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.'
TNMA: 'Where?'
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?

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

In the army now

A little tripette to London Fashion week tells me that military chic is on the march. Stylist, Mouchette Bell (over 40), wears a distressed combat jacket casually layered over an old sheepskin and topped off with an ear-warming hat. Love, love, love this outfit and the way Ms Bell has nonchalantly piled on the fluorescent Erickson Beamon necklaces - how very A/W 2010.

Clooney with a camera? No, this is Wayne Tippetts, 51, photojournalist for 25 years and a very charming man. Check out his fabulous website, Street Style Aesthetic.

And, because one of my colleagues says, 'Two's company, three's a trend,' here's a gorgeous military dress from Celine's S/S 2010 collection for your delectation.

Fashion tip: Head-to-toe khaki can look a bit Tenko. Make like Mouchette Bell and mix it up.

London Fashion Week: Fashionistable

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Blogger's wrist

That's Not My Age has been carrying an injury for some time now, I'm calling it Blogger's Wrist, otherwise known as Repetitive Strain Injury which can lead to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. According to the NHS website, most cases (of CTS) develop in people who are between 45 - 64 years of age, and left untreated it may lead to permanent nerve damage. Yikes. So, I'm under doctor's orders to take three anti-inflammatory pills a day, (Diclofenac Potassium, if you must know), with or after food - but I keep forgetting the lunchtime dose - and to rest. Now, you may have noticed that my blogs have become a bit shorter recently but I don't think that's what my GP meant.

In case you're wondering whether or not you have it too, Blogger's Wrist is quite easy to recognise; very sore tendons in the wrist and hand, particularly around the thumb area, shooting pains up the arm, aching elbow, numbness and throbbing caused by obssessive blogging and overuse of the mouse and keyboard. So yesterday, my fabulous acupuncturist whose usual role is to sort out my snotty sinuses stuck a few extra needles in my hand and gave me a special arm massage. If you live in London, I highly recommend The Traditional Acupuncture Centre, the practitioners are fantastic and friendly, and it's on Roupell Street, home of Konditor & Cook, the best cake shop in town. Which sells, "The sort of cakes you'd bake yourself if only you had the time energy or inclination," or so says Nigella Lawson. This is their famous curly whirly cake but it's the muffins, brownies and olive foccacia that keep calling to me on my way to the bus stop:

Fabulous acupuncturist used Weleda Massage Balm with Arnica for the special arm massage, it contains lavender and rosemary too, and smells lovely. So I went straight out and bought some, after eating my spinach and cream cheese muffin. I tried to get Mr That's Not My Age to give me another massage last night (of the wrist area, please!) but he says he's not qualified, and he doesn't want to cause further damage and ruin my blogging career. Actually, I think he's still sulking over my previous blog post but more of that later.

And physio friend, who I only seem to contact when I'm having a physical breakdown has recommended rest, massage, gentle stretching, moist heat and a splint. I'll get back to you on the gentle stretching, when I've found out what it is, I have been wearing a Neoprene wrist support pulled extra-tight to stabilize the wobbly hand, but it's not a splint, and after about five minutes I get pins and needles and have to take it off. Not sure that doctor/ acupuncturist/physio would approve.

Photographer friend suffering from Snapper's Wrist has invested in a proper splint which is the same colour as a sticking plaster, and works a treat. He also recommends bromelain, which according to wikipedia is an 'anti-inflammatory agent and can be used for sports injury, trauma and arthritis.'

So I will report back on any improvements, and offer further advice on easing the pain of Blogger's Wrist - in the meantime, is anyone else out there suffering for their blog? And do you have any tips you'd like to share?

I'm also searching for a super-low wrist rest to use with the wireless, low-profile iMac keyboard? But I can't find anything suitable. Any suggestions?

And now I'm off to rest my aching hand and try to procure a special massage.


Arms, Edward Steichen
Weleda Massage Balm: Weleda

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Your purse is on fire!

