What does it mean to be “well groomed” today?

In the last few weeks, a few people on social media have taken me to task for wearing sandals without (visible) polish on my toenails. It got me thinking about expectations about personal grooming, and how they are and aren’t changing for women.

Detail: Susan B wears brown St. Agni sandals and Chanel nail polish in Arancio Vibrante.

sandals | polish

The color I’m wearing above is Arancio Vibrante.

I almost never had (professional) manicures or pedicures until I moved to Los Angeles in my mid-30’s. I always kept my nails neat and short, but rarely attempted to apply polish myself, and wasn’t very good at it. It wasn’t something I thought about much, and neither did most of my friends.

That doesn’t mean I didn’t envy women with beautifully manicured nails. I don’t remember where I first heard it, but had absorbed the message that a pedicure/polish was a requirement for wearing sandals or open toe shoes. (Even my mother, who believed that bright nail polish was “tacky,” always wore a light pink on her toes in the summer.) Once I had access to relatively inexpensive nail salons, I jumped on the regular mani/pedi wagon for a few years.

Flash forward to 2020, when everything shut down including nail salons. I made a few stabs at applying polish, but mostly just skipped that last step of my home mani/pedi’s. After a few months, I noticed that my nails looked much healthier. So ever since, I’ve given myself periodic breaks from wearing polish. It seems to keep my nails from getting cloudy and discolored.

Taking a more relaxed approach…

Anyhow, as I mentioned above, between letting my natural hair color grow out and going au naturel with my nails, I’ve been thinking about the expectations around personal grooming for women, expectations that men don’t face. It’s not just nails, but hair, hair removal, makeup, and even cosmetic procedures.

We’re told that as we age, “good grooming” becomes more essential than ever, but IMO, a full face of makeup and perfectly coiffed hair can feel a bit dated. A more relaxed, slightly under-done look feels more modern to me.

I find as I get older, I’m wanting to spend less time putting myself together. I’m wearing less makeup, and taking a more relaxed approach to my hair. I still want to look neat and clean, but don’t sweat every detail.

How about you? Has your approach to personal grooming changed over time? Do you find you’re doing more or less?

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  1. Relaxed, yes! I never really notice people’s manicures or pedicures unless it’s unusual. Clean nails are good but not necessarily manicured. Also I want to add to yesterday’s post about minimalist dressing. I’m a minimalist dresser but at times I think minimalist dressing comes off as severe. In a video by Alyssa Beltempo she encouraged people to define their style in three words. I choose four: minimal, classic, modern, and effortless. So minimal can be relaxed.

  2. I don’t like the way my feet look in open toe shoes without polish but as I have gotten older (40s), I also have less desire to do a pedicure. The result has been that I wear closed-toe shoes and avoid sandals. However, the last couple of years I have wanted to wear sandals since it i has been so hot so I have been painting my toenails myself with a pale pink, which lasts me three weeks. It is a pain and I hate doing it (even though it takes only a few minutes), but luckily the summer season in NY is short so I don’t have to do it for long. The rest of the year I don’t wear polish. I just keep my feet moisturized and in good shape.

    I think as long as a person’s feet and toes look neat and clean (no dry, dead skin on heels, no yellow fungus toenails, no ragged toenails, no hairy toes), you don’t really need polish. At the same time, I also think it looks ugly when people paint their toenails blue, green, purple or some other offbeat color. I would rather see no polish then green toenails that remind me of fungus, for example.

    With that said, when in doubt, just wear closed-toe shoes!

  3. Full face makeup and overly done hair are very, very aging. Good skin and letting that skin be highlighted with strategic makeup looks much more natural and youthful. Mani/pedis are a personal choice. I was a nurse for 40 years and am now an avid gardener and furniture refinisher. A manicure would be trashed!!! I do pedicures in the warm months only and give my nails a break all winter!

    1. Full face makeup and hair styling are personal choices, too. What someone else chooses to feel confident or looking their best should hold more weight than if their choices appear “aging” to others, I would hope!

