Thursday, September 18, 2014

The 50+ job interview: Credibility and chic

C.'s third question about job interviews was most intriguing: How does credible dovetail with chic? 

Chic defined: "a manner of dress which conveys smart elegance and sophistication". An operational definition: Antonio Berardi peplum-flare jacket:
C'est chic, pas typique

The key consideration here is, Is chic relevant in this particular competition? Is it a value or expectation held by the interviewer and his or her organization? As a rule of thumb, if the product or offering of the organization is dependent on design, its employees look commeasurately glossier. 

Some hiring managers value the attractiveness of those in highly visible roles and so, in an interview, will give points for chic (or just good looks) even if the criterion is not openly acknowledged. Others have few requirements other than neat grooming and attire.

If your role requires meeting your prospective company's clients or customers, the interviewer will note whether you would represent the company appropriately. 

Helene, a women executive whose personal style was instinctively glamorous, was being considered by a global mining company for a senior position which required her to visit countries where their associates had only occasionally met women at that level. 

For that reason, the executive recruiter advised her to dress conservatively for her interview with the company's directors. 

She swapped the fitted, sleeveless, above-knee pistachio sheath she planned to wear for a fawn pant suit, appropriate for business travel to the Emirates. (She added her black, yellow and ecru Chanel scarf.) Helene tweaked her hair colour from platinum blonde to a subtler honey, and wore discreet makeup. She was hired; her appearance supported her impressive work history and stellar reputation.

Not feelin' it
Women past fifty will often compete with candidates a decade or more younger, and be interviewed by people the age of their children. So, rather than worrying about chic, focus on current

Rachel, 62, was recently interviewed for a HR job in the healthcare sector by a panel of three persons under thirty. In a rarely-worn gray jacket she'd pulled from the back of her closet, she had a crisis of confidence. "I tried to buy something that would never go out of style, and instead I felt frumpy", she said. 

She did not get that job, but within a month was in the running for a contract with a cultural institution she revered. She decided to do everything in her power image-wise, because this was her dream job.

Rachel's updated pick
Rachel bought a dress like the circle eyelet shown at left. She went to the MAC counter for a free makeup lesson, had her teeth bleached, and chose new glasses frames.

She had been asked to prepare a PowerPoint analysis of an assigned business case for the interview. Along with her resumé, she had the deck professionally styled by a graphic designer because she wanted every visual she put in front of the interviewers to be crisply modern and coherent.

She won the contract. Once on the job, Rachel wore chinos and crisp oxford button-front shirts, but that grey jacket? Fired.

Grace Coddington
Chic is not a requisite for credibility unless you're gunning for certain jobs—for example, Grace Coddington's at Vogue—and by then you will have achieved your own ineffable charisma. But looking at home in your professional skin is.

So relax about chic (for most jobs), but muster, if you can, another quality: The Gleam.

Jean-Claude, a shrewd manager who hired tech professionals, said, "I care somewhat about how they're dressed, because they'll be with our A clients. I care about skills, but the environment changes so quickly, we keep training everyone. What I really look for is what I call "the technological gleam in the eye".

J-C wanted to see a passion for the work, one of the most impressive qualities anyone, regardless of age or occupation, can bring to an interview. 

Real credibility, not the candy wrapper of chic, derives from performance. That's why many interviews include a skill demonstration like Rachel's, and why there is a probationary period.

However, if chic is your standard, an image consultant or skilled personal shopper might help you with your existing or new wardrobe—but C. hired a consultant and was disappointed, saying "...she age-pegged me; the outcomes were a bit dowdy, sort of complicated...and I just don't like the 'political power-dresser' vibe." 

And don't forget your beloved friends. Jennifer loaned two suits, a dress and accessories to Anita, a project manager  who'd spent four years at home in jeans and yoga pants, nursing her ailing mother-in-law.

There is usually a round of interviews, which can tax the returning woman's wardrobe. Anita truly had nothing to wear, and was reluctant to spend on clothes she would not need if she stayed unemployed. 

Of course there's a happy ending: After four interviews, Anita was hired, and Jennifer gave her the "Lucky Red" dress to celebrate! (Similar dress shown: Boden "Paternoster" shift.)


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The 50+ job interview: The importance of appearance

A reader, C., sent an e-mail asking about the importance of appearance for a job interview; she is 50.

Her thoughtful questions were,
1. How concerned do I need to be about looking credible (visually) to those who don't already know my work?
2. If credibility is borne in my appearance, how do I dress to look credible?
3. How does credible dovetail with chic?

