Like most Real Women in the Northeast, I recently packed away my summer clothes and dug out my fall and winter wardrobe. After successfully making the switch, I stepped back to survey my closet. And got depressed. 95% of what is behind that door is black, grey or brown… with a few bits of navy mixed in for excitement. Bleh. I decided that since I had filled a bag for goodwill of clothes I’d never wear again, I could treat myself to a little shopping. I ventured out in search of color.
So far I’ve visited four women’s clothing stores. And in each, I have seen… a sea of black, grey, brown and navy. It is dark outside in the morning when my alarm goes off. Soon it will be dark by the time I leave work in the evening. Winter is around the corner, with grey stormy skies and cold temperatures to match the short daylight hours. So I ask you….why in heaven’s name do we want to mirror that in our clothing choices? Why do we also want to be dark and dismal? Shouldn’t the opposite be true, and have the stores filled with bright cheerful colors to lift our spirits? Surely flannel, wool and fleece can be created in colors with some life to them. The one lively color I’ve found in most stores is what I can best describe as bright apricot. I have nothing against this color, I think it is very pretty. But on a fair-skinned blonde? Not a great option.
This weekend one of my BFF’s and I took a couple hours to venture forth in search of color and style. We are continuing our campaign to “stop the frump” and went bravely into the world of retail. I was focused and determined, aiming only for tops in bright colors that would fit and flatter. I came away with a white blouse (at least it wasn’t black or grey), a grey and tan flowy long top to wear with leggings, and a dark purple and black tunic. Hey, at least it has some purple in it, right? Pathetic.
As she and I roamed the racks, we decided that this world is in desperate need of retail clothing stores targeted to a very specific demographic: peri-menopausal real women. If we had the funding and ability, we’d open one ourselves. First, there would be no heavy sweaters in our store. Just looking at sweaters makes us sweat. The only sweaters that we’d offer would be light-weight cardigans that are easy to remove for every hot flash. Tops with stripes across the bosom would be taboo as well. Heck, let’s just eliminate all horizontal stripes. While we are at it, enough with the glitter and sequins. Somewhere along the way, someone convinced us that we mature ladies look good in loose, patterned shirts that have been bedazzled. Sure, one or two in the closet can be fun – but really, stop after two.
What we would include in our store would be comfortable yet funky styles. Clothing that lands somewhere between extremely fitted, and mu-mu’s…. made out of fabric that drapes smoothly without being binding or lumpy. And hello, let’s have some color. Not blinding look-at-me-I’m-fluorescents, but colors that have life to them, that will perk us up and make us look alive and healthy, not sallow and depressed. Perfect wardrobe options. That’s not too much to ask, is it?
One area where clothing manufacturers seem to be starting to make headway into meeting the needs of mature women is with pants. More and more I’m seeing tags that read: curvy fit, modern fit, comfort waist, even ‘magical balance tummy control’. Lord knows we can all use some magic in controlling our tummies. Browsing through a display of jeans now is like navigating a denim jungle…. This one offers to slim my stomach but boost up my bootie. That one has stretch denim for added comfort. These are mid-rise boot-cut, and those are relaxed fit, straight leg, at-the-waist. And that is all just about the fit – then there are the colors, ranging from faded and torn to dark and crisp. With decorative stitching or, yes, here too, bling and sparkles on the pockets. The possibilities are relatively endless – and yet it can still take just about forever to find the perfect pair that looks good and feels good.
I caught a story on the Today Show recently (granted, it was on the weekend, when most of their stories are human interest and lifestyle focused – aka, fluff) that was about purchasing and caring for jeans. The wizards they interviewed enlightened viewers by suggesting we think about our body types, and where we will wear the jeans (work vs. out with the girls) when we are out shopping. One even suggested heading to the back of the store to the clearance rack for better deals. Really?? I ‘m a bit concerned that there would be any R.W. out there who wouldn’t already know all of this. But then they threw me for a loop when they gave tips for the best way to care for your jeans. They said jeans should be worn 4 -5 times before washing, and when necessary, to wash inside out, in cold water, gentle cycle, line dry. Wait, whut??? Silly me, I’ve always viewed jeans as durable items, made of denim, which purposefully ages with time. Core clothing items that I can throw in the wash. I have enough clothing that needs special treatment, I can’t be expected to baby my jeans! Now, granted, I never spend $150 on a pair of jeans. Perhaps if I did, I’d give them special attention…. Right after I had my head examined for investing that much in jeans.
This weekend, I will take a short trip to visit a couple of my BFF’s. In preparation, I will pack some of my black, grey and brown clothing options, and throw in a couple pairs of jeans that I have recently yanked out of the dryer. And perhaps, while we are together, we will do a bit of shopping and continue our search for color, comfort, and non-frump style.
It is a noble quest – and we are up for the challenge.