Monday, December 30, 2013

Day six: Navigating the fine line between an outfit and a get-up.

Today I'm wearing item #8 (grey A-line skirt) and item #26 (black vintage cardigan.) Let me say right away that I think this is a 10/10. I love this look. I also have to admit that for me this combination is sailing perilously close to being what my family would call a get-up. As in, "Wouldja get a loada that get-up." Or, "What in the sam heck are you got-up for?" The only person in my family who actually sounds like this is my 93 year old Gram-pop, but we tend to employ his vernacular for making these kinds of scathing sideways fashion indictments. As if the hokey accent might mitigate the critique- "Whadda I know from fashion? I'm just a kid from the sticks."

It seems that whenever I question if something I'm wearing on the blog might be just a teensy bit too much- too costumey, too vintagey, too jeune fille, or just trying too hard and slipping across that line into get-up territory- I get comments that exhort me to "Wear it if you love it!" or "Rock it with confidence!" or "Just let your freak flag fly!"

I'm guessing that most of these commenters aren't over 40. Not looking like a nutcase wasn't something I gave much thought to before I turned 40. Suddenly, when I'm summing up what I'd like my style to be, it pops right up. "I'd like to have a look that is striking, eye catching, a bit different, edgy even, but, you know, not like a nutcase." I want to look spectacular with out being a spectacle. I want people to see me and think "Wow!" not "What the heck?" And I find it's hard to push the envelope now I'm in my forties; hard to try for fear of trying too hard, because erring too far on the safe side of the line is boring, but erring too far on the outre side is horrifying. At least to me.

I know there are lots of women my age and older, in blogland and in the real world, who still embrace a bit (or a bunch) of envelope pushing, who don't feel properly done up unless they're getting the side eye from every passerby, for whom too much is not enough. I don't want to give the impression that I'm not all for that, if that's your thing. Frankly, I'm not sure why it isn't my thing anymore. I wore bone fide get-ups all through my teens and my twenties and I could not have cared less about what anyone else might have thought. I do care now. Quite a lot. But I might be my own harshest critic where this is concerned. I'm willing to admit that most people must spend far less time worrying about what I'm wearing than I do. And plenty of people will probably look at this outfit and wonder what I'm on about because it is so far away from their idea of being too much of anything ("It's a black sweater and a grey skirt for gosh sakes, yawn.")

For me, getting older has narrowed the intersection between fun and appropriate to a knife edge. Today I'm dancing along that knife edge with aplomb. You don't have to agree. I feel that I've gotten it exactly right today. Exactly right for me. But I do hope you like it.

Late Edit! Crap. I forgot that I today was Monday and it's a Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style. The holidays have me all out of whack. I hate to link as an afterthought but I guess it's less rude than failing to do so at all. Sorry, Patty, I meant no offense.


  1. Well, I guess I am in there somewhere, being 46 and being fond of get-ups! I think you look just smashing, Margaret, and that you should feel 10/10 for every outfit you wear!

    I used to be horribly conscious of people looking at me, thinking, "Who does she think she is?" (or so I imagined). I feel much more confident now, being older and more at home with how I want to project myself. What I think other people think says more about me than them, and what they may actually be thinking. More like, "I wish I had the nerve/confidence/guts to dress like that all the time!" I say!

    In more solid terms, yes, this is a black cardigan and a grey skirt, but it's the little details that push this to a 10: the pearls (love them), the hat, the patterned tights, the so-not-granny shoes. Well done!

  2. In your forties - you're YOUNG girl, wear what the heck you want and enjoy it! (I can give you thirty years.)
    I absolutely love the top half of your outfit, all the details of beret and beads are spot on.The feather motif is terrific. I argue with the severity of the straight skirt, however, and the patterned tights. I think that you would look simply stunning in a longer full skirt with plain tights.
    Grand-pop - I think I know that man!!

  3. Margaret, no apology needed! I appreciate you sharing your fab style with Visible Monday. I love the creativity and thought that go into your outfits - you stand out in the very best way.

  4. Really, it's a great look. It's a keeper, and a very elegant combination with just-right accessories. I like every element in this combination. I completely understand your concerns, and I'm still thinking about how to dress. I'll be 64 at the end of the month, so perhaps it never goes away. Have you read "The Thoughtful Dresser" by Linda Grant? ( I did a review of it a few weeks ago on my blog.) It's not a how-to, but about why we think about what we wear, and the joys of it. Lovely book you might like.
    I'm always interested in what I'm saying when I dress. You're saying some very interesting things!

  5. I love this outfit. I know that I probably sail right by the edge of outfit and get-up but after years of trying to be invisible, I would rather make the mistake than not try at all. Kudos to you for getting it right.

  6. I think avoiding the costume/ensemble look is relative to where you live. In NY your outfit would be considered tame. In DC I think it is fine and chic. The hat with the feather gives it a nice touch. I am almost 60 and think I need to dye my hair green purple or blue or some such drastic thing,...