Privilege Blog

The Question Of Dressing For Men, After 50

It’s New Year’s Eve in the Cultural West. What, then, to wear?

Let’s first wave to the Lunar New Year, and to Rosh Hashanah. Hello you alternate dates for launching a New Year! No matter when we mark it, all humans notice that the earth turns, and that seasons bring us round again to beginnings. Which occasionally involve dressing up.

And at the Western New Year, one dresses often for the opposite sex. Maybe that’s how Nature keeps us propagating. Unsurprisingly, more babies are born about 9 months after winter holidays than any other time of the year. To gauge the popularity of your birthdate, click here. See?

Straight off, let’s be clear I’m not talking about dressing to attract male stranger attention. High WASPs are brought up to avoid such display like the plague, a whole novella worth of deconstruction that we’ll save for another day. Let’s jump to the assertion that we do believe it’s OK to dress for the attention of males to whom one is already attached.

For example, Significant Other and I had Christmas Eve dinner at the Tadich Grill. I wore my 2011 Prada dress and cashmere cardigan, with Louboutins.

And black fishnet tights.

High WASPs think fishnets are very risqué. Please don’t disillusion me. We understand that drugstore reading glasses probably aren’t risqué at all, but we don’t care.

For Christmas dinner, I ordered St. Regis room service. Which I refuse to call In-Room Dining. My kids, you see, were with their dad, so Significant Other made the night a little special.

I decorated the original tasteful centerpiece with 3/$2.25 garlands from Walgreens. And dressed in an AllSaints sequin skirt, Anne Fontaine shirt with rhinestone buttons, (also a favorite of Angie’s) and $58.99 Nine West glitter platform slingbacks.

All Saints skirt, Anne Fontane blouse, 9 West shoes

Had we been eating out my cultural whispers would have insisted I put on tights and pull the skirt lower. Would perhaps have tsked tsked sotto voce at the extreme gold of my inexpensive shoes. As it was, we dined in peace on carbonara and a burger. Excess thigh and shine display be damned.

And best of all, when the night came to a close, and I was full of cream sauce and rose champagne, I could shed the heels and don beloved plaid flannel pyjamas. With drawstring waist.

Because here’s what the Sturdy Gal really knows about dressing for the men in one’s life.

You see, I’ve had messages recently saying that the best service I do for you is to persist, with examples, at all aspects of Fierce at 50. Hence the loosening of some of my cultural restraints, in our discussions and images. As you can imagine, I am nervous about publishing. But one has to take some risks.

A very Happy New Year to all, with romance and beginnings at your command.


(Linked to Visible Monday, where women of a certain age are just that, visible.)

77 Responses

  1. I was drawn to the phrase “cultural whispers.” I think that might be what I call “my mother’s voice in my ear.” Does your upbringing ever creating angst about writing a blog? I tried one for a few months, but all of that talking about myself made me terribly uncomfortable. I can hear the voices saying that this just isn’t right. My family for generations has had the Anglo Saxon trait of keeping things very private.

    I have really wanted to ask someone about this without offending them so I do hope that I’m not rude. I don’t think that there is anything wrong with writing a blog. I enjoy reading them. But, I’m curious to know if you ever had to deal with cultural whispers.

    Thanks in advance.

    p.s. You look fantastic. And, without readers, how would you ever know if the fishnets were on straight?

  2. Great post! I just read the other one…and agree, just get naked. Men are happy with that. They do like to see a little leg from time to time, but mostly they appreciate their imaginings more than blatant displays of flesh.

  3. Love how you celebrated the Holidays sans kids. Glitter to flannel, just right. Loved your posting on A Femme d’Un certain age. Going out to Old Navy, for the look and comfort.

    My husband and I The Tadich Grill. We introduced some of our son’s friends to it and of course the young ones adored it. So retro.

    Happiest of New Years and thanks for everything!

  4. You are too adorable! Loved this post. I hope I’m not being too forward here. Just really appreciate your photos and writing.

  5. You look wonderful, and how terrific of your SO to come up with a beautiful alternate Christmas location since you were sans children. He sounds like a keeper. My only complaint is that I clicked on this post thinking that it would tell me what my husband should be wearing to the casual gathering at our friends’ house tonight. Happy new year.

