What is Frumpy to Me Might Not Be to You. Is that OK?

One of my favorite insta- and-YouTube friends recently posted a video regarding aging, and makeup, and dressing like a granny.

Sandra Sallin's Amazon Page

Sandy –our pro-ageing beauty!


Watch this. What Sandy says is great—especially about lipstick!

I made a comment on her Instagram regarding “frumpy” and was, very respectfully, put in my place. Granny dressing was also part of her video. To be honest, it was a great video. But I have my opinions regarding the way we “Over-60 and Older” women dress. And I may have been slightly (*cough*) opinionated in my comment to her!


Won’t be my first time!

And please allow me to clarify and state my wanted or unwanted opinion.

As I have aged, I’ve remained true to the way I dress.  My style will not change. To some, my choice in certain clothes might be considered a bit “Twee” (excessively or affectedly quaint, pretty, or sentimental, or, to some might be considered “frumpy” (dowdy and old-fashioned typically used of a woman or her clothes). Any form of style is subjective.

These four outfits might be frumpy to some, and to others stylish. Doesn’t matter. It’s what I, as an almost 69-year old woman like and feel comfortable in.

When younger, I followed trends, such as platform shoes, but I never strayed from my uniform style.

Ava Classic | Kork-Ease

Ahh. The iconic Kork Ease platform sandal of the 1970’s. This was as trendy as I got back then….

Alright. This is my 2023 trendy moment.  Barrel leg jeans. But I wear them rather conservatively!

At home, I am an absolute slob. My style is “lazy ambition” and I use that style because that’s how I dress to cook and clean.  I’m ambitious in the kitchen. I’m incredibly ambitious in my ability to bake and lest we not ignore my over-the-top Christmas decorating.  I am sure there are influencers all over Instagram of the “mature” age who would have everyone believe they are dressed to the nines daily.  Not me.  Not Sandy; and that is what I respect about her. She keeps it real. And so do I.

Can You Tell Me What I Wore This Winter? | Atypical 60

My lazy ambitious style.  And now that the cold weather is creeping in, I live for this.

My “at-home-frumpy” wardrobe is at the ready..

And are old tee and sweatshirts.

But let us be honest here.  You are home. You have nowhere in particular to be. Its Autumn-into-Winter.  The cooler-to-cold weather has settled in. You have your groceries so there is no need to even run to the supermarket.  Days are shorter.  Do you really need to get dressed up?

Obviously, you don’t have to dress like this to loll the days away when at home. I love this outfit for a night out to dinner with my husband but I cannot imagine wearing this to clean the house or to sit at the laptop writing a blog post!

There’s a yes and a no here.  Yes, because if you are currently working from home, or had a job loss and your “job” is looking for another one, or if you are retired and home every day—then a good suggestion to keep the self-esteem up is to get nicely dressed a few times a week.

One of my all-time favorite and comfy looks. I have worn this with ballet flats, heels and Weejun loafers. It goes through fall, winter and early spring.  Being unemployed, I can wear this running errands. Or, on some days, writing blog posts or applying for jobs. It’s not frumpy, thank God it isn’t Chico’s style. It’s just “me”!

Then the “no” comes in. Take a day of relaxation from cleaning the baseboards, vacuuming, or doing laundry. Do not bother to dust.  Wear those pajamas! Wear those lounge outfits.  Wear the mismatched pj bottoms with that sweatshirt you love so much. Sit on the sofa and read a book.

And for extra pajama style, wear matching sets!

If your day needs to be spent preparing meals or baking (and as we enter this mid-October phase, we have approximately 9 weeks until the Holiday season), freaking wear the sloppiest, messiest clothing you own because a day of baking or food prep is ridiculously messy. (At least for people like me it is).  Batter drips on your clothing.  Flour gets drawn into the hair and lands on you and your clothes.  Little bits of caramel splash onto your shirt as do little drops of sauces.  Do not wear your fancy clothing.

There is no way I will dress up to make a dinner like this..

..or take three days of wearing good clothing to make croissants.

However, after everything is cooked and baked, I’ll wear one of my Velcro-waisted kilts because I can expand the waistband as I eat. This is my Christmas skirt 2023!

