Small Changes for Modesty and Dignity

Ladies, I am finally willing to admit that I have entered the middle phase of my life. My life revolves around parenting, house maintenance and hoping to get today’s bills paid before something else breaks tomorrow. All in all, it is a good phase of life, I am happy, and I am making an effort right now to embrace it with dignity and grace. I am of that indeterminate age, somewhere between 35 and 50, and I have noticed that I can’t tell anymore whether the other parents around are older or younger than me, we are all about the same. A woman just 5 years older than me feels about my age, but a woman 5 years younger, a hot chick under 30, is at a totally different stage of life.

With that in mind, I spent some time this morning looking at what other women were wearing at Mass, in the hopes that I can do a good job of “dressing my age” without getting frumpy. I was pretty impressed with a few simple changes that I can make to my wardrobe which will keep me able to dress in current styles without looking like a grandma or a Forever 21 wanna be.

I wanted to share three key things which I am going to keep in mind for my summer wardrobe.

1) Make sure that skirts fit or are a little bit loose. Buy a size up if needed to achieve this. A skirt that is a little bit too small tends to slip up and become too short as well! On the other hand, a skirt which is a little bit loose will still be appropriately just-above-the-knees when I sit down, and will not cling to my backside making it look scandalous, regardless of its size.

2) Tank tops under criss cross tops and dresses. The lady in front of me was wearing a very stylish dress which had a cross over front, very flattering. In the past, I shied away from that style because you lean over to tend to a child and when you stand back up, if things have slipped at all, you are now sporting major cleavage. However, this lady of indeterminate age was wearing a pretty camisole which was just high enough to make sure that she was appropriate, no matter where her top moved.

3) Close toed shoes or sandals with a slightly stacked heel. I know that it is counter intuitive, but I noticed this morning in mass that older women in sandals look really old or inappropriately casual. I will save flip flops and even Jack Rogers for pool side, and where real shoes for mass, shopping and other outings.

With these three things in mind, I think that I can still wear very current, stylish clothes while looking and feeling put together and appropriate. Do you have any other tips? Have you taken a look at the elegant women around you to try to learn something from their style?

Can I also add that I sometimes, especially in summer, notice bad clothing in mass, but today when I made a point to keep an eye out for elegance I was pleasantly surprised at how much I saw! It’s a reminder that I should spend more time looking for the good around me!

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  • Kerry

    Accessorize!!! If you have larger eyes, bigger dangly earrings look good. If you have a larger chest…do not wear dangly necklaces. I try to wear short, statement style necklaces that draw eyes to the face.

    True about the shoes…in summer I try to find appropriate “sandals” for mass….the more foot and toes covered, the better…but still in a summer style. Some wedges I found are good…just a peep toe. Most sandal styles are for the pool and lounging only, not mass.

    Great tips!

  • Love the dangly earrings!

  • I love fashion posts — but I do think so much of it is personal, related to both size and build. I find that I tend towards dresses for Mass, but that is just because finding a nice fitting dress at a good price is far easier for me than finding a skirt/top at a good price. Like you said with the skirts, a bit longer is better, especially with climbing toddlers!

    Regarding sandals, I wear “pool style” sandals to mass (sometimes!) but my sandals have a ton of glitz (lots of decorative stuff on them). Perhaps I am too old for these, but I think I will have to turn 40 before I give them up! I also do not wear heals because I am very tall and thin, and every time I wear heals I get comments on how tall I am! I have started to venture into heals a bit more because I do think older women wear them often, but I still get comments every time, about both my height and thin legs. I feel uncomfortable by this. I am wondering if this means I am not old enough for heals yet? I also have trouble with heals if I am working out at all. I think the muscles used to walk in heals are not the ones you use for running. My friend who is a model (she is 5’11”) tells me that only women who can walk well in heals should wear them (I assume I am not one of these women). FWIW, she wears heals all the time, but people stare at her like she is a model at church.

    Lastly, I am noticing as I age that having proper accessories is really important. A nice handbag that looks good with your outfit, great shoes, jewelry, a fun belt, scarves, all go a long way toward making you look put together. Older women all seem to have nice handbags that match their clothes. I’ve never been a bag person (clutter!), but I am working on at least having a few different handbags that go well with my church outfits. You can pick up decent looking ones for a reasonable price at a store like Burlington Coat Factory. Oh, and for accessories I LOVE Charming Charlie. I’ve seen loads of 40 something women shopping in there for scarves, jewelry, and even sweaters.

  • Juris Mater

    Go you for embracing the middle years (already?!?) and researching how to look great. I just picked up some adorable items at a yard sale across the street, in which 5 teenage girls of rich families on our block were selling their high quality last-season items before heading to college in September. I am 33 and still proudly grasping at forever-21 for another couple of years : )

    I will come back to this post for your great info and tips when I mature.

  • Katrina

    MaryAlice, I have started to feel the same way! I have made an effort to have a nice haircut, appropriate make-up, and nice jewelry and shoes for special occasions, like going to Mass. The make-up has been the biggest challenge for me, and what has worked well is finding a brand that I like and sticking to it. I’m happy to spend a bit more money on one product, especially if it means that I’m saving lots of smaller purchases on items that I don’t end up using because I don’t like them!

  • Bethany

    My classy MIL is a snazzy dresser at 60+ and I always take careful note of her style so as to remember and implement some of her ideas. She is big into scarves and accessories, no matter what the time or occasion. She is also big on color and bringing together bright combos and patterns. Everything is always so tasteful and, in general, she always looks so put together like she’s made a real effort. I’ve had several friends comment to me how great and youthful she looks. She is always so tasteful, but still in touch with current styles. I have found myself putting together different pieces of clothing, layering, etc. thanks to her inspiration!

    She has also taught me to treat my feet well because they have to last me!! I do not skimp on junky shoes–my feet were flawed from day 1, so I need to love them!

  • Queen B

    I love the encouragement to re-examine! We really send a message by the way we dress.

  • Mary Alice

    Flats are totally in style right now and easy to find, so that has been working for me instead of flip flops. I can’t wear high heels often and they make me taller than my husband (he is only a little bit taller than me when we are barefoot, so an inch heel makes me feel like I tower).

  • Ma

    It’s interesting about dresses, you are right, it totally has to do with build. I wear a different size top than pants, and I have a hard time having dresses fit well, although I will be more open to dresses now that I have this tank top idea. I have no cleavage to hold the top of a dress up properly, but that means that something that fits over my hips is loose, and therefore too low cut, at my neck and chest. I often have this problem with tunic style tops and even polo shirts. Who would think that lack of bust would cause modesty problems…