Saturday, January 31, 2009

Thought for the Day January 31, 2009

"I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention,
how to fall down into the grass,
how to kneel down in the grass, how to be idle and blessed,
how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?"

Mary Oliver, from "The Summer Day"

Sources for Evelyn Cameron Post

Sources for photos, in order. 


Self Portrait Kneading Bread, Montana Historical Society. 

Portrait on horse:  this one is available several places online and I don’t know the original source. 

Portrait, Women Writing the West website.

Portrait with fox, Evelyn Cameron Foundation

Self portrait with camera, University of Montana Museum.

Milwaukee Railroad Workers, 1910, Montana Historical Society.

Workers by haystack, True West Magazine.

Marsh School House, 1910, original source unknown.   This copy from Flickr.

Book cover:  Mountain Press. 

Thought for the Day January 31, 2009

"I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention,
how to fall downinto the grass,
how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed,
how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?"

Mary Oliver, from "The Summer Day"

(this is a restored post. All original comments were lost due to a programming error.)

Friday, January 30, 2009

Thought for the Day January 30, 2009

"To be nobody but myself, in a world which is doing its best night and day to make me everybody else, means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight and never stop fighting."

e. e. cummings

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Book Review: Forever Cool by Sherrie Mathieson (Fashion over Fifty)

Forever Cool is for baby-boomers who want to update their style. I found the book uplifting and encouraging. It's one of the best in the fashion-over-forty genre. The models, both women and men, are real people. Many are over fifty, and everybody has a real-life body.

Most of the book is devoted to before-and-after photos. You can pick up lots of ideas about line, fabric, and accessories. I love Sherrie's use of color. While some of the other before-and-after books show women dressed up in cocktail wear, these people are shown in regular clothes suited to the way a lot of us live.

Sherrie has good suggestions for where to find clothes, too--most of which are available in my neck of the woods off the Internet. I like that she doesn't encourage transition-age women to hang on to a younger image as long as we possibly can. She encourages us to make the most of what we have and know that it's enough. She refers to looking "youthful" rather than "young," which is appropriate and accurate. Youthfulness doesn't have an age.

The before-and-afters in this book are more realistic than those in some other books I've read. These aren't head-to-toe makeovers that require women to rethink hair, makeup, and clothing and break the bank doing it. They're manageable re-dos that many of us could begin with clothes we already have. The women don't look like they're trying too hard. They just look their best.

Sherrie has a new book coming out in April, too. It's called Steal This Style: Moms and Daughters Swap Wardrobe Secrets (Random House). I can't wait to read it. I highly recommend Forever Cool. Sherrie's website is

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Restored: Why Do Clothes Matter?

“Fitting in” isn’t everything. But it’s not nothing either. Clothing may even be more important as we get older and feel more aware of our need to be part of a human community—both to belong, and to participate.

I don't get up every morning aware of myself as a social animal with a simultaneous desire to connect and individuate. But I know that when I isolate myself from close connections with others, I don't care what I look like. When I care about other people, I'm more likely to care about how I put myself together visually.

In looking for style guidance for women over forty, the word "appropriate" comes up a lot. I find this rather icky. As if being over forty is inappropriate to a sense of aesthetics. I feel my old clothes have become, not so much "inappropriate" as inaccurate. They just don't fit who I am. I learned how to shop and choose clothes in junior high school! Surely it's time to reconsider my knee-jerk methods of deciding what to wear.

I like the idea of this period of life being a renaissance. The European Renaissance was about reinterpreting classical ideas...a "re" birth, not a completely new thing.

A lot of writers say in our middle life, we get the freedom to reclaim who we were before we had to, in a sense, put ourselves aside. We have an opportunity now to look inside and dress in a new way; to reinterpret the first notions we had about who we are with ourselves and in the world.

I like that. It's like excavating for who I used to be.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Restored: Elements of Design on People over Forty

Here are three photographs of women I'd love to have as fashion role models.Where I live, we're limited in our shopping choices. Many of us tend to shop at thrift stores because we can get unique and often better-made pieces there than at the stores in our town. It's inspiring to look at street-fashion blogs like The Sartorialist for visual images to feed the imagination.

I like all these women for the stylistic elements they incorporate. All of them are using vertical line to their advantage. All are mixing the classic with the funky. Each of them also has some area in which there's a lot of flowy fabric; yet you can still see a female form in each photograph.

These elements aren't really "age appropriate" as much as they are good concepts for any age, though they don't get much air time in the media. Most importantly, I like all these ladies because they come across as people first and fashion-conscious second.It's interesting that they're all European, too. The first two photos are from

The first woman's design works because she's balanced the color of her cape with the color of her boots. This is a combination that's seen a lot on the street fashion blogs in real fashion cities like Paris and Milan. Not so much places like my little burg. The top is voluminous and is balanced by her narrow pants. The bike also adds a lot.

