Wear What Makes You Feel Good

Inside The Pennywise Shop.  A collection of vintage hats line the wall
Inside The Pennywise Shop. A collection of vintage hats line the walls. They are not for sale.

On my way home from visiting my mother I drove past The Pennywise Consignment Shop in Greenwich (pronounced green witch) NY.  I felt a tug.  But I knew Jon had lunch waiting and I was hungry.

After we ate,  Jon and I were thinking about how to spend the rest of our Saturday when I told him I was thinking about going to Pennywise, I had a feeling there was something there for me. “Go”, he said”go”, all but pushing me out the door, “it’s about time you spent some money on yourself.”   You see, I don’t often go shopping for myself.  Mostly because I don’t enjoy shopping but also because I have my favorites, that I find myself wearing even when I do have something new.  I’ve been wearing the same 3 or 4 dresses for over 10 years. I wear them in the winter too, just with sweaters over them and leggings under them.  (My pants don’t last as long, but lately,  I find I’m much more comfortable in dresses than pants).  But they’re wearing out.  I sew most of the holes and replace the buttons,  but they’re also fraying around the edges.

So with Jon’s encouragement (I can always depend on Jon to encourage me to do something I want to do, bless him) I got back in my car and drove back to Greenwich.

I was there for an hour, looking through the racks, trying on clothes, and searching the basement which has stuff other than clothes.  I’m still not used to my body the way it is now.  I weigh more now than I ever have in my life and although I still fit into most of the same sizes, my clothes feel different on my body than they used to.   My stomach presses against even loose t shirts and sometimes, when I try on a dress or shirt that I think should fit me, I can’t even get it over my shoulders.  But I also think differently about styles too. I’ll be fifty in January and for the first time in my life I’m asking myself, “Am I too old to wear this?”

So as I approached the counter to pay for my booty, I was comforted to find three woman behind it, my age or older.  I pulled out the dress that I was uncertain about  and held it up in front of me. “Let me ask you,” I said “do you think I’m too old for this?”   The smallest of the three (she turned out to be the owner)  looked me right in the eye and said “Are you kidding, you’d look adorable in that.”  Hmm, I thought to myself, but didn’t say out loud, so am I too old to look adorable.  “This is a great dress,” she went on, “and I have another one that’s perfect for you.”  She led me to the wall of dresses and pulled out a black jumper-type dress with a lacy bottom.  I liked it, but, once again,   looking at it made me feel old.   As if she were my best friend for years, I blurted out to her that I was going through a transition when it came to clothes and my body and I wasn’t sure about what I should and shouldn’t be wearing.  She waved her hand dismissively at me and said “Wear what makes you feel good.  Look at me I’m 65 and I wear whatever I like”  (She had on black leggings and a brightly colored silk blouse and looked great).  She looked me up and down, “You dress funky, you can have fun coming up with different combinations for a dress like this.  A tank top under it  in the summer and leggings and cowboy boots in the winter.”   She looked at the dressing room and seeing it was occupied,  she pointed me in the direction of a door that lead to a closet under the stairs.  She pulled an overhead  chain to turn on the light.  It was a storage room, the walls lined with mops and brooms and from behind them she pulled out a floor length mirror.   She closed the door behind her and I tried on the dress.  It dress fit great, was comfortable and something I never would have picked out by myself.

I spent $86 (they were having a half price sale on all summer clothes)  got 2 dresses, 2 pairs of pants, 2 shirts, a small bag made from zippers, a handmade rag rug, 2 skeins of  yarn and some lace trim (for my quilts and scarves).   But more important, I got the encouragement and advice that I really need to hear.   I won’t soon forget that spunky,  gorgeous 65 year old woman telling to me to wear what makes me feel good.

32 thoughts on “Wear What Makes You Feel Good

  1. Bravo – both on money well spent and a great experience. I still sew most of my own clothes, but I’m having that issue occasionally where I wonder if people are going to look at me twice because of what I’m wearing. Not so much for style, but generally fabric choice. My favorite summer dress is black with cherries all over it and I piped all the seams in lime green. It’s cheerful and it makes me happy, and I wear it because of that, but sometimes I wonder how it looks to other people.

    And then I remind myself not to care, because how I feel about me is far more important than they feel about me.

    1. Karen, It sounds like a great dress. Will you send us a photo of you in it. I think I could have a new thing going of women and men (if you’re out there) who make their own clothes and wear them.

  2. She’s exactly right Maria. Wear what pleases you. You aren’t too old to look adorable (bet Jon would agree) and I’ve always liked how you dress. My daughter looked at a pair of sparkly flip flops I was wearing one day and said I was too old to wear them. I looked at her like she had two heads and asked her why on earth she would think that ~ I love sparkly things! She’s never said it again ~ either because she’s given up on me (likely!) or just realized that I was right!! I’m glad you got all those things ~ it will be fun to see what you do with them and your wonderful red shoes!

    1. I love sparkly thinks now too Candy. I used to hate them. Good for you for not listening to your daughter, she’ll learn from your example.