In this context, I define "looking credible" as appearing convincing for the particular role.

Her e-mail was headed, "What's More Important, What She Wears or What She Does?" I don't see it as a dichotomy; instead, I'd ask, "When an interviewer meets you, what impression do you intend to make, and what will visually reinforce that?"

After decades spent working with both interviewers and candidates, my answers to the first two questions came readily. I considered C.'s field, qualifications (a recent PhD.) and location, which suggest a business or polished business-casual environment.

My answers are:
1. Be concerned about—and therefore attend to—your appearance unless they know and love you to bits and the interview is just a formality.
2. Appearance especially contributes to the impression of credibility in the initial meeting. Dress in a manner that reflects the norms of your profession and the organization who may hire you. If in doubt, follow the cues of the latter.
C. wondered if she could "get away" with no stockings; I replied, be careful about cutting a corner for one of the most important meetings of your career. Being more 'dressed up' than your interviewer is no error; after all, it's a job interview, where everyone knows you will be better-dressed and more nervous than on any other day except maybe your wedding, if you had one.

As I often advised candidates, "The first day at work is the interview."   

A few more points from my reply:  

1. Project vitality foremost

Employers don't want to hire anyone who looks tired, so a woman (or man) over 50 should project cues of vitality. If you peel back age discrimination—which is rampant—the fear employers have is not solely that older workers are obsolete, it's that we have less stamina.

To transmit vitality, the visual and movement cues include relatively average weight; overweight is OK but severe obesity telegraphs "here come the sick days" even if that's an inaccurate stereotype. What-Mom-taught-you grooming and posture, eye contact, a firm handshake and warm smile: all contribute to that sense of vitality.

You would think that's common sense, but I saw a highly-qualified fifty-something woman cut because she wore no lipstick to the interview; the comment was that she looked "limp". One coat of rose away from being short-listed! "Not fair", you might be thinking, and no it wasn't— but there were other good candidates, and she was passed by.

Judge for yourself; this is not the woman from the interview, yet there is a resemblance. She appears in Lisa Eldridge's video about how to apply makeup when you're mature. Look at the difference the lipstick alone makes.

Some 50+ job-seekers get fillers and lifts to compete with younger candidates. I can't make an accurate assessment whether this gives a proven advantage; it may boost the candidate's confidence.

2. Accept that in many organizations, you will be sartorially constrained, either because of the culture or work requirements

If you really cannot abide "looking the part", find one of the more freewheeling places or work from home. 

C., accustomed to the freedom of student garb, was reluctant to adopt what she called "the formula box", citing Condoleeza Rice and Hilary Clinton as anti-heroes. But those bulletproof outfits hold up to grueling work days and travel across time zones. Like a Hazmat suit, they equip you to do the job. 

Only a few business settings remain navy-suit bastions; a dress like Tara Jarmon's black floral shift would look stylish for many interviews, accessorized with a laptop bag, briefcase, or portfolio (not a purse) in good condition.

When Barbara Ehrenreich talked about her futile job search in "Bait and Switch", her book about white-collar unemployment, she wrote rather
disingenuously, "I guess I should have carried a briefcase instead of a grotty canvas tote bag". Yes, even if she had to borrow one. (Leather not required; the Graceship laptop bag shown is a high-quality "vegan leather".)

If in doubt, sit in the lobby and watch women leave, or enlist a friend who works in that city as your scout. 

3. Be yourself, but your professional self

C. said "I...tend to be slightly flirty. I can't seem to squelch it nor do I really want to." She also noted that her field is "ruled by the masculine".

Whether (and how) a woman displays her charms in workplace tells a great deal about her qualities and values. C. will know how to keep her womanly verve on the "slightly" side.

The coquette is not an ennobling stance in office life. I mentioned Christine Lagarde as a model of feminine yet authoritative business attire; we need not meet her posh price point, but her elegance is exemplary.

C. sent a thoughtful reply, saying she was going to adopt a "uniform" kind of wardrobe, inspired, interestingly, by a respected male colleague. 

She also opened another topic, that of how easy it is to be disheartened and buy into the prejudice against women over 50 in the workplace.

That reminded me of my friend R., who, because of a health issue, was not working for about five years and after successful treatment wanted to re-enter corporate life at 50-plus. All her friends told her, Forget it, the corporation won't want you, find another line of work—and she ignored us. After a year or so of interviews and a few near-misses, she landed a VP position in a major global company, and a short time later was named Professional of the Year in her field. She graciously refrained from saying, So there!

