Friday, August 12, 2016

Chic advice for my younger self



A reader writes:

Dear Fiona,

I'm in my mid-30s but most of the style blogs I read are written for someone 10-20 years (or more) older than me. What advice would you give to the woman who wants to age gracefully / beautifully / chic-ly? What advice would you give to your 35-year old self if you could send a message now?

--

Dear chic friend,

This may not be the answer you want to hear, but I’d pretty much give the same advice to me at 30 or 35 as I would to me now, at 45, truly!  These are all things I’d advise my younger self to consider; however they are equally applicable to me today.

Relax.  There is no cartoon metal anvil hanging over your head that you don’t know about.

Worry less.  Worry is really bad for you!  I have borderline high blood pressure which is hereditary, and I’m working on being more sanguine so as to help myself be healthy (and I've also cut out added salt at dinnertime).

Keep on curating.  There will always be another clothing sale, don’t worry if you miss one.  You probably don’t want the clothes in that sale anyway – wait until there’s something you really want and buy it even if you have to pay a little more.  You’ll value and wear it more than all those cheap garments.

Seek to find your own personal style.  It’s actually right in front of you and you’ve always known what it was.  Look back to what you loved to wear when you were younger.  For me, it was the classics.  I felt boring sometimes and tried other styles, but I always came back to the classic pieces.  Look to fashion for inspiration, but always follow your own taste; it will never let you down.

Work on eliminating your bad habits.  It won’t get any easier as you get older; they catch up with you then.

Take good care of your health and seek a second opinion if you feel it necessary.  The spot on my leg that I had two doctors look at and both told me it was harmless.  I was less sure and paid for it to be removed.  It was melanoma (all gone now).

Don’t hang around on Someday Isle.  Life will flash by quickly if you put things off.  Make exciting plans and take action on them.  Keep moving, you don’t want to be stuck in a stagnant stream.  That’s when I turn to ‘fun’ food to liven things up (such a great plan.  Not).

Find chic mentors.  If there are ladies around you that you aspire to be like, be friendly with them and ask them out for lunch or coffee if appropriate.  If they’re that bit too far removed to do that, simply observe them from afar.  I have ladies (and a few guys) in my life who both a similar age and older who all inspire me to be my best.

Learn to enjoy good, real food.  I’ve let this slide over the years and am still cleaning up my eating habits.  It’s easy to keep putting things off and thinking you’ll deal with them later, but later never comes.  Why not be healthy and happy now?

--

So, what would you say to your younger self?  I know there is lots of wisdom in your head that we can share and learn from.  Whether we would have listened at a younger age is another story altogether, tee hee.

Wishing you a wonderful and chic weekend.

47 comments:

  1. I would say: When you saw you were gaining weight, deal with it immediately. When you had that weird feeling about that guy, LISTEN and stay away. Nothing ruins your chic-self like losing your self-esteem for years! Be more careful of how you treat your face (like squinting or smushing it up by resting your chin on your hand)! Start taking Omega-3 earlier! Save money out of each paycheck so you CAN afford those classic pieces anytime! Don't waste time on stupid things. Make each day, moment, count. Enjoy your life more and stress less about mundane things. Looking back from my "older than Fiona" age, I would say: Listen to people like Fiona far earlier in life so you can be where you want to be later in life rather than struggling to get it all back!! (But don't stop getting it all back - it's worth it!)

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    1. Your list is perfection, LBD! Must get some fish oil :)

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    2. Beautifully written. I wish someone had told me those things in my twenties - but then I probably wouldn't have listened ha ha

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  2. I truly don't think I'd change much in the way I have behaved, except perhaps not buying on impulse, but we have to do this occasionally so that we learn not to! Impulse purchases are often the worst things we buy, they dazzle us with their immediate appeal and then turn out to be useless more often than not.
    Also, I'd learn how to say No more easily and not to get involved in things which I don't really want to do just to please someone, such as a coffee morning I don't really wish to attend just because a friend has asked me. A polite "no thank you" suffices for most refusals and if it doesn't then the person asking doesn't respect you or is not really a friend. Don't always feel obliged to do things, or as a friend once said to me, "beware 'oughts' and 'shoulds'".
    Also, beware of falling into silly-fashion traps. Be honest about your figure shape and colouring, and if something is fashionable and doesn't suit you, then don't buy it, simple as that.
    Margaret P

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    1. Ooh, I so hear you about saying no to things like the coffee morning, Margaret. If I'd never been to a home sales party in my life that would have been better, and even worse, I've been roped into holding them myself, AND even being the salesperson. If only I'd said NO to all of that. Still, one lives and learns!

