Let’s Be Kind… and Leave Grandmothers Alone!

This is how I looked most of my forties, before my wakeup moment and reinvention…the reason this blog began.  This is a look which I define as frumpy…it was a look that said I don’t care about me or what I wear.  In my world, this frumpy is what I strive daily to avoid.  However, there are some women who would call how I dress today as frumpy since I wear flats, mostly pants, no earrings (torn ear), and I am a size 16.

And that is why we all must be careful about our labels.  We each define them differently.  For example, I was really disturbed on Saturday when the mannequin I posted was described as ugly grandmother style.  Many of us over fifty fabulous ladies are grandmothers.  Today’s grandmother is not the stereotypical boob-sagging woman wearing big shoes and long moo-moos (you know the sketches on the greeting cards of older women)…far from it.  There is really no way to look at the clothing on a woman and know if she is a grandmother or not.  So, why insult grandmothers everywhere by implying out style is always ugly.

This is actually one of my pet peeves with my favorite television series, Project Runway.  When Tim Gunn or a designer doesn’t like a look or feels it ages a woman, they call it too GRANDMA.  There has got to be a better way to say this.Actually, some of the most stylish women over 50 I know in San Antonio are grandmothers…and they rock it with their fashion and their lifestyles….they are bold and in the game.

I was so grieved to see the word grandmother pop up in the criticism of the Would You Wear It mannequin last Saturday.  In fact, I will confess, Jennifer and I are revisiting our collaboration only because some voice their opinions in unkind ways.  I never meant for those posts to become a way to put other women down.  I would wear Saturday’s style in a heartbeat if I could afford it….and I am a grandmother…is that really a bad thing…and am I lacking in style because I am a grandmother or because I love that look?  Seriously?  In the early days of Would You Wear It, the community of readers would word their comments in constructive ways that did not make a woman who felt differently feel attacked.  But in recent weeks, that has changed and some of the comments have become a little vicious. 

I do not mind saying something is outdated or aging, but when you label with a name like grandmother…well, then it gets personal.  I like helping each woman locate her own style with the Five Foundational adjective system because we are all different and have different tastes.  Those who noted the top from last Saturday has a lot of volume and would add the appearance of weight were actually helping with that comments…those who attacked with its grandma, or I would not wear a tablecloth…were really crossing a line into personal attacks against those who liked the look.  We have to be more empathetic in a thread such as Would You Wear It.  In fact, I dress way better as a grandmother than I did as a mother of three so don’t ever imply that all grandmas wear ugly clothing. 

I have promoted kindness and optimism on this site for nine years….and plan to continue to do so.  If I sense that personal attacks are happening, then changes must happen.   Jennifer and I will be talking this week.  We have faced this before which makes these talks even more frustrating. And I know there are some of you who really like and look forward to Would You Wear It.  When I taught journalism for 16 years, one of my consistent points was for my students to remember CHOOSE WORDS CAREFULLY…THEY CANNOT BE TAKEN BACK. ALL WORDS HAVE MEANING. I am willing to listen to your thoughts.   Please chime in with your opinions…am I right about the use of “grandma style” or the way words come off in a Would You Wear It thread??  Please let us know…we want to understand and make this a positive, educational experience for all in the audience.  But, I also will not allow it to be a place where others feel put down and attacked.

I am a grandmother and I love fashion……………………..and, as always, I hope you will join me as I move past negativity and choose to


Here are some fun selections ………………for anyone…..grandmothers or not!


  1. Unfortunately i think this is the direction all social media is going. The anonymity of the platform allows those that post unkind comments to do so with no consequence. And some are mean jyst to be mean and hurtful. Kudos to you and those who put yourselves out there!

    1. Hi Pamela! I try, but sometimes blunder by referring to things as “granny” and I Am one!! I think that, as you point out, many actual grandmothers or grannies are really stylish, active, fit and interesting women. I hope I never offend anybody…..
      Love you for all that you do, and all that you point out to people like me….

