Sunday, July 31, 2011

What’s the Dress Code, Girlfriend?

Three nights ago, my husband and I went to see “Catch Me If You Can” on Broadway. We thoroughly enjoyed the show and not just because the tickets were free (more on that later). Just before the lights went down, the woman next to me said to the man she was with, “I don’t know how to dress for the theater anymore!” The woman, in her mid-40s, was dressed stylishly in all white: a white blazer, white brocade skirt, patent leather heels with cut-out toes, and a leather purse. I sensed she was annoyed by the other female theater-goers’ casual attire. With the exception of a few women still in their office dresses and suits, the overwhelming majority of women, all ages, were in jersey tops and either a pair of pants, Capris or shorts. “I think dressing up for the theater shows respect,” she added. Really? I’m not so sure.

I appreciate a woman’s desire to dress up any time, but especially for a Broadway show. If my husband and I had paid for our tickets, they would have cost $128 per ticket. At those prices, I can understand the woman next to me wanting to wear something dressier than she might to, say, a summer blockbuster at the local multiplex. Still, in terms of showing respect, I think there are more important ways to show the cast and crew respect, such as: turning off your cell phone, being quiet and attentive, laughing and applauding when appropriate and so forth. In generations past, I know the theater dress code was more formal, but it just isn’t anymore. If the woman next to me wants to be surrounded by other women dressed up, she should go to the opera at Lincoln Center. Women (and men!) still dress up for the opera.

As a fashion follower, I find dress codes an interesting phenomenon. I’m sure most women over 50 have had the experience of traveling to different regions around the country and witnessing the different dress codes for say, weddings and fancy parties, upscale restaurants and houses of worship (ie, churches and temples). For example, while the code for most weddings may be formal in different regions, what constitutes “formal wear” may not be the same from region to region. Then, too, there’s been a general relaxing of dress codes across the country in the last few decades. Sometimes, I think our generation is determined to eliminate dress codes, especially ones that call for formal dressing, altogether. Many people I know have spent their lives rebelling against the suit and tie, and the nylon stockings and high heels.

Interestingly, there are signs that our children’s generation is starting to embrace dressing up (at least in New York City). In the Style section of the New York Times this week, there was an article entitled, “Will This Get Me In?” about dress codes for city night clubs. It seems our children will have to conform to dress codes to get into clubs. Are they rebelling against our generation’s aversion to formal dressing? Frankly, the whole idea that different clubs have different dress codes is a little too over-the-top for me.

I believe some occasions do desire a dress code that is formal, or at least, a notch above everyday wear. Personal milestones—weddings, retirement parties and funerals—come quickly to mind. Unless, the hosts inform guests that the wedding or retirement party is going to be a casual affair, I think people should wear their best clothes. Funerals are always a momentous occasion, deserving your best clothes. I went to a funeral three years ago and saw people in the congregation in shorts. Unbelievable.

But getting back to Broadway, I haven’t dressed up for Broadway in 30 years. I could even give you the date, since it was the opening night for a show my sister was in. That doesn’t mean, however, that I wear shorts to the theater. Or that I get exasperated with women who do. If I’m not scrubbing floors or running errands, my dress code is usually the same for most activities: I try to look as stylish as I can on my budget. I often wear slacks and a sweater to the theater. But they’re not the sweater and slacks I use to rack leaves. Last night, which was hot and sticky in the city, I wore a light cotton sundress, a short hot-pink sweater, and flat leather sandals. I’m sure the woman next to me didn’t approve.

Meanwhile, I do recommend “Catch Me If You Can” if you like musicals and are near Broadway. As my husband said, “It was very good light entertainment.” Personally, I was awed by the cast, the singing and dancing, and impressed by all the creativity elements—the set design, costumes and choreograph, to name a few. Aaron Tveit and Norbert Leo Butz (2011 Tony Award for Best Actor) are standouts. But Norbert singing and dancing in “Don’t Break the Rules” steals the show. As I mentioned, we went to the show for free. The week before, over dinner at a Soho restaurant, my husband and I were talking about Broadway. A woman at the table next to us said, “Excuse me, I’m afraid I overheard your conversation about Broadway. I have two tickets to a show next week that I can’t use. Would you like them?” Without hesitation, we said, “yes!” Sometimes, New York City feels so small town friendly. I love it!

