You know you’re at peace with yourself and the universe if you can enter a crowded social function, scan the room, and then join the group creating the most laughter. After a certain age, you don’t waste time with pseudo-intellectuals, plastic-faced divas, or over-styled drama queens; especially if they’re your relatives. Just trot your sensible, low-heeled shoes over to those having fun and then laugh until you snort.
Over the years, most women have endured numerous charity galas, corporate soirees, and elegant events that required dressing in more than a “This Wine is Making me Awesome” t-shirt, Yoga pants, and flip-flops (my favorite outfit.) In our twenties and thirties, we started preparing weeks in advance; trying on various outfits, scheduling hair and nail appointments, and crash dieting to lose a few pounds. By our forties, the routine became less rigorous unless the occasion was a dinner party with our boss or a romantic evening with a significant other. Usually, those events did not involve the same person.
By age 50, however, we said screw the rules. We gauged the importance of an event by the need to shave our legs or not. What to wear came down to what garment would hide last week’s lasagna binge. There was a time when identical outfits would have caused one of us to retreat to the coat closet and desperately paw for something to throw over our shoulders. Now if I’m attending a fancy function and see another woman wearing a replica of my dress, I congratulate her on her exquisite taste. If she’s over 50, she’ll laugh and say, “Got it on sale for only $150!” We high-five and sashay to the wine bar.
Another scene to avoid forever is the Sugar Daddy with Arm Candy couple. She’ll be giggling about play dates and nannies and he’ll be sweating and adjusting his pacemaker. If the hostess seats you next to such a twosome, feign a sudden onset of gastrointestinal flu and discreetly find another table, preferably with a middle-age couple who are holding hands and laughing. It doesn’t matter if they came together.
High fashion is not my top priority. I usually wear classic, quality clothes that have timeless appeal, such as my favorite 10-year-old St. John knit jackets. They cost a fortune new but I’ve worn them for years and they always look good. And, I’m a strong advocate of the simple black dress adorned with fun accessories. And there is no way these well-traveled feet will ever again feel the inside of a high-heeled shoe. That just won’t happen because high-heels are painful and I choose not to hurt. An elongated calf perched on a $300 strip of leather just doesn’t matter that much.
While laughing with new and old friends at a society event, it’s tempting to sneak a peek at the younger, more perfect women. They arrive with a flair of confidence, pause to pose on their six-inch heels, and jut their tiny, sequin-covered bodies into the spotlight. Yes, they are proud of their flat-stomachs, bobbing cleavages, and toned arms. Their hair, makeup, and nails are flawless, and heads turn in appreciation. I immediately start humming “The Girl from Ipanema.”
When she walks, she’s like a samba
That swings so cool and sways so gentle
That when she passes, each one she passes
I never was that woman, not even on my most magnificent occasion. But, I’m finally happy in my own skin, every wrinkled, spotted inch of it. I’d much rather be with the witty group, the ones who are telling humorous stories, and the ones who know that Ipanema Girl someday will be fifty. Then she, too, will know that funny is fashionable.