Talking Style and History with Elizabeth

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My friend Elizabeth works in building supplies. If you drop into TNT Insulation and Building Supplies in Keswick, New Brunswick, you might find her schlepping heavy boxes of nails around, mixing paint, or doing everything from customer service to receiving. At the end of the day, she’s tired, her steel-toed work boots are dusty, and she probably has paint on her plaid shirt. But she’s not complaining, not at all. Except to say that sometimes she just needs to feel feminine. And glamorous. That’s one of the reasons when Victoria West Portrait advertised for women who might like a make-over, she jumped at the chance. She sent her name in and thought, “Please, please pick me.” She said, she wanted to see if she could still look good. At sixty-two.

You can see for yourself. She looks amazing. And, not to brag or anything… but that was not news to me. I’ve always thought Elizabeth looked great. And looks great. She has a style all her own. Cool, edgy, menswear inspired, with a dash of the feminine.

Lovely Liz. Photo by Victoria West Portrait.

I first met Elizabeth Allen when we both attended Keswick Ridge School way back in 1970. I was in grade nine, my Mum had married my step-father that summer, and we’d moved to the farm. Elizabeth was in grade eight. In the way of small town New Brunswick, we are connected in a round-about manner. My step-father’s grandmother was an Allen from Scotch Settlement. That’s where my step-father Lloyd was born, just down the road from the farm where Elizabeth grew up. In 1926 when he was four years old, his parents left Scotch Settlement and moved to a farm in near-by Douglas, where I eventually grew up. You could say that Elizabeth and I are almost related. But then again, Hubby says I’m “almost related” to half of New Brunswick. I love that part of being from a small place, all those connections.

Silver jeans, white fringed crochet top by Love Tree, Denim jacket Just USA.
Liz in her natural state: distressed jeans, great boots, a denim jacket, and a touch of something feminine.

So the other afternoon when Liz and I met at my Mum’s to talk about style and our shared history, it seemed appropriate to take pictures with the old farmhouse as our backdrop. That’s my mum’s garden spade that Liz is wielding below. Of course you know that she isn’t really digging. Since the spade is backwards. Ha.

I asked Liz that afternoon what were her biggest style challenges. She said finding pieces that are age appropriate but still edgy, not staid or boring. Liz loves effortless-looking style, and wants to look comfortable and chic, but not like she’s trying too hard. She loves jeans and boots, and menswear inspired looks, easy clothes in rich fabrics with a good cut. Her current favorite jeans are Silver “Not Your Boyfriend” jeans which are made in Canada. She loves Blundstone boots, Fitflop sandals with a bit of bling, and Toms Kala black suede, wedge-heeled ankle boots that she says she can wear all day… and all evening. In fact, I’d say Liz is downright evangelical about those Toms boots.

Top by Angie, Silver jeans, White Mountain boots from Winners.
Elizabeth and I are digging into our shared history this afternoon.

Elizabeth shops in high-end boutiques and small consignment stores alike. Price is not the main thing; finding a great piece that she loves and which she can wear forever is. Ironically, she says that she usually finds those pieces only when she’s NOT looking for them. Take the Angie cold-shoulder top above, for instance. Liz is not actually a fan of the cold-shoulder trend, and the way it can make women look slope-shouldered. But this top called to her, so she tried it on and was pleasantly surprised. I’m not a fan of the cold-shoulder trend either. For the exact same reason as Elizabeth. But that blue and pink top looks amazing on her. It must be her great shoulders. I love the feminine sleeves and the crochet trim with her distressed jeans. Feminine and tough work so well together, don’t you think?

Liz said to be sure to say that she does wear dresses too. Particularly in the fall and winter, knee-length dresses with opaque tights, her Toms suede ankle boots, and a denim jacket. I love that look too. She said she wore that exact outfit to a wedding last winter, and in her funky Toms boots she was the only lady there who danced all night without taking off her shoes. Ha. Now those are some comfortable boots.

Silver jeans, white fringed crochet top by Love Tree.
Fluff that mane, baby.

I remember that Elizabeth always had short hair when we were hanging out and riding the school bus together back in the seventies. But I love her hair longer like she has it now, thick and wavy. I think it looks fabulous on her. She’s thinking of letting it go grey, she said. And maybe getting it shorn off in an edgy, new short cut. The jury is still out on that one.

Like many women our age, Liz has battled fluctuating weight over the years. I was hesitant to use the word “battle” in that sentence because she is not at war with her body. In fact if anyone seems comfortable with her body, it’s Liz. That doesn’t mean we didn’t have the “I hate this or that body part” conversation the other day. Of course we did. We laughed about big butts and middle-age middles. But Liz seems able to accept herself, and not give up at the same time.