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    2. Oh, those truly awful Tupperware partis in the 1960s ... then Sarah Coventry jewellery parties ... there was also one which sold women's clothes and all the items have names and the salesperson would say something like, "And here is Susan, and she has lovely yellow stripes ..." Yuk! When we moved to our small Close I made it my mous operandi to refuse(very politely) all such invitations. By the time I reached my 50s I had learned to say No. It took a good 50 years!
      Margaret P

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    3. I actually love Tupperware, the product, just not the way it's sold. I don't like to feel obligated. If only they sold it in the 'normal' way or even online (maybe they do now?)

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    4. Yes, the power of saying no. Unfortunately it took me 40-odd years to learn this one and only because of a major health issue. Why oh why do we feel the need to please others at the expense of ourselves ? I suspect it comes from being praised earlier on by parents, teachers, society for being 'a good girl'. It's hard to find the balance. I had to learn the hard way, it seems :)

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  3. LBDDiaries makes good points! Also: work on your posture--if it isn't good now, fix it. It will make you look years younger and save you back problems later.
    Keep things simple and classic--hair, clothes, makeup. You won't sweat the trends, and later, when you see pictures of yourself, you won't have the kinds of photos that everybody groans over or makes fun of.
    Travel. It opens the mind, keeps the soul young, and gives you tons of sophistication.

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    1. Posture - yes! I'm constantly working on mind. And travel, what great reasons you give; love them.

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  4. Keep your body strong.Don't loose your bones by crazy dieting, drinking cola drinks,or an inactive lifestyle. Don't eat a lot of junk, keep a healthy weight.Get a dexa scan in your early 50's to access your risk of osteoporosis. It's an epidemic. Get dental checkups regularly even if you don't think you need one.Replace an hour of online shopping with some exercise that you like.Be proactive with your health.Brimming with good health is always a good look..

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    1. I've been thinking about getting a bone density scan, thank you for the reminder (I'm celiac and osteoporosis is a common thing when you're not absorbing calcium and other nutrients).

      'Brimming with good health is always a good look'. Love it!

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  5. Fiona, You've answered perfectly! If I had a do-over for my younger self, I would make sure I stayed true to myself and not let anyone (men) influence the way I "should" look or act. I've always leaned more toward classic tastes in appearances and behavior and sometimes the men I dated would have liked that I was more overtly flashy. Unfortunately, I occasionally tried to accommodate but always would end up breaking up with that certain someone because I just couldn't please them. Thank goodness I learned from those experiences- nothing too awful, but the lessons have stuck! Now, I don't even ask my husband's opinion about how I look. I just go with what feels good and what I feel confident in. It's kind of like what Gwyneth Paltrow has said about not having a stylist: she knows what she likes and sticks with it. She trusts her own tastes.

    Also, I'm still working hard on this one: stop worrying! I worry about EVERYTHING. Take better care of your health, STAY OUT OF THE SUN - it will catch up with you later resulting in leathery, blotchy skin (and hopefully not melanoma like you Fiona. I'm so glad you listened to your intuition and got a 3rd opinion! Thank goodness you're fine now).

    D.

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    1. And I even stayed out of the sun, D! I just wasn't a big sunbather.

      Aah, 'stop worrying', so simple sounding, so hard to do sometimes.

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  6. Sunscreen always and eat your greens! I've been good about sunscreen since I was eighteen, but only recently eating as many veggies as I should and what a difference!

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    1. Two goodies, CH. Thankfully I've always done both. Phew!

