January 14, 2013 posted by Lindsay Ferrier

The Soft Surroundings Catalog: A Sure Sign You’re Getting Old

The Soft Surroundings Catalog: A Sure Sign You’re Getting Old

Like pretty much every other woman in America, I get a whole bunch of catalogs in the mail. I used to look forward to finding a few minutes in the week to page through some of them, but lately I just find them depressing. That’s because over the last few years it’s become painfully obvious that I have been added to the direct mailing list of “women of a certain age.”

Of course, it wasn’t always this way. A decade ago, my catalog covers all featured long-legged, pouty girls barely out of their teens, clad in edgy, fashion-forward clothing that flaunted their size-two frames. But as the years have passed, those catalogs have slowly been replaced by ones depicting middle-aged women happily dressed in soft, flowing jersey tops and skirts, cozy wraps, and safe, low-heeled shoes. I’m left feeling like America’s retailers are trying to tell me something… something like:  This is who you are now. Clear out those sequined skirts and platform stilettos, honey, and put on some Danskos, for heaven’s sake.

What’s more, I’m buying into it. I’ve been hitting Boden, Garnet Hill and Ann Taylor hard these last few years, I won’t deny it. Talbots has seen my credit card a few times and while I blush to admit it, Lands’ End has replaced Victoria’s Secret as my bathing suit seller of choice. I still turn up my nose at J.Jill and Chico’s (I do have some standards), but I get a little thrill now when the latest Sundance catalog arrives.

And then there’s the newest– and so far most egregious– addition to the pile:

Soft Surroundings.

Opening the Soft Surroundings catalog for the first time was a bitch slap of cold, hard reality. The fact of the matter is that I am not and never will be Forever 21, and no amount of $12.80 tops will make it so. Instead, I am Currently 37. I am Pushing 40. Soft Surroundings makes these truths abundantly clear. You won’t find any barely legal models in man-catching minidresses or low cut, curve hugging tops in Soft Surroundings. What you will find is an attractively-filtered fantasy world specifically created for middle-aged women who have absolutely zero interest in ever attracting a man again. Also? These broads drink a little. Check it:

I’ve got my glass of wine and my Baroque Topper. Come on, Muffy– Let’s go find ourselves some peanut butter!

Wow. When I wear my Snuggly Pullover, this pillow reminds me of… ME!!

Needlepoint pillow? Check. Pastel blanket? Check. Cuddly lapdog? Check. High-necked Snuggle Gown?  Check.
I am now the ULTIMATE man repeller.


All right! Who’s up for a game of Solitaire? Just me? No other takers? Oh, who the hell am I kidding? I’M THE ONLY ONE LIVING IN THIS DAMN HO– USE.

Gafloozoarl frakcin sldsss….zzzzzzzzz.

These are the only balls I’ll be holding tonight.

Thank Goddess for these muffin top-hiding layered tees. YOU’D BEST BELIEVE I’LL BE HAVING A THIRD PIECE OF PIE!

Save some for me! My jeans are held together with a rubber band right now and thanks to this tunic, no one has any idea. WOOT!

Whoa. Five glasses of wine and suddenly my 81-year-old postman looks like a total babe!

Nothing says “It’s solo sexy time!” like two bottles of champagne and one St. Croix Caftan!

It’s ALWAYS 5 o’clock at Soft Surroundings!

Here’s to never wearing bikinis, thongs, bustiers, merry widows, micro-minis, teddies, Spanx, or anything with a waistline ever, EVER AGAIN. *burp*

Yes, this is the totally surreal world of Soft Surroundings. And the scary thing is…

I kind of like it.

The thought of decorating my house in pastels and wearing comfy caftans while drinking wine all day long–  I mean, what’s so bad about that? Sure, I’d miss my husband but I would sooooo not miss the Spanx.

So yes. There may very well be a dog-eared, tattered Soft Surroundings hidden away under the more fashionable items on my nightstand. I think of it as porn for the perimenopausal.

But I also think I’ll keep my sequined skirts and platform stilettos around for just a little while longer … at least until my AARP card arrives.

Photos via
Header image via Greg Westfall/Flickr



  • Dontchewonthedinnertable

    Ahhhh…. Not an underwire in sight….

    • suburbanturmoil


    • PSG

      Not true – they have camisoles with built-in underwires. One of the only things I’ve contemplated from that catalog…though I -do- like the ginormous black sweaters. Sláinte! ; )

  • Kathy

    Ahahahahahaha! Lindsey, I love your sense of humor.  And I hate to be the one to break it to you, but the AARP card isn’t far behind the Soft Surroundings catalogue : (

    • suburbanturmoil


  • S.

    Right on the money again, Lindsay! You do make me laugh. (Hiccup)

  • Melissa

    “Snuggle Gown”? Yeah, snuggling and dressing like a nun on a winter evening do not usually go hand-in-hand for me and the hubs…LOL

    Although dare I admit, a couple of those tunics are kind of cute. 🙂 But only with skinny jeans and high-heeled boots!!!

    • suburbanturmoil

       And that’s the problem. I like it… and my 25-year-old self is all “WTH is WRONG WITH YOU?!!”

  • Knewman4

    Hilarious. The photos terrify me. I don’t think I am there yet? Though I DID just spend a week with my parents in their retirement community in Arizona and I really enjoyed it! So maybe over-the-hill (and wasted on wine) is my new immediate future.?

