Saturday, March 28, 2015

Youth Fades – Must We? (Part 3)

Fading into the background of our own lives when youth fades is NOT inevitable.  The modern woman d’un certain âge has choices her mother and grandmother only dared dream of.  In Part 2, I talked about some of those less than ideal choices that pop culture encourages us to make in order to stay visible. 



In Part 3, the last post in this collaborative series between Jennifer Connolly (“A Well Styled Life”) and myself (“The French Touch”), I offer what I think are much better choices.  I hope you will agree. 
   

Look Your Best

Mme Mère (a/k/a Isabelle) 1916-2013
Last time, I introduced you to Mme Mère, my stylish, opera-singer Mother.  From her I learned the importance of always looking my best, because, as she would say, “On ne sait jamais…” (One never knows…).   When dealing with difficult situations and/or people, she felt it gave her a psychological advantage.  In a sea of the slovenly dressed, the well-dressed woman cannot fail to stand out.

The woman who takes a little extra time to look soignée sends three powerful messages: 

1)   I’m smart, and I know how to put myself together (i.e., I know what works and what doesn’t.);

2)   I’m worth the extra time it takes to look my best (i.e., I’ll take as much time as I need, thank you very much.); and

3)   I’m interested in appealing to you (i.e., I’m still in the game; ignore me at your own peril). 

 
Do Your Best

Courtesy of Dance with Heidi
Don’t let anyone tell you you’re too old to do something you know you can do.  And when you can no longer do it, teach those who can. 
 
Mme Mère spent the last six years of her life in a nursing home.   She died peacefully in her sleep, just short of her 97th birthday.  The day I gathered up her personal effects was bittersweet.   One by one, staff and residents stopped by her little room to tell me how much they would miss her and how much they had learned from her. 

Never stop giving; never stop touching; never stop teaching. 

 
Go To Paris


I Love Paris

My gorgeous friend Carla, a fellow femme d’un certain âge, is one of the most beautiful and stylish women it has been my privilege to know.  She is part of a circle of friends I call the Culture Vultures.   If there’s an opera, a ballet, a concert or an art exhibit anywhere, we’re all over it. 

 
Carla went to college and law school after raising her children, becoming a Partner in one of the City’s most prestigious law firms.  When she retired from the practice of law, she signed on to be a docent at the local Art Museum and discovered a passion for Japanese Art.  She shares that passion and knowledge in her guided tours.  When Carla is working on presentations for a new exhibit, she often tries them out on us first.  How lucky can a Culture Vulture get!!  I've learned so much from her. 

 
About 10 years ago, she went to Paris for the first time.  She couldn’t wait to call me when she got back. 

“So, how was Paris?” I asked. 
 
“It was wonderful!  I actually got admiring glances from men – even the young ones!  I feel like a new woman!”
 
Remember those three powerful messages the well-dressed woman sends?  Well, the Frenchman gets them loud and clear – no translation needed – and shows his appreciation in a lingering look or a quick glance.  

 
I suppose I should give Mme Mère the last word on the subject.  
 
 
Don’t Forget Your Lipstick


High Tea at St. Mary's - Mme Mère (in the foreground) Sings Accompanied by Rose on the Violin.  I'm on the Left.
As I said, my Mother spent the last six years of her life at St. Mary’s Catholic Home. 

One of the highlights of life at St. Mary’s was the monthly High Tea.  Jane Brown, the wonderful woman who supervised these teas, always went all out, and the ladies, in return, made a special effort to look their best.  I would arrive early to help my Mother with her make-up (eyebrow pencil, crème blush and bright rose lipstick).  A sparkly bobbi pin in her white hair added a discreet touch of glamour.  As I wheeled her down the hall, everyone she passed would say, “Isabelle, you look beautiful.”   

One day, a new lady was wheeled in.  “Ladies,” Jane said, “I’d like you to meet a new member of our High Tea group.”  She started introductions all around, and when she got to my Mother, Mme Mère took one look at the new member and said, “Would it kill you to put on a little lipstick?” 



And now it’s your turn to share your thoughts on this subject.  Do you sometimes feel invisible?  What do you do to stay in the game?
 

To read Jennifer’s companion piece “The Vanishing Older Woman (Part 3)” click here.

To read “Youth Fades – Must We? (Part 1)” click
here.

