Like many men, I found myself divorced, 50 and uncertain as to where my life was heading. It is such a growing trend that there is now a specific term for middle aged divorce, Grey Divorce.
Again, like so many others, I was blind sighted and ill prepared for divorce. I was left struggling on so many levels and felt very little hope for a future of happiness and contentment.
Yet as I sit here a few years on from my divorce, I could not be happier with my post divorce life. In fact, I have had several people comment on how they have never seen me happier.
My point, is not to brag, but to reassure that regardless of how bleak things may seem, digging yourself out of the hole you are in, is actually easier to do than one would think.
Truth is that there are many places online and off set up specifically to help you through and after divorce. These experts will offer you a step by step guide to surviving divorce.
What I hope to offer is some advise based on my own experience. Not so much a one step at a time approach, but actions that can result in massive positive steps towards the next phase of your life.
Whilst everyone is different, the following actions will help you to push the reset button on life and have you looking forward with a smile.
If you are like most men of our generation, then it is likely you rarely see a doctor. Well unless that is, you are dying of man flu. Whilst it is better to get a yearly checkup, yearly and not once a decade, doing so during or right after your divorce has a number of benefits.
First of all, a health checkup whilst your are going through the added stress of a divorce should make sense to all, especially if your checkups are only once a decade.
Secondly, aside from all the blood tests and the poking and prodding, your GP is also the ideal person to gauge your mental health. Divorce and Post Divorce is stressful and can have a serious effect on your mental health.
Depression is all too common and whilst it is usually temporary, it is also very treatable. Just remember that Depression is no sign of weakness but a sign you have been strong for so long.
The chances are that your GP will not feel there is any issue with either your mental or physical health. However, it pays to be careful.
Men's mental health is a serious issue and one of the highest causes of death, especially post divorce and yet there is so much you can do to prevent it. For further information take a look at my post on Mental Health and Divorce, both part 1 and part 2.
Some men will think this a waste of time and money, but I can assure you that is a very effective way to move on from divorce. Whilst I discovered an interest in fashion after my divorce. This step has nothing to do with developing a new found interest in men's style and everything to do with leaving the past behind and moving forward.
There are a few reasons why this is such a great post divorce move. Firstly, it is inevitable that your wardrobe could do with an update. When I was going through my divorce, my clothes were all about 10 years old as I would rarely spend any money on myself.
Secondly, by going through your wardrobe and updating, it gives you the chance to get rid of items that may bring back memories of your marriage. I would suggest not doing this in one fell swoop, but in stages or else it can be a very costly exercise.
Start with your everyday attire and work from there. Remember, this is your chance to build a wardrobe you like and not one influenced by what your ex wanted you to wear.
Thirdly, the effect that new attire will have on your self esteem can not be underestimated. Be it a new shirt, a new pair of boots or some new jeans, you will feel like a new man. This will see you feeling happier as well as looking better and perhaps more importantly, your ability to deal with the stresses of divorce will be much improved.
If you haven't done so already, I would strongly advise that you start a bucket list. This is your chance to add things to your list that your ex thought were silly, as well as doing or experiencing things you have always wanted to.
It does not matter if it is big or small, this is your list. Always wanted to skydive or go to a Formula One or Moto GP event? Put it on your list. Always wanted to drive a convertible or maybe learn to fly fish? Put it on your list.
The point is to get you thinking about the future and how good it can be and not leave you dwelling in the past.
Find the you that you are now
Whilst this may seem a stupid statement, to suggest that you do not know who you are. The reality is that having just come out of a marriage, you have for many years been part of a couple and now find yourself as a single.
A relationship helps define who we are as individuals and this is usually a healthy part of a relationship. You have for many years been compromising, yet now all decisions are yours to make.
Another factor is that it is normal for many of us to freeze time whilst married. If you were married at say 30, much of who you are will still be stuck in your 30's, think of your clothes or your entertainment choices.
So you need to discover what the 50 year old you is into. The aforementioned bucket list can help with this.
My own journey has seen me discover things about myself that were never on my radar whilst married. Things like the way I dress, the foods I eat and how I socialize are very different to my married days.
