Saturday, 31 July 2010

Life begins at 50

That's Not My Age has been planning ahead. OK so I've got a few years to go till I hit the big 5-0 but when that day finally comes, I'd like to be prepared. Scientific research carried out at a top secret laboratory this week reveals that on entering the sixth decade, it's not too late to:

1. Run 100 metres

Jamaican-born runner Merlene Ottey, 50, is the oldest athlete to perform in the European Championships, ever. Later today she'll be representing Slovenia in the 4x 100 metres relay final. 'It's really truly amazing that she's still competing,' says former Olympic record-holder, Michael Johnson, 42, 'That she still has the desire, I don't have that desire to be out there.'

2. Get your kit off

'I am so bored with seeing stories about a mature man of 65 falling in love with a beautiful girl of 32,' Kristin Scott Thomas, 50, says of her latest film Leaving, 'Here a mature woman in her 40s, falls in love with another mature man, who isn’t a sex god figure. He’s just a bloke.’

The supremely talented KST, an early contender for the 2011 SBAFta (Style Begins at Forty)Best Actor award, admits that the sex scenes in the film, ‘Were nerve-wracking. I got the heebie-jeebies at one point, and we had to postpone shooting... though, there were a lot of other women on the shoot, like the cinematographer Agnès Godard, who were very supportive.'

3. Become a style icon

The latest series of Mary Queen of Shops saw the retail guru's profile sky-rocket. As well as making-over the nation's independent shops, Portas has become a role model for women who 'don't want to dress like their daughters,' and is planning a new series aimed at 'defiantly redefining middle age as the most desirable age bracket to be in.'

4. Shock old ladies

Rupert Everett, 51, has spent his whole life rebelling against a very conservative, colonial upbringing. On this week's Who do you think you are?, whilst uncovering his family tree, the actor met great aunt Marguerite for the very first time. She informed him that his great grandfather, Fred Everett, was a philandering sailor and a rebel, but, that she liked naughty boys. And so does Rupes.

Margueruite: 'Ooh you're not playing for the other side are you?!'
Rupes: 'This is rapidly deteriorating into an Ealing comedy.'

Merlene Ottey: Getty Images
Kristin Scott Thomas, photos and quote: The List
Mary Portas: Telegraph
Rupert Everett: BBC

Thursday, 29 July 2010

A Room With A View

Have I told you we can see Big Ben from the end of our road? No, we don't live on Downing Street, Mr TNMA is certainly not part of the Brokeback Coalition and That's Not My Age mansions is not a fancy pants penthouse in central London. We live in a humble two-bedroomed flat, on a hill, a couple of miles south of the river. Zone two, if you must know.

Being on the fourth floor means we get to see excellent sunsets over the tower blocks of Stockwell. Cross the road to the local park for fabulous views of the cityscape. Bear with me, I'm getting there...and so, my love for the London skyline is what attracted me to the work of textile designer, Charlene Mullen (who coincidentally lives round the corner from me). The 46-year-old says her handmade, scenic cushions and lampshades, 'Are my idea of a Bayeux Tapestry.' Mullen's work is hand-embroidered in the UK and India. Aside from producing beautiful homewares, the designer likes finding old boys to work with, her merino wool blankets are crafted by Raymond Jones of Melin Teifi in Wales and 73-year-old Francis Moore. Mullen also collaborates with Working Well, a mental health charity in east London.

Check out Charlene Mullen's new website here, or view the collection at:

Maison Objet, Paris, 3-7 September 2010

The Tramshed during London Design Festival, 18-26 September 2010

Decorex International, 26-29 September 2010

Monday, 26 July 2010

Your purse is on fire!

'I don't have any shoes and I want to walk,' Greta Garbo told the Italian shoe designer, Salvatore Ferragamo in 1927, and believe me, I know how she felt. This week if I had two ha'pennies to rub together these fabulous Ferragamo wedges would be making their way to That's Not My Age mansions. The perfect shoe for a grown-up autumn (so long as it doesn't rain and public transport isn't an issue) has a low heel, is crafted from super-soft suede and comes in this truly magnificent colour. One of four different types of Garbo-style shoes in the Ferragamo A/W 2010 collection.

