4 ways to combat invisibility after retirement

invisibility after retirement

Happy Friday, ladies!  Today, I would like address a topic I know is on the hearts of some of this audience…. invisibility after retirement.

There have been comments on this blog where women confess that they feel invisible, and I know many of you are also retired.

One of my favorite singers, Amy Grant (62), once wrote, “I think for a woman, the hardest thing about growing old is becoming invisible. There is something very front and center about being young.”

I had never considered it, but she got me to thinking.

After doing some research on my part as to why women feel invisible,  I discovered that the feeling is most likely to set in at retirement.

That makes perfect sense to me…though I am not completely retired.

So much of our identity is wrapped around our work for a very long time, that it does seem sensible that “invisibility” would often take hold.

I began to assess myself and wonder why I do not feel invisible and that is how I developed these 4 ways to combat invisibility after retirement.

All of the outfits I am featuring today, are looks I have recently worn to meetings at my church.

I want to demonstrate to you how I typically dress for my current life, and why.

So, let’s get this discussion started and discuss 4 ways to combat invisibility after retirement.


invisibility after retirement


I know some of you will not like this, but honestly the choice to live with visibility is our choice… do not give anyone the power to make you “feel” invisible.

When you lower your head, and do not care for yourself because you feel invisible you are wasting your life and the purposes you have in this life.

Negative messages in our heads can be powerful and take over and control…and eventually shut us down and out. Those voices steal our joy.

I never think about younger people having more to offer than I do, because I believe I have much to offer where ever I am…gifts and experience unique to me.

So, first decide to live each day…one day at a time…with purpose and visibility..even if the only event currently on your calendar is to run errands.

I have so much fun looking for ways I can bless the people in line with me or at the cash register…everyone needs encouragement and a smile.

I can see where some may allow invisibility after retirement to set in because you do not feel needed.  YOU ARE ALWAYS NEEDED WHERE EVER YOU GO.

Exuding joy, kindness and encouragement is needed more today than ever before.


invisibility after retirement


I know retirement is more casual and relaxed, but if you want to feel visible then dress for it.

Wear clothing which gives you confidence and a smile in the mirror.

Then walk into and own every room…no matter the room.

How do you do that?  With your head held high and looking people in the eyes when you speak with them.

It is simply a fact that we are more likely to speak with others…especially strangers…if we feel like we look our best.

I am not talking about wearing expensive clothing or Christian Dior as Mrs. Harris did when she owned the room with confidence at the end of that movie.

But, the movie, Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris, has great lessons in it about visibility later in life.

Get dressed…fix your hair…touch up your make up…and smile!


invisibility after retirement


I strongly believe that if you will find a place to serve others, you will forget about invisibility after retirement.

There are so many needs… and places who need YOU

I told you that I wore each of these outfits to meetings at church.  I never worry about being overdressed.

I dress with my style adjectives to go out and enjoy the day, the moment, with purpose with confidence.

I believe that the way I dress shows that I respect myself, so therefore my style will bring respect (Visibility)from other people.

It is very hard to hang your head and feel like a speck on the wall when you believe your look great and shine.

I am often the oldest at these meetings, but I never think about that either or feel slighted by that. 

I just feel like one of the team showing up to serve.

This naturally leads to #4…..


invisibility after retirement


If you enter a room thinking more about other people than yourself, then invisibility after retirement melts away.

Meet new people….look them in the eye…ask questions to get to know them…volunteer your talents and time to help.

(If you need some inspiration, read a tried and true classic, HOW TO WIN FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE by Dale Carnegie…the wisdom of this book is excellent.)

Then ask boldly…how can I be of service?

Let’s go back to the movie, Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris.

Mrs. Harris did not become visible because she eventually owned a Christian Dior gown.

She became visible way before that due to her kindness and willingness to sacrifice for others.

Ultimately blessings came her way from many of the people she served.

Leave the house every day with intention…How can I make someone else’s day better today?

Ladies, you may be retired from a career, but you are not retired from life!

Life is short…goes quickly…leave invisibility after retirement behind and make a choice to LIVE.  There is no time to waste with invisibility. 

I know there will be different circumstances in each of our lives, but I also know we can make a choice to deal with them with confidence.

You can do this…you are VISIBLE!  Just own it.



By Pamela Lutrell

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invisibility after retirement


  1. Great points, Pam! I don’t feel invisible, but I do sometimes feel stereotyped. I try to combat that not by hiding my age, but by moving with vitality, speaking with intention and focus, and trying to smile more. I have the natural frown of the dropping face, and a smile adds so much. I also stay current on the news, and try to be aware of the world around me. Fashion is important to me, because not only do I enjoy clothes, but they affect, as you noted, my mood and confidence. One of the ways I stay visible is in buying myself some new exercise gear periodically, and getting outside and to the yoga class. I don’t always pick activities and events for seniors, either. I try to be surrounded by people of all ages.

