Sunday, July 13, 2014

Growing Up Gracefully



I have a confession to make.  And it's one I did not think I would talk about here.  My blog is for sewing and knitting frivolity - fun and fanciful things that I make and enjoy.

Last September I turned 40 and a lot of things changed.  I've had a hard time reconciling my outside self with my inside self.  In the past, I wasted a lot of time trying to fit in before I found the courage and contentment to let my true self out and I'm not inclined to go back.  I'm the lady with the odd coloured hair, the mad novelty print dresses, and the handknit cardigans.  I love Star Trek, Sherlock, and Phyrne Fisher.  I like bright colours, the Muppets, and have the fashion sense of a 5 year old.


Somehow, with the advent of my 40th birthday, my love of these things this feels slightly ridiculous; as though I should shed this frivolity and adopt something more responsible.  Or perhaps I resemble someone chasing after lost youth, which can go badly wrong and look quite painful, no?  I think one of the reasons I've been struggling with blogging lately is that if I revealed my true age, somehow I would seem an imposter; someone trying to fit into a group to which she no longer had membership.

Today I read this excellent post by Tors at Girl, Meets Wolf.  I chuckled at the 'middle age spread' and new hair growth in odd places.  Seriously, my chin?  And why am I now getting an attack of spots like some teenager?!  Argh.  Last December, my knee (which I dislocated at age 16) decided to hand in its resignation.  Fantastic.  Now it crunches charmingly every time I go down the stairs.  The verdict?  Wear and tear.  The treatment? None.  Just put up with it and eventually you'll get a bionic one. That should look stellar with my flamingo dress, no?  I am too young to be this old!



Adjusting to being 40 when I still feel 25 has been a struggle.  I'm sure my family and friends are tired of hearing me whinge about the changes (why is it that men don't seem to have these same changes?!) and my frustration with my personal style.  I'm still struggling, but it's not as bad and I have started to be able to go with the flow of it all a bit better.  While most of my more obnoxious novelty print dresses have been packed away, a good number still hang in my closet and I feel good when wearing them.  I've been working on discovering and making new styles and silhouettes that feel comfortable and give me the same thrill of happiness that I experienced before.



This whole growing up gracefully thing is a farce, in my opinion.  It catches you sideways and knocks you for a loop.  However, it's not fighting it that is the true challenge.  Changes happen over which you have no control and finding the positive in that is the true grace of it all.

I'm happy that my grace will still involve flamingo dresses.  I could do without the grey hair, though.

77 comments:

Gillian said...

I find it so interesting reading your take on turning 40! Kristin from K-Line has posted a lot about how growing older really changed her body. The strange thing, for me, is having just turned 32 I'm feeling like suddenly I"m old enough to be taken seriously at my job (not that anyone ever hasn't, but when I meet with parents it's odd to be younger than them!) I'm feeling like wearing more flirtatious clothing, because I don't need to dress to look more mature! I dearly hope the window of being a comfortable age isn't only the 8 years between 32 and 40... but if it is, dammit, I'm going to enjoy it!
For what it's worth... I don't see anything about novelty prints and 50's dresses that is only for the young. It's not like you are wearing them like Taylor Swift with mini-skirts and cutouts! (She has lovely style - it just strikes me as young style!) Have you ever seriously looked around the blogosphere and figured out who might be over 40? I think there are plenty - but they look great wearing what they want. Right now you are feeling the Miss Fisher style, and that's great on you... but please don't ever feel like you have to outgrow your other looks!

Sue @ A Colourful Canvas said...

I think some Dr. Seuss might be in order here Sarah... 'Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.' Okay, I'm fifty-three and my latest make on my blog is a fit and flare dress, above the knee {GASP}, and *A CHILDREN'S PRINT* WOO HEE! That forty number...it's just a number...listen to your inner voice and you won't go wrong. I think the very nature of personal style is personal! So, don't let others dictate what you should or shouldn't be wearing! Now, I do think it's normal for our personal style to evolve over time. I mean, the longer we are on this planet, the more life experience we gain, the more we grow as people...it just makes sense that our style choices change with us. But! That doesn't mean packing away flamingo dresses and colourful cardigans. It sounds very much like you're on the right track...just try and let go of the struggle part...turn away from the mirror, and ask yourself how you feel!



