Today I am getting dressed to go pumpkin picking with my granddaughter, grandson, daughter, son-in-law, and Calvin. It’s cool and overcast, so I’m happy to wear an oversized light grey, sustainably made sweater I recently received as a gift. The first I have not declined in a long time. What I liked about it was that it could be a sweater that any woman, playing any role, could wear. I add the softest suede Loro Piana loafers with a tassel, also light grey, a reminder of one of the last shoots I did for MyTheresa. I wear my oldest pair of jeans, they still fit comfortably. I got them before I was an Accidental Icon. Today they are worn and faded and they feel as light as the exquisite suede that feels like I am wearing a slipper rather than a shoe. They are splotched with white paint that matches the rafters under my garage roof that I painstakingly painted last year. They make me feel accomplished. I could be mistaken for an artist.
I add a pair of Celine reading glasses. I had them made from a frame I got on a resale site where I have been selling clothes I wore as an Accidental Icon that no longer suit me. My lambskin fanny back, courtesy of Agnès b. allows for holding a fussy newborn or easily chasing an eight-year-old who is always determined to color outside the lines and go off the beaten path. A “do not enter” sign for her always holds a mysterious allure. Wonder who she resembles? As I look at the outfit I chose today, any woman at any age could wear it on a blustery fall day to the local pumpkin patch.
Not all of us are grandparents, some by choice and others not, so I try to not talk about my grandchildren incessantly and to wear what people may not expect a grandparent to wear. Just as when I was a mom, and I am going to add, a mom of a younger child, as you never stop being a mom, there are other parts of who I am or aspire to be that have held importance for me and it was always a struggle not to lose them. Trying to not lose them becomes an important part of staying in balance. Our roles are fluid and change throughout our lives. Mothers, lovers, married or not, workers, professionals, caregivers, retired or unemployed sometimes it’s hard to remember that who we are inside is someone who transcends roles even though it may be hard to find her when the roles she plays become all-consuming. It seems in older life we get the gift of re-discovering the person we may have lost or found as our roles change, or we can become someone we never knew before.
Society writes roles for older persons, and they may not be the ones we want to play. They try to tell us what we are supposed to be and what to do. There is also the fallacy that we may have mountains of free time we can fill up with anything we desire. When the media started calling me “instagramma” or “graninfluencer” I objected to the assumption that all older women were by default grandmothers and that we were still being valued foremost for our reproductive capabilities rather than our creative ones. There is a big conversation being had by younger people who choose not to have children and the negative responses they often get. A woman’s right to decide about this is up for grabs. Our generation did in fact re-write the roles that our mothers had to play in the 1950s. It’s time to rewrite them again. Whether it’s not retiring when expected, wearing what you want, including red lipstick, or being an older single woman without a spouse or children, what do we need to support the roles we want to design for ourselves? What needs to be put in place for those of us who choose or the choice is made for us to not rely on family to take care of us as we get older? When young people are making the choice not to have children, how are they thinking about what may happen when they are older at the same time these decisions are being made? What about older persons who still have to work, are providing caregiving to others, and are under stress because of these multiple roles?
Once again, I am struck by how different and individual our aging journeys are. How we age is shaped by the number of resources we have access to, our social position, our health or lack thereof, geography, family relationships, and losses we have experienced. Statistically, women live longer than men, so chances are they may at some point find themselves alone. Women are cohabitating without the benefit of marriage as I am. They are in committed relationships yet keep their own living space. They are experimenting with the rules, just like my granddaughter is. Friends in China are jointly buying property and renovating a house so they can maintain friendships and connections when they retire. Older women are opening up their homes to students for help with household chores forging mutually caring relationships in the process. We are becoming online dating people, starting our own business people, caring for parents, and supporting children and grandchildren all at the same time. We are a multitude of women reinventing, adapting, and finding our way. It reminds me of being young, reinventing roles for women about sexuality, work, and parenting. Our time for revolution has come around again; we did a lot of rebelling in the 1970s. How ironic is it that in our 70th decade we are doing it again? The 70s seem to be our decade for doing it differently for sure.
What are you doing differently? Whether it’s what you wear or how you are living, working, traveling, or having relationships, let’s hear about it.
When I was younger, I preferred to wear more neutral colors and traditional designs. I didn’t want to stand out. I’m 59 now and feel that I’ve become invisible to the majority of society but don’t think for a minute that I’m bummed out about it! I can wear bright colors and weird shoes and apparel that I would never have worn before. I am thoroughly enjoying being me, finally!
There are many positives to being invisible…when it is of our choosing.
At 67 (at the end of the month) I am an apprentice at my job (just finishing the 4 year required course work in electrical engineering). No mean feat for a visual artist. I am the front person, singing in a swing blues band, jumping around like the Tina Turner wanna be that I am. A few electric guitars call to me and more lessons are needed there……my art room is small but a studio will materialize eventually. My life is better than it has ever been and I would not go back form all the tea in…..I am blessed to be healthy and strong. No husbands or children have been part of my existence, and I built a life full of all the things I like.
