No wonder baby boomers are still trying to stay on top of fashion and beauty – remember what previous generations looked like?
My big sis turns 60 today. And how the hell did that happen, she wonders?
Like all of us, she still feels 20 inside. She still likes clothes, makeup, going out to functions, and she’s a tad reluctant to go and pick up her bus pass just yet. Instead she’ll be seeing her youngest son back down to his job in Essex and then going out for a Chinese with the girls.
The dichotomy between how old you are and how old you feel set us talking the other day about our mother, who died a year ago aged 83, and about our gran, our father’s mother, who died at a similar age back in the 1980s. To both of us, both of them always seemed irredeemably ancient – and they dressed accordingly.
Mum was about 40 by the time I remember her and already she wouldn’t go in the sea because ‘it was bad for her insides’. She dressed in elastic-waist trousers and comfy shoes. Add a hairdo just like the Queen, and she didn’t change very much in the next 20 years. I never once saw her in heels or a dress. She gained weight and lost weight and was always on a diet (if she had a pound for every slimming magazine she’d read, she’d be rich, said our father), but her fashion sense never changed. She never learned to drive or had a full-time job, and when my father died she was terrified to live alone and moved in with my sister. She was only 61 but seemed like a tiny little old lady.
Gran, called Nana by us, I only ever remember looking like Ena Sharples from Coronation Street – all curlers and hairnet, in shapeless dun-coloured clothes. She would have been about 62 then, or maybe even younger. The mother of five children, she had no figure to speak of, and above one breast her tops were often see-through – a legacy of her Irish habit of sawing bread across her chest rather than putting it on a table. She never wore a bra and most of the time she didn’t wear her teeth either.
But today is a different world. My sister would cut her own head off with a chainsaw rather than look like this, so much has life changed for women in the past 40 years. This is her with her new car, of which she is very proud, and in which she does many hundreds of miles a year. She owns her own home. Her daily uniform is jeans, loafers and a t-shirt. For walking the dog she puts on one of the big wrap cardigan coats that are so of the moment. She gets her (own) teeth whitened and knows what a mascara tube looks like. Going grey, for the time being, is just not an option.
There’s no question but that for previous generations, 60 was sartorially the end, but now my sis has a statistically excellent chance of living another 25 years or so, so no way is she giving up the fight to look good just yet. More power to her.
So I agree – 60 is the new 40 and that’s good news for me too. You see, I’m 45 but I spent eight years with a crappy bloke, so that makes me 37, and 37’s obviously – what? – the new 25.
It’s great to be back in my twenties.