Tuesday, May 19, 2015

93 years old and really rockin this uniform

Read Betty Reid Soskin's amazing story here.  A real woman doing something amazing everyday wearing a real uniform and looking absolutely amazing!  Who wouldn't want to wear this uniform?  What I love is how impressed the kids are when they see her in it - you know what they say about a woman in uniform ....

Though the look has been absconded by the men, wouldn't it be nice to come up with another name that provides equal access to women.  I suppose 'uniform' will do for now but I'll have to put my small mind to it.

I would love to have a chat with Betty.  Love that body language - and the shoes.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Female liberation via the uniform

Emmanuelle Alt, French Vogue

Sarah Harris, British Vogue

Gosh, this article in Harper's Bazaar really struck a note.  I have taken the uniform route myself, having thrown in the towel on creating something new and exciting everyday.  I'm a traitor to my blog profile and should probably change it (in fact, maybe I will - what would be a better description of this blog?)

In Matilda Kahl's article she talks about how she was finally driven to adopting the suit response to daily workwear.  Her regime is somewhat more rigourous than mine (her uniform is solely based on 15 white silk shirts, black trousers and the occasional black blazer when required) but it has saved her a ton of money (no kidding) and even more time, but above all it's the saved mind space of not having to make another decision or plan ahead (need pantyhose, what will I wear with that floral print skirt, etc).  Yes, it may be a tad boring but how better not to kowtow to the pressure we put on ourselves to coordinate the perfect outfit when the  guy next door always looks perfectly in command in that same ole grey suit.  Of course, I never think Barack Obama looks boring - I think he looks polished and chic (though let's face it, a little tired).

My uniform has slightly more variety than Matilda's but revolves around a shirt/blouse (some boys' shirts included since their dress shirts are lovely and crisp and no darts to create boobs in the wrong spot), pants or skirt (but more and more pants because either I'm too cold generally here in the great white north or because the air conditioning is set to 'freeze'), a cardigan and a jacket. Oxfords and patterned socks complete the look.  I'm dressed in 1.5 minutes and never think twice about it.  In my office I see more and more women (and young ones too) adopting the same approach.  It's fast, easy and it looks as though you could rule the world - which is the general idea anyway.

What really kills me are the number of fashion editors who obviously follow the same approach while professing to the buying public that we need one completely separate outfit everyday - soup to nuts.  You see above Emmanuelle Alt and Sarah Harris (lovely premature grey girl) from various Vogues are rarely seen in anything but their uniforms. 

Of course, to each her own, but for those of you with too much on your mind, too many commitments and responsibilities and far too little time, you may want to consider the uniform approach.  At least until the other gender has fully ramped up  to 50%.  

Now when do you think that might be?

Monday, January 26, 2015

The winter duffle

The Sartorialist 2008
Winter white and elegantly scarved - this is Paris in winter.   Ah, if only winter in my part of the world was this sublime. I was reminded of the tailored beauty of the classic duffle last week spotted on a lovely woman of a certain l'age sporting a navy duffle with a fur trimmed hood.  The coat paired with classic grey trousers reminded me of how sweet it is to see a woman dressed in a manner that is absolutely pristinely classic.  Funny, it's so rare it was striking.  There was no attempt to look anything but lovely - not younger than she was, not exotic, crafty or outrageous. 
As much as I would love to replicate the look, my winter calls for more of a chin to ankle sleeping bag.  Harrumph.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Marie Seznic - A life in grey

How sweet and how lovely!  I'm so envious of early grey because there are few things more striking than a young face with silver hair - until of course you find a finely aged face with achingly simple hair.  Marie wore her's so well as a young woman and as Christian Lacroix's model in the '80s.  She made the most of her unique look with the most attractive part being that she accepted herself as is.

And so lovely still with the grey turning white.  It's such a rare treat to find someone who has aged with so much comfort in her skin, not to mention hair.

I do love grey on grey on grey (and I'd kill to find this cut of pant now).  Of course, grey and navy is outstanding.

She is inspiration for me with my increasingly grey hair and new found love of all things grey and navy.