  4. Interesting post today about toe nails. I’d be curious what you saw when you were in Paris. It seems I read that French women aren’t into bright colored polish – is that correct? My daughter who is right up to date with all the fashions etc has stopped wearing polish on her toes. I noticed how healthy and nice her toes looked. Since I have gotten older I am finding I don’t care for bright polish because I think it calls attention to my not so pretty feet. However, I do use a light pink or neutral colors. I admire some pretty colors on others though and thought yours looked beautiful.

    1. There is nothing to explain, justify, or rationalize about this. It’s not about age, style, the pandemic, time, effort, skill, convenience, or cost. It’s about choice and what you choose to do or not do. I feel like everything women fought for in the 60’s just rolled back 50 or more years. So many women talk about female empowerment and sisterhood but then they have the audacity to shame someone about their lack of a pedicure. Do we shame little girls or tell them they’d better get a pedicure before wearing open toe sandals. I must have missed that lesson as a child, or missed that section in the female training handbook. I do my own manicures and pedicures, but ——— when I feel like it. Not because of some skewed, supposed societal or female norm. So, if we wear toe nail polish, does that make everything better? And do we ever consider that some people can’t reach their toes or can’t afford professional pedicures? As the expression of younger generations go —- “You do you” and “Own it”. So, do it, and own it, and nothing to explain or justify.

        1. Amen, El!

          I use coconut oil on my toenails to keep them nice looking, and I polish them only very occasionally, usually if I’m going on vacation. When I do wear polish for a couple of weeks, it takes three times that long for my nails to recover. I figure as long as I don’t have feet like a hobbit at this stage of my life I’m ahead of the game. If others disagree, my thinking is their opinion is none of my business.

      1. Beautifully said. I’m confused as to why people feel the need to chastise others for their choices. In the big picture of life with everything going on in our insane world, the grooming choices of others is a strange way to spend free time.

  5. I feel the same about the obligatory mani/pedi. I go without polish now and again for the health of my nails. I have found that I can care for my feet and hands at home and visit the nail salon for a polish change only and save a little too. I agree with your less is more approach to makeup. I work remotely and it seems overdone to wear full makeup as I sit at my home office desk. A tinted sunscreen, brow gel, lip gloss and I’m set! Like you, I have transitioned to silver so my hair care routine has been downsized as well. My splurges to feel my best are a Y membership to lap swim regularly and a good haircut once a month!

  6. Thank you for this pst Susan! I agree with everything you said and feel the same—less is more at 64. Less makeup is a modern, relaxed look for me.

  7. Wow! If there are women whose time is so encumbered that they can take time to admonish you for unpolished nails, they need something to do!

  8. Darn auto correct! My comment should’ve read if their time is so unencumbered that they can take time to admonish you they need something to do!

    1. ^ No joke. The degree to which people can be petty online never ceases to amaze me. Rock on with your healthy, natural self, Susan.

    2. I agree and golly, I had not even noticed the “au natural” nails. Or, if I did, did not even give it a 2nd thought!.

  9. This post is very interesting. I had noticed that your toenails were au naturel in some of your pictures and wondered if that was a new trend! As far as doing more or less personal grooming, I’d say I’m doing more as I get older. Still doing all the things I did as a young person (shaving, light sunless tanner, pedicure) but now I feel I need to do more to maintain the status quo. I may use a bit less makeup but it is more carefully applied. More moisturizers, sunscreen, hair color touch-up, etc. And then there’s those things you never had to think about in your earlier years, like those pesky facial hairs. As my mother used to say, “This getting old is no picnic, but I’ll take it over the alternative!”

  10. I have a professional dry (professional waterless) manicure and pedicure every 6 weeks with polish only on my toes in the warmer months. I take a break from polish in the winter months. I do love the look for well manicured nails. I even treat my kids to mani/pedis from time to time (11yrs and 14yrs). I think it’s important they learn to care for the health of their hands and feet too.

