Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Mid-Week Meditation - Ageing Gracefully

ageing gracefully

Working in St-Barts we are privledged to meet many beautiful and spirited women every day. What we find encouraging and uplifting in particular is the style and grace we see across the spectrum of ages - we are lucky to have as customers women in their 20's through to their 80's and even 90's. Charming, irreverent, quirky, classic, understated, flamboyant, vivacious, serene - but always authentic and carrying themselves with great good style. 

This is in remarkable contrast to messages we are bombarded with via all sorts of media that seem determined to tell us that only youth is valuable, cherishable, worthy of attention. 

And yet we are an ageing society - in that we are in general living longer and are more vital in our old age than ever before. It is time for our culture to reexamine how we view ageing, from all angles - from the seemingly benign question of how do we dress now, to what can we dd to remain valuable members of society?

Many cultures including Chinese, African and Latin hold the elders of their community with respect and care. Importantly, there is a need and a place for them. Their wisdom is accessed as a resource for the tribe or for the family. A new movement in the US called Spiritual Eldering has started to help older people harvest the knowledge they have gathered over the years and find a path to help others in sharing this.  

It has us thinking about the fear we may hold about the processes of the ageing body, the limits we perceive regarding the ageing mind. As women, we are thinking about our worth as we grow older in a world that says we are only desirable and attractive when we stay 'forever young'. The fashion world only ever seems to market to women under 40 and yet, everyday, elegant women enter our shop and continue to prove to us that grower older is not a diminshment, but an evolution that expands us.

Addressing the lack of role models for a fashionable, stylish old age are blogs like Advanced Style taking street fashion shots of older men and women in New York. It's mission statement of "offering proof that style advances with old age" is clearly illustrated in the colourful and creative people captured and their style is all the more pronounced for the deep sense of self exuded in their poise. The magazine Kinfolk, better known to attract young hipsters to its pages, recently dedicated an entire edition on ageing and featured reverent portraits of women with grey hair titled The Grace of Grey.

From the Kinfolk Grace of Grey photo series

It's a brave move to face the world unmasked, as we are - a little weathered, a little grey, maybe softer in places, maybe scarred and carrying the marks of children and physical wounds - maybe we will never be completely ready for naked appraisal. We think it is less about stopping to care for our appearance, to quit make-up and fashion or exercise - but more about loving ourselves, stopping the judging, the condemning, the revolting against the reflection. 

Deep in your gaze at the mirror is a person of worth and wisdom, who has a unique and needed story. The yogis believe in saying messages of love to ourselves first thing in the morning, to say, you are beautiful, I love you, to the person who needs it most in our lives - ourselves. Feelings of self worth are the greatest boon to our beauty and well-being, it radiates from the core, allowing others to shine too.

So, let us not be defined or reduced by age, rather, let us celebrate and grow more and more alive.

stylish woman with grey hair - The Sartorialist
Image: The Sartorialist

5 style tips to consider:

1: Know yourself. Work with your strengths. For example: if your eyes are your best feature, make them up every day; if you are tall, stand proud.

2: Treat yourself. Wear your best perfume and buy fresh flowers for your home if these things make you smile; happiness is beguiling.

3: Honour yourself. Reference youth market trends if you love them, but play the game with dignity and mix them back with items of simplicity and/or integrity.  

4: Refine yourself. Being classy is cool. Buy quality over quantity; a honed-down style made up of well-made wardrobe staples that suit you perfectly is your hard-won fashion prize after years of trials and experiment.

5: Express yourself. Being outrageous is cool too. Play and laugh with the world, experiment and enjoy yourself - there's never a better time to be a trailbalzer than when you've already travelled the long fashion journey.  

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