Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Science moment of the year 2010

Professor Brian Cox comes a close second, but seeing one of the Wonders of the Solar System up close is undoubtedly this year's highlight. For Christmas, as well as ahem, a carefully wrapped vintage globe, Mr That's Not My Age took me to see the Northern Lights. Since Joanna Lumley's trip a couple of years ago, northern Norway has seen an increase in the number of glamorous people keen to experience the aurora borealis. This is Joanna Lumley, not me. But both of us have achieved a lifelong ambition.

And fans of the pop star scientist will be pleased to hear that there's a new series to look forward to in early 2011.

Did you have a special moment in 2010?


Joanna Lumley:
Prof Brian Cox:

Monday, 27 December 2010

Style moment of the year 2010

Having received just the front half of a Christmas card from Mr That's Not My Age's mum and a gift encased in toilet roll from the Blog Widower himself (apparently there's a bubble wrap drought in south London), I reached for another cinnamon star biscuit and cast my mind back to more glamorous times. London Fashion Week (LFW) February 2010, when on the look out for style tips, That's Not My Age shamelessly trailed Bianca Jagger across the cobbles at Somerset House. Here she is looking fabulous in Roberto Cavalli at the British Fashion Awards earlier this month.

Anyway, back to my little chat with BJ. 'Don't let people tell you what to do,' stated the woman who rode through Studio 54 on a white stallion. I nodded obediently. 'I've had a sense of what I wanted to wear since I was twenty.' Can't argue with that. From Halston to Yves Saint Laurent, statement coats to snakeskin boots, Jagger's self-assured attitude and singular take on glamour has always looked effortlessly chic. But what about now that she's older? 'Know your pros and cons. Highlight your pros and disguise your cons.' A reliable fashion rule beautifully executed above. See how Bianca Jagger manages to cover up and exude sex appeal in one gorgeous, emerald green gown. 'And don't let anyone take your photo from below!' The last instruction aimed at LFW photographers lurking nearby and guaranteed to reduce the risk of an unflattering double chin shot. Sound advice from a style legend.

What was your style moment of 2010?

Friday, 24 December 2010

Glad tidings and all that...

Wishing all my friends, followers and fellow bloggers a very merry Christmas and a sparkling New Year. Thank you so much for all your kind words over the past 12 months - they're much appreciated. I'm off to do some frenzied last-minute shopping (pass the Rescue Remedy!) but I'll leave you with some lovely photos of Columbia Road flower market.

Back in a bit.

How cute are these colourful Christmas baubles at Elphick's? - and the bicycle cogs at Look Mum No Hands remind me of snowflakes...

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Hit The North

The Great British deep freeze is nothing when you've been to the Arctic Circle. Where even though there's very little light during the day, more snow than a Lapland theme park and temperatures well below freezing, airports still function. Madonna and her entourage get fast-tracked off weather-stricken planes, on our return from northern Norway, Mr & Mrs That's Not My Age had to wait. And wait. Until eventually, one single lonely member of Gatwick ground staff let us off. And once inside the airport, I wanted to get straight back on the plane. It was like a scene out of 28 Days Later. Hundreds of exhausted, zombie-passengers, controlled by BAA. No announcements, no staff and even worse, no luggage. After four and a half hours of mayhem, I lay down on the carousel - which like everything else at Gatwick, wasn't moving - to rest.

Anyhow, the missing luggage has just been delivered to That's Not My Age Mansions and I'm not going to let the Gatwick Experience ruin my trip. Here are some pictures of Tromso. Including, my new favourite museum. The Polar Museum. Full of archaelogical finds and tales of Roald Admunsen's Arctic adventures. There's a room on seal hunting - which we ran through with woolly fingers over our eyes.

This is the kind of kit worn by proper Polar explorers:

And this is the kind of kit worn by That's Not My Age. The combination of Uniqlo's Heat Tech thermals, the man-made fibres of my leopard print coat and fabulous new sheepskin-lined boots from Brasher kept me warm and dry.

Here's a close-up of my boots. I never want to take them off.

Capes are fashionable in the Arctic Circle too, you know.

We saw the Northern Lights, they are magic. Unlike my photography skills. Anyway, here's a picture of some lovely clouds.

You don't see the sun during the Arctic winter but the moon is readily available...

On holiday, That's Not My Age loves a local supermarket. I can while away hours just looking at all the regional produce.

What do you wear in the snow?