To read “Youth Fades – Must We? (Part 2)” click here

 




26 comments:

  1. I do feel invisible frequently but I find it comes with a great feeling of freedom.
    I am a confident woman who just turned 60 and loves life. I enjoy style, taking care of myself, walking for fitness and have been blessed with two adorable grandchildren and a third is on the way. I am off to Paris next month for my first ever visit and am planning to take in as much as I can while I am there....who knows perhaps I will become a Culture Vulture upon my return home! I have a sneaky feeling that this trip will be a life changing experience....
    You've had some wonderful role models....these women have made an indelible impression and you are sure to age with wisdom and grace.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Welcome to the sixties. I hope it will be your best decade yet. You clearly have been blessed in family and friends. I leave for Paris in two weeks and will be sharing my favorite city with two friends who, like you, will be taking their first trip to the City of Lights. I can't wait to read about Paris through your eyes. And, yes, ma chère, it will be a life-changing experience. We can always use a new member of the Culture Vultures...........but, don't forget your lipstick!! Mme Mère still keeps an eye on things.

      Many thanks for sharing your thoughts with us.

      Cheers, M-T

      Delete
  2. Your mothers sounds like a women of great strength and character! Personally, I prefer to wear as least makeup as possible, with the exception of lipstick.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mme Mère would love you! She was indeed a Force of Nature. I miss her very much.

      Cheers, M-T

      Delete
  3. Dearest Marie-Thérèse,
    Loved those two special photos of your dear Mme Mère. She sure had spunk till the very end and knew all about presenting herself well.
    Love that idea myself but I've found that when you travel long hours, like we just did early Saturday morning, coming back from Arizona, I prefer not to wear any makeup at all. That way you can take a short nap without worrying about anything. Also long car rides with eye makeup on can cause some problems for the eyes... But when I'm just home and go some place; I am looking like a distant kin of Mme Mère and most often get some compliments too. It pays off and is rewarding. It helps us to carry on and never give up for as long as we live. Wrinkles or not; that is not to the point and I prefer a mellowed but wrinkled face to an artificial looking 'puzzle' that you cannot read at all. We wear our soul on the outside as well and that can never be artificially put on.
    Sending you hugs,
    Mariette

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I, too travel w/little or no (just tinted moisturizer and lipstick). Mme Mère would have loved you. You may remember that she had quite a bit of Dutch blood on her mother's side. In fact, we have an old cookbook in Dutch that has been handed down through many generations.

      Like you, I have a horror of those expressionless, plastic faces and wonder how an actress, even a great one, can project any emotions through a frozen face.

      We finally have a day of sunshine. Sending you some, ma chère,

      Big bisous, M-T

      Delete
  4. I have loved reading your three part series ‘Youth Fades – Must We?’. You have had wonderful role models to learn from on how to age gracefully and not fade away. Thank you for sharing the lessons learned. I am hopeful that a soignée woman will stand out amongst the in-your-face aggressive tough image that the pop media is proposing for women of all ages.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Kate, I believe we are all blessed w/great role models, if we know how to choose them. Delighted you enjoyed the three-part series.

      Like you, my great hope is that women of all ages will ignore pop media message and learn to assert themselves in a more positive, gracious way. It does work!

      Thanks for stopping by.

      Cheers, M-T

      Delete
  5. I don't think or feel that I am invisible but maybe I am. I love putting my make-up on everyday, it has become a morning ritual and I don't feel that the day has started without it. Unless I am cleaning the house I try to look as smart as I can even in jeans. A hat is wonderful when your hair is not at its best.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Whether you feel it or not, Josephine, I doubt very much that you are invisible. I have seen your video, and you have a very strong presence. Isn't make-up fun? Well, at least, it should be; otherwise, what's the point? I wear my lipstick even when I'm cleaning. Lesson learned from Mme Mère. And, ooh, I do love hats. I still remember your Royal Ascot hat. An absolute stunner!! You looked fabulous in it.

      Delete
  6. Terrific advice and I LOVE your mother's comment to the lady with no lipstick. She was my kind of woman, as are you! The messages we send are so important, and I'm always surprised at how many women aren't aware of it. Bravo!! Let's chat this week!
    xo Jennifer

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. She was definitely a woman of substance and strong opinions -- not always easy to live with, but never boring. Yes, indeed, the message we send in large and small ways determines how we will be treated. Sometimes the fault IS with the messenger.

      Looking forward to a chat this week, my Friend.

      xoxo, M-T

      Delete
    2. So true!!
      I do love a woman with strong convictions!! I can just imagine she may have not been the easiest to live with but look at the amazing woman she raised:))
      xoxo

      Delete
    3. Aw shucks, you just made me blush. I haven't done that since little Howie showed me his _____ in the schoolyard. Why he was proud of it I'll never know. Ooopsie. Am I being indiscreet?

      xoxo, M-T

      Delete
  7. Travel certainly keeps one young. It is a spring in the step and a twinkle in the eye along with lipstick and some special attention to one's self that keeps us from becoming invisible.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are so right, Mme Là-bas, travel keeps you young at heart by offering up new experiences and new encounters. The well-travelled femme d'un certain age keeps her mind and her options open -- which is essential to staying vibrant and visible.