But how to wear an orange suede low-wedge? In true movie star fashion I'd team them with a pair of wide leg trousers and a silk blouse:

And when winter comes, I'll get out the suede protector and wear them with a Hollywood-style cashmere sweater and vintage Chanel scarf:

Now if you'll forgive me, I'd like to be left alone with my film star footwear.


Greta Garbo: Edward Steichen
Theory trousers, Maxmara blouse, vintage Chanel scarf and Maxmara cashmere top all Matches.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Young Fogeys

That's Not My Age was gnawing on a posh pizza at Latitude Festival last week, when along came a bunch of dandy young men. It was Noah & The Whale. How nice to see the young fogey look back in fashion I thought to myself. I do like a pair of smart trousers, a cravat - even a waistcoat has its place in a modern gentleman's wardrobe. So imagine my horror when I opened up the Guardian Weekend magazine this morning and was confronted by this:

A lovely older model wearing what appears to be grandad's knitted waistcoat. Now, I've made my feelings known about the All Ages line up before and I have to admit that recently there has been an improvement in the styling of older models. More attention has been paid to hair & make-up, and sometimes the clothes actually fit. Come to think of it last week's line-up wasn't great. Young models wearing summer clothes, older models covered up in heavy black peacoats. Unfortunately, you'll have to take my word for that, still traumatized by the Great Tent Debacle, I left the magazine in a field in Suffolk.

Since when did Clive Dunn become a style icon for older women? Forget Grey Gardens, Last of the Summer Wine is the designer's tele-visual inspiration for autumn/winter 2010:

Oh please. Young or old, male or female nobody wants to look like an old fogey.

Noah & the Whale: Virgin Media
Clive Dunn:
Last of the Summer Wine: BBC

Friday, 23 July 2010

Dove From Above

Now, try not to get too excited - you know what can happen at our age - I bring you the first ever TNMA competition, courtesy of those lovely people at Dove. And, yes. There are real prizes. Two lucky readers have the opportunity to win the full Dove pro.age beauty range (worth over £25) and the chance to 'unravel the secret to beautiful skin.'

So all you have to do is read the blurb:

The pro.age range has been specially formulated to deliver firmer feeling, radiant and more supple skin in just two weeks. The latest products include a brand new All Over Body Serum and reformulated Body Lotion and Hand Cream, all designed to offer the very best visible care for mature skin.

The rich and hydrating formulations contain a unique combination of three proven face care actives to invigorate skin’s natural renewal process deep down - AHAs which banish dull surface skin cells, vitamin B3 to brighten skin tone and natural lipids to give a boost to skin elasticity.

And answer the following question:

How many young-looking brothers and sisters over forty does Mr That's Not My Age have?

CLUE: He's not an only child.

a) 0

b) 2

c) 4


No cheating.
No bribery.
No rude comments.
I'll be operating a first-past-the-post system. So the first two correct answers win.

Now, on your marks, get set, go!

Dove pro.age ranges are available in all leading supermarkets and chemists, including Boots and Superdrug.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Never Too Old

Good news, people. This year's Mercury Prize shortlist has a light sprinkling of musicians over forty. Now there's been a lot of fuss over 52-year-old Paul Weller's album, Wake Up the Nation, but as far as I'm concerned the best thing about it is guest drummer Glem Cattini. This 72-year-old percussionist played on Benny Hill's 1971 hit single Ernie (The Fastest Milkman in the West), a song I loved as a wee child. 'He may be old,' says Weller, 52, 'but two takes and he was fucking sorted.'

Anyhow, enough of the moodiest man in pop, let's get back to the shortlist. Three cheers for Manchester band I Am Kloot who've come up with a breakthrough album in their mid-forties after 10 years of hard graft. That's Not My Age has a penchant for a heavy northern accent - Mark E Smith, Alex Turner, John Lennon, John Bramwell - and hence has seen the band more than once. Mr TNMA (a southerner) has grown to love them too. After hearing The Sky at Night, produced by Elbow's Guy Garvey and Craig Potter, The Blog Widower rushed to the computer to buy tickets for their next London gig. Who can believe then that this sumptuous album was downgraded from five stars to three in the Observer Music Monthly (RIP) reviews for being 'too northern for our readers?' As if. Excuse me while I put on my a flat cap and take the whippet for a walk.

