Friday, February 5, 2010

Fade to Black. Or Gray, as it Were.

"Gray hair is a sign of age, not of wisdom" --Greek proverb

All you sweet young things can take today off reading (if you dare!) because I'm going to talk about getting older. Not older as in, old enough not to be asked for i.d. at the liquor store, but older as in, oh, my god, who is that hag in the mirror with the fading skin, graying hair and why can't I wear red lipstick anymore?

After extensive reading and website trolling (pre- and during this project), I've learned a thing or two about color and, ahem, older women.

To be blunt, age sucks us dry. It's a pigment thief, stealing it from our hair, skin and irises. (Except where it deposits irregular little blobs of freckle-looking things in random places.) It makes our necks look like party streamers from Silence of the Lambs. It makes our eyelids weird and floppy and unable to hold onto shadow. Without our life's moisture, we shrink, and fade into the background. Where are our rosy cheeks (in a compact!), our plump lips (ouch, that lip plumper lipstick stings like hell), our wide, flashing eyes (did I say flashing?--please, not yet!)?

I haven't yet found the answer to overcoming the whole age problem, but I'll let you know. Most advice suggests that 1) less is more when it comes to makeup, 2) a pop of color is preferable to neutrala and 3) women over forty should definitely put away the belly shirts and short shorts.

These days, my wardrobe definitely lacks color. I'm working on it, but budget clothes tend to look a tad too budgety when one gets into bright blue poly, plum acrylic, and Hawaiian flower peasant shirts. So I have a preponderance of basic black and gray on my racks and shelves. (If you take a look at Norma Kamali's WalMart line, you'll find she tends to stick to basic colors with blue or red accents. Except for that awesome cheetah print outfit. I own it, but you won't see it unless I slim down soon.)

Don't get me wrong. I've always worn black. It's sophisticated and often slimming. Black is the artist's and socialite's staple. Has been for half a century and, I suspect, will be for decades to come.



(Okay. Holly Golightly was a hooker. Kind of like a socialite.)

Being a blonde, I've always loved gray on blondes. Gray is Gwenyth Paltrow in a cashmere sweater and pearls, or Kim Novak in a dove gray suit in the film Vertigo.

But just look at Helen Mirren (she's sixty-three, and I have sixteen years to get there, but she's still one of my heroines).


Notice the light rose-plum sweater, and the perky, gray-blond hair, as well as the berry lipstick. Subtle color. No black. No gray. She doesn't look washed-out at all. In fact, in the hundreds of recent photos of her that I looked at, I only saw her in black twice and deep gray once. In 2008, she was even pictured in a red bikini. And she looked fabulous. (I know, I know. She's an international star, and she has professional Beauty Fairies hovering 'round, awaiting her commands. But why would a woman aim lower? Though I will not be wearing anything resembling a bikini. That's just masochism.)

So, my current project-within-a-project is to inject some color into my wardrobe and life. And to figure out the makeup thing. Unfortunately, there are no Beauty Fairies in the aisles of WalMart. 

Here's Day 136, which started this thought train. As I said, I own a lot of gray. It helps not to have it around one's face, I think.

White Stag sweater: $15; George tank: $10; Earrings: $12; Necklace: $7; can't remember the exact pants, but probably $15; Norma Kamali flats: $20    Total: $79

Day 137:

No picture. I think it just got too late and I got grumpy. But here's Bengal's Pinewood Derby car that he and I worked on together. The race has been rescheduled for the 13th. Of course there's a Lego guy stuck to the top!


Have a fabulous weekend! 


  1. Ooh,that car is SWEET! The LEGO guy adds a nice touch, too.

    I'm all for adding more color! Sometimes you can get a really nice result with a pastel. But I like that gray sweater. I normally don't like ruffles, but that one's cute.

  2. Hey pretty,

    I have officially sworn off the masochism of bikinis -- evil things, all! I love gray, love it and am married to black. Sad, but true. I'm trying to go more red this year -- we shall see! Good luck on the dentist stuff -- kind of like a blind date except that sometimes you get painkillers.