Apart from Peter Kay, the only other thing That's Not My Age liked about the Brits was Jay-Z's leather jacket. Now, it's not often I'm sartorially inspired by a hip hop artist - but regular readers will know that I do occasionally dabble in a bit of rock chickery, so it was only a matter of time before a grown-up biker jacket - surely that's a luxe leather in fashion terminology? - made its way to the top of my wish list. And this Rick Owens' Luxe Leather (ROLL) from Net-a Porter is so gorgeous, I would sell Mr That's Not My Age to buy one. Actually, I wouldn't, I'm just feeling a bit giddy because the ROLL is practically identical to Mr S. Carter's jacket, don't you think? Anyway, my new biker jacket will replace the one I bought from Affleck's Palace in the mid-eighties which, like countless brain cells and collagen, I've lost somewhere along the way. Now, I just need to figure out where I'm going to find that spare grand. It's a hard knock life.

What would you buy if you had more money than Liam Gallagher (knobhead!)?

Jay-Z photo: AP Photo

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Quote of the week: Mamy Rock

The 69-year old DJ and That's Not My Age regular, who says, 'I'd rather sign a contract with a record company than sign-up for a nursing home,' is playing at my next big birthday party, alright?

What do you think's on Mamy Rock's playlist?

PS Thanks to Advanced Style for drawing my attention to the fabulous photo gallery at

Saturday, 13 February 2010

That's Not My Age

Age is a funny thing. I spent my 39th year worrying about being forty and single, no kids, no house, no pension plan. I'd often pretend to be 35-years old, that was my showbiz age, and for a while I could get away with it. But then forty came along, and so did Mr That's Not My Age and I realised it wasn't such a big deal. I felt exactly the same on my 40th birthday as I did the day before, nothing had changed. So, before I get all sentimental, I'm going to tell you about Bob & Roberta Smith - bear with me, this is just one person - the artist Patrick Brill, 47, a man who doesn't take himself or the ageing process too seriously.

This is his time machine. Which is wind-generated, and like HG Wells' prototype is basically a chair (in the middle), with a rickety wooden windmill built around it. But don't be fooled by its makeshift appearance, like Botox, the machine has the abilty to increase or decrease your age.

Bob & Roberta also plays in two bands, The Apathy Band and The Ken Ardley Playboys, and admits that this in itself can feel a bit like time travel, 'When you're in a band, on-stage, it can make you think you're younger but people in the audience look at you and think you're older.' Mr Brill-Smith insists that the rock 'n' roll side of his work isn't a mid-life crisis, after all he's been playing for years and like The Rolling Stones is going to continue until well after he's started collecting his pension,' I'm quite keen to carry on. When the other band members die off, I'll replace them with younger people - like George our drummer who's thirty.'

So, does the ageing process bother B&R? ' Well, I've always felt a bit middle-aged,' he says, 'I suppose it's all about potential talent. When you're young you have it. When you're in your forties, you don't. You're just talentless and old.'

The rocker with the Dr Who tendencies admits that he's recently started playing the piano and drums so that he can sit down, it takes a lot of energy to maintain this level of creative output but, 'Not as much energy as the audience need to sit through it!'

What age would you use the machine to travel to?

Bob & Roberta's factory outlet is on at Beaconsfield gallery until 21 February - and there's also a café, the Ragged Canteen which sells very nice coffee and cakes.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

The fashion bin

It's got to be done. That's Not My Age is throwing the made-up fashion hybrid - the skort, coatigan, murse, mantyhose, jegging, megging and now skegging (even Grazia hadn't heard of the latest skirt/legging combo) into the bin. The hybrid is hardly a new phenomenon but the skegging is a conflation too far. Both the terminology and the item it describes are ugly, unnecessary and belong on the scrapheap. And, murse = man purse, in case you were wondering.

In tandem with refuse collector, Michael Landy's Art Bin, the fashion bin is open for donations until March 14. Please give generously.