  3. Maria, a timely topic because I, too, am heavier now than I’ve ever been in my life. Since I am lactose intolerant/gluten free, my diet is somewhat restrictive but not uninteresting. I feel, at my age, I will accommodate both my need to eat within moderation (something this half-Italian has little concept of, moderation being a word in the dictionary but not in my head) so I try to avoid looking in full length mirrors and acccept my body as it is, wishing for my vision of what slim looked like on me twenty years ago. I wear clothes, much like you…all year round, putting heavier t-shirts beneath jumper-type dresses, leggings, pants, etc. Timely topic, because this morning as I was saying good-bye to a B&B guest, she said: ‘you know, when I met you yesterday (I was wearing a flouncy-bottomed skirt and three layers of dress/vests of varying lengths over top a striped t-shirt) I thought you were just the kind of zippy grandma I’d like to be when I get older’. Then I thought of the lady I saw riding one of those motor scooters in town this past week-end and I now have a secret longing to buy a motor scooter and drive around on that when I go shopping. The only thing that might hold me back is that I have to traverse a very busy hwy. to reach town. But, who knows. The fun of growing older is that I don’t care any more what people think of me or how I look. I look like I want to look and wear what feels comfortable (elastic waists). So go for it, Maria…all people will think is: ‘oh, she’s that artist who lives with that writer…you know….they have donkeys and sheep and chickens and she makes quilts and potholders…you know that lady…yes, she dresses like an artist’…
    Sandy Proudfoot in Canada

    1. Why Sandy, you made me cry, I’m not even sure why. But I have to say when I saw the photo you sent of you, I thought I’d like to look as cool as you do.

  4. Absolutely wear what you enjoy. I am in my 70s and really haven’t changed my styles for over 20 years. They are pants and sweater layers in the Winter, + jumper-style dresses with polonecks and woollen tights underneath, in theSummer it is dresses and pants and loose tops. I make 90 per cent of my own clothes and realized at the beginning of these hot months that some favorite dresses are past even the rag bag. Normally I find patterned cotton sheets at thrift stores to make lovely dresses but this year I treated myself to 4 different designs from equilter.com and am having a Wonderful time sewing ( One down and three to go)

    Oh, and I am making two color-matching handkerchief scarves to go with them.

  5. What fun, I think you have found a good fashion advisor. I assume you have considered how a hanky scarf would look with some of your new things?

  6. Maria, I loved this piece. You have spoken for a lot of us. I am 66 and love being this age. I no longer care for what is ‘in’ and rely totally on what feels good and what I like. By the way, you look great in everything you wear from what I’ve seen in the pictures Jon takes. Enjoy your life and keep sharing with us. We love your writing.

  7. Hi Maria,

    I just have to tell you that last streaming pillow is aMAZING!!! Beautiful, I just don’t know how you can do that without screwing up your design. If I sew curtain hems I’m doing well. They’re just getting better and better and more spiritual too, love them! 🙂


  8. I love your style Maria! And I love that spunky lady too! I am 58 and slowly coming to a place of comfort over style. A girl likes what she likes! Blessings to you.

  9. Yeah for Maria!! Isn’t it fun to awaken to the ‘real’ Maria inside of you? It’s been so much fun to follow you and watch the evolution of you, as you gain more confidence and trust the ‘inner Maria’ – you can’t go wrong if you just follow what feels good for you. 🙂

  10. Maria – I couldn’t get a photo to attach to my comment, so I sent you an email. If the photo inspires you to start something new with our homegrown clothes, please feel free to use it.

  11. Hi Maria, That shop looks so fetching. I would have had to go in.(Maybe being a little selfish and making the lunch at home wait.)The wall of hats is so cool. What a great wall hanging or quilt that could inspire. It’s so nice to happen upon kind and helpful employees especially when we’re feeling on the fence and almost to embarrassed to ask for help. Those women were your positive energy mirroring back at you.
    I hate to clothes shop even more than food shopping! I’m sure so many of us can identify with wearing our favorites for season after season regardless of what hangs in our closets. I have a soft light cotton well worn pair of pj pants that I’ve worn for years.I love cotton. The elastic band is worn out and since I’ve lost so much weight I figured out how to wear them so they’ll stay up. I simply put a clothespin on the waistband! Determination wins. I remember Mary M. talking about how our bodies change through the years in an old blog of hers. Her message was as positive and uplifting as yours. Love the body you’re in. Wear what you like,what makes you feel good. I believe we have our own styles and we can play them up all we want. “Allure” magazine and the style channel aren’t in my orb. I had to get a whole new wardrobe this year from undies to shorts,jackets, jeans, and tops. Totally overwhelming but Mellie spent the day with me and I picked what I wanted and felt good in. Even cute in!(say Ron and Mellie) My style is my own and I’ll wear my Shop Therapy clothes and Converse sneakers for as long as I want. Not to mention my black Elvira hair that I just love!
    You got a steal for $86. I can’t wait to see some of your new/old clothes in pictures. My how we’ve grown and blossomed. It’s just great!

  12. If my husband and I can ever work out how to send photos from our ipad I will do so. We are both technical incompetents I’m afraid. I’m busy with the first scarf now = mostly white with some yellow and green. I hand sew, needle and thread, so it is slow but wonderfully relaxing and thought-freeing.

  13. Best fashion advice ever! I’ve been needing to hear that lately as what I’m drawn to are things I’ve been thinking I might be “getting too old for”. Thanks for passing it along, and I hope you take it for yourself. I love your fashion choices!

  14. So am I to assume you have also worn a “clothespin belt?”( I love clothespins, elastics and paperclips ) So many uses for these! 🙂

  15. Good for you, Maria! I work part-time in a dress shop, and I am constantly amazed by the things I hear women say: I can’t wear patterns. I can’t wear that color. I can’t wear scoop necks. I can’t wear short sleeves. I can’t I can’t I can’t. My response is Why Not? or You could TOTALLY wear that. It’s a big success if I can get them to just try on something different, and I am touched by the crestfallen looks on their faces when they realize they look great in something. But I always tell them, Are you comfortable? Because if you’re not, don’t get it.

  16. Well then, I think we are twins too Maria. But not identical twins. You’re ‘adorable’ and I’m ‘cute’ remember?

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