Silver Sisterhood

As Time Marches On, These Ladies Let Their Style Shine

Silver Sisterhood

Shannon Griffin

Getting a bird’s-eye view of Tallahassee from the top floor of the Sheraton Four Points are (front row) Susan Stratton, Pam Spivey, Beverly Frick and Portia Thomas, and (back row) Janet Ferris and Pat Stephens.

Look at the calendar, and you might be tempted to say the women in this story are growing old. But take a peek into their souls, and you’ll find this crew isn’t fading into obsolescence. On the contrary, they’re coming into their own, with the wisdom, experience and attitude that only comes when you’ve walked this Earth for a respectable number of years.

Many, born during the first flush of the Baby Boom, came of age during the 1960s. It was a time of tumult, when old mores were upended. Wife, mother — and perhaps nurse, secretary or teacher — were no longer the only vocations for a young woman on the cusp of adulthood. Teased hair and pancake makeup made way for a more natural look, and bras … well, they might not have been burned, but they weren’t necessarily worn either.

Now, these women are in life’s “senior class.” And enjoying the heck out of it.

Not to say it was always smooth sailing. They’ve lived through wars — most notably the nation-rending one in Vietnam — assassinations, recessions and disasters, both natural and manmade. And you don’t get to your sixth decade and beyond without plenty of personal trials — death, loss, mistakes, illness and disappointment, to name just a few. But challenge is often the foundry that forges the stronger, more interesting person we become later in life.

Consider this group of six as “representing” for their generation. They are lively, accomplished and very comfortable in their own skin. Some knew each other (this is, after all, Tallahassee), but all became supportive friends throughout the photo shoot. All are wearing clothes from their closets and their usual hair and makeup. (OK, there was a bit of puffing and polishing courtesy of Fuel Salon. After all, it was a cover shoot!) We sent them all a questionnaire about their philosophies and style to fill out with prompts like, “What advice would you give your 25-year-old self?” and “If I had it to do all over again, I would … .”

They are by no means the only women of their ilk in this town. I venture to guess there are thousands of Tallahassee women who could have gathered around the pool at the Sheraton Four Points on a sunny morning for a photo shoot, each with an interesting story and a panache all her own. 

http://www.tallahasseemagazine.com/May-June-2014/Silver-Sisterhood/

 

Retired Circuit Judge, Second Judicial Circuit

What do you know now about style that you didn’t know when you were younger?

Actually, when I was younger, we all had a lot less stuff so we were a lot more selective. Things change so quickly now that to stay current (even a little!), our closets are jammed.  I’ve thought about how nice it would be to return to the “three nice suits” days — not as interesting, but a lot easier.

What about you has changed the most over the years?

As my husband would confirm, I’m a lot calmer. Although I feel very strongly about a lot of things, my rants are confined to a few minutes rather than a few days. I try to determine what I can do and do it, rather than being upset and cranky and difficult to be around. Life is complicated and tough, but we can control how we react to things.

What has changed the least — or not at all?

I still want to save the world.

What do you think about plastic surgery?

Every year, I’m becoming more of a fan! I wouldn’t want to look radically different, but who wouldn’t want to erase a few lines? I’m just not sure I’ll ever actually do it.

To dye your hair, or not to dye your hair?

Well, as someone who has never dyed her hair (due largely to laziness), the color is authentic. Recently, I had a young salesperson study my hair intently, and then ask how my stylist did the “highlights”— i.e., the grey parts!  That got a good laugh at my salon (Wavelengths).  When it starts looking dull, I’ll probably reconsider.

What have you had to give up as you were getting older?

A little mobility, due to a bad knee — frustrating, but not too limiting.

Do you have a go-to look? Hairstyle? Piece of jewelry? Accessory?

Simple, comfortable clothes (e.g., Eileen Fisher) with beautiful handmade jewelry (Quincie Hamby is a favorite).

What advice would you give your 25-year-old self?

Be a little braver, challenge yourself more, and figure out how to live in Italy for a year!

Any regrets?

With such a wonderful husband, a loving and supportive family, fantastic friends, good health and a very rewarding career, I can honestly say that I’m one of the most fortunate people on earth.

If I had it to do all over again, I would ….

Worry less, travel more,  play outside whenever possible,  and hug the people I love way more often.

 

Retired, consultant to museum/cultural retail outlets and artists

What do you know now about style that you didn’t know when you were younger?

Styles continue to re-emerge…for example how many times have you seen madras!

What about you has changed the most over the years?

Size.

What has changed the least — or not at all?

My attitude and sassiness.

What do you think about plastic surgery?

