Fashioning a certain age

by Yule Heibel on December 24, 2006

I should have some idea of what my February article will look like, but what with “this season” and all, I’ve been singularly distracted. And there’s a birthday coming up in a couple of days, one of those big ones with a zero at the end (and a halfway grown up number in front).

So I went shopping. Strangely, I know nothing about shopping anymore, not that it ever was my strength. Spending money: that, I’m quite good at. However, shopping, as an art that serves self-adornment as well as self-definition (“I shop, therefore I am”): that, count me a rank amateur. Nay, not even amateur, as the word denotes “lover.” I am more of a historical throwback to an earlier time (childhood or pre-turbo-capitalist early industrialisation: take your pick), where other people did one’s shopping for one. I suppose during those decades when I was nubile, some sort of hormonal challenge kicked in and I shopped for all the usual reasons (desire), but now, being quite deracinated (perhaps alienated) from my class origins, I have no traditional anchors or reasons for doing it, while the biological ones have receded into the background.

Matrons (post-nubility females) used to shop because one simply had to if one wanted to maintain certain distinctions. Matrons are, however, a certain class of persons — that no longer exists. Yet the new classes don’t suit. I’m too old to be a yuppie (which is so 80s anyway), too leftist to be a mere consumer, too rich (and too disinterested) to be just a bargain-hunter, too poor to be in the luxury ranks, too picky to settle for anything but the best, and so on and so forth: once you start to think about this critically, you realise that as une femme d’un certain age, there aren’t many options.

Where I used to live I knew a bookseller of a certain age who dressed in the same uniform, day in, day out. She always appeared in khaki pants, white blouse, black socks and black shoes, her elegant silver hair pulled back in a pony tail, black ribbon, black glasses. Every day. She looked quite good, if predictable. Healthy, too. Then suddenly she disappeared, having unexpectedly died of cancer.

I’m not suggesting that uniforms kill or anything. But it did put me off the predictability of uniforms, and made me long for the caprices of fashion, which seemed less deadly than the ones of health …or disease. If only I knew where to shop…


Penelope December 24, 2006 at 6:57 pm

Hi Yule,
Shopping of any description is anathema to me and put off until unavoidable, especially since I know that pretty much any store of any decription will have those awful whining women (singers, I’m told) permeating the atmosphere. However, I might be enticed if I were I greeted by the following –

yulelog December 24, 2006 at 7:12 pm

Wow, thanks for the link to English Russia, Penelope… What amazing murals! I like the giant trees climbing up the buildings’ sides, also the mountain-scape, as well as the building that has traditional-looking architecture painted on its side. The panaroma shot is impressive, too. I guess with drab, gray Stalinist housing like that, the only thing short of levelling it and starting over is to paint it over as its opposite: bright and beautiful. One might even say, “vibrant”… 😉

Phil December 24, 2006 at 11:27 pm

Read your post on Christmas Eve, and was much uplifted by it. “Matrons (post-nubility females) used to shop because one simply had to if one wanted to maintain certain distinctions. Matrons are, however, a certain class of persons — that no longer exists.” – Oscar Wilde.

yulelog December 25, 2006 at 12:20 am

Dr. Phil!! Merry Christmas, Mr. Wealthbondage — I think of you a lot, but somehow never find the time to make my way around the old blog neighbourhood, …or even to write an email once in a while! That was part of what I alluded to when I wrote about patterns, recognising/ figuring out patterns, as per the post from the other day.

As for matrons: you’re making the Wilde connection up, right?, or are you seriously telling me that I have channelled Oscar Wilde? Unbelievable. I’m going to google that phrase, and if it does indeed come up as a Wildean quotation, I’ll …well, I don’t know what.

Huh. If it’s from anything, it has to be from the Importance of Being Earnest.

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