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Colorful clothing for the woman of a certain age | Manolo for the Big Girl

Colorful clothing for the woman of a certain age

Our internet friend Peg writes:

Help! I put my summer clothes away and saw black, black,black. Black Talbot suits, sparkly black evening tops, a black dress with ruffles which I hate. I am 16W above and 18W below and at 73 seem to be preparing to be laid out (at least they will have a choice). I think years of being pear shaped have driven me into the NYC disguise of black. I need color and perhaps counseling but would prefer color not bright colors but deep purples, amber reds, cerulean blues. Peg

Although everyone knows that the 70’s are the new 50’s, this question vaguely reminds Francesca (kinda, sorta) of one of her favorite, favorite poems, by Jenny Joseph:

WHEN I AM AN OLD WOMAN I SHALL WEAR PURPLE
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick the flowers in other people’s gardens
And learn to spit

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

Francesca sincerely hopes that when she is 73 she has the humor and self-awareness of the super-fantastic Peg.

Anyhow, we begin the clothing search at Talbot’s Women, since that is where we usually begin. Indeed, Talbots is fond of black and grey, but there are always colorful exceptions, such as this Cherry Red number:

and this sky-blue pullover:

It is worth perusing their site to find high-quality clothing in colors that are attractive but not blinding.

Next, for casual wear, Silhouettes has many comfortable and colorful items, including this shirred-waist dress in Eggplant:

And this dramatic mocha-colored satin-trimmed pants set, for the fashionable entrance into book parties in Manhattan, where everyone else is wearing black:

If the prices at Saks don’t make you turn this color, here is a gorgeous forest-green sweater for strolls in Central Park:

And finally, after you’ve perused all the above sites, Francesca suggests that Peg try hsn.com, where sizes often go up to 3x (or even 5x). Behold, an amazing georgette top with bat-wing sleeves:

or, for a more conservative look, this jersey knot dress with 3/4-length sleeves, available in red, teal, and navy:

Happy, happy shopping to Peg! xoxo!

Francesca

7 Responses to “Colorful clothing for the woman of a certain age”

  1. Wow November 2, 2007 at 9:34 am #

    Okay, I’ve been wondering this since the summer: when did everything at Silhouettes get so gorgeous? I can’t decide if their clothes got better or my taste changed.

  2. Dowdydiva November 2, 2007 at 10:19 am #

    The Talbot’s also usually has great a-line skirts in conservative shapes, but fun fabrics. I have what I call a “pucci in autumn print” A-line silk twill skirt I have worn for four years, and it still looks amazing.

    I do love that poem, but phooey on the literalists in the Red Hat Society!

  3. Twistie November 2, 2007 at 12:48 pm #

    Ooh, pretties!

    I want that batwing blouse. With the filminess of it, it should work even on a petite gal with ambitions of Pre-Raphealite aestheticism.

    Yay! for color!

  4. La BellaDonna November 2, 2007 at 3:35 pm #

    Dowdydiva, out of curiousity, what makes you say “phooey on the literalists in the Red Hat Society!” ? I am not, perhaps, best pleased to see the poem, which I love, commercialized, and I have worn red hats long before their was a society for them. I wear them with purple, too. But the ladies whom I’ve met seem pleasant enough, and seem to have a lively interest in being out and about, by themselves and with each other, rather than just resigning themselves to life passing them by. And I do like that more people are encouraged to wear hats.

    So … is it something in particular that peeves you with regard to them?

  5. Peg November 2, 2007 at 8:05 pm #

    I loved the poem!! Inspired by your kind comments I went down 5th Avenue to Lord and Taylor and up to their large size floor (a little creepy because it is huge and empty) but found blouses by a Kate Hill in red and purple and then found a kind of sweater jacket from R. Lauren marked down (brown and white but at least not black.) I am steeling myself for the red from Talbots. Oh mother dear I would shop on 5th Avenue more if you hadn’t dragged me into the Chubby department.

  6. dangermouse November 3, 2007 at 12:29 pm #

    @ Wow: I agree; Silhouettes’ stock is much prettier than I remember it being. That eggplant dress looks lovely.

  7. dowdydiva November 3, 2007 at 10:39 pm #

    They are nice enough ladies, but why do you need an organization to wear a red hat and be yourself? Perhaps “phooey” is too strong a word, but I just don’t quite get it. YMMV.