She is but one of the women whom I know who, after years out of the workforce, have then found rewarding employment. (Starting your own business is another matter; there is no job interview, but that woman will still gain from projecting vitality.)

On Thursday I'll consider C.'s intriguing third question: How does credible dovetail with chic?

Thursday, September 11, 2014

TERFs, trans women, and swimming snails

If you have not read Michelle Goldberg's article in The New Yorker (August 4), "What is a Woman?", you missed a front-ring seat to a gender-themed dustup within the feminist world.

I will not repeat the gender or identity theory therein, but, reduced to a few sentences, the issue is that a militant minority, called Trans Exculsionary Radical Feminists (TERFs) refuse to acknowledge transgendered woman as women. They will not call these women "she" or admit them to all-female gatherings.

In the view of TERFs, "a person born with male privilege can no more shed it through surgery than a white person can claim an African-American identity simply by darkening his or her skin."

They claim there is a unique, unattainable experience of womanhood accessible only to "womyn-born-womyn." The article is frustratingly sketchy on what that might be, but no one mentioned the reproductive process. The  women quoted imply the defining experience is social, the pain and suffering inherent in oppression and inequality.

Because of a history of abuse by men, various women cited by Goldberg say they feel wholly safe only in all-female settings where trans women are banned. I wanted to ask them, What would it take to trust trans women, a group who themselves report experiencing high levels of violence?

For most of us, the sex identified at birth (genotype), combined with the observable sex characteristics, among other attributes (phenotype) pretty much seal the gender deal. But for certain individuals, because of chromosomal variation, lack of characteristic phenotypical attributes, or the more subjective but deeply-held sense of self, things get complicated. Goldberg says, "Trans women say they are women because they feel female—that as some put it, they have women's brains in men's bodies."

TERFs' bigotry aside, we live in an ever more gender-fluid world. 

And, speaking of the world, some species totally smoke ours with the sex thing. There are swimming Arctic sea snails (Limacina antarctica) that begin life male. As they approach sexual maturity, males mate with males and exchange sperm. Then they become female and use the stored sperm to fertilize their eggs.

This is a style/culture blog, so I shall segue from zoology to cosmetology, to ask the Big Question:
How feminine does a woman have to look to get invited to Girls' Night Out 

I've met several trans women over 40 who have adopted typically femmy attire, makeup and gait. A great deal of time, money and sheer grit is devoted to fitting in.

But among younger trans women, some of whom live in my neighbourhood, there is a rising trend to eschew surgery; Goldberg reports that only 25% have it. Prolonged high doses of hormones are dangerous. Trans women are beginning to think, Why conform to a stereotype of femininity, especially when it threatens our health? 

Get ready, I told myself, for the stubbly, big-biceped person next to me at the lunch counter to one day introduce herself as Sandra. I carry a lot of old conditioning, so a trans woman in a sundress is easier for me to think of as "sister" than a person with a flannel shirt, five o'clock shadow and hands big as a Carolina ham. 

But, as the old song goes, "a change is gonna come." In the past 20 years we have already seen an easing of the narrow image of external femininity in the media. 

Ellen DeGeneres, not a trans woman but an exemplar of elegant androgeny, has a popular show and got a CoverGirl gig. I do not think Ellen would have been given either job two generations ago.

The marvelous Laverne Cox (transgendered) in "Orange is the New Black", a hotter-looking woman than I ever was, is raising awareness while representing the glam end of the female-looks continuum. Next step will be a starring role for the trans woman who looks more like your average woman in line at the bank than Angelina Jolie.

When someone originally labeled male feels that she is a woman—a situation so fraught that 41% of trans women say they have attempted suicide according to Goldberg's article—why would I want to impede her transition? 

If Sandra has determined she is a woman, I will call her "she", and share the bathroom with the little skirt on the door. She might be invited to my women's gatherings, and if she were willing to talk about her experience of living as a man, and then being who she is—a woman—I could learn more about our own baffling and quite odd species. 

In the meantime, I found an illuminating four-minute video by Fred McConnell, "There is No Such Thing as a Sex Change", in which he outlines ways to talk to someone transgendered.

PS. On a related subject, do click the link and read this Slate article by Mary Elizabeth Williams, "Yes, Men, You Can Be Feminists".

