Jun 04

Older. Wiser and More Stylish

tasi's fashion feature

You would think that being older, wiser and more stylish would be a given, but not so. The girls on the Facebook group, Trans Beauty Network, were recently discussing fashion and, in particular, the fashion faux pas’ of trans women seen by the group. High on the list was the perennial favorite of not dressing your age meaning you shouldn’t be a 50-60 year old woman and dress like your granddaughter. And this does not extend to just the trans community but is still a common observation by women in general. When TLC’s How Not To Dress TV show was still on the air, this was a common theme.

So, to those girls, you are missing the boat because as we see below, the older, wiser, and more mature woman can be far more stylish than the ragtag group of millennials that they try to imitate.

Ari Seth Cohen just released a new book, Advanced Style…Older and Wiser which features more senior street style and inspiration from all over the globe, including Los Angeles, London, Cape Town, Rome, Florence, Tokyo, San Diego, Palm Springs, Melbourne, Sydney, New York, Amsterdam, Edinburgh, Stockholm, and Geneva. The book also features 22 short essays by the subjects of the book distilling the wisdom and lifestyle secrets of some of Cohen’s favorite Advanced Style ladies. But this is NOT a book review because this article is about how older ladies really are more stylish than the millennials and their super comfortable but sloppy lifestyle. This book is but an example of what you can be too.

Diane Pemberton-Sikes in her blog, Fashion for Real Women, wrote a travel article in which she said, “I’ve been on chicken buses in Central America that had better dressed occupants than most domestic flights. It’s amazing how much Americans stick out due to the clothes and overall shabby appearance.”

And since most readers here are probably in their 40s, 50s, 60s, and beyond, we still remember how style was. Not because we necessarily want to return to those eras, but because we want the feeling that those eras had in helping us explore our inborn femininity. How we dress is a large part of that as our dress defines how we are perceived by others. I’m older than 60 so my favorite quote is “…I must tell you that I am not really an old lady; just cleverly disguised as one”.

La Contessa from The Vintage Contessa joined several other ladies at a book signing for this book. Here are several views of the ladies and please note the variety and color of their dress. No uniforms here.

more stylish older ladies 1

That’s Contessa on the right

more stylish older ladies and Ari seth cohen

Ari Seth Cohen on the far left

more stylish older ladies

What this book does is help us learn how to celebrate our femininity as we grow older, a message we all need to learn. It celebrates the poise and vivacity of women who have spent decades refining their personal style! This is one of the better `book of the blog’ types that I’ve read. You certainly don’t need to be familiar with the Advanced Style blog to enjoy the book but it adds some spice to your life. I list other blogs by over 50 women at the end of this article and all of them feature women that will inspire you and give you food for thought on how to dress stylishly regardless of your age.

The women in this book look amazing, and I don’t mean `for their age’, I mean just totally amazing in general. I wouldn’t be surprised if this turned out to be the freshest and most inspiring fashion book of this year. The book is 98% photos, page after page of lovely women wearing the most beautifully put together outfits. There’s a range of looks from quintessential elegance to total bohemian. What’s striking is how much of the wearer’s personality shines through. Usually when I look at street snaps, I’m focused on the clothes and haven’t got much interest in the wearer. But the women in this book seem like they’d be good for conversation over a cup of tea. I wish I knew more about them, what their homes look like or what paths their lives took that made them get through the years and looking more vibrant and beautiful than woman half their age. And my point is that you can be and should be amazing too.

One female commenter on the article by La Contessa said it far better than I ever could, “I also want to look like a woman, and wear flattering clothes as they did in the forties. You can’t find a decent skirt, dress, only ugly tight fitting pants. Skirts so short they are embarrassing, and if the women wearing them do not feel embarrassed, I feel it for them. Men do not like unfeminine women. The more indecent you dress the more they use you and disrespect you, they cast you aside and try to find what they are truly are looking for. They like women with soft voices, genteel, have a brain so they can carry on an intelligent conversation, with tenderness and loving in the most pure and innocent way.

Can you find that today? No, not very many exist.

They have lost a great deal in banishing truly flattering clothes. Women trying to be men. Also they have lost the dignity and the nobleness that God gave women.

These styles are sickening and make me sick. Everybody wants to be a man these days, unshaven, sloppy and crude. You can have it. Wild hair cuts, some not even caring to tend to their hair, and they do not care how they look at all. Quite unbelievable that the so called modern generation can no longer think for themselves. The word for today is Slobs!