I also want to say that long hair paired with clothes made for l'age hit make for the perfect combo of accepting one's stage in life without throwing in the proverbial towel.

Friday, April 11, 2014

The sun is finally rising

Ah, to feel the sun after a brutal winter!  Quite a lovely woman in l'age from the Sartorialist.

I do like the relaxed hair and furry vest - the perfect combo for April in northern climes.  I may get there now that I've retired the sleeping-bag-with-belt for the year.  What I wouldn't give to live in a moderate climate!

Hope you're all enjoying Spring.  I will have a post on one of my absolute favourite grey-haired ladies this weekend. Bear with me, loyal readers.

Saturday, January 18, 2014



An odd outfit but somehow compelling.

What's the appeal? 

Well, I do like a carpetbag, must be a hangover from Mary Poppins.  I love horizontal stripes, although this sweater looks vaguely athletic or certainly preppy.  And then the shoes ... personally, I do need a strap across my foot and admire the sheer weightiness of these heels.  Then a yellow bag - bold.  And finally the severe (yet simple) hair.  It's all soft and casual except for the extremes. 

Severe top, severe toe.  Brocade and graphic in between.  Strangely brilliant.

What do you think?  Have I lost it now?

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Strength and Style - the wren

Diana Taylor looking all wren-like in brown and grey

Diana Taylor remains a woman to watch.  Though out of the limelight now that her term is up as official companion to the former New York Mayer Bloomberg, a run for political office is still a strong possibility.  I  lover her no nonsense approach to dressing, and that she looks like a woman of a certain l'age, meaning her face looks like a real woman's face.  So lovely.

She's really nailed that fine balance of looking totally put together without appearing to have fussed, and having something close to corporate uniform as these glimpses of style attest.

Again that brown and grey - from NYT article

And then there's the hair. Have you been following the hair chronicles for power women?  The higher you climb the more perfect the hair must be.  It's exhausting.  The gender hair gap conversation reawakened by this ad for shampoo.  So here Diana scores again - look at her fussless do.  This is a woman who could actually go for a run at lunch and then grab a shower and look entirely presentable - as her male counterparts do.  We've really got to get beyond standards that just add another thing to the already too full plate.  Ok, enough you say.

Hats off to you Diana!  What will you do next?

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Menswear: It's in the details

This is a rather unsatisfactory attempt at replicating the masterful mixing from the shot below (from Agnelli-esque for those interested in keeping tabs on menswear) - what can I say, I work with what I've got.  The beauty here is the summer brown with the red stripes and a hint of navy.  The look sings summer without dropping nary a thread to casual wear.  Thinking this business through, I've concluded that the essential difference between menswear and womenswear is that in menswear the repertoire is narrow so expression (and style) is found in playing within a limited palette.  Limited but not boring - and that's the key.  Womenswear, on the other hand, has such a wide and varied repertoire that we get lost in the choices and are challenged to focus on the finer details of style.  There's just so much to contend with.  

 Some say the ultimate solution is the dress:  no mixing and matching, throw the thing on, grab some shoes, a whack of jewelry and you're good to go.  Others go crazy, one day it's a dress, then a skirt and top with maybe a sweater or jacket, then it's pants (wide leg, capri, skinny, skimmer, lowrise, midrise - I'm reeling), in the summer add shorts, a jersey dress, a maxi dress.  Then the shoes:  ballet flats to the office, then heels, or sandals - then heels, the something you can actually walk in like Birkenstocks, then running shoes, espadrilles.  See where I'm going with this ... it's exhausting.  When you think about all the other stuff we have to navigate, is this some colossal conspiracy to keep us from ruling the world?   Do I get my hair  blown out for that presentation tomorrow - or should I just focus on the presentation?  Hmmm.


Enough ranting.  What I like about the combo more than anything is playing with brown.  I love brown but it's hard to make it work in summer unless it's in solid linen. I like the cleverness of this combo and because it allows me to wear my brown Campers in the summer.  Any outfit that facilitates foot comfort is good by me.

Well, I think I've gone on long enough on this subject.  I'll give you all a rest - at least for a while. 

