“When do you think we might stop dressing the same as we did when we were twenty-something?”
For a teeny bit of a moment, my much-younger (approaching forty) cousin-in-law’s question brings on a miniature wave of anxiety.
Is she trying to make a statement? Is she dropping a mammoth-sized hint?
I try to see myself from where she is sitting. She’s sitting in an elevated position – on a barstool – it’s the usual family Boxing Day dinner in a posh pub – Seabright’s Barn in Chelmsford! And, looking out from in between her wrinkle-free eyelids, and perfectly non-puffy eye pouches, this is what I see …
… a somewhat middle-aged lady with faded ginger hair (i.e. brown streaked with grey), who is clearly deluded. She is wearing almost-up-to-her-bum-blue-denim shorts over a pair of 200 denier purple tights. And, to complete the look, she shows off her bod in a low-cut-and-far-too-tight-bright-red t-shirt. Okay, so it’s Christmas, which makes the bold and clashing colours grudgingly acceptable, but really – should such ancient people be allowed to look like they have a shape that is in any way vaguely feminine, i.e. curvy and bulgy! Surely, a lady of such an age, ought to be wearing an ankle-length pair of brown slacks from M & S, and a baggy floral blouse! Shouldn’t she?
Entering my own lenses again, I peruse the other punters. We are at a pub on the outskirts of Chelmsford. This is Essex!
The teens and twenty-something ladies are all dressed to look alike, complete with 20 inch-high heels, fake-tanned legs and strappy mini-dresses. Their eyelashes are so long, that they can almost sweep the floor with them, and none of them are moving. They can’t move. If they did, they would immediately lurch forward and topple into a communal early death.
The thirty-something ladies? Much the same, but holding themselves with a little more balance – they’ve had more practice!
Forty-somethings? Again, much the same, but with somewhat more strained and pinched expressions on their faces – it’s evident that they had to breathe in a long way to squeeze into their little strappy dresses. But, do they look like they care? No, the pain can be dealt with, for the sake of feeling like they look fabulous.
The nearly-fifty somethings? That’s me. I’m not in pain, thanks to my flat lace-up plimsolls, and I feel mega comfortable in my warm and cosy-purple tights and well-ventilated (threadbare) denim shorts. Purple and red are my all-time favourite colours for the most basic of reasons – they make me feel alive and happy! In my own head at least, I’m a savvy lady and I don’t half feel good!
The fifty-pluses, the sixty-odds and the oldies? Yes, a significant number have been shopping at M & S. Some wear slacks and blouses; others go in for the floral-hide-it-all dresses. Do they look good? Well, there’s nothing that offends the eye, but they all blend into one. One with the furniture – the comfy chairs, the carpet and the curtains.
I don’t blend in. I look odd. Lady’s my age should not look like …
I look over at my cousin-in-law. She’s wearing three-quarter length jeans, thick-chunky ankle socks and some very sporty trainers. A smart-fitted corduroy jacket completes the casual look. She looks fantastic! And, when she hops down from her stool, she remains upright and maintains full mobility. She looks … the same as she looked fifteen years earlier, in her twenties!
And then it dawns on me. She wasn’t making a point about my appearance. She was talking about herself, inviting me to give her an affirmative ..
“Never,” I say. “Never! We must never stop dressing just the way that we like to dress, just the way that we have dressed since we had any choice about the matter! You look great. I look great. And, what’s more, we’ve always been comfortable in ourselves, always kept our feet on the ground.”
My cousin-in-law laughs in agreement. We are both looking across now, not at ourselves, or in inspection of one another. Our heads have been turned by a cry of anguish.
The source of the cry might be twenty, or thirty, or even forty-something – the fake tan is so thickly spread, that it’s difficult to tell. But she’s not happy – she’s at the centre of a scene of disaster.
Something’s happened to her right leg – it’s a lot shorter than it’s neighbour! The lady is swashbuckling; she holds a twenty-inch blade. She could be using it to better effect – fending off her enemies, swiping at them, injuring them. But instead, she is yelling at it.
“F**k, f**k, f**k! You f****n cre**n! I spent a fortune on you, and this is how you repay me? F**k! F**k you!”
“Forever!” my cousin-in-law exclaim in unison. “Forever! We must dress this way – me in my trainers and you in your plimsolls, and both of us clad in denim – forever!”
Our nut roasts call and we begin our journey over to the dining area.
We make it!
Behind us, back in the bar area, a chair is stabbed over and over and over. A 20-inch heel punctures it’s leather covering and buries itself into the foam.
Beaten into submission, the chair surrenders.
Copyright owned by Jay Cool, Friday 28th September, 2019
P.S. Please look out for my fashion-shoot images. In future posts, I will be showing off a range of shapely calf and flat shoe looks, courtesy of my own wardrobe. But, if any retailers out there insist upon sending me some samples to assist me in my ‘life gets better at fiftyish’ range of looks, i.e. shorts, thick tights/leggings, t-shirts and lace-up flats, then I am happy to be at home for the deliveries. Priority coverage will be given to all that is bold, bright and clashing!
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