  11. More power to your elbow, Susan! I couldn’t agree more, both that “standards “ for women seem still (very unfairly) somewhat more than for men and also that a more relaxed approach is a good plan. Personally, I do wear polish on my toenails, mostly because unadorned, I dislike the look of them. It is for ME that I wear it and, as I am now often going without makeup like you, a spot of scarlet on my toes has a lovely brightening appeal for me. Hopefully, one of the positives that getting older brings is less worry about others’ very prescriptive pronouncements in fashion terms . Know your style and use it when you want.

  12. As I am reading your post with naked feet resting on a stool in front of me – toes neatly pedicured but buffed only – I think they look great. Pre-Covid they were always polished in the summer. I am back to having a professional pedicure, because I did a terrible job trimming my nails myself and fear ingrown nails, but I like my naked toenails. As a matter of fact, I like my fingernails short and with a clear polish.
    My post-Covid makeup is also somewhat streamlined.
    Susan, I want to add that I enjoy reading your posts so much. Thanks for all the work that you put into it.

  13. I totally agree , less , more natural make-up and softly styled well cut hair is much more flattering as we age . Heavy make-up doesn’t hide the fact we have wrinkles etc and just looks wrong , as does over styled hair which can look very ‘ hard ‘ on an older face . We should embrace the fact that getting older is a privilege and not something that we need to try and hide , except hiding it just doesn’t work and ends up looking mutton dressed as lamb in my opinion .
    Thank you for all your valuable tips .

  14. So much pressure Susan to meet other people’s “standards” of beauty, weight, and now “grooming.” I happen to have a severe allergy (requiring prednisone to cool it). to all nail products, including those that are supposed to be allergen free—I have tried them all! My nails are always trimmed, healthy-looking, and clean, and at 78, I am very happy I am not exposing my.body to more potential carcinogens. I feel very bad for all the little girls I see daily with polished red, green, blue, etc. nails, because of the potential damage that such exposure could be doing to their future health. I love your style, and products you suggest.

  15. I agree 100%. Growing up my parents never let me paint my nails (or wear black). My first mani-pedi was on my wedding day. After I was married, it was an unnecessary expense we couldn’t really afford. I watched my friends who got their mani-pedis get infections and fungus and complain about weak nails. I often get compliments on my strong natural nails. Now that I am old, less is more. I think things are trending to a more natural look.

  16. Honestly, it seems like the most modern/progressive thing of all is to work on being more compassionate and stop commenting on people’s appearances altogether (excepting sincere compliments, of course). I frankly don’t care at all what other people choose to wear or how they groom themselves, unless they are close friends or family and I think the grooming issue signals a larger problem. Otherwise, all that judgement takes too much time, and it also means we aren’t taking time to look at each other as people. For example, if someone doesn’t have their toenails polished, consider they may have other things happening in their lives: financial struggles, marital issues, a difficult job, caregiving for an elderly parent or sick child. Likewise, if someone chooses to paint their nails bright blue or green (at any age), what does it matter? Maybe they’re trying to cheer themselves up, for any of the aforementioned reasons! Or maybe they just want to have a bit of fun.

    1. THIS times a thousand. I’m so over “can’t” “shouldn’t” and “should,” especially as it relates to my (or any woman’s) appearance.

    2. I totally agree. Who are we to comment on someone’s appearance or even observe unless we think a mental health issue is involved.

  17. Susan thanks for taking us in all directions of style and personal care. I appreciate the discussion and your thoughts.

    Other than a very special occasion where I might “doll up” with some makeup, my daily routine includes eye cream, moisturizer and tinted sunscreen. But most important, I apply an eyebrow “mascara” to my eyebrows. As we age and our eyebrows tend to fade, Giving them some colour/shape helps to define our features so we don’t disappear!

    In the mani/pedi camp, I envy the ladies with the lovely finger/toe nails. I’ve never had great nails and aging isn’t improving them. However, I tend to agree with many of the comments of leaving nail to be free. As with makeup, I simply can’t be bothered with a mani/pedi and feel that it makes my nails weaker. Keeping them trimmed and clean is what I aim for.

