Why, in my 60's, am I suddenly a senior citizen? Hopefully, the advantage of reduced movie ticket prices is worth it. I ponder daily the gap between that number and my own perception of self. I do have a few aches and pains from working out, but I had those when I worked out at 20. I also need a bit more sleep like I did when I was 15. I live by a formula that began years ago and it seems to have worked. I was also blessed with great skin genes and do not take that for granted.
Twiggy was the gold standard in the mid 60's when I was pubescent and completely obsessed with my image and how it affected what people thought of me. Twiggy was a 5'6" skinny model (reportedly 90 pounds) with straight hair. I was immediately in trouble. At 5'2", buxom (compared to Twiggy), with curly hair that frizzed in the rain and weighing 125 pounds, I was a wreck. Most of us teenaged girls of the 60's were destroyed by Twiggy. It was not her fault.
That said, I did come to realize that there was a difference between some media image and my personal health and beauty, a big difference. And over time, I developed some great habits that allowed me to evolve my own style, a healthy existence, a much-improved body image, and an attitude that allowed me to take risks with how I dressed and presented myself. And all this resulted in personal satisfaction with having every day be a dress-up day. "How DO you do it," you ask?
Let's start with the health part. First, I exercise four times a week. Nothing heroic or show-offy, just plain old aerobic exercise with some weights here and there. In my earlier years, I ran, swam, biked — switched it up — but always committed to regular exercise. Secondly, I drink a lot of water (and coffee, which I love) and no soda and no fruit juice, smoothies, etc. I drink water and chew the calories. I confess to sharing a milk shake with my husband once in awhile, but this is about habits and habits can and should be broken occasionally to make life interesting. I eat lots of protein and fresh fruits and veggies. I carry food (nuts, protein bars) around with me so that I am not tempted to eat junk at work. I steer clear of sugar and refined foods. Lastly, I get enough sleep. It is a must. And I don't wear any makeup, but I use cream when my skin is dry. (Last year, I did wear lots of makeup to a high school event in which I was part of a Hunger Games day. I was a citizen of the Capitol; lots of red lipstick and feathers.) This is my entire beauty routine! Exercise. Drink water. Eat right. Sleep.
So, I feel good most of the time! Not bad for 63. In fact, very good for 63 (or 23, 33, 43, 53…) and this is the foundation for liking myself. I have other habits like gratitude and random acts of kindness, but those are more recent.
Over the years, I've developed a fashion formula that requires that absolutely everything is comfortable. No holding it in, no cinched waist, no scratchy fabrics, no challenging-to-walk-in shoes. No heels. Total comfort, 24/7. Layering, color — LOTS of color, accessorize, accessorize, accessorize.
First, black and denim basic pieces are a must have because I can make any look happen if I start there! And it is still all about layering. Start with black or denim and add: a shirt, long or short; a vest, jewelry, scarves, the right socks and shoes or boots. You get what I mean. In order to be able to wear a new combination EVERY DAY FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE if I want, I simply need to have lots of accessories and a few (I have more than a few, actually) options to go with the basics. So, one must start collections:
- Earrings. I have two holes in my left ear and three in my right.
- Necklaces of different lengths and pendants. I have a lot of silver and collect stone and pearl pendants when I travel. I love color and certain stones scream at me to be worn like chalcedony, labradorite, turquoise and amber. I often wear two necklaces if my top is plain.
- Bracelets are so much fun! I can wear one beautiful piece or five. Depends on the day and the outfit. Some of my bracelets of stones on stretchy cord that I get at the local rock shop for under $10. And a bracelet can make the entire outfit POP!
Scarves (sometimes I wear two!):
- Solid colors
- Spring/summer scarves
- Fall/winter scarves
- Scarves that can be worn as shawls
- Skinny scarves
- Wide scarves
- Hair scarves, etc...
Shoes and socks:
- Socks: lots of patterned, striped, colors, neutrals, textured hosiery, thick and thin to accommodate different footwear.
- Leggings: No more tights or nylons or pantyhose as they are NOT comfortable to wear. Again, patterns, plain, textured, lace, thicker for winter, thinner for milder seasons. I love the leggings from Uniqlo.
- Shoes and boots: I have one major rule: they must be comfortable. And the funkier, the more I like them! Special opportunities abound for bootlets from the French company Arche that are brightly colored, totally comfortable and artsy.
- Base layer: Cami, T-shirt, long-sleeved layering for winter.
- Blouse, shirt, something and often a solid to allow for accents.
- Vests, unlined lace tops, cardigans, blazers, etc.
Now, the fun for me is in trying new combinations. I can wear colors that my mother would say do not match (red and pink, turquoise and army green, black and brown) and add the right scarf, leggings and jewelry and voila!
What if I had to boil this down to one paragraph? Can I do it? Of course I can. First, regular exercise, nutrition and sleep are required. Second, start shopping. Enjoy the journey of collecting accessories – jewelry, scarves, hosiery, layering pieces in lots of colors, especially the ones you like (in my case, blue, turquoise, green, red, purple and the newest color, orange!). Be sure to have your base layers ready to go in black and denim (can be other colors, too). You will NEVER have to wear the same combination twice. Guaranteed. Ok, that's a paragraph.
One last thing: the secret prize of being 63 is that I really, really don't care if anyone else likes what I wear or how I look as long as I like it!
Lynn Kleiman Malinoff is 63 years young, an educator, innovator, and coach to mostly younger professionals, photographer, mom to adult boys and two shetland sheepdogs, and the wife of a wonderful husband/life partner.