Granny Panties

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The other night, one of the girls mentioned that she had made a new purchase…. shape-wear. When I was much, much younger, we called them girdles. They were heavy elastic garments, some with metal stays and heavy duty zippers, that were supposed to squeeze you into a smaller size. As far as I remember, all they did was push the extra flesh out the top and bottom of the thing giving you a bigger chest and bigger thighs. Needless to say, these hot, uncomfortable pieces of clothing are still in demand, except today, the fabrications are lighter.  You can get them to cover from your chin to your ankles and everywhere in between. Hollywood stars are always talking about their Spanx.

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This got me thinking about underwear in general. I always remember helping my grandmother with the laundry. She would let me stand on a stool in the back porch and bring in the dried clothes from the clothesline. As I carefully unpegged my granny’s silky, white bloomers, I would sometimes wonder why they were so large because she wasn’t.

Growing up, I assumed everyone wore plain white, cotton briefs like I did. I remember one Christmas receiving a set of “days of the week” panties. Not only were they in a variety of soft, pastel colors, but they were embroidered with the name of each day of the week. I was most upset  when due to inclement weather on wash day, my “Wednesday” panties were still in the laundry hamper. My mother insisted I should wear the “Thursday” pair, but it felt wrong. If only problems were still so simple!

Few people know that I am a huge fan of “Sex In The City”; I watch the reruns every day. It seems that fashion does repeat itself. Carrie is often seen in her apartment wearing none other than those old cotton briefs.

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When I hit my teens, bikini panties were the rage. My mom said she felt like they were always falling down. I loved them! They had a kind of risqué feel, and they came in so many beautiful colors and sheer fabrics.

As with every generation, things change. My daughter thinks thongs are the way to go. I even tried! No one will ever convince me that a string in the crack of your butt feels comfortable. And as for the tiny triangle of fabric holding the string together, well, why bother? You might as well go commando and call it a day.

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Men can choose between boxers and briefs; oh, and there are some out there who like  the “banana hangers”, but I know of no man who worries about body shapers like Spanx. Ladies, I think we do this to ourselves.

In retrospect, I think my grandmother had the right idea. There is a lot to be said about comfort…. silky bloomers with loose legs, plenty of air flow and a comfortable waistband. What more could a woman want? There may be a pair of these in my future!

 

Thanks for reading,

Penny xo

 

 

Dressing Room Drama

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When was the last time you bought a bathing suit? For me, it has been many years. Our family no longer owns a cottage, and I don’t have a swimming pool, nor do my friends; however, recently, the girls have toyed with the idea of going away to a beach somewhere like Florida or a tropical island. At this point, it is only talk, but I always like to be prepared. Relaxing on a beach is not normally the kind of holiday that I would choose, and I now know why. The thought of trying on bathing suits is horrifying!

Remember the days when we looked like this….e565aaf5a831c1ff5c43d8391c0be40a
Well, now some of us look like this.

A few weeks ago, while wandering through a local shopping mall, I passed a store called Bikini Village. I paused to look in the window at the shapely mannequins in their colorful outfits. A large banner announced a “Welcome To Summer Sale”. I briefly recalled our conversation about going south and decided to have a look.

I wandered among the racks of bikinis and tankinis for a few minutes. Eventually, a store clerk asked casually if she could help me. I reluctantly admitted it had been a long time since I had bought my last swimsuit. She tactfully sized me up and led me across the store to the one piece suits. After she carefully selected three suits of varying styles for me to try, I followed her to the dressing rooms.

Ensconced inside alone, I slowly undressed remembering to keep my underwear on. I chose the first suit…a black one-shouldered number with ruching across the tummy area. It apparently hides bulges. I tugged and wiggled and yanked and squirmed until I was squeezed inside the stretchy fabric. It was exhausting, and I gasped for air. 4075f49a915dc139b393e748a8704cf2

I stood up straight to check out myself in the mirror. What the hell!!! The mirrors were arranged so you could see yourself from ALL angles. My loud outburst, “Oh my god!” brought the clerk running. She knocked on the door and asked if everything was alright. I apologized for my outbreak, but told her there should be a warning about the three-way mirror.