    1. Ha! I suppose I could address men’s wear. Actually, I should get my brother to write something!

  6. That Prada dress is just so great and will be forever I’m guessing. Fun outfit for Christmas dinner as well, and how civilized that you dressed for in room dining.
    Another year of wonderful posts, thank you. A very happy, healthy, and joyous New Year to you and your family.

  7. I have a feeling that Christmas dinner outfit just gave us a quick glance of the inner woman. Smokin’!
    Had to laugh over the flannel pj’s. Love your wit.
    Have a magnificent New Year.
    SF Bay Area

  8. The privilege one earns by getting through the folly of youth is the pleasure of embracing life, of possibility, and of dressing for one’s self. That pleasure often extends to dressing to wow one’s significant other. I applaud the fact that you didn’t pull the skirt down. It sounds like you had a thoroughly enjoyable holiday. Well done! Happiest of New Years to you and yours.

    1. Yes I think that getting older allows one to dress for a significant other more freely, if that makes sense.

  9. Happy new year – sparkle looks good on you! Thank you for taking us along on your adventurous ride this year.

  10. Good for you making the holidays special without kids. We did the same in 20102 traveling to Austria. One less set of parents for the kids to worry about visiting.

    You look great in your outfits. I especially love the sparkly shoes.

    Happy New Year!

  11. One of your specialities is – Carpe diem.
    That´s the way to go.
    Wish I could reach it one day..
    A wonderful New Year to You !

  12. How fun that you brought out the sequins for your room service dinner! That Prada dress is a classic, and like you, I still think fishnets are just a little risqué. Love them. You’re out there flying the Fierce banner for our contingent, and doing it brilliantly. (That’s my way of saying you look smashing!) Go you! And a very Happy New Year to you!!

  13. Wishing you a wonderful New Year, Lisa! I look forward to your musings and insightful perspectives…may the gusto continue. Stay fierce, and now if I could only find that favorite pair of flannels.

  14. Enjoyed the post! Inciteful…and humorous at the same time…I also really like the gold skirt and shoes on you! We had a family wedding this weekend, so tonight, I am happy to say, I am doing absolutely nothing and my fashion is a ROBE!! Happy New Year!

  15. Wonderful! You’ve nailed Fierce over 50!
    I also recently sashayed out in fishnets, a bit nervously. They do give an otherwise conservative outfit a dash of sass! And your in-room-dining outfit has plenty of sass, sans fishnets. Wowza!
    Happy New Year! Would love 2013 to be the year we meet again . . . ;-)

  16. Love, love, love the sparkly outfit. You look amazing, very self-possessed and sexy (they overlap quite a bit). Whenever I start to waver in my resolution to grow in my gray hair, I will return to this photo. Fishnets were a great idea with the Prada dress, too. Would you consider belting the cardigan with that outfit, or would that cover up the lovely dress too much? I do get the desire to have an insouciant “I just threw this on” air, and rarely belt cardigans myself, but I think it might look quite lovely.

    1. I never put a belt over things. Makes me nuts, too much fussing. It might, of course, look fantastic:).

  17. The Prada and tights look wonderful on you! And the golden slippers look great with your outfit. iMay the coming year be filled with many new adventures to share. Happy New Year!

  18. Oh my, you look simply splendid in both pics!!! And what a wonderful way to spend the holidays, right down to the flannels!
    On my way out for the evening but couldn’t leave without wishing you my very best for 2013!!

  19. Fierce for certain! The sparkly skirt and fabulous heels make for a memorable Christmas look. And I love your writing; you read the mind of the 50-something woman with uncanny insight! Thanks for sharing with Visible Monday and Happy New Year.

  20. both outfits are fab. how bout a resolution to wear that sparkly outfit out and about? you rocked it!

    1. Thank you! That would take guts. Maybe I could wear the skirt with oxfords and a button front:).

  21. In both outfits you look brilliant. The first one I like particularly because you paired it with the fishnet tights – they gave it the turn from maiden-like to very feminine. The second one with the golden sequin skirt i prefer a bit because – you would not believe it – for many years I thought that a golden mini skirt would be the utmost to have as a party dress. but i never bought one, because of the “wisperers” or because of my non-adequate shape. You look fantastic in it and to add a plain white blouse is perfect.
    Thank you for your kind comment. I’m glad you found me and I will come back here again.
    Have a good time!

