Thursday, 14 January 2010
Style at any age
That's Not My Age has been thinking a lot about an article written by Sarah Mower in last week's Daily Telegraph. Mower discusses the lack of mid-range and high street clothes for older women and asks the British fashion industry to 'give the over fifties a break.' Now, I'm not there yet, but she does have a point. What to wear if a chambray playsuit or sheer babydoll frock is out of the question? How to look timeless and stylish at any age? To help figure out this fashion conundrum, I've come up with four rules for ageless style:
1. Do not try to dress like a young person. Rocking all the latest looks is more ageing than Slimma slacks and a bubble perm. As The Guardian proves every week when they publish pictures like this:
I love seeing older women in the press and on the fashion pages, but this is just tokenism. It's patronising, undignified and plain wrong! Now could somebody please tell that to the Guardian Weekend's stylist.
Perhaps he/she should take a look at The Times, they're so much better at this kind of thing:
The Guardian's problem stems from the fact that they dress the older model in the same way as the younger models and it just doesn't look convincing. (Actually, young or old I'm not quite sure who would want to wear the outfit above.) The grown-up lady looks contrived and uncomfortable - and the clothes never seem to fit properly. It's fine to look current but the key is not to try too hard to look hip, young and down with your daughter. Rather than head-to-toe street-style, just integrate one key piece - a leather biker jacket, a boyfriend jacket - into your existing wardrobe and avoid the dreaded mutton (pronounced moo-ton for extra effect)/lamb scenario. Or in my case, make that lecturer dressed as student.
2. Develop a singular style. These are the words of the talented designer and all-round lovely person, Joe Casely-Hayford, 53. Pictured here with his son, Charlie and fashion technician, Valentina Elizabeth, 45. (Mrs Casely-Hayford is equally lovely but unfortunately she side-stepped the photo opportunity). I hijacked the Casely-Hayfords at the 'My Favourite Dress' book launch on Monday.
'Over forties look fantastic,' adds Mr C-H, 'they have style awareness, which evolves over time giving more substance and measure.' Yep. As you get older you do develop your own look, know what works and what doesn't - and realise that often it's best to keep it simple.
3. Don't be afraid to experiment. Just take a look at Advanced Style, Ari Cohen's brilliant blog showcasing 'creative older folks'. Those senior citizens of New York City certainly know how to make a style statement. Or follow the Casely-Hayford ethos and 'express free spirit with very particular gestures of English sartorialism.' J C-H sites Zandra Rhodes as his favourite example of singular style. True, that. (oops pardon me for slipping into The Wire-speak). Rhodes may not be eveyone's cup of tea, but she's got a well-defined look, that's for sure. And, she was in the room at the time!
And, it'd be rude not to mention, Suzy Menkes, whose hair has a singular style of its own.
4. Be confident. Easier said than done? Follow rules 1,2 and 3, and you'll definitely feel more confident. As Anthony Price says (I hijacked him too), 'Jerry Hall's daughters look good, but will they ever look as good as Jerry? I doubt it. She has confidence and poise.'
What are your tips for ageless style?
Jane Birkin photos from Vogue, July 2007