  18. I stopped wearing nail polish when my I starting getting the osteoarthritic Nodules in my fingers, so I try to to attract too much attention to them. I do my own pedicures, toe nails polish free in winter, but a soft colour during summer. I am ambivalent about toenail polish, but loathe dirty feet with dry calloused skin on the back of heels.

  19. I am absolutely terrible at home mani/pedis and I find having a professional manicure to be one of the most BORING things ever. I have a dear friend who loves to go out for girls’ day out and do mani/pedis, and I just see it as a complete waste of time. My fingernails seem to repel nail polish; it takes forever for them to dry. And when they do, they chip or somehow smear almost immediately. Pedicures are great, but I don’t really wear open toed shoes that often, so they seem like a waste of money for me. I keep saying I’m going to do one after my feet have been in boots all winter, but then I don’t.

  20. Recently, I had my first pedicure in two years. It was a treat and I will continue for the summer. Before retirement, I always had French manicures. Now I just keep my nails filed short and natural. I am into gardening and knitting which messes with polish. As for the rest, lots of moisturizer, light make-up and I love my silver hair!

  21. I’m curious as to what Tricia Rose, the Coastal Grandmother, would say about mani-pedis.
    Susan, you always look so well groomed, with or without painted toenails.

  22. I so agree about giving nails a break: i rarely polish toe nail after about November until April. They are happy! And my fingernails somehow became a total mess with white lines, breaking at ends etc. after a manicure in England. Who knows what caused it. But, it made me go natural for three months and yes, they cleared up completely.

  23. Over the years my mani/pedi routine has changed many times. At one time in my twenties my hands & feet appeared in a few magazines. Now at 71 my hands & feet still get noticed so I do give them extra care. I keep my nails short with just buffing or maybe a light, natural pink mainly because I play golf several times a week and long nails encumber my grip. I live in an area where I can wear sandals almost every day so my feet do get polished every 4 weeks; I like a deep pink during the spring & summer & a deep brown red in the winter. My pedicure includes a wonderful 20 minute foot massage by an experienced reflexologist which is amazing! I agree with the others about green & blue polish; just not classy to me. I read somewhere that the English royals don’t wear polish but choose a natural look & in my opinion they always look stunning.

  24. Wow, people are so judgmental these days — even about nail polish! I totally agree with you, Susan, and it seems bare toenails is having a moment among many women from what I see on the East Coast, at least. Like you, I stopped the mani pedi routine during lockdown and found my nails were so much healthier (stronger, less discoloration, no fungus worries), that I haven’t gone back. I just had a pedicure without polish to smooth the calluses and trim and buff my toenails and my bare nails look great. Even my manicurist had told me pre-pandemic that I needed to give my nails a break and let them breathe without polish. So keep doing you — you always look polished even without polish!

  25. I agree about less is more also! I don’t do pedis anymore and have never done manis (retired nurse practitioner). I’ve never liked lots of makeup. I think mani/pedis were a ‘fad’ for several years.

  26. I’ve never been a big hair and make up person but think minimal makeup helps me looks fresher and I keep my eyebrows trimmed. As for hair, it looks it’s best after leaving the salon as I am terrible with styling my hair (mostly due to a lack of patience). I don’t like greys and being a brunette, they really stand out so I opt to have them dyed. I don’t have enough greying to go naturally grey. But not sure if I would want to.

    I always have my toes done as I live in a sandals pretty much all year area. Love wearing fun colors no matter how old I get. I wear my nails on the short side and are always neat but not always with polish. Maybe just clear polish.

    I personally think it’s important to look polished even though minimal effort if used. A little goes a long way.

  27. My nails look terrible. I just can’t be bothered, when they get long I clip them off and file them enough that they aren’t catching on things.

    But, I always put toe nail polish on when it’s warm enough for sandals. I like it. Chips and imperfections aren’t as noticable on your toes, they aren’t as up-front as your hands, so toes can go longer without maintenance. I like to watch TV and do my toes, my pedicure kit is stored in the TV room. Heels are the thing that I’m fussy about. Heels with dead flakey skin are awful.
    I’ve got some balm and try to walk in the sand barefoot to get them smoothed.

