It seems that most women I know are either going through menopause or talking about its imminent arrival.
It’s a bit of a kick in the ovaries/ass because you’re in a new phase of life, just like that. I am not quite there yet, but it’s coming for me soon, and I’m grateful that my generation of women is making hot flashes cool, or at least talking about them as well as the range of symptoms, emotions, and processing what it takes to get through it.
And as our bodies go through the “change,” what about our wardrobe? And what does that mean for our personal style as it relates to our sense of self?
Take the other night.
I was out for my birthday dinner and my husband surprised me with a tableful of some of my nearest and dearest at the Odeon, a New York classic. It was a super lovely evening, and I wore a fabulous black silk vintage dress with a pleated midi skirt and a ruffled top with a plunging neckline. A plunging neckline was my MO for a long time. I loved to show off my top half; but now? Not so much. I tend to go for a bit more modesty but, after a few glasses of rosé, I decided to free the boobs and let them live. I generally steer clear of showing too much but, honestly, why not?
Another thing I have noticed of late is I no longer wish to wear clothes that feel overly girly or hyper-feminine, and I haven’t for a long time. Summer indeed brings out my boho best with pretty wispy dresses for warm weather but, in general, I love wearing my Vans, a baseball hat, a pair of jean shorts, and a button-down. It’s funny that when I feel good about my body, I lean in on my inner tomboy and prefer boyish clothes to anything too frothy or fluffy. Others might say that’s the estrogen leaving my body. Either way, there will never be an occasion where I won’t feel great in some sort of jumpsuit vs a dress, or a trouser suit over one with a pencil skirt. And that’s a fact. I caveat all of this with the notion that there are no rules, just sage wisdom from insightful women who I love and admire and who have been there, done that, and know what works.
The trick to buying high-end or “investment” pieces is to wear them repeatedly to get your money’s worth
Another friend of mine is a big believer in less is more and that investing in something like a great belt or a beautiful bag is worth it, as long as you wear them and take good care of them. There is something so extraordinary about a worn-in cashmere sweater or a perfect Burberry trench that’s seen you through a storm or two. The trick to buying high-end or “investment” pieces is to wear them repeatedly to get your money’s worth. Look for timeless things you’ll reach for over and over again.
How does our style change over time? Join AGEIST fashion writer, Sheri Radel Rosenberg, for a conversation about fashion and personal style on Leap this Saturday the 13th at 9:30am PT / 12:30pm ET. Download the Leap app and join the conversation.
Other things I think are worth the money? A good pair of high-quality jeans like those from Belgian designer Sofie D’Hoore, a fabulous well-tailored blazer and, of course, a great, classic bag. I’m not one for Chanel bags, but I borrowed one from a friend at Art Basel one year and loved how it instantly upgraded every outfit I had. A major investment but a piece for a lifetime of game-changing looks.
And if you’ve been reading this column for a while, you know I go gaga over a good fragrance. A signature scent or two is a way to confidently walk through any room and smell fantastic. I will forever love Frederic Malle’s Carnal Flower, a sultry tuberose; and for something classic, I love Chanel’s ambery Coromandel.
My Mom’s Style Advice
And since my cousin’s wedding, the family has been top of mind, and my mom’s advice to me as a child seems particularly resonant. She was an early fashion influence and instigator-in-chief of my clothing obsession. First, she told me ALWAYS to buy outfits and hated when I bought what she called “separates.” She had a point. Most people don’t dress in outfits anymore, which would make packing and picking out outfits all the easier.
Second, she told me to invest in transitional pieces that could saddle multiple seasons. Think a lightweight sweater, a pair of ballet flats, and a great trench or outerwear essential. With the weather gone wild, who knows how much longer we’ll have actual seasons, but I like the idea of balancing seasonal clothes with a few pieces that take you from one to the next.
Third, never wear horizontal stripes; I debunked that one long ago with my impressive collection of French sailor tops. Horizontal lines are good. Tell your mama.
And I’d be remiss not to mention how powerful wearing color can be as you enter a new decade or era. I once worked with Lauren Hutton, who told me black is not great on more mature women and that navy is softer and more flattering. I’m not there yet and still love black, but I acknowledge that wearing color is a vibrant way to tell your style story. I was wearing a vintage emerald green silk dress the other day and got so many compliments it made me blush.
New York is all about wearing black, but I, for one, am enjoying a later-life appreciation for color
People are much friendlier to me when I wear color vs my usual “don’t fuck with me” black BS. And yes, New York is all about wearing black, but I, for one, am enjoying a later-life appreciation for color. It’s a fun way to refresh your wardrobe, too. Go for something vintage — a silk scarf in a jewel tone or whatever color suits you. You’ll see how great it makes you feel.
Join Sheri live on Saturday the 13th at 9:30am PT / 12:30pm ET to continue the conversation on how our style changes over time. Download the Leap app to secure your spot.
And speaking of vintage, my love for old new things is having a moment. I’m a huge fan of designer vintage, which I lust after at shops like the recently transported from Texas Desert Vintage, whose outpost on the Lower East Side would make any referential fashion nerd proud. Think Halston, Geoffrey Beene, and so many beautiful frocks from the ’20s to the ’90s. I am also obsessed with Arcade Vintage, whose beautiful Brooklyn storefront in Industry City is the vintage equivalent of a candy store where everything is chic. I am currently obsessing over anything Mary McFadden, and they always have fabulous pieces like this amazing dusty rose column here.
I’ve also noticed how texture and how clothes literally feel against my body have become hugely important.
Another friend who hit menopause a few years back told me polyester is completely out for her, and she can only wear natural fibers. I am more aware of scratchy or overly sweaty things and though silk is not super breathable, I love how it feels against my skin. I have also somehow developed a bit of a wool allergy and can only go for pure cashmere or high-quality merino, and everything else makes my skin red and irritated. I’ve also developed an allergy to matte jersey, but more of a fashion allergy. For some reason, I find it a bit aging and less than forgiving.
One note on silhouette.
I admire and love oversized proportions and know that anybody of any height can pull it off if done properly but, lately, outsized looks “overpower” (my mother’s phrase) my frame. I tend to stick to more fitted but not overly tight or clingy things. Otherwise, I feel like a bit of a pea head. There are some exceptions, of course. I’ll always love Japanese-inspired pieces from brands like Black Crane, who somehow manage to make that oversized thing work beautifully on all body types because of their genius cuts. And Rachel Comey does large looks in such a genius way. I’m such a sucker for everything she does because it always has just the right amount of quirk, and she truly is a designer for all ages and features women over 50 on her runway all the time.
On my current wish list? These Saint Laurent aviators. I’m not sure if I can pull off clear frames but saw a blonde woman about my age rocking them while wearing all white, and I fell hard for them. You all already know how much I love good glasses. As for other accessories, I keep jewelry a bit more classic of late and, since the pandemic, I’ve stopped wearing a watch. Perhaps the notion of time is just too strange right now. I can’t seem to wrap my head around it, so why try?
But back to menopause. Hormones are hard, and they can wreak havoc on your body, your emotions and, of course, your self-esteem. I say honor this massive shift by treating yourself to comfortable clothing that celebrates resilience, strength, and confidence. Because style is and always will be an evolution, and there’s something to love at every age and stage. Make it your own.
Continue the conversation on how our style changes over time live with Sheri this Saturday the 13th at 9:30am PT / 12:30pm ET. Download the Leap app to join in our discussion.