Well, this was a long rant. Sorry. The reason I wrote about dress codes is I would love to hear other women’s points of view. What do you think of dress codes? Do you find dress codes annoying or helpful? Do you think they should be abolished altogether? Let me know.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Over 50: Making Sense of Makeup

I just got Vogue’s “Age Issue.” I chuckled as I flipped through it and found one after the other advertisement for anti-aging products. For example, there’s a two-page spread for Estee Lauder’s “Idealist,” an even skintone illuminator that supposedly reduce redness, sun spots and dark spots. Then, a few pages later, there’s an ad for Clinique’s “Even Better Clinical Dark Spot Corrector,” which apparently can wipe away the dark spots and age spots all over your body. And I saw an ad for Clarin’s “Vital Light Serum,” an anti-aging skin product said to “correct the appearance of dark spots, while visibly lifting, firming and restoring the deep luminosity of young-looking skin.” Three skin care choices, all before the magazine’s Table of Contents page. The truth: I’d love to find a product that would fad dark spots—those cute childhood freckles that have now exploded into murky brown ponds—on my face. But how do I know which product is the best?

To the rescue: Makeup Alley. This website invites visitors to become members (for free!) and rate beauty products for other visitors. Currently, there are over a million members reviewing products and rating them with one to five lipstick icons (5 lipstick icons are given to the best rated products). The site has a minimal amount of advertising, but it doesn’t sell any products.

I went on Makeup Alley or (MUA to its members) to see what I could find out about the three age spot creams/serums I saw in Vogue. You have to become a MUA member (which I may do later) to see the actual reviews, but anyone can get summary information. For example, Este Lauder’s “Idealist” has been reviewed by 19 members on the website. Overall, the product gets a rating of 3.2 lipsticks and 42% of reviewers say they would buy it again. Clinique’s “Dark Spot Corrector has been given 2.6 lipsticks by 118 reviewers. Only 33% say they would by the product again. And as for Clarin’s “Vital Light Serum,” it is new and hasn’t been rated yet. What did I learn from this? Well, women who’ve tried the Este Lauder and Clinique products aren’t ecstatic about either product, but they aren’t saying they're a waste of money either. Clinique’s product has a slightly lower rating than the Estee Lauder product, but that might reflect the number of reviewers—almost 10 times as many people rated the former product as did the latter one. At this point, my next move would be to go on and see what, if any, is the price difference—always an important factor for me. (Some, but not all products on the Makeup Alley site have links to already.)

At, I found...
  • Estee Lauder’s “Idealist,” (1.7 oz) is priced at $109.99
  • Clinique’s “Even Better Clinical Dark Spot Corrector” (1 oz, 30 ml) sells at prices ranging from $17.99 to $48, depending on the shipping source. Even if you take the higher price, it’s half what the Estee Lauder product costs.
  • Clarin’s “Vital Light Serum” (1 oz, 30 ml) is priced at $219.99. Gulp. No wonder there aren’t any reviews for this product on Makeup Alley or on Amazon—women are too busy saving up for it.
If you want a site (other than Amazon) where you can read reviews and shop, you might want to check out, launching in August 2011. This site is being classified as a “social beauty store.” Members will fill out a profile—things like skin type, age and concerns—and the site will recommend products based on reviews by a focus group of 20,000 women.