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  7. Read more. Travel more. Spend money on experiences rather than things. Relax and enjoy life. Always wash your face before bed. Think for yourself and don't let anyone push you around. Remember that you alone are responsible for your own happiness. Know your worth. Your value does not come from your appearance, age, or size.

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    1. Excellent points, Danielle. I love the last one :)

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    2. Oops that was me :)

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  8. Such a great post! I love what you have written. My advise to my younger self would fill a book, but one of the top things would be don't worry what other people think of you. I'm coming full circle with events in my life right now and it's interesting to see how I used to get so worked up over certain things and now, looking at it from a totally different perspective, can see that it was much less significant than I thought it was at the time.

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    1. Haha, fill a book, so cute. And yes, your top point is excellent. 'Turn the camera out', as Tonya says.

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  9. Floss your teeth, mind your posture, start cleansing & moisturizing your face earlier, stop procrastinating and then stressing yourself out afterwards, and cultivate good routines. It wasn't until my mid-20's did I actually operate on a schedule. I always had horrible sleeping habits of staying up much too late and sleeping in too late, and often skipping meals. It was hard to change those things!

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    1. Procrastinating and stressing, my modus operandi ;) Got to get a handle on that!

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  10. This is one of the best posts I have read in a long, long time. I am coming back later to make a list for reference. Thank you.

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    1. And the comments simply add to the goodness, don't you think, Mary?

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  11. Save money - absolutely! If everyone started saving for retirement earlier, the magic of compound interest would leave us all constantly smiling...
    And deal with weight gain IMMEDIATELY. Like the first 5 pounds. You're not kidding anybody by ignoring it, and you're not helping your health, nor your appearance.
    Choose to be happy. Just decide, and make it so...
    Love everyone - especially the ones that don't deserve it, or who are difficult to love. They need you the most. This doesn't mean living with them, or putting up with their crap, but love them truly, from your heart, while taking care of yourself first.
    hugs,
    Janice

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    1. Aah, money, if only we'd all done that. At the time, say in my early 20s, it seemed to hard to get a savings balance going and retirement seemed so far away. Money management and 'inspiration' - making finance fun - needs to be part of our schooling.

      Weight gain, yes. Choosing to be happy, so much.

      I love your last point. It's so much easier to be caring towards others when you consider what their situation/perspective/current state of mind might be. Whilst still not putting up with bs, of course :)

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  12. Money management first. Then travel often. Just make it a priority in your budget.
    Be true to yourself. Do not be influenced by others voices. Be happy and go forward in your life bravely. Be kind and be grateful for the advantages that are yours.

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    1. Yes, be true to yourself.. Stop comparing yourself to other people. I love that saying "be yourself, everyone else is already taken".

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    2. Perfectly said, Madame.

      'Be kind and be grateful for the advantages that are yours.' - I love that. Sometimes it's easy to forget, and we can seem less humble.

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  13. Saving money for the future for a condo, house, travel and ultimately retirement!
    Address the weight gain and I am going to be doing a series on this soon...it creeps up pretty quick and losing it takes a lot of hard work and dedication.
    Find joy in the simple things and elevate the everyday with a bit of elegance...it might be a china tea cup and saucer for tea time, a scented candle or pretty lacy lingerie...cultivate a few luxuries and you will feel richer in so many ways.
    Have fun and explore your community for opportunities to give back...being involved and focusing on others is a great way to put those negative thoughts in perspective.

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    1. What a great idea for a series, Hostess, I can't wait to see it!

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    2. I need to address the weight gain, too!!!!
      Margaret P

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    3. Margaret P - at the risk of being over familiar, have you tried Weight Watchers ? I joined in 2001 as the kilos were starting to creep and I have a few female family members who are overweight. I wanted to 'nip it in the bud', so to speak. I lost six kilos in about six months and have kept it off. I found their meetings invaluable - having peer support, the leader has done the same journey, each week is a differ topic which was always helpful in day to day life and of course stepping on those (bloody) scales kept me accountable. Many of the other attendees commented that as I 'didn't have much to lose' it was somehow easier for me. NOT THE CASE. I had many many habits to break (eating in the car, eating snacks every day, not enough fresh fruit or veg every day, etc etc). It takes time and there are hiccups along the way, of course, but that's life. The ongoing support is incredible. I continued to attend the meetings for many years after I'd lost that initial,weight. At times a couple of kilos would seem to creep on from nowhere but with the help I managed. I have maintained a healthy weight and lifestyle ever since. 15 years later.

