Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Winter 2013 for the Fashionable Crone

Julia Spencer-Fleming: Here at Jungle Red Writers, we've discussed the problems of being a fashionista of a certain age. You can no longer manage spiky heels (bunions), your upper arms start to resemble Eleanor Roosevelt more than Michelle Obama, and no amount of spandex can hide the fact you've given birth. Even when you're in fantastic shape (as quite a few of my sister bloggers are!) there's that problem of looking like a superannuated teenager. Nobody wants to recreate that scene from STAR TREK where the men of the Enterprise think the woman is a hot young babe and then she turns around and:

This winter has some especially questionable looks for style-seeking fifty-something. Oversized coats, for instance, which look good on the .04% of the female population who are six feet tall and ninety-five pounds soaking wet. Over-the-knee boots, which can make even leggy young woman appear to be in business for themselves if you know what I mean and I think you do. Fairy-tale and fantasy inspired - please. My daughter can wear fantasy outfits and look like the Lady of Shalott. I, on the other hand, look like a deranged fortune-teller.  

So what to do when you want to be au courant? I'm glad you asked! I just recently got onto Polyvore, and as a result, I have four winter looks that are stylish AND flatteringly age-appropriate.

Winter 2013 - Menswear

Menswear is a big look this fall. Who doesn't look good in a Glen Plaid pants? Comfy shoes, a bag big enough to stash your stuff in and a cardi (perfect for hot flashes) complete the look.

Winter 2013 - Grunge Revisited
Winter 2013 - Grunge Revisited by juliaspencerfleming featuring black tights

 That's right, grunge is back. Along with plaid (always a thing for fall/winter) and leather. This look combines all three and keeps you warm at the same time. You'll think you're headed for the Soundgarden concert instead of the garden club.

The "Academic" look is hot this winter. Avoid the schoolgirl style like the plague - you'll look like you forgot to change after engaging in some naughty roleplaying with your spouse. Instead, go for the schoolboy style. I'm totally stealing my son's Trinity scarf when he gets home for Christmas break.

Winter 2013 - Baroque evening outfit

Winter 2013 - Baroque evening outfit by juliaspencerfleming featuring Alexander McQueen

Baroque is big this winter, and if you and I were 30-year-olds in New York City, we might dress like the Empress Theodora too. However, we're not, so this ensemble is Baroque-lite, with all my signature style elements: comfortable shoes? Check! Warm? Check! Bitchin' bag the doubles as brass knuckles? Check!

What are you going to be wearing this winter, dear readers? 


  1. I like the long skirts, the jeans, the comfy shoes in your pictures. As far as I’m concerned, dressing for winter is all about finding a way to keep warm, so I’ve got my toasty sweaters, the fashionable yet cozy scarf, and my gloves. Paired with my long coat, I’m relatively warm and therefore as happy as it’s possible to be when it’s cold outside. How long until it gets warm again????

  2. I'll be wearing none of that stuff, thank you, especially the wingtips.

    My favorite winter wear is the thick Pendleton, button down sweater #1 son sent me last year for Christmas. Anybody else know the word NUGGY?

  3. I love the plaid skirt and leather sleeveless top!
    I have a bit of a reputation because I live in black leather pants during Minnesota winters. (And not the bad type of rep)

    Now, I'm of a certain age, but I've found nothing softer, warmer or more comfortable for these frigid temperatures.

    Here's why I don't look like a hooker (can I say that, haha)

    Here's what makes them work in my opinion -- the style is a classically cut trouser style -- not shiny, not tight, not trendy. That is key. Also, what you wear them with -- I would never wear them with a low cut top or too sexy shoes.

    I wear them with fairly conservative heeled booties and usually a dolman sweatshirt type gray top that is not tight or revealing. I recommend them to all my friends of a certain age. classic cut, not shiny, not tight and play down the rest of your outfit.

    If you follow those rules, you can't go wrong.

  4. Our office is so cold in the summer from the AC that my coworkers and I tend to wear our winter clothing all year round. We're mostly over sixty, and have worked with each other for so long that we often find ourselves dressed alike when we've all arrived at the office. We're all conservative dressers, a couple of us favor purple, and now this is all starting to sound really weird:-)

  5. Julia, you could be my fashion coordinator! I'd wear any of those looks. That plaid skirt is especially pretty and different.