After another few minutes of pulling and holding my breath, I managed to extricate myself from the swimsuit and got dressed. I was not mentally ready for this task.

I thanked the clerk, and left the store.

A little further down the mall, another window caught my eye. This was more like it, so I headed inside. After looking around, I selected my perfect beach ensemble.

023ddc38b21707cd63cdb450e705f2cc1e5a2ddc9097d318ac0ec268e2f30808927f04ddc21f47aabcf25f95774deaa5 I am now ready to hit the sand. No worries about unsightly bulges, and I can save money on sunscreen. It is light and airy and stylish. And most importantly, easy to get in and out of. I can see myself now relaxing on a chaise lounge under an umbrella with a lovely pink cocktail in my hand. 

I know I need to address the actual swimsuit problem because I do enjoy the water. Perhaps something like this ingenious outfit. 07c654f92c114980a6d78664d2af7d80

I wonder  where she found it?

My only other option is this…66a99ae806df40816ae3795d10d4eaa8

and no one needs to be subjected to that vision. So, I will keep trying to find a suitable swimsuit, but until then, just look for me in my new beach wear.

 

Thanks for reading,

Penny xo

 

Sole Mate

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I adore shoes. It is a true love affair. No matter what happens to the rest of your body as you age, your shoe size stays pretty much the same. I think the love of footwear is a genetic thing, so I come by my shoe obsession honestly. My mother was a shoe lover. And as further proof of my premise, my daughter also has a shoe addiction. When she was about 5, she had a sweet doll carriage which she pushed up and down the sidewalk teetering on a pair of my discarded heels. Inside the carriage, was her collection of old high heels, never a doll. The neighbors would marvel at how well she could walk in them.d1e4838e719d3e97f3073a5874787ee7

 

I have worn heels for virtually every job I have ever had. In high school, I worked in Eaton’s and did every shift in heels. When I was a flight attendant for Air Canada, black patent pumps were part of the uniform. In retrospect, they were not very practical or safe, but they looked perfect with the dresses. 15170847_10207355469794691_6948085663310646360_n

After I married, I became a teacher and taught primary grades. Every outfit had matching, color co-ordinated  heels. To this day, I meet former students who still comment on how much they liked all my high-heeled shoes.

Aging has brought with it the inevitable arthritis in my knees. I am certain that a lifetime of wearing heels  has exacerbated the situation, but I am not easily deterred. I recently decided to clean out my shoe closet. It seems to be a spring ritual.

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( This is not mine, but similar.)

I took out each pair and tried them on. Some were old faithfuls that I could grab and wear for many occasions, while others were worn for either very special dress-up events or very casual fun; some for walking distances and others for sitting at a dinner or show. And while comfort is a real plus in footwear, style always seems to take precedence for me.

As I examined each pair of shoes, some elicited happy memories. This pair for example made me laugh as I recalled a trip to Italy with my daughter. 20180407_123527We walked about 2 hours one day following our city map to get to St. Peter’s. Once there we decided to climb the steps inside the dome to get to the gallery at the top which looked out over the city of Rome and the Vatican. If you have ever done this climb you know that the steps get narrower and narrower and the final bit is a rope ladder. Who knew? Not us! There we were in our platform heels. How could I possibly part with these well worn shoes. So back on the shelf they went.

 

And so went the rest of the clean out. By the end, I was able to part with about 8 pair. Now I had room for new ones. I have had my eye on a pair of beautiful coral suede sandals with block heels to wear if we ever get summer. I’m sure my knees will scream when I try them on, but age be damned, I am still not ready to give up my love of heels just yet. I have had to compromise on height; however, flats just don’t cut it.

Even my son knows ALL my weaknesses. Last year for Mother’s Day, he gave me a high-heel made of delicious chocolate and filled with truffles. I felt like Cinderella! 18425232_10208683232707934_8714716909464870522_nI was torn with eating it or saving it, but since it was not my size, well….