PS I have requested the first Phyrne Fisher book from the library and am anxiously awaiting it's arrival!

Sarah C said...

I love this post! I felt very similar to this upon turning 30 and I am sure when I hit 40 it will come up again. I am slowly learning to just wear what makes me feel confident and not worry too much about others thoughts on it. I think Sue hit the nail on the head with her comment! Keep on wearing/sewing what makes you happy!

Elephun said...

I completely understand the struggle. I went through it a bit younger than you, though. I turned 40 this year, and it has been great. For some reason, I feel more at home in my own skin again which is fantastic. I think you'll find your balance again pretty soon.
Like one of your other commenters, I have some garments that I really only wear at home and in my neighborhood. These items make me really happy, and I feel great in them there. For "outside" I dress a bit more conservatively because that is how I am more comfortable. I still dress like I want to, and I'm still way less conservatively dressed than most people I come across. If you want to "tone it down" (and I'm absolutely NOT saying you should tone it down), sticking with the same silhouettes, using "plain" colors that have amazing texture might appeal to you. I love to interline these types of garments with bold fabrics. This makes me happy, because I know it is there, and others may catch a quick glimpse as I walk by.
I hope this helps a little.

Debbie James said...

Thank you for writing this: I can relate to every word.

gill vintagerockchick said...

You've got nothing to worry about - I'm nearly 20 years older than you and I still wear ridiculous frocks and have recently had my fringe dyed very very red. Whilst I expected to get a few sideways looks, and dubious comments, in fact I have had lots of compliments about the dresses and the hair. In fact, one of the compliments came from you - I am the Dolly Clackett sewalong-er with the mad sewing machine frock.
So just do and wear what makes you happy - if you're happy, you'll make people around you happy too.
You don't stop having fun because you get old, you get old because you stop having fun xx

tigerlounge said...

I love this post! I'm 43 but I don't feel any older than 23. I'm not sure if this is a good or a bad thing. And the knees... I know exactly what you mean. Mine make this alarming clicking noise when I walk up or down stairs now. And my teeth... don't get me started on my teeth.

VickiKate said...

Ooh, this resonates. I have an ongoing dischord with what is expected of me and who I am. As I'm getting older though I'm gaining the confidence to be truer to myself but still have some wobbles. Just be you, we grow and evolve - I don't have any answers but do understand a little!

Heather said...

You are amazing! Age is just a number, but I get what you're saying. Sometimes I look at a cute printed fabric and long to make a dress out of it, but I don't, because I think: I'm too old for that. It's kind of silly really, because, does it really matter what anyone else thinks? Do (and wear) what makes you happy!
And personally, I don't think that you are ever too old to have funky hair colour - funky hair is timeless (and ageless).

Jessica Hurst said...

As my turn, to turn 40 is quickly approaching I completely understand. I recently saw a Nike commercial with a older woman running. The narrator said, "Getting older...." Then it showed the woman starting in on the hill up head. The narrator finished up saying, "Who Cares!"

That's the way I want to "get older" but easier said than done. During our forth of July party, my mother-in-law was dancing around acting goofy with the kids, only to get reprimand by her husband, "Act your age!"

She laughed and continued while I tried to figure out if that was intended to be a complement or not. :)

Really, who wrote the rules on just how we are supposed to act as we get older?

Meghan Scott said...

The top(dress?) in the top picture is adorable. What pattern is that?

Ashley said...

You certainly don't look 40 and since you don't feel it I don't think you should have to give anything up! We have very similar taste and I'm hoping that when I hit the big 4-0 I'll still be rocking the colored hair and the novelty prints. Ultimately, you need to be true to yourself. If you still feel 25 then I think you should run with it :)

Silvia - Sewing Princess said...