Women modeling these clothes always look like they do not know how to stand, walk or sit in a dignified manner. They hold their legs in awkward positions as if they have some unidentifiable defect. Too bad, Class for women is gone. Thrift stores offer more opportunities than any of the fashions we see in today’s store. Today’s fashions are against women. They have been this way since the sixties. The sad part of all of this is that they believe everything the designers tell them. Ridiculous!”

One of the advantages of being women over 60 is that “we’ve seen it all” – we’ve been through every kind of fashion fad and short-lived trend imaginable during our lives. Now that we’re in our 60s (and beyond), we have the simple elegance and freedom that comes from being able to choose the styles that reflect who we are while having fun with fashion.

Just take a look at these two fashion boards on Sister House Pinterest pages. Over 60 and Still Fashionable and Age Appropriate is a Myth.

fashionable ladies over 60

That’s Sophie Lauren on the left in her 80s

more stylish older ladies 2

more stylish older ladies 3

One of the great things about being women over 60 today is that we have more fashion role models than ever before. Women over 60 are still too often marginalized and made invisible by the media and by our culture, but there are some prominent women over 60 who are fashion icons and there are many fashion lessons to be learned from them which you can see here in this article on Ageless Fabulous Women in Femme d’Certain Age on Sister House.

You might also enjoy this fabulous video series on Sixty and Me.

“Be bold, be adventurous. Do profound things, dazzle yourself and the world. Don’t wear beige: it might kill you. Contribute to society, and live large. Life is short, make every moment count. It is never too late to find your passion.” — Sue Kreitzman.

If you enjoyed this article, you might also enjoy Lessons Learned from Ageless Fabulous Women.

If you are interested in the books, Advanced Style or Advanced Style, Older and Wiser, just click the link.

Here are some of my favorite over 50 fashion bloggers. They are well worth your time to visit.

Advanced Style
Style At A Certain Age
Lady of Style (DE)
Une Femme d’un Certain âge
The Vintage Contessa
Style Crone
Accidental Icon
Not Dead Yet Style
Susan After 60

Dec 15

Am I Stylish

Stylish Kandi Robbins Am I stylish?  I believe so and have been told that I am.  I really don’t know how I developed this skill or why, but I know I have it and am thankful for it.  For me, it’s all about understanding my strengths and weakness and knowing how to dress to maximize the strengths and minimize the weaknesses.  I also have a sense of what works well together and have always understood how colors work with each other.

The first step in the process is how I go about acquiring clothes.  I have developed a massive wardrobe.  I would estimate I have well over 100 dresses, probably 40 skirts, 15 pair of slacks, about the same amount of jeans, capris and shorts.  I’d estimate there are a good 30 jackets, blazers and coats, easily about 30 sweaters and tops, blouses and t-shirts too numerous to count.  I am very lucky to wear the same size shoes as my wife.  She allows me to borrow footwear as needed as well as selecting just the right purse from her large collection.  Despite access to “free” shoes, I probably have 25 or so of my own. Oh yeah, I have a very large jewelry collection, too many earrings, bracelets and necklaces to count.  Then of course, a girl must have her lingerie, hose, tights, slips and other undergarments.  Let’s just say I have plenty of these as well.

I am fortunate to get out frequently, usually three times a week.  I never wear the same outfit twice, but will re-purpose certain items a few times before shipping them off for consignment.

Now how did I build such a cache?  I am the queen of the thrift store!  I am in at least 5 different thrifts every week.  Unlike many gals who go out shopping and put together outfits as they shop, I approach things differently.  First, I generally will not buy (I get the irony here) anything at full cost.  I only purchase discounted items and/or use a coupon.  I often keep purchases to between $2 and $3.  But the beauty here is I am able to buy quality.  I have many excellent labels in that closet: New York and Company, Calvin Klein, Ann Taylor and Loft, just to name a few.

So while many women’s outfits are born in a store, mine are done so in my closet.  I will select a center piece for an outfit.  It could be a dress, a top, a skirt or even a certain necklace.  I know almost instinctively what I need to round out an outfit and what I have available to do so.  I am almost Rain Man-like in knowing what I have and what goes with what.  Then the outfit goes through my vetting process.  I try it on and look at it critically.  How does it look on me?  Does that sweater really work with that skirt?  Let’s consider a smaller necklace.  That might look great with tights.  My outfit sessions are truly one of my very favorite activities, sometimes more fun than the subsequent outing.

