Aging With Style and Grace

I was going to blog about my second camping trip, but my husband has not forwarded a certain photo to me that I need for the post. He’s busy moving his aging mother from one state to another, so I’ll give him a pass for this slight, this time.

Speaking of aging, that is my topic instead of camping.

I’ve been giving this topic a lot of thought, oh, let’s see, for the past nine years or so, ever since I turned forty. At first, the topic truly freaked me out. Kind of like stepping onto a railroad track and suddenly realizing there is a train closing in on you so fast that you don’t even have time to hop off the tracks. It’s going to hit you and there is nothing you can do about it.

Well, perhaps not entirely. How you process that information and respond can affect those last fleeting moments of your life. I’ve reflected on this process for the past nine years of my life as I await the inevitable train wreck.

Let’s talk about aging with style. When I think of style, I first tend to think of modes of dress, but it can be more than what you wear. I will start off with fashion however and go from there.

I still, vaguely, recall the first dress that I picked out for myself in a clothing store. Maybe I was eight years old or so at the time. Before that, my mother picked out all my clothes. She dressed me well, usually in something frilly and cute. So, maybe that’s why the dress I picked out for myself was very plain in comparison to what my mother picked out for me. It had a colorful zigzag striped bodice and white skirt. I’d have to say her fashion tastes were better than mine at the time.

Flash forward to my early thirties. I was a stay-at-home mom of three, married to a pastor who didn’t make a lot of money. Most of my clothes up until then were hand-me-downs from my mom or other generous people. I appreciated their generosity, but I really wanted to dress in something that I picked out for myself. So, when finances finally loosened up a bit where I could buy my own clothes, I chose a clothing retail establishment that catered to older, conservative women. I chose it, I think, because I knew a few well-dressed business women who shopped there, and since I was the wife of a pastor, then maybe that store’s clothing selection looked pastor’s wife-ish, or something. Basically, I started dressing like an older conservative business woman of say, I don’t know, late fifties or older.

There is nothing wrong with that particular style of dress; it’s just not expressive of who I am. As such, I’ve decided to abandon that style for the most part, and no, I won’t return to it when I reach late fifties or older.

My style, as I have defined it, is: quirky, eclectic, bohemian-punk preppy. Yes, I actually did take the time to sit down and define my personal style. It was my free time to do as I please with, so I won’t apologize for it. Okay, okay, I felt a little silly doing it, but it was a fun waste of time! That is my style from this point on until the train hits me.

I have created a Pinterest board full of women all older than me who dress according to their own personal styles. I like it that they don’t let aging get them down. They still have a heartbeat and air in their lungs; they are alive.

What I think is sad though are the older women who have given up. I’ve known several and they aren’t hard to spot in a crowd. They aren’t hard to spot because their appearance has taken on the quality of what has happened inside of them. Two such women that I’ve known personally both said the same thing to me on more than one occasion. They told me that they were beautiful women when they were younger. One even showed me a picture of herself to prove that she was not lying, I suppose. Yes, she was beautiful in appearance when she was young.

What I took away from what they said to me was that they each had a deep regret and bitterness at the loss of youthful beauty. What is truly sad is that neither of them understood what I am finally coming to understand: Beauty is something you can keep until your dying day.

I know several elderly women who are beautiful. It’s a different beauty from youthful beauty, but still beauty. Youthful beauty is only one type of several types of beauty. Some women realize this. Those women who do, tend age with grace and they don’t let regret and bitterness creep into their lives. Regret and bitterness, from what I’ve seen, are two things that can steal away all beauty from one’s life.

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