Monday, 31 October 2011

How to wear tweed

Shoulder pads aside, my old Ally Capellino jacket suddenly feels very au courant. It was given to me by a very kind friend, who used to work for the designer back in the eighties. And, can we have a round of applause for the Blog Widower, please? This is Mr That's Not My Age's first appearance on the blog, he's usually sitting in the bath taking the photos. But as you can see he's out of the tub/embracing wool tweed this autumn too.

So how to wear tweed without looking like Charles and Camilla? This very traditional fabric can feel quite stiff and formal, so it's best to loosen things up with softer fabrics and casual styling. As Mr TNMA proves, in his mossy green jumper, a flash of colour helps lift a heavy fabric. And I've been wearing mine with a pair of faded jeans and a basic t-shirt. Though recently, I've switched to this stripey Markus Lupfer top, for that extra Francoise Hardy-factor:

Classic brogues and tweed go together like the Monarchy and an unpaid tax bill - just avoid looking like a fogey by keeping everything else modern:

Day Birger et Mikkelsen have gone all Coco Chanel by teaming their lovely women's jacket with simple jersey separates and costume jewellery. If you're feeling the need for tweed, check out Toast. One of my male friends turned up last week looking very dapper in the jacket, below. That's not my friend, that's a model - but the young chap gets away with double tweed because erm, he's young, and his impressive beard lends a hanging-out-with-Tilda-in-the-Highlands, bohemian twist.

Will you be wearing tweed this autumn?

And there'll be no comments about our matchy-matchy outfits, thank you very much.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Autumn Colour

This is how I'd like to look this weekend. As if I'm off for a super-chic ramble, decked out in a lovely cable knit sweater and wool pants, with a rucksack full of flapjacks. And I'd add these elegant lace-ups from Rae Jones:

The combination of burgundy and camel is very fine. Rich, warm berry colours flatter a wintry complexion and make an excellent autumn neutral. For a special occasion, I might even Gucci-things-up by wearing Bordeaux with teal.

Talking of berries, I've been taking an anti-ageing elixir by Cosmetofruit. The phrase 'Drink your way to beautiful skin' grabbed my attention, at last I thought, my kind of beauty regime. Containing grape and blueberry, the elixir tastes fruity and delicious, and it comes with a special metal spoon-type thingy so that you can measure the recommended 4-ml daily serving. So, I've been drinking it for the last six weeks and have to say that, relatively speaking, I'm looking healthier than I usually do at this time of year. My skin has more of a glow - same amount of wrinkles, but I'm not quite so pasty - and it also seems to work as a hangover cure!

I've never tried an elixir before, have you?

Cable knit sweater photo: Toast

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

We need to talk about Tilda

It's been an intense few days. I spent the entire duration of We Need to Talk About Kevin in a state of buttock-clenching anxiety. Which was probably quite good for my core muscles. Pale, gaunt and tortured, Tilda Swinton, 50, is perfectly cast as the mother of a teenage sociopath:

The award-winning film is like a Martin Margiela ad - visually rich and stylised. Though I need to be careful here because in the latest issue of Vogue, Swinton the Serious Actor eschews fashion, ' What I wear for myself in life is what I feel like wearing at the time. And when it comes to walking down a red carpet in a foreign city, it just becomes a question of what's the right thing to wear tonight. It's no more complicated than that.'

Here she is wearing the right thing at Cannes this year:

And again in W magazine:

And if that wasn't enough tension for one week, I dragged the Blog Widower to see Jerusalem with Mark Rylance, 49. Fantastic. I'm more of a film fan than a theatre-goer - as a youngster, my mum always used to take me to the cinema on my birthday - so this is easily the best play I've ever seen. Powerful, poignant, wild. Rylance is superb. The performance of his career, and all that. Go and see it if you're in London soon (it's on till 14 Jan 2012) - oh and Daisy from Downton is in it too.

What have you been up to this week?

Tilda Swinton Vogue pic: Alasdair McLellan
Tilda red carpet: Getty
W magazine: Tim Walker
Mark Rylance: Andy Hall
Sophie McShera (Daisy): thisislondon

Monday, 24 October 2011

Scandinavian Style: GUBI

If you're thinking That's Not My Age Mansions is like Downton Abbey without the servants - and bonkers storyline - think again. It's actually a fifties mansion block in south London. With interiors as with fashion, I tend to prefer a mixture of old and new. Mid-century treasures and modern Scandinavian pieces. I know, I know, I'm a middle-aged cliché. I like The Killing, Nordic Bakery and Scandinavian design. I'll be talking about pension plans next.

Danish interiors company GUBI's new website is like design porn to me. Whilst Mr That's Not My Age watches Kevin McCloud, I sit at the computer, all a-fluster in my dressing gown. Set up by the Gubi family in 1967, the Copenhagen-based retailer sells contemporary items alongside iconic classics, like this reissue of a Jaques Adnet mirror. First designed in 1950, in collaboration with Hérmes - check out the equestrian-style leather and brass detailing. Beautiful isn't it?

This Gubi stackable chair would make a decent replacement for the set of four dining chairs I picked up for fifty quid in a junk shop on Coldharbour Lane:

And this is the Greta Grossman Grasshopper lamp. Try saying that when you've been on the ale.

Do you have a favourite design style? And talking of Downton - what do you think really happened to Mrs Bates?

Friday, 21 October 2011

Dressing up or dressing gown?