  22. I really love your outfits and appreciate all your musings! YOur sequin skirt inspired me to wear my black one last week and I may wear the navy one later today depending on the waist situation.
    Wishing you a Healthy and Happy 2013!

  23. I too love you Christmas Eve look. Prada always comes out with amazing prints.
    As for fishnets, I remember wearing them over solid color tights back in the late 60s. More “demure” — haha.

  24. Love it all. You are my style soul mate, I think. BTW, I did get that sequin skirt for a pre-Christmas soirée. But in a silvery gunmetal. Thanks for getting me out of my comfort zone!

  25. Happy New Year! It’s my first visit here, and what a delightful read, thank you! I look forward to catching up on some earlier posts. Spaghetti carbonara, rose champagne, and a gold sequin skirt…three of my favourite things.

  26. Having watched “Pride and Prejudice” over the holiday vacation, I love the way Elizabeth was not afraid to walk in the muck and the mire and look all the more dazzling. I feel the life in you in whatever you wear and that you have traveled and made it more interesting than that of a catalogue.
    What legs and hair you have! I am impressed by your candid glamour.

  27. I admired all the choices of evening wear up to but not including… plaid flannel (in a hotel room with a partner), which has me absolutely gobsmacked.

  28. Brava, Lisa. I adore the sparkly shoes, the sparkly skirt, and the contrast of the flannel. I might have worn HIS pj’s, but then, I am not of New England. I find that men of any type adore seeing women in natural settings, in normal-seeming get ups- especially just after a public display of glitter.

  29. Even as some stranger on the internet, I like understanding myself better in some ways through what you share and express of yourself.

  30. Happy New Year!

    Your Prada dress was a great investment item for your wardrobe. It looks as good as when you wore it to NY a couple of years ago.

    Drugstore glasses are definitely risque for the high wasp because of the whole sexy librarian thing. Think Bryn Mawr girl goes bad.

    Love the idea of Xmas night in at the St. Regis, and yes, you should dress for the Significant other, which you did quite effectively with the gold skirt. Well done.

  31. I really liked both the Prada dress and the short skirt with the Anne Fontaine blouse, which was a darling, sexy look.
    However, the cardigan you wore with the dress was a bit of a disaster, adding an unfortunate dumpiness-factor. (sorry, but must tell the truth). How about a short, boxy jacket, or a cashmere bolero, preferably in a dark color? In any event, happy new year!

    1. Happy New Year! The sweater is how Miuccia Prada styled the dress – she LIKES to add frump. I have worn it with a cropped black cardigan, and you’re right, it looks much more elegant.

  32. Long time lurker of your fabulous blog. You can’t buy style or class.. you have both in spades. Wishing you all the best for 2013

  33. Not a big fan of fishnets, but the second picture with the sequin skirt is seriously attractive.

    ….just some guy that wandered by

  34. Lisa,
    The short skirt looks fantastic. Women half your age would envy your figure! And also your sense of style, though I doubt whether more than a few of the youngsters would appreciate it.

  35. İ am not not 50 or close to that age yet, of course İ am a bit late on the comments. But his post was very inspiring and I read all the comments to the very end, you seem to have a wide following who truly admire and respect you. A HEALTHY, HAPPY & PROPEROUS 2013 FOR YOU& FAMİLY

  36. Can I throw a guy’s opinion out there on “Dressing for the man in your life Vs. dressing for stranger attention?”

    I would posit the argument that there is no such distinction, really. We are guys, the lot of us, and that which the majority of random-men-on-street find to be hot, I probably will, too. That which I think is hot, the majority of random-men-on-street probably will, too.

    So, if my wife is dressing to look hot for me, she’s also going to attract looks from others, which doesn’t bother me a bit and in fact feeds my ego because she’s in her early 40s and looks like she’s in her early 30s (fortunately, I also look younger than my actual age of early 50s :)

    The real distinction, I will further posit, is between what I call “guy hot” and “girl hot.” Things that are
    “guy hot” will make men notice you. Things that are “girl hot” will make your girlfriends comment on your cute outfit. There’s not much overlap between those two sets, either. My wife generally dresses “guy hot” rather than “girl hot” because I like it that way.

    All of which is neither here nor there, in any case :-) I’m a software engineer but enjoy sociology and linguistics; however, it’s too hard to make a living in those disciplines so I just talk about them on web forums. Nice blog!

  37. I think you look great in fishnets. But sheer black pantyhose would be best!

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