So many fabulous stories and I want to start posting them on Instagram. The comments on this blog challenge all the predominant narratives about how to be old.
Just a suggestion: add a pair of Blundstones (Blunnies) to your country wardrobe. They come in suede or smooth leather and are chic from AUS to the US, on a Brooklyn mom or dad or a Hudson Valley grandmother or grandfather. Comfy and mud-friendly. https://www.blundstone.com/womens-boots
GREAT suggestion! LOVE these!
I got Blundstones this year…..I am 70…….just LOVE them….:))
I love “What are grandmothers supposed to wear?”
A couple of random thoughts, the first about maybe what not to wear. I did a very undignified face plant a few years back while wearing my red patent leather Birkenstocks and chasing a toddler grand on artificial turf! I looked so cool until I got the wind knocked out of me and attracted a small crowd of soccer moms.
I have been loving wearing the brightly colored rubber Annemieke Broenink necklaces of late. Babies can happily and safely chew on them!
Your column reminded me of the 1998 book The Girls with the Grandmother Faces.
I’ll have to dig up that book, thanks.
I applaud your stance on refusing to be defined by others. My attitude is similar though I adore being a gramma.
I am not. however, hemmed in by social convention about what a Gramma is or does.
I work remotely and have for 20+ years as the found of an editorial and content development services provider.
My job today involves providing technical support to Military Courseware Designers and I am most comfortable with technology of many different types.
My joy is arranging expeditions to explore indoors and out with my two grandsons and I do not care about what I am wearing beyond the need to be utterly comfortable and willing to get messy without worry.
Yes we are the ones who should be writing our narratives and designing our roles!
I was so happy to read your blog today! I firmly believe that any woman of any age should wear what she loves and is most comfortable wearing. Our bodies age differently and we need to be able to dress in a way that does not cause pain. I can no longer where stiletto heals without clomping… so I don’t even try anymore. I love wearing jeans and so wish I have kept my hip hugger bell bottoms and all the glow in the dark green and orange colors that are now the rage! We are blessed to be healthier in our late 60’s and 70’s plus which I think contributes to our desire to be active and comfortable. And as you said, we have to get back out there and protest for equal rights for all. The fact that old white men think that we will go down without a fight is pretty ignorant on their part. We are advocates for our black and brown sisters and brothers and our grandchildren. Democracy must be maintained and improved.
Love your post. I agree wholeheartedly. I have 13 grandchildren and comfort comes first now so I can enjoy them safely. But I want to look fashionable too. Love reading all these suggestions. Jeans are my staple.
Could not live without jeans!
Yes indeed! Our legacy and duty.
Your writing makes me think!
I’m 69 & retired, but haven’t ventured out to new possibilities!
I have a married daughter who decided not to have children. I always told her not to let people pressure her into having kids. She & hubby love their lives! They travel & enjoy life! As for me…., I need to find a passion! I garden, read, joined a book club, & exercise. I don’t have family nearby & have a hard time making new friends. I like my life, but you made me think to find more!
Thank you for your blog! I think everything you write resonates with most women!
Good luck on finding that passion, I’m in exploration mode as well.
I had my hair cropped really really really short after I saw a woman on the street who was obviously a homeless person and her hair looked exactly like mine, sort of medium length and straight and thin and mostly gray. I don’t know why when my hair is super short like this it feels like I have a lot!
Why didn’t I inherit my fathers hair, instead of my mothers? His was curly and thick and he had most of it still when he died at 91.
At least I inherited the good health from his side of the family. I’m nearly 81 and still taking no pills.
Love your take on short hair, it feels like you have more of it!
Your blog is spot on. I fully retired in 2018 after having a hip replacement and moved to a senior community closer to two of my three daughters going on three years now. I am an unapologetic fan of blue jeans, hoodies and comfy sweaters and shoes…and am now a fan of leggings and cozy tunics. I’m still experimenting, trying to find my “style”, but have come to the conclusion that grandma or not I’ll be wearing what makes me feel good. I’ve come to accept my current body (which needs to find a balance) and look forward to the journey that’s my evolution. 😊
Thank you for your always thoughtful insights.
Evolution and journey are much better ways to describe the process of aging. Those are neutral descriptions signifying that we can have good days and not-so-good ones just like any other time of life.
I agree! Very well stated!
