after she attended Allison’s NYC book launch party (Cannot remember her name – Insta is DesignDetails.) To a fault, they are skinny. Taking style lessons from them is tough because they have the body type that wears clothes well. Harsh. Honest. And I am not one of them! So, for the rest of us you provide a welcome role model for how to work with what you have and how to aspire to be and look your best. Thanks, Susan!

    • Susan B
      Author
      October 4, 2018 / 2:01 pm

      Hi Christina, thanks! I’ve met Alison a few times, and think she’d agree with you. (She’s actually mentioned the lack of diversity of 50+ representation on her blog too.) And it’s not just size, there’s also a lack of racial and ethnic diversity in the “50+ top influencer” sphere.

      • Nancy
        October 4, 2018 / 4:26 pm

        Are there any bloggers over 50 who wear a L or XL/size 12 or 14 without an unlimited budget?

        • Susan B
          Author
          October 4, 2018 / 4:31 pm

          She’s not over 50, but Alison at Wardrobe Oxygen is in that size range, and features a lot of looks and pieces that I’d consider pretty ageless.

          • October 6, 2018 / 7:14 am

            She also looks on the short side. Seems to be in her 40s; there is nothing she is wearing that would look out of place on someone in her 60s.

            There is a very simple outfit I really like, just a simple bright red coat, a black and white marinière and jeans.

  30. Victoria Dahlgren
    October 4, 2018 / 2:33 pm

    I just broke a rule, and it feels sooo good! I paired some cute Vionic leopard print pointed flats with a several years old Kate Spade bag that was a much more subdued leopard print trimmed in shiny black leather. The rest of the outfit included an olive cotton sweater, bisque color long sleeve tee, jeans and a French Kande freshwater pearl necklace with Joan of Arc medallion. An olive utility jacket comprised the outer layer. The general rule (I think) is not to use two animal prints together but after taking a long look in the mirror, I felt it just worked. And made me happy. 🙂
    Thanks to Susan B. for pointing me in some different directions!

  31. Linda
    October 4, 2018 / 2:39 pm

    Susan, I know that you are short, but I never see you as short in your photos. You look lovely here, and as others have said, happy. Your hair is perfect and you look wonderful in the jacket. Your “flaws” are invisible to me.

    P.S. I tried Brian’s makeup tips for hooded eyes. My eyes have never looked better. Appreciate your blog.

    Linda

  32. Kathy Martin
    October 4, 2018 / 2:44 pm

    What a fabulous post…AND reminder! As always, thank you for your great sense of style

  33. Lee Rosenthall
    October 4, 2018 / 3:09 pm

    Wonderful post, although I actually think you look FABULOUS in that haori!

  34. October 4, 2018 / 3:14 pm

    Susan, do you remember my post about how I don’t like skinny jeans? And how many people then told me I should wear skinny jeans because they flattered me? I finally had to confess they gave me UTIs!

    Ha.

    No hard feelings, everyone was being very nice, but still, yikes;).

    • Susan B
      Author
      October 4, 2018 / 3:17 pm

      Ouch! UTI’s are NO FUN. I think you really rock the boyfriend/straight leg jeans. You bring a very Jane Birkin-esque sensibility.

    • October 6, 2018 / 7:28 am

      Lisa, I like the shape of skinny jeans, in particular because I cycle a lot, but I buy them a size large; not skin tight. Then they are no more likely to cause that painful condition than any other trousers. I was very ill with that last year and could eat practically nothing for a month… It is surprising that something non-fatal (in developed countries at least) can be so excruciatingly painful – and such a taboo, when it most often has absolutely nothing to do with poor hygiene or hanky-panky.

      While I’m uncomfortable with people who “overshare” about medical conditions, sexual exploits or anything else, say on public transport vehicles, forums can be an opportunity to talk about problems most people experience.

  35. Lesley Watson
    October 4, 2018 / 3:19 pm

    Really loved your post, and the replies! We are all in this together sisters, so Thankyou!!

  36. Jill Brooks
    October 4, 2018 / 3:44 pm

    Great comments on a great post. I have only recently started to read your blog, but I find it inspiring and informational.
    You look confident and happy, Susan, and I hope that is what we all aspire to feeling. Hopefully, women are learning to step up and speak out. This is not easy; so we all need to stand behind them and vote for change. Thanks!

