Does my outside match my inside?

When I met Edgar in 1988, my clothes of choice were short, slim skirts and dresses, pencil style slacks, fitted sweaters and sexy high-heeled shoes. I had recently lost 50 pounds and wanted to show off my svelte body. Edgar, a non-practicing Southern Baptist living in oh-so-waspy New Canaan, CT, dressed accordingly: Blue blazer, white shirt, loafers and khakis. As we spent more time together, my style morphed into Pure Preppy. I even bought a wool plaid kilt that closed with a honest-to-goodness kilt pin and a pleated winter white skirt from Burberry of London, with matching cable-knit sweater. The darn kilt scratched like crazy and the pleated number spent a great deal of time in the dry cleaners, but I was determined not to let those piddling matters get in the way of my preppy persona.

When I gained back the weight—and then some—after staying slim for over 15 years, I became a fan of Eskandar. The designer’s over-sized sweaters and shirts, worn over his pants with drawstring waists, were anything but becoming on a big woman, but they helped me “hide” what I hated.

Fact is none of those three looks was the true Geri Brin. They didn’t reflect my inner nature—which is a bit unorthodox and resistant to too much structure—nor did they have anything to do with the way I moved, the shape of my features—from my long, thin face to my ample hips and big feet—or the pitch of my voice. I don’t have a sexy personality, nor do I move in an especially sexy way.  But I thought maybe I’d be sexy if I wore sexy clothes.

And, goodness knows, the only preppy things I’m linked to are my Ivy-League educated sister and husband and their two Ivy-League educated sons.  Looking like the female equivalent of Edgar wasn’t the secret to a successful relationship.

Trying to find myself a few years ago

The opposite of sexy, Eskandar’s generously sized, limp pieces were comfortable, but they made me feel even more uncomfortable than I felt being overweight. Big clothes, I learned, actually make big women look and feel bigger.

At sixty-five I think I’ve finally connected the way I dress with the inner me as well as with my outer features and movements, which tend to be on the speedy side. I like easy clothes with some shape—boyfriend style jeans, sweatshirt style sweaters, dresses whose skirts flow modestly but have some shape up top, leggings with big tops that fall about three inches below my tush, I always wear my collars up and my sleeves rolled. I love soft fabrics but they need to have enough weight and shape so they don’t hang over every curve and bulge. Once my favorite colors, navy and gray will never grace my body. Once colors I detested, khaki green and chocolate brown are my new loves.

Always trying different looks

When I heard about an online program called Dressing Your Truth, by FOF Carol Tuttle, I was curious if Carol would confirm that my style reflects the “true me.” The foundation of DYT is called your Personal Beauty Profile. Are you “Bright and Animated,” “Subtle and Soft,” “Rich and Dynamic,” or “Bold and Striking?” Carol asks. Of course, we can each have a bit of all these characteristics, but Carol asserts we’re most like one or the other. “Beauty Profiling is not focused on putting beauty on, but on your inner source of beauty—the real you,” Carol writes in the introduction of her book Discovering Your Personal Beauty Profile. “What you will learn is that your outer beauty truly starts with your inner beauty, and when you know the truth about your inner beauty—your Beauty Profile—you’ll be ready to adorn your body to show your true beauty through your outer appearance.” That’s a lot of talk about beauty, but I get it!

“The baby boomer generation carries the most cultural conditioning,” Carol told me. “We grew up thinking we weren’t feminine unless we resembled Twiggy and looked good in mini skirts.”  So true, I thought. Fashion magazines held us in thrall, which, when you think about it now, was pretty ridiculous since the fashion editors were 24 and the art directors were young gay men.  These self-anointed style gurus had as much business telling us what we should look like as my great aunt Tilly. But we listened and many of us grew up hating our bodies. Our mothers didn’t help our image issues, either.

“Many women who stayed home grew up feeling lost if they weren’t fashionistas who read Vogue. They felt lost and unenthusiastic. As they got older, they started to dress like their grandmothers but blamed their age and their weight—not the clothes they chose—for looking frumpy, Carol explains. “You’ll age if your clothes and hair style don’t suit you.”

Carol’s online classroom is designed to help you “know your inner truth and feel confident and secure in your appearance.” Once you’ve learned what type you are (I’m supposedly Type 3—Rich and Dynamic—which Carol defines as “active, reactive, textured, angular, substantial and swift,”) the program offers courses and loads of support material for each Beauty Profile. You’ll learn what clothes look best on you (square or V-necklines, pointed collars and A-line or pleated skirts look best, for example, on Type 3); your best colors (brown); textures (grainy, bumpy, rough and ribbed); what metals to wear (gold, bronze, copper and brass), and even how to wear your hair (textured and angled).

Carol’s site has videos, community forums and live monthly Dressing Your Truth Club night broadcasts, covering subjects from emotional issues to how to grow your career.

