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  • Nancy Webb

Looking Good - Not Young. What to Wear in Retirement.

"What you wear is how you present yourself to the world, especially today, when human contacts are so quick. Fashion is instant language." - Miuccia Prada

As we get close to retirement, we have earned the right to decide that we have lived too long to need to explain anything to anyone. To embrace the essence of what makes you unique and to stop worrying so much about what other people think. If not by retirement, then when will you wear what makes you – you?

What is your authentic style? Only you can answer that question. As you transition from one phase of your life to another, there is nothing that says that you have to abandon the style you always had and enjoyed. Sure, you may have evolved, but assuming that you bid farewell to a look you always loved is a falsehood. Long gone is the idea that retired women shop for pull-on pants and cut their hair short because “they” say old women shouldn’t have long hair.

Dressing Young and Dressing to look Good are two different things. Dressing to look Young can give off a vibe that a woman is resisting her age and is uncomfortable with who she is. Dressing to look Good sends the message that a woman accepts her age and honors the essence of who she is and her accomplishments in life. Dressing to look Good doesn’t mean turning your back on irreverent or silly things that once made you happy, or declaring yourself too old to wear something once enjoyed. It is about honoring yourself and learning how to embrace that essence at this new stage in your life.

Who do women dress up for?

  • The most common assumption is that women dress up for men. Historically, what a woman wore was most often dictated by society - which was and for the most part is still run by men. The most extreme example is the hijab or burqa which women are required by law to wear in some countries. Iranian Mahsa Amini was arrested in 2022 for not wearing a hijab in public. After her arrest, and being placed in a detention center, she died after collapsing and falling into a coma. Since her death, thousands have joined anti-government demonstrations throughout the country. Iranian security forces have responded with weapons and some of the protestors have been killed or injured and then jailed.

  • In contrast, there are currently 16 countries (both Muslim majority and non-Muslim countries) that have banned the burqa.

  • Even in the United States, it is legal for employers to require their employees to follow a dress code, including hair, makeup, and weight as long as it does not discriminate against certain employees.

  • Apart from the politics (and even laws in certain countries) of what women could/should wear, they can independently choose to wear makeup, certain clothing, and hairstyles that are perceived to attract desirable mates.

  • Women also dress for other women, to fit in, as well as to dress defensively – in order to mitigate the chance that other women will go after them. Research indicates that women who are physically attractive and who wear revealing clothing are more likely to be targets of same-sex aggression.

Developing Your Style to Look Good in Your Retirement

There isn’t an easy map to follow when dressing as we get older. This makes some of us uncomfortable – as a map for style make sure they are doing it “right.” Each of us have our own preference for what to wear – and none of it is wrong. Listed below are some factors to consider so that you can Look Good in Your Own Retirement.

  • Where will you live in Retirement? Will you be dressing for Four Seasons, a Coastal Climate, in the Mountains, or somewhere Warm and Sunny all year? If you are moving from the East Coast to Florida – you most likely will be able to ditch the coats, hats, gloves, and boots that are necessary to get through those winters.

  • What will you be doing in Retirement? Will you be on the Boards of your former profession or a Non-Profit? Would you consider Unretiring? If either one of these is in the cards – you may want to hang on to some pieces of your professional wardrobe.

  • Will you immerse yourself in your favorite hobbies – Painting, Golf, Pickleball, Birdwatching, or Sailing? If so, most hobbies have their own specific wardrobe needs.

  • Do you have plans for travel? If so, a Capsule Wardrobe designed explicitly for travel can make packing efficient.

  • Will you be socializing, going to dinners, family weddings, or conferences? All of these activities could require a bit dressier clothes.

Where Am I Going in This?

Let’s face it – some of us like to shop online and can’t resist a bargain. Before you purchase any new item for your wardrobe – ask yourself this question: Where Am I Going In This? If you don’t know, and purchase it anyway, it will most likely hang in your closet until you toss it out with the tags still on it. Also, don’t make up places where you wish you will go even though it is highly unlikely that you ever will. These little lies can get expensive.

Keeping Up with Trends

Including trends in your wardrobe can keep us relevant in fashion and are fun to wear. Be careful as they can get costly. Save your money and take the time to choose the right trends for you. There are trends that may not speak to you or don’t suit your lifestyle or body shape. So, skip them. Color trends are easy to keep up with as they don’t require too much of an investment. A blouse, scarf, or other accessories in an on-trend color are easy to incorporate with minimal expense every season. Pantone Institute provides color insights as well as trend forecasting for the designers of all sorts of products such as fashion, home décor, packaging, and industrial products. The forecasts are fun to peek at as each new season is approaching.

"Why change? Everyone has their own style. When you have found it, you should stick to it." - Audrey Hepburn.

When getting dressed it is important to know what works for you, to know who you are, and know that you are worthy to live your life showing who you are to the world. Clothing is a great way to do just that because it is one of the largest forms of personal communication that we have.

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