After having acquired much of the bones of my wardrobe, I have become much more selective.  I now only look for the best of the best and the lowest possible price.  I have walked away from beautiful dresses because I didn’t want to spend the $5.  Recently I was working the dress rack at the Goodwill and I saw a My Michelle LBD (and the L is very appropriate).  I knew it would be perfect.  I tried it on as soon as I got home, paired it with some beautiful patent leather pumps and a string of pearls and I was ready for the evening (if I put a bag over my very male head).  I just lit up when I looked at myself.  Money well spent.  I know my body and I know what types of things complement it well.

Kandi Robbins - great legsI am thin with an outstanding figure and have great legs.  I don’t say this arrogantly and I was not born this way (far from it).  That figure and those legs were built by hours in the gym and miles and miles on the run.  I earned them!  So when assembling an outfit, I look to feature these.  Conversely, I look to soften my male arms, although I have been getting bolder in going sleeveless.  I also know my back is not my best side, so I always look to properly cover it.  No backless dresses for this girl!

Every time (and I am sure I am not alone here) I get dressed, I take some close ups to capture my makeup work and some full body shots to document the outfit and the coming outing.  Looking at these photos frequently helps me better understand how outfits work for me.  For me, it’s all about experimentation, working through things until the outfit just tells you it works!

I have lived my entire life outside of a few years living with women.  Mom and three sisters (no brother), wife and two daughters (no son), so certainly some of this is by osmosis.  Being a crossdresser (closeted for most of my life), I of course observed.  My wife is stylish, so I probably mimic her in some regard.  But mostly, I do have a way to putting things together, be they outfits or decorating a wall.  I have developed a sense of tying things together.  I know what top calls for a smaller, more delicate necklace.  I understand that in an outfit, one thing should draw the eye’s attention.  For example, I just put together a lovely outfit with a beautiful ankle length patterned skirt.  The skirt features lovely shades of red, purple and black.  I paired it with a black top so as not to diminish the beauty of the skirt with a necklace that echoes the red in the skirt.

Stylish Robbins with dark tights

Allow me to walk you through a recent outfit.  I occasionally attend the theater (Cleveland’s Playhouse Square is the largest such theater district outside of Broadway) with a women’s social group I joined on Meetup (all GGs and me).  This particular evening we went to see “Waitress”.  About eight us of met for dinner before the show.  I had recently purchased this lovely black skirt with the white circle pattern.  I knew immediately that I would pair that skirt with a black sheer NY&Co blouse I had in my inventory.  Once I saw them together, I knew that black tights would tie everything together very well and I borrowed a pair of heels from my wife (we wear the same size!) that emulate ballet slippers and I love how they flow with the tights.  I always like dark tights or dark hose to match my skirt when the weather gets colder.

Now knowing I am in all black, I wanted an accent color to provide that pop.  Pink was my choice.  When accessorizing, I usually select either gold or silver.  Since the blouse had gold buttons, I went with gold.  I had recently purchased a beautiful pink pendant and placed it on a shorter chain to use as the center piece for an outfit.  This was the perfect time for that.  I chose a pair of large hoop earrings that would echo the circles in my skirt.  My favorite part of the whole outfit was the lovely pink Kate Spade purse I borrowed from my wife for the evening.  I always wear a faux wedding ring (after all, I am a married woman!) and a number of charm bracelets.  I almost always stack many bracelets and am partial to charms.  My outfit was complete and my evening sheer delight!  The other ladies were very complementary and I even received a complement on my skirt from a passer-by.  The show was so much fun and to be in that ornate theater, dressed pretty with so many other women all dressed up, was a dream.

 

Stylish Kandi Robbins in beige color block dressAnother example of the type of stylish outfit I prefer is one I wore this past summer.  It was a beautiful Sunday.  I attended services at church and then volunteered as an usher at one of the community theaters I work for.  I had purchased this wonderful color block Dressbarn dress and was anxious to get it out in public.  The dress fit like it was tailored for me.  It was summer, so I went barelegged with my freshly shaved legs.  I worked as best I could on getting a tan this year.  Since there was a beige color block, I selected my favorite pair of nude pumps.  I chose a burgundy lipstick to pull in the burgundy from the dress.  I went with gold and pearls, I love the delicate simplicity of the necklace.  I have a pair of multiple hoop earrings with a pearl on each one and went with the pearl bracelet.  The outfit was rounded out with a lovely black purse with gold in the chain, to tie it all together.

