Adventures in retirement: Fashion forward or fashion backward?

The other day, I heard a guest preacher speaking about how he loved being 52. In essence, he commented on how liberating it was to grow older; how one tends to care less about appearance and more about the important things in life. I realize not everyone will agree with him, but I do.  When I was young, I loved to wear trendy clothes and shoes. These days, I prefer comfort to style, and exchanged my heels for flip-flops, sandals and tennis shoes—with the occasional pair of boots thrown in.

I seldom wear makeup anymore—not that I ever wore much to begin with. Since I carry a little more “bulk” than I used to, my face isn’t filled with wrinkles. There have to be some advantages, right? I figure as long as I liberally apply moisturizer, I’m ahead of the game.

The preacher’s mention of getting older got me to thinking about my parents and in-laws.

One of the last pictures of both sets of parents.

One of the last pictures of both sets of parents.

When my folks first retired, Mom spent hours in a bathing suit, tanning by the pool. She and Dad played shuffleboard, delivered meals on wheels, and enjoyed the casual Florida lifestyle. About four or five years before Mom died, she quit wearing shorts and pants (for the most part). She loved her skirts and dresses, and wore a glass bead necklace most days. Mom did her best to look stylish, despite having to wear orthopedic shoes, and wearing some of the ugliest sweaters I’d ever seen. They made her happy and feel good about herself, and that was all that mattered.


Mom’s beads. I may never wear them, but I’ll always cherish them.

My mother-in-law, on the other hand, seldom wore dresses or skirts. She would dress for church in slacks (an occasional skirt), a blouse or knit top, and a jacket—always a jacket. When not dressed for church, she wore lightweight slacks and a plaid short-sleeved blouse. I know for a fact she wore several of the blouses for a good ten years or so. Her shoe selection was a bit more stylish than my mother’s, but not by much. Mary Ann wore flats or sandals when she dressed up, otherwise it was white or tan tennis shoes—in one particular style. I can still see the glue marks around the rubber lips, as she tried to get as much wear as possible.

My mother allowed her hair to go gray, while my mother-in-law refused to have a single gray strand show. I followed my mother’s example, while my daughter will follow her other grandmother’s lead.

Can you see the glue on the pair on the left?

Can you see the glue on the pair on the left?

I appreciate style and those who always look like a million bucks. I also appreciate those of us who like to look nice, but aren’t concerned whether or not our clothes are the latest fashion trend. I wouldn’t be caught out in public in my pajamas, but have no problem wearing them all day in the privacy of my home. Gives me a good excuse not to answer the door.

In truth, this post is less about fashion and more about originality. We’re all created in God’s image, yet no two are alike. Our clothes don’t define us, our hearts do.  Think about that the next time you’re ready to judge a person by what’s on the outside. Maybe you could take a minute to find out what’s on the inside.



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36 Responses to Adventures in retirement: Fashion forward or fashion backward?

  1. Ruth Polsgrove says:

    This is a great article.

  2. Cheryl Baranski says:

    Great blog post. I am also refuse to go in public in my pajamas. In fact, I have an up coming surgery they told me to wear pajamas to the hospital. Not! I will take them with me and change there. My make-up up consists of a tinted moisturizer and lip balm. I would rather stay home and read then go out.

  3. Wilani Wahl says:

    Love this post. God did make each of us unique. Hitting the retirement age does have its own unique situations and thoughts. We also can have more confidence in God because of learning for many years that God is with us and strengthens our trust in Him.

  4. Ashley Penn says:

    Love it! Since I no longer have a “day job” (Stay at home mom is a 24 hour gig!) I dress for comfort. I pretty much live in blue jeans and sweaters (yes, even to church most days).

    Makes doing laundry easy though. Jeans in one washer. Sweaters in the other. Done. And I’m all about efficiency!

    • Lucie says:

      I agree with you about the 24-hour gig! I did that for many years. It was hard, but I never regretted it for a minute. 🙂

  5. Becky Smith says:

    Great article! I love “our clothes don’t define us, our hearts do.” I agree that as we get older, temporal things really don’t seem as important as eternal things.

    • Lucie says:

      Thanks, Becky! It’s funny how a few words that weren’t even part of this pastor’s sermon brought this idea to my head. God is good that way.

  6. Angela Schroeder says:

    Love this post. I’m only in my 30s but already am leaning more toward comfort than fashion. I refuse to wear pajamas in public or leggings as pants in public. I had a woman at church pull me to the side and lecture me because I wore a t-shirt with cartoon characters on it to church. I am one of those people who believes as long as you are clean and covered then why does what I wear matter?

