Dress, RACHEL Rachel Roy; shoes, Steve Madden; bag, MbMJ (all via consignment)
Dress, RACHEL Rachel Roy; shoes, Steve Madden; bag, MbMJ (all via consignment)

This is one of my fave dresses, and you are not surprised because I think we have agreed that I am the queen of dresses that look like separates and vice versa. I wore it again, after too long of a break, for my birthday dinner and it did not disappoint. It is just so darn pretty. And pretty comfortable too, especially now that I have a bit more wiggle room in it.

pretty dress is still pretty
pretty dress is still pretty
action shot!
action shot!

Speaking of which, I was a bit surprised when I dug out the photo of the last time I wore this dress, almost exactly one year ago. I honestly didn’t think my body had changed quite so visibly in the last six months or so, so this side by side was a bit of an eye-opener. Funnily enough, I see the biggest difference in my face. I am reminded of the saying attributed (if I remember correctly) to the great Catherine Deneuve: after a certain age, women have to chose between their face and their ass. She spoke, of course, in an era before injectables. And I won’t lie: I have a different perspective on Botox now than I did at 25. (Which is to say, I have been thinking about it.)

August 2014 / August 2015
August 2014 / August 2015

In case you couldn’t tell, issues of age and self-image have been on my mind more than usual lately, which I fully attribute to this damn birthday. 35 has hit me in a way that 30 never did, and I’m still working on figuring out why. Anyone else out there who’s felt/feeling the same?

eyes wide shut
eyes wide shut

23 Comments on Then and Now

  1. I think age is just a number. I am about to turn 27, and I sometimes act or feel like I’m still in my 20s or just a teenager. You look absolutely stunning and I would never have thought that you were 35 to be honest! It’s such a big milestone but there’s still so many years to go, and like cheese, you only get better with age.


  2. This is a cute dress! I can see why you love it. As someone who is about to turn 40 this weekend, I can tell you that someday you will look back on your 35 year-old pics with fondness and will see how good you actually look now! Adorable then and now.

    • Thank you! I know exactly what you mean – I sometimes look back at pictures from my twenties the same way. Not, mind you, that I want to be 20 or 25 or even 29 again. I like the perks of being older, even if the “not knowing what’s to come” can be a little scary.

  3. When I turned 35, I felt like my youth and years of “feeling” youthful were officially over. Not a great time. I turned 45 last January and had a much better epiphany. I’m going to live well this last half, by God. I’ve lost 30 lbs since, started strength training, and went back to yoga so that my body doesn’t give out on me during the retirement/travel years. Youth had it’s perks (and the related perkiness) but we didn’t have the resources to travel, buy nice wine, indulge in hobbies, etc (even with 3 kids). I may be using anti-aging products on my face and body, but the rest of what aging offers looks very attractive!
    First time commenter, but your angst is familiar and I thought a word from someone a few years ahead might provide some ease.

    • Thank you so much! I really appreciate that you shared your personal epiphany – it sounds like you found a great balance in your life. And I agree: there is so much that is awesome about getting older.

  4. Ditto to what Alex said.

    I had my shattering, age-related breakdown at 30. That one hit me hard. 40 wasn’t so fun either. But now, at 44, I’m fine. I still look good, but I no longer feel the same internal pressures as I did when I was younger. My child is older, so we’re at an easier stage of life. There are a lot of advantages to getting older.

    I will say that the 40s are when the divide between women who are aging well and take care of themselves and the women who aren’t aging well/aren’t caring for themselves becomes very apparent. I know people who are my age who look 20 years older because of weight gain and unflattering hair. Some people can look good and youthful with gray hair, but they are the exceptions, not the rule.

    Enjoy the last years of your 30s. Sooner than you realize, you’ll be in your 40s and in a different stage of life, with kids who are well into their school years. The thing I miss most about my life in my mid-30s is the little-boy hugs. I’d much rather have those back than the 10-years-younger skin!

    One more piece of wisdom–Retin-A. Use it. You’ll thank yourself in a decade.

    • Thank you so much, and I hear you. My mom is still beautiful (on the outside as well as inside) in her 60s, so I feel like I’ve got genes on my side, haha. But I will definitely start looking at some Retin-A – not point taking chances 😉

      (p.s. I can’t say that I’m not excited to see my kids grow a bit older, but I will DEFINITELY miss the little boy – and girl – hugs. Those are the best.)