I love that life is ever changing, regardless of age. I’m 65 and one of those who must still work to support myself. I live alone, something I’ve done years after my 2nd marriage except for the short time the love of my life and I cohabitated until he passed away a couple of years ago. Now I work from home most of the time and maintain the home where I raised my kids. My special needs adult son comes home two weekends a month and we go on adventures – usually related to music, art and food. These are activities I also pursue on my own. I stay fit and still wear a bikini on the beach! I take care of myself so screw it if others don’t like it! On a daily basis my clothes fit my mood. I have a daughter and grandchildren that I don’t get to see as often as I like because they live in another city, but when I do visit, I try to nurture the free spirit in them as I did in their mother – they call me FiFi, a name I truly adore. As a cancer survivor, I try to embrace every single day, even the lonely ones which are many spending so much time working at home. Recently I joined a fitness facility that isn’t just a place to exercise – it’s nutrition, fitness and camaraderie with other, mostly older, who are also mostly women. Keeping my later years healthy and strong is my goal because I plan to live a long happy life. My age is just a number. I try to live how I feel, and it’s not society’s idea of 65. My mottos are – Learn one new thing every day. Put on your warrior armor every day (one I adopted during cancer treatment). Treat people with kindness and respect the way I want to be treated. I raise butterflies during the season, grow things in the dirt (especially tomatoes in summer-yum!), take walks in the neighborhood, sit and watch my birds in the evening, enjoy a good old movie, still consider myself a true rocker both classic and new, love finding young new bands who are developing their art with hard work and joy, AND am developing a relationship with a man 12 years my junior – something after my love’s passing I never thought I’d do again. Every joy and every hardship has shaped me into the resilient person I am who likes myself enough to enjoy living with, well, me! Live one moment at a time, hope to give someone smile along the way, and smile a little myself. One life – no do overs – make it count!
Wow just wow! what a warrior woman you are. Thanks for the inspiration.
Good to hear from you. I’m heading into grandma land- 3 babies extra in the family tree. You’re right- still a 17 year old inside with her 70’s sense of style- and so feel surprised when I catch a glimpse in the mirror. Please keep posting- you keep me on my style toes😉
I too recently entered the 70’s and find it even more liberating than many of my earlier decades..I am still very active as a small art gallery owner, artist, wife, grandmother, and community activist. I have practiced yoga and meditation for the last 15 years and I have found that it really helps me physically, mentally, and spiritually. I take time to breathe deeply and to appreciate being alive..I have a better understanding of what is really important now and how easy it really is to connect to others, to nature, and to self. I wear whatever I want and often accessorize with jewelry, scarves, or another interesting layer. I still love wearing jeans, jean jackets, jean vests over a warm fall sweater, long open coats, yoga leggings and boots and yes..lipstick!
Thank you for all these ideas. I am married but will not have kids. Based on family history, I also foresee becoming a widow. My high school friends are mostly taking the same paths, so planning a home with them actually sounds great! It’ll be our own Golden Girls place.
I love this idea!
What. a rich life, we need to get some younger women reading these comments so they stop being terrified with the thought of getting to be an older woman.
I am going through a divorce at age 62 which is re-arranging my entire life and what I thought my future would be. It is requiring me to give up some luxuries such as working part time. I am now looking for full time work that suits me at this age and stage of my life. Sometimes I am terrified, but then I come back to my senses. I take it one day at a time. I’m learning to TRUST God and TRUST myself and TRUST the process of life. I’m stepping out on a limb, but it’s better than living in a loveless marriage.
Given our longer lifespans, you have every opportunity now to create a life that gives you the love you deserve whether that comes from inside you or somebody else. Sounds like you have the attitude that is going to make that happen.
I’m less social. I don’t seem to mind that though. I would have when I was younger. I would have interpreted this isolation as rejection, now I interpret it as choice. I’m sadly less impressed with people overall. Perhaps that’s typical of “older people”? I don’t even care about voting which is a seismic shift for me. I’ve been voting for 50 years and never would have deliberately missed a single one. Now I don’t BELIEVE. I just don’t believe that there is any difference in any of the candidates. They will all lie to get elected, they will all do what the aristocracy tell them to do, and more will live in desperate circumstances that few give a damn about. I’ve been an environmental activist, feminist, writer for decades and it’s all just worse than ever. In summary, I care nothing about things I used to and care more about what I hardly noticed. Like an otter mom and pup in the water, an eagle flying overhead, the breeze on my face as I race down a hill on my e-bike. I care a lot about talking to old friends about nothing earth altering. Mostly about love of family, nature and a good book.
Kathleen–I’m the same. I’ll never vote again. I spend my time mostly in the garden and with my pets. Some socializing with friends. And books–always the books!
Books are amazing companions.
I thought I was the only one. I enjoy my alone time. Most people have Ben disappointing. I had two best friends for the past 50 years. There was always the three of us. One has passed on n the other has moved cross country to live with her children. I miss both of them. My son has died n my daughter n her family live about 3 hours away. Although I do talk to them or text frequently I rarely see them. I keep myself busy and entertain my mind. I think of myself as a project still evolving.
Always, alone time is just as important as time we are connected.
When I feel overwhelmed by what seems like the futility of what’s happening in our democracy it always makes me feel better to focus on the small things, nature, and the everyday. Yet, I am still trying to think of how I can play a role in making things different. I’m waiting because the old ways of being an advocate, a feminist and working within institutions are no longer effective.