  2. I do think surrounding ourselves with all ages is very important. Thanks for bringing that up, Linda.

  3. Often we are made to feel invisible but like you, I don’t accept it. I have never been a wallflower except when I chose to be. If I am in a room, I will be engaged and make myself an active participant.

    Off the subject, what kinds/ brands of shoes did you wear in Alaska? Planning for my next summer trip throughout fall and winter. Have re-read your clothing choices. Thanks for the ideas.

  4. Fabulous article Pam. I’m 75 and I’ve never felt invisible either. I’ll elaborate one one of your suggestions to get involved. Its a great way to get out of the house and be part of the larger world. There are so many ways. Volunteer. There are many organizations that can benefit from your experience and wisdom. Learn something new. Take a class. Many colleges offer life-long-learning programs. Most community colleges have a variety of interesting non credit courses. Try a class in dancing or yoga. Join a group. A walking or hiking group, a quilt guild, a theater loves group, etc. Take up a sport like golf or pickleball. Find ways to expand your world. You will meet other vibrant interesting people.

  5. You have made very thoughtful points this morning, and I agree with all of them. I dress everyday and put on some makeup so if I have to go anywhere quickly, I’m ready. I never leave the house without brushing hair, and wearing at least minimal makeup as well as nicely dressed . As a winter most of my clothing is in saturated jewel colors so I definitely do not fade into the background. I too enjoy those conversations with strangers, and compliment others about what they are wearing or how they look. As a retired school teacher in a small town, I see former students everywhere I go so I’m especially aware that if I am dressed in a sloppy or ill- fitting manner, that’s when I will run into many I know who will want to talk to me.

  6. As I turn 71 today, I have been thinking about the difference that being current, active, and friendly can add to life. As a former teacher, I was always ‘on’. My activities have certainly changed, but I have developed an art practice, walk , take classes, travel, and make new friends. My MiL, who lived to 96, was a great example. She outlived her husband and my parents by 20 years. She shopped, dressed up, was involved, traveled and surrounded herself with younger friends. She knew the formula and could work any room. Today was the perfect day for your post. So thoughtful and wise. Today Friends are arriving, laughter will ensue, and we will spend the day roaming around a near by city, going to the museum, and having dinner out. I will be looking my best and experiencing life!

  7. Great message, Pam! The invisible feeling is usually self-imposed. It can happen at any age if the person hangs their head and says “poor me.” The ideas you give to LIVE are right on point! Happy birthday to DeborahLM.

  8. Hi Nyla, because I am awaiting foot surgery, I do have special issues. So, I wrote that Easy Spirit and New Balance got me through my cruise with comfy feet and staying active. Thank goodness I could rely on those two brands.

  9. I had to laugh, Celia. It never fails that if I just run to the grocery and look my worse, I always run into someone I know. But, one day in the grocery I looked my best and ran into a friend and she said, “You really do look nice to go to the grocery.” That was the day I said that never again would I go looking awful. I love to smile and interact with people there.

  10. In some ways this is a fashion post Jan…and I have lots of fashion for you coming up next week!

  11. Before the pandemic I felt invisible and I liked it. It gave me a sort of freedom. Things have changed for me. I lost 40 lbs and look slender (but am still metabolically obese and just this week was told by my doctor to lose more weight). I grew a long gray ponytail. I still wear my sporty style and because I am immunosuppressed I still wear a mask indoors—a big white N95. I am now very visible. And guess what I have found! People are kinder than ever to me. Doors are held for me. Strangers greet me. Those I regularly interact with learn my name, ask me my plans, comment on my clothing. It has been fun and it makes me feel positive about the younger generations.

  12. Such an interesting perspective, Linlee. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and I love that you feel positive about the younger generation!

  13. And one more: Stop being negative Nelly! We all pay attention to the news; prices are up, services are down but moaning and groaning will not help. I don’t feel invisible because I keep myself busy with golf, church, grandchildren etc. But the one thing that drives me up the wall are negative people. Look on the bright side, face each day with positivity! Good post Pam!

  14. I love this post! Thank you for your thoughtful perspective, Pam. My husband and I moved to a larger city 4 years ago to be near our children and grandchildren, and being naturally shy, coupled with the pandemic, I’ve had a hard time meeting women my age (61). I left the best of friends behind and miss that day-to-day contact, but haven’t given up hope of finding a tribe. I refuse to fade into the woodwork, stay home, and be invisible!