Click here to see a fabulous I Am Kloot video starring ace northen thesp, and Manchester United fan, Christopher Eccleston

Photo: I Am Kloot
Paul Weller quote from Q magazine, February 2010

Monday, 19 July 2010

Casual Glamour

I know you're expecting the grown-up guide to camping, but that would be a very short post: don't.

Suffice to say that putting up a tent is more stressful than travelling Ryanair forever and Mr & Mr That's Not My Age came very close to divorce on Saturday afternoon in Southwold.

So, let's move on to a more cheery topic. Casual glamour. Sartorially speaking, casual glamour is the best way to approach any situation. Even camping. Easy-to-wear, effortlessly chic separates form the basis of the look - take a pair of stretch jeans, khakis, jersey pants, then crank up the glamour-factor with a glitzy top. Or go for a totally pared down look, say, plain cotton trousers and a grey marl t-shirt and pile on some top-notch accessories.

That's Not My Age has been hankering after this Jaeger London sequin sweatshirt (above) all season - and I haven't let the 'pure polyester' content label deter me. Now this is an exclusive piece, straight from the catwalk but at £299 it would've been straight to the overdraft facility, for me. So, I waited patiently for the sales and as soon as it went to 50% off, That's Not My Age was into the Regent Street store with my gift voucher faster than I could get to the bar at Latitude after the Great Tent Debacle.

Now to prove that the luxe sweatshirt isn't just a passing fad, I'd like to introduce you to Jaeger's A/W 2010 collection. Check out that fabulous Lurex hoodie - oh I can't wait for the January sales!

And here's my classic grey Athé by Vanessa Bruno version. Perfect for layering up, easy to pack and totally chic - if a little less glamorous than its fancy polyester cousin.

That's Not My Age spotted Bret Easton Ellis wearing a hooded sweatshirt for his book signing at Latitude, Mr American Psycho even put details of his latest shopping spree on Twitter, “Not to sound too much like Bateman but the James Perse t-shirts and hoodies I bought a week ago are the best clothes I’ve worn in a year…”

And if you're wondering about the best clothes for a grown-up lady to wear to a summer festival, may I recommend:

A pair of fine jersey Harem pants (nothing too voluminous,these are less droopy than most but they still make my backside look like a prize-winning pumpkin when I sit down) and an eye-catching t-shirt to draw attention upwards and away from the derriére. I'm sporting a Comptoir des Cotonniers wrapover top with sequin shoulders, a Christmas present from Mr TNMA....this year he'll be getting The Idiot's Guide to Camping.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

The grown-up guide to festivals: part 3

Having said that tents are for teenagers, and I'd rather vote Tory than use a chemical toilet, Mr & Mrs That's Not My Age are off to Latitude festival this morning. Two last-minute tickets have come our way and once I've finished on the blog and packed my bag, we'll be heading to the train station with our brand new tent and sleeping bags. Sadly, that's not my tent. To save time, I opted for one of those practical, oh-so-easy to erect (we'll soon see about that) pop-up dome thingies and not this gorgeous Zandra Rhodes teepee from Milletts. Our sleeping bags can be zipped together to create a double cocoon-style arrangement, so I'm expecting a romantic night under the canvas. Mr That's Not My Age is not so sure. He's never been camping in his life and is nervously pacing up and down the hallway as I type. I just hope he doesn't mind being woken up in the middle of the night to accompany me to the Portaloo, and has taken note of my grown-up guide to gigs.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Selina Scott Speaks Out

Writing in the Telegraph this week, Selina Scott, 59, talks about the report she's compiled (together with Age UK) on sexism and ageism at the BBC and how she's never felt comfortable with the discrimination against women at the corporation:

'Of course the BBC is not alone in creating a youth-obsessed society in which anyone over 50 is considered redundant and of no value. However, it is the leading reflector of social values. It creates attitudes and therefore how the BBC shapes its programmes and who presents them exerts an influence, usually subconsciously, on us all. With what some think is staggering self-regard, the BBC described itself in its annual report published this week as “Britain’s favourite channel … at the heart of our cultural life” and “part of the national conversation”.