I'd love to meet this second lady. I cannot get over her! What works: neutral colors with a "real color"--blue--that picks up her silver hair, plenty of fabric that doesn't entirely hide her figure, pieces that create a long line, and beautiful proportions. Many voices say women of a certain age shouldn't wear red lipstick, but on this lady, it's striking. Her gorgeous silver hair, fair skin, and red red lips are the bright counterpoint to her neutral clothing. She uses her own attributes--hair and lips--as accessories, not something to hide.

Lastly, another one of my favorites: Jane Birkin, English/French singer and actress. I believe she was near sixty in this photo. What works: monochromatic backdrop of good quality clothes; plenty of fabric again that also shows her figure, beautiful natural fibers; fun shoes that are like Converse but probably made of leather; cool scarves. Do you look at her and think "senior citizen?"

Restored: Colors for 2009 Point to Rough Economy

Here are all the colors the Pantone Institute has picked out for 2009. Remember the "Color of the Year" is Mimosa.

A news article on said: "It's kind of an odd palette. [W]henever they show this much beige, it usually means the stock market is in for a rough ride. Clearly, the fashion industry thinks the recession will still be with us for spring, but the little pops of bright color show at least a modicum of hopefulness for an economic recovery. "

I didn't know that beige is connected to a poor economy. Did you?

Leatrice Eiseman, who runs the Pantone Institute, thinks Michelle Obama's yellow inauguration dress was a good color for the economy.
[All original comments to this post have been lost.]

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Everything You Need to Know about Fashion over Forty (or Fifty)

Carla bruni purpleglovesjane_birkin_narrowweb__200x308

I started this blog because of a conversation the day I got my first pair of bifocals.

The lady helping me was admiring the frames I’d picked out, and I told her, “Well, my book about style over forty says plastic frames are flattering for my age.”

And she said, “You have a book about fashion over forty? What else does it say?”

So I told her about my book—two of them in fact—and as I drove home, I thought, what are the rules? And why are there rules? Should there be rules? Should we care?

To me, clothing is the tip of a deeper iceberg that incorporates who we are as individuals and in relation to the rest of the world. It’s not that clothes matter more as I get older: it’s that enjoying the beauty in all of life matters more; being authentically myself matters more; quality matters more; and all these things make a difference in how I dress.

I’m not a fashion professional, but a professional researcher and writer who has design and art training. And: I know what I like. My posts are a reflection of my own learning as I navigate the changes in my life and closet. The best part about writing in a blog is the give and take with readers. I continue to learn and find new inspiration. I hope you’ll join me!

To get started, here are my favorite posts about personal style:

The Differences Between Fashion and Style

Do This First: Read The Pocket Stylist

Elements of Design: Proportion and the Golden Ratio

Elements of Design: The Line of Beauty

Elements of Design: Line Part II

Colors that Flatter Everyone

What a Difference a Shoe Makes: One and Two

Risk Free Updates for Twyla Tweeners

Elements of Design on People over Forty (or Fifty, or Sixty)

Fashion Colors for 2009

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Restored: Street Fashion From Missoula--Event for the Blue Mountain Clinic at the Wilma Theater

In taking these photos, I used something I read on The Sartorialist. He picks people whose clothes have some element that can be used as inspiration or shows thoughtfulness in choice. Some of the people I photographed were dressed very casually, but they all had something on that I liked or thought was well put together. In the original post, before I lost my posts, I had those details. It's just the photos this time. It was really fun and I appreciated all the people.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Fashion over Forty: Read The Pocket Stylist

So, I've read a lot of books now about fashion over forty/fifty, and countless other advice online.

One of my favorites is Kendall Farr's book, The Pocket Stylist.

I'm not a fan of rules, especially where style is concerned, but if there's one I'm learning to swear by, it's this: Learn your body type and what flatters it. I never did this exercise when I was younger. I thought I was a pretty good judge of what works on me, some point it became clear that things have changed. The way I learned what to wear now was by devouring The Pocket Stylist.

I adore this book. Because I was motivated, I followed all her advice. It's taken me a while to get it all, because she answers every question. She tells you exactly what to wear, how long to have your pants, at exactly what point on your middle your shirt bottoms should hit, etc. While it was kind of sad to eliminate some things, it was worth it because....IT WORKS. Now I believe there are no "wrong" bodies, just outfits that are wrong for them.

The second point from Kendall is to buy clothes that fit. Not the size I wish I could fit into, but what fits. Again, this is ultimately freeing because I know the result will look good. She explains exactly what this means. And her advice is so practical and based in good taste that it's really ageless.

I'd avoid online sources about determining body type because there's too much room for error in a short written article. Plus, you never know who writes those things. It could be a freelance writer trained in mortuary science. Seriously. Kendall Farr is a professional stylist for fashion magazines and other media. She knows her stuff. Please read this book.