Next up, more on the lovely Fiona sent to me from a regular reader who has her finger on the pulse of  The Guardian's style files.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Menswear as womenswear - My story continued

Pairing a t-shirt with this suit is a rare occurrence. I would normally wear this outfit with a shirt of some sort -  I'm so put off with the state of t-shirts these days I've almost stopped buying them.  Although I am thinking of giving Everlane a try.  Also want to try their silk shirts.  I also don't wear these shoes too often - slip-ons don't work for me (narrow heel issues).  I really need a strap over my foot (hence the Campers) or, better yet, tie-ups of some sort.

What is so common in menswear is the only slight distinction between seasonal suit wear.  Yes, the fabric may be lighter in the warmer months (but may still contain some wool) but often the colours remain consistent, so they (meaning men) don't have to do the wholesale change we women have been conditioned to endure.  Take this suit as one example, it is a summer suit (no wool), lightweight, soft, yet dark.  I will wear it well into the fall and even in winter.  How practical is that?

It is not my intention to take all the fun out of dressing but really, for the stalwart pieces of one's wardrobe, we should have a few truly seasonless items.  And if that were the case, and if you were the sort of person who kept to a strict (and small) clothing budget, this direction would make infinite sense.  You really could justify spending more on fewer things and really get your money's worth. Of course, in my case, would that stop me from hitting the thrift shops or boys clothing department?  Hardly. 

Yes, I would much prefer this ensemble with a shirt (silk) and some menswear footwear, say like these
Ok.  One more to go inspired by a menswear master ensemble.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Getting to grey - a hair update

This is a long overdue update on my transition to grey.  It's now so hard to believe the time (and money) I once spent on my hair not so long ago.  I know some women love going to see their stylist or are really clever and interested in messing around with home colour - I am not either one of those women.  I feel quite liberated from what I found to be a grind.

Next time I do an update I'll leave it down so you can see the length.

Back to menswear for me next.  Can you tell I'm on summer leave and have some time on my hands?

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Menswear for women: My story

And by that I mean of course, menswear for  women.

At long last, I am delivering on my promise to solve the a/c dilemma with a little menswear.  Well, actually it was Cateswear that got me going.

Being somewhat on the slight side, I cannot go to the men's department at say Sear and throw on a simple seersucker. But I can go to the boys' department at Hudsons Bay and buy a size 14 boys suit for a song (on sale).  And so I did.  Twice.

The first in this summer suit series is my absolute favourite:  A Glen Plaid:  Grey with a hint of summer blue.  The lining adds a dazzling bit of flair, doesn't it?   It works with pink, blue, green, navy, brown, just to name a few.  Now that I've had some personal experience in the menswear for women department, here's what I've learned:

1. Butt fit: When was it prescribed that women's pants had to essentially wrap around the entire butt?  If you spend any time looking at men's pants you will see that the drop off point is at the top of the butt, leaving a bit of fabric around and under (you can see I've been spending a lot of time studying my subject matter - and quite enjoying it).  For women that means, you can wear any old underwear you feel like - no pantylines!  You can tuck your shirt in without seeing the fabric all bunch up.  You can sit on a chair for 7.5 hours without wanting to run screaming from the building to rip the stuff off (generally how I feel about pantyhose and absolutely anything that is too tight). 

2. Butt coverage:  I suppose it is all about the butt.  I should have called this post "Butt Equality".  The jacket is long so whatever is going on back there is nobody's business but my own.  Just to illustrate my point, I'm sitting in a café waiting for my host to order some coffee and all I can see are women's butts.  What bugs me is they're standing beside men whose butts are entirely covered, while theirs are entirely exposed - the culprit - the prescribed female short jacket.  Why is that?  I know this is becoming a bit of a rant ( a bit,you say) but really, why do we put up with this form of gender inequality?

3. The jacket cut:  It does not impose a female shape.  Yes, we are quite used to having shape imposed one way or another aren't we?  This shape is very different because it is boxy, and particularly in this fabric which is rather stiffish.  You can see in the photo where the jacket is done up, there is no waist tapering going on - quite liberating really.  While I'm not concerned about the shape the fact of  the matter is that I don't button up a jacket unless it's chilly.  And the other advantage with a loose fitting style is that when it's chilly I can easily layer up with a sweater and it all fits quite nicely. 