Happy belated birthday! It's crazy how just a number makes us feel different! Style is very personal and I think we should follow our instinct more ;)

Mim McDonald said...

Like a few other commenters, I turned 40 this year. I don't think you need to reject the things you love. All too often I see people saying certain garments are for this age or that age, when really, they're just for people. Remember that great post on how to get a bikini body - 'Put a bikini on your body'? It's the same with age. To dress for the age you are, put clothes on!



I'm 40, and today I'm wearing a dinosaur necklace, because I like dinosaurs, dagnabbit! And I'm not giving up my science fiction or Muppets either...

Kirsty Splatt said...

I'm fast on the approach to 40, but have decided to age disgracefully and continue to dress like a 5 year old girl when the mood suits. Some of us were not made to grow up, we get to be who we are because we like what we do. Just embrace, and frock up in the flamingo's!

ozzyblackbeard said...

Oh, I hear you loud and clear! I was 40 last year too (I'm 41 now, as my birthday was last month), and I have to admit that I, too, had a moment of doubting whether I could still wear my mad print dresses. Then I caught myself on, and thought, "I've been dressing um, unusually since I was teenager - not going to stop now!". One of the brilliant things I found about being 40 was that I just didn't give a hoot about what people thought of me. I am a generally decent person (I think!), and if someone is as shallow as to judge me solely on how I look, then that's their problem. And if they have the cheek to comment to me on it, then they'll get a face-full of attitude. Because another great thing I found about being 40 is that I can speak my mind (but I don't mean being cheeky), because I have actually lived!! Although, in fairness, I'd been doing that since I was about 37! Prior to that I wouldn't of rocked the boat, but then I just got sick of idiots! Conclusion - 40 rocks.
I think you always look fab, your dresses are gorgeous; and completely by the way, I really like your glasses - I've been looking for a pair that shape. Also I was going grey at 27 - that's what hair dye is for! And just so you know, dress number two on my sewing list will be made with fabric with Russian dolls on it, and I am looking forward to wearing it. So if you ever feel that you're (horrors!) too old for a fabric, let me know, and I'll talk you into buying it! Lynne

Melanie Y said...

I turned 40 this year and I just feel the same as always in a "good way". I'm not defined by my age, but how comfortable I am in my skin, which is more comfortable the older I get.

Melanie Y (Miss Piggy) said...

I turned 40 this year and I just feel the same as always in a "good
way". I'm not defined by my age, but how comfortable I am in my skin,
which is more comfortable the older I get.

Lisette said...

Wow, you don't look 40 at all! I feel like I struggle with the same thing sometimes, only I AM only 25 and I already feel as if I should dress much more adult than I sometimes do. I think you'll be ok though. None of us should feel bad about dressing the way we want!

Bobbi Piles said...

Men do go through the same problems, they just don't seem to care - and aging men are more accepted by "society" in general.
Don't give up your personal style. It's you. I'm 45 and feel 18 most of the time. There's a whole, huge group of over-40 bloggers with amazing style that will help you feel better about your love of dressing like a 5-year-old.
Have you looked into glucosamine for your knee? It might help.

Aleksandra Robinson said...

To me, the novelty prints can be quite middle-age appropriate. Think Miss Frizzle -- in the best possible way, of course.


I really really hate these notions of what we should and shouldn't wear at a certain age. I have a dear male friend who recently turned 30 and said he read that after 30 you can't wear novelty shirts anymore -- that you look desperate. Screw that! Novelty tees are his thing. Why does anyone need to conform to what OTHER PEOPLE think they should be wearing? It all just grinds a bit on my sensibilities.


Why give up something you love? You are adorable and quirky in your lovely handmades and that's something to celebrate and love. So there! :P

tanyamaile said...

I say, dress as young as you feel! :)

Becky W said...

