Hey! Older women take off the Invisibility Cloak

by Kerry Cue

Navy Roman Border

Navy quote 1When I am an old woman I shall wear purple

Navy quote 2

With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me

………….Jenny Joseph, Warning, Poem, 1961

Navy Sibyl signature

Navy Roman Border

Do dull clothes make you dull?

Red Hat Society

Red Hat Society

Jenny Joseph’s poem has gained something of a cult following. Today there are Red Hat Societies that encourage members to go out in public wearing purple dresses and red hats. They have a lot of fun and raise money for charity – insert applause here – and, of course, the Red Hat ladies don’t go unnoticed in public.

Such societies, however, rather defeat the idea of the older woman as a respected individual by turning her into a red hat, purple dress-wearing stereotype. Jenny Joseph aptly expressed her unique eccentricities in her poem, but why turn yourself into a Jenny Joseph clone?

There is, however, a more insidious problem concerning fashion for older women.

In her book FASHION AND AGE: Dress, the body and later life, (Review: Cheryl Buckley, Times Higher Education, 19 SEP 2014) Julia Twigg insists that as women age they become estranged to fashion and begin to wear “rectangles and squares” in sombre colours with little ornamentation, instead of choosing clothes that fashionably drape and shape our older selves.

Sibylline fashion classicIt is the curse of the ‘chunky ¾ length pants and polo fleece tops’, the uniform worn by older women on bus trips! This garb is the real world equivalent to Harry Potter’s Invisibility Cloak.

Fashion is fun but it’s not for everyone. Moreover, older women can wear what they bloody well like. They’ve earned this right. But fashion also serves a purpose. Dowdy or dull outfits scream ‘I’ve given up’. If you are not interested in yourself, who else will be?

Yes! You do get more respect if you dress smartly in public. You needn’t stop there. Some older women don amazingly zany outfits and they are, indeed, an inspiration for all ages. Here they are, women from the Advanced Style Blog. Ari Seth Cohen wanders the streets of New York taking pictures of fashionable women in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. And they look fabulous, darling!

Beatrix Ost Fashion Diva

Beatrix Ost Fashion Diva

Fab Fashionista

Fab Fashionista

Joyce

Joyce

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Kerry Cue is a humorist, journalist, mathematician, and author. You can find more of her writing on her blog. Her latest book is a crime novel, Target 91, Penmore Press, Tucson, AZ (2019).

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There is a link between Wisdom and Age, but, maybe, not the one you think.

by Kerry Cue

Sibylesque Barry Schwartz Quote

We know as we age that we are, indeed, much wiser than in our youth, but can we really justify this assumption? In their book The Art of Wisdom and the Psychology of How We Use Categories, Frames, and Stories to Make Sense of the World, Barry Schwartz and Kenneth Sharpe give some insights into art of acquiring wisdom. (You will find a review at Brainpickings.)

Sibylesque   Christine de Pizan  Book of Queens

Dancing around the notes on a page applied specifically to rules.

 ‘A wise person knows when and how to make the exception to every rule… A wise person knows how to improvise… Real-world problems are often ambiguous and ill-defined and the context is always changing’.

Barry Schwartz gave a good example of this applied wisdom in his TED lecture on Our Loss of Wisdom.

In this lecture Schwartz lists the Job Description of a hospital janitor. This job description lists tasks but does not mention a patient as if a hospital janitor cleaned in a parallel universe devoid of human life. Yet the janitors that showed wisdom did not follow the letter of the law. One janitor knew not to vacuum in a visitor’s room at one point because a patient’s family was sleeping there. Another janitor did not mop a floor because a patient was taking their first tentative steps around their room following an operation.

This is wisdom. It is also something we Sibyls understand. People are different. No two life-situations are the same. Combine the two and there are many possibilities. But here is the catch. You must be creative and flexible, otherwise, your response to any situation will be RIGID, predictable, but not necessarily wise.