 

 

 

 

Thanks for reading,

Penny xo

Fashion Is For Every Age

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A couple of weeks ago, fashion icon, Iris Apfel turned 95. This incredibly colorful woman is well-known in fashion circles for her personal sense of style, and she is the first to tell you that you must wear whatever makes you happy and confident. I have followed her for many years, and although my own style is much different than hers, it made me think about how far we have come from our grandmothers.

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Does anyone, besides me, remember their grandmothers wearing those floral, cotton house dresses? You remember, I know you do. My grandmother had a closet full of these shapeless garments with buttons down the front and large patch pockets full of kleenex.

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And the icing on the cake was the stockings rolled down to the knees and held up with elastic garters which I am certain cut off the blood flow and led to varicose veins, poor circulation, and who knows what else. It has been many years since I have seen anyone wearing these frocks, but I checked, and you can still purchase them.

You would not catch any of my friends wearing these garments. We all love to shop for clothes, enjoy a good sale, and are interested in fashion. And just to be clear, fashion does not have to be expensive. As Iris put it,

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Fashion, after all, is just another way of expressing ourselves and has no age parameters. Well, there may be some limitations!

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When I was younger, I often heard older ladies whispering among themselves about someone who they referred to as “dressing like a teenager”. They made it sound shameful. I remember wondering when I would have to start “dressing my age”. I looked to my own mom as a role-model. She loved to look “put- together”. I can’t ever remember her saying something was too young for her. She simply modified how she wore it. And for me, that is the key to fashion. Simply put yourself together in an interesting way that reflects your personality and makes you feel comfortable and confident. “Miss Fishnet”, up there, is just doing her own thing. It is not for anyone else to judge.

There are a few fashion blogs that I look at from time to time, and it is interesting to me that almost every one of them describes what our basic wardrobe should look like. No one should be telling us what we need because they do not know our lifestyle. Lifestyle dictates our requirements. Some of us like a few dresses in our closet, but others may prefer pants for all occasions. Cagney and Lacey are perfect examples of this. Both are dressed entirely appropriately for an evening out, and yet, their choices are very different.

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Style is entirely personal and is a visual portrayal of our personality. As much as I love to see Iris in her colorful outfits, I am a classic, neutral girl who loves to add bold jewellery and scarves to punch things up. Here are some looks I love for daytime errands, shopping, dinner with the girls, or Saturday pub night…..

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My lifestyle today is definitely more casual. My closet does have several “little black dresses” because I still love to get dressed up when there is an occasion.

The wonderful thing about fashion is that it continually evolves. There was a time when I loved the color and glitter of sequins on my outfit and who knows that may happen again. My point is wear what makes you feel happy, unless it is those damn pajama pants. I draw the line at pajama pants in public.

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Thanks for reading,

Penny xo

Boobs

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I was having lunch with some friends a few days ago and the conversation somehow turned to breasts. One of the girls casually mentioned that she had stopped wearing a bra some time ago. She said she loved the feeling of freedom that it gave her. Instead of the constrictions of an undergarment, she simply layered a couple of tops. It got me thinking about my own “girls”.

The only time I actually go bra-less is at night when I am sleeping. And yes, it is very liberating, but I would feel naked going without my bra anywhere else. When I was in my teens and early twenties, I would occasionally go without a bra because the dress or top I was wearing was cut in such a way that the straps would show and spoil the look. Today girls actually intend to show their bras and often choose colors that stand out.

The trend today seems to favor large breasts, and plastic surgeons are busy performing all kinds of expensive enhancements. Personally, I would like to give up a couple inches. I always thought breast feeding my children would cause my mammary glands to shrink up later, however that has not been the case. And aging has brought with it the inevitable boob sag. a9ab671e4b5b715862b312ccd5a23387

I wonder why we seem to have a fascination with this part of the female anatomy? I have decided that it is the most obviously visible, female feature that relates to sex. It doesn’t matter whether you are wearing a top cut down to “there” or a turtleneck sweater showing no skin at all, the size and shape of your breasts are obvious. And be honest ladies, men are not the only ones who notice these attributes.