      And no, I'm not on the payroll of weight watchers :) This is straight from the heart. I have seen friends and work colleagues try many other diets and with one exception (Michelle Bridge's 12 week body transformation - here in Australia), none of them managed to keep the weight off.

      Good luck. You will start when you are ready xx

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  14. Yes, Fiona, I agree with the others - this is one of my favourite posts so far. I think what added to its value for me were all of the wonderful comments. I would repeat all those and more - including never let anyone make you feel you're not good enough and NEVER stay in a relationship (friends or intimate) with anyone who displays jealousy. These are negative, destructive behaviours that you can never change).
    However, as we all know 'you can't put an old head on young shoulders' and we all have to learn for ourselves ;) Enjoy the memories of your unwise trendy hairstyles (1990s spiral perm, anyone) and makeup choices (oh how I loved my bright blue eyeliner smeared all over my inner lower eyelids in the late 1980s).
    Enjoy life.
    Choose to be cheerful.
    Smile as much as you can.
    Dance every chance you get. Even if it's when you're doing the washing :)

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    1. Haha, the spiral perm. I never had one because my hair is quite curly/wavy (frizzy...) naturally, but I did have highlights with the shower cap and crochet hook and plenty of dodgy hairstyles. My mum told me not to bleach my hair, so I did. The regrowth was horrendous :)

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  15. ps. Many many years ago I printed out a copy of 'Desiderata', a beautiful poem which my late Grandmother had a framed copy on her kitchen wall. Well my version is only on an A4 sheet of paper from a copier but it sits on the side of my fridge. I find inspiration from it each time I happen to glance at it.
    Whether it is this particular poem, an affirmation, a postcard from a dear friend or an old photograph of a long ago loved pet, it doesn't matter. Something that makes you smile each time you notice it.

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    1. LOVE the Desiderata, it's so soothing.

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  16. This is by far my favourite post, Fiona, made even more special by everyone's comments.

    My contribution - NEVER stay in a relationship (intimate or otherwise) that doesn't feel right. Whether it be that someone is constantly jealous or makes comments that chip away at your self esteem. Gather your courage, talk to a trusted friend (or parent, mentor, boss, doctor or priest) and make steps to extricate yourself from that relationship. Their jealousies are THEIR issue, borne from a low self esteem and they will NOT change, no matter how much you wish otherwise.

    As for style and fashion, well you can't put an old head on young shoulders. I had some horror hairstyles, fashion choices and eye makeup in my teens and twenties - but didn't we all ? I had the big fringes in the 80s, the spiral perms in the 90s and my love for bright blue eyeliner on the lower INSIDE rims of my eyes is best left to the photos buried in albums ha ha. But I wouldn't change a part of it as we are all works in progress.

    My final (and best ?) suggestion - I have a poem called 'Desiderata' on the side of my fridge. It has been there for years and moved from house to house. It has many stanzas and is mostly not noticed but some days as I stand waiting for the kettle to boil or whatever I will read a few lines and my heart lifts. (My late grandmother had a lovely framed copy in her kitchen when I was growing up). So whether it is a poem, a few affirmations, an old postcard from a dear friend or an old photo of you and your bestie, have such things on your bedside table (or your fridge or bookshelf) that will make you happy when you see them.

    Oh and one more - dance every chance you get. Whether it's something organised at a club or hall or while you're doing something dull like loading the washing machine or waiting for the kettle. I have been known to jiggle in the car when listening to a favourite song on the radio.....Whatever makes you smile will make you happy and that's the chicest look of all xxx

    (I had typed an elaborate comment yday but the iPad gods were against me and it didn't succeed. I hope that I paraphrased it correctly. Oh well !).

