Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Book Review: THE WARDROBE WAKEUP by Lois Joy Johnson

Midlife Martinis: Thinking about style from the middle of your life, looking out.
My impulse is always be wary when someone touts a fashion book for women over 50. Over 40, in fact.


Because the 40+ version of fashion is usually eerily similar to the 18+ version of fashion, with slightly older models in the photos. There is still a tendency to show skinny jeans, miniskirts, bare arms and throats aimed at bodies under 120 lbs., fitting between sizes 2 and 6 and over 5'7" in height. And barely acknowledging the difference between a woman 18 and one two decades older.

Women who are over 40 have several different life, body and taste issues about fashion. Like:
  • teenagers and managing family time with big kids, including the variety of social and parental events.
  • careers moving toward high powered management or jobs used to bring in a second income
  • bodies that are in or moving toward menopause, gaining bulk in the middle, that need more maintenance to remain fit.
  • skin that's losing its luminous, taut quality or gaining brown spots or lines
  • more money (in some cases) due to higher salaries or less money due to college and aging parents. 
  • a closet full of clothes that need maintenance, don't fit (due to shifting body weights), and are enough out of style that one can feel dull, if not downright frumpy.
  • time spread across the house, the husband, the kids, the job and personal stuff.
Fashion editors in magazines for "older women" think we have lots more money... like LOTS more money as disposable income for beauty products and procedures, designer fashion and shoes and bags... as well as LOTS of dress-up opportunities.

News flash: we don't have more disposable income that is lying free, we don't have fashion-forward careers where we need $1200 purses, we shop at JCPenney and Chicos and Target but rarely in department-store designer boutiques, and most of us shouldn't be baring arms, legs, backs, chests and throats.

My advice: forget planning for the few and far-between CEOs and female lawyers/execs/fashion editors. This is the problem most ex-fashion editors have in writing these books. The only people they mingle with are other fashion editors, designers, models and the rich. Those of us who spend time at grocery stores, kids' theatre performances/baseball fields and car washes don't consider a "nude pump" as the most essential basic in our wardrobe.

And what about the women who wear scrubs, uniforms and other "business-ordered" wear? No need there for expensive designer work clothes, which is the primary focus of these books.

Instead, "real women" need advice on weekend wear that doesn't include mommy sweats, date night/special event wear that can hold up to at least a year's worth of use, and casual wear for brunch with girlfriends, running errands around town and PTA-meetings. And that can be fixed/bought/maintained for about $100/month or less.

THE WARDROBE WAKEUP by Lois Joy Johnson has some good ideas about the basic stuff of clearing out closets, using tailors to fix owned items (rather than buy new) and finding a new style as a "mature" woman. But the pictures found in this Huffington Post review prove my point: the images aren't bad, but the models here are all wealthy, slender, chic with puh-lenty of time for high maintenance styles in hair, skin, nails, and fashion. And thus they are as impractical for "real women" in their 40s or 50s as images in SEVENTEEN magazine would be.

Check out the review and the slide show:  You might feel differently.

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