Fashion & Beauty

Take a Knee

May 7, 2023



By Valerie Monroe

For nearly 16 years Valerie Monroe was the beauty director at O, The Oprah Magazine, where she wrote the popular “Ask Val” column. She now splits her time between Manhattan and Tokyo.

If you’re interested in feeling happier about your appearance—especially as you age—you might like reading what she has to say about it. For more of her philosophical and practical advice, subscribe for free to How Not to F*ck Up Your Face at

Can’t get enough Valerie Monroe? There’s more at

BREAKING NEWS: It appears miniskirts are once again having a moment. I recently read a story that quoted a middle-aged woman who’s decided the hell with it, she’s got nice legs and she’s going to wear a miniskirt this summer. And I thought, But . . . why? Who wants to be wondering if her cooch is part of the scenery? Also, I’m always wary of “mutton dressed as lamb” situations, where the mutton appropriates a sartorial trend put forward by a generation or two younger (or that was first popularized decades ago when the mutton was herself a lamb). Then again, when it comes to Who What Wear (or whatever), I’m a firm believer in the anything goes theory. You’re 70 and you want to wear a miniskirt? Just do it! I’ll applaud you in my caftan.

As I was thinking about this, L, my accidental muse, sent me a Vogue story declaring that knees (women’s knees, of course) are the “new neck” and that (to quote the headline) “As temperatures and hemlines rise, an-oft-overlooked body part arrives in the dermatologist’s office.” Huzzah! One more piece of ourselves we’ll be encouraged to obsess about 😒. And this quickly brought to mind a (slightly amended) Jane Austen quote: It is a truth universally acknowledged that a doctor in pursuit of a good fortune must be in want of a patient (or a new appendage).

Like every other part of our bodies we carry with us till we shuffle off this mortal coil, our knees break down (ours more quickly than men’s), change shape, and lose definition. One of the better things about knees, IMHO, is that they’re not on our face. Meaning we’re not confronted with them at every turn in the glass. (“And so what if we were?” you might ask. And I might answer “You’re right—and so what?”) I’m not going to list the treatments you could pursue if you’re rattled by your knees’ appearance; the Vogue story has a comprehensive account. I do, though, want to suggest. . . . Well, what do I want to suggest? I guess I’ll keep it simple: If it bothers you to look at your knees, don’t look at them.

A few years ago I discovered the joys of wearing a silk, cotton, or linen midi-shift in the dog days of summer. On the beastliest of days (and please keep this between us), I go commando—which requires a dress long enough to prevent a lively gust from catching me (and, sorry, you) unawares. You need something like this, this, this, or this. With a pair of inexpensive flats or fancier ones, serious shades or more lighthearted ones, and, if the sun is really hot, a hat, you’ll look and feel so fine and elegant that no one, least of all you, will be tempted to think about the state of your patellas.


Today is a short-ish post, so I just had to share some of the exotica I noticed on my last trip to the dollar store.

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