If the BBC really believes it is part of the national conversation it is a pretty dumbed-down conversation we’re having. If all we ever see on television is young people and older women either treated as joke figures or presenting themselves as caricature – Anne Robinson as Cruella de Vil or Loose Women as gossiping harpies - what are we to think?'

So, what are we to think?

Read the full article here

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Adventures in Couture

'I am assisted by the photographs or drawings published in the papers which often present me with an entirely new light on my creations,' said Christian Dior, though I'm not quite sure what he'd have made of this blog post. But here goes....

Always up for a new experience, this week, That's Not My Age tries couture on for size. Currently on seaside location, chez old college friend, S, an avid hoarder of vintage porcelain, collector of general bric-a-brac, stunning host and fabulous tour guide. It's like the Antiques Roadshow with alcohol. So far we've eaten our way around the county, visited Old Harry Rocks and tasted some Dorset Knob (a local bread-based delicacy). I've also tried out all the beauty products in the bathroom, but that's between you and me.

So, last night after a glass of Rioja, S casually uncovered an old 1955 Christian Dior evening dress. Dior in Dorset. Who knew? One of my favourite fashion exhibitons ever, was The Golden Age of Couture at the V&A. Splendid. It obviously had a greater affect on my companion than I realised - she's gone couture crazy. And, even though this floor-length gown is priceless, delicate and custom-made for someone else, I had to try it on:

Easier said than done. The big full skirt with layers of net petticoats and intricate hook & eye detail slipped on quite easily but the bodice with its tiny waist and narrow sleeves was a different proposition.

Fortunately, S didn't mind playing Upstairs, Downstairs, and eventually, with the assistance of a loyal maid, That's Not My Age was adorned in couture. Blimey, it can't have been easy in the olden days - I could barely move and this without a corset! I'd forgotten how nostalgic some of Dior's designs were. Totally turn of the twentieth century. People, this is NOT casual glamour.

Dior also said, ' Couture is the marriage of design and material. There are many instances of perfect harmony - and there are a few of disaster.'

What do you think of my New Look? Perfect harmony or disaster?

Dior photo: V&A Museum

Monday, 12 July 2010

Forever Shop: Sir Paul Smith

That's Not My Age is a big Sir Paul Smith fan. I love his Britishness, his modesty and of course, his trademark stripes. Back in the eighties, the Nottingham-born designer coined the phrase 'classics with a twist' and though thirty years later, that term may feel a bit tired, I think it sums up the essence of PS nicely. As a collector of random paraphenalia, my favourite store is the one on Bond Street selling art, second-hand books and furniture. It's where I found my favourite Norman Parkinson book, Lifework, published for M&S in 1987.

A small selection of Paul Smith shirts can be found in the wardrobe of Mr That's Not My Age (usually the wrong way round on the hangers!), together with a drawer full of stripey socks. Similarly the brother in Manhattan has developed a penchant for PS - and I'm sure it's because after 10 years in New York, he hankers after a touch of quintessential British style. Together with my blog, it's one of the few things that remind him of home.

Anyway, to emphasize the enduring appeal of design and style, the Forever Shop at Selfridges has asked Sir Paul Smith, 64, to choose his top 10 books, and they are:

Lady Chatterley’s Lover, D. H. Lawrence
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, JK Rowling
Buddha of Suburbia, Hanif Kureishi
The Wonderful World of Albert Kahn, David Okuefuna
The World in 1900: A Colour Portrait, Marc Walter and Sabine Arqua
Bauhaus - World of Art, Frank Whitford
Saul Steinberg - Illuminations, Smith
Christian Dior: The Man Who Made the World Look New, Marie France Pochna
Yves Saint-Laurent: A Biography, Alice Rawsthorn
1Domus 1928-1999 volume 1-12, Taschen

Personally, I wouldn't have chosen Harry Potter or Hanif Kureishi but I turned to the literary expert in our house for guidance. The Blog Widower has plenty of spare time on his hands to read books, so I asked his opinion of the top 10, 'I don't think much of his choice of fiction,' came the knowing reply, 'But yeah - Saul Steinberg, Bauhaus, Albert Kahn - his style books are really good.'