I never would have guessed you were 40! You certainly don't look it. I had a similar re-thinking a couple of years ago when I hit 30, but I settled on screw it, I still like my bright colors and geeky t-shirts, and life is too short to not wear things that make you happy! So I say wear what you love. :)

Dawn Marie said...

Thank you for this post. I'll be turning 40 this year and have similar tasteto yours. I find you to be an iinspiration, not someone fighting to not grow up. Trust to you always looks good and age appropriate. :)

misscrayolacreepy said...

I can relate to this post so much! I'm turning 30 on Friday and question my wardrobe choices all the time! I wonder if I am professional enough and if people take me seriously at work. But what it comes down to is what makes me happy. If a crazy 1960s style print makes me happy I should wear it. Life is too short to worry about what other people think! :) I bet there are tons of people you encounter on a day to day basis who adore your style! xo

Inder said...

And why do the chin hairs have to be JET BLACK, even though the hair everywhere else on your body (cough cough) appears to be turning gray?!! WHYYYYYYYY. *Shakes fist at heavens.*

I'm 38 this year, so I'm right behind ya, lady. First of all, I do not believe that because you are older, you must suddenly morph into something boring and very dignified (unless dignified is your thing, in which case, more power to you). For heaven's sake, stay fun! But as I get older, I have the challenge of learning to dress a new and different body, and the growing pains (pun intended) associated with that. As my mom says, "We women get to have so many different bodies." So so true. You gotta keep your sense of humor and carry on!

Getting older: it definitely beats the alternative!!!

Laura Poehlman said...

Dude. Rockin' toddler style with gray hairs at 46. Be yourself gracefully in whatever way works for you!

Sarah said...

You better be rocking the coloured hair and Bernie Dexter dresses at 40! Reconciling my inside to my outside self is challenging. Thanks so much for your comment.

Sarah said...

You are an INSPIRATION!! I love, love your glasses and pigtails!!

Sarah said...

YES! Why are they jet black and coarse and impossible to yank out! Argh!!! LOL! Growing pains, that is a great explanation. Thank you!

Sarah said...

I loved, loved my 30's! Happy early birthday, Erin! Thank you for your lovely comment. :)

Sarah said...

Thank you so much for this, Dawn Marie. Saying I don't look like I'm fighting not to grow up just meant so much.

Sarah said...

Life is too short! You are absolutely right! Why are women so plagued with self-doubt? Argh!

Sarah said...

Thank you! My flamingo dress hangs in my closet and makes me smile every time I see it.

Laura Poehlman said...

I love fluffy party dresses too, like everyday with sneakers. I mean it, wear what you love. My 15 yr old doesn't even whine that I embarrass her.

Sarah said...

I love Miss Frizzle! She is so fun!

I hate the fashion + age equation, too. In fact, I hate most modern fashion because of the social expectations that seem to be attached to it. Blech.

Thank you for your lovely comment. I really do appreciate it.

Sarah said...

Thank you so much, Bobbi :) Why is it men 'age' but women just 'get old?' So annoying!

You're right. My personal style is me and I fought too hard to find it an express it. Thank you :)

Sarah said...

Thank you, Lisette! 25 was hard for me - I went through something similar to what I'm experiencing now.

I love your style - don't change a thing!

Sarah said...

I need to work on cultivating that feeling. Thank you, Melanie :)

Sarah said...

Lynne, you are a treasure! Thank you so much for your thoughtful and boosting comment. :)

Sarah said...

Booyah! I will age 'disgracefully' as well! Thank you!

Sarah said...

Thank you, Kat :) 37 was a great age - I got my tattoo then!

Sarah said...

'Put a bikini on your body' - excellent advice, Mim, thank you :) I could never give up my Muppets or my bright colours.

Sarah said...

I must remember to trust my instincts. After all, I trusted them when I met my husband and he's fantastic. Thank you, Silvia.

Sarah said...

It's the Washi Dress by Made by Rae. I highly recommend it. I just finished my 6th one!

Sarah said...