This process will take some time, but learning who you are will fast track your happiness. In a previous blog post of mine, I discuss this concept with greater detail.
You may find that the 50 year old single you, is not much different to the married you. However, you do need to work out who you are now.
Reconnect with old friends.
Over the course of our lives we tend to lose touch with friends along the way. Life just seems to get in the way and the next thing you know is that you haven't spoken to someone for 15 years or more.
Couple this with divorce and our friend circle is almost non existent. One of the unspoken tragedies of divorce is that not only are our assets split up, but so to our friends.
Most men over 30 have few close friends and those we have are mostly the husbands of our wife's friends she made through your child's school etc. So after divorce she keeps the friends.
We all need mates yet find it difficult making new ones. So go and reconnect with old ones. Look through your phone numbers and give old mates a call.
Facebook and social media is an amazing way of reconnecting, even if you are not a fan of social media. Through Facebook, I myself have reconnected with many people from my past that I had lost touch with.
I have got back in touch with old workmates and even people I went to school with and have made a number of new friends this way.
Seek out life and adventure
Whilst much of this will be included on your bucket list, I feel it is worth mentioning on it's own. Don't wallow in self pity, instead, go out and face life full on.
I know it can be easier to say that than to do it, however it really is a great way to move on faster. Forcing yourself to have fun, may be hard, but the end result is still fun.
Start small by catching up with friends, going to see a movie or go and see some live music. The goal is for you to feel happy and alive again.
Ultimately you will be wanting to lead up to bigger and better things, things that make you feel alive. Go bungy jumping, swim with sharks or hire some hot laps at a track day. Getting your adrenaline pumping, is a sure fire way of getting your smile back.
Naturally, what I have suggested here is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to moving forward. I know myself that once I started actively doing these things that my outlook became far brighter.
Divorce sucks! I know that as well as anybody. The trick is to not allow the divorce to swallow you up. What is done is done, move forward and reinvent yourself ready for the next journey in life.
Things may be hard, but forcing yourself to move on and enjoy life will shorten the duration of the tough times. Being in your 50's is not a sign that it's too late, rather it is the ideal time to live the life you always wanted.
With the possible exception of today's 20 somethings, most of us would like to be in a loving relationship. Certainly those of us in our 50's, desire the emotional intimacy and the simple joy of sharing life's journey with someone special.
After my marriage breakdown and subsequent divorce, whilst I certainly did not rush in to anything, I was well aware that eventually, that was what I was ultimately after. So, after a period of time, I felt myself ready to date again and delved into the scary world of online and speed dating.
But was I really ready for a relationship? The answer in hindsight was, No! This as it turns out, is quite the norm. Based on my own experiences and observations from the dating scene, I believe that there are in fact 4 distinct stages we go through on our road to a new relationship.
The first step, especially after a long term relationship is to rediscover just who you are and to lose the baggage left behind from your previous relationship. In a previous post, I discuss this further. However it is important that you accept that this is indeed a part of the process.
The second stage is to actually get out into the world and begin meeting new people.This can be very daunting and whilst it takes a conscious decision on your part, it is usually sparked by some prodding from friends, your feeling of loneliness or a mixture of both.
I tried several ways of meeting new people including bars, blind dates, online dating and speed dating. All of which for me took courage and a conscious decision to get out and about. From my experience, by far the most effective and fun way, was speed dating. I found speed dating a lot of fun, once I got my head around the concept. My post on speed dating contains a number of tips and hints based on my own experiences.
Unfortunately, simply getting out and meeting people does not necessarily mean you are actually ready to date and the same applies to those you meet. Being ready to meet people is different to being ready to date.
During my time at speed dating events, I met a number of wonderful people, who unbeknown to themselves, were not emotionally ready to actually date. So being ready to date is the third stage.
As a result of speed dating, I went on a number of actual dates with wonderful people that never eventuated into a second date. The reason was not always incompatibility, much of the time it was because one or both of us were not really ready to date and so without knowing it, we built emotional walls around ourselves. Again this is normal and something that will change when you are indeed ready to seriously date again.