      1. Thanks Paulette….no worries…you are not one of the comments that concerned us! Thanks for the sweet words

  2. This is a very good point that you are making. Sometimes I will see something that reminds me of MY grandmother, and that’s a whole different thing. She WAS the greeting card that you see depicting older women. She wore the baggy house dresses, a non-supportive bra and blocky tie shoes. Today’s grandmothers are different and I am one; like you I know I started dressing better after becoming a grandmother, just because it was about the time that I woke up and thought more about fashion and how I was presenting myself. I think when an outfit is depicted as “grandma style” that women might possibly be thinking of the old model a lot of us saw growing up. The picture of yourself that you refer to as frumpy is the way a lot of women dress on a daily basis. I think to each his own (or her own), but will be more careful when evaluating something to not veer into the ‘grandmother’ references. I know that I for one refer back to my grandmother (who looked ancient when she was 50, just in how she dressed). I hope you continue the feature – it is great fun! I believe there is a stereotype in many people’s minds about grandmothers. Why is that? I have to say Pam, I don’t know a lot of stylish older women, grandmothers aside, but I don’t live in a major metropolitan area. There might be that too. When I’m out running errands or shopping, going to football games, I hate to say it, but I see the jeans and baggy t-shirts most of all. I really do get your point though. I intend to live out the days I’m given as a stylish woman, grandmother, daughter, sister, friend. Your blog has helped me in defining my personal style (Foundational Five) and I’m not abandoning it just because I’m also a grandmother!

    1. I know a lot of women were the tee shirts and jeans, Karen. My real issue here was slamming an outfit by labeling it with a people group. Then it becomes personal to others. I hope that when we critique we will do it as was done in the beginning…in such a way as to say here is why I would not wear this for me (my body shape, taste, etc) When we use rude words it becomes personal to those who like the look. There are only a very few of these comments, yet enouch that Jennifer and I were concerned.

  3. Thanks Pam. Being kind is always important. Everyone should be mindful of thinking before speaking. Considering the feelings of others is the right thing to do. Basically, The Golden Rule. ?. I enjoy input from other fashionistas giving new viewpoints or alternate ideas to make a particular garment work for their individual body shape (we’re all different!), fashion style or personal preference. After all, variety is what makes the world go ’round! ?????… the spice of life! – I’m pretty sure that was the intention of the “would you wear it”- sharing & learning while having fun, not making fun. ??

    1. Everything you said here Betty is why I look forward to Would You Wear It…some comments have helped me to re-think looks. Constructive criticism is the key. And I love it when readers offer styling options…we learn so much and receive new ideas. Thanks

  4. You go girl. I have been really disturbed by some of the comments lately in blogs. It is fine to have an alternate opinion, but not to be rude and condescending. If it is not to your taste, then explain why, but don’t make the rest of us who may like something feel degraded or question our taste. I enjoy both the Saturday posts, and sometimes may say ‘what were they thinking’ ( to myself) but no need to be rude. I became a grandmother in my late 40s and now at 63 still try to be fashionable and fun. For someone to say I dress like a grandmother would certainly deflate my ego or mood, and make me rethink myself. It is by following a few blogs of women with fashion for a certain age, it keeps my mind working towards the fun fashion future. Keep up the good work and share with Jennifer that there are definitely more of us out there who love you.

  5. Hi Pam. Just started following your blog. Kindness is important but some haven’t learned how to express alternative views with kindness. Now love your pics of these striking older women but why do they always seem to wear black pants. Has this become a uniform for the older woman. I hope not. Why not printed pants or skirts and dresses. I live in Mexico (retired) and the older women are usually very colorful. They’ll often wear beautifully fitted jeans instead of black pants and certainly a whole array of dresses with embroidery and lace with hemlines generally at or just above the knee. It’s a pleasure to be a woman in this beautiful culture

    1. Hi Tasi, welcome to the blog! As you follow me you will see a lot of printed pants. I am wearing a pair on my Instagram today. I love black and print…stick around, you will see a little of everything in a pant! So happy to have you here!

  6. You and Jennifer are addressing issues that affect all women today. We need to be careful with our words. Our children and grandchildren are bombarded with hateful rhetoric on social media everyday Shouldn’t we be setting a better example. The old adage “ if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything “ certainly applies. Keep up the good work Pam.

  7. We’ve all gone off the rails at some time or another. The constructive criticism you shared for posting may well be appreciated by those who haven’t used their heart and vocabulary to the best of their ability, and hopefully they’ll get back on track.
    “Be the woman who fixes another woman’s crown without telling the world that it was crooked.””
    Thank you for your blog!

  8. I couldn’t agree more, Pam. I’ve been on a “kindness crusade” with my friends, grandchildren, Facebook, etc. There is too much negativity, especially in social media. Please don’t stop “Would You Wear It”. I have seen some great outfits I might not have looked at as an individual piece but when put together I get great ideas. I am a grandmother, defined by the fact that I have children who have children, not by my age or apparel. I strive to find pieces in my wardrobe that help me to feel young, vibrant and approachable. Nowhere in Webster’s Dictionary does it show the word grandma is an adjective to describe someone’s “look”.

    1. Nina, I am happy to announce that Jennifer and I spoke later today and have decided to keep WOULD YOU WEAR IT GOING….we will see how it goes!
      Thanks for being so direct about wanting to see it continue!