I wear what ever feels comfortable. I think and speak out of the box. I love what surrounds me- beach, flowers, trees; paintings, music, culture, friends, cuisine, books, good wine. And in the future, I hope to live like my generation- the Babyboomers- taught me: live in a commune with my best friends. Wear what looks gorgeous and feels comfy (no bra). Live surrounded by love, peace, family. The good life.
What a good life indeed!
Lyn, not sure how I became aware of you and your blog Accidental Icon. May have been connected somehow when I “discovered” Ari Seth Cohen’s homage. Advanced Style to the fashionably, and sometimes outrageously attired, fashionistas like you. In my youth, I cultivated my love of fashion yet as adulthood approached, never felt that my ego and self-esteem could tolerate a career in the fashion industry. Instead I followed a professional path in financial/investment services; a career (still!) dominated by the male gender. However, gender didn’t matter when it came to income earning potential- as it is a level playing field. Yeah for me- and other women who pursue this career. While I was married (now widowed) I made a conscious decision to not have children. That personal decision continues to be the topic of heated and, at times, judgmental responses. Who cares? Not me! Having now fully retired from a professional career, I am able to pursue my passion- writing humor essays, striving to be the next Nora Ephron. As my humor is sometimes irreverant, and dare I say naughty, I couldn’t pursue this endeavor while I was working as I’m sure some of my former clients would not understand nor appreciate my humor. Ah, the many freedoms that retirement affords us. Here’s an ageist reference to this period in my life: I refer to myself as a queen-ager. Also during this decade of my 60s, I can confidently and correctly refer to myself as a sexagenarian. Best “sex” I’ve ever experienced! Tata Lyn, keep sharing your story; I can relate.
Ha Ha love the sexagenarian reference!
Who knew that “dopamine dressing” is what I’ve been doing all my life? The right combination of color, texture, pattern and shine have always made me feel empowered. I’ve just replaced the fuchsia suit with a lovely bright tunic made of a sustainable fiber blend. Whether I’m playing chase with my grandkids or engaged in an adult activity it’s in a wardrobe rich in vibrant colors. Who doesn’t need a dopamine hit?
Ha! I wear what I want to wear. Sometimes it’s back to hippy chick and sometimes my exercise clothes from working out with my new girlfriends. And sometimes preppy and sometimes a tent dress and I go commando. Always fashionable eyewear, though. The grandkids laugh but love me anyway. My husband thinks I am perfect no matter and for that I am eternally grateful. I love the Oxford comma and I quit working full time 2 years ago when I turned 69 so we travel a bit, take the kayak out, play with my flower beds, and I take online teaching jobs when it suits me. I wasn’t excited about my 70’s at first but now I find them freeing. Hope others do, too. Not quite sure why I added the Oxford comma reference but it’s important. Take care.
When we can read a narrative like your life, why in the world are younger women so scared about being old?
I am 66 and am dating a 35 year old man. We are completely enjoying each other and he doesn’t mind the age difference
LOVE this, thank you for sharing.
Thank you for writing about those of us who did not have children.
We never really fit into society easily. It can be a lonely road, to not be accepted in a woman’s world because of a choice to not have children.
We have no children who will take care of us as we age, all decisions about aging are ours alone. It’s a very different world.
I agree to a certain extent, but “children” do not or cannot always step up into caring roles for their elderly parents. Consider how difficult it is to secure a place at a decent seniors home. I walk past one several times a day and take a kind of perverse comfort at how many residents are seated in the lounge that faces the lane without any sign of visitors week after week, even at the weekend.
We child free/less are in the minority so that’s a lot of parents in that one establishment. Multiply across the country…..
I realise the road will not necessarily get easier for me and I need to start planning, but at least I won’t be feeling resentful.
Very important point you’re making here.
I used to collect shoes like some people collect stamps, and stored them in their boxes on floor to ceiling bookshelves behind my bedroom door. I was thrilled to find a pair of “bovver” boots – dirty brown, laced up the ankle with thick soles – that I had forgotten but still fitted me. I took them on holiday to New Zealand where I was staying with my daughter and grand-children whom I had not seen for 3 years because of lock down. There I found an oversize olive green jumper, worn over a long white shirt, and a pair of faded roll-up jeans which worked superbly with the boots. I call it my “Groovy Grannie” look and it met with much approval from the family.
Kicking some butt with those boots Patricia!
I wear whatever I want, whenever I want. There are no rules.
Oh, I love this! I am 70, childfree, and single/divorced. I have a thriving career as a psychotherapist, consultant, blogger, author. My 60s were my most productive decade and I expect my 70s to be even more so. I just had a photo shoot for my updated website. I have good friends (and fans!) of many ages, both local and nonlocal. I would enjoy having a partner in a likely nontraditional relationship but am open to that happening when the time is right. I have been a client in different therapies for years, doing deep healing work, and I believe that inner work has been the reason I am thriving now. I wear what pleases me and believe I manage to look artsy, and accidentally elegant on my good hair days. Thank you for this article!
