Style Past 40: When I Get Old, I Will Wear Zippers

BlogHer Original Post

I recently confessed to a friend that I do my hair and makeup and get dressed in something with structure (even if it's a tank top and a fitted skirt) almost every workday before my family gets home from work and school (even if it's five minutes before). I was embarrassed to say I did it -- I was afraid she'd think I was some antifeminist getting all cute for her man before the cocktail hour. It's new for me, though. You know why I do it? Because I'm getting older, and getting older has made me care more about my appearance.

Linda Rodin

Credit: Karen Walker Eyewear

When I was in my twenties, I didn't want to waste my cutest clothes on the office. I didn't have many cute clothes, and I didn't have a washer/dryer in my apartment, so laundry more than once a week was a strict no-no. That was honestly my thought process. I saved the good stuff for the weekends, when I was dating or trying to. During the week, I pulled on whatever didn't need ironing, went to work, hit the gym on the way home and then showered and it was ponytail-and-glasses time for me. After I moved in with my husband, I didn't change anything about that routine, even after we lucked into a $70 used washer/dryer set.

My daughter arrived shortly after I turned thirty, and I spent the first few years of that decade covered in baby yuck when I wasn't wearing my stretched-out black pants to work. The minute I got home from my commute, usually with a hungry, yowling child in my arms, I immediately changed into something comfortable and yack-on-friendly and washed off all my makeup to avoid crying it off when my daughter wouldn't go to sleep. We moved when she was four and she started sleeping through the night finally (yes, it's true -- she didn't sleep through the night until she was four), and when she was five, I turned in my black pants and started working from home. In yoga pants.

I know I'm not old, but I'm not a spring chicken, either. I'll be forty in February, and I think it's likely I'll live to be eighty. So that's midlife. And guess what? I'm aging. Shocking! It's had the unexpected effect of getting me back into my closet searching for something other than ratty tshirts by at least the time the school bus arrives. My theory is that people -- men and women alike -- look less old (as opposed to younger) when they are wearing structured clothing.

Stay with me here. I'm not trying to look twenty. I'm trying to look a good 39. I've never been a clothes horse, and it's not like I'm walking around in Prada. I'm thrifty and buy a lot of my clothes at the Goodwill in an upscale neighborhood. It's not really the level of clothes that has changed or the quality, but it's the cut. The older I get, the less comfortable I feel in something best described as "shapeless."

I've tested this theory when I go out. I view it less as judging my fellow woman and more as an anthropological study of how people dress at different ages. My unscientific opinion is that people over the age of forty who are wearing clothes with zippers and buttons look more pulled-together, even if they are wearing really casual clothes. ZIPPERS AND BUTTONS ARE MAGIC.

Another thing I've noticed? As you get older, you can totally use your glasses as accessories in a way that would make you look ridiculous in your twenties. I have seen my fellow ladies rocking everything from plaid to red to flowered frames, and I don't know if it's their lighter hair or their tendency toward lighter, more natural makeup, but they look awesome in crazy frames! I've tried a few bolder choices from cheap-glasses-over-the-Internet Zenni optical at the suggestion of BlogHer's family section editor, Jenna Hatfield, and even the doctor reading my colonoscopy told me they were awesome. (How's that for aging gracefully?)

Finally, there's makeup. I used to barely wear it; I still barely wear it. But I barely wear it differently now. This German-Irish, fair-skinned lass spent a leeeeetle bit too much time on the roof wearing baby oil in her careless youth. Sun spots, I've got them. On my face. On my chest. On my hands. On my arms. Everywhere. They are most noticeable on my face, though, right on the top of my cheekbones. It really sucks having your teen foibles advertised on your cheeks. But I hate foundation. At BlogHer '13 I picked up Aveeno's BB cream at the CVS Minute Clinic booth and joined the new millineum. BB and now CC creams (here's a good explanation of the difference) have been around for a long time, but all those different alphabet letters scared me, so I just kept moisturizing and hoping for the best. It turns out BB cream seems to be tinted moisturizer, for the most part, so I started using that and I'll be damned if those sunspots didn't fade without the color of my skin changing the way it seems to when I apply foundation. THEN! I discovered Physician's Formula mineral powders. I wear both the green (to remove the red undertones from my ruddy nose and chin) and the white (because it reflects light). Yes! It reflects light! It is like putting Photoshop right on your face! I seriously had no idea this could happen. When I went looking around for what the professionals say, even Helen Mirren's makeup artist agrees with my new beauty routine. And Helen Mirren is my hero.

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