    I do spend more time styling my grown out gray hair. I love it! It’s bushy and with a little styling I think it looks great. When I dyed my hair my objective was to cover up the root line. Without that constraint I can do a lot more on the styling front.

  28. I agree with all the comments above that we should respect each other’s choices and not criticize or judge. I’m still working in a client-facing job and office, and that affects my routine for hair, makeup and general grooming. When I retire, I expect to adopt a more relaxed approach in all of those areas.

  29. Wow. This is why I don’t do social media anymore. I have no blog to promote and am not an influencer, so I can be free from that destructive environment, where people comment on your appearance and grooming preferences.

    As far as pedicures and painted toenails, I tried it once and the fumes made me feel sick. Further, the sight of a youngish woman hunched over my feet, scrubbing them, made me ashamed of what we spend our money on. I gave her a big tip and vowed never to return.

  30. What a great topic, Susan, and interesting discussion. When I was a corporate trainer I always had a professional manicure. A pedicure was a bit of a splurge but I always got one before a vacation and usually twice in the summer. When I retired I moved to a small town I decided to go natural simply for a number of reasons. I wear clear nailpolish now to protect my nails. They are still weak from years of manicures so I keep them quite short. I still get a pedicure a couple times a year since my at home attempts are not nearly as good as a salon. Right now my toes are bare but I’m considering a pale pink polish. I like the look & my amateur application is not really noticeable.

  31. I am pretty sure you know my thinking before I open my mouth LOL. That said, in my teen years (Joni Mitchell was my prophet), in Northern California, we weren’t even shaving our legs. As I’ve gotten older, quit corporate life, etc., I’ve moved left politically, and as part of that worldview I find myself increasingly dismissive of requirements that women conform to any kind of manicuring. So I do pedicures for fun, when I’m going somewhere I don’t expect to wear a lot of clothing, i.e. a vacation in bathing suits. They make me feel sexy. Otherwise? I veer more and more eccentric/artsy/IDNGAF every day.

      1. Thank you:). I should add, lots of times I enjoy looking at other people’s pedicures/manicures. Like art.

  32. Internalized misogyny keeps us believing that beauty work (hair, nails, make up, etc) is necessary in order for us to take up space in the world. Billion dollar industries depend on women believing the lie that we are not enough as we are. I’m heartened that so many of us are working to rid ourselves of that poisonous trope. Susan, your toes are perfect painted or not! xx

  33. Wow! Just reading the comments. A lot of judgment from those who say we shouldn’t judge others. This is what Susan is asking: How about you? Has your approach to personal grooming changed over time? Do you find you’re doing more or less? She is not asking how we view others’ grooming habits as so many have jumped on.

    I get a mani/pedi at about the same rate as I did when I was working. My cuticles have always been an issue and I can’t take care of them on my own. I like a short nail with clear polish. I always get a coral color on my toes.

  34. Wear polish if it makes you happy: don’t wear it if you prefer. For myself, I had my very first pedicure at 29 when I was pregnant with my first child and I have had them regularly ever since (she’s 32 now). I love getting pedicures, I love wearing funky colors on my toenails, makes me happy every time I look at my feet, and it keeps my feet smooth and also helps control calluses that can hurt my feet. But I wouldn’t dream of judging anyone who doesn’t feel the same.

  35. Controversial topic! Here’s where I stand on the subject. I never do a professional mani/pedi; it wasn’t done that commonly when I was young, and then once I became a working mom, there was no way I was going to waste time making appointments if I didn’t absolutely have to! Now I’m retired, but still can’t be bothered. My best friend, OTOH, adores going for her mani/pedi, where she gets a lovely foot massage while sipping a glass of prosecco. To each her own!

    I haven’t worn fingernail polish for years. Too much maintenance, and I can’t stand the look of chipped polish. I’ve always done my toes, since that will last for a good three weeks with no chips. However, I found that when I removed the polish, my nails would have white patches. Once I skipped polish for a while, they grew out and were fine. But since I like the look of toenail polish with sandals, I’m trying a new type of polish to see if it won’t cause the white spots. It’s by Essie and it’s supposed to be “breathable”. Seemed worth a try!