The fourth stage is being genuinely ready and open to a relationship. This means that you brush aside commitment issues, the fear of getting hurt and the pain of previous relationships.
There is no shortcut to get here, nor is there a light bulb going off informing you when you arrive. What I found, was that dating was becoming more relaxed and comfortable, and that I was going on more second and third dates.
For me the end result has been, I am now 6 months into a relationship that sees me very happy and thinking, if only the two of us had met earlier. The reality is that had we met earlier, unless both of us were ready for a relationship it is highly unlikely that we would have progressed beyond a second or third date.
This is not because of a lack of compatibility, but because one or both of us were unconsciously not ready to risk the commitment a relationship entails. Time, as well as meeting and dating people is really the only way for your subconscious to break down the walls holding you back.
So, if like me you find yourself going on a few dates but not going any further. Don't beat yourself up, get despondent, depressed or give up. Simply accept that you or your dates are not quite ready, the timing is wrong and keep looking.
Regardless of the pain and hurt from your previous relationships, I for one believe that a relationship is well worth the struggle, the anguish, the self doubt and most of all, the risk. Just ask those around me who are saying that they have never seen me so happy.
Just before turning 50, I met and began dating a wonderful lady and now, upon looking back over the past months of our burgeoning relationship, I can clearly see a change in my activities and interests.
Well, kind of. The past few months have seen me partake and experience things that I have always found interest in but never really been willing to fully indulge.
I have always been of the opinion that a healthy relationship be it old or new, is a partnership that takes the both of you in a new direction. Each of you have been traveling your own unique pathway, however as you enter into a relationship a new path with influences from the both of you emerges.
To continue down your own path would require your new partner to relinquish all of what makes them an individual and in doing so would result in an unhealthy, dangerous and ultimately doomed relationship and of course vice versa.
My new shared path has been one which, alone I may have caught glimpses of from my own trail, but certainly not one in which I would have wandered down alone. Naturally I am finding this new shared path a beautiful place to be and as I stroll down it hand in hand, I yet again find I am learning more about myself.
New experiences are part of your journey of self discovery and even at 50 there are things to learn. Part of what I am learning is a new found interest in things that I never really allowed myself to indulge in, as well as interests that I had long forgotten.
I am of course the very same person, with the same likes and dislikes I have always had. However, what has changed has been the order of preference.
Rarely would I indulge in the luxury of going out for breakfast, however my new path has me working through a list of local places that are known for their breakfast menus. As someone who enjoys quality food, I have always liked the idea of going out for breakfast more often, however previous circumstances in my life did not lend itself to doing so, now however I do so regularly.
So what changed? Well the answer to that is that I am now very happily seeing someone. Someone for whom going out for breakfast is not unusual. So now the question is, Am I blindly being led along, joining her as she continues to walk down her path or have we forged a new road of our own, one which has formed through compromise and mutual likes?
The truth is that I am now able to indulge my wanting to eat breakfast out more often due in part because it is a mutual interest. I should add that my new found interest in eating out for breakfast has seen my lovely lady breaking her routine and eating breakfast out more frequently and at differing places, so it is safe to say we are walking down a path of our own making.
My new relationship has not been all about stuffing our faces with breakfast goodies. Whilst I have always had an untrained interest in the Arts, going to small gallery exhibitions was something I would very rarely do.
Not so much through a lack of interest on my behalf but rather a lack of an interested second party. As a result, such cultural exploits were generally further down my list of things to do. Now however, I have a partner with very similar interests we have been to several exhibitions both large and small.
I must say it has been a great joy to see and discuss varying works of art together, regardless of whether we like it or not or even fully understand and appreciate it.
I was lucky enough to recently see an exhibition that I rate as one of the best art exhibitions both large and small I have ever seen. (For those of you in Perth W.A. I highly recommend going to "Revealed Exhibition:New and Emerging WA Aboriginal Artists" at the Fremantle Arts centre, whilst it is on)
This was an exhibit that I would not have seen before, aside from the fact I rarely went to exhibitions, we were unaware it was on and simply decided to go and see if there was anything on we would like to see. Again, something that alone we may not have done but together we did.
