July 30
I'm a lawyer in my past life, who got the kids through college and decided to try something different and a little more fun. A used book store sounded like a good idea, so that's where I am for now. I just hadn't counted on a recession or E-readers and am a little afraid there's going to be a third act. In the meantime, I have plenty to read and a little time to write. Not a bad way to spend a day.


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OCTOBER 5, 2012 11:41AM

Pink dresses and Ripped Jeans

Rate: 20 Flag

Last week I wrote a post wondereing whether I was too old to wear a pair of jeans with a ripped knee. Yesterday, in a bit of serendipity, I ran across a piece I wrote nearly twenty years ago about a similar issue. It seemed to answer the question.
As I was walking out the door to go to work recently, my 11 year old daughter told me I shouldn't be wearing the dress I had on.
Because my car's air conditioner was working only sporadically at the time, I was dressed fairly casually and assumed that my clothes-conscious preteen thought I didn't look lawyerly enough. My sleeveless cotton dress and open-toed sandals were a far cry from the heels, hose, and navy suits characteristic of most lawyers.
When I told my daughter that I could afford to dress casually that day since I wasn't going to court and wasn't seeing any clients, I thought that would be the end of it. To my surprise, it wasn't.
"It's not the dress, Mom," she said. "It's the color. You're too old to wear pink."
Having passed the ripe age of 40 a few years ago, I've reluctantly acknowledged that I'm too old for a lot of things. I'm too old for two-piece swim suits, midriff shirts, handsprings across the front yard, foot races with my daughters, and dealing with other people's young children for long periods of time.
I'm even too old to scoff at women wearing skirts and shorts with elastic waists.
But I never had considered myself so old as to be precluded from whole racks of clothes solely because of their color.
When questioned, my daughter wasn't able to explain why I was too old to wear pink.  Nor was she able to list any other colors I shouldn't wear, although she assured me there were some.
Her reaction to my dress made me think of the poem that hangs prominently in my kitchen and begins, "When I am an old woman, I will wear purple, with a red hat that doesn't go and doesn't suit me..."
It's a light-hearted poem that celebrates the freedom and eccentricity that comes with age. I read it whenever the onus of responsibility starts getting the better of me.
I delight in the poem because it promises me a future free of the daily burdens and obligations of respectability that come with raising children and being a part of the professional work force. I send copies to my aging friends and even bought a new and bigger copy for myself this past summer.
But I always have read the poem with a definite eye towards the future, In later years, I told myself, I will be this person. I will shed convention, live in a shack by the sea, go barefoot all day and live solely for myself. Without guilt or regret, I will wear purple and be either a joy or an embarrassment to my children and grandchildren.
It never occurred to me that the poem might be time or age appropriate. But walking out the door that morning, I found myself thinking, "When I am an old woman, I will wear pink dresses, with open-toed sandals, to inappropriate places..."
I don't have my shack by the sea, but I'm wearing those jeans. I just wish they were pink.  

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You go grrrl!

A fun read.
Ah--your pink period. Jackie Kennedy had one of those.
I like that poem too, my mother had a copy in her bedside dresser drawer, no doubt for reminders while getting dressed. : )
When younger, I always wanted to grow old with long, flowy white hair, wear capes and have a tame raven on my shoulder.
Now I realize that means I had (still have, just a little) a wish to be Strega Nona.
I bought a beautiful pink sweater in Germany when I was stationed there. The Europeans have a whole different thought process about clothes. When I came home in 76', to the south, I was called a few names I better not use. I quit wearing that sweater and now I feel like I caved. I would wear it now and tell them where they can put there opinions.
Rage on... and never slink to the shadows... if they can't take a joke... R&R ;-)
well my sister, a tiny little elegant/sexy gal of 63,
would have serious problems with these restrictions on
her wardrobe. the Lady wears all kinds of pink.
Shortie shorts too. Her boyfriend, one of those guys
discovering his lost teenage ideals and attitudes after
decades of being responsible, has no quarrel.
Pink Lady!
And let there glide by many a pearly car,

Pink robes, and wavy hair, and diamond jar,

And half discovered wings, and glances keen.