      • Oh, there are lots of great things about watching kids grow up, and I love the current turning-into-a-teenager stage. The hugs are definitely different since he’s the same height I am and soon going to pass me! I just miss the toddler version–I wish I could have both at once. Of course, if I had that I’d be a stressed, frazzled mess who complained about having kids a decade apart! Can’t win.

  5. I’m with you on not realizing the difference until you look back at the photo evidence! After turning 30 my boyfriend helped me start a real workout regimen and I made changes to my diet and it really changed my life. But what he and I both focus on is what will help us when we’re 60+, like better posture and bone density.

    • Those things are important, for sure. It’s easy to forget those things now, but you’re right – they will make a huge difference later. More so than, say, wrinkle free skin 😉

  6. My daughter is 1 year younger than you. You, like her, are beautiful. I wish I could tell you some magic secret about aging, but I can’t, cuz I never really worried about it. I’m not beautiful, but blessed with good health, my teeth, and plenty of crazy-curly hair.
    I made a great effort to love myself, even when I thought no man ever would again (menopause). And then I found out that hey! this isn’t bad.
    You have a great face and figure that will weather time. Please, enjoy yourself!

    • Thank you, that’s very sweet. Honestly, I don’t necessarily want to look 23, or even 33 – I just don’t want to look “old”, if that means suddenly being invisible in society.

  7. You look fantastic Missy please don’t think otherwise. I try not to think about age (am 33 on the 29th) or beat myself up about my body too much… It’s done amazing things (successfully birthed two healthy kids, run marathons without too much complaint for example) but isn’t the same as 10 years ago.

    What I want to know is what you’ve been doing? What changed? Are you doing an amazing new form of exercise that we all need to know about?! What’s your secret?? Tell me tell me cuz running won’t tone up this lingering mum tum!!!!

    • Oh goodness, that’s funny! Exercise? Hahaha. I wish. No, that’s the one thing I just can’t seem to find any time left in my day for. I know it’s bad, and relying on walking alone isn’t enough, but … eh. I used to exercise religiously before I had kids, but I stopped completely during my second pregnancy, and never picked up the habit again. I envy your commitment to running, and your aerobic fitness. Sigh.

      I just changed my eating habits. Went hardcore for a couple of months (modified Whole30, low calorie), then went into maintenance mode. Cut out of a lot sugar, and minimized the gluten intake. It’s been surprisingly not hard. I thought giving up my daily doses of chocolate would be painful, but my body was able to adjust and I rarely have cravings anymore. I can occasionally indulge, but I don’t miss it. Sorry, super boring answer!

  8. It’s funny, I didn’t think anything of turning 35 years old, but I feel so much more difference from 35 to 38 than I did from 32 to 35. I guess more happened in those three years than the previous ones.

    Not that getting older and wiser is a bad thing. I’d say you look your age, in a good way: no reason women should always look 22, after all, you wouldn’t be at your current professional level at that age (you’re a lawyer from what I understand?), and you probably didn’t look quite as badass.

    One thing I did notice, skin-wise, in the last few years, is that my skin gets a lot dryer and therefore I get that eccles cake look more easily, especially after a period, so I invested in a bottle of Argan oil: a quick, fairly vigorous facial massage with that, then wash off with some lotion and rinse in cold water, morning and evening, makes a pretty big difference, and that’s really my only skincare. I’d suggest that stuff before you consider injecting anything.

    Actually, I read Laure Gontier of the French blog L’Armoire Essentielle, who tested botox a while back, and aside from the price tag, the thing that struck me most about her account was the fact that she lost a lot of facial mobility while it lasted: she was feeling emotions, but they weren’t showing so much.

    Catherine Deneuve might have said that quote about choosing between face and bum, and I think it’s a common anxiety for women, but to be fair Deneuve looks as awesome now as she did back then. Only, now, she looks like a really attractive older lady, whereas then she looked like an attractive 20 or 30-year-old. I think her secret is precisely that she never looked particularly “gamine”, even in Tristana or Belle de Jour where she’s playing quite young, fragile women, she looked hard as nails.

    You also have to remember that what you see in the mirror first thing in the morning is you going “hmmm, how do I look this morning?” whereas what everyone else sees is you moving around and talking and stuff. Your perception is always going to be skewed by that. In short, you’ve really got nothing to worry about.