4. Swagger:  There is a certain swagger that comes along with wearing something mannish.  Even more (I imagine) so when paired with a some brogues (and more to come on that).  Maybe it's the freedom of movement, maybe it's sheer pleasure of non-conformity, maybe it's just novelty.  Whatever it is, I like it.

All that to say, I love my Glen Plaid suit - I play around with belts and shoes and feel decidedly carefree. 

Now before you get to see the second womenswear suit, I have a grey update for you.  There is so much more grey now, and how do I feel about it?  Let me tell you ....

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Masterful menswear for women

Masterful combo of blue and brown, menswear and womenswear.
Blue and brown is just so absolutely sublime.  While in my mind all blue and brown just works, this combo matches mid tones just beautifully.  Mid-brown (maybe rust) with mid-blue (not quite navy).

And the bag is wonderful - a lovely little handbag.  And the relaxed hair.  It just works in a very Lauren Hutton way.

I'm up next.

[Photo source:  Tommy Ton]

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Lauren like no other


Isn't she though?  Known for her strong personal style, Lauren has always incorporated menswear alongside her womenswear in her usual easy, modern way.  She's one of those glorious women who has fully aged in front of the camera - the way men are routinely allowed, becoming even more interesting with every passing year:  respected for her personal style and independence - and each and every one of those beautiful lines on her face.  And like many an aging male star (Gary Oldman, William Dafoe), outshining their younger counterparts in ad campaigns.

I don't know who Lucky Brand is but apparently she replaced a significantly younger model in their fall/winter ad campaign.  I am a little disappointed that she appears heavily airbrushed in these photos.  Just tells you just how much editing goes on in the world of advertising.  I don't really care since she's quite happy to be photographed in camera verity.  I only wish she was more the rule than the exception.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Summer shirtwaist chic

What a fine summer look!  Let's examine the elements this lovely woman has assembled:  First, the shirtwaist - the perfect summer dress (have I said that once or twice before?), in rather pale colours that work so beautifully with her hair, which I absolutely adore.  Talk about a divine colour and length!  I would kill to be this kind of  blond. 

Then there's the bag:  A handbag, my personal fav,  and a lovely bit of vintage, I think.  And she showcases those fantastic gams with  very au courant sandals.  Sublime colour with just that little piece of yellow or bone (I can't quite tell from the photo) that ties nicely into the dress.  All in all, masterful. 

I've no doubt she is perfectly cool and comfortable given the a/c au naturel that goes hand-in-hand with an a-line  - the breeze circulates nicely.  Would she look quite as special in shorts and a t-shirt?  Decidedly not.  Why women continue to believe (or fool themselves) into thinking that shorts are actually cooler than a skirt or dress continues to astound me.  And I'd be hard-pressed to find more than a handful of females over the age of 25 who can get away with wearing shorts off the tennis court.

A warm thanks to regular reader Penelope for sending this through to me.  She spotted madame in The Guardian's summer dress roundup.  The Guardian is doing some great work in real style for real people, including contributions from one of my favourite bloggers, Grey Fox.

Monday, July 1, 2013

A/C and the middle-aged woman

The perfect shirtwaist
If you've spent any time strolling through my blog you know  there's nothing I love more than a skirt.  I'm a total skirt hound with more than a few to my name.  But I've hit a wall and that wall is made entirely of cold air.  I am confined to an air conditioned office all day, and I'm absolutely freezing.  Here's the trouble with l'age.

In the great white north we have puzzling attitudes towards temperature:  it's chilly to freezing to chilly for roughly nine months of the year, then it gets warm - and we can't cool the air fast enough.  In fact, the thermostat is set lower in the summer than winter - it's insane.  And irresponsible - even in LEED buildings (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) the air conditioning is dialed up to the point of discomfort.  Unless you are male and wearing precisely the same ensemble in summer as winter, or you're a menopausal woman.  And in my experience (that's two offices in the last three years) it is the woman in l'age who is the least accomodating when it comes to finding a happy medium.

