What to Wear for the Rest of Your Life: Ageless Secrets of Style

What to Wear for the Rest of Your Life: Ageless Secrets of Style

by Kim Johnson Gross


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Every woman's closet-no matter the size-is a room of her own. In that space hang side by side the special occasions and the everyday, the triumphs and the disasters, the memories we want to keep and those we should jettison. Gross helps us to reconsider our closet identity and discover who we want to be. She shares her personal journey and the intimate, poignant and often humorous stories of the dozens of women she interviewed across the country. Along with calming fashion advice about how to choose flattering clothes that will fit any woman's shape and style, Gross's engaging stories will help every woman evolve gracefully from wife to mother, from empty-nester to globe-trotting adventurer—whatever role she chooses—while letting her style express her inner beauty.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780446534949
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication date: 05/03/2010
Pages: 275
Product dimensions: 5.70(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Kim Johnson Gross has worked in the fashion industry for over 30 years, as a Ford model, an editor at Town & Country, Style Director at Avenue, and Fashion Director at Esquire. She is author of The Chic Simple books, which were international bestsellers and inspired the popular Chic Simple Solutions column that appeared for five years in InStyle. Gross wrote the "What to Wear for the Rest of Your Life" column in More for two years. She's been interviewed as a style expert on the Today show, CNN, the CBS Morning Show, Good Housekeeping, AARP, Business Week, Dove.com and About.com. She was recently a contributor to Better Homes and Gardens (circulation 7.6 million).

Read an Excerpt

What to Wear for the Rest of Your Life

Ageless Secrets of Style
By Gross, Kim Johnson

Springboard Press

Copyright © 2010 Gross, Kim Johnson
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780446534949

How many cares one loses when one decides not to be something, but someone.

—Coco Chanel



Middle-aged women have a lot in common with kids—all of us are on the cusp of the unknown: enticing and scary.

—Jane Pauley, Skywriting: A Life Out of the Blue


Endings and Beginnings

I woke up one morning and couldn’t believe this was my life. I had turned fifty, sent my youngest daughter to college, closed my business, divorced, and none of my clothes fit. Not only had my life changed, but my body was changing, without my permission! I could no longer count on my clothes to get me through any occasion, special or not. They seemed to have shrunk overnight. I’d look in the mirror and wonder How do I look?—and suspect it wasn’t the way I had long imagined. Was it really the way I appeared in photographs—the fuller face, weaker chin, and thicker middle, much like my dad? Was I growing into my genes while growing out of my jeans? I was confused, but my mother wasn’t.

I didn’t want to believe it—my ever-supportive mother disapproving of me? Her sunny demeanor froze as she looked me up and down while I was wearing the bikini my sister Jill had given me for my fiftieth birthday. I’d like to think it was a gift my sister thought I’d look good wearing, rather than a challenge or taunt. At forty-seven, Jill remained trim, while my body had gradually betrayed my genetics, most notably my dad’s flabby stomach.

But my mother’s stinging assessment shocked me: “You must lose weight and never wear a two-piece again!” Granted she is a stylish and fit octogenarian, but I’m no slouch. And although I have built a successful career as a style expert, I really couldn’t see why she was so upset. Her rebuke reminded me of an afternoon when I was nineteen, lounging around my friend Bella’s pool, sneaking surreptitious glances at her uncle’s new wife wearing a tiny bikini. Aunt Katje had a tanned leathered face and pillowy flesh swelled around her middle, making her look old and careless to me. Looking back, I suspect she was only in her forties. I was simultaneously repulsed and intrigued. Was that what my mother was feeling now?

Aunt Katje lived in France and Sweden with Bella’s uncle, an architect. They were creative intellectuals who traveled the world. He designed buildings; she wrote about art and food. There was something strangely glamorous about Aunt Katje—was it the substantial gold hoop earrings she wore, along with the kicky mules and colorful sarong that she unwrapped to tan her practically naked body? Or that she seemed utterly comfortable in her skin? Acutely aware that I wasn’t, I suspected that her allure had much to do with her self-confidence.

In the years since, I have acquired my own wrinkles and fleshy middle. I have also gained a certain amount of wisdom and confidence, and needed all of it that day to cope with my mother’s piercing words. A mother’s opinion has an impact. I longed for her guidance, not her consternation. It took writing this story, which first appeared in More Magazine, for me to understand that her reaction was primal: a mother wanting her divorced daughter to attract, remarry, be loved and taken care of by a man. Only then could she rest in peace. I have similar dreams, but if I were to constantly try to recapture a youthful appearance to “get” the man and not enjoy who I am at any age, what kind of relationship would that be between him and me—and worse, between me and myself? One of high anxiety, I suspect.

Little did I know then that this incident was to be the start of many more closet challenges. I was entering a new phase in my life and was determined to make the very best of it. I had to rethink the way I had been dressing for the last thirty years. It was time for a fresh start.