    • Thank you so much for your comments – there are so many good points. In principle, I don’t care about my age, in the sense of wanting to be younger or pretending to be younger. I do worry about starting to experience the double standard – men becoming more valuable and interesting to society with age, women becoming invisible. Even though looks are not what matter the most in my profession (by a long shot), I’m still scared to find out just how much they do matter – in society in general too.

      You are right about Catherine looking mature (not in a bad way – she always looked like a woman, not a girl, if that makes sense). A lot of Hollywood movie stars did as well, back in the day – Ava Gardner, Rita Hayworth, etc. Strangely, I find that less common now. Off the top of my head, I can think only of a few, like Cate Blanchett and maybe Angelina Jolie. The “gamine” look is so popular, and it is a harder look to maintain with age. Not everyone is Audrey Hepburn, yes? Anyway, sorry about the tangent. It’s actually something I had noticed before, but you put it into words better than I could have.

      The other big part of my angst is not looks-related, though. It’s about realizing that time is slowly running out, and adulthood can no longer be denied (LOL, I’ve been trying), and my bucket list is not getting any shorter. It was a good kick in the pants to take a good look at what I’ve achieved and what I’m still hoping to achieve, and get on it.

  9. Yes, I’ve noticed that too about old movie stars, it’s like in recent years the idea of an adult woman onscreen has vanished: probably the majority of movie stars are in their 30s, 40s, maybe 50s, but they tend to look 22 until they suddenly switch over to 60. And it’s not just looks, it’s demeanour and attitude.

    I know exactly what you mean about the double standard: when a man ages well, it’s understood that this means he looks and acts his age. Whereas for a woman, it’s taken to mean she still looks 25. Personally I’m watching the clock tick and thinking: I have carte blanche now – that’s the great thing about your 30s, there aren’t many expectations, as far as the collective imagination is concerned women are never in their 30s – but how long until people start saying “who let the old woman in here?”. It’s that, more than looks, that occurs to me when I’m in front of the mirror thinking “damn, better put some argan oil on that”.

    That said, I’ve seen it happen to lots of women at all kinds of ages, so in a way, the limit is quite arbitrary. For example, I saw a feminist blogger respond to a critique from a female author by saying, “oh well, she’s a stuffy jealous old professor lady who doesn’t like young women like me”, when the “old professor lady” in question was a year younger than the blogger, about 34 at the time. That stuck with me, as an aspiring academic.

    For what it’s worth, I think the angst about time passing is a very healthy thing to have in the back of your mind, in terms of doing things with your life, in fact I think that’s probably the secret to the whole “ageing well” thing. Then again, I don’t want to approach that idea thinking “damn, if I get lots of life experience I can save a packet on anti-ageing cream!”. Although, don’t you find the denial of adulthood (I’m with you on that one!) interesting in light of what we both admire about women like Catherine Deneuve?

    • This is such an interesting discussion, I really wish it was on the front page rather than in the comments – far more interesting than my outfits, anyway.

      I agree with everything you are saying, and it is EXACTLY what’s been on my mind. Honestly, and this is going to sound so naive and privileged, but it came as a shock when I realized that I wasn’t going to be immune from the societal effects of ageing. Like, as a 20 year old, you look at women in their 40s and 50s talk about these issues, and you sort of dismiss it – me, I always said “I don’t plan on getting ahead on my looks, so what will it matter later if my looks start to go?” … which is SUCH a naive way of looking at it. As if society allows you to decide on what basis you will get valued.

      The denial of proper adulthood for women has been this insidious thing in the last 40-50 years, even as feminism has been on the rise. I love reading biographies of famous women from the earlier part of the 20th century, because they were “allowed” to have 3rd and 4th and 5th acts in their lives – including as sexual beings. They were considered attractive, and vital, and sexy, and interesting well into their 60s. And it wasn’t because they looked like they were 25 or 35.

      I also wonder how much of today’s “mommy culture” (in North America, anyway) plays into that. By the time women are in their 30s, they’re assumed to be subsumed into the role of “mother” to the exclusion of every other aspect of their personality (you have kids? you are not allowed to have hobbies, interests, or ambitions of any sort unless they somehow revolve around your kids, or else you’re a bad/neglectful/selfish mom). Mothers are celebrated in our culture for things that they do for others, not for who they are themselves or what they do on account of their own desire/ambitions, etc.