I certainly would not consider myself a fashionista or an authority on the topic of fashion, but let’s just say that I genuinely believe that cultivating a personal sense of style does have its merits.
Throughout my professional career, dressing appropriately was something I took seriously, to demonstrate to my colleagues and my superiors that I was interested, engaged and committed to my work and to my career.
By offering attention to detail in my professional wardrobe, I believed it was a sign that my work would also reflect the same attention to detail. To me, it helped project credibility. Also, by dressing appropriately for the office, I never really had to worry about being called to last-minute meetings, as I was always suitably attired.
I would like to think that at this stage of my life, my skills, my track record and my professional reputation speak for themselves. But still, I have no interest in showing up for work while wearing the same thing I would be wearing if I was at home, binge watching Netflix.
Throughout my life, I have turned to men’s fashion magazines for tips and hints for cultivating the right look for me, for my age, and for my body type. After building and refining what I consider to be a classic wardrobe, combining durable investment pieces and a few colourful statement pieces, even if I don’t need to buy anything new, the magazines help me validate that the pieces I am wearing are still contemporary.
When I first started reading men’s fashion magazines, I was in my teens and maybe a bit young for those styles. As I flip though the men’s magazines today, I scavenge for bald heads and salt and pepper beards, as relatable points of reference… but where are they? Has the pendulum has swung too far the other way? Have I aged out of them? When did that happen?
Let’s get real: I don’t think anyone wants to see ultra-skinny jeans or drop crotch pants on my “Dad bod”. If there is anything I learned from Clinton Kelly and Stacey London when they hosted “What Not to Wear”, it is the concept of age appropriateness.
So where are our “fashionably fifty” male role models? Just because I can count on one hand how many more years I will be in the office environment, does not mean I am any less interested in looking sharp. I would also suggest that vibrant baby boomers who have big plans for their retirement, whether that means consulting work, community work, travel or even just a busy social life, may still be interested in tips and hints for looking their best.
As good as it may look, a business suit is not necessarily the answer to every occasion… at least here in Ottawa anyway. But if I am meeting with fellow writers, bloggers, prospective agents, editors or publishers, what does a kick-ass writer wear?
I realize that being on point and on trend might not be every fifty year old man’s top priority. I admit, I have my days where comfort is the overarching theme of the day. Just the same, I don’t envision my golden years being spent exclusively in sweat pants and sweat shirts or pyjamas and bath robes…. At least I hope not!
I also realize that in retirement, and on a fixed income, the appetite for new clothes may not be the same as when we are wearing (and wearing out) “work wear” five, six or seven days per week. But would that not be the right time to get advice on budget-conscious, classic pieces that will withstand the test of time?
There are so many great stores offering really interesting fashion pieces and accessories, it can be daunting and a little confusing to navigate the options and to know the right choices to pull together a great look. “Fashionably Fifty” could be the column to highlight the new looks that integrate well with great classic pieces. It could also serve to filter out the trends that are best left for the Gen X-ers, millennials or their offspring.
Last year, GQ UK posted an article called “How to Dress in Your 50’s” that highlighted tips, strategies and a few examples of role models displaying a good sense of style. It confirmed a lot of what I knew already but I did take notes! An article like this, updated for every season, would be great as a fashion compass.
There is no reason why baby boomers and those not far behind them can’t look cool without screaming fashion victim or mid-life crisis. Are the fashion magazines missing an opportunity?
With the exciting times ahead, transitioning to a new phase in life, I would like to think that with a signature style that exudes cool confidence, if I look my best, I will feel my best, and I will feel prepared to put my best foot forward. That is how I would like to be fashionably fifty.
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