Forgive me for jumping around on this but the “old, frumpy, lady’ stereotype bothers me.  We all don’t run around with a frown on our bare faces nor do our tits sag down to our ankles.

Stereotypes of women | PPT

This is so disgusting on every level–especially the “smell”. It’s a disgrace but people continue to think of old ladies–and old people in general this way.

On the other hand, we all aren’t Carmen the model or Iris Apfel.  And I am not disrespecting both these women but there needs to be a happy medium.

Designer Adrienne Vittadini to use top older models at New York Fashion  Week - Telegraph

Supermodel through the ages, Carmen, is 92 years. She’s beautiful. She is chic. She is stunning.  But the majority of  our age demographic kind of don’t look like this. I’ll bet at home, she dresses like a slob. Actually she probably doesn’t.

19 of Iris Apfel's Most Daring Looks That Prove She's a Style Icon

The wonderful Iris Apfel. at 100 years, she isn’t slowing down. However, there’s the other side of the coin and that’s the “essentric” old lady. She can get away with it. It’s her “thing”  but I’ve seen older women looking like clowns when they attempt the essentric look. It isn’t for everyone.

I’m tired of influencers and their “dress-like-me-by-going-to-Chicos” commissions. None of these women post honest feeds where they are dressed down. None wear dirty clothes. None are pictured cleaning a messy sink.  It’s all an illusion of being perfect. And aren’t we at the age where we have gained enough wisdom to realize nothing is perfect?

chicos.com | Clothes for women, Stylish outfits for women over 50, Chicos  fashion

Honestly, Chico’s clothing is so not my style. The clothing is total “real estate lady” meets “lady-who-thinks-she’s-chic.”  The marketing to the over 50 demographic is incredible. I cannot stand the brand. But hey, that’s just me being opinionated!

I’m not perfect nor do I ever attest to be.  My lazy ambition has a second Christmas tree in our sunroom that I’ve never taken down. It has been up since last November.  There are no excuses as to why this tree is still standing in it’s holiday splendor.  But now, a little more than the official start of the 2023 Holiday Season, it is going to stand there.  Since we will be going to Cincinnati for Christmas this year, we will not get the “real tree.” I won’t be decorating the bannisters.  The Christmas décor will be minimalist.  But my frumpy slob clothing will be packed so I can relax and help my daughter cook for the big day.

Truth be told. I’m enjoying sitting on the loveseat in the sunroom and looking at this tree. 

On another note, I have a job interview later this week.  I won’t dress frumpy, but will dress on the conservative side.   And if I get the job, there is a plethora of office clothing I have amassed over the years.  If I do not get the job, I’m sure there will be other interviews.

As the weather is finally cooling down, I might wear this to my job interview. Office casual is such a thing now that I’m unsure of..

…wearing this skirt and blouse with a blazer and heels instead.

In the meantime, I’ve taken my winter clothing out of garage storage and will wear them well. Whether to more job interviews. Or to the grocery store. Or to run errands.  Or to go to the doctor. Or to go out to dinner. Or just because it might be time to get out of my frumpy clothing.

And when I went into the garage to retrieve winter clothing, you can best believe I wore pajama bottoms and an old tee shirt.

About Catherine

Far from perfect, but enjoying life as a non-perfect and flawed individual at 60 years young. I'm still wondering what I'll be when I grow up! The characters in my life's screenplay include my better half. He is a refined Frenchman who grew up in Paris and summered in St. Tropez. I grew up in Long Island and summered in Long Island. I am not refined. My three grown children are also a big part of my life. For their sake, they happily live where their careers have taken them! But I can still mother them from a distance! I write about the mundane. I write about deeply shallow issues. But whatever I write or muse about--it'll always be a bit on the humorous and positive side! It's all good!
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29 Responses to What is Frumpy to Me Might Not Be to You. Is that OK?

  1. Kathy says:

    Great post! I enjoy all of your content but this really hit home. I am getting so tired of these influencers and their “partnerships”. I have also noticed that the prices/brands of the clothes they promote are getting more and more crazy expensive. Frank & Eileen is a big one now and a white button down shirt is like $250! Stay true to yourself and keep posts like this coming!