Thanks for your comment. Relationships come in many forms, and we should be the ones making the rules about them.
I too appreciate your mention of women without children. From childhood I never considered bearing children – I have been forever an animal lover. I did not marry until 31, and at 83 I have no regrets. I love my low-rise jeans, leggings and Crocs, and wear medium brown eye shadow and black liner but no lipstick – just gloss (small mouth).
Thank you, I am happy that you felt seen.
I traded business suits for jeans, big shirts, t-shirts and jean jackets – the occasional dress! I like the casual lifestyle which works wonderfully with my also ACTIVE lifestyle. I am always up for a road trip, and we also learn by continuing to attend classes and travel. We have an active social life and many interests. One thing I do love is my solitude either working in the yard or sitting peacefully reading on our deck while listening to the birds in the wooded area directly behind our home. I tend to volunteer too much sometimes but try to even it out with my quiet time! My four grandsons know Grammy is a busy person and now they are in college we text to stay in contact. They have told me I am not judgmental like some of their friend’s grandparents.
So so important. How we approach the young will determine so much about how they will, or want to engage with us. Being judgemental towards anyone who is different than you makes them want to run in the other direction! So many older people can be critical of younger ones and then we wonder why they exclude and make fun of us.
Just as I never imagined that I would deejay and teach Latin dance or perform with an Afro-Cuban folkloric dance company in my 40s, I also never imagined that I would co-host a podcast on historical drama with my sister in my late 60s anticipating my 70s. The pandemic did disrupt some of my retirement expectations — mainly travel, — but I still intend to renovate my apartment to age in place as long as possible, and I’m beginning to think about travel again. Writing a memoir from my first diary (1968) comes slowly. I am not a grandmother in the conventional sense. I enjoy being Auntie and have learned that in my Navajo/Diné niece-in-law’s culture, I could be considered a grandmother.
What a beautiful life.
Hi Lynn, and thank you for this wonderful post, one of your best I might add! I am 70, an artist, wife, mother, grandmother and creator. My husband is 80 and we just returned from a 3 week trip through Europe. Traveling is a must for us!
Fashion has always been important to me and now I find most of my clothing items via re-purposed, vintage, thrift, and second hand venues. And I probably don’t dress like a grandmother whatever that looks like. It is so true what you have said about roles and being pigeon holed into what others think we should be. I think that our individuality and decisions about who we are, how we live our lives, and express ourselves is a privilege we have earned and have the right to own. And I love my jeans too! Thank you again!
And when we have that attitude what a role model for those who follow behind us.
I take my grandchildren one by one on visits to San Francisco where my sister lives as they hit the age of 12. It has been a joyful event to travel with them and I wear whatever I want they is comfortable, warm, and fits the location whether the beach or a walk through the Redwoods.
I find it fun to wear a statement piece when I go out, knowing I will be stopped by at least two people. Yesterday it was my big dragon necklace, hand beaded, that I got on a trip to New Mexico. Other times, it’s my black shoes with the white polka dots. Recently I added a flowered scarf to my collection that gets more attention than it deserves. I was leaving the library and a woman stopped me and asked me how I tied it. I like brightening a stranger’s day, and in return, they brighten mine. I have been stopped more than once with someone saying, “I love your style!” I have to wonder…do people think just because I have white hair that my sense of style must disappear like the pigment in my locks?
When who we are inside is manifested in how we dress it creates an attraction that has nothing to do with the social position we are!
I have enjoyed this post immensely. And, the comments, just as much! I usually wear a “statement piece” by accident since my wardrobe is full of them. It does call out to others and a conversation with friends or strangers usually pursues naturally. It makes my day more interesting.
My husband and I have planned our life out to the very end. We all need a plan since as stated above, most of our children no longer have plans to take care of us as our generation, up to a point, did out of respect and partly a duty that was expected.
We are both 76, HS sweethearts and still thriving. It really is not up to us whether our plan will evolve successfully. Time will tell!
My only reason for pause and just an opinion is to those not voting. I feel one is giving up a privilege by not voting. Collectively, our vote should count. I do not mean this judgmentally. That is your right.
I read one of Lyn’s blogs daily. It is usually at night and a relaxing way to end my day. Thank you very much. I am most appreciative :-)!
On my blog, you get more bang for the buck because of the willingness of this community to share their experience and comment.
I am so enjoying your blog. I am sixty-eight and still trying to figure out this “senior” thing.
As we all are! Wonderful to have this companionship along the way.
I struggle to find clothes I am comfortable in. I don’t care for the conventional but my body type doesn’t fit into some of the clothes I would like to try. I wear a uniform for work all day and so when not working I navigate to the more colorful “boho” type. I guess I don’t know where to look though. I enjoy your fashion choices. Fortunately, my grandkids are accepting of me no matter what.
Comfort is key.
My attitude about what a grandmother “should” wear is the same for every age. She should wear what she likes and what she feels comfortable in.