Aunt Katje might feel comfortable in a bikini, but for many of us, wearing a bathing suit challenges our body-confidence. That is, unless we treat it as a style opportunity by wearing it with an attractive cover-up, kicky sandals, a dramatic sun hat, and fun earrings.

Aunt Katje’s Secret

Aunt Katje is European. Even in adolescence, my unworldly eyes suspected that was the mystery of her allure.

European women and men honor their lifetime of experiences and their physical manifestations. They enjoy the sensuality of everyday life, whether it’s sex, a ripe peach, or the feel of cashmere against their bodies. They respect the powerful connection between what they wear and how they feel. We, too, can adapt aspects of their approach to life to gain our own clothes-body-life-confidence.


TAKE CARE OF YOUR SKIN. A Paris-based research company polled three hundred European women and asked what they would take with them to Mars. The number one choice was moisturizer, ahead of husbands.

HAVE AN AWARENESS AND APPRECIATION OF THE EVERYDAY CHOICES YOU MAKE. The tea you choose to drink and the cup you drink it from; the sheets and pillow you nestle into at night; how you want to feel in the clothes you wear.


Touch. Wear fabrics that feel good against your skin. Cotton is as desirable as cashmere depending on thread count. The higher it is, the more luxurious it feels.

Sound. The click of heels, the romance of jazz, the jangle of bracelets, the joy of a laugh (laugh lines are sexier than no lines).

Taste. A kiss, the taste of ripe fruit—take time to enjoy.

Scent. Freshly picked herbs, a breeze of salt water, the body of someone you love. Pheromones are a scent secreted to attract the opposite sex.

Sight. If it is aesthetically pleasing to your eye, enjoy. If not, keep experimenting.

WISDOM IS SEXY. Flirting is sexy. Lingerie is sexy. Sex is sexy. Mature women are sexy.




Excerpted from What to Wear for the Rest of Your Life by Gross, Kim Johnson Copyright © 2010 by Gross, Kim Johnson. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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What to Wear for the Rest of Your Life: Ageless Secrets of Style 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Adell Cothorne More than 1 year ago
I was a little disappointed. Most of the advice and testimony was for 55 plus women. Not a lot for 35 to 40 year olds.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kim Johnson Gross's writing is so vigorous it pulls you in at top speed and keeps you wanting to read just the next page, and just the next and more. This book will not go out of style, as her advice doesn't consist of pieces you MUST have (navy blazer, black skirt, blah, blah, blah). Instead, she tells you how to select YOUR best looks from clothes and accessories you have already and build on them, ridding yourself (and your life) of all that no longer fits you and makes you feel wonderful. Bravo to the layout team as well: the footnotes and illustrations are well-placed so you're not flipping back and forth. This book is your key to gaining self-acceptance when your self has disappeared, replaced by someone with a similar body that is now covered in blubbity flesh. Her tone is gentle and loving as she guides us all into our now-less-scary future. Thank you Kim. You have answered all my questions about how I can look now as I turn 60 and beyond.
LegalBeagle More than 1 year ago
One day former model and fashionista Kim Johnson Gross woke up to discover that she had wrinkles and a "fleshy middle." She quickly ascertained that she needed a new way of dressing for the mature, but still stylish woman she is today. In What to Wear for the Rest of Your Life Johnson Gross shares her advice for the over forty woman. She advocates finding your "feel-good closet" (clothes that make you feel terrific no matter what age or shape you're in). In addition, Johnson Gross provides practical pointers for hiding one's less than desirable physical traits. Also helpful are the many illustrations that convey her fashion pointers. What to Wear for the Rest of Your Life is a practical guide for a woman's second act in life! Publisher: Springboard Press (May 3, 2010), 288 pages. Advance review copy received courtesy of publisher.
MelindaLibrary on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I would recommend this book for women who are menopausal. The author does spend quite a bit of time focusing on her own issues about menopause versus giving advice. However, the advice is useful and I would recommend the book based on her ideas of how to critically look at your wardrobe, your career, and how to dress for the rest of your life. The quotes from other women interspersed throughout are sometimes insightful, other times annoying. The author's recommendations for dressing your age and for your body type are helpful. Overall, recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I uploaded a sample, then decided to buy it. It uploaded and I started reading only to come across a page that said "end of sample." Went to my library and tried again, still can't read it. I better not get charged!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
wvdisneyaddict More than 1 year ago
I have bought several books on style lately, and as a fifty-something woman trying to figure out "what to wear for the rest of my life," I was looking forward to using this book the most. Unfortunately, this book just fell flat, and I can't quite identify what about it that did not speak to me. The problem may have been that the book had the exact same information regarding dressing for your body type and age that several of the other books did, and, yes,while the information was laid out in a useful manner, I found that it provided no more information and hints than any other book. If you haven't purchased any other style book lately, this one will prove adequate in identifying what clothing styles will work for your body type.
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I got halfway through it and now it wont stay open for me to finish! I love the book but I am very disappointed that I can't finish it because of a computer problem!