    1. Jill Ann….I have been using that “breathable” on my fingers. I love it…no base coat or top needed and I hope it makes my nails stronger. I have it in pale pink…may try it on a pedicure in the winter!

        1. Katrinka, it’s called Essie “Treat, Love, & Color”. I couldn’t find it in any local stores so ordered it from Ulta. Remains to be seen how it works for me, but glad to hear the positive review from Ann!

  36. I love looking down at polished toes BUT my nails do not tolerate polish. Just one week of polish causes issues that can take months to grow out. So…naked nails for me…

  37. Great post! My toes have been polished ( except when going to the dermatologist) since 1972 when I was working after school at the local public library and read Linda Goodman’s Sun Signs. It said for my sign my best feature was my feet !!! So I figured they better look good and have been polishing them ever since. I do bright colors ( pink, red, coral) in the summer with just a light, sheer pink ( Ballet Slippers by Essie) on my fingers. In winter I use darker on both…and even though only my husband and I see my toes, I like them to be polished. I do both manicure and pedicures myself. I agree…less make up as I get older, lots more skin care !

  38. I have stopped nail polish on my hands unless I am going somewhere special. I still get about a once a month pedicure with polish. I am obviously not too hung on on this. I wear makeup everyday, but it is minimal as it has always been. It’s mostly to make my pale features show up just a bit more. I am no where near as concerned with grooming as most women, but I do strive to look my best whenever I leave the house–clean hair, minimal makeup, attractive basic clothing.

  39. I feel as I age, the “rules” don’t apply as much. I have been enjoying the fresh look of no polish lately. Clean and natural appeals to me more now than it did when I was younger.

  40. When I think about how much money one can spend getting the weekly, or bi-weekly mani-ped, well, it’s just ridiculous! Think about what that can cost you in a year and what good use you could do with the savings!

  41. I get pedis every six to eight weeks year round. I enjoy the hour of relaxation and it seems to make me more aware of taking better care of my feet between services. I get manis about four times a year, like to have the cuticles professionally trimmed. I paint my own finger nails and my husband God love him trims my nails. I use OPI nail strengthener always, it keeps them growing and healthy. I have used it for years! I like deep reds, corals and sometimes a pink on my toes as I think they look clean, neat and finished.

  42. Great discussion! I have never done manicures. I’m apparently hard on my nails, as they chip easily and I prefer natural. I do wear pale polish on my toenails in the summer, but leave them bare in the winter. I have friends who still do longish artificial nails and it does feel dated to me. I’ve been lightening up my makeup routine and growing my hair out too. At 65, I’m enjoying this transition!

  43. I have always found nail polish to be strange. I really find painted finger nails a bit repulsive,. I know I am the outlier in that opinion. I keep my nails clean and short and my opinion to myself. (Except for right now)

  44. Jumping in late on this, I agree that for me grooming has become more casual in recent years, pandemic and retirement made make up in particular unnoticeable behind a mask. I don’t care for the look of every hair sprayed down to stay put. I style my hair very causally rather than having it look like it’s been alphabetized. I mainly do pedicures in the summer because my toes look better polished in sandals. Come late August I store the sandals to let my toes breathe till next summer.
    Mostly I do what pleases me!

  45. Thanks for continuing to put yourself out there Susan! I think it’s quite sad that women tear each other down inside of helping each other rise up. I really enjoy your blog content and look forward to it every day. Please keep up the great work!

  46. Getting a nail fungus (on my thumb) really changed my approach to getting mani-pedis. It took a year to get rid of and I find it hard to fully trust salons afterwards. Add the pandemic to that, and I realize I haven’t had painted fingernails or toes in several years. My nails are so much healthier and it never occurred to me that people were evaluating my feet in that way. Oh well. I still like my lipstick.