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Kathy. I cannot begin to tell you how many “old-lady” influencers I’ve unfollowed or just scroll by their posts. One in particular, Grove something like that. This woman is so slick. For numbers she’ll do that influencer thing like “comment link” just to get the numbers then share overpriced clothing that half of the women reading cannot afford. My jam is buying items that you will have for years. I buy and wear forever. I follow my heart and gut with any influencer out there. Never heard of Frank & Eileen. Hold on I’m checking them out. Hold effing shit. Those Frank & Eileen clothes are FUGLY! Overpriced and horrible. The travel clothing? I wouldn’t go on a plane with any of that garbage! LOL.

  2. Rena says:

    Lazy ambition is a fabulous term, Catherine. I so agree with Sandy that you’re only invisible if you’re trying to hide. Too many women have been brainwashed into thinking that they no longer feel sexy, then they’re no longer important to society. That’s what the “anti-aging” marketing is all about. Beyond that, I totally agree with your description of Chico’s. I’ve found pieces here and there over the years that I like but overall, I don’t really like the brand.


    • Catherine says:

      Hi Rena, And thank you–I’m happy you like the lazy ambition term. It’s befitting of me and I’m sure we all have our lazy ambitious days! And months. I’ve said for years you anti-age when your heart stops beating. You age as soon as you leave the comfort of mommy’s womb. When will people accept that? OMG. I could go on and on and on about Chico’s. I think the brand is vile to “gently demand through marketing and old lady influencers” that women need that overpriced unstylish stuff!

  3. juliet brown says:

    “lazy ambition” I snorted my tea at that – it is just perfect! I don’t know why people think frumpy is older people, most of the real frumps I see in our small city are younger, and by frump I mean unkempt – wear what you like, but if you are covered in loose hair and your clothing is unclean and your make up is claggy with big yicky, sticky spider mascara, I’m calling it frump-look… Apart from that, I think most people wear practical, which is fair enough in our wee city which isn’t flash or fancy. Dont start me on the thin leggings which show EVERYTHING. Urghhhhhhk.

    Good luck on your job interview – everything is crossed and even getting interviews as we get older feels like a win doesn’t it. I keep holding out that somehow you can become our intrepid tour guide for Paris and the South of France, that would be amazing.

    In the meantime I am going to suggest when you are in Paris, you book tickets for this: https://www.atelier-lumieres.com/fr currently they have Chagall and Klee showing, Chagall has a New York and Paris vibe so I thought of you when I was there. Id love to know what you think of it as I am entranced by every show Ive been to (and I download the music to spotify asap).

    Hugs, xxx

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Juliet, Oh. Don’t get me started on the women in their early 30’s or 40’s who have kids and seem to think that it’s ok to let yourself go whilst poking fun at old ladies by saying WE look frumpy! Thanks. It’s for a job in a completely different arena then I’ve ever been in but it looks good and my fingers are crossed. I’m sending that link to Vincent. He’s in charge of the activities for our trip. I’m pissed as shit right now because my goal was to tour Serge Gainsbourg’s maison and it is SOLD OUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’m livid. It’s basically the one thing I wanted. I will be taking a baguette baking class but I’m now hoping I can get my butt into the Dior exhibhit!
      Glad you enjoyed my lazy ambition catchphrase. I came up with it because I have a slight bit of ambition but mostly, I’m lazy!! LOL

  4. Cindylou says:

    Sorry to whoever called you frumpy but I love your style and I think you look amazing in your skirts and work attire. You still have a great figure and you look good in clothes. And I so admire your ability to bake and cook the way you do. You are not afraid to tackle new challenges. I’ll have to go read the original comments. I have not shopped much at Chicos, maybe once. I prefer your classic look.

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Cindylou. And thank you. Actually the discussion was about allowing women to dress frumpy if they chose. LOL. I’m so happy with my personal style because it is “ME” and has been for decades. That’s one of the reasons I get upset when stores like Chico’s give the impression that that’s how women our age should dress–and it is wrong! Thanks again!