She’s very active; she walks regularly, snowshoes in the winter, loves to participate in a local fitness “boot camp” where she says she’s the oldest member. And to her own amazement, she’s recently started running. “More like trotting,” she says, with a chuckle. She runs on Sunday mornings, on nearby woodland trails. It seems to me that running has become her Sunday morning “devotional” time, as much a spiritual activity as a physical one.

Liz is also a devotee of Weight Watchers, and says she’s been attending meetings off and on for thirty-five years. I love how she never gives up. She’s certainly not obsessive about her weight; she eats healthy, and stays positive, and even when she’s heavier than she likes, she dresses the body she has. She says she’d like to be able to convince the younger women she knows of the benefits of healthy eating and physical activity. I think she’s a great role model for young women. Or women of any age, actually.

Top by Angie, Silver jeans, White Mountain boots from Winners.
Those shoulders!

After high school, Liz and I lost touch for many years. I moved to Ottawa in my early twenties. She decamped for Moncton, and then Calgary and Halifax, returning to the Fredericton area only recently. We found each other again through a mutual friend on Facebook. It’s been lovely catching up and rekindling our friendship these last three years. Laughing about what we got up to when we were young and silly.

Last winter when I was home, Liz picked me up and we went to the Northside Farmers Market in Fredericton. After we bought samosas and homemade jam, we sat down for coffee with another old friend. Larry grew up not far from Liz. And we all went to high school together. That afternoon Liz recalled how I got in trouble in grade nine for wearing my skirts too short. We laughed about riding in the back of Larry’s truck to go to the Nackawic dances on Saturday night. Over forty km away. In the back of an open truck! It seems country kids will go to any lengths to get to a dance. I think I’ve written about that escapade before on the blog, about how long I spent in the bathroom of the Nackawic Legion trying in vain to unsnarl the tangles from my curly, curly hair.

It’s kind of amazing, you know, to sit and drink coffee and laugh with people with whom you share so many of the same memories. Some of which you’d previously forgotten. Ha. I’m so glad I’ve reconnected with my friend Elizabeth. She’s a true original. And I’m happy to have her back in my life.

at the old farmhouse wearing, Silver jeans, black hoodie from Ark Imports, white Frame jeans and lilac Aritzia sweatshirt.
“How long now has it been since we rode the school bus together?” “Don’t ask,” my friend. “Don’t ask.”

Now back to Elizabeth’s “makeover.” She says that the pictures taken that day at Victoria West Portrait made her feel amazing. And after the shoot she headed off, still feeling amazing, to meet her mum at the church for a pancake supper. Only when she arrived home that night and looked into the bathroom mirror did she guffaw. “Oh my god!” she said to me the other day, her hands over her face, laughing. “The makeup! So much makeup. And here was me swanning around the pancake supper thinking I looked fantastic.” We both laughed at that. What looks good for the camera can look a tad Norma Desmond-ish in real life.

Navigating ones sixties can be a bit of a balancing act, don’t you think? Trying to stay current, to wear clothes (and hair and make-up) that make us feel good, like our best selves. As if we’ve still got it, whatever “it” is. But not like we’re fooling ourselves that we’re still twenty-five.

I actually think that my friend Elizabeth does that balancing act well. She can still hit that style sweet spot, dress in clothes she loves, and which make a statement about who she is. A confident, attractive, sixty-two year old woman, who’s pretty darned cool.

Like the old farmhouse, we’re both showing a bit of war and tear. But we still have a lot of life and, hopefully, beauty left in us. Eh Liz?

P.S. Some apparel links are affiliate links which may trigger a commission for me.

Linking up this week with: Visible Monday#IwillwearwhatIlike#ShareAllLinkup,Thursday Favourite Things, Fabulous Friday.

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38 thoughts on “Talking Style and History with Elizabeth”

  1. Another fun post featuring a friend of yours — I love this series! Elizabeth is beautiful from the inside out, and her style looks comfortable, attractive, and convincingly her. She does a great job of taking elements of contemporary fashion and making it work for her lifestyle.

  2. I agree with you-Liz is the original-warm,lively personality,enjoying the life and knowing who she is and where she’s going,confident,true to herself and balancing her act well indeed-it simply shines from the photos. And that gorgeous hair…..I’m envious (in a good way )
    Dottoressa

  3. Yes , there’s loads of us trying to do that balancing act . Still enjoying picking our way through the pitfalls of fashion over 60 . Trying to be true to our style without settling into a comfy rut . We know there’s real life to be lived & we mustn’t get too obsessed with our appearance but it’s nice to be able to turn things up a notch when we feel like it . To me Elizabeth has a touch of Rock Chick style – ripped jeans , denim jacket , boots – which really suits her & her lovely wild hair . There must have been some double takes when she turned up at that pancake supper as a glamour puss . What fun . She looks like a woman who is comfortable in her own skin .