    • Lucie says:

      Thanks you, Angie! I’m laughing at the cartoon shirt comment. Some people are way too concerned about what we wear. I’m with you-if it’s clean (and doesn’t say anything disrespectful), you’re good to go. 🙂

  7. Marcia Smith says:

    Since I have retired from teaching, I can wear jeans, comfortable t-shirt like tops, and tennis shoes everyday. I do not miss the dress slacks or nice shoes. I still dress up for church on Sunday morning, so some dresses are in my closet for now.
    I, also did the stay at home mom, gig, for seven years. I was never sorry I got to spend those years at home with my young children. Then I worked more than 25 years in schools. Now I am home, reading, quilting, knitting, and gardening. And it seems like only yesterday, I was home with a new baby. How the days fly by!

  8. Teresa S. says:

    I love this article! I’ve really never been into fashion too much, which drove my mom crazy because she always had to have everything match to a tee. It’s hard sometimes to “just be yourself” in today’s world. Everything pushes people to comform so it’s great when I see someone just being who they really are! 🙂

  9. Michele Hayes says:

    Lucie, I couldn’t agree with you more, comfort over fashion.

  10. Ashley S. says:

    Great article! I’ve never been one to care what others thought about what I was wearing and have always chosen comfort over fashion.

  11. Deana Dick says:

    Great article. I too have choosen to go gray like my mom. I use to dye it all the tine, but decided I didn’t really want to smell the chemicals anymore. I rarely wear a dress but prefer jeans and a tshirt. Funny how when we are younger clothes are everything to us. We want to be dressed up all the time. As we get older we still like to dress nice, but now it’s about comfort and enjoying life.

    • Lucie says:

      Absolutely! And congrats on going gray. I started with a gray streak that was pretty cool, and it sort of exploded from there.

  12. Kathy Watts says:

    Great post, and full of memories. My paternal grandmother wore dresses. My maternal grandmother wore pants.

    In many ways, there is something freeing about getting older and not worrying about trying to impress people. I am home most of the time, I only put on minimal makeup if I am going out. I live in jeans and rarely put on a dress anymore

    • Lucie says:

      I love when memories come to me like that. 🙂 I agree about not worrying about impressing anybody. Makes like so much simpler.

  13. Charlene says:

    I’ve been makeup free for years, and my hair is au naturale. My years of dressing to impress ended when I moved into this humidity. Makeup slides right off. I am barefooted or in sandals. All my clothes are easy care cotton or rayon and breathable! Comfort is more important than fashion. The only concession I make is insisting even my most casual clothes are wrinkle free.

    • Lucie says:

      I hear you, Charlene. Humidity does a number on makeup, and clothes. We may live on opposite sides of the country–literally–but we experience some of the same issues. 🙂

  14. Rose Wilson Jordan says:

    My hair is natural, and I have never worn makeup. I do however, who have two sisters whom you would not recognize without their morning routine. Over the years, they have
    given me lessons, bribed me, shamed me, to look like them. As you said, we are all different, and what is important to one, is not important to the other.

    • Lucie says:

      When my family moved to Houston back in 1971, we lived across the street from the man who built our house. He was down to earth, and she was a southern belle. She told my mother that her husband never saw her without makeup. She went to bed with it on, would get up early to wash and re-apply. I can’t even imagine. Good for you for sticking to your guns. Gotta be who God created you to be.

  15. JJ says:

    I have a fav shirt that I’ve worn 23 yrs now. I have up on looking stylish yrs ago. Pj’s at home, but it is tempting to wear them in public sometimes. My grandmother’s and mother’s voices in my head just scream too loudly when I consider it. Lol.

    • Lucie says:

      Lol! My mother would roll over in her grave if I went out wearing my pjs. She often gave me a hard time for not wearing socks–in my own house. lol

  16. Teri D. says:

    Very inspiring Lucie! I am one who has never spent a lot of time keeping up with trends, and it times it makes me feel like I must be very frumpy… But I’m always comfy!

  17. Denise Glisson says:

    I too enjoyed your blog and agree with you on the fashion remarks. I don’t really wear make up either anymore especially living in FL. However, I do still love to shop. Trying not to buy as many purses anymore, but love comfy shoes/sandals/boots and Hats! Oh, and I buy all my goodies at local thrift stores & garage sales. Yes, QVC, but cutting down a lot. You’d be amazed how happy you make others feel, when you compliment them on what their wearing or just their lovely smile.

    • Lucie says:

      Yes, Florida and makeup don’t go all that well together. 🙂 I hate to shop and only do it when I have to. But you’re so right about a simple compliment. A simple word goes a long way.

  18. Andrea Byers says:

    Yes, we all are different. I’m one that’s all for comfort now, though I used to wear dresses (I hate nylons, but loved the warm stockings) I now live in jeans and whatever top is good for the season. I too am a stay at home mom, so feel no need to dress to impress anyone for a job.

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