The point of today's blog is not to brag about my new relationship or how cultural I am, but to emphasis the point that with any new and healthy relationship it is normal for you to seem to change a little. A new relationship will bring aspects of yourself to the surface that may have been forgotten, whilst other things, once a big part of your life may be pushed to the background.
It is all part of the ride and learning process. Not only will it strengthen your relationship but it will allow you to experience life by walking down a different and more interesting path than you were before.
Now is the time
What better time to kick start the new you than the new year. Like most people, I am several (well more like 30) years behind on achieving any New Years Resolutions. I still carry too much weight, I could eat healthier and be fitter, these are after all, the standard and cliched resolutions for the new year and ones that for most of us rarely get achieved.
So perhaps we need to rethink our strategy for resolution making. First of all, in order for us to achieve any resolution we have to genuinely want to, as opposed to feeling the weight of societal expectation on us to do so. Secondly, we need to feel it is obtainable and thirdly, we need to stop rehashing the very same resolutions year after year.
Regardless of how long you have been single or divorced, the New Year is an ideal time to begin the evolution of the new you. Sure, the process can easily begin at any time, but the new year can act as a starting point, new calendar year, Christmas Season has been and gone ( Plus in my case so has my post Christmas, Birthday.) and for many it can signal a return to work after annual leave or time off. The "New You" is however not an instant thing, but part of a process of evolution, something that you may have already began without actually knowing. However, lets make an effort to make the new year, the time in which you make the conscious decision to begin your journey to make the changes in yourself you wish to make.
In other words, it is not so much about making a a New Years resolution, but rather a conscious decision to work towards making changes. Start with little things, perhaps you may decide to wear less short sleeved shirts and instead roll up your long sleeves in hotter weather ( a far more stylish and mature look), you may decide that you wish to begin delving into the scary world of online or speed dating. The bottom line is, it is simply a great time to signal your intent to yourself.
Beginning the process.
Well you have decided that the New Year is a great time to kick start the new you. So what now?, Where to from here? Well the first step is to figure out just who the new you really is. This is not necessarily a quick and easy step, it is however one that on a sub-conscious level you have probably been formulating a concept of. I have written an earlier post titled; Who am I? Rediscovering your single self dealing with that very issue. This will enable you to work out for yourself what things about you, you would like to make changes to. Bear in mind that this is not a quick fix, but the start of an ongoing process of evolution.
So what then are some areas that you may want to address? To answer this I must look to my own journey of reinvention and mention some of the areas that I myself felt I had to begin to change, some of which I have and some are still ongoing. The obvious one for me was my dress sense, I felt that my attire was no longer reflecting who I was as a person, I can say now that even though I do make my own fashion mistakes at times, my clothes better reflect the new me. I also wanted to make changes that would see me improve myself socially and as a person. To that end, I began speed dating and dating in general as well as making a conscious effort to get out in the world and not to hide away in my own little shy world, something that I was all too prone to doing. The result has been going to more social events, comedy shows, gigs and seeing someone beyond a first or second date for the first time in years.
So call it what you will, A New Years Resolution, a Promise of Intent to Yourself or whatever. But the start of a new year really is the best time to push that reset button and start the process of change. By having a date of commencement, it makes it easier and more real in your own mind. Without my making a very conscious decision I certainly would not be in the early stages of what could be my first relationship after my divorce. We all know just how hard it is to initiate change, we as men have a tendency to resist change at all costs, often to our own detriment. So use the new year as impetus to make change, use it as the beginning of your journey. Yes, we all want to lose weight and get fit, but surely beginning a process that will see you become happier about both life and yourself is a priceless step to make.
Using accessories to add pop to your outfit is a great way to personalise your attire. But knowing what accessories to wear, without going over the top can be tricky for a beginner. So what do I count as accessories? Well a good basic description would be your accent pieces. Think along the lines of the brightwork on a car, the chrome pieces certainly add to the look of the car without necessarily any other function, the same can be said for style accessories. Some are functional, whilst some are simply there to add subtle detail.