  5. Elizabeth L says:

    I think your style is fabulous and only wish I had your slim hips to be able to wear pencil skirts like you do! Good luck with your interview- remember that you may have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince. (And I don’t mean”frog” in a disrespectful way to the French, in case your mind went there!).

    • anniebridgie says:

      Also, I forgot to say J Crew also use the 000 sizing, not quite as extreme as stores like Chico’s, in J.C I am now a 0, when I was always a size 4. Their 0 fits me perfectly instead, I have several pair of black pants and white ones, just in case they get discontinued. lol
      Cathe, you mention house cleaning quite a bit, it’s a chore I take no pleasure in, but I do the necessary, let’s say. I wanted to know if you use any help like a cleaning service, and if so, are you pleased with them. I spent so many years in Italy, where everyone has a ‘donna’ (cleaning lady) including my MIL and SIL, but I also notice they spend a bit of time cleaning before the help comes, same here in Florida, friends ‘prepare’ for the cleaning help. Also, I wear ‘house clothes’ have always done, I do know ladies who dress to the 9’s to lounge at home though. Not me! 😉

    • Catherine says:

      Honestly Elizabeth, my hips aren’t that slim. My ob/gyn told me I was blessed with Irish hips and he was correct. Labor was nothing for me. It’s just that I chose the pencil skirts that were generously cut. LOL. I call my husband my frog all the time!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. anniebridgie says:

    I so dislike the ‘C’ store in question the material in their pants etc is so cheap, I had to return a pair some time ago, I had wandered in by mistake. Apart from the fact that it was 000, or maybe 0000 and was still big and bulging in all the wrong places. I told them I always used to wear a size 4, back in the day, (so many still in my closet) a 38 in Italy, and size 8 in the UK, I still do, what’s with the 000 or 0000 when it’s really a size 8 (US size) or larger? Trying to convince ladies that they are a triple zero when instead they are an old 10 or 12. I don’t get it, can you imagine doing that with men’s clothing, women always have to be hoodwinked, I guess. I couldn’t see Sandy’s response to you (I’ll be honest, she’s not one of my faves) Anyway, you dress beautifully, I love your style..keep up the great work. Can’t wait to hear about Paris..

  7. Susan says:

    Oh I am so over fashion people of my age on Instagram telling me about what white shirt I gotta have (never wear them, have three, that’s plenty) or that I must buy Eileen Fisher 185 dollar pants because my cost per wear is extremely low. Well, my cost per wear of my Alfani pants from Macys, for 80 bucks is extremely low too! And they last as long, I mean, how many times a week do I wear them?? Sheesh!! Over it! And if you comment, they take it as a personal attack, when you’re just trying to be real. And loud floral stuff from the C place, the ruffles from the T place-just no. Not everything that you show has to be new, how about ways of combing in what you have? Oh and thanks for showing me lantern pants. For me, they’re a no. I’ll stick to the straight leg Levi’s I love!

  8. tatermamie says:

    I started my search for blogs relating to this time in my life during Covid. Although there are maybe 3 I follow, yours is the ONLY one with any common sense! My husband and I are both retired and I simply can’t afford to shop at the stores they link to – even if I wanted to. My lifestyle is very much lazy ambition; I volunteer, I enjoy my grandkids and their activities and I sometimes go with my husband when he entertains (music) at nursing homes and assisted living facilities. No one in my life would notice or care if spent $150 on a shirt or pair of pants. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this. Any other blogs you’d suggest?

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Tater. THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Every now and then when I feel like giving up the blog, I receive a comment like yours and it renews my energy. Thank you. My mission is not to get women our age to go out and buy luxury items. Jesus H. Christ, you can head to Amazon and save your money by purchasing something less pricey. I am sorry but I cannot recommend other “fashion” blogs that are of our demographics because all of them are nothing more than moneymaking, Like to Know it, shills. I can’t. I’ve literally unfollowed every last one except Une Femme de Certain Age. Susan gives great ideas for putting items together but she has a tendency to also add overpriced items. Regardless, her’s is the only one of the big mature blogs that I follow. I’m just not spending a ton of money on clothes. If you purchase clothing you love in the first place–you’ll have them for years!