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

J. Crew: Ahead of the curve

J. Crew "Heidi" dress
J. Crew now offer a selection of items in sizes up to 20 (and XXL), as well as the new 000 in case you have a 23-inch waist. 

I wish my friend Lorie had known of this luscious beet-red chiffon dress in a 20, on sale, when desperately looking for a party dress last month. 

In addition to their new size diversity, I'd like to see J. Crew offer a specific collection for more mature bodies than their lissome models.

It's not that we necessarily need larger sizes, but most of us seek a skirt longer than 16 or 18 inches, dresses with sleeves, trousers with waist-height waists. It would be handy to find them in one 'room' on the site.

Gap (then headed by J. Crew's current CEO, Mickey Drexler) failed in that market with Forth & Towne, but they were a decade too early for the demographic, did not have a web store, and were hampered by Gap's insistence on lower price points.

J. Crew could produce exclusive items for the collection, and showcase easy pieces such as the clothes Lauren Hutton's modeled for them over the years.

For fall, these pieces would look especially estimable on grown women:

Regent blazer
I'm not a devotée of unstructured jackets; those of us over 50 tend toward a little nature-given spread, and just-enough tailoring mitigates that, without reading uptight. In tart red, this one makes me smile. 

Pointelle cashmere V-neck

V-necks can look butch, but this is womanly, with rows of openwork edging at the vee and a blush colour to soften neutrals. It's fit is described 'relaxed' which means it will likely not have the high, tight armhole of some J. Crew knits.

Double-serged wool pencil skirt

A classic made with deft details. The slightly weightier wool should make this hang well and caress the thigh. Regular length is 23 1/2 inches and Tall is 25 inches, for joy! And maroon—I have not seen that noble colour offered in decades. The colour looks marvelous with grey, black, many greens and blues (robin's egg blue is especially felicitous) and reds-to-pinks. The rescue from yet another black skirt.

Feeling cheeky? Check it out in heather chartreuse.

We also like boots in which we can charge about, with some protection from the pavement. Too many have paper-thin soles that are barely adequate on even summery sandals. The union of fine and functional: Dix tab ankle boots.

Described as a cross between a cowboy boot and a moto, these look like Blundstones that went to finishing school. Lined with leather, a nice touch overlooked in boots over twice the price.  

Those picks are pretty quiet, so a perfect backdrop for scarves and jewelry, but also...with it all, Ray-Ban mirror-lens aviators:

Put them on and look instantly cool: you know you can. I might have to replace the pair left in an airline seat pocket, flying back from San Francisco in 1981.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Special guest post: "The Tahitian Pearls"

Just before the Passage shuttered for summer holidays, I received a letter from a reader, Dorothy B., who attached an essay she had written about her uncharacteristically luxurious purchase of a Tahitian pearl necklace.

Dorothy generously agreed to my request to publish it; I can't think of a better way to re-open the Passage!

The Tahitian Pearls
by Dorothy B.

Three things happened in the space of a year: I visited the V&A Museum in London and saw a special exhibition, "Pearls", purchased a Tahitian pearl necklace in a coup de coeur moment at a department store near my home, and began reading Passage des perles, a well-crafted blog by a woman of a certain age in Montréal.

Coincidentally, it was also a year in which I had a landmark birthday.

The trip to London was my third. My full-time job at a private club is busy and often stressful, so after falling in love with London on my first visit with a friend, I have returned twice on my own, free to wander, take a side street or not, to sleep or rise when the notion suits me, to eat or drink, sit or walk, shop, study or linger. I can even waste time in my hotel room gazing at the top of trees in Prince's Park at sunset or watching Londoners hurrying to work in the  gray mist and half-light of early morning, bundled in black coats and long scarves.

In London, a city full of energy and optimism, I return to my two favorite museums each visit, the V&A and the British Museum, elegant, massive and endlessly fascinating, from the buildings themselves to the quality of light, the exhibits, the international visitors, the shops, cafés and bookstores.

At the V&A, I noticed that a special exhibition on pearls was in progress, and decided to see that as well. Compared to the grandeur of the main museum halls, the exhibit space was surprisingly modest—a small room tucked off a long corridor. 

The room was darkened, and a labyrinth of passages guided visitors through the displays. An educational tableau with a video described the pearl industry. Tall vintage wooden "safes" showcased dazzling pearl necklaces, brooches and tiaras. Portraits of nobles wearing all varieties of pearl adornment were displayed on the walls.

