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Oscar de la Renta once said, “A woman makes an outfit her own with accessories,” and over the years, I’ve given it my best shot. Maybe not always with good taste and flair, but I’ve tried to elevate my outfits with accessories and make them my own. 

Truth be told, my fashion choices have sometimes been geeky, trendy, and awkward.

“Oh honey, are you wearing that to the party?” mother would quip as I bounded down the stairs, wearing some awful get up. “I’m not sure that suits you.”

But I looked cool. So cool. So with it.

When I was four, five, and six, how I adored getting all dressed up in my white tights and patent leather, Mary Jane shoes. My finishing touches were little white gloves, my white furry hat –as soft as a bunny—and my white, faux fur muff. Inside the muff was a secret zippered compartment for all my important items like… Maybe a Kleenex.

Growing older, I graduated from white tights to fishnet stockings held up with a garter belt. So racy! I had different colors for different outfits. My favorite pair were bright day-glow yellow. I must have looked like some latticework freak, but I felt so glamorous. Especially when I accessorized with sunglasses that had huge, round yellow frames. Hollywood, here I come!

Then came my preppy era. I aspired to the “Muffy” mold with a gold signet ring on my baby finger and matching pierced earrings with my initials inscribed in a swirly, scrolly font. But the pièce de resistance was my Bermuda bag. Would this outfit look best with a solid cloth cover? Maybe polka dots? Maybe stripes? With glowing satisfaction, I would choose the best cover and attach it to the four pearl buttons on either side of the bag. 

I was in college when this photo was taken. Wide lapels and electric rollers!

Exit preppy. Enter hippie.

I was so mod, so groovy. I strived for that bohemian counterculture look in my peasant blouse with tassel ties; tie-dyed headband over my long straight, hair parted in the middle; big hoop, wire peace earrings, and macrame belt slipped through the belt loops of my frayed, hip hugger bellbottom jeans. I was the penultimate flower child. 

Fast forward to today.

On the heels of my recent skiing accident and subsequent knee surgery, my current accessories include a tan compression sock, a full-length leg brace with black Velcro straps, and silver crutches with red hand grips. These accessories complete my gym shorts and t-shirt outfits for physical therapy. 

At this stage of my life, looking cool, cute, or groovy is a back burner priority. Today, I want to shed shallow trappings. I want to look like myself, feel like myself. To be the real person I’ve become. I was to flaunt my foibles. Celebrate my shortcomings. It’s time to unveil the 66-year-old woman with graying hair who has earned laugh lines and crow’s feet and relies on tummy control underwear. 

As the saying goes, “the best accessory a girl can wear is confidence.”

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Lee Peterson Baker

Lee Peterson Baker is a writer. Prior to retirement, she was a marketing communications consultant. Lee is married and the mother of two sons, one of whom is dyslexic. Her dyslexic son was diagnosed when he was in first grade at which time Lee added a new career to her life experiences. She became her son’s parent advocate, helping him navigate school with a learning disability. Lee threw herself into this role and considers it one her greatest sources of inspiration and achievement. She is currently working on a book, co-authored with her 28-year-old dyslexic son. It delves into the journey they shared together – the challenges, joys, pitfalls, and successes – and offers perspective on lessons Lee learned along the way, lessons she hopes will help other families, teachers, tutors, and anyone assisting children with learning disabilities. Lee calls Afton, Minnesota home as well as the special communities of Madeline Island in Lake Superior and Whitefish, Montana.


  1. OMG…Bermuda bag…I must have had 10 covers! I had quite forgotten about that, what a great memory, thanks! Now I’ve paired down to 4 excellent quality handbags…one for each season… that hold all my stuff. I find that’s much more “me” these days.

    • Laura – Do you remember the sound when you closed the two wooden handles together? Kind of a snapping, clicking sound. I kind of wish I’d kept my Bermuda bag and covers. Who knows! Maybe they’ll make a retro fashion come back one of these days. I think my favorite cover was tiny pink flowers with green stems – like a kalanchoe plant. Ah.. memory lane!

      • A trip down memory lane! You brought my childhood and young adulthood alive again. I remember all those “accessories”.

        Thanks for the memories!

        • Catherine – Happy to take a walk with along Memory Lane! Some of those fashion accessories were terrific, weren’t they?!?!

