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Workshops and resources for women over 50

How to Say “Yes” to the Dress!

Springtime and it’s wedding and shower season! And if you’ve been in any stores or looked at any magazines lately, dresses are all the rage. Last year, my favorite closet commando suggested I start wearing dresses and skirts more — a HUGE change from jeans and all forms of pants. Her reasons were good:

a) dresses are easier to fit when your body’s top and bottom don’t really match in size

b) dresses can gracefully camouflage bumps and lumps that aren’t supposed to be there

c) dresses are more youthful and show a sense of style (she’s NOT talking about muu-muus or shapeless “over-the-head” comfortable dresses you can wear to the farmer’s market or over a bathing suit!)

So with gusto and a recommitment to being fashionable/not old I took to a favorite department store (Carson’s, one of the Bon-Ton stores) and eyed my choices. Initially I rejected all sleeveless frocks due to the unpleasant reality of my batwing arms, but after trying on cap sleeves, committing to 2 months of tricep exercises, purchase of a cute pashmina and rationalization that by the time the dancing starts at the event I’m buying the dress for, most people will have had enough to drink that they won’t notice me when shedding the wrap. Plus, it’s not about me — it’s about the bride! So I ended up buying the cap sleeve number and a sleeveless party dress – with a little bit of CRINOLINE! (Yes, 8th grade Cinderella Ball was the last time I used that word!)

While I love the two dresses, I hadn’t thought about all the baggage that comes with a dress.

1) The zipper! One of the dresses even had a tag that said “I have a zipper” which should have been a warning. Perhaps the label should have said “I have a zipper so bring along a salesperson” or “I have a zipper so don’t expect to be able to put this on at home if you live alone” or “Warning – I have a zipper and you probably can’t reach back to zip me!”  After much finagling, panting and stretching, I was able to get in and out of these dresses in the fitting room and buy them. Since bringing them home, I do yoga arm stretches about 80 times a day. And have a piece of string ready to assist if the yoga doesn’t work out.

2) Shoes! Both dresses would be darling with strappy sandals. But 60 years of use and abuse has taken their toll. Strappy sandals do little to hide a hammer toe and a toenail soon to leave this body from looooong walks. And where’s the arch support in a strappy sandal? So screw strappy sandals and go for the peeky-toe pump – as long as the right toes are showing!

3) Legs! The bare leg look is cute on young women who don’t have bike accident scars, visible veins and knee and ankle surgery scars. My approach — start self-tanner now, then add foundation over the unsightly scars and still wear pantyhose. I need the control top anyway!

4) Undergarments! Correct fitting bra – check! Control top hose – check! (Instead of Spanx, the other alternative to keeping your bottom in check.) Flexees camisole – check! (Spanx for your midriff.) And that should keep me from jiggling in the wrong places. I just hope all that extra “me” doesn’t move down to my ankles or up to my neck!

5) And the wrap, of course! Pashmina or something with a little ruffle. Maybe lace…just as long as it gives the allusion of upper arms without actually showing them.

So here’s how I’ll say “Yes” to the dress! And say “Bye-Bye” to the carefree days of tossing on a cute shift, sandals and leaving the house! We may have to put more thought into how we wear fashion, but we can still wear it — and be all the wiser!


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