This draws both my sympathy and ire:  I understand the challenges of menopause from a heat perspective - I'm in the throws of dealing with them myself - yet in my recent work history the thermostat has been controlled entirely by women and essentially the same woman - one who professes to being past menopause yet insists on keeping the temperature at a chilly 18c while those around her freeze.  The young women across the way actually turn a heater on in the summer - never the winter.  This is nonsense.  Broaching the subject of a happy medium has, in both cases, ended in firm refusal.  Plus, just to add insult to injury, there is complete denial of the M word (that's menopause for those of you on the outside of the hormonal shift).  Full disclosure, I am on the inside of menopause and like many an impatient, over-heated woman, have sourced the appropriate treatments to render the entire process quite manageable - in short, I do not need to adjust the thermostat to counteract the effects of my internal furnace.  I'm not sure which bothers me more the denial or the temperature.  But there's a larger issue here.

Admitting to menopause is on the same spectrum as letting hair be gray, it is an admission of middle-age, post-fertility - in short, it broadcasts that a women is not in youth, which leads to the all too real fear of age discrimination, or that nastier combo of age/gender discrimination.  What a man can be at 50, 58, 62, a woman may be deemed well past.  Again, nonsense and many examples to say otherwise, but if you haven't hit the C-suite, and you're really just a working gal, then appearing to be over the hill strikes terror in the heart and handbag.  As I look around meeting room tables with men both younger and older, I can't help but be annoyed at their freedom to gray naturally, while virtually every woman (except me) has coloured her hair within the last 10 days - it really just pisses me off.   Even worse when women admit to longing for the day when they retire and can stop dying their hair. 

Back to the temperature and it's affect on my wardrobe - I've come to the conclusion that I can no longer bear to celebrate my summer wardrobe.  I throw in the proverbial towel and will dress like a man this summer in pants and shirts, withstanding the sweaty commute so I can manage an entire day sitting in a cooler.  Why should I be distracted by shivering while those around me luxuriate in complete comfort?  My sleeveless shifts, short-sleeved shirtwaists and light as air skirts will have to find their moments of splendor on the weekends.

The glorious Francesca Sozzani - not much a/c in Italy

Well, there are worse things than this.  And I will fill you in on my recent foray into the teens boy department for real summer menswear - or in my case, boyswear. 

Vintage YSL - Le smoking ... oh I wish

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A casual early summer solution for mid-age

Maybe the heels are a bit high (but the colour is fabulous), otherwise, this is a rather perfect combo for l'age.  Nothing too tight nor too girlish. The shirt is a nice alternative to the man's shirt look which frankly is cute when you're 22 but not so cute at 42.

I like the easy hair too.  In l'age there needs to be a happy medium between being too groomed and letting it all hang out. 

Reblogged from That Kind of Woman

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Women at their most subversive

Yes, the glorious Cate Blanchett making it look so effortlessly chic.  And let me draw your attention to a few fine details that distinguish this suit from the vast array of women's suits:

a) It's not tight.  Really, why do men get to camoflauge their form while we are required by fashion (and the frankly misogynist retail business that thrives on undermining female confidence and power - I'll stop the rant before it really takes off) to reveal our butts (must do more lunges), our boobs (boob job or bra armor) and skin (my imperfect, neck, arms, knees etc.), and have it so constricted it makes sitting for an average 8 day tantamount to torture.   I love the loose fit - it's so sensuous to feel the fabric move and not be required to hold yourself just so.  Can you imagine what you could accomplish if you didn't worry about panty lines, pantyhose, keeping your legs tightly clamped when you're sitting on the subway?  In short, have the freedom to focus on the stuff that really matters.  Oh, so subversive.

b) Pairs with a simple shirt.  A classic shirt, not a t-shirt that fades and gets baggy, not a piece of lingerie, which frankly is and always was just ridiculous, and it does not require a scarf, necklace, or any other adornment - it looks perfectly right just as it is.  And I don't know about you, but a shirt lasts and lasts - it's economical.  Subversive again. 

c)  Works with lace-ups.  I saw a very attractive woman in the upper echelons of l'age wearing a very similar suit with a tweed-ish coat (mixing patterns in a very British manner) with a pair of brogues.  She was stunning.  I did a double-take and as usual couldn't get my phone out in time to snap the pic.  The Sartorialist I am not.  Back to the shoes, comfortable - yes, and just right with the men's styling.  And they last for more than just a season or two.  Ouch, subversive.