Wheelie bin: Wheelie Art

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Parallel lines

This week a Bella Freud sweater has sent That's Not My Age into a state of sartorial reverie. Oh yes, I love a good stripe. Just see how those parallel lines perk up any outfit and add a smidgen of glamour:

Maybe it's a nautical thing, after all, I did grow up by the seaside...

Though that's not me in the striped bathing suit, and that's not my donkey.

I've always felt an affiliation for Chanel's poor boy chic, which strikes a chord with my working class sensibilities.

And talking of French style, I wouldn't mind looking like Jean Seberg in A Bout de Souffle, as for Jean-Paul Belmondo, well I wouldn't mind....

While we're on the subject of icons, the fabulously cool David Hockney is always worth a mention.

And Bridget Riley has been working wonders with horizontal lines for well over 40 years.

Then it's back to Parisienne chic and Monsieur Jean-Paul Gaultier who knows a thing or two about a man in matelot.

So, in my dreams I'll have the Bella Freud sweater, the Bridget Riley painting and this gorgeous ACNE maxi dress, just not with those shoes. No thank you.


Bella Freud stripey dog knit from Matches
Gene Tierney from Fashion in Film
Striped bathing suit: George Hoyningen-Huene
Blackpool beach: Norman Parkinson
David Hockney pic courtesy of Mr Peacock Style
Acne dress from Net-a-Porter

Saturday, 6 February 2010

All ages?

As you know, That's Not My Age is a champion of fashion for the over-forties - I can happily look at older models with wrinkles, grey hair and bunions, all day long. Except when it comes to the All Ages fashion line-up in The Guardian weekend magazine. I know I've said this before but I think it's worth repeating: the styling on the older models is just plain lazy - in fact, I doubt the stylist has even taken the age-factor into consideration. The grown-up ladies are dressed in the same way as the younger girls, often the clothes don't fit properly - take a look at the black puffa jacket/trousers above - the older models aren't properly groomed and the overall impression is one of tokenism. These images are same-y and uninspiring - and nobody wants to look like they've just escaped from a care home. So, please can someone tell Alan Rusbridger to stop peddling this patronising rubbish.

As Jim Royal would say, all ages, my arse!

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Street Style: wrap up warm

Lisa Lyons, 41, loves the layered look, ooh bit of a tongue-twister eh? Shorts, thermal tights and over-knee boots - now there's an idea!

Carole Austin, 39, looks fabulous in her TK Maxx coat, bottle green leather bag and Chanel glasses.

Cutting a dash in his grandma's coat, don't you think Raffaele Azzi, 45, looks like an Italian John Galliano?

Fredrik Hulting, 37, may look like an English toff in his Aquascutum coat, but don't be fooled, he's actually from Stockholm.

Photos: Stephanie Rushton

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

The fashion bin

Inspired by the artist, Michael Landy, 46, That's Not My Age has decided to create a fashion bin. Landy's Art Bin at the South London Gallery is a 'monument to creative failure' and more like an enormous, clear perspex skip than a regular dustbin:

The London-born conceptual artist has thrown away some of his own work (I'll say no more!), and is asking fellow artists and civilians for donations. Anyone can apply but Landy makes the final decision as to what goes into the container. So far, there's a Damien Hirst skull painting, a Tracey Emin saltire, a golden exercise ball and a rather large blue bottle (not part of the installation and as far as I could tell, unapproved by Mr Landy).

The fashion bin is a home for unwanted gifts, ridiculous items - spring/summer 2010 included, and any fashion faux pas my public would like to get rid of. When asked if he'd like to donate, Michael Landy replied, ' What would I chuck in? Nothing of my own because I'm incredibly fashionable!' So, That's Not My Age is going to start things off with this Alexander McQueen shoe:

What will you throw into the fashion bin?


Damien Hirst/Art Bin: The Guardian
Zipper bin: Wheelie Art
McQueen shoe: Getty Images