    I spent nearly 20 years in the hobby sewing industry, traveling around to consumer shows and teaching about sewing as a business, among other things. When I first started I tried to dress the way some of the other teachers did, with flowy garments, but soon realized that look did nothing for me, except to make me look frumpy.

    What did work, I found, and still works, is to wear silhouettes that skim the body. Not tight, but just form-fitting enough that the outline of the body is seen. For awhile I was working with a patterndrafting software company (Wild Ginger, awesome company) as one of their consultants. They start with a fit garment that is meant to fit very close to the body. As an instructor, I have seen many, many different body types in this kind of garment, which resembles a 50's prison matron uniform. Invariably, the person modeling the fit garment looked better than in their looser street clothing, even very large, "fluffy" women. That was a good lesson for me, and since then I've chosen clothing with that in mind.

    So if you want to look good, no matter what your age and body type, avoid full or bulky garments, and choose more fitted looks. As Kristi says, not revealing, just not covering all your lights!

  6. Terrific piece! This crone loves jeans and boots and capes and tunics and long scarves and big purses. And as it turns out, that's exactly what I was wearing when I was in college. I seem not to vary much in what feels comfortable for me. (i.e. perhaps I'm in a rut!)

  7. Julia, you are truly taking Jungle Red into new territory! I am in awe!!

    When I was in college I wore swingy tent dresses that barely covered my derriere. And tall boots with heels. And hip hugger bell bottoms. Models wee Twiggy and Jean Shrimpton... Designers we looked for at the secondhand stores: Rudi Gernreich and Pucci.

    Now I wear the best jeans I can afford and for the rest it's all about comfort, 'will it wash?'and please tell me it doesn't make me look like an elephant.

  8. OOh, I have that black leather top! Just got it..and evry happy with it. :-)

    ANd I wear leggings and tights ALL the time.

    GOt to run but back soon to look at this more carefully... LOVE it!

  9. I agree with Joan - keeping warm is no. one with me. I also agree with Karen - a closer silhouette makes everyone look better. My secret weapon? LLBean's silk longjohns. They come in scoop neck, crew neck and turtleneck styles (the turtleneck is in the mens department,) they're so fine you can wear one under a drapey blouse without looking lumpy, and they are really, truly warm. I recommend them to everyone living in New England-like environs.

  10. My winter wardrobe is jeans, cords cashmere sweaters. I love soft and warm.
    I'm rarely in the fashion of the moment but I did buy a fabulous leopard coat (not real) last year and strangely everyone has to come up and stroke my sleeve!
    I don't look good in most winter colors--black, grey, olive so try for one bright element.
    Oh, and boots, always wear boots.

  11. I love boots (calf or knee high, mind you, not over the knee! denim leggings, and soft sweaters. If I had my druthers I'd never wear anything else except for the work-at-home sweats, and I do have new ones for this winter!

    I just ordered my first-ever down coat from Eddie Bauer, and I hope it gets here before Friday's ice storm. Supposedly, it's shaped AND has smaller quilting through the waist area, so you don't look so much like the abominable snowman. I hope.

  12. In So. California we just rarely need to wear the long coats that I love, darn it. I look forward to winter anyway.. It's all about jeans, cords, boots, and my personal favorite, wool knit ponchos and ruanas. Add a scarf and I'm as dressed up as I'm going to get! I have a few that I've worn for years and they are still beautiful. I really look forward to the time I can pull them out . They skim the torso and help to disguise that which cannot be hidden during our hot summers! Fall and winter...I'm a fan!

  13. Hey Julia and all,

    I'm with you on the LL Bean silk longjohns (longjanes?)

    The. Absolute. Best.

    Like Kaye, I've had the same basic look for decades. Corduroys. Wool slacks for dressy days. Turtlenecks. Fleece. And sensible, warm, waterproof shoes when the weather outside is frightful.

    This year I think I'm going to mix it up a bit with some scarves. My spouse cleaned out a closet lately and found a bunch of beautiful scarves I'd never seen (read, never had a chance to spill coffee on) so I don't even need to put that request on my Christmas list.

