Made, well…For Me

On the growing list of things that make me feel old:

#4: Hanging out with a college girl who’s mom is a high school friend

This is depressing for a variety of reasons, one being that trying to look or act younger than I really am is pointless. The chronological jig is up.

The irony is that when I’m with Jen, the college girl, I do feel like the kid: I still think farts are funny, eat too much candy and watch cartoons. Jen is poised and polished and wise beyond her years. However, I  have the wrinkles to prove I am indeed older.

She works at Madewell, the hip younger sister of JCrew. Having never been to a Madewell store or purchased any of their items, I was curious to check it out and have Jen style me.

Jen, Madewell stylist.

Madewell was founded in 1937 as a modest work-wear manufacturer that quietly folded in 1989. Mickey Drexler (mastermind from the Gap that launched Old Navy back in the day) bought the rights to the name and launched the new Madewell in 2006. It currently boasts 27 stores as well as “It-Girl” Alexa Chung, who delivers instant cred by designing lines for Madewell that sell-out, even as she does not.

I tell Jen that I’m trying to work more color into my wardrobe, and ask her to pick out things I wouldn’t normally try on. Typically stubborn about what I wear, I trust Jen, who has impeccable personal style, and I am intrigued by what a college girl will pick out for someone her mom’s age.

I walk into this room on the left. I’d be lying if I didn’t say it frightened me. Other than the denim jacket (which I grabbed as a security blanket) there is not a single thing I would have picked out. Which I remind myself is the point.

I pull on these zig-zaggy pants.

Although Jen and her co-workers love them, or at least say they do, I feel ridiculous: it’s not so much the color as it is the fabric and cut; high waisted and floaty are just not my thing. So I toss them in the emphatic “NO” pile and press on. Next I try on these Textile by Elizabeth and James floral jeans. “THERE IS NO FUCKING WAY I’M GETTING THEM” I growl, explaining they’re too bright and trendy. But once in the privacy of my dressing room, I realize that they really do look pretty good, and could be toughened up with a grey sweatshirt and leather jacket. Also in the “yes” pile go a jaunty navy and white polka dot skirt (the very skirt Jen is wearing above), a nautical scarf, a denim button-down (my latest obsession) and geriatric-chic Worishofer slides. I think JSlow is going to gasp when she sees these (pictured at right.) Not in a good way.

Other than the shirt, Jen chose four things I would have never tried on. The media math nerd in me evaluates the situation as follows: 80% of my Madewell purchases are unduplicated with anything I have, thus extending my fashion reach.

I know I’m not alone in gravitating to the same things when I shop. In a way, it’s liberating because I’ve found a look that I love that works for me after years of trial and error. But how will I know if there’s something that might make me look and feel even better unless I push myself to try things completely out of my comfort zone? Finding new ways to look and feel great never gets old.

Thanks, Jen, for teaching this old girl new tricks.

4 Responses


    I went to Madewell for the first time a few months ago to add some color into my wardrobe. WIsh I’d read this first, as I went safe and bought four colored t-shirts (which I love). Thanks for the reminder that it is OK to go outside the confort zone! Love the polka-dotted skirt.

    1. Paula

      That polka-dot skirt is really comfortable and so great with a t-shirt and sneakers to run around in. Color t-shirts are fun too; such an easy and cheap way to switch-things up. And as we all know, certain colors are key to make our face/neck area look fresh and young. Bright pinks and blues are usually great; pale yellow, blue, not so much. Who needs to walk around with self-inflicted bad lighting. xoxoxo


    What a great look into your Madewell experience with Jen. I wondered how it went. Glad to hear she was able to help you out. She helps me get outside of my box too. She was very excited about this. Thanks again for being a great friend to both of us!

  3. Paula

    Thanks Carrie! It was so much fun, although it was a rare warm day here and I was sweating over everything. She has great taste. And a great mom. xoxoxo

Leave a Reply