I don’t know exactly when my style solidified. The signs were all there early on: In high school, there was an extra-fuzzy angora sweater here, a pair of shoulder-dusting gold earrings there. In college, I thrifted constantly, keeping an extra eye out for items with sequins or giant shoulder pads. Over the years, several gargantuan gold necklaces in the shapes of bejeweled panthers and seagulls quietly appeared in my jewelry box. I thought nothing of it.
So it was not until two years ago, well into my adulthood, that I understood my whole…Look. I went to a party, and it happened that a girl I vaguely knew thought I was flirting with her boyfriend (I was not). Meaning to embarrass me, she said in a loud voice, “Oh, wow, I like your outfit so much, it’s so weird! You always look like like someone on the set of The Golden Girls, you know? Like a rich retired lady in Florida, haha.”
Friends, I know she meant to insult me, but…I have never been so flattered in my life. That’s me, I thought, blushing not with embarrassment, but with total pride. This girl sees what I’m going for! Finally, someone had named the way I put together outfits. Why hadn’t I realized it all along?
I often dress like a corny rich grandma on a cruise, and it is really, really fun. Grandmas have style. If you’ve ever hung out in a place with a lot of older ladies at once, you know their sartorial flair can be so good it almost physically wounds you as they walk by. My nana, for instance, is 90 and lives in Phoenix, and she and her friends go to yoga class and In ’N’ Out Burger and senior movie matinees every day dressed to KILL. They were raised in a more formal time, when, as Nana says, “People dressed up just to go to the corner store.” Because of this, most grandmas know a thing or two about dressing to impress, color coordination, and statement pieces, and they’ve rocked their particular looks…for decades. TEACH US YOUR WAYS, GRANDMAS.
These lessons are valuable to even the youngest among us, so try them out yourself! Why not? It’s summer and this style is all about looking like you’re on vacation—and it can look so fresh and unexpected on someone way younger (say, a solid 50 years younger) than a grandma! Let’s get cruisin’!
When it comes to Retired Resort Wear™, almost anything goes! There are just a few (and only a few) guidelines for pulling off your whole look so hard that other people fall at your feet begging you to take them thrifting next time you go. Here they are:
A.G.E: All Gold Everything
Grandmas relaxing and living in warmer climates wear gold. BIG GOLD. Period. Fake or real, shiny or matte, think of gold as the signature metal of this look, the must-have that links (ha) your whole outfit together. Bonus points if you can get your claws on something gold that is whimsically shaped like something else, such as an animal, flower, or everyday object. Sure, many grandmas wear silver jewelry, but we are rich grandmas on a cruise. For us, it’s gold or nothin’. When in doubt about whether your gold jewelry is cruise-worthy, think, Would a small child want to grab this necklace/play with these earrings? If the answer is yes: Great, you’re dressed.
Go Big or Go Home
Think of the biggest hat you own. Now mentally triple its size. That is the scale of the accessories we are looking for with our Retired Resort Wear. Giganticize everything—outlandish beach hats, enormous jewelry (especially around the wrists and neck), huge straw bags you could fit a toddler in, and HUMONGOUS sunglasses. Big hair? Oversized and obvious shoulder pads? Of course! The bigger the better!
’80s and ’40s—Thank You, Lordy
The ’80s and ’40s were very very good decades for Retired Resort Wear. The 1940s gave us drape-y elegance, peek-a-boo rompers, tropical prints, wicker handbags, and black-and-white movies where starlets cavorted in the surf in exotic locales. The ’80s gave us excess—huge gold jewelry, huge hair, huge shoulder pads, huge amounts of wild color. If you’re thrifting or shopping for vintage (or vintage-inspired) pieces, keep the ’80s and ’40s in the back of your mind as your Decade Style Guides. These were some of the years when our grandmas truly outdid themselves when getting dressed, and they’ve been expanding on what they mastered back then ever since.
The corny rich grandma on a cruise is not subtle. She practically hits you over the head with her here-for-the-party! aura. She delights in showing a bit more skin than strictly necessary—you might catch gold chains tumbling into a very low-necked shirt, or see a large swath of back in an open-backed ’n’ breezy shirt. She does not shy away from color—she swims in color, especially vivid reds, oranges, turquoises, greens, and purples. She appreciates and cultivates a collection of large, bold prints—animal print! Big tropical flowers splashed onto a solid background! Colorblocking, warm-up and jogging suits in brilliant hues, and hot pink or red lipstick to match—or clash!—with your outfit!
Tiny polka dots, dainty jewelry, nude lipstick, and subtle flower prints?
Dressing for a vacation is one thing, but dressing for a vacation that lasts forever (aka retirement) is QUITE another. No one will be more relaxed, comfortable, and cool than you this summer, in your breezy prints and wild colors, and you’ll bring the party with you wherever you go! Get ready for grandmas in the grocery store giving you subtle nods of approval, and for people constantly asking you the story behind your V. BOLD accessories! Meet you on the lanai! ♦