  9. Lise says:

    Cathe, you sure are FABULOUS and not frumpy as you know. We LOVE your opinions too! I think your first outfit for the interview is the one, not that you asked 🙂 Tatermamie try High Heels in the Wilderness Blog. Une Femme de Certain Age blog irritates a bit with the over priced items if I may say.

  10. junedesilva says:

    Another great post! You are not remotely frumpy. I’m back in France at the moment and I have to say there are plenty of ‘frumpy’ women here. Admittedly, our house isn’t in Paris or the Riviera, and forgive me for getting back on my soapbox, but there are still too many blogs telling us how to dress like French women. Sorry, I digress. Please forgive me 😂😂😂😉

  11. Momcat says:

    You look stunning in the skirts! No frumpity dumpity there! We don’t have Chico’s in Canada but I’ve followed their links and been less than impressed ( I THINK they might ship here on line but never felt compelled to check that out)
    I cook in my zip up fleece housecoat all the time, it washes like a rag so when I’m finished making a mess in it goes. I house clean in my jammies too…last weekend was Canadian Thanksgiving and when my DIL entered at 3:30pm she commented that it wouldn’t be a holiday celebration if Ba wasn’t greeting everyone in her housecoat…she gets it. I told her to pour me a drink while I went and ‘freshened up’. Priorities change as we move forward.
    I long ago dropped most ‘mid life woman fashion’ blogs ( whatever that means)
    I like High Heels in the Wilderness. Sue is honest about her life, loves books is a traveller but a little too much with the fashion perseverating which I find tiring. Honestly I can tell she doesn’t have kids or grands because who the hell has time to spend hours deciding if these jeans work with that top. On the other hand she does mix a lot of her older garments in with the new which makes me forgive her…also she lives in my neck of the Canadian wilderness.
    I love SueB at une femme but again the link dumps for high end stuff…. she does have ‘budget friendly’ options.( I wish she’d bury that term though it sounds kind of judge-y and suggesting a 225.00 shoe as budget friendly seems a little out of touch) She’s starting to mix some older items in but I feel she’s kinda sold her should to Nordstroms, JCrew et al. and has no choice but to flaunt their stuff on her blog. I also read TheVivienne Files. Her ideas for creating wardrobes and how to build a cohesive closet are well researched…but dowdy and ho hum unless LLBean is your speed…still it’s well written and I’m not fighting off ads.
    You keep doing you. I never feel frustrated, judged or think your style is basic, always something interesting going on at Mme Lartigue’s house. So glad we get invited in!!!

  12. Catherine says:

    Love it! Wish I looked as cute in everything as you do.

    • anniebridgie says:

      You may already know her. She’s the only other person I follow: ‘Jo Good’ @middleagedminx. She’s great fun, she has a late-night talk show on the BBC in London, gets home at 3.30am, and exists on just 4 hours sleep, if she’s lucky, as she loves daylight! She shows us her life from day to day, a 68 yr old, who’s unapologetically wrinkly 😉 and has so much energy. A dog called Myrtle, and a 97 yr old mum who lives in the country. The woman never stops, she buzzes around non-stop, in that she’s an inspiration for our age group. She lives in Marylebone in London and walks everywhere. I am a born and raised Londoner, who lives in the US, so she brings London to me every week on a Sunday, when her vlog drops. She’s a fashionista, loves and adores clothes, but is discriminate and wears the heck out of everything she buys on her limited budget. The BBC don’t pay that much apparently 😉 She lives alone, divorced, has no kids. She is a true tonic, I can be a little down, watch Jo, and be back up again. I discovered her through a US blogger, who said she was addicted. I became the same way. She has so much ‘joie di vivre’ and is so full of optimism, she’s very sincere too, when she’s down we hear all about it too lol. Watch a couple of old vlogs to get the gist, I think you’ll love her.

      Sent from my Galaxy Tab® S2

      • Catherine says:

        Hi Annie, I know I used to follow her but something must have rubbed me the wrong way to unfollow. Regardless, I just started to follow her again–based on your recommendation. She seems very real. Maybe I never did follow here and it was someone else. Thanks so much for the recommendation!