While I’m on the subject of makeup and media sightings, have you heard about Makeup Wakeup: Revitalizing Your Look at Any Age (Running Press, $23), a beauty book for women over 40? Authors Lois Joy Johnson, 60, a founding editor of More magazine, and celebrity makeup artist Sandy Linter have compiled information on buying and applying makeup for older women. For example, I’m foundation phobic. I see older women with caked-on foundation and cringe. Johnson and Linter say women often choose a foundation that’s too light for their skin. They advise us to choose a shade that is a half-shade to a full-shade deeper than the one we think is right. And that’s just one of the tips in the 7-page section of foundation! The book also reports the current treatment alternatives (surgical and non-surgical) to consider when makeup isn’t enough. At Amazon, you’ll find the book in paperback for $13.21.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Shorts and Pants: Print Power

With all the summer sales right now, I've been looking for bargains online. One thing I've noticed: a plethora of solid colored Capris, cropped pants and long (Bermuda) shorts. White and khaki are by far the colors of choice on women's clothing sites, but look long enough and you'll find the cropped pants in all colors. What I haven't seen a lot of is the printed cropped pants. That's a shame because I think the printed cropped pants is a fun look for women over 50. They're a little 70s retro, which is all the fashion this season. I spotted the woman above at the grocery store recently and thought she looked fabulous with her black T-shirt, printed Bermuda shorts and slightly wedged sandals.

My hunt for printed pants did turn up several printed cropped styles on sale at J. McLaughlin. I've been happy with the clothes at this site: nice materials and well made. Chadwick's has two pairs of printed Capris for $12.99. I really like one of the Taylor Collection Capris in green and white, or pink and white. Sizes are limited, however. I also found a pair of Lauren Active Shorts, Garabaldi Paisley Bermuda (was $69.50, now $49.99). Or how about going old school with stylish Tommy Hilfiger Shorts, Straight Leg Plaid Bermuda (was $54.50, now $32.99)? Lord and Taylor has a pair of KATE HILL Clip-Front Printed Capri Pants (was $80, now $29.99), but only for those who can squeeze into a size 2. Below are a couple of other prints. Click on the photos for details.

Alia® Tropical Blocks Microfiber Capris

These Alia® Tropical Blocks Microfiber Capris (was $36, now $19) are available in 3 colors at Beall's online department store.

Tibi Ankara Print Pants

These eye-catching designer Tibi Ankara Print Pants (was $242, now 169.40) are from Shopbop.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Summer Sales on Dresses for Women Over 50

Editor's Note: This post was updated with sample of current bargains in January 2014. For up-to-the-minute sales, take a peek at my On Sale page. Pssst! Select Full Price Dresses are only $69.50! at Ann Taylor's thru 8/23. And to find out about the shop's international shipping, click Ann Taylor now ships to over 100 countries! 

Are you terribly busy? If not, may I suggest you visit your favorite online clothing sites? Right now, it seems like all the online women's clothing designers and companies are having sales, some of which are pretty massive (up 70% off on end-of-season merchandise)! What's more, many of the sale garments are available in a range of sizes. For instance, the French Connection Print Sheath Dress( was $168, now $100.80) above is available in women's sizes, 2-12. Grab a pretty cardigan or blazer and you're ready to go in style! The sample of sale dresses below are organized by price, starting with dresses for under $150 and ending with dresses for under $50. Click on any of the photos to go to the clothing site and check out all the dresses on sale.

UNDER $150 

Ivy & Blu Print Satin Sheath Dress (was $158, now $142).

UNDER $100

Adrianna Papell Belted Colorblock Ponte Dress (was $139, now $83.40). Length: 39".


Nadja Scoop Neck Fitted Midi Dress (was $148, now $74) from Michael Stars...

Nadja Scoop Neck Fitted Midi Dress

Or...this MONTE CARLO DRESS from Soft Surroundings (was $98.95, now $59.99)

Monte Carlo Dress  - WHITE

Here's a breezy summer DELPHINE DRESS (was $118.00, now $69.99), also from Soft Surroundings.