  47. I like toenail polish (particularly in colors like blue and grey) but since I developed some foot problems I try to run once a week in barefoot running shoes. They are hell on polished toes and not kind to the toenails in general (or maybe I just have ugly toes and nails)? Anyway, because I mostly use them when it’s warm enough to run in them (hi, summer!) and I end up with odd bald patches if I paint my toe nails, I haven’t been bothering. Only do my own – only got one pedicure in my life and it wasn’t so awesome that I’ve ever wanted another.
    Didn’t even notice your unpainted toenails!

  48. I have to say I really admire women who put themselves out there on the internet. Especially those of a certain age. Even though I think I have a thick skin I wouldn’t be able to take the negative comments.

  49. People might tell you their preferences but should never take you to task (another expression I learned).
    Do what you want to do and feel comfortable with. Let the rest of the world do what they want to do. Pffff….women! We are also quick in judging other women instead of supporting each other.
    I never spent any time on my feet until my husband said that my heels were in an ‘off-putting state’. Then I noticed I had feet haha. I only go to the pedicure from April to October. Only because I like seeing those (tacky haha) red toes in sandals. Like you, I am terrible at polishing toe nails. My pedicure is now on holiday so I have to do it myself this afternoon. Yuck. Everything is covered in red nail polish when I am done.
    Those brown sandals are beautiful by the way.

  50. Some people think that feet are ugly, I worked for a Dentist that hated feet. I personally think my feet are ugly (I have had surgery on one twice and once on the other. Putting polish on my toenails in my opinion draws my eyes to my pretty painted nails instead of focusing on my feet. I paint them for me not anyone else, it is a choice we should be able to make for ourselves and for no other reason.

    As far as women going backwards, I guess I don’t see that. I am 65 and was actually sent to charm school because I was such a tomboy. I was the only daughter and my father wanted me to be more feminine. I embraced it and now I decide when I am girly or not. I worked in the dental field for years and wore uniforms, now that I am retired I have purchased many clothes, lol. I promised myself that I was not going to become one of those women that give up on themselves. Mostly because I feel better putting on real clothes and at least a little makeup. It actually makes me feel more energetic and happy. I have friends that don’t feel the same way and they do their own thing.

    I feel when a woman takes care of herself and looks her best she is an empowered woman, I don’t see it as a bad thing or that we are going back to the old days where women were expected to be a certain way. The good thing is we have choices and what we choose to do should not be judged by others.

  51. As I get older, am much less concerned with my outward appearance. Love clothes, but am much more relaxed about the whole thing. A joke my husband and I have when we sigh over yet another indignity of aging, is saying,, “work on your personality”. Something that makes me sad is seeing young women stumbling around in high heeled shoes with pointy toes. Going to keep Podiatrists and Orthopedists busy for the next decades. I prefer a low maintenance approach in myself and others. Just know I’m going to have a lot more fun not done up with makeup, tight clothes, and high heels.

  52. I like the glam look. Polished nails and toenails go with it.
    Love the individual eyelashes that I get applied.
    I Never was the natural look, tho with the right colors, you can achieve it with glam.
    I put my foot down concerning heels. I just can’t walk in them anymore

  53. Thank you, Susan (and others) – couldn’t agree more. As I say to certain of my friends “The choice to dye or choose to let our hair go grey/white is not a feminist issue – it’s simply a choice.” Guess I’ll add mani/pedis etc. to that list – and I agree – how is that we feel we have the right to impose our choices on other women as if there was one “right” way to be?

    I have a friend who is constantly having procedures – eyebrow blading, skin peels, etc. – although I would never tell her (too unkind and as my husband says “Beeswax, Sweetie, none of yours”) some of the things she is choosing to do just don’t suit her or look good. But she is happy with them, so c’est la vie.

    Why not spend our time lifting each other up – and not giving each other even more ways to feel badly about our supposed shortcomings.

  54. I live in Miami and we wear sandals all the time so pedicured feet are a must. Most people love to show off bright colors.

