Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Day trips and fine knits

Minimalism is back, a fine knit jumper is one of autumn's hot buys and That's Not My Age couldn't be happier. A recent trip up to Derbyshire to visit the fabulous John Smedley factory, followed by a quick whizz round the factory shop - a sort of posh Supermarket Sweep without the trolleys - has added a handful of simple, stylish sweaters to my winter wardrobe.

The factory was built in 1784 and is so old it has ancient monument status. Smedley have been producing quality knitwear for over 200 years and dedicated followers include Joanna Lumley, Paul Weller and HRH the Queen (Her Majesty wears the vests). The company also produce knitwear for Paul Smith and Margaret Howell. People, we are talking classic, refined, timeless.

The business has a friendly, family-owned feel - bosses agonize over what to do with a 30-year-old machine that's not being used anymore, workers are genuinely upset when something goes wrong. I'm tempted to ask for a job.

Creative director, Dawne Stubbs likes a good v-neck. Dawne owns around 40 John Smedley garments. Her oldest knit is almost 20-years-old and she still wears it on a regular basis. Now, if that's not an investment buy, I don't know what is. That's Not My Age has an extra long body so I put in a special request for longer-length jumpers and the good news is that John Smedley are 'addressing the issue of length.' Hoorah.

On the trip around the factory we came across:

No, not the place where workers have a good old knee's up on a Friday afternoon, this is where two yarns - top quality Sea Island Cotton or extra fine Merino wool - are twisted together. .

And now for the factory shop booty - which looks like a lot but I spent £130 or the equivalent of one full price sweater. Not bad eh?

Three lovely knits and two pairs of argyle socks for me and a classic three-buttoned Merino polo shirt and three pairs of socks for Mr That's Not My Age.

Buy online at John Smedley or get yourself down to the factory shop for some super-fine bargains.

John Smedley, Lea Mills, Leabridge, Matlock, Derbyshire DE4 5AG
Tel 01629 534 571

Monday, 30 August 2010

The Perfect Combination

Forget about Cameron and Clegg - and believe me, I'd like to - there's only one coalition I'm interested in this season and that's coffee and cycling. That's Not My Age's lifelong bicycle obsession reached it's zenith yesterday at Look Mum No Hands!, a cycle café on Old Street with what is possibly the best name for a shop, ever. There's room to park your bike, cycling gear for sale, free wi-fi and the owners are more than happy for cyclists to carry out their own bike repairs on site (er, thanks but no thanks). And more importantly there's food and beer. Mr & Mrs That's Not My Age weren't interested in getting our hands dirty, we were there to re-fuel. Not put off by the young hipsters in old-school cotton caps and traditional cycle pants fiddling with their spokes, we scoffed our pie and salad and pedalled our way home.

You can see a small selection of my bike-related photos here - and here are a few more:

Look Mum No Hands! 49 Old Street, London EC1

Friday, 27 August 2010

Transitional Style

After spending all summer in a pair of old Uniqlo track pants and a t-shirt, That's Not My Age has decided it's time to smarten up my act. And this Banana Republic outfit is exactly what I'm after for those in-between days when it's warm, it's rainy, it's windy, it's rainy, it's dark before 8pm, it's rainy. You get the picture. Just add an umbrella and autumn here I come. So the good news is that both Banana Republic and Gap are now available to buy online in Europe, whoop!

Here are a few of my favourite things:

And to prove it's not all me, me, me in this household, Mr TNMA, needs a new jacket so this one's for him:

Scarf and tee, Banana Republic. Trousers and men's jacket, Gap.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Planes, Trains and Travel Oils

Mr & Mrs That's Not My Age have just spent a few days here. Montejaque, a beautiful mountain village in Spain where we stayed with some friends - which all sounds very grand till I tell you that we slept in a five-year-old's bed, flew Ryanair and the hole in the bottom of our suitcase got so big we had to stuff it with plastic bags to stop our clothes falling out. Sadly, the suitcase is on its last journey to that great big carousel in the sky, and now resides in a south London skip awaiting its final boarding call.

Anyway, enough of this maudlin talk, en España, we spent a fair amount of time embracing the local customs; drinking tinto verano (the red wine of summer, a refreshing blend of Rioja and Casera/soda or Fanta Limon) and eating tapas:

It took a day or so, to adjust to the Spanish way of life but soon we were taking siestas and eating out at ten o'clock at night. Fortunately, I'd packed my Aromatherapy Associates essential travel oils for bath & shower which meant we were able to relax in the afternoon with a splash of lavender and revive ourselves in the evening with a blend of geranium, patchouli and ylang ylang. No need for after-sun or eau de Cologne, these oils leave your skin feeling soft and moisturised and our friends commented more than once on how gorgeous we both smelled.

On the way back we stopped off in Seville. Which is beautiful, and hot! The temperature was still over 40 degrees the evening we got completely lost and spent over an hour trying to find a vegetarian restaurant - doubt we smelled so good then.

Early next morning we hired bikes and slowly pedalled over to CAAC, a contemporary art gallery set in a former 15th century monastery-cum-ceramics factory, which was well worth the sweaty cycle trip.

That's Not My Age may be in a bit of a post-holiday slump but at least I still have some essential oils to perk me up - and the news that Aromatherapy Associates goes on sale in the Bath & Body area at Liberty tomorrow. Yay!