  15. I really want to show compassion for those who slip into this, but I also want them to know that it wastes your life and time in this world. Each woman here has so much to offer…don’t waste it…live.

  16. With this determination, Tess…you will find it. Those friends are out there and waiting for you. I hope you will report back when you find your new place to be.

  17. This is some wonderful advice and definitely something to think about daily. This was very uplifting and positive.

  18. This is very good. While I have never personally felt invisible, I think it’s sad when I hear others say that. You make a good point about focusing on others. If you’re doing that, you will never be invisible, rather you will be appreciated and noticed. It’s very definitely a choice and an attitude. I’ve been struggling with watching a family member decide at age 72 that she’s “just old now” (?????) and so “can’t” do certain things any longer, one of those being enjoying life. So I’m witnessing a choice first hand, watching someone just stop trying. Illness or injury can creep in and alter things, but being invisible isn’t one of those things. I hope I never see myself as invisible!

  19. Karen…first of all, it is so nice to see a comment from you…I often think about you since you have been here from the beginning. You are a friend. My mother was that way…always negative and the victim…so I know how difficult it is to watch a loved one go through this. I hope she will one day awake to realize that this is so much time left and she is needed. I hope you will get to see her choose differently. Thanks for sharing.

  20. This is a very helpful and thought-provoking discussion — a great post and wonderful comments. Thanks to all.

  21. Although I am disabled and now need a mobility device to walk when out and about, I always dress nicely, my hair is cut in a Bob and I smile. My face just like everyone else’s changes and lights up when I smile. I no longer can drive so my enter actions are usually at a medical center. But I always find someone interested in chatting to pass nervous time. As a retired RN, I understand how important that brief kindness is to a person awaiting bad news. I wore ugly gray scrubs as required by my employer to work in critical settings for 30 years. Now I love wearing nice casual clothes for the rural area in Colorado where I live. Chronic illness and pain do limit my activities, but not my outlook on life.

  22. I have heard other ladies say they feel like they are invisible, but I have never felt that way. Attitude & posture have much to do with this. If you walk with your head and/or eyes down, that sends a message that says don’t notice me. I try to keep my head up & smile at others. Often, they will smile back or even speak. I try to have a positive attitude, as well. Of course, looking my best adds to the positivity. One of the best things I have ever done is getting rid of any clothing that made me feel sad or frumpy. This was at your suggestion, so thank you.

  23. Great message- I’m listening! Yes at times I do feel invisible but not with my own age group. I feel most invisible with younger people, teens and early twenties, especially.
    I am involved with exercise classes, my book club and busy with family who often count on me for babysitting, a meal to be delivered. Etc. And I love accommodating them.
    Yet when my path crosses with younger folks I often find myself at a loss to make conversation. Young adults seem to not have a lot to say? Is it the phone culture? Not sure. This wasn’t the case when I taught young adults over ten years ago. So I guess it’s me.

  24. Yes…it is the phone culture. Most of them would rather interact with a cell phone than with people. Just look around at a restaurant and see how many are actually conversing with each other or looking at their phones. They have been trained to not know how to interact with others. When I taught high school, watching the kids and their phones grieved me the most. I have to say that I do see this problem with all ages.

  25. Could you please share where you purchased the brown striped button down shirt that you are wearing? It is beautiful.

  26. Hi Pat, I bought it early in the summer at Ann Taylor…it is no longer available. So sorry. That is one of the reasons I did not do links in this post.

  27. Thanks for the great Post. I agree with each point you mentioned. One thing I enjoy doing is finding someone to encourage because it helps me too.

  28. I’ve never really thought about “invisibility,” but now that you’ve raised the subject I realize it can happen slowly over time if we aren’t vigilant. Like you, I dress for any outing like it’s an occasion, especially now that I’m retired and have fewer opportunities to wear my “good” clothes. A friend who constantly “dresses down” often criticizes my choices and tell me I am “overdressed,” but I just reply that I really love this outfit and chose it because seeing her felt special to me. I am finally within days of closing the sale of my mother’s house, so I will soon have time to do a deep dive into my wardrobe. I want to get my closet back to a point where any item I pull out fits, flatters, is clean and in good repair, even if that only leaves me a dozen items. I’m hoping to create something of a capsule wardrobe with lots of mix and match capabilities and fewer duplicates. I’m also going to revisit my style adjectives to be sure they still represent the woman I want the world to see. Thanks so much for adding another dimension to my thought process for this transition!

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