“Where the fashion world left you guessing, Dressing Your Truth makes you your own beauty expert,” Carol explains. “You can throw out all your preconceived ideas about what FOFs should and shouldn’t do and start learning how to follow your instincts and use your natural beauty and inner nature to develop a style you can call your own.”

Last year, I took a trip to Paris, France. The moment I stepped into Miller et Bertaux on Rue Ferdinand Duval, I knew I was going to buy something. I am wearing my purchases, a featherweight raincoat in eggplant… and a gorgeous silk dress and scarf—with an ever-so-slightly different pattern—that designer Francis Miller adjusts perfectly.

Although my favorite jewelry is silver and I am not a big fan of pleats, I like Carol’s philosophy and approach to style, and agree with her Type 3 assessment of me. We don’t really need to ask our husband if our butt looks fat in those pants or the saleswoman at Macy’s if she likes the way we look in that dress. And surely the beauty “expert” at Kohl’s doesn’t really know if red lipstick and blue eye shadow suit us? It’s really up to each of us.

13 Responses to “Does my outside match my inside?”

  1. Frank Clarivu says:

    geri you really have opened my eyes to the fact the over fifties are still booming!

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    • Geri says:

      thanks frank (are you a man or a woman)

      we’ll be booming until we breathe our last breath!

      Geri

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    • Geri says:

      thanks frank (are you a man or a woman)

      we’ll be booming until we breathe our last breath!

      G

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  2. Della Beaver says:

    Fierce & Fabulous After 50 (fierceandfabulousafter50.com) loves your passion in helping women over 50 to live a purposeful and passionate life. Our mission is to Inspire 50+ Women to Reclaim Their Fierce, Fabulous, Smart and Sexy Life!

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  3. Laura Borud says:

    I like to think I’ve found my style but maybe not? Geri, I mix my metals and always have. I have white gold bracelet I always wear but if I want to wear yellow I go for it. Not always the real stuff though, went through a phase where I lost one gold earring from each set so cheapos for me!

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  4. Ruth says:

    I won DYT right here on this very site three years ago and it was one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever received!!

    At 54 and disabled, not only only was I able to reconnect with who I REALLY am (Type 4) but I realized I was “gifted” with an amazing fashion sixth sense and it was ONLY when I tried to “fit in” with those “cute” T1s and those “beautiful” T2s that I totally lost myself.

    I’m so thrilled I’m a T4/3 but MORE thrilled to know I can be true to who *I* was made to be … and everyone else has that same choice.

    I’ve never owned fewer clothes, been more comfortable in my own skin, received more compliments, or have been more confident with my appearance. At 57!

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    • Geri says:

      Hi Ruth,

      your comment is so joyous, it made me happy.

      Geri

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  5. Joni says:

    This is a fun post! I have always dressed kind of boring because I didn’t want to stand out or attract any kind of attention. But, because my personality is goofy and I’m an artist it wasn’t really the best expression of me. I’m 52 now and learning how to tastefully express my creative unique side, blogging has really helped! If I had been more brave back in the early 80’s I’m sure my hair would have been spiky and bright pink. But for now I’ll settle for highlights. 😉

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    • Vera J says:

      Joni,

      You are only 52! It’s never too late for a few pink highlights!!! LOL

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      • Joni says:

        I’ll do it if you will. 😉

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        • Vera J says:

          Joni,

          I’m going through a rebellious phase. I may just do it. Like my granddaughter says, you only live once!

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  6. Vera J says:

    Geri,

    I am so glad you guys “discovered” Dressing Your Truth! My 12 year old granddaughter (who spent her birthday money on jewelry from them!) turned me on to their site a few months ago, and although at first I resisted what was obviously my “type”, I finally got it! I’m a Type 1, just as she is.

    I now walk into a store to purchase clothing and don’t even think about trying on a color that is not reflected on my color chart. The type, flow, colors and basically the style, have already been shown to me. All I have to do is stay true to it. And it sure makes it easier to deal with the sales people. I show them my card and tell them these are the colors I can and will wear. It cuts out the guesswork. It is then left to style, cut and fabric. And this is all taught to you in the online course.
    You are even given advice on what type and style of jewelry, shoes and handbags you should choose.

    I’ve purchased several pieces from their jewelry selection because they are fun, affordable and fashionable. And if you get tired of a piece you don’t have a lot invested.

    And I, like you Geri, am really a fan of silver jewelry and have spent years collecting different pieces. Some very expensive. Only to finally realize that silver doesn’t look good on me! My lucky, oldest granddaughter, who is a Type 2, has inherited some wonderful pieces.

    Thanks for the write up on this!

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    • Geri says:

      hi vera,

      women compliment my silver bracelets all the time, so although I am supposedly not a silver person, i’m going to stick with them. if i wanted similar pieces in gold, i’d have to rob a bank.

      loved reading your comment and happy you (and your adorable-sounding granddaughter) know about DYT

      geri

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