Now that I have retired from the workplace scene, my clothes are casual and comfortable foremost. I am petite, and have thrown out the bra long ago! Good riddance! I do like color, so blue jeans, yes, but also, various other colors too. I love my mustard yellow jeans now that Fall is here, along with turtle necks under a button up shirts or a sweater spells “me”. I have always opted for simple jewelry, and that remains for the most part. But every now and then, I put on that ring which covers half of my finger. Or that red rhinestone bracelet. It’s fun!
In summer, I still wear shorts, though preferring knee length. But I am not about to buy or wear a bra, so if my nipples show a bit through the light summer fabric, so what!!? FYI….I had breast cancer 16 years ago and am a little crooked, but that’s who I am.
I have also accepted my height at 5’1″ and opt mainly for flats or a short healed shoe, but on occasion, I will pull out those fun multicolored boots with the 2 inch heal and a pair of bell bottoms! Why not?! Life is short and is for living. Have fun with clothes and go crazy, or not. It’s all good!!!
I am blessed with grandchildren from the ages of 4 to 16. Most of them are granddaughters and I have tried to instill an unapologetic “be true to yourself” attitude in them all. I dress for whatever suits me on any given day. Feel like looking like a hippie? Got it covered. Cowboy boots? Got a few pair to choose from. Sexy at 60? We can ALL do that too. Need to cut firewood or change my oil? Work boots and gloves are also in the closet (as well as the oil-stained jeans and old shirts). I don’t wear ‘belly shirts’ or itsy-bitsy teeny-weeny bikinis anymore but I do dress to suit my mood. I am so glad to see older women encouraged to just do who we are and embrace it.
Clothing as a manifestation of all our older selves. All of our multiple roles, activities and uniqueness.
Nice. To read and to reflect on. I found myself enjoying the age I am and becoming more empathetic and understanding, allowing myself to let go of grief as I see changes in my face and body, knowing that I’m loved and that my opinion counts.
I love crazy clothing and mad colours and happily wear them.
What am I doing differently? Interesting question. Post lockdowns I try to do something each day that gives me real pleasure, don’t always manage it of course. On the appearance front I did try to go grey during the lockdowns but frankly it looked a bit sh*t so I scurried back to the hairdresser who hand paints my hair so there is still some grey but the overall impression is dark hair. I’ve said previously that I returned to acting seven years ago. I was told that if I went grey I would only ever be cast as a ‘granny’ and at 63 I still get parts as a ‘working person’ (doctors, therapists CEOs etc).
It’s an interesting distinction isn’t it. Men over 60 are not universally referred to as a Grandad. As you said ‘granny’ is a definition based on our reproductive status so for the boomer generation who fought being defined as ‘wife and mother’ it’s as though they have finally caught us! However the reproductive definition is applied to any woman over a certain age which is galling for those of us who never sought to be a mother and painful for those who long for grandchildren.
Another issue over this side of the pond is that many women in their 60s and 70s are doing more childcare than they may actually have done during their working lives, looking after grandchildren because the parents can’t afford childcare. I see many exhausted looking women of my age out with toddlers looking as though something that should have been a pleasure has turned into an economic necessity for the wider family and consequently become drudgery.
My biological children are in the group who are unenthusiastic about reproduction due to climate change so we all dote on the surrogate granddaughter provided by my former foster daughter. My role is to support their decisions, many years fighting for our right to choose reproductively means exactly that and I get cross with my contemporaries who pressurise the younger women in their families to have babies for their gratification. If they choose that path great, if they don’t that’s fine too.
So many important issues are raised here once again making the very important point that there can be no generalizations. Older women are not a monolith. We all experience our roles, our opportunities, and our aging process differently often dependent on the resources available to us, the status of our health and our social positions. We need to shout out and emphasize our difference, role models for the young.
I was struck by your comment” society writes roles for older persons and they may not be the ones we want to play”. I am a retired clinical psychologist. A friend asked me if I might talk to her granddaughter who is considering grad school for psychology. I recalled that I had done so many things in that role, worked both inpatient and in outpatient clinics, worked with those with special needs and the severely mentally ill, with all ages, was in private practice, crisis intervention and for a few years was an administrator at a large psychiatric facility. I am a small and slight person. I have let my hair gray naturally, for which I might add it do get complements. One chilly winter morning I was out doing errands. While running across the parking lot to my bank there was a man standing by the door. He began to yell out” run, grandma run” no thought that this might be offensive. Yes, I am a grandmother, which does give me joy, but apparently this is the only way I am seen by many.
What a pompous jerk that guy was to say that…i doubt if he had seen an older man running across parking lot he would have said “run grandpa run”.
This a perfect example of a role society is promoting. Let’s put it this way; you’re running and moving forward, the guy calling out to you is standing still!
It’s another very interesting fact that you write about!
It strikes me when I see my granddaughter (10 years old), she always follows me carefully in the choice of clothes I’m going to wear, often she says I’m very Trendy, that’s so funny… some clothes, gloves, shoes, handbags already watched them and reserved them for when she’s bigger .. so I get to save some for her.