  55. Since I retired I find that I am spending less time on makeup. Always blush and eyebrow pencil and lipstick. That said, when I do go full on meaning mascara and eyeshadow, for an occasion, I do look better. But everyday life doesn’t warrant all that imo. I spent two yrs without manicures or pedicures and did my own toes. Now I started getting dip on my nails and it’s a little addictive! But in sum, I agree with you. No need to apply to much makeup at this age. It can look dated.

  56. Well, that certainly stirred up your readers! I think that we all agree that it is no one’s business but your own if your wear nail varnish or not.
    Personally, I wear nail varnish because I garden and can never quite get my nails clean!!!! As for toe nails, only in summer when on show. As Coco Chanel said, “feet are so ugly they need all the help they can get”. We can’t all manage attractive shoes but we can all manage a little nail
    varnish on our toes.

  57. I think “well groomed” in its details is quite personal: how you style your hair (with or without a styling lotion, spray, curling/straightening, simply clean but natural hair…), do your nails (nicely trimmed, clear polish, actual professional manicure or pedicure), how you wear makeup (foundation or not, just BB cream or bronzer + lipstick, natural look or “done” look, etc.), dress preppy/traditional, casual or fashion-forward, etc. But at the heart of being well-groomed is personal cleanliness, some type of tidiness or order in your personal style, some deliberateness about oneself.

  58. We moved from a large city to a rural lake community when we retired. I couldn’t find anyone I liked to do manicures and pedicures so I quit looking. Eventually my feet and hands got desperate and I began giving myself a mani/pedi. I even purchased a foot spa! I must say I enjoy the time I sit soaking my feet and sipping a glass of wine! I feel I’m quite accomplished with the polishing and it’s great for hand/eye coordination. I end up with a beautiful manicure and happy feet!
    I have naturally curly, grey hair and I’ve been embracing my curls. At least minimum makeup most every day. When I apply lipstick and blush I feel like I’m channeling one of my grandmothers. I never saw her without her “rouge” and lipstick.
    I don’t worry about what others do. I do what makes me feel good about myself. I hope they do the same!

  59. After being sick and house bound for three weeks, read NO makeup, the first day I dressed to go out, I realized I hadn’t put any make up on and was surprised at the omission. Alas, a habit was born. However, being the girl who puts on lipstick to go for a walk, I quickly reverted to wearing and enjoying makeup and the application. I say, to each his own. What May have been important in your 30’s 40’s or whenever, may not be important now and we are free to change., or not. For me , at 72, I will still do mani/pedis, color my hair and attempt to look fashionably up to date when I go out. LOL! All that said, there are for sure, now days I will hit the grocery store bare faced and who cares? Not me. Not anyone!

  60. Ever since I moved to Israel nearly 30 years ago I realized that if I want my nails well done I should do it myself (changing country to the Netherlands didn’t change much in my opinion). I’m not building anything extra with gel or shellac (my nails didn’t like shellac and gel is too much of a trouble imo) and modern lacquers provide me with all desirable colors that get dry in 15 min, so I don’t see it as a chore, just something quickly done inbetween, usually parallel to reading 🙂 . With my feet it’s even easier – color stays intact 2-3 weeks with no chipping, so I don’t leave it bare nailed at all… like never (ok, here is about half an hour before totally hard-dry and can go into the shoes but still worth it for me). Don’t take me wrong: I believe that somewhere there are good professionals who can get my nails to perfection for me – but at what cost and how much time should I spend on getting there (and back… and if they have time for me when it’s comfy)? I think I do more for personal grooming now compared to my 20th-30th (I’m 50) – but it’s not about face full of makeup (apart from red lippie I keep it really low key) – it’s daily massage (just about 8 minutes, but it awakens the whole face and keeps it more streamlined), more thorough cleansing, always spf50, sheet mask here and there… you know? Also can not skip sports anymore – simply feel weak without. Hair? I dye it myself as well and have a great hairdresser to cut them into the shape I love – that’s it. No styling. Towel-dry and “slightly scared with the brush”. I used to put more attention to my clothes while still working, but now – clean and comfy, mostly black. Nobody complained so far 🙂