 You must also be old. Why? Here is Barry Schwartz again:

 “A wise person is an experienced person. Practical wisdom is a craft and craftsmen are trained by having the right experiences. People learn how to be brave, said Aristotle, by doing brave things. So, too, with honesty, justice, loyalty, caring, listening, and counselling.”

The Erythraean Sibyl  Beauvais Cathedral SibylesqueMy book, Forgotten Wisdom, begins with the words ‘Certainty ended for me on 2nd March, 1995. I was 42 years old’. My forties were the miserable years. They began with learning that my mother was dying of cancer at 66 years of age and continued through a long illness with one child, a sick spouse and, torturously, writing humorous articles for a living.

Yet, talking to my daughter the other day, I realised for the first time that I’m thankful for those 8 years of misery. At the time, I would have paid anything not to live through those years. But now, I wouldn’t give them back. They formed me. Up until that point, the life choices I had made– university courses, husband, children – had materialised. I thought I was in control of life. Then I wasn’t. Now I’m less arrogant, more sympathetic, less rigid, more open and less judgemental.

Am I wise? Wiser, perhaps. At least, I know this: The birth of wisdom follows the death of certainty.

So wisdom is a craft and you need a broad range of experience in life – joy and misery, triumph and disappointment, fear and acceptance, pain and endurance – to hone this craft.

For more Wisdom of The Sibyls see Jennette Williams on the beauty of the older women, Mary Beard on silencing women in the public forum and Doris Brett for a journey through stroke, love and recovery.

Perhaps, the Sibyl’s anthem should be:

Bring on the music of life. Let’s dance.

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Hey! Older women take off the Invisibility Cloak

by Kerry Cue

Navy Roman Border

Navy quote 1When I am an old woman I shall wear purple

Navy quote 2

With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me

………….Jenny Joseph, Warning, Poem, 1961

Navy Sibyl signature

Navy Roman Border

Do dull clothes make you dull?

Red Hat Society

Red Hat Society

Jenny Joseph’s poem has gained something of a cult following. Today there are Red Hat Societies that encourage members to go out in public wearing purple dresses and red hats. They have a lot of fun and raise money for charity – insert applause here – and, of course, the Red Hat ladies don’t go unnoticed in public.

Such societies, however, rather defeat the idea of the older woman as a respected individual by turning her into a red hat, purple dress-wearing stereotype. Jenny Joseph aptly expressed her unique eccentricities in her poem, but why turn yourself into a Jenny Joseph clone?

There is, however, a more insidious problem concerning fashion for older women.

In her book FASHION AND AGE: Dress, the body and later life, (Review: Cheryl Buckley, Times Higher Education, 19 SEP 2014) Julia Twigg insists that as women age they become estranged to fashion and begin to wear “rectangles and squares” in sombre colours with little ornamentation, instead of choosing clothes that fashionably drape and shape our older selves.

Sibylline fashion classicIt is the curse of the ‘chunky ¾ length pants and polo fleece tops’, the uniform worn by older women on bus trips! This garb is the real world equivalent to Harry Potter’s Invisibility Cloak.

Fashion is fun but it’s not for everyone. Moreover, older women can wear what they bloody well like. They’ve earned this right. But fashion also serves a purpose. Dowdy or dull outfits scream ‘I’ve given up’. If you are not interested in yourself, who else will be?

Yes! You do get more respect if you dress smartly in public. You needn’t stop there. Some older women don amazingly zany outfits and they are, indeed, an inspiration for all ages. Here they are, women from the Advanced Style Blog. Ari Seth Cohen wanders the streets of New York taking pictures of fashionable women in the 60s, 70s and 80s. And they look fabulous, darling!

Beatrix Ost Fashion Diva

Beatrix Ost Fashion Diva

Fab Fashionista

Fab Fashionista

Joyce

Joyce

 

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Fashionistas Photos: Red Hat Society Sowystitch and Advanced Style Blog.

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