    • suburbanturmoil

       I think my first warning sign actually came a few months ago, when I read the first book in the “Mitford” series AND LOVED IT.

      • bereccah5

        I just don’t even know who you are anymore. 😉

        • suburbanturmoil

           I know. Please don’t tell ANYONE about my ‘Mitford problem.’

          • bereccah5

             Sorry – the intervention team is already been notified to head to Nashville. Things are already in motion.

      • cheesehead4ever

        I’m 39. I think I read the Mitford books when they first came out and loved them. I also didn’t think 50 Shades Gray was that great. I must be ready for the home.

        • Paula Hunt

          cheesehead4ever Until a week ago, I had never heard of Soft Surroundings. All that changed when their catalog arrived in my mailbox. I am a nostril pierced, hot pink/red headed, 54 yr old Foos Fighter fan. I have friends in their 30’s and I have a friend that just turned 70. And even I shop Forever 21 and H&M for accessories (God knows my size 12 butt wouldn’t fit any clothing at these 2 stores). There is a black and gold Asian inspired tapestry jacket in the Soft Surroundings catalog that has caught my eye but I’m not ready for AARP yet. One can always wear their Victoria’s Secret articles under their Soft Surroundings tops layers, ha!

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  • cheesehead4ever

    Ok I’m 39 and I don’t mind that mauve shirt. Everything else, no. But I’ve never had the body that could wear trendy clothes like Forever 21. Even as a teen. Danskos? Bought my first pair of Dansko sandals five years ago. But I’ve had old lady feet since I was 20. Bunions, no arches, heel spurs and wide….

    My goal when picking out clothing is asking myself, “would my mother wear this?”. If the answer isn’t an immediate no, it goes back right on the rack.

    • suburbanturmoil

      And that is a GREAT rule of thumb! No offense to my mom. 😉

  • Andrea

    This was hilarious.  I can so relate!

  • Salote

    HAH wait till the AARP letter comes in the mail …. aaagggghhhh!

  • deb

    very funny! I love Soft Surroundings but your comments are hilarious!

  • Daniela

    I just snorted out loud!!! I occasionally like some of their sweaters but typed in “is soft surrounding for older women” and found your post. I am 43 but look much younger (or so I’d like to think) -I need to steer clear of this catalog for a while!

  • Bob

    Gosh I found your article funny and clever! I am a (single) red-blooded male and just turned (a very young looking/feeling) 55 yrs old yesterday. After reading your comments, I just realized that in the past year or so the Soft Surroundings catalog has been slowly replacing the Victorie’s Secret catalog as my favorite junk mail fantasy piece! You should know that there are many men like me who would love to spend time with ANY women of the Soft Surroundings genre! While it is so sweet to gaze and marvel at the Victoria’s Secret girls, the real, more meaningful and authentic times are to be had with the very attractive and sexy Soft Surroundings type of women!

  • Sickened

    Toxic! A garment I ordered from Soft Surroundings was in some sort of toxic chemical. Upon opening the package I had a severe, potentially fatal, allergic reaction for which I needed an epie shot. Customer service was no help and I’m extremely dissatisfied with this entire company. I’m reporting them to the EPA.

  • spinetingler

    Er, if that one woman needs some company for Christmas Eve, I think that I can clear my schedule…

  • 77355

    i happened upon your article right after, i promise!, having put down the Sundance catalog, fired up the ipad and searched “clothing similar to Soft Surroundings” !!! i was wracked with quiet laughter and quiet snortle bouncing my side of the memory foam enough to waken hubby. tooooo funny! honestly, have found their lightweight drapey peasant blouses look good belted with narrow pants and tall, sensible ;-D wedges.
    must read more of your insights!

  • deborahclayton

    This is just too funny to read! I love it but unfortunately it’s true! I am 60 and love to dress stylishly. I used to be a size six, and that was before the new sizes have really screwed up everyones idea of what size they are. I weighed 117 to 120 on the average for years. Then middle age and menopause takes over and boom, so I do wear tunics with skinny jeans and leggings now. I try hard not to look frumpy and old, but really, when you are my age do you seriously think that we should dress like a 25 year old? That is just wrong, and really looks bad. There is nothing more pathetic about a women trying to dress too young looking and coming off looking really stupid. You can look great and attractive with the right style and appropriate “age” clothing. Too much skin is not pretty at middle age. Mom jeans are NEVER OK. They are just wrong…..

  • Linda

    Ha! Loved reading your post. You are so right and I don’t care if loving Soft Surroundings means I’m over the hill. I’m 53 and I’m so glad I found Soft Surroundings because their designers truly understand my aging body! If it wasn’t for them I’d be in the dumpy old lady section of Penney’s or Kohl’s. Shudder.

  • Rich

    Hilarious comments! “It’s always 5 o’clock at SoftSurroundings!” LOL! I do admit I’m married, on the under side of 50 and totally agree with Bob. I get the catalogs in my own name as I buy gifts for my wife there. I wonder what the mailman must be thinking but oh well, he can get his own. 🙂 Btw.. my wife looks amazingly hot in their sweaters! Were they gifts for her or more for me?

  • Trish Riley Lyon

    True beauty is ageless. Don’t buy in to anyone else’s idea of what any age should be like. Be yourself….