So, together, we've come up with the That's Not My Age top 10, see if you can tell which are his and hers:

The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald
Hangover Square, Patrick Hamilton
Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel
Allure, Diana Vreeland
An Education, Lynn Barber
Decline and Fall, Evelyn Waugh
Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut
The Beautiful Fall, Alicia Drake
Disgrace, JM Coetzee
Designs for Living, Josef + Anni Albers

What do you think of Paul Smith's top 10?

Forever Shop is in the Wonder Room Concept Store, Selfridges from July 14 - August 15 2010.

The painting of Sir Paul Brierley Smith by James Lloyd can be found in the National Portrait Gallery.

Friday, 9 July 2010

Advanced Style

Woo hoo! Last night, That's Not My Age met Ari Seth Cohen the genius behind the Advanced Style blog. And, let me tell you I was giddy with excitement - a feature on Advanced Style in The Guardian a couple of years back, is what inspired me to start blogging in the first place, so this really was a poignant, blog-tastic moment. At 28 years-old, ASC may be a young whippersnapper but his work is truly inspirational. Ari trawls the streets of New York - and now London - looking for fabulously stylish older folks to photograph. Yesterday he met the totally gorgeous, Gitte Lee (above), ex-model and wife of legendary actor, Sir Christopher Lee. Just look at that outfit. Effortlessly chic, or what?

And this 96 year-old chap, who lives in Spitalfields and dresses up every day.

Mr Advanced Style is in London working on a project for Selfridges. The Forever Shop is a celebration of the savoir-faire and wisdom that come with age and includes the first ever exhibition of ASC's photos together with design classics curated by Sir Paul Smith, Michelle Ogundehin and Alannah Weston.

So, I got chance to share a plate of mezze and have a chat with the lovely Ari Seth Cohen:

TNMA: What's the style difference between London and New York?

ASC: A lot of people I've spoken to in London describe their style as very classic - and I have seen a lot of beige! - whereas I think New Yorkers take greater risks. Though because of the heatwave people aren't so dressed up in either city, and I have found two of the best people I've ever shot in London.

TNMA: What is Advanced Style?

ASC: It's about personal style and embracing the ageing process. I love the elegance and glamour I see in 70, 80, 90 year-olds wearing clothes they've had for 50 years, matching a hat and a purse, wearing gloves. It's the way they put things together. It's not about vanity. They're doing it for themselves because it makes them feel good and lifts the spirits. They're vibrant and vital and I love the stories they tell. I hear the most wonderful things, the experiences I have make me feel like the luckiest person in the world. Young people can learn a lot from older people.

TNMA: Who are your Advanced Style heroes? And who would you like to photograph?

ASC: Iris Apfel and Beatrix Ost are two of my favourites. And I'd love to meet Anna Piaggi and Vivienne Westwood, women with a strong personal style.

TNMA: You seem to have a coterie of Advanced Style regulars, do you have any plans to build on this in the future?

ASC: I've become friends with about 10 ladies - and now they've all started meeting each other and exchanging advice. It's great that I'm connecting older people. I want to give them a voice, get them to write. I'd love to do a makeover show where old people show young people how to dress!

TNMA: How are you going to dress when you're older?

ASC: I'm really inspired by the people I meet, say, a man in a green suit, scarf and hat. I'm a little eccentric so I'm drawn to eccentricity but I wouldn't want to look like I'm trying too hard.

And last but not least, this is Ari's mum, Frances, 60, who is in town too, and like Ari is adorable. Though we did have to drag her away from the Chanel counter in Selfridges to go find a cold drink and something to eat (Frances if you're reading this, buy that last red lipstick you tried on!)

