What are you wearing today, old woman?
Are you in Jenny Joseph red
with a purple hat that doesn’t go?
Are you jingling and jangling
with bracelets and brooches
and sparkly heels and rings?
Or are you in sloppy old workout clothes
because you might work out today
(you never know)
or because they are dear old things
that suit you so.
Whatever clothes are on your skin
they cuddle in, they signal out
Here comes the Queen!
or Here comes someone comfy
in her stretchy skin.
When your hair is grizzly grey
it’s only a hint of your role
your silky self and feeling soul
plus a cupboard of clothes
with something to say.
So what are you wearing, old woman?
And how about you, old man?
Rachel McAlpine 2019
I think a lot about the clothes old people wear, including me. Of course you know Jenny Joseph’s poem “Warning”, starting
When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go…
This poem is eternally, outrageously popular because (I suspect) disruptive senior style was a new concept for many readers—a liberating thought. Thanks to Ari Seth Cohen, the New York Fashionistas’ habit of dressing up for fun, glamour, and artistic expression is part of our common consciousness. Hooray for them! Me, I’m usually in bright colours that “do not go” but I equally delight in a sloppy old hoodie and tights and tees. In New Zealand, sports wear (a euphemism) is kind of the norm for every day except for professionals. Look around you at any international airport — there we are, the comfortable Kiwis. And the older we get, the more we require easy pull-on garments for every part of the anatomy. Let us not bewail the fact that these garments are not fit for a New York catwalk but celebrate their comfort and practicality. Surely Alexander the Great and Marie Antoinette would have paid a fortune to acquire such luxuries as our sweatshirts, puffer jackets and sports shoes.