Monday, 23 August 2010

A year of blogging dangerously

Not wanting to be outdone by HRH, That's Not My Age has gone one better: three birthdays. So, July 14 2008 is the anniversary of my first style-over-forty post (featuring Mary Portas, of course), August 23 2009, the anniversary of my first trip out as an amateur style spotter with photographer, Fashionistable and August 25 2009 is the date of one's second blog post, or my official Blog Day, when things really got serious. So, a whole year has passed since two forty-something females decided that chasing strangers down the street with a camera was a good idea, and to celebrate there was coffee and cake and a couple of photos:

Aerobics teacher, Laura Avanti (above) enjoys mixing old and new, high street and designer. Anita's easy-going style is reflected in her choice of handbags. A Chloé leather number on one arm and a shoulder bag made out of an old Armani skirt on the other.

For a cool summer look, Anita Sobti teams natural fabrics - a silk over-shirt and linen trousers - with some top notch accessories, and always follows her father's advice: whatever your budget, whatever you wear, do it with confidence.

Happy Birthday to me! Another 99 years and I'll get a telegram.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Not just for tall people

Never let it be said that this blogger is sizeist. A recent post on maxi skirts and year-round style drew a couple of comments from petite readers who said they didn't think they could wear a floor-length skirt. Being a thoughtful, inclusive kind of person, That's Not My Age promised an alternative. And, because we're all supposed to be channeling Mad Men right now, I've opted for a fifties-inspired theme.

Silk dress and kitten heel shoe, both LK Bennett, tweed jacket, Phase Eight and lace detail skirt, Marks & Spencer

And here's a final thought on maxi skirts...

Personally, I'm all for women of any height wearing maxi skirts. If the garment is properly proportioned and not too voluminous, then there's no reason why it can't look fabulous .

What do you think?

Monday, 16 August 2010

Comfy Shoes

Now if that headline doesn't pull in the crowds, I'll sack my podiatrist. That's Not My Age loves a mum shoe and I'm delighted to hear that fashionable young celebrities, like Maggie Gyllenhaal, have taken to wearing orthpaedic footwear. Forget grey hair that's for old folks, it's woo hoo for Worishofers! Going one step further Clarks Originals autumn/winter collection has some fully remastered, 1950s sheepskin-lined granny boots:

Yes. When summer ends and the mum shoes are packed away, That's Not My Age will be going back to my roots. Zipping up my granny boots. In fact, I'm so enamoured, I might even buy both colourways. Because as we all know camel is 'it' this season.

And there's an Igloo shoe too. This cute lace-up comes in camel (of course) and a lovely indigo blue. Which, to coin my favourite phrase, ever, will look good with jeans.

So, how to wear granny boots:

1. Make sure the rest of the outfit is super-sharp. A pair of neatly tailored slim pants, ladylike blouse or masculine jacket juxtapose the footwear's casual nature. Trousers should be slim enough to tuck in or a 7/8 length that ends just above the top of the boot.

2. Hair & make-up should be sleek and sophisticated (if ever there was a case of do as I say, not as I do - this is it!) Looking like you've just escaped from a care home/walked off a Guardian All Ages photo shoot/work from home and don't give a damn is not the image we're after here.

3. Don't be afraid to get you legs out. Granny boots look fab with black opaques. Just add a stunning dress and military jacket to avoid looking like a real-life octagenarian.

Granny boots, how would you wear them?


Fred Astaire: Martin Munkasci
Catwalk: style.com

Friday, 13 August 2010

Quote of the week: Joanna Lumley

As well as saving the Gurkhas and showing us how do do the Nile in style, in this week's Grazia, Joanna Lumley, 64, shares the secret of looking fabulous at any age:

'Oh make-up darling. I love make-up. I'd like to be like Bette Davis as I get older and older, larded with make-up.'

Photo: EPA

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Home is where the art is

Now this home really is where the art is. Forty-something couple, Lynne, a fashion & textiles expert and Del, an art teacher met as students at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in the eighties and now live in rural Sussex with their 11-year-old son, and Custard the Cat. The couple take a make do approach to interiors, most of the artwork here is second-hand and furniture has either been handed-down, or salvaged and recycled. Del plays art swap with friends when he's looking for something new to hang on the walls, creates stuff for the home using found objects and makes his own pasta (though apparently, Jamie Oliver's cannelloni with semolina flour is a 'fucking arse ache' to make). The screen for the fireplace is made from an old chest of drawers. Obviously they have a better class of skip down in Sussex:

Every surface is dotted with carefully curated doodahs. On the mantlepiece in front of the vintage French mirror sits a ceramic jug by Japanese potter, Takeshi Yasuda, a selection of family photos and a wooden statue bought off a beach artist in Jamaica, 'I asked for one that was unfinished, ' says Del, 'I like it because it's a work in progress.'

Whitewashed walls and neutral carpets make the perfect blank canvas for an interesting mix of artwork and antiques. And proving that less really is more, this ceramic bird cost one pound from a charity shop and the painted metal candlestick holder was picked up at a garden centre.

Second-hand fifties mirror, and mobile from the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York.

As a child growing up in the seventies, Lynne shared a pink-walled bedroom with her younger sister. Their grandma, a devout Catholic, often presented the girls with religious memorabilia - statues of patron saints, plastic plaques, rosary beads - which they displayed on the mantlepiece. 'We had this horrible seventies decor and all this religious stuff including holy water. It was mad,' laughs Lynne, 'The other day I thought blimey, I'm doing it again. I made the connection but it's not a religious thing at all, I'm an atheist! I suppose it's a comfort thing.'

Del tends to take the same approach to artwork as to interiors, with the emphasis on creating something modern from rescued cultural relics. As is evidenced by his latest collection, a series of collages made from old Penguin book covers. And, that's my picture happily sitting on the settee at That's Not My Age mansions so don't get any ideas! Besides, there's an exhibition coming soon.

To contact Del about his artwork: email P-DELLER@sky.com