The room was crowded and progress slow, so I only stayed long enough to walk the exhibit once. Later, I purchased the catalog, a hardcover book titled "Pearls" to give to my friend, a sometime traveling companion. The cover photo had drawn me into the exhibit in the first place—a photo of a contemporary pearl necklace by a young Vietnamese artist. It resembled abstract art: ice crystals on a bare branch, a haiku of frozen pearls.

Photo: Winterston Pearls Tahitians
Back in Central Florida a few months later, I browsed the jewelry case of a local department store when a glimmering necklace caught my eye. I was mesmerized by a multicolored Tahitian black pearl strand of fairly substantial size. 

The pearls had a satiny appearance—beautiful, soft and lustrous. The necklace looked good with the outfit I wore that day and on impulse, I purchased it, even though it was more expensive than anything I would normally buy. It didn't take long to realize that my purchase was too expensive. I returned the necklace to the store with some regret.

A few months later I visited the store again; the necklace was still available, displayed in the same case. After much deliberation, and after circling back a few times, I bought it again. However, I was still not convinced this was a good idea, and for weeks I delayed a final decision.

I spent many evenings researching Tahitian pearls. I read about the lore and language of pearls, the history, grading, major suppliers and reputable outlets. I studied the difference between freshwater and saltwater pearls, natural, cultured and synthetic. I browsed the website of high-end purveyors such as Mikimoto and Robert Wan and contemplated buying less-expensive vintage pieces.

Still the black pearl necklace sat in the velvet-lined box in my drawer. I kept the price tag on it and every now and then would try the necklace on, to see if I really wanted to commit to the expense. But I could not seem to return it.

Then one evening I stumbled on a blog, Passage des perles, written by an over-50 woman based in Montréal who calls herself "Duchesse". She recounts stories of outings with girlfriends, ponders various jewelery and clothing purchases, rages at injustices and considers retirement. The feeling is that of having an online girlfriend, convenient on those 3 a.m. nights when stress from sleep interrupts work. Many of the posts discuss pearls, so I continued my research there.
After a little more study and more than a little apprehension, I decided to keep the Tahitian pearl necklace. I had fallen in love with it instantly, an unusual situation for me. In truth, I had never been that fond of pearls—I didn't think they looked good on me. White or off-white pearls, so beautiful in the case, never looked right or flattering.

But when I tried on the Tahitian pearls, what a remarkable effect—the gray, black and taupe undertones looked wonderful. In fact, they seemed to take on a life of their own, as if they had an inner light; the shades of peacock and gold and aubergine fairly glowed. I could hardly bring myself to remove the necklace in the store.
In the end, I don't know if it was a "good" or wise purchase or not. But I have come to realize something else, something that seems true to me: young women, on the whole, do not wear pearls well. True, teens often receive a "princess" strand for graduation and many young brides wear pearls. But the result always looks a bit forced, an attempt to look more mature or professional or well-dressed, and the jewelry seems out of step with their years.

But on an older woman, what a difference! Coco Chanel, of course, but also Jackie Kennedy, Christine Lagarde and Nancy Pelosi—even Barbara Bush—wear pearls with aplomb and confidence. And the pearls look right, in fact the larger the better. The pearls look good on them and vice versa.
At 60, a coup de coeur is not such a bad thing. Frequent but often fleeting in youth, the event rarely happens these days. To find something that feels right, appropriate and flattering—earned simply by reaching a certain age—is a gift in itself.

So I decided to keep the Tahitian pearls after all, the black pearl necklace shimmering with inner light, a gift from the sea, to mark that passage in my own life, a solo voyage. The necklace is a symbol of a gift coveted and conveyed, unexpectedly, by age and spirit and time.

I am grateful for London and the V&A, for pearls that find their way from the bottom of a sea a continent away to a store nearly, and for Passage des perles, always open for business at 3:00 a.m.


Photo: Pearl Paradise
More Tahitian temptation: have you seen the new Tahitian Provoked Baroques? No, they don't bite! An innovative bead-nucleated baroque of remarkable size, this new variety delivers exceptional colour and luster.

Pearl Paradise's Provoked Tahitian Baroque necklace

You can read about the "provocation" process here and admire some strands in Pearl Paradise's online store—I'd really like to try one of those on! The necklace prices range from $2,850 to $3,150, so I'm hoping PP will offer them as pendants, too.

Whether you prefer subtle dove grey or the deeper-hued body colours, hold out for your version of Dorothy's heart-stopper.

Should you wish a gentler investment, this Tahitian bracelet from Kojima Company delivers an array of rainbow hues without breaking the bank; price, $207.