Talls Delphine Dress - AQUA BAY


Women's Regular Short Sleeve Pattern Georgette Pintuck Dress - Rich Persimmon Floral, 14

Women's Regular Short Sleeve Pattern Georgette Pintuck Dress - Rich Persimmon Floral, 14 (was $98, now $34.99)

Or... Women's Plus Size Sleeveless Pattern Pique V-neck Dress - Crimson Clay Stripe (was $70, now $29.99)

Women's Plus Size Sleeveless Pattern Pique V-neck Dress - Crimson Clay Stripe

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Dressing like a Duchess

Washed Silk Shirt

There’s been a lot of chatter across the media about the recent North American tour by the newlywed Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. It seems William was charming and Catherine was the epitome of simple, elegant styling (and charming, too!). The two things all the fashion/royal watchers harped on about Catherine’s wardrobe were: 1) her wardrobe was a mix of designer jeans and dresses and modestly-priced garments and accessories, and 2) she wore the same outfits more than once. The message: the Duchess isn’t quite as extravagant with her wardrobe as we "commoners" might think. I’m a huge believer in creating a wardrobe that is a mix of high- and low-priced clothing. It’s a great way to stretch your clothing budget without compromising your over 50 style. (Of course, what constitutes “high-priced clothing” is clearly relative. Sadly, I can’t afford $240 jeans or $1,350 Roksanda Illincic dress like the Duchess can. Ha!)

Sales, of course, are a great way to stretch your budget. Right now, clothing companies and stores want to unload their spring/summer collections to make room for the fall-winter fashions. Take, for instance, the Washed Silk Shirt (was $108, now $81) above from the Pure Collection. Nothing says simple sophistication quite like a silk blouse with man-tailor styling.

(Editor's Note: The Summer Sales I listed when I wrote this post have come and gone. For fashions on sale now, look at the promo boxes in the left-hand margin.)

And with the money saved, you can splurge on a special garment or two to show off your great taste in styling. Here are a few pieces that caught my eye. They're fit for the royalty in all of us…

Under $300

Robbi & Nikki Draped Twill Jacket

This Robbi & Nikki Draped Twill Jacket ($265) can be worn open or with a thin cloth belt. Click on picture or name to see the stylish jacket from all angles.

Under $250

Winter Kate Amberjack Dress

This Winter Kate Amberjack Dress ($178) would look quite nice over a pair of black leggings. Or, if you prefer, there's a shorter Winter Kate Sunfish Top ($120) to wear with jeans.

DKNY pure DKNY Long Sleeve Parka

Anoraks were huge in fall 2010 and it looks like they're going to be just as big for fall 2011. Here's a DKNY pure DKNY Long Sleeve Parka (was $325, now $227.50).

Under $150

Indah Eve Open Work Sweater

This lace Indah Eve Open Work Sweater ($102) is feminine and comfortable. How often can you say that about a garment?

Alice + Olivia Long Sleeve Scoop Back Tee

This Alice + Olivia Long Sleeve Scoop Back Tee ($116) is another look for legging. The uneven hem gives it a little edge. A simple beaded necklace would finish the look, don't you think?

Anne Klein Stretch Honeycomb Crossed V-Neck Dress

The Duchess wore several bright monotone dresses while she was in North America. This simple, elegant Anne Klein Stretch Honeycomb Crossed V-Neck Dress ($119) reminds me of Catherine's dresses.

Under $100

Jones New York Long Sleeve Drape Front Pointelle Cardigan,

I love the same-color T-shirt and pants under this Jones New York Long Sleeve Drape Front Pointelle Cardigan, ($79). The continuous color under the cardigan not only pulls the outfit together, it is slimming (and sophisticated!).

Jones New York Sateen Sleeveless Wrap Shirt

I love this mustard colored Jones New York Sateen Sleeveless Wrap Shirt ($69). It's so uncompromising--perfect for the over 50 woman who wants to make a style statement.

And for the about a stylish Oxford? I predict we're going to be seeing a lot more of these classic shoes when the weather gets a bit cooler. I love them because they are stylish and easy on your feet.