September 18, 2015
This is the first post in my Thrifty Style Series. I’m starting with a little background behind the series; if you want to go straight to the tips, just scroll down a little.)
In 2010, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a bilateral mastectomy.
In 2012, I turned fifty.
In 2013, I became a grandma for the first time.
have all conspired to communicate to me one simple truth: my youthful years are indubitably behind me.
As the milestones continued to accumulate, I started to take some surreptitious peeks (and some occasional long looks) into the mirror.
As I gazed into the mirror at the new versions of my ever-aging, ever-changing self, I wasn’t always thrilled with what I saw– extra wrinkles and folds, a decidedly non-youthful shape, and the unmistakable aura of a post-menopausal woman who had more years in her past than in her future.
I started to think of things I could do that would help me walk into middle age (and beyond) with grace and with joy. I didn’t want to ever feel like my best years were behind me. I wanted to look forward to what was coming with anticipation and make out of myself a person who would welcome the coming decades with poise and panache.
was to start growing my hair out and learning to style it a little differently. I have seen short hairstyles on older women that are absolutely stunning but I decided I would like to see how I liked mine a little longer.
was to watch some videos on applying makeup to “mature” skin. (Although I still feel like I have no clue what I am doing.)
was to start wearing bigger earrings, more dramatic jewelry, and brighter colors. (Keep in mind that for some people, bigger and brighter may be just the opposite of your happy place. It all depends on what makes you feel the most like you.)
was to lose fifteen pounds. Although making my clothes fit better was a big motivator for the weight I lost, the other equally important reason was my COPD and Rheumatoid Arthritis. Carrying extra weight around does not do my health-challenged body any favors.
When I ran across this picture from about five years ago, I was surprised to see how much extra weight both Steve and I were carting around back then.
We have both jettisoned some pounds.
was to start paying close attention to a couple of blogs for women of a certain age–blogs that offer good, solid advice on how to make the most of the later decades of life and how to dress in a way that is flattering,stylish, and age appropriate.
Although I can think of a hundred reasons why I am reluctant to blog on this subject–mainly, that I don’t want to put myself into any sort of style spotlight since I usually feel insecure about my appearance–the reasons for blogging on the subject are greater than the reasons against it.
is because I often notice women who don’t feel good about themselves, their bodies, or their clothes. They have low self-esteem and so often lack the ability to move comfortably in their world. I love the idea of getting to help those women change their images of themselves. I am proof positive that you can dress nicely on a thrift store budget, and with a little studying of helpful blogs and articles, find a look that is your own, a look you can afford, and a look you feel confident in.
So even though I have absolutely no desire to become a style maven, I figured I could at least post occasionally on things I’ve learned in the hopes that it may encourage other women to discover their best versions of themselves.
When you get up in the morning, you have to put on clothes.
That’s just one of life’s accepted things. How much longer does it take you to reach in your closet for something lovely, as opposed to getting something you feel horrible in?
There is no more time involved in getting the prettier item from the closet and no more time involved in putting it on.
And if you bought your items at a thrift or consignment store, the choice between an attractive and unattractive garment does not have to be dictated by price.
Since you have to buy clothes and you have to get dressed every day anyway, why not buy and wear clothes that make your eyes bright and your smile brighter? Why not make it a point to uncover fit, and fashion, and colors that perfectly suit the wonderful person you are? It doesn’t take any more money and it doesn’t take any more time.
So . . . having said all that, let me take a deep breath and launch into this little project that I’ve been pondering for over a year. Wish me luck!
(By the way, I do want to mention that in these photos that my hair looks a bit frazzly and my face looks like I had stewed persimmons for lunch. But hey, it’s just us reading this, so it’ll be okay.) 🙂
Let’s get started, shall we?
Here’s a jean skirt I got at a thrift store which hit just below the knee.
