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Friday, November 4, 2011

Aging Fashion and Style

One of the most rewarding days in my life as a stylist......

Looking and feeling good as we continue to age

A few months ago, I got a phone call from a woman who said I worked with her mother some 15 years ago. Her mother was now in her early eighties, and had since lost her husband and remarried. She needed some help with coordinating what she had in her wardrobe. Betty's new husband loved when she dressed up and I could truly see she was quite smitten with him. Imagine being in your eighties and your husband taking pride in what you’re wearing. May I live that long and still want to wear my Spanx and heels and that Sid's eyesight still be good enough to notice I am wearing either.

I have to admit, I was quite excited about reconnecting with my client from 15 years ago. I was anxious to see if I remembered her, but also to help her with paring down her wardrobe. I expect it is very stressful for most seniors to let go of their belongings. According to her daughter Sally, Betty went shopping recently and wasn't sure about the selections she brought home. Sally wasn't convinced the items were age appropriate or a good fit her mother’s body type.

I vote for anyone over 80 years old to year whatever make you happy, feel good, and allows you to do your thing! Ok, that may be a little rash....let me retract that statement. This probably would not include pretending you are something you’re not, like a Lady Gaga wanna be or Diane Von Fuerstenberg's illegitimate sister. Lady Gaga's platform shoes and squished toes make my own tears well up in pain, and just imagine my body at 80 in a wrap dress with my breasts and belly meeting as one, other than at my waist. I'm just sayin.....

Back to Betty and her wardrobe. Betty had requested her daughter be a part of the closet consult, so she may take pictures and notes, as needed. As I approached Betty's front door, I was greeted by Sally and then Betty, and received a warm welcome from both. I just knew this would be a wonderful afternoon!

I took a few minutes to get caught up on a few crucial things about Betty’s current lifestyle and comfort needs, and then I plunged in with my routine. I had a few questions for both the ladies before going through the racks that lined the dining room and perused the table filled with her accessories. To say the least, Betty had a very healthy wardrobe! Somewhat different than most of my younger clients, and I still needed key information:
  • What were Betty's lifestyle clothing needs? Daily casual, church, or any special events?
  • Was Betty more comfortable in pants, skirts, or dresses?
  • Did Betty have any restrictions on buttoning a blouse, zipping a pant, or reaching over her head?
  • Were there certain fabrics that were more comfortable to her and others that she did not prefer?
Soon after our discussion, we proceeded with trying on many of the items she had recently purchased to check for fit and color. Betty wanted a few tops that were different than what she owned, but wasn't sure whether the trendy top was something she could actually manage. After careful consideration we found a few that were versatile enough in look and fit to spice up her existing wardrobe.

We moved on to mixing and matching tops, jackets, sweaters, and pants with her vast array of jewelry. Betty sat on a sturdy dining room chair between changes and would pop out of the chair to peek in the mirror after being put together. Outfit after outfit I coordinated with her favorite jeans and pants. It was truly a delightful experience for the three of us. Betty was thrilled with having so many options. Sally was relieved to know that her mother wouldn't stress over not knowing what to put together. I personally was so grateful to be able to connect with a client at this stage in her life and see how well she was doing. It was very bittersweet for me.

Sally was a wonderful nurturing daughter and Betty was so grateful for her daughter’s help. I felt their love and respect for one another. Of course, for any of you who really know me, I had tearful moments of remembering my relationship with my own grandmother. Betty did remarkably well and after a little catching up on one another's lives with our children, I was out the door. I'm just saying that was a consult I won't forget anytime soon.

Here are just a few tips to keep in mind if you are elderly and shopping for yourself, or shopping for an elderly relative for a gift giving occasion:

1. Check with the caregiver or mate as they will probablyhave a good read on the senior’s requirements or limitations, as well as their likes and dislikes.

2. When purchasing bed clothing, avoid purchasing items with buttons and that are floor length. Buttons are difficult to manipulate (snaps are easier) and long gowns and robes may get tied up or cause the senior to trip when getting into or out of bed.

3. Make sure all garments have a wide neck to slide easily over the head.

4. Remember to buy fabrics that can be washed frequently and will hold up, like cotton or fleece.

5. Purchase rubber soled shoes to prevent slipping or stumbling.

Lastly, buy happy prints and color. It is amazing how great people look, regardless of their age, when wearing colors other than white, beige, brown or black!

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