Kandi Robbins in teal summer outfit

Finally here is a casual outfit I put together to go to a summer street festival.  I love the teal in the top and how the peak hole allowed my necklace to be seen hanging in my cleavage.  The teal was my central theme so I chose a cute teal headband that pulled the whole outfit together.  Being summer, I was able to wear my sunglasses and chose some silver and teal/blue charms to complete my look.  A grey purse and silver hoop earrings rounded everything out.  As any GG would, I wore my flats.  I was there alone and received a few complements from some of the people there.  The picture you see was taken by a kind stranger.

I’ve done this enough now that it is automatic when I put myself together.  Intuitively I know what goes with what, what colors to incorporate in my makeup and how I wish to present myself.  How am I perceived?  I’m not sure but all I can tell you is that I have been out hundreds of times in the past three years (when I finally accepted myself and embraced the Kandi in me) and have never had a single negative experience.  I am certain I have rolled some eyes behind my back, but no one has ever spoken a cross word to me and it is not unusual for me to gather hugs from total strangers when out.

Try things, experiment, be self-critical, understand your strengths and who you are (brash, conservative, demure, etc.).  Dressing is fun, looking pretty is intoxicating.  Now get out there girls,  have fun and be stylish!

Be sure to read Kandi’s author page.  Her Flickr page is here.

 

The Stylish Crossdresser

stylish womanWe talk a lot about fashion and style and why having style is important whether you are “in the closet” an occasional cross-dresser out and about, nearly full time or a transitioned girl. You are perceived as you dress and it effects how people treat you. Dressing well and being stylish is worth your time as I know from personal experience.

When I stepped out for the first time I had all the same fears as most, but not once in all the years that I have been cross-dressing in public have I had an incident. I attribute this to taking care to present as a lady whether it was in a casual or a formal environment,  Style is a personal thing and each of us has our preferred look, but those who know the secrets of style are the ones we look up to.

So, now we present to you the Stylish Crossdresser, girls that have mastered the techniques of a womanly appearance in both presentation and manner,  and are perceived as being stylish in the woman’s world, not just ours. These ladies are the style icons of the transgender world and we have much to learn from them.

Carollyn Faith Olson (CA)

Vikki La Fontaine (NJ)

Donna Kelli (CA)

Lady Claire Stafford (AUS)

Diana Renee Baker (CA)

Cheri Amor (CO)

Nadine Spirit (WA)

Candy Kowal (IL)

Rita Doyle (CA)

Nora Simone (VA)

Steffie Michaels (NC)

Hannah McKnight (MN)

Christina Napoli

Heidi Phox (CA)  Coming

Gyllian Symthe (UK)  Coming

Three of our ladies gather in Sacramento

stlish crosdressers in Sacramento CA

2nd from left Carollyn Olson, then Nora Simone and Diana Baker

Aug 20

Death Valley Dress

This is just a fun piece about the heat and the casual dress of Americans. It seems like sloppy casual is the dress code these days and particularly on vacations. Far too few women make any effort to go beyond comfortable, yet a dress can be both comfortable and stylish. So when I ran across this piece by Sylvia of 40 Plus Style which makes my point, I wanted to share.  I lived in the desert (Saudi Arabia) for many years and today live in the tropics, so dealing with the heat is an everyday occurrence for me.

Now Death Valley is known as one of the hottest places on earth. Death Valley’s Badwater Basin is the point of the lowest elevation in North America at 282 feet (86 m) below sea level. Its starkness, like many deserts, is its own beauty. Temperatures get as high as 137deg F but luckily it’s a dry heat. So what better place for a photo shoot.

I love this purple print, v-neck, sleeveless a-line summer day dress. It’s perfect for travel and casual get-togethers during the day. Its comfort personified, yet its simple lines belie its underlying beauty and stylishness. I love purple anyway and the color is enhanced by its slightly graphical pattern. When worn with that fedora hat and a pair of strappy sandals, the outfit is “tres chic” worthy of any glamour queen.

deathvalley-6-of-9Sylvia thrifted the dress from a store in the Netherlands so you can’t beat the price either. Unlike the U’S,. the ladies here in Mexico beyond their 20s will most often wear a dress than not. My point being however that you can break the rules by wearing a dress and not feel out of place and be very feminine at the same time.