For many, the idea of adding accessories to your outfit may seem confronting, confusing or leave you feeling like a Christmas tree. But what if I was to tell you that in all likelihood, you have already worn accessories and that there is a good chance you are doing so now? A watch, a belt or a tie are among the most common of fashion accessories for men and I count them as the Basic Accessories. The ones that are a good starting point and are familiar and easy to use. A second group is the non wearables, which includes items like your wallet and phone. Items that a smart dresser never overlooks. So what then of the others, the more Advanced Accessories? These are the types of accessories that can make a huge difference to your style but must be worn with a less is more approach. These include, tie bars, cufflinks and pocket squares, items that used with restraint can turn a nicely dressed man into a Stylish and Sharp Dressed Man, (Cue the ZZ Top song. ) and will be discussed in Part 2 of this blog.
These are the accessories that you will already be familiar with and no doubt wear already. That doesn't mean that you can't step your game up a bit. Unlike the more advanced accessories, these basics can be worn at the same time. As a general rule these are everyday accessories, which means that you should have multiple options for each, at the very least, a casual and dressier option.
Watches. Watches are no longer the necessary timepiece they once were, our use of the smartphone has seen us use them as the most common way to know the time. Watches, whilst still a wonderfully usefully timepiece are often more of a style item now. (Although I do hesitate to include the ubiquitous fitness tracker as an item of style.) Watches of course come in a variety of styles and the prices can be the same as that of a family house. The world of watches is a complex one and best left for a latter blog. The rudimentary thing to remember with watches as style accessories is that they match your outfit. An informal fabric banded watch will not work with a suit just as a formal watch will look silly when worn with shorts and t-shirt at the beach. For this reason it is best to have at the very least, a formal and informal watch option. As you evolve your accessory and watch collection you will develop a feel for specific watches for specific situations.
Belts. Every man should have a variety of belts in their wardrobe. Much like watches their are formal and informal styles. A general rule of thumb is that formal belts have smaller buckles and tend to be narrower than casual belts. The finish on formal belts will be better too with the edges often stitched. There are other rules for wearing belts, match your belt to your shoes, this applies mostly to leather belts and shoes. A black belt with Brown shoes and vice versa is a definite style No-No and doing so will mark you out as someone with no dress sense whatsoever. Have a look at your pants, if there are belt loops, you must wear a belt to do otherwise will make any outfit look scruffy.
Belts come in a wide array of styles and materials, for the most part however there are 5 styles that should comprise your minimum collection of belts. Leather belts in both formal and casual styles in both Black and Brown and a casual canvas or woven belt. If however your need for formal belts is occasional at best, a good quality leather reversible belt can cover both black and brown. My advice is to buy quality leather belts, never skimp and be tempted to buy cheap vinyl or bonded leather belts, not only do they look cheap but will appear tatty and frayed after one or two wears. Look to spend between 50-80% of the price of a good pair of jeans and your belt will outlive all the pants in your wardrobe. The other thing to remember about leather belts, is to maintain them. A good quality leather treatment or polish regularly will keep them smart and fresh.
Socks. At the moment, socks ( or lack there of) are very much an on trend item. Socks are an interesting item to put in the Basics category. Loud socks with very bright colours can make a huge difference to your outfit, but are perhaps not for someone beginning to experiment with colours and style. My advice is to start with a more classic approach. The rule of thumb is to match your socks to your pants.This allows the lines of your footwear to not look deformed and the lines of your pants to flow. So this should be your default if you are unsure.
The current trend however is for more vibrant colours to act as a contrast between your shoes and pants. I would avoid novelty socks and stick with striped, argyle patterns or block colours. Novelty socks tend to look more juvenile and so not very becoming of someone in their fifties. Feel free to experiment but remember you are trying to look stylish and not look like Crusty the Clown.
