Sunday, 31 October 2010

The long and short of it

That's Not My Age has been feeling a bit hair-brained all week. Two things happened that got me thinking about the mid-life, cut-off point for long hair. A friend emailed me a link to a feature in The New York Times entitled, 'Why Can't Middle-Aged Women Have Long Hair?' - I read it and immediately booked a hair cut. Then on Friday night, Mr & Mrs TNMA went to see The Kids Are All Right. Which is brilliant, potentially Oscar-winning and very funny, you should all go see it. Not only did the TKAAR warm the cockles, but it confirmed my theory: middle-aged women look good with both long and short hair. But good-looking long hair really depends upon the quality of the hair - and what you do with it. So you see, Julianne Moore looks amazing with her glossy, sleek, fabulously-coloured hair - even when she's wearing a khaki gardener's hat. But, Annette Bening's choppy, face-framing blonde crop looks equally gorgeous too.

Personally speaking, the older I get, the shorter my hair becomes. And I'm quite happy about that. It looks smarter and is easier to maintain - and the last time I went out with my one long-haired friend, it took her three hours to get ready! That's Not My Age did have really long hair once, about 20 years ago - but these days, I range from collar-length to shoulder-skimming depending on how frequently I drag my lazy ass down to The Hairdressers.

What the experts say

So, yesterday, whilst getting the chop, I took the opportunity to ask Guy the Hairdresser if he thought middle-aged women could wear their hair long. This is what he said:

1. Yes, sometimes. But it depends on the quality of the hair and how it's styled - long grey hair can look amazing if it's properly looked after. Gallery owner, Victoria Miro always looks good...

2. But shorter, lighter or more layered hair can make you look younger.

3. The texture of hair changes as we age and so a decent cut freshens it up. Sometimes longer hair can make you look frumpy. (No photo to accompany this, That's Not My Age doesn't do frumpy)

4. It really does depend on the person. If they've got a good image and smart clothes to start with, then long hair can look fantastic.

Read The New York Times article here, and let me know what you think. Middle-aged women, long or short hair?


Julianne Moore & Anette Bening: Alliance Films
Victoria Miro: Suki Dhanda
Mariella Frostup: Contact Music
Tilda Swinton: Getty Images
Halle Berry: Wenn
Kristen McMenamy: American Vogue

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Fashion's Night In

Although every night is a Fashion Night In at That's Not My Age Mansions - never has being slumped in front of the telly watching the latest box-set been so glamorous - I'm looking forward to Monday 1 November and Vogue's Fashion’s Night In, an online shopping event. That's Not My Age is a secret fan of Land's End cashmere - I have classic grey sweater and a lovely grassy green cardigan which sadly looks a bit washed out in the picture below, but I have no idea how to ramp up the colour so you'll either have to use your imagination, or come round to our house and and join us on the settee for endless re-runs of 30 Rock.

Anyhow, on Monday, Land's End are offering 10% off their cashmere collections, free delivery for those shopping from Lands’ End Canvas - read all about the latest collection on Liberty London Girl - and for every order placed, £5 is donated to KidsCo. Not bad eh?

Oh and did I tell you I met Jane Birkin at this year's Fashion Night Out?

Friday, 29 October 2010

Autumn Colour

Thinking about the warm shades of autumn today, Halloween pumpkins, autumn leaves and marmalade on toast...

And how much I'd like a Donna Wilson, knitted fox cushion to recline on when the clocks go back!

Model shot: Toast
Pumpkins: exPress-o
Marmalade on toast: Channel 4
Fox cushion: Donna Wilson

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Leather, or not?

Now that animal print has become a wardrobe staple, leather is the newest way to give an outfit a subtle edge. At a conference last week, That's Not My Age noticed an outbreak of forty-something women wearing leather trousers and skirts. Call it a micro trend, call it a midlife crisis, call it a momentary lapse in taste. Leather daywear has landed.

Although I'm a vegetarian, I don't go all Stella McCartney when it comes to animal skin. I wear leather footwear and own one leather jacket (an old M&S skinny seventies zip up style), but that's as far as it goes. Now, I'm more than happy to sprinkle a little rock chicery on my fashion plate but ever since my brother came back from a holiday in Barcelona, in his early twenties, wearing a black leather waistcoat - I've been convinced that in a world of leather, the jacket is king. Now, I could be wrong. There's no denying Elle Macpherson looks fabulous in her Isabel Marant Capri pants but let's be honest, she'd look fabulous in a bri-nylon housecoat. To me, leather trousers on anyone above and beyond a certain age scream, 'Look at me - I've still got it!'

