Three years ago I found myself in a dark place staring down at my 60th birthday. I was clinically depressed and probably should have been admitted to the hospital. I have had 2 other episodes in my life that required admission for depression. At the time I wished I had someone to come alongside and re-spark my zest for life.
I can stay well if I live my passion. Or so I have discovered, when at 59 I was ready to give up. I thought to myself: I could not reinvent myself again. No one would be hiring me. I was too old. Then my granddaughter was born. I chose to live to see her life unfold and my 3 grandsons who I cherish so dearly. My commitment to “never give up” was inspired by my 5-year-old grandson uttering the words.
Having arrived at the second act of my life, I know I don’t do things on a whim. I want to engage in the moment and fully live in the present. My life experience has brought me to a place of relishing who I am. I am proud to feel that “I’ve still got it”.
The “it”? It is my style.
It is said that style is forever and fashion is a constantly changing sequence of trends, you can see how lines can be blurred as using these terms seems synonymous when speaking about our expression of self through clothes. Style isn’t subject to change on a whim in the way that fashion is. Style is an attitude and your attitude creates your life. What attracts me to style is the appearance of being effortless, charming and slightly out of reach. Style is moved up a notch when it becomes glamour.
Where did my style begin to take shape? A fond childhood memory is my Mattel Twiggy doll. I spent my allowance on her tiny dresses and tall boots. Colours and sparkles galore. I dreamt of wearing her gold sequin dress (with boots to match) on stage. That dream actually did come true at age 50.
Another chapter of developing style through fashion was learning to sew with ‘Butterick’ and ‘Simplicity’ patterns when I was 11 or 12. My mother had made gorgeous Barbie doll clothes for my sister one Christmas. I saw the potential of wearing unique and beautiful clothes that made dressing more personal and mimicked high-end designer clothing at a fraction of the cost.
In my early 20s, I studied at The Fashion Institute of Canada and received my fashion merchandising diploma with honours. I did some fitting model work for a bridal wear manufacturer for my co-op work semester. The company had been recently started by three women who had worked for a major Canadian dress manufacturer for many years. This was the early 80s and I became the sales representative for eastern Canada. The designer was very forward-thinking. She included jumpsuits in the bridal collection and expanded into maternity bridal wear that was featured in Canada’s major newspaper. I was 7 months pregnant and I was photographed for the shoot to accompany the story.
Being bold about most things in my life, I took up motorcycling in my fourth decade of life and found that my riding gear, that matched my bike, became a visual statement to distinguish, easily, that I was a woman rider. How we show up in life depends on our attitude. Style expression is about your attitude.
Beauty and therefore fabulousness is in the eye of the beholder. I might look fabulous to those around me. It is their perception. I create like an artist. I do not have fear. I want to push all boundaries and exceed expectations.
However, my inner critic, moulded by social norms, often rears its ugly head with: “is it age-appropriate?” My message is to all who want to live a more fulfilling, purposeful life by infusing confidence, style and joy! My motto is: change your attitude, change your style, change your life.