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    1. That's really kind of you, Lara, to suggest Weight Watchers. I went to something similar many years ago but my main problem is not over-eating, or even eating the wrong foods. We have a very good diet as my husband has had open heart surgery for a faulty valve, i.e. not heart disease, and also he's border line diabetes, i.e. he's been diagnosed but as his blood sugar levels are OK he doesn't need medication, so we have low-fat low-sugar diet, lots of fresh fruit and veg, etc. My main problem is that I have osteoarthritis and therefore can't exercise as much as I would like, even walking is painful, and to lose weight it's a combination of fewer calories in and exercise. But I will do my best, make up my mind to cut down still further on quantities (we already eat of 1930s plates which are smaller and don't pile them high with food!)
      But thank you for your kind suggestions. Oh, this should've been added to your comment above the one to Fiona, sorry.
      Margaret P

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    2. Lara, I found two of your comments in Spam - how rude of Blogger! I left them all up because there is so much goodness in each of them :)

      That's one lesson I've learnt too - when someone isn't nice to you, it's actually more about them than it is about you. It's easier to feel empathy for them (whilst saying bye bye and slipping out the door).

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  17. I would advise my younger self to STOP stressing. Everything and I do mean everything that I ever stressed over has turned out quite well. Life falls in to place. My stress did not change any course of events, but merely jeopardized my health and my sanity. Relax, stay calm and respond in a more chic manner.

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    1. Soooo true, Debora. And yet, I still have to stop myself stressing in the current day and thinking into the future. Crazy! But when I look back at all the things in my life, the majority of them have led me to better places than I could even imagine.

      I think having faith and trust is helpful to curb the stressing, it is for me anyway.

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  18. I read this article over and over, and spent quite a number of days reflecting!

    I'm 32 and have a 10 year old daughter- and there are so many things that I wish my mother taught me (we are two very different people, and I understand now that it was an awareness [or lack of] thing on her part).

    I'd tell myself, and will tell my daughter a number of things!

    - After graduating, work in another country, failing that, move interstate even if only for six months.

    - Save some of your income, even if you are struggling and can only whittle away $1. Every bit counts and the peace of mind is infinitely more elegant than a new dress.

    - If something doesn't feel right in a relationship, it isn't. Trust your intuition. Don't date a drug addict. And don't be afraid of being single.

    - Take care of your skin now, it is never too late to start, and it certainly doesn't make you high maintenance.

    - Learn another language and a musical instrument. Even if nothing else, they make awesome party tricks.

    - Love what you love. If you prefer to go out for brunch and read over clubbing on the weekends, do that. Find your groove and don't apologise. If you want to stay in on New Years Eve and watch a movie alone, do that.

    - Avoid fashion, but cultivate style. Keep it simple and the elegance will follow.

    - Trust your intuition when it comes to signing documents, meeting people, in the workplace and when on the street. The more you listen, the stronger it becomes.

    - You are not your mother.

    - Travel as often as possible. Adventures will teach you more than another planning and production meeting.

    - Maintain your grooming and posture, you never know what (or who!) you may meet around the corner.

    - Sometimes there will be people who disagree with your decisions. If the decision came from a place of genuine-ness, integrity and personal insight, then agree with them and then do what you were going to do anyway.

    - Keep your home clean, clutter free and simple. Have a standard and never lower it for anyone.

    - "The more civilised, cultured and refined you are, the easier it is to control your emotions, should you choose to do so". Read. Attend art galleries and museums. Do the course. Journal. Spend time with people who you want to be like (as in financial status, personal style, way of living).

    - Do the work and trust the process. Not everything can be controlled.

    There are many many more, and definitely something I have been thinking about since reading this post for the first time!

    Thank you :)

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    1. What a fabulous collection Jo, and thank you so much for sharing it with us. Your daughter is a lucky girl :)

      I love so many, well, all of your points really. Especially staying in on NYE, being cultured and civilised, creating your own party tricks - so good!

      Thanks again for a wonderful contribution.

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Merci for your comment. Wishing you a chic day!

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