Another trend at this point in time is the sockless look. A couple of points to keep in mind if you wish to try to pull this look off. Firstly, have a look at the cut of the pants you intend to be wearing, to achieve this look without looking ridiculous you need to have either skinny or slim cut pants. ( Personally, I think skinny cut looks ridiculous on most people anyway). If the diameter of your cuffs are too large then the sockless approach just looks sloppy. Secondly, keep hygiene matters in your mind, your feet will sweat and without your socks to absorb it, your shoes and feet will smell. There are a few ways to combat this. The best way in my opinion is to find invisible socks, socks that are so low cut that they cannot be seen when wearing shoes. Invisible socks come in a range of cuts and are not suitable for every shoe type. Another option is to rotate your shoes, if you have enough pairs of shoes to do so. For every day you wear a pair of shoes sockless, don't wear them for 2 or 3 days. The third option is to use foot powders or sprays to keep your shoes and feet smelling fresh.
Ties I myself rarely wear ties, I feel my lifestyle is more casual than the look that is reflected by wearing a tie. Having said as such, I do have some ties and wear them on occasions. So not being a tie expert, I will only briefly mention a few pieces of advice. The first thing is that ties go out of fashion, that tie you wore to a wedding 10 years ago will not do you any favours wearing it now. Stay away from those hideous novelty ties, as, much like socks, just make you seem immature. The last thing I will say is about quality, to the uninitiated a cheap tie looks OK, but to those in the know, they look cheap and nasty especially when paired with an expensive suit. A moderately priced off the rack suit or jacket can work with a moderately priced tie, but if you have invested in a quality suit or jacket its best to buy a similar quality tie.
I should also mention the bow tie. Yes a bow tie can be seen as a bold piece of attire. But, as an accent piece they can work very well. I have on a number of occasions worn a bow tie, but be mindful not to wear too many statement pieces at once, as it will come across as trying to hard and look rather silly. I will mention more about statement pieces in part 2 of the blog.
Sunglasses. Nothing says I don't really care about my appearance more than generic sunglasses bought when refueling your car. Look after a quality pair of sunnies and they will last a lifetime. Some Style bloggers will suggest that you have multiple pairs for different occasions, but as I wear prescription glasses, my sunglasses are a prescription pair and therefore a bit pricier it is not a school of thought I subscribe too. A quality pair of sunnies will certainly compliment your look.
The Non Wearables
For many, when talking about style accessories, the mind only thinks of items that are worn. However, ensuring that your non wearable accessories are up to scratch can make a big difference in your appearance. Remember, accessories are about the finer details and so if something seemingly minor is tatty, all the effort made becomes irrelevant.
Wallet. Your wallet is something that you will carry with you at all times and as such usually cops quite a beating. I myself, prefer the use of a micro wallet, in my case a small credit card sized aluminium wallet with an inbuilt money clip, called The Ridge Wallet. However, before I started to use a micro wallet I had two wallets. The idea being I had an everyday wallet which contained all my cards and money and was usually found bulging and misshapen( with loyalty cards not money) and a quality leather wallet that I used when going out. When heading out I would transfer my drivers license, credit card and cash to my "good" wallet, so as to keep a slim line appearance.
Mobile/Cell Phone. Another forgotten item that is usually in full view by all and sundry is your mobile phone. Again, I find the best approach is to have at least two cases for your phone. An everyday one and one that is used for better occasions. In fact I would recommend having a few options on hand dependent upon the occasion and what you are wearing. i.e. having a case that has a more formal appearance reserved for more formal occasions.
Another thing to add when it comes to your phone case is that many phone case incorporate slots to hold cards. So take your credit card and license out of your daily wallet , put them in your phone cover and use a money clip for your cash.
Keys. We all carry keys, be they car keys, house keys or both. Keys can be a really bulky item and keeping them in your pants pocket can result in an unattractive bulge. I myself use a metal key holder that has a much simpler and more stylish appearance. The thing to remember is that you are after a stylish and streamlined appearance, something that a loose set of keys will never be.
A long term relationship, whether married or not, should see a healthy compromise between the two people concerned. Whilst this should never mean a complete change in you character, it usually means a subtle change in priorities. After all, you intended on spending the rest of your life with your partner. However, combined with the passing of years and your advancing age, when a separation occurs, most men are left either reverting back to who they were before the relationship began, or wondering "Who am I now?".