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Montréal women: Fall's first sightings

I'm so glad you're back! Let's go to the market and watch people, have a latte, catch up!

Still plenty of summery little dresses; she is wearing another trend, undercut short hair with a longer section wound in a topknot.

Hints of fall show up in the footwear. Cage sandals suit the post-flip flop but not yet shoe weather:

Some women are already into their boots; I liked her camo skirt, too:

A girl even wore boots with tights and legwarmers under her flippy denim:

And the scarf returns, if it ever went far. Note also the chic bob:

Another blue scarf and top, accessorized with a dot bag:

But the most arresting blue was on this nun, who paused to listen to a musician:

You hardly see full-length habits anymore. Hers had the most elegant pleating, which reminded me that Miuccia Prada said, "I'm always happiest when I dress almost like a nun."

Diverse and colourful as the bounty at the farmer's stalls, the women of Montréal don't show up in a predictable package!

Wonderful to see you again; now I'm off to make a piperade!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Imagining retirement

A commenter I'll call Ms. K. left a remark on a blog elsewhere; I will paraphrase. 

From her 40ish perch, in the midst of professional and parental responsibilities, she imagines her eventual retirement will be a rolling festival of trips, booze, crafting and living in a cool loft. (The photo at left is from the Canadian Association of Retired Persons, or CARP, the best association acronym ever.)

And, maybe she'll have that. But her vision made me laugh, as my own retirement is quite different—not only from hers, but from how I thought it might be. In my 40s, I too saw retirement as a calm harbour, but in fact it has demanded a vigilant watch instead of one hand on the tiller and the other on a tall G&T. 

Les gars
We stick to a budget, but there have been unanticipated expenses. One adult child needed ongoing support to change careers; the other embarked on a graduate degree in his second language, which took an extra year of study. We don't have to help out, but we wanted to, and the kids are doing their part by securing grants, working and stretching those dollars.

As for the booze: when my parents were in their 60s, I used to think, You could go out every night! Why don't you live it up? Now I know: any more than two glasses of wine in an evening and I wonder, Are they speaking Czech? 

I don't miss being a big deal (biggish, whatever) at work. I'm happy to help on the occasional project, but after brief re-immersion in the Sturm und Drang of the workplace, gratefully lean back again.

Retirement has served me not a bacchanalian banquet but a dim sum platter of bite-sized pleasures: time to learn new things, take walks, meet a friend in mid-day, write.

Women who said, "I can't imagine what I'd do if I retired" have found a middle path; they supply teach, volunteer their professional skills through organizations like SCORE, or work part-time.

Others are spending time caregiving. Several friends visit frail parents most days, and one is, along with her husband, raising a two-year-old granddaughter.

There is one group who are notably unhappy: women laid off two to five years before they planned to retire and who have been unable to find other employment. It's not solely the drop in income, it's the abrupt cessation of the identity derived from work. They feel differently when asked to leave the party before they chose.

Ms. K. may also find that, around retirement age, losses pile up. Your health or that of a partner, if you have one, may not be robust. One widowed acquaintance is wondering if the trips she and her husband dreamed of could be any fun on her own. There is death, divorce and also the shock of finding out your beloved's idea of bliss is 220 games of golf per year, scores recorded on a calendar.

For some, retirement means struggle. The Conference Board of Canada's report on Elderly Poverty says: "Although the current poverty rate among the elderly (defined as age 65 and older) is significantly lower than in the 1970s, the increase documented in the Statistics Canada data from 3.9 per cent in 1995 to 10.2 per cent in 2005 and again to 12.3 per cent in 2010 is troubling. 

Among the elderly, the biggest jump occurred in the group of elderly women. Between 2006 and 2010, 160,000 more seniors were said to be living in low income. Of that amount, almost 60 per cent were women."

If I were to give one piece advice to Ms. K. (a fellow Canadian): don't count on the government to provide the same benefits my cohort are getting now, by the time you are 65.

Summer closure

This is the last post for the summer; as usual, I spend this short, sweet season away from online life. I wish you a splendid season of strawberries, warm, starry evenings, and close conversations in lawn chairs.

The current forecast is for the Passage to reopen shortly after Labour Day, though posts could be sporadic during our burnished September. I'm becoming a foul-weather writer. The best way to hear of its opening is to become a follower, which encourages me, too.

Thank you warmly for reading; I'm grateful for your comments, stories, questions and links. You have made the Passage what it is!