      Thanks for stopping by.
      Cheers, M-T

      Delete
  8. Your Mother seemed like a wonderful fascinating strong opinionated woman.

    Often I am without make-up, but rarely without lipstick.

    I do feel that our inner voices direct our outer appearance. If we are down on ourselves we look it.

    This was a great post. I love this series.

    bisous
    Suzanne
    http://www.suzannecarillo.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My Mother was everything you said she was. I miss her very much. That inner voice is so important as to how we project the outer self. I'm so glad you enjoyed the series.

      Thanks for taking time to comment.

      bisous, M-T

      Delete
  9. M-T Just finding your lovely blog via Jennifer. What a super post. I just adore the kind of person your mom was. Love that lipstick comment! I agree with everything you said here. You are so right about Paris and also Italy. I found the way the older women looked so inspiring. The first thing I said to my mom upon return was that older women wore dresses! You never see that anymore here. It's as if they become one with sweats after age 70!! Kim

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm delighted you found me and that you enjoyed the post. Mme Mère was quite a lady. There is very much the same appreciative vibe in Italy. Italian women, especially in Milano, have that wonderful, feminine chic that defines the well-dressed European woman. Dresses and skirts are every day attire there. Here they seem to be reserved for "dress up," if at all.

      And, my dear Kim, becoming one w/sweats starts much earlier than age 70 these days, I'm sad to say. It's become the uniform of the American woman. You might enjoy a post I did on that very subject: http://thefrenchtouch-m-t.blogspot.com/2014/07/isnt-it-time-for-change-of-uniform.html

      Thanks for stopping by.

      Cheers, M-T

      Delete
  10. “Would it kill you to put on a little lipstick?” Thank you for that, M-T!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No, Rita, thanks to Mme Mère for that. And, on her behalf, let me say, "You're very welcome."

      Cheers, M-T

      Delete

  11. Hi M-T,

    In Italy they use the expression Bella Figura to express looking your best. Here in the US, I see so many women of a certain age wearing sweat pants & tops, sometimes in pastel colors, to go out in public.They remind me of kids in their jammies. I am not talking about the women in their sweats jogging or doing other work-outs.

    Rosie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Rosie,

      I couldn't agree more....and I love your observation "kids in their jammies." We used to go to drive-in movies when I was little (remember them?) and they would put my brother and me in our jammies before we went. If such things still existed today.............everyone would be in his jammies. OMG, I just had the most horrible mental image of that.

      As always, I love reading your comments. Thanks for stopping by.

      Cheers, M-T

      Delete
  12. haha, love your mom! Sometimes I see women my age walking with their husbands, and from behind, it's hard to tell who's who. Both in sloppy jeans, sweatpants, sweatshirts, trainers, and similar hair even!!
    I love the decades of the 40s, 50s, even early 60s, where everyone dressed so nicely. Such a treat to watch the old movies and see the beautiful clothes.
    I'm in a position to get a whole new wardrobe in a few months b/c of weight loss; maybe I'll play "dress-up" for the rest of my life!!
    Great series, M-T, and how I would love to go to Paris. Oh, and I love the idea of being Culture Vultures!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Isn't that the truth!! Unisex sloppiness. The uniform of the "I don't give a ______ anymore how I look!" I often have that feeling walking behind a couple -- which one is the man and which one is the woman?

      You might enjoy a post I did a few years back: http://thefrenchtouch-m-t.blogspot.com/2014/07/isnt-it-time-for-change-of-uniform.html

      You must be so excited about getting a whole new wardrobe. Keep me posted on that!! I can enjoy it vicariously. Of course, I make it a practice to give wardrobe advice to fellow bloggers and followers for free.

      I'm leaving for Paris shortly, myself. Come and join us!

      Always lovely to hear from you.

      Cheers, M-T

      Delete

My dear Readers, I do so love reading your comments and appreciate the time you take to make them. To make it easier to leave your comments, I have disabled that annoying "Word Verification" setting, which Blogger (in its infinite wisdom) enabled without my consent.

If you have a problem posting your comment, just send it to me at frenchtouchimage@gmail.com.

I will be happy to post it for you and link back to you. I look forward to hearing from you.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...