Thursday, 25 February 2010
All grown up
A funny thing happened to That's Not My Age recently. There I was, minding my own business, when up popped the lovely Julia Darlington, 45, (immediately above) and our conversation went something like this:
Julia: 'I know you. Where are you from?'
Thinking Julia was a work contact from way back when, I proceeded to run through my CV...
JD (looking bored): 'No, I mean where are you from?'
TNMA: 'Er, Blackpool.'
JD: 'I used to live with you!'
TNMA (looking confused): 'Eh?'
JD: 'I used to live with you!'
TNMA (still confused): 'Where?"
JD: 'In Manchester.'
JD: 'The flat where you never paid any rent.....'
Now, I know my memory's not as good as it used to be, and I had been on the sherry, but I just didn't recognise this sophisticated lady. And she certainly didn't look like someone who'd live in an undergraduate squat . Obviously, I hadn't changed that much - apart from wrinkles and better clothes - I still look like a student. Anyway, we reminisced about Manchester; how much we loved cheap drinks at the student union bar - even when it was créme de menthe, backcombing our hair and making jersey tube skirts on the overlocker at college. Oh yes, we were that sophisticated.
So, fast-forward twenty-odd years, Julia is now buying director at Wallis - the top image is her favourite outfit from the S/S 2010 collection - and has worked for lots of big high street retailers, including M&S, French Connection and Habitat. Mrs Darlington (married, one kid) has her own ultra-modern office with an amazing view of the London skyline, crikey, I have a table in our spare room jammed next to an old bed we couldn't dismantle. Never one to miss an opportunity, I asked my very own retail expert what her secret is, and how to look grown-up, gorgeous and well-groomed.
Julia Darlington's style tips
1. Wear less black. This is probably the biggest change I've made. I wear softer neutrals, more colour and bolder prints.
2. Know your body. Mine has changed over the years which means I can wear more figure-hugging clothes - cleaner lines just look more elegant.
3. Accessorizing is important. I've grown up with fashion and still want to look contemporary but now I just take an element of a trend and make it work for me.
4. Look for clothes with the Martini factor - something you can wear any time, any place, anywhere.
5. Go to bed early! I'm in bed by 10pm these days, I can't do it any more (don't worry Julia I wasn't going to suggest a pint of snakebite and a kebab).
And here are some more of Julia's favourite things from Wallis:
The utility look. Now we know the military trend works for grown-ups but team khaki with sequins a la Balmain and we're talking double Martini factor.
The leather t-shirt. This may have a certain Tyrolean charm but sorry Julia, I'm not convinced. And thigh-skimming shorts were fine at the Hacienda in 1984 but today they're more créme de menthe than Martini, as in, I've got to the age when I have to say never again.
Do your clothes have the Martini factor?