      • anniebridgie says:

        She’s a self-confessed ‘show-off’ and now since she has more followers she does ‘promote’ certain items, (she didn’t before, just shared what she loves, and still does really) but I just fast forward those bits 😉 I enjoy her too much to mind that..and being a closet recluse and introvert 🙂 her pushy personality is entertaining to me..

  13. Hey Catherine, thank you for featuring my YouTube video.Please don’t quit your blog. It’s so much fun. You’re a delight to read. First let me say, I love the way you dress. You always look like you love putting yourself together. My video was pointed at people who call others frumpy. Maybe they are frumpy. Who knows there story. Yes, if you want to change your look. Go for it. But who knows where people’s heads are at. If they can’t get it together don’t put them down. I don’t like people pointing the finger at others. Your frumpy is like mine. I would never wear anything niece to cook in. Bless my PJs. Then again. I have started wearing those caftans. My son and son in law were visiting and they were very impressed with me wearing one of my caftans for breakfast. Oh, and I now you stand for people not being put down. ( you know what I mean) Well, this is my thing about not putting people down also. And another thing. Please do a blog about your loss of weight and how you did it. I’m hopeless!!!!!

  14. Sheila Clarke says:

    Your posts are always thought provoking and make me laugh – that’s a good thing! Here are my random thought – I see frumpy women of all ages. I try to keep my thoughts to myself and also tell myself that many times I’ve run out to the grocery store looking like crap (I was a single parent shift worker who worked a lot of night shifts – honestly when I stumbled out of bed mid afternoon, dressing well wasn’t a priority). Now I’m retired, and I have time to put on some decent clothes and makeup.. (I wear a lot of pjs at home…..). We don’t have Chico’s in Canada – I think I was in one many many years ago when I went to California. Not my style but that’s ok. I LOVE nice clolthing and I buy middle of the road cost wise generally. I’m not a cheap fast fashion person – we all want to keep jobs in our countries but when we buy cheap clothes, they generally are made in horrible cconditons overseas. Anyway, I’ll get off my soapbox. You have really inspired me in so many ways – I’m short and not slim but I might see if I can find a skirt this winter. I loved skirts when I was a young woman! AND the best thing (other than reading your blog) was getting a topper. I wear it every day. AND I’ve bought my first wig. I wanted to ask you – what do you think of the Golden Bachelor? I’ve never watched any of the other bachelor shows but I was curious about this. I came away from watching it thinking these women all looked great. They are all ageing so well. So what does that mean for women who aren’t ageing so well? Does the pressure ever let up? And one more thing, I don’t like it when people say a woman looks ‘good for her age’. What?????

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Sheila! Thank you so much for enjoying my posts. I always do try to add some humor whether dry or sophomoric so you made me feel great! Yeah. I see women in their thirties who look worse than I do on a smelly hog day –so much for frumpiness having to do with age. I’m thrilled that you have climbed the fake hair ladder to a full-on wig. Watch out. Once you go wiggy there is no turning back!!
      Regarding the Golden Bachelor. I refuse to watch it. The idea of women being pitted against each other for the “man prize” doesn’t bode well with me. I’ll agree, the women are all exceptionally beautiful but the flip side is that many of us within that age range cannot afford the nips and tucks that many of those vying for Mr. Golden can. I dunno. It just rubs me in a cringe way!

      • Sheila Clarke says:

        It’s cringeworthy. I’ve watched parts of 2 episodes – and felt embarrassed for all of them. Ugh. That’s enough for me.

  15. Bridget says:

    I never watch any of the “Bachelor’ things either. Seriously, in 2023, women in search of being ‘chosen’ is ridiculous. Not my cup of tea at all..

  16. emjayandthem says:

    you have such great fashion sense – I don’t really have any, but I find your posts/style/ inspiring!! LOVE the skirts, you look fabulous in them. I stopped watching the Bachelor about 10 years ago and refuse to watch the Geezer Bachelor, too, good grief. We recently moved to a small town and while I might cook/clean house in my old soft favorites, I do fix myself up a bit to run to the store, etc. There’s about an 80% chance I’ll run into someone I know 🙂 Hope the interview goes well and you get your dream job soon. ~MJ

  17. Barbara says:

    You’s not frumpy, you’s fabulous!

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