And while I’m on the subject, dark wash denim items–skirts, pants, capris–are huge wardrobe wins. I promise you I could wear this denim skirt to work five days in a row and no one would never even notice because its style and color are classic, and classic equals versatility. I could wear different types of shirts, sweaters and cardigans with the skirt and add scarves, jewelry, different sorts of shoes, boots, etc.and no one would guess I was wearing the same thing over and over. Same thing goes for a dark wash, great-fitting pair of jeans.
Anyway, in the photo below, I rolled up the waist band a tad to shorten the length, just to see what it would do. Look at the difference it made! (Note: Your perfect skirt length may be completely different from mine. Just experiment till you find the loo you love.)
The first pair come up high on the top of my foot which visually shortens the length of the leg. In the second photo, the lower shoe style makes the leg look longer.
I actually took the above photos about a year ago; if I were to take a picture of that same outfit now I would probably have worn nude shoes instead. There is no color better for making legs look longer and slimmer because the eye traverses the whole length of the body and isn’t forced to come to a screeching halt at shoes in a heavy color.
The reference I just made to nude shoes is illustrated with this outfit. If I had put on black shoes, it would have visually chopped my legs right off at the ankles. And leg chopping (visual or otherwise) is just not a cheery thought.
The other thing I want to point out is the black band around my hips. Where does your eye go when you see this photo? Right to the black band.
And why is that a problem? It’s because the band is drawing the eye to the most humongous part of my own personal body, which happens to be my hips. And just WHY would I want the eye to be drawn to my resident humongousness? I don’t!
Happily there is a simple solution.
Look at the difference it makes to hem the shirt and get rid of the band. The eye doesn’t get hung up anywhere and the whole line is cleaner and more slenderizing.
I took these photos in the dressing room at Goodwill. (And really people, I have no idea why I am looking so morose in all of these photos. I guess I was just concentrating really, really hard! I’ll try to smile more in future photos!)
I tried on this jean skirt and liked its long, slim line. For me, I need to have a skirt fall just above the knee (as illustrated earlier) or have it be close to maxi length. A mid-calf length is not at all a good look for me.
So. I liked the skirt but there were a couple of things that didn’t work with the first blouse I tried on.
The first thing was that the elasticized sleeves were so tight that my Prolific Upper Arm Fat tended to “bulge” out of the elastic a tad. (And Bulging Upper Arm Fat is not a look I would recommend.)
More importantly, the elastic line goes straight across my upper arms, not at an angle. Next to my generously proportioned hips, my upper arms are another of my body bugaboos and sleeves like this only emphasize their, um, fluffiness.
is that it is long and the skirt is long. If you have a long skirt, you should have a shorter shirt, and vice versa, in order to keep balance. As a rule, the body looks better divided into thirds rather than halves. The equal distance between the shirt hem and the shoulders, and the equal distance between the shirt hem and bottom of skirt create the not-so-great half and half ratio.The whole look is very meh.
The shorter length of the blouse better balances the longer length of the skirt with the two-thirds/one-third ratio going on
And on this shirt, the bottoms of the sleeves don’t have elastic and they are angled up, which draws the eye upward, which is instantly more slimming. Of course, I realize that it’s not always possible to get angled-up sleeves and I have a lot of shirts where the sleeves are straight across. But I’m always happy whenever I run across an angle.
I decided to get both pieces and paid a whopping $7 for them.
And so that’s the end of today’s little foray into fashion.
Before I close, let me reiterate that I am not now, nor will I ever be, an expert in any of this
I have just enjoyed learning some things about this subject and whenever I learn something, I love to pass it on, especially if it might spark one of you sweet Smithellaneous friends to find your own inspiration. I want YOU to like what you wear and I especially want you to like the person inside those clothes. If anything I post takes you even one baby step closer to those goals, I will be happy.
Leave me a comment and let me know if you would like me to continue to do this kind of post maybe once a month.
And if you have any great tips to pass on of your own, we’d all love to read them.
Thrift stores, fuzzy socks
and conversing with my Yorkie
are all on the list of things I love.