It seems that she is fully engaged in appreciating the value of certain things and doing her own thing with it, that makes me happy because then I know better than anyone that fixed values will always exist even in the life of my dear granddaughter !
We are showing our granddaughters they do not have to suffer and worry about being an older woman, what a gift.
Your writing has inspired me since I first saw one of your mini stories. I braved going silver in 2020 when I was 59 because of you. It was a decision I hadn’t planned to face until much later because I my adopted daughters are still young. My youngest is now 15 and in high school. I’m up compared with my girls’ friends who mother are often 20 yers younger than me. However, my girls keep me young and are great in giving me input on what looks good on me. Classic clothes that are ageless. BTW, I love my hair more than I ever did. I decided to have it cut into a very short pixie that is shaved on the back and sides. The silver, white, and gray combo is beautiful and looks great with my fair skin. I’ve received more complements on my hair than these last two years than I ever did with my wild, mind-of-its-own wavy brown hair. I love your pumpkin picking choice of clothes.
Thank you! I love your hair story and it makes me feel happy I could inspire.
Man, I really wish you wrote more often. Every message hits me where I’m at and that’s not easy! Much of the time I feel invisible to my kids and even now my grandkids as they are getting older and more busy than ever. There’s piano lessons, soccer teams, volleyball teams, horseback riding, plus all the extra-curricular sports at school. I can’t put into words the grief I feel about this stage of life where everything that gave you joy and purpose is moving on without me.
(What site are you selling your Accidental Icon clothes on? I’d like to check it out, if possible. )
I plan on writing more but now am very involved with writing a book I’m calling How to Be Old. Trying to get here at least once a week now. I sell my clothes on RealReal.
Interesting conversatio. I am 68 years old and is struggling with my older self. My husband want me sexy like when I was younger, but I feel I am more into pleasing myself when it comes to how I dress. I want to look current, stylish and comfortable. I find myself searching for mature women that looks happy and comfortable with themselves while being stylish. I want to represent my mature self in a good way. It is a challenge to find clothes that I can feel and look good in. I am a retired nurse and searching for things that would put a smile on my face. I fine that I love being alone and love meeting people and just conversations. I am evolving.
This is so important for people to know; in every phase of life we evolve and here we are finding ourselves doing it again. A ittle different but also the same process.
I’m glad you’re still writing from your point of you because it’s needed. I’m in my 40s and it’s refreshing to read blogs (for lack of a better word) from women over 50. I don’t care what skincare regimen a 25-year-old is touting over on Tik Tok.
If more of those younger women read this blog and the amazing comments they would stop spending time and money on skincare they think will help them not get old and start seeing being an older woman is something to aspire to!
What a wonderful posting Lyn. I’m on my way to 76 and wear jeans and sweaters or jeans and an oversized shirt. For me, comfort is everything. My son and his wife decided not to have children. Not sure about my step sons–no grandkids there also.
What I’m doing differently: after working as a nurse and nurse practitioner for 40 years, I’ve taken up painting and spend the majority of my time in the studio. My husband and I were on a path of travel before the pandemic and we hope to return to traveling again soon.
Time to explore things maybe we did not have time to earlier in life.
I’ve been thinking about how to celebrate my 100 – (3 x 17 -1)th … It would seem the honest answer/my deepest wish is “as always”: going somewhere, enjoying nature, reading books, all those deep talks with my husband. And hiding all that from the rest of the world.
So I will 🙂
I no longer say yes to things I don’t want to do I don’t wear uncomfortable clothes anymore to look good and I don’t care about say no anymore I’m in my 50s and will have a masters shortly nursing education I’ve been a bedside RN for 33 years look forward to educating students.
Love this, congratulations.
Yesterday after looking in a mirror in a shop, I had to tell myself, “never wear those athletic/sweat pants out in public again”.
But that wasn’t my issue, I looked frumpy and like I didn’t care, which has never been my style.
I’m aging, but I’m not giving up.
So important there is a very big difference between wearing or doing what we want and giving in or giving up.
I wear makeup because it makes me feel great, is fun, and also helps me look better….not because anyone said I should or should not. I love to dress appropriately, yet I have fun with clothes, too. Usually tailored, always current yet nothing trendy. Why not have fun as we grow older? At this point, I wear, do, eat, etc. whatever I want because I deserve it!
and because we want to!
I am soon to be 75. At this stage of my life,I wear what I please and try to do what I please. I wear casual, comfy clothing, while trying not to be too frumpy (in my opinion) looking. I wear things that I enjoy wearing. I like to wear makeup as well. I do help out with grandchildren, but also have invested my time in learning to play an instrument (bagpipes), exercise, and painting. At this stage of my life, I want to enjoy experiences and continue to learn and grow as a person. I do wish that the general public would not label us older women as ‘grannies’ or ignore us.
