Updated Styles Below: Oct. 2016
My mother was a stylish woman. She looked great in clothes and loved to shop. As a doctor’s wife and home-maker in the 1960s, she had plenty of disposable income and time for shopping.
It was the June Cleaver era. When Beaver’s mom did housework in a dress and pearls, some folks scoffed, “Who lives like that?”
My elegant mother did.
Mom always looked put-together. Her hair was always styled. She never left the house without make-up.
She didn’t even own a pair of jeans.
Which I’m saying is that, sartorially, my mother was a tough act to follow.
When my sister and I were little and mom bought all our clothes, we, too, were always perfectly turned out. Brightly colored stretch pants with matching tops for play. Adorable school dresses. (Girls back then never wore pants to school.) And party dresses in which we looked like little princesses, worn with white anklets and patent leather “party shoes.“
I never thought about my clothes as a kid. I didn’t have to.
When I became a rebellious teenager, I refused to wear anything but faded jeans with T shirts bearing anti-war slogans or band logos. Whenever I went to the mall with my friends, Mom would hand me her Saks charge and plead, “Please! Buy a dress!”
I’d hand it right back. I was a radical feminist! I wouldn’t be caught dead in a dress.
My sister, too, broke mom’s fashion-loving heart. Concluding that fashion was boring, she was the only girl in our upscale suburban high school to order her entire wardrobe from the Sears catalog.
Mom just wanted to share her wonderful fashion sense with her daughters. We, alas, couldn’t be bothered.
Now, I wish I’d paid more attention. I want to look great — who doesn’t? But I am completely without my mother’s flair for fashion.
I couldn’t accessorize if my life depended on it.
For years, when it came to everyday wear, I just wore jeans, with T-shirts in the summer and turtlenecks in the winter. But you can’t wear blue jeans to a Bar Mitzvah. If I needed to dress up, I panicked. Was I too dressed up? Too dressed down?
I had no idea and, sadly, mom was no longer around to help me.
Although my sister had long since stopped getting her garb from Sears, she, too was always at a loss when it come to shopping for nice clothes.
Then one lucky day, my sister needed to have an extensive root canal. There was an Eileen Fisher store near her dentist’s office. She decided to check it out. When she walked into that store, our fashion problems were solved.
Eileen Fisher, unlike Betty Crocker or Aunt Jemima, is a real woman, who makes the kind of clothing real women like me and my sister can wear. It looks great. It’s comfortable. Best of all, it’s designed so that anything you buy there goes with everything else you buy there. It’s idiot-proof! Buy all your clothes at Eileen Fisher, and you can’t help but look pulled together.
The only downside? For a woman who works in a public library, this stuff is ludicrously expensive.
Thankfully, the first time I shopped there with my sister, she gave me the advice I needed to purchase the basics of an EF-based wardrobe:
“Never look at the price tags.”
When our salesperson rang up the items I’d chosen on that first visit, my bank account took a major hit. But I’ve come to look at it this way: this stuff lasts forever. You can wear it for years. Amortize the staggering cost over the life of the garment and it’s (almost) a bargain!
And the security that comes from knowing with absolute certainty that you don’t look ridiculous? Priceless.
When my sister and I had lunch yesterday, I wore a striking gold sweater over black pants, with a great little knitted wool cap. She had on a lovely grey dress, layered over a stretchy black top. With a scarf! And though the two of us together still have about as much fashion sense as Captain, my sister’s Yorkie-poo. we both looked fabulous.
Mom would have been proud.
If you’re a middle-aged, fashion-challenged woman, you can’t go wrong with Eileen Fisher. Of course, you can empty your bank account buying just one outfit.
But it’ll be a terrific outfit.
|An A-line shape and longer length makes this top incredibly flattering.
|This beautiful basic is lightweight and features an elegant bateau neck.
|You’ll love this soft jersey top during the colder months. Pair with boots and skinny trousers or jeans for a chic look.
|Asymmetrical hems make legs look longer, and we love how this sweater is so forgiving around the middle.
|Wrap yourself in this boiled wool kimono jacket. It’s effortlessly fashionable while keeping you warm.
|Slim ankle pants should be a wardrobe staple for any woman over 50. Wear them with tall boots during the colder months.
|Stretch crepe makes these skinny pants comfortable, flattering, and easy to wear.
|Rayon knit offers a bit more warmth and structure to these classic black trousers.
|These low-maintenance bootcut trousers are washable and features a universally flattering cut.
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