Being in our fifties and curious about our peers, the high50 team’s search histories probably show an above-average quotient of terms like Botox, Harley Davidson, ‘mid-life’ and ‘invisible at 50’.
Last week, by accident, two of them collided on a screen, and we discovered an American blog: Not Dead Yet Style. It’s produced by Patti Gibbons, straplined ‘How to look authentic and beautiful in our middle years’, and features a marvellous thread called Visible Monday (scroll down the home page and you’ll come to the Visible Monday posts).
Now, it wasn’t the first site we’d come across where a sassy mid-life woman parades herself, her tastes and her opinions.
Our good friend A Femme d’un Certain Age speaks loud and proud from Paris for the 50-plus sorority, as does Alyson Walsh on That’s Not My Age (though actually, she’s a bit young). So do the bloggers on Chic At Any Age, The Daily Plate of Crazy and, of course, Style Notes, by our own fashion editor, Maggie Alderson.
They do it for love, money, vanity, charity, marketing, brand reinforcement and a thousand reasons besides. They may be powerful ‘mommy bloggers’, courted by big brands for their influence, or weekend WordPressers. But, pretty generous with their blogrolls, they’re all bound together in a formidable online society.
Except, as Mrs Thatcher pointed out, that there’s no such thing as society, only the individuals that comprise it. Patti Gibbons’ brainwave was to get all these individuals to show themselves in one place.
A couple of years back, she posted a manifesto-cum-plea on her own site. As a connected 50-plus woman, she was all too aware that she and her peers were feeling ‘looked-through’ and irrelevant.
Her mooted Visible Mondays would be a chance to “post an outfit, accessory, lipstick color, hairstyle, etc, that especially expresses our Joy of Being (Physically) Visible”. And so it has proved. At the start of every other week, Patti puts up a picture of herself rockin’ her latest look, and the sisters pile in, too.
As the series is now in Week 117, we can’t highlight all the contributors (and besides, they’re not all in Generation high50). But our favourites include Alicia from Nashville, whose Spashionista gives the view from her wheelchair (she has cerebral palsy), and the theatrical Style Crone from Minneapolis.
There’s the fabulously flashy Tamera Beardsley (main picture, centre right) from Southern California, and Pam from San Antonio, who’s Over 50 Feeling 40. There’s Jean from Georgia, with Dross Into Gold, and Ann from Minnesota, who lives in Blue Hue Wonderland. This thing has really taken off across the 50 States of the Union.
And beyond. From Holland, No Fear of Fashion is a regular, as are Annette, the German Lady of Style (main picture, top right), and South African Wendy, from Simply Sassy. Pitching in for Poland, Fashion Adventures at Any Age (main picture, bottom left) is hosted by Beata, currently based in Britain, and our home-grown contingent includes a slightly younger crew, such as Highland Fashionista (main picture, bottom right), Not Dressed as Lamb (main picture, top left), Trying for Sighs (main picture, centre right), Late Blooming Sparkle and Vintage Vixen.
Let’s especially hear it for Vix from Vintage Vixen. On all these blogs, the About pages are full of life-affirming, Helen Reddy-ish statements. But you’ve got to love hers:
“My style is Woodstock refugee meets Rolling Stones groupie with a bit of vintage Bollywood thrown in. I don’t follow fashion and if I look ridiculous, so what? Not being noticed and blending in with the crowd is my idea of hell.” (Way to go, high five-oh!)
One of Vix’s recent looks was a mini-dress she knocked up out of a Sixties tablecloth, and her followers loved it. “Well done on the arse-exposure rescue,” said ‘pastcaring’. “I especially like the neckline,” said ‘monodagogo’. “It’s perfect with that waiscoat,” added ‘freckleface’.
That level of support is pretty much par for the course. You don’t have to make a bold statement or look a million dollars for the sisterhood to boost you on Not Dead Yet. You can look ten bucks, team Tesco jeans with a Primark T-shirt, and the girls will still be rallying round.
And can there be any better way to start a week than being told you’re worth it (just because you are)? At high50, we can see in Visible Mondays the kernel of something big and positive and powerful. So put yourselves out there, girls – and turn those Visible Mondays into happy Mondays, too.