Thank you Lyn it is good to reflect on the points you made.
I rejoice in the young women of today who are not going to be downtrodden and put in a restricted employment box as was the case in the early 1960’s. The choices were not there then but in my late 40’s as a mature student I did a New Start course at University to prepare me for a B.A. Degree.
I have always dressed to please myself and have never gone along with “age appropriate” What has age to do with your spirit, your feelings and your individuality?
At 78 I see my own Evolution in the way I think, the books I read, my interest in a variety of subjects and appreciate the fact that I can still get excited over new discoveries.
You have all the secrets!
I am enjoying reading the comments. I find myself searching for anything that will inform me about getting older. I love to see women with style and is comfortable in there skin. How do you get to that point? I am trying to get to that point. I just want to enjoy life and look good doing it.
That’s the best part of this blog, the comments are such value added. We are all on the same journey so welcome aboard.
I’m 59, divorced, and have decided I’m happier living life as a single person. People can’t seem to wrap their heads around that and assume I’m going to end up old and lonely. I have many friends, three kids, a grandson and another grandchild on the way, and a busy full-time job. Life is full and fulfilling. I plan to keep working in some capacity until I physically can’t anymore. My father did that and I intend to do it as well. Live live on your own terms!
In terms of clothes, I wear what I want and what I think looks good on me, and don’t worry about whether it is “appropriate for someone my age.”
It’s so hard for so many people to view life outside of the traditional boxes society wants to put you in. Bravo to you for not falling for it.
I am in my late 60’s, and I have finally discovered who I am. I dress for myself, and wear clothes that make me look and feel amazing. I wear my hair very short – this has been a journey with my hairstylist over the last 9 years. I don’t color my hair. I recently came back from a 3 week trip – first time travelling since 2019. I met a lot of wonderful people from different parts of the world. I missed the sense of adventure.
Do what makes you feel great.
Hi Lyn, I’m 57, grandmother to one beautiful girl.
I seem to be at a nexus where I feel youthful on the inside but when I suddenly catch myself in the mirror, or in a photo, I see an older woman looking back at my, the signs of time carved on my face, grey hairs sprouting from the top of my head.
It’s weirdly confronting.
Being a low maintenance kinda girl, I’m torn between the whole ‘upkeep’ process – botox, dyes etc – and not doing anything at all, just embracing the process, acknowledging it. In a way honouring it …
I know whatever I do is ok, and I certainly don’t judge anyone else for the choices they make, I just find it interesting that I’m so torn about which way to go. So far, I’m just going with it… one day at a time.
Love your writing btw!
Thank you for being so honest. I guess for me it is about interrogating why how I look is something I feel I must modify. Where does that come from? who determines who or what is beautiful? What does that really mean? I am oppositional and so do not respond well to “shoulds”. Why do we value “old” furniture that has marks of wear and wine that has ripened for years yet not human beings who are older and full of experiences? When I look at how much looking “younger” costs, I have to ask whether something is how I want to spend my money when at the end of the day it does not stop the progression of time.
I’m a few years your junior, but earned an advanced degree in law, published 2 law review articles and started my law all practice after the age of 50. Ten years later, at 64, the practice is thriving and rewarding. I don’t know what else I would rather be doing. A young relative had the temerity to ask whether I was going to retire soon! I’m just getting started.
always so inspirational reading all these comments from all these gorgeous and brave women, especiall admire those who keep study or even earn degrees after 50, salut salut salut!!!!
Again, another great blog! Enjoyed reading the replies to it – some very inspiring comments.
I find I never actually think about ageing until I read a blog that mentions it! I will be 74 in 2 months – for some odd reason I am so excited about it! People think I am far younger. Genetics and I would say enthusiasm for life! There is so much to learn and explore.
Style – I still haven’t found it – I just wear what I feel like wearing – tho it is fun to accent with jewellery.
I have a dark purple raincoat with a large head covering (never cover my head) frames nicely around the neck/head that I have been wearing for years. Strangers (men/women) on the street still comment on it.
I’m still working as I have the most wonderful retirement job ushering (45 years) at a live entertainment theatre – exposure to the arts is amazing = dance – music etc. As I told a patron recently for now as long as I can walk I will continue.
Your blogs bring such inspiring comments and discussion from women – so glad I came across it!
I love our discussions, I am always inspired and take away something profound.
What should grandma wear? What ever she wants—whether it is stilettos or a pink sweatshirt with a sparkle cat face. I definitely favor clothes that are comfortable and practical. My dog walking outfit this morning wasn’t stylish but it was warm.
In my family not having children was more of the norm. Three of my four aunts did not have children. Neither my cousin or sister wanted children. My younger daughter is married with children and my older daughter is single without children. It’s the way it is…no big deal.
I wish society was more supportive of women and I wish women were more supportive of each other. Each of us needs to do what is best for them and their family. We should work together to further issues that effect all women.
I agree! I wish everyone was as supportive as everyone who comments on this blog.