Forever Shop is in the Wonder Room Concept Store, Selfridges from July 14 - August 15 2010.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

French Style

En vacances last week, as well as lolling on the beach, That's Not My Age conducted a minimal amount of research into the secret of French style. I was on holiday, remember! Here's what I found.... a very dapper gentleman (above).

Excellent use of a sunhat - and the obligatory nautical tee.

Mais oui. The French know how to accessorise.

A classic white line shirt looks fab teamed with eye-catching jewellery.

Check out the Helen Mirren hair style and pussybow blouse.

Great haircut, great bike!

NB Most of these photos were sneaky snaps so merci tout le monde and I hope you don't mind. You all look fantastique!

Monday, 5 July 2010

The grown-up guide to holidays

That's Not My Age is back in town, suitcase just about intact with a full complement of tatty underwear! I know it's not unusual to slip into a post-holiday funk (that's one for my American followers) but this year I've got the blues big time and I've only been away a week. Anyway enough of this maudlin talk, here's some advice on how to holiday like a grown-up:


1. Wear a fantastic sunhat. That's Not My Age spotted a marvellous older woman last week walking down the beach in a red bikini (think Helen Mirren, then add ten years) and a big retro sunhat. If you're going to get your kit off, do it in style.

2. Channel Jackie Kennedy in the Hamptons or Grace Kelly in the south of France by covering up and staying cool in an over-sized white shirt. Brilliant over a swimsuit and classy with Capri pants. If it's too hot for Capri pants, French women opt for white linen trousers. Trés chic.

3. Wear sensible shoes. Heels are no use on cobbled streets, anyway, and who wants to look like Eurotrash? That's Not My Age loves a mum shoe. Try a low wedge heel, a Clark's Originals sandal and I'm going to stick my neck out here and say there's nothing wrong with a nice Birkenstock. Popular in French holiday resorts, and though it's a few years old the 3.1 Phillip Lim Tatami range is still available online and let's be honest, if they're good enough for Julianne Moore...

4. Choose self-catering. It's not just for cissies.

5. Have an early night. Going out is not the be-all-and-end-all - let the young people party till dawn (as long as they're not staying next door), early to bed early to rise and all that.


1. Think that because your companion is over forty they know how to apply suncream. They don't. Towards the middle of the week Mr TNMA declared that he'd finally become acclimatized. Day one: a sunburnt back. Day two: a sunburnt chest. Day three: slap on the after-sun and pretend you're a local.

2. Hang out in young people's bars. The music will be too loud, the cocktails too expensive and loitering on the sidelines like Peter Stringfellow is not a good look. Ever.

3. Take part in any sporting activity that involves jigging around on the beach. Keep all movement to a minimum. Swimming is fine, as is taking out a pedalo. Even wind-surfing has its benefits - one gust of wind and you're swept away from prying eyes on the beach. Just make sure you know how to turn the damn thing around.

4. Go on coach trips. Coach trips are guaranteed to immediately add twenty years to a person's age. Travel by train or boat, it's much chicer.

5. Wear a bumbag. Even if it is ironic or Louis Vuitton. You'll still look shit.

Other things that should not be seen on the over-forties/anyone: sunglasses with coloured frames, Fitflops (eeuch), 3/4 length combat trousers - why are people still wearing these?! Can you think of anything else?

Photo: Martin Munkasci

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Globe Trotter

Mr & Mrs That's Not My Age have gone on holiday. Sadly we won't be carrying handmade luggage from luxury brand, Globe-Trotter, we'll be using an ancient Samsonite suitcase with a hole in the bottom. It's only a matter of time before I look out of an aircraft window and see my tatty old underwear strewn across the runway. Not a problem Queen Elizabeth II had on her honeymoon or Sir Edmund Hilary climbing Mount Everest - both had classic Globe-Trotter cases, and someone to carry them. This limited edition collection in easy-to-spot, taxi cab yellow is designed by the talented young Erdem Moralioglu.

Normal service will resume shortly.