I purged my closet, and I mean really purged, last week. Things that were too tight and styles that were more form fitting than I am comfortable with these days are gone. For me, the closet purge felt like a new beginning. Sure I had moments where nostalgia tugged at my heart a bit, but those seconds were overturned by new possibility.

The decision to whittle down my clothing came from an ‘aha’ moment. I was wearing a pair of pants that fit well (not too tight and not too loose). The jeans were paired with a top that wasn’t clingy and I felt comfortable and attractive.

And then it hit me, wearing clothing that fits well makes me feel pretty. Holding on to and wearing styles that do not work with my body as it is today is depressing. It’s depressing to work against some very real physical changes. My breasts have become a bit bigger, my thighs wider, my waist just a tad thicker and my belly, well no matter how many ab workouts, long power walks and bike rides I do, just isn’t budging. For those of you ready to exclaim; exercise more, eat less, and so on, I’d like to let you know that I am super active. I enjoy a diet rich in vegetables and low in carbs. My biggest vice is red wine.

I know that many women hold on to their old clothing because, dang, it’s super hard to shop after a certain age.

What I hear most often is, “I don’t want to look old.”

What does looking old mean?

I looked up the word ‘old’ in the dictionary and found it means everything from dating from the remote past, having existed for a specified period of time, advanced in years and showing the effects of time. That would translate, at least to me, that holding on to the remote past is actually the way to look old, right?

Showing the characteristics of age is the definition that struck me, however.

Many of us don’t have positive role models for older-age fashion, not to mention the reality of slim shopping options for post 50. But I have to ask; how in the hell and why did showing the characteristics of age, become a negative in our culture?

I’m 62. My desire is not to remain forever young, but to be real and true, to be seen and heard. To be relevant. Be me.

I don’t know about you, but holding on to the past doesn’t deliver anything positive for me.

Looking in the mirror, getting real and then practicing radical self-acceptance and love always delivers positives.

Showing the characteristics of age is, I’d hope, something we can learn to celebrate. I certainly hope it deserves more of a celebration than our 18th or 21st birthday and our first legal drink (and subsequent hangover)!

We change and change can be uncomfortable if we let it be.

Sometimes I overhear women judging other women regarding personal style. Saying things like, if she just lost weight, she could wear that top better, goodness doesn’t she exercise? What in the hell does she eat to be so big? Look at her upper arms, she needs to lift more. That belly of hers would be gone if she just worked out. Can you believe she’s dressed like she shopped at Chico’s?

Stop it. Please stop the negativity about the female body whatever it’s shape or style might be.

But as for dressing at Chico’s? Well, the store I recently discovered, Soft Surroundings, bears a bit of a resemblance.

(I also found a rather disparaging article about the styles and store, but as it was written by a 38 year old woman back in 2013, I was able to chuckle.)

Still, shopping for fashionable pieces as a woman over 50, never mind 60, who has experienced some physical changes despite being healthy and fit, can be discouraging.

If I may, I’d like to offer some tips:

  • First we often need to have a ‘come to Jesus’ moment where we ask ourselves some hard questions. Things like, will this ever fit again? Does this top work for me as I am today? Do I feel good in this?
  • Think hard about how it feels to put something on that fit ten years ago but that now just doesn’t look…right. Ask yourself why you feel you need to hold on to it. Nine out of ten times for me, it was because I had spent a small fortune.
  • Clear the deck of everything in your closet that doesn’t work. I ended up with three ‘get rid of’ piles: One for my daughters to check out, another for goodwill and a final one for consignment.
  • The hardest part of exploring a change in style is about to arrive: Who are you today? How do you want to present yourself to the world? Do you want to hide or stand out? Are you willing to try something new? Be a tad outrageous? Take some time to figure this one out. There are no right answers, just your answers.
  • Finally, arguably the most difficult moment has arrived: Shopping. Sure, it’s challenging to find stores that make you feel good and are affordable, but if you keep yourself fed and hydrated while you try on clothes, keep an open heart, and go with a mind towards adventure, you just might find a retail environment that works for you.

Below are some of my favorites and why these days:

  • NYDJ: My favorite jeans, hands down. Some really cool tunics and tops too. I’ve also been lucky when visiting one of their stores–the sales ladies are close in age.
  • Nordstrom: Love their old fashioned bra fittings and the store is often populated with stylish older retail workers. Fun fact: Did you know that most Nordstroms have men serving women in footwear and women serving men?
  • Banana Republic: Right now, pickings are slim, but for basics and dresses, I usually luck out. Price is right too.
  • Soft Surroundings: Scoff if you will, but I find my new style here. Bright colors, tank tops that are not clingy, lots of tunics and pull on pants to die for. Your daughters won’t set foot in there, but they don’t need to.
  • Athleta: Great outdoor basics and versatile travel wear from a company that is aware every active body is not a size 00.

If you need reinforcement, go with a friend. But go with someone who will help you be you. You as you are. Not you as you were ten years ago. Someone that will celebrate you.

The outfit in the featured picture came from Soft Surroundings.