I’ll be 75 next birthday (in June) and I often think along the lines of How.Did.That.Happen, this ageing thing? Because it creeps up on you and then boom, it’s there!
I’ve said this before, that when I was 40 I thought no different to a 30-yr-old, same when I was 50, thought the same, and looked pretty much the same. And 60? I never, actually, all through my 60s worried two hoots about how I looked, in fact I looked better in my 60s than when I was in my 50s with a stressful full-time job and sandwiched between teenagers (you know how they are) and parents that were, to be honest, dying and needed looking after. I remember saying, when is this post-menopausal zest going to come in as I was soooo exhausted by those days. So I absolutely loved the first few years of my retirement, which was when I began to change from corporate office look to casual (jeans all the time) and then to something more edgy.
And then came the blog, which I started in June 2013 at the age of 67, which yes, ostensibly is about fashion and how you can wear what you want, and don’t listen to any young fashion journos telling us what we can and can’t wear – you wear what you damn well like! But the blog was also about the whole bundle of what constitutes ageing and society’s attitude to it. I was also interested in my own ageing. I wanted to document it, and look closely at the changes that I was going through, so that is why, people, I take loads of photos, it’s not just about the fashion, although, on the other hand, it is because I want you to see what amazing bargains one can get, which I usually managed in what was known as the ‘normal times’ or the ‘time-before-the-awfullness-of-last-year-and-this‘!
Anyway, I know that my looks changed in retirement and, for a long time, for the better, because there was no stressful work, my dear parents had departed this world and the teenagers had grown (although you always worry, don’t you). And the better looks were there I’d say up to about two years ago when I was at the peak of looking good. So for any of you bloggers out there who decry reaching 50 or 60 that was when I was 72 – see below.
And always reaching for the holy grail of looking edgy!
That’s edgy casual. This below is edgy London art gallery/party look and totally over the top! When I was 72!
Honestly, I read some of these blogs written by women in their 50s saying they’re OK about ageing, and I have to restrain myself. Because, really, THEY.HAVE.NO.IDEA. Read one recently but I bottled out of actually writing, ‘and I wonder what you’ll be saying in 20 years time’, which is where I am!
For instance, I had a lovely Easter and visited my kids in their respective gardens. We took loads of photos of new grandson Oscar and some videos. It was just great, and then I watched one of the videos and was utterly shocked. Who was that grey-haired old hag? Gosh, it was me! Hmmm! The thing is I take a good photo inside the flat, and outside, in the right position, in the right light, but in that one photo of me and those videos, in the direct sunlight, I looked awful and I am not exaggerating.
Is this how I look when I’m not posing in the right light and the right position? What if this is how I look, in real life, to others? Hmmm again.
What to do? Well, I am not accepting this, as in, I looked ghastly, and sort of haggard, but there are certain steps I shall think about and act upon. So here’s what I’m aiming to do:
So, I think, no I can see (!) I do not suit ‘hair up’ or tied up away from my face, and the plaits from certain angles do not look as good as the face-on photos I’ve had taken. It’s best down, so, people, I made an appointment at the hairdressers. Now I know many of you would think that’s of no consequence because you went during the reduction of lockdown in 2020 but it’s a huge step for me. I haven’t been to the hairdressers since October 2019, so it will be a big deal! And, and, it is time to cut a little of it off, around 4 inches I think, because it has just begun to look a bit straggly at the ends. So there we are – step no. 1.
I’ve been wearing ‘comfortable clothes’ for far too long. Over the weekend I had the summer clothes taken down from the top of the wardrobe, and despite the weather resorting back to being freezing (0C/32F yesterday morning with the wind chill factor making it, according to my app, -6C), I was pleased to get out some Spring pencil skirts. Every single appointment I go to from now on this type of skirt will be worn. Every single meeting of friends and family and/or outdoor event in gardens and elsewhere will see me in a skirt and/or dress rather than a pair of jeans. That’s step no.2
Bring on the summer when I can start wearing dresses more often, although I might try a couple of dresses with a winter woollie and thick tights – that’s a thought for next week’s post. Meanwhile, I shall also wear more of my bigger-brimmed hats, just not this week as ears need to be covered!
I now wear glasses permanently (until I get the cataracts done, maybe next year and certainly the following) but I still wear the makeup with special attention going to the eyebrows and the eyes Doing the eye makeup without contacts is tricky but I manage with a super-strong magnifying glass. The day I stop wearing eye makeup is the day I’m pushing up the daisies! So step no 3 is to continue the eye makeup.
Here are my new glasses.
I know we’ve all put on weight in this pandemic, but there’s no need to worry or beat yourself up about it, as if you’re not happy with the weight gain, it’ll go as soon as we can get out and about more. I’ve put on 6 lbs all around my middle.
Actually, I concede I might have been a little thin and the extra pounds have made a bit difference to my face. But most of my clothes are UK size 12 and I’ve gone up a size, I could just about do the zip up of this skirt.
But it’s still wearable.
And of course, as well as a good brisk walk what helps the body is doing a regular class of whatever you like to do. For me it’s Pilates and I can tell you it really, really helps the waist-line. But I should be doing much longer walks in different places – that’s step no 4.
A good sleep and no hot mask!
If there’s one thing that might improve my looks it is a good night’s sleep, which I get most of the time, but not all of the time. And then there’s the hot mask I have to put over my eyes for blepharitis. Both of these have wreaked havoc to the lines under my eyes. I don’t really have bags but the skin under my eyes is very crepy now. So…
I am now looking for a new beautician as the one I’ve been to for years has closed down permanently. I will have some facials asap – when permitted etc. As for the electrolysis (very necessary now) the search for a good practitioner is on. Step no 5 is to get this sorted.
And finally there is my attitude to my ageing. Honestly the photo plus the video and seeing myself not looking as I picture myself, was a bit of a wake-up call. There’s nothing one can do about the years that keep piling on, but you can take steps to mitigate (that’s definitely a word of the 2020s). And furthermore I hear you can grow into the face you have, says Charlotte Rampling on the Cut website (courtesy of Is This My Age – do have a look at her post on age diversity
“You’ve got to wait. You’ve got not to panic, not to be frightened, and not to change your face. You need your face to grow with you … because then people don’t know what age you are. You look a certain age but there is a problem with that if women can’t live with their faces as they’re growing into them. There’s always a frightening point when your face starts to change, and that’s when you want to change it. But if you go through that change — and it lasts quite a long time, maybe 10 years — then you find actually that you’ve grown into an older face.” — The Independent April 2012
I like that – that’s me a little bit panicky, a little bit worried about the changes I can see. But hey did you see Rampling modelling some clothes for The Guardian? What a role model for a 70+ woman. I have decided to see what the next 10 years brings alongside doing my Pilates, hefting some weights (now up to 3kg), wearing slightly edgy clothes, slapping on the makeup and having some treatments done – three cheers for that last point! And then don’t forget the trying out new skills. It was knitting last year, so what shall I tackle this year? And what will energise and delight me? Family and friends of course, but oh, the yearning I have for the Tate and the V&A – can’t wait for those to open, and always, always another writing project. There’s so much to look forward to including ageing into my late 70s with attitude – huzzah!
Because after all, it is privilege to be here, to be ALIVE at nearly 75, and for that I am truly grateful.
That’s all for now
With love, Penny, the Frugalfashionshopper
P.S. All skirts and the sequinned jacket charity shopped.
P.P.S Catherine of Atypical60 recently wrote a very funny post on ageing – it inspired me to write this post. Thanks Catherine 🙂