  4. Elizabeth looks fabulous. It’s all much easier when you are young, the inherent beauty of youth and the evolving sense of personal style gives you freedom to dress as you wish. Age gives you a sense of who you are which leads to the quest for clothing that expresses that sense along with being flattering!
    I loved visiting New Brunswick and the Maritime provinces. My Canadian friend like you seems to be related to the other half of New Brunswick.

    1. Age is quite freeing when it comes to style isn’t it? I’m much more adventurous now than I was in my thirties. Hubby laughed at your point about the “other half” of New Brunswick. 🙂

  5. Another great post on friendship and women, like Elizabeth, who are comfortable in their own skin and not ready to let society tell them how to live or dress. She looks as great in torn jeans as she does in her glamour shot.

  6. Such a fun post Sue and definitely a case of writing about what (or who! ) you know and love! Elizabeth certainly looks relaxed and happy. “Bien dans sa peau”
    I totally agree with Frances, D and Wendy!
    I liked what you said about accepting how she is but not giving up … I feel the same. Enjoy eating healthily, walk every day but constantly frustrated with the extra pounds ( read stone/s!) around my middle 😂
    Rosie

  7. Elizabeth Allen

    Thank you Susan, for the beautiful pictures and great write up, I hardly knew it was me. You are great for the ego even though I can usually count on your Mom to bring me back to reality. It’s funny how I always thought of you as the “style maven” of Fredericton High, because you had such a way of putting looks together. That and the fact that you and Twiggy could have been sisters. That is dating us, isn’t it?

  8. What a great post that completely defined how we 60 somethings feel about our multi faceted journeys and the connection and comfort of old friends who knew you as you were – and still see that 16 year old in you now like no one else can.
    I spent my high school years in Ottawa and have reconnected with my high school girlfriends – we have been getting together once a year for the past 10 years – it is a great joy to see them and enjoy the constant laughter of the weekend we spend together.
    Sue, I really enjoy your blogs and the community you have created. I relate to your posts in every way and look forward to them every week. There is a certain delight while reading your blog and the comments while thinking “Yes! Me Too!!”
    Thank you for all your effort!

  9. Great post on your conversation with Liz about style and memories. Liz looks great and yes, we may be comfortable in our skin, but that doesn’t mean we have to give up either. It’s a hard balancing act when looking for clothes to give you that edge but at the same time appropriate. Liz seems to have hit it just right.

    Isn’t it great when you meet up with old friends who have known you forever and share so many of the same memories?

  10. Great article! Elizabeth was always a great lover of fashion. We grew up together on the farm. I am her cousin and lived about 1 mile above our grandfather’s farm but I think I was there more than I was home. We had a great time playing and getting into stuff we weren’t supposed to. Elizabeth is a great person and I am glad to call her my cousin and friend.

  11. Liz is beautiful inside & out. I worked with this wonderfully grounded authentic lady in Halifax many years ago and although we do not see each other I have always felt that if we did we would pick right up were we left off. Laughing, having fun & sharing stores. I miss Liz and sharing the zest she has for life! Live on Liz. You are fabulous. Alma xo

  12. Great post Sue. Elizabeth always has had a sense of her own style – things that look great on her. She didn’t look that shocking at that pancake supper either !

  13. I love this article on Liz as I know her lol!
    I have always thought Liz was beautiful and have told her many times 🙂 I love her style and personality..and I loved the beautiful make over..va va voom! Totally sexy at sixty!

  14. Loved reading this. The first time I saw Elizabeth she was all of four days old, she was cute and stylish even then! I always notice how ‘chick’ Elizabeth looks and she is excellent at her job at T&T building Supplies.

  15. Hi Sue
    Ha! A girl after my own heart … you had me at Blunstones. Love Liz’s style.
    A while ago I had a makeover at Shoppers. She did a lovely job. But…when I finally got home and looked in the magnifying mirror, I just about dropped… heavy heavy fountain. I started laughing as I was kinda embarrassed. I feel for you Liz!
    How special to rekindle your friendship.
    Robin

  16. You two back together again. I laughed about the truck ride to the dance – I can relate. I love a woman who can roll up her sleeves and get a job done while looking smashing yet unselfconscious. Natural beauty. The makeover sounds like fun and the photo is awesome. Thanks for this profile of a cool person.

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