The whole process of growing breasts in puberty is a milestone. I remember a funny incident with my daughter when she was in nursery school. We had been given a bag of hand-me-down clothes from someone with older girls. The items were far too large, and I put the bag in the closet to save for a later date.  While picking the kids up from nursery school a few weeks later, the teacher asked to speak with me. She could barely contain herself. She asked if I knew my 4 year old was wearing a bra. I was puzzled at first and called my daughter over. Sure enough you could see the faint outline of the training bra through her sweater. I almost died in a fit of laughter. She had found the item in the bag and tried it on in her room. She apparently liked it, and decided to wear it to school saying nothing. At home, it took some coaxing to get her out of it.

I must admit, I love beautiful, lacy lingerie. It makes me feel beautiful knowing that I am wearing pretty pieces under my clothing. I also must admit that I lived more than half my life wearing the wrong size. For years, I have admired the gorgeous windows of lingerie stores and print ads. It is only since retirement that I decided to treat myself to a properly fitted, fancy bra. The experience was enlightening, and I hate that I waited so long. For me, shopping for lingerie is like being a kid in a candy store, only the treat lasts so much longer. The “girls” look so much better with proper support, and I think it actually changes the shape of your silhouette and the way you carry yourself. It may be expensive initially, but a good bra lasts for years. I highly recommend treating yourself to this little luxury.

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Aging definitely does a number on our bodies, no matter how hard we try to keep it in check. Personally speaking, I think I will always wear my bra, and hopefully it will always be colorful and lacy. If it makes you feel good about yourself, then indulge yourself. The struggle is real ladies, no matter what species we are, aging is going to present challenges, but don’t stop trying to always look and feel your best.

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Thanks for reading

Penny xo

 

 

 

 

To Dye or Not to Dye

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I know it is getting close to Easter, but I am talking about hair not eggs. Coloring my hair has become an increasingly difficult choice for me. I began finding random gray hairs in my mid twenties. I ignored that old wives tale about pulling them out and growing two in their place, and by the time I reached my mid thirties, I had a rather substantial silver streak across the front of my head. People asked me if I had it dyed that way, and I proudly told them it was natural.

Well, when the silver started to take over my head, I just felt old when I looked in the mirror, so I took the plunge and bought some hair color. I erased those natural highlights and went back to my chestnut brown locks.

Fast forward about 30 years and here I am contemplating letting my hair go natural. It has become a tedious, messy ordeal to keep coloring, and I think I may be ready to give it up. I am not even sure what my natural color might be at this point. I look at pictures of my mom and try to imagine myself with her hair.

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My beautiful mom

Well, to be honest, I probably would not actually go natural, but at least closer than it is presently. My hair is currently a light brown with blonde highlights and annoying silver roots which appear about every two weeks. I am tired of trying to keep up with the growth.

I used to think that gray hair just made us look old, but more recently I have had a change of heart. It is not the color that makes us look old, but rather our style and attitude. It seems everywhere I look there are women with beautifully coiffed silver gray tresses. Apparently GRAY is the new black! Older models with gray hair are gracing fashion magazines and advertisements everywhere. They look stunning!

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So why am I so apprehensive????

I was discussing my thoughts on going gray with the girls over dinner on pub night. Everyone had their own opinion and ideas of course. Then someone sporting spiky, platinum hair with black and pink highlights said, “We should get to decide on YOUR hair because we have to look at you the most.” The table broke into gales of laughter. Oi vey!!!

Maybe I should ease into this gray transition thing by doing something totally fun,

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Or perhaps not.

Another friend reminded me that if I color my hair, I must also consider my brows. She warned that it can be a dangerous situation. A technician was dyeing her brows and forgot her in the room. By the time the technician returned, she looked like Groucho Marx. The visual of that made me burst into laughter. It took several days of scrubbing to tone things down.

I have an appointment with my stylist in a few weeks, and I’ll discuss it with her. Until then, I guess I’ll just keep dyeing.

 

Thanks for reading,

Penny xo

P.S. If you have any thoughts or your own experience on this, let me know.