    • Hi Carolyn – Brenda asked me if I had a photograph of my fishnet stocking days or my bell bottom hip hugger jeans days. If only!!! I had two halter tops – one in glow-in-the dark yellow, the other neon green. When I wore one of my halter tops with my hip hugger jeans – frayed of course – I thought I was a fashion queen. And so sexy! Yeowza! Back then, ther were no selfies. So I never took a pitcure of myself dressed like that. And, surely, my mom never volunteered to capture that garish costume on Kodachrome.

  2. I just bought those electric rollers at an estate sale, I am having so much fun making my hair poufy and wavy.

    • Oh Nancy, I wish I’d kept my electric roller set. I remember the different colored clips – pastel blue, pink, yellow – each color correlating to the different sizes of rollers. I also remember burning my fingers sometimes. They got SO hot! But, when I unrolled my hair, WOW! As you say, poufy and wavy! And, those delicious waves lasted forever! And —- the electic rollers sure beat going to bed with my hair twisted around three orange juice cans pinned to the top of my head. An uncomfortable night’s sleep. But heck, anything for that Breck girl look! Roll away!!! Lee

  3. I’mm 66b also and this brought back so many memories. My preppy days included red and white gingham pants and Junior House blazers. And the rollers…. I think everyone in my dorm had them, plus I had a lighted make-up mirror that was borrowed non-stop. I love your closing line that confidence is the best accessory. Aging is great. Now when I wear a white button down with rolled sleeves, bracelets I’ve collected over the years, jeans and boots I’m ready to take on whatever life throws my way – even if my accessories right now after back surgery include a back brace and cane. I never knew how many interesting canes are out there – accessory possibilities…

    • Dear Donna, First, good luck with healing from your back surgery. I’ll take knee surgery anyday over back surgery. Had I known you way back when… I would have been so envious of your red and white gingham pants. They sound divine! I love your statement that “aging is great.” I consider it a well-earned honor, a privilege. It’s so freeing to be at an age where we can be real, be ourselves, be natural. And, as you say, “ready to take on whatever life throws our way.” When you describe your outfit today – white button down, bracelets, jeans and boots, I picture you as the confident and savvy Grace Hanson in Grace and Frankie. Take care of yourself – and have fun with your cane selection! Best, Lee

  4. Sleeping on orange juice cans! Oh yes! How did we do that? I wore what my mother wanted me to wear until at 18, I got married to get away from her. I skipped preppy and bohemian and went straight to a corporate office look although I had hip hugger bell bottoms and loved espadrilles! xoxox, Brenda

    • Oh, Brenda. I had my fair share of having to wear outfits selected by both my mom and my grandmother! I wanted to die sometimes. Really? You want me to wear THAT! And be seen in public in that jumper … skirt … dress? Can I wear a paper bag over my head? Please! I’ll bet you looked smashing in the corporate office attire. Heck … you look amazing in anything and everything! And oh, baby, I’ll bet you turned heads in your hip hugger bell bottoms. Ooo- la-la!

  5. Hi Lee,
    You looked so darling in the photograph all dressed up in your white tights, patent leather
    Mary Jane Shoes, white gloves, hat and etc.. I so relate to the Kleenex. Wow, talk about going down “memory lane.” So enjoyed your fashion journey as you grew up. I’m older than you however still relate to your years of growing up.
    The electric rollers is another me too. I think I donated mine.
    How painful your skiing accident must have been. Knee surgery is not easy to recover from.
    I know two people that have had this surgery.
    Sending well wishes your way, and hopefully each day you see baby steps of progress.
    Sending smiles.

    • Hi Katherine, I appreciate your encouragement for healing. With the help of my physical therapists, I’m learning how to walk again without putting too much pressure on that knee yet. Everyday is a step forward – literally. Seems like electric rollers were on everyone’s bathroom counter! Today, I rely on my curling iron. But maybe I should rethink electric rollers, They sure worked well. As for the photograph of me as a young girl. That was taken when we lived in England. I’m guessing I was dressed up to travel somewhere by train. Maybe an exciting excursion into London for the day!?!? Take care, Lee


    • Dear La Contessa – YES! I remember the pain of pushing the roller “holders” into place – and stabbing my scalp in the process. Ouch! Then, I’d pull them back out again and shove them into place at a new angle to avoid piercing my scalp. Anything for great hair!!! As for my crutches, I can now plant both feet onthe ground – 50-50 weight bearing. Still need crutches as I walk, but I’m no longer wobbling and hobbling, jumping and balancing on one leg. Hooray!

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