  9. I agree that we should not be vicious to each other. But rarely in yours or Jennifer’s comment section do I read something that I would take that way. (But I don’t read them all!) You are asking for our opinions–and by definition they are our opinions, so will differ from other opinions. I called the top edging toward matronly, I believe. (not grandmotherly) That’s my opinion. It’s never meant to hurt another, but you did ask! How should we express that we wouldn’t wear an item? Can you give an example?

  10. Pam, you always look fabulous in your blog posts! But I’m curious … what do you wear to hang around at home? I have to confess that loose t-shirts and shorts comprise most of my not-going-anywhere wardrobe, especially in hot weather. When it’s cool, jeans and nice sweaters are the rule. Please enlighten us about your at-home looks!

  11. Hi, Pam! Please don’t stop Would You Wear It because of some unkind or discourteous comments. We cannot let rude people win! Continuing to do what you love despite nay-sayers is, I hope, one of the benefits of being grandmother-age. Please just keep on what you’re doing, modeling for us how to be analytical and kind at the same time. “That color wouldn’t work for me” is a long way from “that’s a hideous color.” I love Would You Wear It, and look forward to it every week.

  12. I love this post! I remember when I was shopping with my then 84 year old mother at Nordstroms for her cruise to Alaska. She showed a clerk their mail ad for a leather jacket that we couldn’t find. The clerk looked over at me and said “what size do you wear?” My mother huffed and snapped back, “It’s for ME!” I was so proud of her attitude and style that she maintained until passing at 91! By the way, after seeing your marvelous b/w pants, I’m ordering a similar pair I’ve been salivating over! Keep the mannequin posts with Jennifer, consider how it lead to such a great awareness for us all…

  13. Yikes Pam, that first “frumpy” picture of you is exactly my look as I sit here reading your blog. I guess I haven’t realized till I saw your picture, the message my 67 year old self is sending.
    Time to re-evaluate my look totally!

  14. Thanks, Pam for broaching this subject in your blog. I have noticed the “old people” references more, too, and that’s the one that gets me. To comment on another post, three years ago we moved to a small, more rural city in NE Arkansas. I was shocked! I have never seen so many stylish older women and I am overjoyed! There are more dress shops and boutiques than I had in Texas. I having to work harder to fit in! I appreciate all your help.

  15. I had a great teacher many years ago who taught me that what people say (or in this case write) tells you a lot about them and nothing about you so labels tends not to bother me. Having said that I do think social media allows people to anonymourly vent without any responsibility for the outcome.

  16. I recently started following you Pam and love your blog. I too am a granny and, I hope, stylish living in the UK. My mantra is if you can’t be kind say nothing at all. With every good wish for the future. xx

  17. Pamela, that is a very good point. Although, like some have written, today’s grandmothers are more and more looking like they care about themselves and have less of the look of past generations we’ve been trained to think of as ‘grandmotherly’. (Hence the explosion of blogs that are so popular with women over 40, 50 and beyond, looking for ideas on being more stylish.) I wear the grandmother title proudly, no matter what anyone else says. Unfortunately for me, my body has changed, making it is more of a struggle fighting with the weight gain, health issues, etc. (Thank you, who ever invented it, for spandex added to denim!)
    When I critique a piece on here and Jennifer’s site, I always try to relate what I’m writing to MY body shape and coloring and acknowledge the piece looking good on a different body shape. I also, acknowledge when something would look good on me. (I have training and had a business for many years in the seasonal color charts and body types, related to fashion and make-up.)
    I, for one, love yours and Jennifer’s Saturday “Would You Wear It” posts. It’s fun, like a game and if I don’t have time for any other emails, I always find the time to check out yours and Jennifer’s on Saturdays. If you quit them, it would take some fun out of my Saturdays!
    Yes, there is no doubt, the Internet has made our society more rude across the board, as we can make comments without showing our faces. If I have written anything rude in the past, I apologize, here and now. (I know I didn’t write a look being grandmotherly.) My comments are directed at my body, alone.

    1. We don’t want to take the fun out of your Saturday, Diana. We have decided to keep it going! Blessings to you!

  18. My heart breaks for the hurtful remarks you and Jennifer endured. We should provide constructive criticism and encouragement to each other, even when we don’t agree. The stereotypical “grandmother” reference is just that a stereotype that belittles and relegates women of a certain age to the sidelines. I hope you and Jennifer continue providing “would you wear it” Saturdays as I find them helpful and love reading others opinions.