Why not? If you feel more comfortable with it, then go for it.

To dye your hair, or not to dye your hair?

Seriously? I’ve been a redhead for most of my life … wait, I mean all of my life, right.

What have you had to give up as you were getting older?

A lot of physical sports activities i.e. racquetball and skiing.

Do you have a go-to look? Hairstyle? Piece of jewelry? Accessory?

If it is black, I’m good. Also jeans and big sweaters/tops. Hairstyle — short. The less I have to fuss, the better. Jewelry — lots. Accessories — lots again.

What advice would you give your 25-year-old self?

Probably more play and definitely wear sun block every day! Learn how to invest (not stressed when I was a kid and it really is important)

Any regrets? Maybe take bigger risks. Maybe. Live in Europe for at least one year.

My mom is 97. I wish she was 47 so I’d know we would have more time to play. She’s quite a person. Oh yeah, time management continues to be a perplexing entity.

If I had it to do all over again, I would …

Hang out more with family (sometimes work and commitments got in the way). Go to school forever.

 

Liability Adjuster for the Florida School Boards Insurance Trust

What do you know now about style that you didn’t know when you were younger?

We used to wear what everyone else was wearing.  Everyone looked the same! Now I feel it’s important to have your own personal style that you feel comfortable in.

What about you has changed the most over the years?

I’ve learned not to care so much about what people think of me.  As long as my family and I are happy, that all that matters.

What has changed the least — or not at all?

Nothing really! I’m definitely not as small, but still feel great!

What do you think about plastic surgery?

Be yourself and the way God made you. However, if things need to be done for medical purposes then I support it 100 percent.

To dye your hair, or not to dye your hair?

Sure, if it will work for you. It didn’t work for me … my gray always seemed to shine!

What have you had to give up as you were getting older?

Nothing yet! I still feel 22!

Do you have a go-to look? Hairstyle? Piece of jewelry? Accessory?

Jeans and my pearls or Sorrelli jewelry.

What advice would you give your 25-year-old self?

The same advice I give my 28-year-old daughter.  Be yourself, family and God come first, and always make yourself happy

Any regrets? 

None

If I had it to do all over again, I would….

Have gotten a college degree, and spent more time with my loved ones.

 

Retired after 35 years, Beverly Frick Photographs

What do you know now about style that you didn’t know when you were younger?

I’m glad I had my “colors done” back in the ’80s, including learning that I should avoid small prints and that I should go for solid colors, simple lines and bold accessories. 

What about you has changed the most over the years?

My hair has gone from nearly black to white. The only thing that actually looks familiar in the mirror is my smile.

What has changed the least — or not at all?

My default mood is basically pretty happy, and I’ve always been like that.  I know it can get on people’s nerves.

What do you think about plastic surgery?

I don’t think about plastic surgery.

To dye your hair, or not to dye your hair?

Gave up on that when I quit being Bible Belt Black in the mid ’80s. My mother was prematurely gray and so was I.  It’s not “premature” any more.

What have you had to give up as you were getting older?

I feel I’ve gained so much that I can’t think of what I’ve given up. Thank goodness I was never a trapeze artist or a skier, so I didn’t have to give that up. And I’ve learned that hiking to me is walking too fast looking at dirt. Though I embrace the idea of a saunter.

Do you have a go-to look? Hairstyle? Piece of jewelry? Accessory?

I’m hard pressed to wear anything but black, though I do try to branch out to bright fuschia or purple or turquoise. I love Quincie Hamby’s necklaces and Mephisto “Helen” sandals. I am thankful every day for Lisa Andrews Stoutamire who has cut  my hair for at least 15 years. And for “LA Looks” hair gel — get it at the grocery store. I’ve been known to wear too-bright lipstick and too much blush. That’s not going to stop.

What advice would you give your 25-year-old self?

Live your life in stages. You might be able to have it all, just not all at the same time.  Embrace each day.  My friend Eleanor Dietrich has a saying, “Show up — be nice.” I love that. Don’t underestimate the value of a smile or a kind word, given or received. Love more, fear less. Perfection is the enemy of good. (I think Eleanor said that, too). Art can’t hurt you. Love a question, fear an easy answer. Keep a running gratitude list. Tell your friends and family you love them. Enjoy being new at things. Listen to NPR. Read poetry and learn new words. Question the value of being “right”.

Any regrets?

Zero.  Well maybe I wish I had taken more dance lessons. Of every kind. 

If I had it to do all over again …

I don’t look back and wish for things I had no power to change. I’ve certainly had some challenges, but I feel burnished by them. And I am so very lucky to have the life I live in Tallahassee. So many wonderful people. So many fun and exciting things to do.  