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Christmas Style

That's Not My Age has a tendency to gravitate towards Christmas kitsch - glitzy clothes, tacky accessories, any contraption programmed to say, 'Ho ho ho,' at regular intervals - it's a Blackpool thing. Fortunately a couple of weeks ago I bumped into interiors designer and fellow northener, Michelle Mason (the second time this year I've been re-united with an old friend - in real life, not on Facebook) who offered me some expert advice on how to make this a super-stylish Christmas:

1. What are your tips for decorating the tree/home at Christmas? Oh
and any tips for wrapping presents?

Our tree comes from Columbia Road flower market as we live nearby.
And I like a mix of old and new decorations: I've still got some of my nan's which she must have bought in the 50s and 60s - and some delicate hand-blown glass from Liberty. My new flat has a chimney breast and a little Edwardian fireplace so this year my daughter can hang a stocking off the mantlepiece. I like to wrap things in plain paper - either white or a single colour and always use ribbon.

2. The things you design make really good presents - but what's the
best present you've ever received?

The best and most memorable present was probably for my 30th Birthday. I
was in Honduras, backpacking on the Mosquito Coast and made friends with
a great group of people from all over the world. They organised a local
band, a fisherman caught and barbecued a huge king fish and we partied on
the beach under coconut palms until dawn. It was perfect.

3. And the best you've ever given? Do you give people your own designs? And is it ever OK to give a tea towel for a present?!

I always try to give of something unusual, perhaps a present that the
person wouldn't have chosen for themselves. I'm not sure if this is always
a good thing but I do put a lot of thought into it. I sometimes give Michelle Mason
presents - usually when I'm going to a friends for lunch. I love tea towels, particularly if they have a nice, bright graphic - I gave my dad"s girlfriend one of my own tea towel designs as a stocking filler last year but I'm not sure she realised I'd designed it, and I'm not sure it was the right thing for her!

4. Where should I be shopping for Christmas presents this year?

I live in the East End and there are some great independent shops for individual presents. I like Ella Doran, Keeping House, Treacle, Suck and Chew, Fabrications, Labour and Wait and Caravan in Shoreditch. In west London I like Pedlars for interesting prints and homewares, and Designer's Guild on Marylebone High Street is a lovely space.

The newly re-vamped Museum of London also deserves a mention. The shop is great for presents but the new lower floor exhibition space is fantastic - I had such a great time pouring over the exhibits and London archives.

4. Are there any other independent British designers worth checking out?

For stocking fillers, I buy mugs from People Will Always Need Plates, I like Rob Ryan prints and Donna Wilson's knitted animals. You get to know a lot of other designers by doing the shows, which is good because we often swap stuff!

5. And finally, what will you be doing on Christmas Day?

Putting my feet up, eating and catching up on some sleep! In London.

All photos and products: Michelle Mason

Monday, 13 December 2010

Just Pants

Now, these are not Nan Goldin photographs. They are in fact part of a serious sartorial experiment, but before we go any further I'd just like to point out that if there's one thing you are never going to see on this blog, it's my arse. So, when a parcel containing two pairs of control pants from tightsplease dropped through my letter box, I had to phone a friend. Caroline assured me that her need for support underwear was greater than mine and that her young male lodger really wouldn't mind taking the photos. 'Make sure you get before and after shots,' I advised, not realising I needed to add the words... with your clothes on. Hence, the resulting pictures of my friend Caroline in her pants, and very little else. Though I'm pleased to see she made an effort to glam things up with a pair of peep toes. She's a braver woman than I am, and here's her verdict:

Spanx, eh? It’s a disarming name for what our mothers would call a girdle. Remember girdles? My own mother wore one every day because that was what women did then – hers was a white waist-to-thigh colossus that held in her stomach with the 60s version of whalebone. It was so tight that, once she’d struggled into it, she didn’t take it off for the rest of the day (luckily, it was constructed with a little opening that made it possible to pee without rolling it down). If she were still here, she’d chortle at the idea that girdles are back, rechristened Spanx Power Panties.

The success of Spanx, which celebrities have adopted in order to look (even) thinner under tight dresses, has spawned imitations by Wolford, Trinny & Susannah and others. Having spent my life with an ass that’s big - not bootylicious, just big - and a stomach I have to hold in, I’ve been fascinated with this new generation of support garments. If they could diminish my opulent haunches, happy days!

My Spanx were the Higher Power Brief (£32), which have a bikini panty and a waistband that goes up to just under your bosom. “Smoothes from bra-line to hip,” the packaging claims - and, well, it was certainly constricting. A corset would similarly impair breathing the way these did – sadly, though, they didn’t mould excess flab the way a corset would. The soft, stretchy material just wasn’t heavy enough. The panty section didn’t smooth the hip area at all; under leggings, I couldn’t see any difference.