To answer this, we need to look at a number of factors and ask ourselves a few more questions. First of which is "Am I Happy?", which for most of us post divorce the answer would most likely be no. Next is "Am I acting my Age?",it is all too easy to revert back to the person you once were, which whilst that sounds like a good idea, a 50 year old acting like a 30 year old is simply not right. Other questions to ask include, "What do I want from my future?, Do I care how others see me?, What defines me as a person? and What about me would I like to see changed?"
Am I Happy?
After my own separation and subsequent divorce, I will admit to being in quite a "funk", I certainly was not in a happy place. However, it was not until I asked this of myself that I realized that things could be different. I knew that my life was never going to be the same as it once was, but that did not mean that I couldn't be happy again. It dawned on me that now I was single, the onus was on me and me alone to decide what I wanted to do. No longer was I required to consult anyone before making decisions. In other words, no more did I have a ready made excuse to talk myself out of doing things I actually wanted to do. I started going out and seeing live music and comedy shows again and whilst I was still having some down days, being myself was certainly having a positive affect on my state of mind. This led to the realization that not only could I be happy again, but that I had the opportunity to rewrite who I was and do some fine tuning,
So I made a decision then to be who I wanted to be, not who I was becoming due to the expectations of others. Did I know who it was or what it was I wanted to become? Nope! I had no idea at all and that is part of the journey. As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, my infamous red suede shoes became something of a catalyst of change. I saw them in an outlet store and was immediately drawn to them, although it was about 2 weeks before I finally succumbed to purchasing them. The knock on effect however, was that I felt the need to dress myself in a way that befitted these new shoes and so began my interest in dressing well and fashion as it relates to a (soon to be) 50 year old man.
Did I know or expect the knock on effects?Not at all. I started researching online and on social media to gain an insight into both what I liked and what was considered to be a "good" look for someone approaching his 50th birthday. This in turn lead me to an understanding of how I wanted to dress, what felt right for me. Soon I was purchasing sports coats, long sleeve button down shirts, an ever expanding collection of shoes and accessories. Dress well and you feel good, so my darkness was subsiding and people began to notice that I was more relaxed and comfortable in myself. I was beginning to get an idea of who I was.
What Defines You As A Person?
The answer to this is of course complex in its nature and much of it relates to the way others see you. Ask yourself this. You are talking with a friend and she mentions that she has began dating someone. What is it that you now want to ask/know about them? For many, the first thing is often , " What do they do?". Certainly a persons occupation can often give an insight into who they are, but we also possess a mindset of stereotypes that can all too often, result in an incorrect and often negative biased assumption. For instance I will quickly list a few occupations and I feel certain that everyone of us will in their minds will picture the very same stereotypes. Lawyer, driven by success, very materialistic and with a tendency to be morally flexible, Teacher, frumpy but caring with a heart of gold, Architect, drives a Saab and wears Turtlenecks, Bricklayer, drinks an excessive amount of beer, swears too much and smokes at least a packet of cigarettes a day. Now I'm sure that these stereotypes hold true for the odd individual, but to define someone based on a stereotype is just wrong.
For many of us, we are working in jobs that we "fell" into after deciding on a career change earlier in life. I for one am working in an occupation that is far removed for where my working life began. Whilst in school I realized I wanted to be a chef and did so for about 10 years before having had enough of a very dog eat dog industry and left. With no job/income, I began casual labouring as a way to pay my bills, this led to my getting full time employment in the mining/refinery industry. So did the essence of who I was as a person change radically with change in my employment history? Was the Chef me, a different person to the one who worked in a soft drink factory or the one who spent his working hours pouring gold bars, of course not. So what then defines us?
Who Do You Want To Be?
So if we shouldn't be defined by our choice of occupation, what then does define who we are and how does that play into knowing who we want to be? I know it is a cliche but who we are is more about our interactions with others and our choices in our own free time. When talking about rediscovering/reinventing yourself post divorce, I am not talking about making radical changes to your core personality traits (Unless you have negative traits that do then require changing). In this instance I am referring to changes that will make you happy, happy in disposition, happy with who you are and happy with your life in general.