I'm a firm believer in wearing what you like, when you like and I do like the leather M&S skirt (above) and the sell-out Isabel Marant pant. But I can't help thinking that there are certain people - Patti Smith, Keith Richards, Carine Roitfeld - who can get away with leather pants and then there are the rest of us. Who really wants to look like a peri-menopausal Good Housekeeping reader having a racy moment? Not me.

Am I getting into a bit of a lather over leather? Would you wear it on a daily basis? People, let me hear your thoughts.

Isabel Marant catwalk photo:

Monday, 25 October 2010

Your purse is on fire!

This week's most-wanted is a gorgeous DAKS kilt. Worn Mitford-style with a simple sweater and mannish brogues, as we're all grown-ups there's no need to dwell on the ankle socks. Despite the fact that the first kilt I ever owned - a lovely red tartan number - ended its days as a duster after I'd taken the scissors to it during a Bay City Roller-inspired frenzy, I've always had a penchant for pleated skirts.

Having quit Girl Guide's after a week (it just wasn't the same as Brownies), I had a uniform and a weekday evening going spare. Like a young Tracey Emin, without the dancing, cider and sex, I stitched a frayed tartan trim around the collar and cuffs, and E-R-I-C in big wonky plaid letters across the back of the cornflower blue shirt. Looking back, I should have left the kilt alone and worked on the unmade bed.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Lulu & Co

That's Not My Age has a new style crush. It's Lulu Kennedy, 40, who I met for the very first time this evening. She grabbed my hand and was lovely and friendly - which makes her my New Best Friend Lulu Kennedy (NBFLK) and an early contender for the Style Begins at Forty Awards 2011.

Kennedy is director of Fashion East, a not-for-profit collective which is 10-years-old today. Happy Birthday! To celebrate their anniversary, the company has launched Lulu & Co, a limited edition collection of ten archive dresses. And blimey, what an archive to choose from. Over the last decade, NBFLK has nurtured some of London's biggest designers: Roksanda Illincic, Richard Nicoll, Holly Fulton, Marios Schwab, the gorgeous floor-length evening frock Kennedy was wearing tonight is by Jonathan Saunders, and is my personal Lulu & Co favourite.

With wall-to-wall beautiful people - Jade Parfitt, Jessica Brinton, Mat Collishaw, Charlie Casely-Hayford (son of Joe), Bistrotheque cocktails and canapés, the Lulu & Co launch party was...

Hailing from Blackpool, That's Not My Age always feels at home with a glitter ball and some showbiz accessories...

Lulu loves:

1. Vivienne Westwood, 'It's her outrageous, original style. She always looks unforgettable!'
2. The fact that ahem, Victoria Beckham turned up to the London Fashion Week show in February
3. Wearing Fashion East designers (well, you would wouldn't you?!) mixed with vintage finds picked up around Brick Lane. Here's NBFLK wearing Louise Gray from the Lulu & Co collection:

Who do you think should be in the Style Begins at Forty Awards 2011?

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Menswear grows up

What do grown-up men want from fashion? I asked Mr That's Not My Age, last night but the Blog Widower simply shrugged his shoulders and carried on watching Masterchef. Fortunately, at times like these I have my Menswear Manifesto to turn to. The Manifesto tells me that men of a certain age should spend more time on grooming, think Savile Row not Carnaby Street and choose classic heritage brands over seasonal trends. Bring on Mr Joe Casely-Hayford (that's JCH above).

The 54-year-old designer has collaborated with some of the finest British manufacturers to create a beautifully under-stated menswear line for John Lewis. Including this semi-tailored Barbour jacket and an updated version of the brogue (made in Northampton by Cheaney shoes and featuring a practical Goodyear sole). Remember what the Manifesto says about footwear: a shoe made on a last, will last.

And what does this recession-busting trend for grown-up designers, heritage brands and older models (more coming soon!) tell us?

Men just want to look like men.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Larky Khaki

'Khaki is a clear-cut, round-the-year, round-the-clock favourite,' said Mary Quant in 1984, and cor blimey, she was right. I'm referring to my latest charity shop find, Colour by Quant, a book packed full of fashion news, beauty tips and terrible clichés. But, unlike big plastic earrings and the bubble perm, some of this advice is as valid now as it was back then. Quant recommends wearing military with 'an army of colourful allies' or alternatively, if like myself you're a little colour shy, black and camel (formerly known as beige). OK you don't need to be a world-famous designer to come up with that bright idea - but fast-forward twenty-odd years and I think Larky Khaki aptly describes Dries Van Noten's take on autumn. A dollop of leopard print softens up military tones and adds a whiff of glamour to miminal dressing. As Quant rightly points out, green needs texture.