I had more success with the Wolford Nature Control Panty (£27), a waist-to-thigh shaper with (I’m guessing, as there’s no information on the box) more Spandex in the material. They’re see-through, meaning you may want to wear drawers underneath – so much for the promise of no VPL – but they have a bit more horsepower than the Spanx, and my hips and thighs looked slimmer. They did nothing for my tum, which was as rounded as ever, but maybe that’s beyond the ability of anything available on the high street. . .

Readers, do you wear control pants? And if so which brand do you prefer?

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Quote of the week: John Waters

Film-maker, John Waters, 64, grew a moustache 45 years ago in honour of Little Richard, describes his look as 'disaster in a dry cleaners,' and has a new book, Role Models out now.

'I've never had cosmetic surgery. Even when it works and you don't look like a freak, you look like somebody else. That's worse, in a way. You look like a younger version of someone that your friends don't know. I do use Crème de Le Mer. I think, "God this is expensive… but how much uglier would I look if I didn't use it?"'

Photo: Kitty Walker
Quote: The Guardian

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Me Old China

Forget showing your wardrobe, today I'm going to show you my kitchen cupboard. Here at That's Not My Age Mansions we have an eclectic mix of mostly second-hand crockery, but a couple of years ago we decided to splurge on something new: four urban landscape plates from Snowden Flood. Battersea Power Station is one of my favourite buildings, and so this is one of my favourite plates. Mr TNMA gets to eat off Tower Bridge, St. Paul's or Chelsea Bridge. Anyhow, there's a Snowden Flood sale on Saturday - if you're in south London you should pop in.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Mrs Marc Jacobs

That's Not My Age is a late adopter and proud. It's one of the good things about getting on a bit. No pressure to be the first to discover new stuff, just let the rest of the blogosphere blog itself into a frenzy, wait a few weeks, then stick your oar in. And so, I'd like to talk about Marc Jacobs, 47, in drag (on the cover of the latest Industrie magazine, shot by Patrick Demarchelier and styled by Katie Grand). That's Not My Age quite likes a man in a dress; The Stones in Have You Seen Your Mother Baby? Bowie on the cover of The Man Who Fell To Earth, Dustin Hoffman in Tootsie, it's probably got something to do with growing up in the eighties. Men wore make-up and fancy clothes. End of.

Anyway, there are two things I'd like to say about, Mrs Jacobs. He/she looks better in Katie Grand's clothes than smug, naked and oily in the ad for Bang:

In fact, I preferred Jacobs when he was grungy, on drugs and didn't go to the gym. And secondly, he looks a bit like George Best in this picture. And that is not a bad thing.

What do you think?

Monday, 6 December 2010

Hand in Glove

Don't let the title fool you, this has nothing to do with the Johnny Marr v David Cameron tweet-off and everything to do with looking good and keeping warm. Over the last week I've come to the conclusion that anything prefaced with the word long; long socks, long gloves, long johns, is well worth investing in. And these gorgeous elbow-length cashmere gloves - the result of a clever collaboration between E + J cashmere and the French jeweler, Marie-Hélène de Taillac, whose beautiful rings have been realised by the legendary Parisian haute couture embroiderers, Lesage - make the perfect day-to-evening wrist warmers. So perfect in fact, that I might even keep them on in bed. Bed gloves, now there's an idea.

E + J stands for Emanuela Calvi and Jane Cattani, two longtime friends and fashion experts (Jane used to work for Sonia Rykiel), behind the Italian cashmere company, creating clothes for 30+ women.

And now let's take a closer look at the lovely ring detail:

On sale exclusively in Marie-Hélène de Taillac's Paris boutique, 8 rue du Tournon, Paris 75006, Tel: +33 144270707 and online at

Friday, 3 December 2010

Winter Blogging Kit

Whoa it's chilly in the That's Not My Age office/our spare room today. So cold, in fact, I'm wearing my dressing gown over my clothes. Pretty damn stylish, eh? To help overcome any further indoor fashion blunders, I've found some lovely winter accessories to help you keep warm and carry on blogging:

1. Cosy up an old office chair with a cute knitted cushion (or just cling onto it for comfort when Blogger crashes, see above)

2. Fingerless gloves allow hands to rattle away at the keyboard in sub-zero temperatures. That's Not My Age has been wearing a pair for days.

3. If like me, your desk is by the window, a polo neck jumper makes the perfect draft excluder:

4. A hectic office schedule (sitting around for hours on end, looking at the pretty snow) calls for at least one pair of chunky knit socks:

And if it gets any colder, I'll be wearing one of these:

Do you have any special winter blogging kit?


Cushion: Donna Wilson
Gloves and socks: Toast
Jumper: Acne at my-wardrobe
Hat: M&S