My darlings, today’s article is written by the lovely Andrea Pflaumer, an author and fashion guru. When I told her that our monthly theme was moxie, boy did she deliver! I hope you enjoy her latest article.
How What We Wear Measures Our Moxie
The dictionary definition of moxie, at least according to Miriam Webster, is: “force of character, determination, or nerve.”
Well, I can’t think of a better explanation for how what we wear is a measure of the amount of moxie we embody. In fact, the example given for that Miriam Webster definition is: “when you’ve got moxie, you need the clothes to match.”
So, then, why are some of us so willing to retreat, shrink, and disappear as we age? I think it’s largely the result of popular culture. The less we see ourselves reflected in the media, in print advertising, and in the mainstream of life, the less confident we are to just show up. Yes, you are starting to see older women on the fashion runways. But it will still be a while before that becomes commonplace.
But show up we must, in our full glory. That means looking at ourselves squarely in the mirror and finding that spark of life that is still there, beneath the graying hair, the sagging skin, the face that shows the great joys and many sorrows life has dealt us. And then it just requires taking some small action to rekindle that spark.
Showing Style Moxie
Showing that spark might mean treating yourself to a mani-pedi because that just makes you feel more feminine. A lot of older women struggle with whether or not they are still feminine. Trust me, we are. It’s often a form of femininity coupled with strength, but strength is a very sexy and moxie-like attribute.
For some of us, it might mean getting a new, edgy haircut, and then keeping it up regularly. Or making the effort to get out of our very comfortable but tired looking sweatpants and putting together an outfit that expresses something more creative and flattering.
Consistency in a new look demonstrates that you really mean it. It requires perseverance and discipline – two more characteristics of moxie. Both of those can break any lazy personal or fashion habits you may have formed.
Be Experimental With Your Fashion
Being experimental is another way to demonstrate moxie. That might mean wearing an expensive (or expensive-looking) piece of jewelry, like a sparkly brooch, or maybe a grouping of them, on a sweater; or it can mean wearing an armful of bracelets to liven up a pair of jeans and a tee-shirt. Or it might mean wearing a cardigan sweater backward so the v-line shows off your back, or it might mean pulling out that new item you’ve been saving for a special occasion and wearing it to do some errands. Think of how you might brighten up someone else’s day when they see you!
Or it just might mean that instead of buying a new outfit, you make a commitment to hit the gym so that you can look better in the clothes you already own. That will give you a sense of power and accomplishment. Every little change in the direction of greater strength, character, and wellness builds moxie.
Do It On Purpose
But then, once you make the decision to break out of one of your style or beauty boundaries, you must own it. Catch yourself if you start to feel apologetic and turn off that inner voice that says, “Oh, I’m just an old lady, trying too hard, I feel silly.” That’s a moxie-killer.
No. Make it intentional and it becomes a form of art… and an inspiration.
Imagine how much courage it must have taken for Black model Winnie Harlow, who has vitiligo (a skin condition in which there is a loss of pigment resulting in white patches on her face arms and body) to take that first step onto the runway. Or for Dr. Danielle Sheypuk to roll out onto the runway in her wheelchair, or for any and every model over 60 to take that runway walk again after decades of being relegated to early retirement because they were no longer a viable “hanger” for selling clothes… at the age of 30!
How Being Older Is An Advantage
We older women do have a great advantage, though. As the years pile up, we have the opportunity to care less about the things for which we think we have been judged and care more about our character. Character is definitely a hallmark of moxie.
I take inspiration from Gabourey Sidibe, the young woman who literally was plucked out of obscurity and became an overnight sensation as the star of the film “Precious.” At the time of her discovery, when Sidibe was still morbidly obese, (through bariatric surgery to control her diabetes she has now lost a lot of that weight) she wrote the following:
“I’m allowing the world to judge me and pick apart my image, education, personality, and outfit because my reward- a whole lot of fun – is greater than the risk of having my feelings hurt.”
Would that we would all be that fearless and let ourselves just have fun.
The Greatest Benefit of Living With Moxie
So, to heck with showing up for anyone else. Do it for yourself first. Besides, people gravitate to those who have moxie. And, more importantly, they are inspired by those who demonstrate it. Martha Graham, the postmodern dance icon, explained why that is. She said that when a dancer performs something that defies gravity, the audience literally and collectively holds their breath. The dancer’s courage carries the viewers along with her on that death-defying journey.
So we not only owe it to ourselves to show up with force, character, determination, and nerve, we owe it to our contemporaries to model it. Breaking old fashion habits to show some moxie is an easy and effective way to start taking that journey.
How do you serve up moxie with your fashion sense? Let us know in the comments below!
Andrea Pflaumer is the author of two books: the Amazon best-seller Shopping for the Real You: Ten Essential Steps to a Perfect Wardrobe for Every Woman: Fashionistas, Fashion-phobes, and the Over 50 and She’s Got Good Jeans – a guide for how to shop for and where to find the perfect jeans for your body and budget.
She does in-person and online wardrobe and shopping consultations for women worldwide and blogs at Shopping for the Real You. Her free course, Lazy Person’s Guide to a Perfect Wardrobe is available on GoHighbrow. Andrea hosts two video series: Vital, Vivacious, and Visible after 50 and Shopping for the Real You: Expert Edition. She interviews women in the areas of fashion, beauty and wellness on her Shopping for the Real You YouTube channel. She is a regular contributor to several national and international publications for women over 50 and is presenting an online class this November through the American Institute of Image Consultants.