    1. Oh Sue…you are so sweet. The comments were not aimed directly at us. But there have been some in the last few weeks which we were concerned would hurt others. We did not want to lose any readers because they felt ridiculed or attacked for having an opposing opinion. I have had a personal issue for a long time about the phrase “it’s too grandma.” I would like to change that description to aging or matronly instead of a people group. But I do not feel attacked by anyone….thank you for your sweet heart.

  19. My dear sweet mother-in-law was the finest example of a grandmother that I know. She was not only a grandmother but a great-great grandmother. Until her health failed in her late nineties, she was stylish & wore her clothes well. She was also the first to give a compliment & encourage others to be the best they could be. Society as a whole has become quite negative in how we react to others. We all need to build each other up & be encouragers. What is right for you may not be right for me, but that certainly doesn’t make either of us wrong. As for you, my dear, go forth with the grace & joy you have always shown.

  20. Thank you Pam…well said and a much needed reminder. With more consciousness to our word choices, our blunders, while usually unintended, will become less.

    Loved your styles shown today, particularly the ones from Soft Surroundings. Their prices are high but worth it…however, I don’t order from them because of the hefty shipping and return charges. There are too many other places that for orders in a certain range or with no shipping charges, that allow me to get clothes I love (such as Chicos and Chicos Off The Rack websites. If you have any influence with Soft Surroundings and feel comfortable mentioning, that would be great. Love your attitude towards life and your blog. Many thanks…

  21. The very best thing that ever happened to me was becoming a grandmother. I know some people use the term “granny” as an insult, but they can call me what they will. With any luck, they will one day be grandmothers themselves and find out it’s just about the best thing in the world to be.

    1. So sweet and so true…the best name I have is Gigi to four (soon to be five) precious little ones!

  22. Good advice about choosing words carefully. I know I have been guilty of typing quickly and not organizing my thoughts beforehand. If I don’t review what I wrote, it usually sounds very different than what I meant. Also, words that might offend me, don’t bother someone else and vice versa so we have to be careful. I’m hoping and assuming that intention was not to hurt but was just carelessness in word choice.
    I’ve also noticed that I can wear an outfit and look frumpy but someone else can wear the same item and look great. Our height, body frame and coloring play a big role in how a garment looks on us. My height, frame and coloring can easily be overwhelmed by bright colors and large prints where I could see Saturday’s outfit looking great on you. Keep up the good work and keep smiling.

    1. Exactly what I said in the post…we all see these things different ways. The goal is to voice our opinions without slamming others. Thank you!

  23. Pam,as I just said on Jennifer’s blog, I believe in teaching others what we need. In this case, how to give polite feedback and to be kind but constructive. Critiquing without being rude isn’t something everyone knows how to do I think and I imagine you will get this from time to time. Aside from the anonymity factor, I truly believe many think it is okay to use the words they do and don’t realize how hurtful they can be. It is easier and faster to respond with your inside voice sometimes than to chooose your words wisely,so thanks for the reminder or lesson as the case may be. I really enjoy those posts and hope you two continue them.

  24. Thank you for your comments and for your blog. It has bothered me the things I read in articles telling me what I can or can’t wear since I am over 40 or 50. I thank you and Jennifer and other bloggers who have inspired me to wear what makes me feel good and stylish and to be adventuresome at the same time. Yes, I wear low heeled or flat shoes. I have skirts of all lengths from short above the knee to midi length in my closet. People are surprised to hear my age because they think I’m ten years younger than 61. I like to think it’s because I dress in modern ways. I like your “Would you wear it” because it inspires me to try something new. Keep doing what you’re doing.

    1. Thanks so much, Cindi! I think how we dress has a lot to do with a youthful appearance….and yes, we are going to keep Would You Wear It going!

  25. I also think I might look a bit more stylish as a grandmother than I did as a mother: I have more time to pay attention to myself, I have more income to spend on myself, I’m more rested and able to think through decisions. ALL mother know those days when you take whatever is clean and will cover your body with a minimum of effort (not everyday but I think most all have experienced this at least once!)

  26. Hi Pamela, Not quite a Grandma yet, but love your website. I love how you motivate people, and even though I might not wear your style of clothing, I love your passion. I too think I dress better in my 50’s (well 60) next year than I ever did in my 40’s. There are a lot of nasty people out there who do not seem to care if they hurt someone’s feelings. It is very easy for people to write behind a PC and to never have to actually face someone and say what they had just written. SO yes it is hurtful to be labelled as a Grandma, I have seem so many women in their late 50’s 60’s and they have such great style. You keep doing what yo are doing and don’t every let these people give you any doubt that you are doing a good thing for women every where

    1. Thanks Carol. I don’t mind being called a Grandma…but I do mind using the name grandma to describe ugly clothing! Just insensitive toward us grandmas! Thanks for reading and commenting.

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