Thank you, Jesscia, for your comment. It's a great reminder to all of us to write our own rules for how we feel and how we age. It's just what I needed to hear.

Sarah said...

Thank you for that, Heather! I've just received a lovely Michael Miller bird print fabric in the mail and I plan on making a fall/winter blouse from it.

Sarah said...

It's the ongoing battle with confidence that can be a kicker, can't it? I think that's the core of my problem - my confidence has been knocked a bit. Thank you :)

Sarah said...

Damn, those knees! And my neck just sprained itself, it seems. LOL! Another reader above suggested glucosamine for knees. I'm going to get on that.

Sarah said...

Oh, I love, love that dress! And there is NO WAY you are nearly 20 years older than me. Lies!! LOL!

Sarah said...

It's a kicker, this ageing business. I have to learn to kick back!

Sarah said...

I do have some 'at home' garments, too. For me, it's more 'sloppy' than I would normally present myself when going out of the house. Thank you for your reassurance that my balance will come back. Makes a big difference.

Sarah said...

Sometimes we are our own worst enemies, no? Thank you, Sarah (great name!)

Sarah said...

You got me with the Dr. Seuss. He was such a wise man. Thank you so much, Sue.

PS: You will LOVE the Phryne Fisher books!

Sarah said...

Sounds like a great plan. Thanks, Andrea :)

Sarah said...

Mini skirts?! Eeek! Not even in my 20s would I have worn them - LOL! As always, dear Gillian, you are the voice of reason. Thank you.

Sarah said...

I'm working on that :)

Jane said...

As a 45 year old, I can relate to every word of this! I was nodding my head furiously at Lynn (Ozzy Blackbeard's) comment too - I've found that the older I get, the less I care about what other people think! I'm more confident in my 40's than I've ever been. Just keep doing what you're doing - you look fab my friend and I hope your 40's rock! xx

Sarah said...

Thank you do much for this, Jane :)

IngeMaakt said...

Don't grow up, it's a trap!!! Seriously tough, I think you look great, and wouldn't have guessed you were 40. I agree with the other commenters - wear what you love, and you'll look great in it simply because you love it. Why would you change the way you dress/look because you have become a certain age? People that know you and love you (and vice versa) already know how you dress and it hasn't stopped them from loving you, so why change all of a sudden?

Sarah said...

This is excellent advice. Thank you so much! You are one of my sewing inspirations :)

tors (girl, meets wolf) said...

Aw thank you my lovely. Boy do I hear you! I think style is a big issue for me too, but - like the hair growth - I think tastes suddenly evolve into big long hairs that are surprisingly well attached. What you liked before is fine, but the new stuff you like is a little unexpected. Unlike sudden and surprising hair growth in new and unusual places, this is not a bad thing. It's okay for tastes to change, but equally it's okay for your fashion sense to continue as it is (even if it is the fashion sense of a five year old, which I love). I love how you rock your style and celebrate your individuality and I will blather loudly at anyone who says that has to stop at 40, because I certainly refuse to suddenly start conforming to society's views just because I hit a certain physical number.

Sarah said...

I am sending you big, big ((HUGS))! Thank you!!

BusyLizzie said...

I hear you on the clothes vs age dilemma. I turned 40 this year too and had the thought that maybe there are some things I "shouldn't" wear, but then I thought "screw it" - life is too short to worry what other people think. It's more important to be happy in yourself. I love wearing clothes that make me happy. I don't have too many novelty prints (yet!) but I love me a good polka dot or floral. I'll keep wearing them as long as they make me happy

lee said...

Hi Sarah, I'm about to turn 40 next month and completely get all of it! My style preferences have been changing over the past couple years but seem to have taken a sudden swerve-- also toward an easy fit. I've developed an aversion to any kind of waistband at the natural waist or worse, a midriff band. I try to look at older women I admire and see what works for them. And I've GOT to get back to yoga.

Sarah said...

Lee! You're preaching to the choir! I abhor waistbands at the moment and thought it was only me!

