It often works like this: you sit on a Saturday morning in your fleece pyjamas (OK, your elegant White Company loungewear) and see an image of the perfect outfit on Instagram. ‘This IS ME!’ you declare to no one in particular. ‘This is SOOO me, I now know what I need to buy to make my wardrobe perfect and complete YESSS!’ All that is required is a purchase of 8 of these vests, because I will want to wear them EVERY day and an extra one just in case (of what exactly?); I will of course require those elegant pants in two colours and that long cardi for layering. Then of course there are the accessories - the cheek kissing earrings, the tantalising necklace that sits just so on your décolletage and the statement bangle. Finally, there is THE bag! The bag that will finish off the outfit, serve you every day and indicate to everyone WHO you are.
Curating Your Perfect Image in Mid-Life
Having acquired the necessary items through various means - shopping spree, eBay, charity shop or even a ‘as good as damn it’ similar item lurking in the deepest crevice of your wardrobe (it ended up there for a reason?), you excitedly attire yourself in said perfect garments to create the look of your dreams …. or not! Oh dear, what is this, at best uninspiring, at worst, f@?>+$%g ridiculous concoction of garments before you? Where will I where this? It’s certainly not an evening outfit but would I go shopping in it? Hell no! Would I even meet a friend for coffee in this? Yes, if I am prepared to sit bolt upright with carefully choreographed arm movements in order to even feel comfortable. Then there’s the issue of never removing the long cardi because you forgot to buy the appropriate underwear for these pants which are tighter on your ass than you bargained for. The bangle is a pain as it bangs on the table whenever I pick my coffee cup up, the earrings get caught on my scarf and the back flies off. There is an innocent victim, a man in the corner with a strategically placed earring butterfly on the top of his head. The necklace is giving you a rash because it is made of the devil’s metal. As for the bag, well I can’t put it on my shoulder because there’s no strap, I can’t hang it on the chair for the same reason, and it doesn’t accommodate my phone, my purse and my facial reconstruction kit?
All Dressed Up and Nowhere to Go?
On reflection, if I stand in a certain pose, look in a specific direction, bend my knee, half smile and tilt my bum/head/ shoulder just so, and on no account … walk, this outfit is perfect for what exactly? …..
… INSTAGRAM! YESSS! …
That’s it, I have the perfect look for an Instagram party! Let’s pour a glass of prosecco (that we are not going to drink at 11am) to complete the look (why open a new bottle, sparkling spring will do - they’ll never know) and let’s party!
Style Matters at Any Age
There is an art to curating your perfect wardrobe at fifty or any age, and it takes practice. I’m still practising, exhibit B: slightly yellowed T-shirt for wearing under things – Really? If you are looking at decluttering and minimising your stash of clothes, carefully considering what works for you is key. Otherwise, you will never feel ‘lagom’, not too much, not too little, but just right. That place is different for everyone. There is the further complication that your efforts to simplify your wardrobe will become futile as a steady stream of new items enters your life to fulfil the dissatisfaction you experience. Sometimes we feel comfortable, sometimes we feel we look good; our unicorn moment is when we feel both. The latter is of course subjective, and it only matters that ‘we feel we look good’.
“Everyone has his own style. When you have found it, you should stick to it”
True Elegance is Being Comfortable in Your Own Skin
Ultimately, we only need to please ourselves. Over fifty style is whatever enables you to walk, talk, drink, chat and stay upright without thinking about it. In my humble opinion, feeling comfortable is more conducive to engaging with our environment and the people around us, feeling at ease and smiling more; that ultimately makes us far more attractive. We are all different, and if we are meant to wear an elaborate flamboyant unusually cut garment, we will wear it often and with ease. It will feel right, and it will feel like YOU; if it doesn’t, why build that internal wall between your body and your mind, between your body and your authentic self?
An Outlet for Creativity
Instagram is healthy if it is viewed as art. A beautifully curated feed with skilful photography and engaging aesthetic can be viewed as a piece of artwork. It may serve as an inspiration for stylish interiors, yoga practice, a vegan diet and many other things. Recognising the reality of an Instagram account’s purpose, is a healthy way to enjoy and participate in the community. There are things I can learn, ideas I can try and beautiful words and pictures for me to enjoy. When I’ve done that, I’m putting on my favourite jeans, top and earrings (with one butterfly missing …. Oops!) and going for a coffee ….