 

President, NAMI-Tallahassee, local affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness

What do you know now about style that you didn’t know when you were younger?

You don’t have to spend a lot of money, just feel comfortable with your own unique style. My husband’s grandfather was delighted to be a real trendsetter every 20 years. People of his generation were great recyclers. His grandmother could totally remake a dress to update it.

What about you has changed the most over the years?

My physical body.  I like to think of it as “Methods and Concepts” art class assignment series … different shapes, varying canvases, changing mediums and color palettes.

What has changed the least — or not at all?

I’d still consider myself low maintenance — one lipstick, no foundation, short-clipped fingernails.

What do you think about plastic surgery?

Personally, I’d prefer not to and can’t imagine that I will. I’ve always loved those photographs of women with wrinkles and lines in their faces. You envision great stories are connected with their lives.

To dye your hair, or not to dye your hair?

I’m hoping to have fantastic white hair, pulled up. But to pull that off, I think you need a dynamite lipstick, which I haven’t really found yet. I wish they still had those Avon sampler lipsticks you could try out before you bought a tube.

What have you had to give up as you were getting older?

Darts.

Do you have a go-to look? Hairstyle? Piece of jewelry? Accessory?

I like to wear my father’s “Good Conduct” ribbon from the Air Force. It’s a small red and white ribbon bar. He died when I was 7 and I think he’d like that I wear it. For years I didn’t have any idea what it stood for, but a friend recognized it and emailed me a listing of all the different ribbons bars and what they represent.

What advice would you give your 25-year-old self?

Kindness outclasses style every time.

Any regrets?

Probably too much time in the sun.

If I had it to do all over again …

I would have kept my black and white saddle-oxfords.  I loved those shoes. 

 

Training Coordinator, Municipal Code Corporation Currently starting a new intuitive counseling business, Soul2Soul Guidance

What do you know now about style that you didn’t know when you were younger?

That style is not about what everyone is wearing, or what the magazines or designers say it is. Style is about what you wear that says about you what you want it to say about you, and about you feeling good wearing it and making your own statement!

What about you has changed the most over the years?

My levels of caring about what others have to say about me or about what I do! It’s gone from 100 percent to 10 percent, and THANK GOD for that!

What has changed the least — or not at all?

My love, my caring, my compassion for others has not changed at all.

What do you think about plastic surgery?

Plastic surgery is not for me. But, as with anything, plastic surgery is a choice. And if choosing plastic surgery makes you feel good about yourself, then your choice will be a good one. However, what I have observed, is that changing yourself on the outside, does not appear to change the pain of non-acceptance of self on the inside, and that it tends to rear its uncomfortable head in other ways that must be tended to.

To dye your hair, or not to dye your hair?

Again, it is a choice. But I like the idea of and like to see others wearing all gray hair (not so sure about that in-between stage … lol) as a badge of wisdom and honor. I am at this time fortunate enough to have the genes that allow me not to have to make that choice right now!

What have you had to give up as you were getting older?

The only thing that I’ve had to give up is “thinness”!! And I’d gladly give up being thin in order to have and be able to do and see anything that I want to do, see and have!! There are simply tradeoffs and adjustments, and then you keep on flowing!!

Do you have a go-to look? Hairstyle? Piece of jewelry? Accessory?

My only go-to look is to ACCESSORIZE! A single piece of jewelry…no. A brand? Yes…Quincie’s Art Jewelry!! You just cannot go wrong!!

What advice would you give your 25-year-old self?

To learn NOW how to love and accept yourself, and be willing to truly see/face yourself, so that you are not seeing the world through wounded eyes!

Any regrets?

It’s really hard to have regrets about any of your life when you understand that everything that you did or did not do, no matter whether you thought it to be good or bad, was for your learning/shaping/molding to be in this place right now!! So, no regrets!

If I had it to do all over again, I would ….

I would like to learn how to love, accept and forgive myself much earlier! Then I would know the joys of living life fully, for much, much longer!

 

Thank you to those who helped make the photo shoot a success: Saige Roberts:  Location scouter, photo envisioner and layout designer; Marsha Doll: Cheerleader, fashion consulter and modeling coacher; Sherrie Clark and LeAnna Rhody from Fuel Salon: Last-minute hair and makeup toucher-upping; Sheraton Four Points Tallahassee Downtown and General Manager Bo Schmitz: Location and hospitality; Megan Williams: Keeper of the room key and general troubleshooter

Read about how the final magazine was unveiled to the models.

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