Friday, 15 October 2010

Louise Bourgeois: The Fabric Works

Household textiles turned into something of a theme this week, as That's Not My Age went along to the new Hauser & Wirth galleries on Savile Row to see the last planned Louise Bourgeois exhibition. The artist, a lifelong hoarder of clothes and everyday items, died in May aged 98. The Fabric Works is a series of her later work. A collection of extraordinary 'drawings' made by weaving or stitching together strips of fabric cut from tablecloths, napkins and bedlinen. 'I always had the fear of being separated and abandoned,' explained Bourgeois, whose work reflected her unsettled childhood (close relationship to mother, philandering father), ' The sewing is my attempt to keep things together and make things whole.'

Some of the designs look like spider's webs. Bourgeois is famous for her gigantic bronze spider sculptures, and there's a smaller version here:

The Fabric Works reminded me of Tracey Emin - I've always preferred her work with textiles - and the stuffed jersey mannequin of a naked man brought Sarah Lucas to mind.

Louise Bourgeois. Influential artist, feminist icon and a very stylish woman:

Louise Bourgeois: The Fabric Works is on at Hauser & Wirth till 18 December 2010.

Louise Bourgeois photos:
Striped shirt: Shulman Photography
Hands on head:
Beret: AP
Italy 1967: Vanity Fair

Thursday, 14 October 2010

The rock and roll tea towel

You know you've reached a certain age when you go to a gig and come away with sore feet and a tea towel. Yep, thanks to Nick Cave, mid-lifers will never have to wear a band t-shirt again. By adding tea towels to his range of tour merchandise, Cave is doing us all a favour. Because, let's face it, men of certain age look better in a classic shirt or v-neck sweater than a moob-enhancing rock t-shirt and ladies, looking try-hard or mutton-ous is not what we're about. The man's a genius (but we knew that anyway).

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

An Older Man

Whilst politicians are getting younger (for the first time in my life, I am older than the leaders of our three main political parties), That's Not My Age is pleased to see that models are getting older. Like the gentleman in lifestyle brand, Toast's new menswear campaign (above).

The autumn issue of Vogue Hommes International is dedicated to groovy old men.

International gentleman, Bryan Ferry reclines on the cover of Fantastic Man - and is about to release a new solo album Olympia. Just try not to think about the fox-hunting.

Sorry can't stop there, I'm on a roll. Let's have some more groovy older men....There's only one Sir Paul as far as I'm concerned, and his surname is Smith. The British designer recently launched a cyclewear range in collaboration with Rapha.

The world might be in love with Don Draper but as we watch one man's life slowly unravelling, silver swinger, Roger Stirling (actor, John Slattery) downs another Martini and goes home to his wife.

Mr Gil Scott Heron. Because his latest album is ace and he still thinks that a CD is an investment. And that, my friends, makes two of us. Well three, actually...

Mr TNMA nipped out the other day and returned with the new Ronnie Wood album hidden in his coat pocket. The art work is terrible but this is not as I suspected the sound of a mid-life-crisis. Surprisingly, there are a couple of really good tracks, one of which features Kris Kristofferson.

Still grooving. Two weeks and counting till Mr Keith Richards' autobiography is published.

And I'll leave you with the words of Pablo Picasso, 'Age only matters when we are ageing. Now that I have arrived at a great age, I might as well be 20.'

Can you think of any other groovy older men?


Paul Smith: Nicky Emerson
John Slattery:

Saturday, 9 October 2010

The other side of the seventies

Phoebe Philo's take on the seventies has certainly inspired a generation of grown-up women to swing their flared pants but having recently read Just Kids by Patti Smith, visited the Hendrix in Britain exhibition (where, as well as hand-written lyrics and doodles, you can see one of the guitarist's velvet jackets), and become obsessed with Bowie's Station to Station all over again - it's the post-hippie/pre-punk/androgynous look that I'm into right now. The seventies was a time when the mainstream was rejected, fashion looked back, and dressing up in second-hand clothes from the thirties and forties was the way forward.

Smith's evocative memoir brilliantly describes the New York scene of the seventies and her relationship with lover, friend and artistic inspiration, Robert Mapplethorpe.

When asked if she's a folk singer and told her hair is very Joan Baez, Smith goes home and starts 'machete-ing my way out of the folk era.' Her new Keith Richards' haircut causes quite a stir,' I couldn't believe all the fuss over it. Though I was still the same person, my social status suddenly elevated....someone asked me if I was androgynous, I asked what that meant. "You know, like Mick Jagger." I figured that must be cool. I thought the word meant both beautiful and ugly at the same time. Whatever it meant, with just a haircut, I miraculously turned androgynous overnight.'

Hendrix in Britain is on at the Handel House Museum till 7 November 2010

Fashion photos: Solve Sundbo, Vogue Italia, August 2010