Both my parents worked as professionals so they were up, dressed, primped and out along with my brother and I as we were off to school. My mother was in the dental profession so for most of my childhood I saw her in a starched white uniform, accessorized with a stiff linen cap, thick white hosiery and boring white shoes.
Not exactly a real fashion statement, but she always looked clean, crisp, professional and she wore her uniform proudly. She spent most evenings laundering, starching and painstakingly pressing her white wardrobe so she could look exactly the same the next day.
#1 Lesson Learned – Be prepared
Whatever your uniform, be sure:
- It is clean
- It is well pressed
- It is actually back in your closet from the dry cleaner
- It is well tailored, including tweaks for weight changes
- It is laid out the night before, including shoes, hosiery and accessories
- It is current – if it is outdated – be done with it
- It make you feel proud
- It makes you feel confident
Over the years she moved up the ladder from dental hygienist to office manager and served as the President of the RI Dental Assistants Association. Yes, the white wardrobe was packed away and she was free to move about the mall. However, her first years of fashion-freedom still dictated that she wore skirts or dresses as that’s just how it was in the 70’s.
I watched her style evolve, as she remained true to her office persona by dressing classic and conservative but somehow still sporting a bit of a beehive hairdo.
#2 Lesson Learned – Be true to your authentic style
Whatever your new uniform is going to be make sure:
- It matches your persona
- It stretches you just a bit
- It is age appropriate
- It is body shape appropriate
- Your friends and family will still recognize you
- Your new look makes you feel fabulous
- You feel creative and inspired
By the late 70’s she was sporting pants at the office. This brought a new sense of comfort and ease into her wardrobe. Shoes became a bit more varied, as she no longer had to wear the obligatory skirt pump. Pantsuits (complete with shoulder pads) became all the rage but Mom kept the pads in check, opting for jackets more suited to her slight frame as opposed to the jackets worn by Melanie Griffith in Working Girl. And by the early 80’s the retailers embraced separates as office-wear.
#3 Lesson Learned – Be wary of the trends
As you navigate the trends make sure:
- You don’t invest heavily in an overnight trend
- The trend fits your body proportion
- You don’t go hog wild and jump in with two feet
- You don’t look ridiculous
- You define how the trend might best work for you
As retirement approached and the casual wear started to take over her closet, she again stayed true to her roots. Very few velour running suits made their way into her wardrobe. Everything remained well fitting, well pressed and well tailored. She certainly doesn’t put her outfit out at night anymore but I can still catch her ironing her jeans on occasion!
#4 Lesson Learned – Retirement doesn’t mean pajamas
As you settle into retirement make sure
- You don’t loose yourself
- You don’t give up on your style
- You are comfortable in your clothing
- You have purged along the way
- You still feel pretty
- You still feel confident
- And once more, make sure you remain true to your authentic style
Authentic style times two – 65 years in the making!
Need more style advice? Check out my recently published book
Confidence Is Always In Style
And remember, you are pretty.