Before I know it, I've hit sixty. A first among the so-called baby boomer generation, what I can say about my life to date is that I've "made it to sixty without a major blunder." Gotta admit, it's a bit weak as a title to the 60th birthday bash my family plans to throw for me. Maybe that's why more and more people are eschewing these celebrations in favor of a vacation abroad.
Anyway, I invited close family members, including my husband who's the same age, to discuss what to do about my 60th event. We decide to hold the celebration at a seafood buffet restaurant, but what to wear? I scan my wardrobe. All I own are old two-piece suits which used to serve as my work clothes, pairs and pairs of pants long past their heyday, knitted sweaters, etc, but I don't feel like going to get new clothes. Something about hanging new duds over a worn 60-year-old frame seems awkward. So I decide to go with my usual: a blue vest over a white t-shirt and capris (or maybe a skirt).
Then it hits me that maybe I should begin thinking a little more seriously about what kind of fashion I should aspire to post-60. People say that you are what you wear. Maybe a comprehensive fashion makeover is what I require. Before I can establish my new look, though, first I have to take stock of my own physique. In my undies? No, better to do it in my birthday suit... I look left and right at my nakedness. It's obvious my musculature's changed, a lot. My pelvic area is wonky as the result of two births and the muscles around my hips sag. My stomach is all wrinkly and my thighs move in waves.
Taking the hand mirror to the window, I peer at my reflection in the light. Age spots and freckles that no amount of sunblock can prevent. And what about my listless gray locks? Suddenly, I'm disheartened. As the saying goes, reality bites.
Still I can't give up so easily. Am I not the same woman who's always proclaimed that beauty is not solely the province of the young? That each generation boasts its own attractiveness? I never longed to look younger than I actually was. Of course I had hopes, but what I aspired to was to confidently look my age, an image that represents my ability, or at least the competence it had acquired through the years. I think I wanted to come off looking innately wise because I wasn't so much fearful of growing old, but growing old without mattering, without meaning anything. But, now, I don't even think about those things. Either I've let go of such an ambition or I've let go of my senses. Take your pick.
Okay. Time to sort out my wardrobe. I remember a friend's advice: Anything you haven't touched in three years, dump it. And these tight-fitting clothes are uncomfortable as hell. These brand name clothes I couldn't bring myself to get rid of before? I guess I should donate them. The nicer ones, I decide to let my friends pick through them during lunch at home.
From now on, I'm going to wear mostly loose T-shirts and pants. Beginning last year, every time I wear clothes or scarves made from synthetic material, I get rashes. Gotta stick with natural fibers. I decide to leave three two-piece suits as well as two skirts. Not often, but sometimes, you need them. Suits are sort of like armor, armor you wore to the battleground called the workplace, something I'm unlikely to ever need again.
Bras are getting to be a bother. I don't like how they tug at my breasts. I've even taken to using extension hooks. What I enjoy wearing these days are vests. Short or long, I'm working toward a layered look by combining a t-shirt or a blouse underneath. I also own a couple of knitted cardigans. More than anything I now enjoy clothes that do not bind, inside or outside.
One of my friends, HaeYoung (we've dubbed her "the fashionista"), warns against the danger of loose-fitting clothes causing us to look loose-limbed when walking, as the correct gait and correct stance are the ABCs of fashion basics. She's right. I realized how important posture is from dance class. Whether you're walking with your stomach sticking out or swaying side to side, these are things you need to be wary of at all times. Bipedalism is the fate of humans, but that doesn't mean everyone walks with the proper posture.
Should I make some changes to my makeup also? I'm not sure. I'll continue to apply sunscreen but I think I will go a little easier on base foundation. Lighter makeup makes you appear fresher the older you get, and it's no longer my goal to try to hide all the spots. My eyebrows are getting sparser so I need to touch them up with a pencil. No plans to dye my hair. I'm gonna try to maintain my long hairstyle with the help of a perm every three months. The real issue, however, is its texture. Not only do I have less hair now but there's not enough shine, and it crackles. Even if you're wearing a million dollar suit, if your hair looks like a mess than you're going to appear poor and frumpy. Maybe I should invest in some hair essence products. Phew!
Makeup, check. Hair, check. Is that enough fashion sense for a 60-year-old? Ah, but there's one more, the most important. The demeanor! It doesn't matter what kind of fashion you envelop yourself in. If you carry a dour expression, then everything becomes a waste of time. A kindly smile is the cherry on top of your fashion persona. It's much more than managing your anger. I'm talking about a face that naturally exudes quiet contentment. That's the core of my ambition as far as this post-60 fashion plan goes, and prerequisites to achieving such a goal are sound health and an overall satisfaction with his/her reality.
Everyone is young once. Those days are over, but we still move forward. Somewhat scary that the new world of post-60s, or retirement age, awaits us, but we can choose. When one door closes and a new one opens, we can either choose to enter with a smile or a frown. This baby boomer granny in her post-60s can sum up her fashion strategy for the runway in one word: alacrity.