  37. Anon
    October 4, 2018 / 4:28 pm

    When I was a teenager, I was body shamed because I was thin. It was unrelenting, especially from my maternal relatives. This is an excellent lesson in how not to treat a teenage girl. Why should anyone feel they have the right to criticize? Once my relatives tried to force-feed me a giant plate of mashed potatoes…I was four years old, so this started early.

    Now the ideal body shape is rail-thin, and I am not that. Strangers have tsken up making comments to me. Since when does every jackrabbit with an opinion decide it’s their right to force-feed me their opinion?

    So sad that women are still treated this way in the 21st century. Men simply do not get treated like this. #stopbodyshaming

  38. Jill Ann
    October 4, 2018 / 4:50 pm

    At age 61, I’ve learned to compromise on some things. I still dress to hide my belly, which even when young, slim, and childless wasn’t my best feature. But I also have the crepey skin, floppy upper arms, and wrinkly neck and décolletage (gosh, that sounds delightful)! I’m not going to wear turtlenecks or scarves (in the summer) because I live in Houston, where it’s miserably hot at least six months of the year. Ditto for long sleeves. I just ignore the neck situation, and I do wear sleeveless, as long as it’s more of a cap sleeve arrangement rather than a spaghetti strap. So far I’ve avoided any surgical intervention or injections, although I admit to being very interested in the Coolsculpting thing (for previously mentioned belly area). But mostly I’m buying things I love, and that **I** think look good. I’ve also told my two 20-something daughters to let me know if I look frumpy!

  39. Barbara
    October 4, 2018 / 5:40 pm

    I live in a “fashion desert” where if you’re not off the rack 8-10 or a teen, you’re out of luck. And, if you’re larger (I’m a 16/XL, short, heavier on bottom, short waisted and not much waist definition – exactly like my mom!), you’re relegated to dowdy clothing in muddy colors. Kills me! I’ve just turned 55, which I can’t even believe! I feel my best and am happiest when I wear what I feel physically comfortable in, regardless of “age appropriateness.” If I’m not comfortable, I’m self-conscious, so fit and flow is important to me. I love fashion, statement pieces, trendy pieces in small doses, a little funky, a little edgy. Take a little bit of this and a little bit of that to make something new and fun. To heck with the rules….I love your blog, and others “of a certain age” because you take pieces that really can be found anywhere at any price point and make beautiful combinations. Such inspiration! I don’t have potloads of money, especially as I’m diligently positioning for early retirement. I have to say that I’ve turned a lot to online (sorry storefronts), and have even found inexpensive items of good quality on Amazon! Target has upped their game some as well. And we’ve had a great local gal open a terrific boutique where all her team members are close to my age, and they can really put some fun things together. Now…if I can just figure out the rule for pantyhose….should I or shouldn’t I wear with skirts and dresses in cooler, pre-tights weather?

  40. Veronica
    October 4, 2018 / 11:19 pm

    Rules? One benefit of aging in style is that we know the rules, and have the wisdom to know when to break them. Sometimes you just gotta put on the pink haori.
    You look radiant.

  41. TURNER
    October 5, 2018 / 9:14 am

    When I first heard the notion that a garment doesn’t necessarily have to be “flattering” and hey you can still wear and enjoy it, it truly blew my mind. How silly, right? I realized that I have always dressed to look as thin as possible, first and foremost. I’m confident in my sense of style and I know what kind of clothes make me feel good and which ones don’t, but it’s a little disturbing, and it makes me sad, to think that was always my ultimate motivation.

  42. Cara
    October 5, 2018 / 2:53 pm

    Even better than The Beauty Myth is Susan Brownmiller’s Femininity (which came years before).

    Interesting post!

  43. Jan
    October 5, 2018 / 9:37 pm

    Great blog Susan. I have made this comment on your blog several times…that this emphasis on the tall thin stick women is just too much. Despite the fact that you wear a petite small or extra small, I adore you and when you model something I can now tell if it will look nice on my average frame.
    You are lucky since quite a number of clothing lines only go to a size 12 and at that, the measurements are rather small….a large will mean a 39 to 40” bust. Velvet is one and another you recently highlighted is Reset.
    I am only buying what makes me feel great. I’ve always felt I had to dress in “my” colors…remember that craze? Now I dress in what I like and use blacks, navy, and even grey as my base and liven it up with accessories just as you have done in your photo. Often, jeans serve as my neutral and tops are “anything goes.” Now at sixty something my rule is: if it doesn’t make your heart sing…get rid of it!
    Great work and you rock that haori!

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