While the above shot was more of a red carpet pic, this one looks like real life.  Possibly more comfortable than the ubiquitous jeans - not trying too hard and yet displaying more than a whiff of personality. And the hair can be just as relaxed.  No blow drying, flat ironing, hair products - it takes no time.  Damn that's subversive.  (I am so in.)

Utterley feminine.  Pick the hair up and you've got an absolutely fabulous ensemble.  So, I'm waiting for the elevator the other day and as the door opens off strides a petite and not particularly svelt young woman in a subtle gray plaid suit with a gray tie and lace-ups.  I just about feel off my Hush Puppies.  She looked incredible.  Talk about subversive in a financial district where most young women are teetering around on 4" heels and short tight suits. 

Doesn't she look like Bowie?  Anyway, is this so threatening?  I think so. 

She's just too darn comfortable and confident - she might actually get on a board. 

Or she might just be accepted for all that she is and no one will ever know if she has a saggy butt or flabby skin on her arms.  Now that's subversive.

I owe an enormous debt of gratitude to the Girls in Suits blog.  Check it out and submit your woman in suit photo. I will.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The right length

A word on the right length, in fact many words.  These images come to L'age Moyen from a faithful reader who has shown great patience in waiting for me to (finally!) post them (thank you so much Penelope).

Really, who is involved in the decision making process around skirt lengths - not for fashion and trends - but for real women and particularly those of us in l'age?  If a skirt does not at least hit the knee when you sit down it rides way up to the upper thigh and frankly, who needs that?  It's indiscreet, uncomfortable and ridiculous.    The images in the first photo are from Bottega Veneta, a longtime favourite of mine if only I could afford them.  At least the trend is moving in the right direction.  The second is lifted from the Sartorialist who rarely shows such sensible clothes these days but this is a nice departure.  I do love the combo of what would you say - red brick and pale blue - lovely.

One store that does have it right AND is somewhere in my price range is Tristan.  This is a Montreal-based company making virtually all it's clothing in Canada. I was in the store recently and bought a lovely pleated red skirt and could have bought three more.  It's not just the length that's right, it's the waistline that isn't so high you feel like you can't breath, but not so low that you're lovely thrifted silk blouse slips out with the first sneeze.   I don't know who is behind the brand (will find out though) but they must be women of a certain l'age.

Ralph Lauren is showing some lovely skirts this spring at just the right length.

And not outside even my modest budget.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

First in the sweater and skirt series

This combo is one of my favourites - the sweater is blue with a lot of green, without quite being teal.  The skirt also has a blue undertone.  Maybe that's why this unlikely combination works so well. At least in my mind ....

More to come.

L'age moyen: Intro to sweater and skirt series

Here's another little video for you.  I'm wearing a lot of skirts and sweaters these days, and in this series I'm going to share my favourite combos.

The common themes include layering (warmth), length (at the knee or below), and a bit of flow - nothing too restrictive.  Nothing worse than sitting at a desk all day and feeling encased like a sausage.

I'm still not a huge fan of tights, but I can't see how I can make the skirt over pants idea work.  More to say on that at a later date.

If skirts and sweaters are my everyday solutions, what are yours?  Do tell.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A perfect suit for l'age - minus the tuque

And a very satisfying description of the pleasure to be found in blogging from the friendly Swedish blog Fine Little Day,

"Someone I met recently asked me why I blog. Well, because I enjoy it was my instinctive response. Because I like to share, to get feedback and to promote myself and others I guess, was my second comment. The third comment must is the main reason though – because the therapeutic effect it has on me, and the escape from a harsh reality."

It explains - at least to me - why I persist in this pleasure albeit sporadically!

Photo from The Sartorialist