The while let music wander round my ears,

And as it reaches each delicious ending,


Let me write down a line of glorious tone,

And full of many wonders of the spheres:

For what a height my spirit is contending!

’Tis not content so soon to be alone."
V.--Thank you.

Con--I'm off to find my pillbox hat...

Matt--"She was quite the rebel." I think I'd like that on my tombstone. I'm not there yet, though.

Just Thinking--I kind of like the idea of aspiring to be Strega Nona. And I think "Being Strega Nona" would be a great title for a book or a post.

Scanner--Go for it! Bring that sweater out of the moth balls!

jmac--I'm not sure I'm raging, just wearing comfortable jeans.
James--Beautiful poem.
I had a fabulous grade school teacher who would answer enthusiastically he was "in the pink" whenever anybody asked how he was doing. So, now pink is my go-to color whenever I want to feel happy and healthy!
You could paint your knees pink. :D
Wonderful. The more things change...
jl -- I'll let you know! But I suspect I'll write about being Strega Nona when I *am* old and silver with that raven (as opposed to the current young and silver)...
Not even one speck of want-to-write this summer happening over here....just a tiny flickering of interest beginning again now -- maybe it's because we're still having summer-y weather in October, maybe it actually was the electricity in our house gone bad that had me writing as I haven't written once since it was fixed : )
Maybe I ought to try wearing pink or ripped jeans -- your writing is wonderful !
You are fabulous! What a good thing that you saved it!
Jonathan--Smiling back...

Elizabeth--I like that. I think my mom might have said it too.

Mimetalker--Good idea...or maybe just my toenails.

Just thinking--I'll be waiting. And thanks.

Firechick-- I like to think I''m rocking the jeans.

Jennifer--Thank you. I save way too much. I also found the 1993 registration to a car I haven't had for fifteen years.

I think you should consider wearing a short pink dress with your ripped jeans. :)
Not sure about the red hat. I'm wearing purple corduroy levis right now and I'm not a youngin at 43. Ripped jeans on the middle aged is common in L.A . Location matters too. You can get away with much more in LA, I think. Pink could make some one look daffy past a certain age. Never thought about it till now .... Interesting read.
I would constantly note that all the public defenders wore gray suits . Gray Gray Gray. It was very depressing.
That is so funny and shows how meaningless are arbitrary fashion statements. Yet, there is a limit. I might not wear halter tops a lot in public, even though I'm built better than the kids who do.
Right on! I really think that it's not age that dictates what we should or shouldn't wear - it's confidence!
I always hated that stupid poem. I am still part of the workforce - thank God because I (and most of my generation) have no pension. I thought that poem makes older women look silly and useless. Can't afford that, thank you very much.
Diary--I have to admit I've been kind of remiss about keeping color in my wardrobe--no pink dresses to be found. Black, khaki, and denim have sort of taken over.

fernsy--Purple levis make a statement.

jackie2--Midriff shirts are certainly going to stay on my "don't go there" list.

Alysa--I agree. And carriage, which probably goes with confidence.

cynthia--The Red Hat Societies kind of ruined it for me. But I still like the sentiment.
Here's my thing...something sits in my drawer or closet from two Christmases or birthdays ago and I've come close to donating said item/s or yard-saling them when suddenly...I get the item out, look at it with fresh eyes and begin wearing it to death. So it goes. My Birkenstocks, however...I'm afraid my family may soon burn them.
This is great. I was raised with the term "sheep in lamb's clothing" to describe an older woman (like myself) dressing far too young. Daily, at age 56 I think of this phrase. I adore pink and will wear it. And besides, it's becoming impossible to find stores that cater to us more mature hot young/old things. Coldwater Creek and Chico's are great for work, but for more casual "I want to feel young" stuff, well, it's almost impossible. Our selections are either way toooooo young or the Alfred Dunner elasticized stuff at JCP. I say, if we can pull it off, then enjoy it and if not, we'll enjoy it anyway!
I love this. I used to be big on "age appropriate" dress. A part of me still is. But the older I get, I say wear what you like. If it makes you happy, then who cares? (I'll admit, it's harder when you have a daughter with a critical eye.) ~r
But my daughters have forbidden me to buy any more black, beige, or brown. Get some color in your life, they say. So I have - now I need to branch out to wearing prints!