Sarah said...

Polka dots and florals are definitely my happy prints. There are some novelty prints I still like, but I find myself drawn to quieter things at the moment. Thank you for your excellent advice. Life is too short!

bassoonist97 . said...

I understand the whole dressing your age conflict. I'm 17 and I feel like my sense of fashion doesn't coincide with my age. I wear big 1950's style novelty print circle skirts, colorful shirts and put my hair up in foam rollers at night and it's definitely made me feel a disconnect with my age and my fashion sense. It takes me a while to get the courage to wear a specific outfit because I fear it will be too "big" or the fabrics will be too obnoxious and the looks I'll get because I like to dress up! It's a struggle, but keep doing what you're doing; you look great, and I wouldn't have known that you're 40; you don't look like it. :)

carmencitab said...

Hi Hon! I decided to give up! I'm 53 and I can't reconcile my new menauposal smoke free body with my inner 25 years old. I was faced with having to build a new wardrobe for my newfound C cups and thicker waist and I thought for a long time about having a major wardrobe overhaul in the process and I just gave up. How can people know how fun I am if I don't dress the part? So old excentric I will be. Just do as you please is what I say, do what makes you happy and gives you joy.

Pennie_Y said...

Age is just a number... pretty much all of us are a different age in our heads...it's what works for you that counts

My husband is fond of saying, growing old is mandatory, growing up is optional...

My birth certificate says I am 43... my head claims to be somewhere between 19-25

and my clothing choices don't recognise "age appropriate" I go with the words of Ian Dury

"Every bit of clothing ought to make you pretty

You can cut the clothing, gray is such a pity
I should wear the clothing of Mr. Walter Mitty
See my tailor, he's called Simon, I know it's going to fit

Here's a little piece of advice
You're quite welcome it is free
Don't do nothing that is cut price
You know what that'll make you be"

Sarah said...

Thank you very much for this :)

Sarah said...

I've given up, too. I will end up the blue-haired eccentric old lady and that's that! LOL!

Sarah said...

I can definitely empathize! Stick to your style!

zilredloh said...

Oh Sarah! Thanks for this. I 100% feel like that right now - in general - and I'm 31. Hair-check. Fashion sense - check. Spots - check. Grey hair - eeeek check. Bad knee too - check.


You just made me feel a bit better - knowing we're going through this, all us gals, no matter what our ages are.


Cheers!

Sarah said...

Oh, I'm so glad to hear that this helped. It took a bit of courage for me to post it. :)

Sarah Sparkles said...

Oh yeah, I know this feeling! It seems that since I turned 30, I have a moment at least once a year when I question whether I need to dress more appropriately for my age.

Luckily, I usually get over that pretty quickly, and I've found that occasionally asking others if they thing I should gets me some pretty resounding "why the heck would you do that!?!?" type answers, haha!

I'm turning 37 in a couple of months, and intend to keep wearing crazy prints and colours and having brightly coloured hair for a long time yet. (Even if sometimes I do feel a little bit silly in it due to my age, it still makes me smile, and makes others smile as well, so hey, why give it up?) And hey, if dressing fun is good enough for Vivienne Westwood, it's good enough for me, right?! ;-)

As some of the others commenting have said - getting older doesn't mean we have to "grow up", nor does it mean we have to conform to what society seems to expect of us at a certain age. Variety is fun, creativity is fun, and seeing others wearing what they want, no matter their age, is inspiring. So please, please, keep rocking those gorgeous bright colourful dresses of yours!

Sarah Sparkles said...

I turned 40 last year, too. I refuse to give up my novelty Emery dresses, however I now have a distinct inside wardrobe and outside wardrobe. My novelty Emerys are worn at home, weekends and social functions that are only close friends. My outside wardrobe (a basic black pencil skirt and solid color blouse) is for PTA meetings, the husband's work functions, ect. I'm not giving up my youthful wardrobe, just adding some age appropriate outfits for when I need them.

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