I was 32 when Mr. P and I moved to the town we now reside in. We were considered slightly odd because we did not have children and I was not a working woman. I spent my time doing charity work, biblestudy and taking care of Mr. P. I did bake the occasional wedding cake but that was for fun. Our town is a very nice. One of the nicest things about it is our incredible park on the lake for residents only. It is basically a country club without a bar. You have to bring your own.
The first summer here Mr. P and I very quickly developed a Sunday routine. After church, I would load up the picnic basket with delicious things to eat, pack up our ancient quilt made by the wife of the owner of a general store my family shopped at long ago in Maine, several large 24" inch pillows, all of our reading materials while Mr. P would pack a mini bar. We had a favorite tree in which we trundled our red Radio Flyer wagon filled with all of our gear over to. There, we parked ourselves. Mr. P mixed drinks. We would sip, read, eat, and talk until dusk.
It was during one of these lazy Sunday afternoons that politicians decided to interrupt our peace by canvassing for votes. A fellow running for a state senate seat and his campaign manager approached us as Mr. P was sprawled out across the blanket with his head on a pillow reading military history and sipping one of his rocket fuel-strength gin and tonics with a generous wedge of lime out of a Mason jar. My Mason jar gin and tonic was not nearly as powerful and I was laying on my stomach reading The American Spectator with my trusty National Review at my side. The politician introduced himself and asked if we would consider voting for him. Well, as votes mean something to us , I sat up and started peppering him with questions. Before you knew it, both he and his campaign manager were sitting on the blanket with us enjoying Mr. P's gin and tonics and discussing all of America's problems. It was just a short step from there to his campaign manager deciding I needed to be on their team. This is how first I became a political advisor to a political campaign.
Being a political advisor sounds much more glamorous than it is. It's a lousy job but it has its perks, if you like perks. I was at the age where perks were still fun. The perk I enjoyed most was being invited to parties that were way beyond my social reach. Soon after I was on board the campaign, I received my first ecru, but not engraved, heavy stock invitation for cocktails with our candidate at a very posh home. Mr. P was out of town on business so I asked a friend from Boston days to accompany me. He and I, as we were fond of saying, had both married locals. Now we found ourselves a few years later living in the same town and, more than that, his wife was on the same shoot in LA with Mr. P. So my friend put on his Sunday best, I put on mine and off we went to this posh party.
The house was very old school and quite spectacular if you are into English country living. Which I am. The party was comprised of all kinds of people with deep wallets eager to pony up to the bar of political favors. Everything from elderly ladies in the Gardening Club to the Mafia and anything in between was there. In the living room, there was a stunning painting of our hostess. When the poltician brought the hostess over to make our acquaintance, I inquired about the painting. She told me her father had had it done at the time of her debut. As I openly admired it, people gathered around around to listen to her tell us details of her life back then. Due to the style of the clothing she was wearing in it, it was easy to tell the painting dated from the late '60's to early '70's. Our hostess had been a spectacular-looking young lady. It was easy to conclude from the girl in the painting as well as the beauty she still retained almost 30 years later, how she had made such an advantageous marriage. It was then I felt the impluse to remark "In your day, people must have always been telling you you looked exactly like Ali MacGraw." Our hostess stopped, looked at me and said, "In your day?" She hit me on the shoulder with the back of her hand, uttered a very loud nervous laugh and said, "Aren't you the quaint one!" She then took the politician by the arm telling him she had something she needed to discuss with him out on the patio. They walked away with him telling her how much she still looked like she did in the painting.
It was as she walked away, that I first noticed she was wearing a micro mini skirt, black sheer stockings first made popular by Ali MacGraw in Love Story, no less, and stiletto heels. I also noticed how wide she swung her slim hips as she walked. While she was still a spectacular-looking woman, she was almost 50 and wearing an outfit more suited to a 19 year-old exotic dancer who was having dinner with one of her important clients. This was Grade A Choice mutton dressed as lamb. It was watching her manner of greeting to a group of well-to-do older and all married men out on the patio when I realized the full impact of what I had done to her psyche by saying "in your day". I toldmy friend we had better leave, and, leave without saying good-bye. As we were waiting for the valet to bring up the car, we overheard a group of people talking about how it had been only 6 months since her husband had killed himself in his study. When the valet pulled the car up I took one last, long look back at the house because I knew I was never coming back.
That little story has been in the back of my mind since last week when I read something Basil Seal wrote:
And this goes back to the original post: middle aged women (and men) should act, dress and conduct themselves as middle aged people. Your youth is over, time to be an adult. Dressing like one might just help you to act like one.
The BBC comedy To The Manor Born is one of my very favorites. To The Manor Born is about Audrey fforbes-Hamilton, whose family has resided at Grantleigh Manor since they stole the land from the Catholic Church during the landgrab called the English Reformation, some 450 years earlier. Audrey is a young-ish widow. She's about 43 and has been forced due to debts beyond her control to sell her beloved home, Grantleigh Manor, to a grocer. Eventhough Audrey no longer resides at the Manor, she still runs the town and the Manor as if she is its The series is great fun. One of the things that I enjoy most is the way Audrey dresses. She dresses like a 43 year-old woman ought to dress. The way that I try to dress. Her clothes are feminine, revealing in a way that is not unseemly and they uphold her station in life unlike the micro mini skirt wearing widow whose party I went to all those years ago. Audrey is not yet ready to be put 6 feet under with her late husband. The way she approaches life as well as dresses reflects that most important reality. Audrey has one item of clothing that if I still rode horses, I would own. If you have a wife that rides horses, or, you like to pretend in the privacy of your own home that your wife rides horses, then you are now duty-bound to buy this item for her. It is sheepskin shearling Aviator jacket similar to the ones the Spitsfire pilots wore in WWII. That jacket, combined with a black silk ribbed turtleneck, jodphurs and boots are all the proof a middle-aged man needs to understand how much middle-aged women are still on top of their game with their feminine charms.
Middle-aged women are not old, they are experienced. It is a pleasure to dress your age. You've earned it. Now be wise enough to enjoy it.