  14. I'm not even going to say what we're wearing down here in Key West--you'll just get mad and gang up on me. I definitely could use Julia's fashion consultant though--it seems that I wear the same fleece sweatpants and yoga shorts, no matter what I buy.

    I love the plaid skirt too, though can't think where I'd wear it. And the short boots ditto.

    Rhys, I would be stroking your arm too. Cannot resist fur...

  15. The high today is suppose to be 14. For shoveling snow (this morning) or getting the dogs out, it is a Carhartt coat, water/wind proof gloves and a hat. Not fashionable but warm. I love sweaters, turtlenecks, cords, good boots, cute hats and that is about as dressed up as I get. I spend a lot of time in fleece, Land's End slipper/boots for around the house (love them) and sweatshirts when I'm at home. Must try the LLBean silk longjohns. A good investment for Montana winters.

  16. Emerging from hibernation, as I frequently do when leather and leggings are under discussion...
    Six months of Catholic school in the first grade has put me off plaid FOR LIFE. But the leather top (Hank...where did you get..) and the brass knuckles purse are right up my alley..

  17. Rhys, I hear you about warm. I'm such a freeze cat. My winter wardrobe includes a couple dozen wool turtleneck sweaters, collected over a period of many years. Two years ago there were none to be had in local stores, but I found some online at Lord & Taylor, including some wonderful cashmere t-necks. A couple of my favorites have developed moth holes. If you keep them clean the moths don't get them, but I must have missed a spot or two, darn it.

    Debs, I have a down coat with the smaller quilting in the midsection, and it makes a huge difference. Hope yours gets there in time to keep you toasty through the storm.

  18. RO! Hey! I got it from The Outnet, which is a fabulous site that has designer stuff from around the world, but only certain sizes. (Allegedly...:-)) I think the top arrived from London... (And I love plaid. YOu hast have to be careful, right...?)

    I have a terrific red thermal top from the gap that says TiRED.

    (And other one says InspiRED.)

  19. The thing about leggings..I love them, and they are terrific and comfy. But some women I've seen wear them with the wrong-proportioned top--and I always want to yell: YOU FORGOT YOUR PANTS!

  20. Hey, Ro!

    My daughter got a great leather-front/knit back shell from Banana Republic that she likes a lot. The stretch in the back makes it a bit more comfortable to wear than 100% leather.

    As a 12-year veteran of Catholic schooling, she has also sworn off plaid skirts for life...

  21. LL Bean silky longjohns, eh? I've been using Cabela's longjohns to ride. (Yes, I've been out there, mostly on Tuesday mornings. Good thing Monty the lesson horse is warm.) My Cabela's longjohns are too bulky under my schooling tights, like leggings that resemble pull-on riding breeches, especially after adding the lace-up paddock boots over the tights, then zipping up the half-chaps, which look like suede and cable-knit gaiters, over the boots. Once I'm suited up for the cold, my legs feel like canned biscuits. Definitely going to look into those LL Bean silky longjohns.

  22. My young fashonista cousins have been hitting me up for some of my old high school and college clothes — 80s/90s stuff is popular with the 20-somethings now...

  23. I have a few longer duster style jackets that are n wild colors. They're by Wild Woman (oh, so appropriate! LOL) and I wear them over a solid dress or black or navy Beans Perfect Pants - not quite leggings. I recently got a "shawl" from Lands End that is a white with black, red, and pink thin stripes making a plaid. It's very large and I feel like I'm wearing a horse blanket. But it's rather classy and crone-ish and I close it up with a large Celtic brooch and feel very Highlandish.

    That's when I go out. At home, I'm a flannel shirt over a t-neck and jeans or sweats. I throw on the Bean boots to go out in the snow.

    I do love boots - only to the knee, thank you. I was so heavy for so long that I could never wear them. Now I love them and buy probably too many.

    And, Kaye, my new Kindle is coming tomorrow. My I-AM-ON-SOCIAL-SECURITY present to myself. :-)

  24. I have always been a boy-look girl. I have all my stripey wool scarves from school and college. And that part of the job interview where they ask if you have any questions—I always asked if the expected me to wear a dress or skirt. No job is worth that to me.