M. Susan Street is the President of Vintage Jewelry Supplies Company, Inc. and the founder and editor of Fiftynotfrumpy.com, a great blog we just discovered–and we love! Here is her story:
After working in the fashion industry for most of my adult life as a model, visual merchandiser, corporate level manager and boutique jewelry designer, I realized– in my mid-fifties– that I could no longer speak the language of fashion. Since high school, I had floated effortlessly from one trend to the next: I wore the fashions of the moment, and my hair and makeup reflected the current trends as well. But at some point in my forties, my marriage and my personal life started to crumble beneath my high heels. The resulting depression lasted for a very long time, and I retreated into my work.
At forty-five years old, I had to start over, with nothing more than my clothes and the contents of my design studio. I began building an internet-based jewelry supply business, which meant that I rarely came in contact with others. I worked alone for eighteen hours a day, seven days a week, for several years.
The world continued on without me, but when I was ready to be a part of it all again, I looked in the mirror to see a woman I no longer recognized. I had gained a lot of weight, and my health was failing because I really didn’t care what or if I ate, and I never exercised. So, I took control of my weight issues by switching to a mostly vegetarian diet, going for vigorous walks and working out with light weights. But losing forty pounds meant I had to buy a whole new wardrobe. Not even my shoes fit any more! The first time I wandered into the local department store, I came to the full realization that I was now fifty-five years old and invisible. The clothes I saw other women wearing–and what was on the racks–made me feel like I was a time traveler from a different planet. I tried on clothes until I was nearly in tears. I went to another store and experienced much the same frustration. Nothing was right for the person I saw in the mirror. What I wanted to wear no longer looked right on the middle-aged woman staring back at me in desperation.