This means identifying, who/what you wish to be and what sort of life you want to lead. Be aware that this may well be a process of evolution and that one change may lead to another until you arrive at the destination you didn't realize was there. I discovered early on, thanks in part to those redshoes, that I wanted to dress better and take better pride in my appearance. I also was aware that as a person , I liked who I was, so my core character traits I was happy with. Whilst I knew I enjoyed my own time alone, I was also aware that finding love again was something I wanted, to achieve this, I knew I had to get out of my comfort zone and actually meet people. So began my experiences with speed and online dating.
After divorce or the loss of a long term relationship, we should all take stock of our lives, learn what our priorities are and rediscover who we are as individuals. I guess it really comes down to identifying those elements that you would wish to change, those that will make you happy and allow you to move forward with your life and then working towards making those changes happen.
Since my 20's, I would rarely spend money on clothes, for the most part, I simply did not have the money, then when I did, I had a mortgage and a family of 3 to support. However, now single, I am certainly not rolling in the money, but my priorities have altered. I now have a desire to dress well, believing in the adage that "It is better to dress up than down".
Of course the blogosphere is full of male bloggers saying that all men should own at the very least a well tailored navy blue suit and then they continue to talk about work wear in the form of business attire. I do NOT wear a suit at work, my work wear is blue overalls, work boots and a hard hart. So I cannot really relate to those demanding I purchase a Navy suit.
So how did my journey into an interest in style begin? Well, with my red suede shoes. Now bright red shoes are not the usual choice of most middle aged men and they certainly draw a lot of comments.
Truth be told it took be 3 weeks of not being able to forget them, before I relented and purchased, what was then the most expensive pair of shoes I had ever bought. Every time I wear them, I feel a smile form on my face and I feel good about myself, so I guess you could say that they were indeed a fantastic investment.
To begin with I had figured that this was where my spending on clothes was to end. After all, my new shoes could be worn equally well in a casual or semi formal setting. What more could a guy need? It soon became apparent to me that my usual attire of blue denim jeans ,t-shirt and hoodie, not only looked tired and lazy but were not really all that age appropriate for someone closing in on 50.
So after time spent looking online at blogs and social media and I soon realized that I wanted a Sports Coat/Blazer that could also work in a variety of settings, something that paired well with dark denim jeans and smart dress pants.
After much research online, I headed off to the city totally confused about what I wanted to buy with my limited budget. I certainly found and tried on, a large number of fantastic jackets but the numbers on the price tags were causing heart palpitations.
Then, on walking past the Hugo Boss, Ted Baker and Country Road attire, I spied a rack of heavily discounted menswear. Of course, I am not a man of slender proportions, I have broad shoulders and midriff which is disproportionately large for my height, this in turn meant that much of the discounted jackets wouldn't fit.
There was however one that did, Navy blue in colour and made from velvet, not something that I was looking for. I let that jacket stay on that rack on and off all day, before eventually returning and laying claim to the 70% discount. I will admit that as I rode home on the train, I was experiencing some buyers remorse and doubted my choice of material. I mean its VELVET, what was I thinking?
Of course, like my beloved red suede shoes, I now love my jacket. I don't wear it that often now as my wardrobe options have expanded somewhat, but it stills does pair well with jeans and my red shoes or with dress pants and polished brogues.
These two items of clothing, altered the way I saw myself. Not only did I feel better, but I felt the desire to dress better on a daily basis. With the obvious exception of my overalls and work boots at work. I began to do more research and get a feel of what I liked, what I felt I needed to replace and most importantly for me, how I could do so without breaking the bank.
Sure, I've made some less than ideal purchases and am much wiser for it, the end result however is I now possess a great wardrobe of clothing, suited for all occasions and have an understanding of my own personal style and taste in accessories. By the way, I still haven't bought a Navy Suit. I also have an abundance of advice gleaned from my own experience on do and don'ts and ways to save money on purchases.
Divorced and nearly 50 I rediscovered who I was.