Some mornings I get up and go straight to the computer. Today, for example, I'm sitting here in a white towelling dressing gown, knee socks and a pair of old Birkenstocks. A portfolio career means working from home a couple of days a week, so half the time I exude casual glamour, the other half, I'm undressed. And in the summer months, I go feral. When sifting through/sending emails and blogging, I'm quite happy in my bath robe. Though if I'm working, I'll make more of an effort. Call it off-duty chic. Like Madonna going to the gym but without the crappy logo t-shirt. Which is why I'm liking the pyjama trend. Slouchy clothes that feel elegant and relaxed are perfect for computer work, lounging and leaving the house in. Like Tommy Hilfiger's matching silk pyjama top and bottoms, and these J.W. Anderson pants I spotted at London Fashion Week - I'd wear them with the woolly jumper:

Here they are on the catwalk:

What do you wear when you're working from home? What's your house style?

Tommy Hilfiger photo: Marie Claire

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

How to wear print

How to liven up a neutral wardrobe without looking like Anna Dello Russo: part two. Carefully chosen pattern and print is like a double espresso to an exhausted wardrobe. Or so I thought this morning when I donned a leopard print dress. Then I opened up a copy of Stylist magazine and saw the Versace/H&M collaboration. Don't ask me to tarnish the blog with a picture, we'll have no Russian-prostitute-goes-Euro-trash garb on this site. And I'm referring to the Versace collection, not my animal print frock - thank you very much.

So, if I had the money of an oligarch, this beautiful Modern Love dress would be hanging in the closet of my superyacht. Right now, I'd wear it layered over a plain long sleeved t-shirt (it's important to get the plain: pattern ratio just right) - the grassy-green colour in the digital print would make a lovely highlight. And Mary Portas' Armery would work too.

Though having given the 'hosiery for arms' a whirl, have to say I found it a bit tight around the pit area. But then, I am funny about clingy armholes - and apparently, La Portas is developing her size range. Anyhow, patterned or printed fabrics also act as camouflage, a clever way to confuse the eye - just think of those First World War dazzle ships.

Do you have any tips for wearing print?

Read more about Modern Love here.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Why so colour shy?

My wardrobe is permanently stuck in neutral. Shades of navy, khaki, charcoal and camel create a natural backdrop. And whilst I've dabbled with hot denim, I'm inclined to agree with Christian Dior who once advised, 'Two colours in any outfit are quite enough.' Subtle tones are easy to match, easy to wear and, for the colour shy - like myself - form the perfect, attention-swerving camouflage. Think Emmanuel Alt on a budget, as opposed to Anna Dello Russo on Ketamine.

So, much as the first outfit (from the Milly autumn/winter 2011 catwalk) looks like fun, head-to-toe is always a no-no. I'd wear the scarlet trousers with a camel sweater and the pussy bow blouse and raspberry cardi with denim jeans. Want more colour? Use accessories. Just not those Prada sunglasses.

How about you? Are you courageous with colour - or do you shy away from vibrant shades?

Last photo: Camel coat, Acne, from

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Monica Bellucci for Eric Bompard

How gorgeous does Monica Bellucci look in the latest ads for French cashmere company Eric Bompard? The perfect 21st century sweater girl. 'When a beautiful, prestigious brand uses my image, I always take it as a compliment,' says the 47-year old film star. Here's Monsieur B expressing his admiration:

And here's my pick of the collection, you know how I love casual glamour.
Fortunately, there's a store on King's Road, London:

To go behind the scenes at the Bompard campaign click here.

And just because...

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Hooray for Diane von Furstenberg!

First on my list for the 2012 Style Begins at Forty Awards (SBAFtAs) is the fabulous Diane von Furstenberg. Not only did she organise a fashion flash mob along the banks of the River Seine, this week. Go Diane!

DvF very eloquently told the fashion world what she thinks. You may have heard about the Milan Fashion Week Shenanigans. We've had 'it' bags at dawn, and Anna Wintour saying she'll boycott, all because the Italian style mafia want to extend their autumn/winter 2012 shows. The outcome would mean Milan Fashion Week overlapping with New York, whilst poor old London is stuck in the squeezed middle. But, the creator of the fabulous jersey wrap dress and president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America has spoken:

An Open Letter to the Fashion Community from Diane von Furstenberg

Fashion shows are meant to allow designers to show their collections and vision for the following season.

Everyone goes through huge efforts at a large expense to make it easy and pleasant for the editors and retailers. The market has expanded greatly in the last years with Asia, Middle East, Russia and Brazil growing so fast. It requires a lot of coordination and planning.

Editors, retailers and designers like the consistency of every designer always showing on the same day of the week season after season. It makes it so much easier for everyone to plan and attend shows. Clearly, year after year, the calendar changes. There are 7 days in the week and every new year the calendar advances 1 day. Some years it will be better for some cities, some years not.

That is what is happening in September 2012. I believe our friends in Milan did not understand that. We did not change from the decision when we agreed to start Fashion Season in New York on the same day every year, which is on the second Thursday of February and September. It is the nature of the calendar.

I also believe this conflict is a misunderstanding. I am convinced it will be resolved and that the agreement that was made 3 years ago at great cost and effort is valid and will be kept.

As the President of the CFDA, I represent my fellow designers. We share the same goals as Milan, Paris, and London. Everyone at the CFDA has great respect and admiration for the designers working in those cities Our shared goal is that we want the editors and retailers to see our work and to do theirs.

At a time of great uncertainty in the world, we are lucky to be part of an industry that is flourishing and that provides an enormous amount of jobs. We should not jeopardize that by being apart. It is most important that we show unity, fairness, and that we work together to ensure everyone is given equal benefit from our work.

As we say in fashion, the show must go on!

Diane von Furstenberg

So, three cheers for DvF, and here are some gratuitous dress shots:

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Mary Portas: Queen of Frocks

People, guess who that is in the stripey A.L.C dress chatting to Mary Portas on last night's episode of Queen of Frocks? I'll give you a clue: forty-something style blogger with the initials TNMA. Yes. It's me! And after reading all the tweets about Liz Jones' cosmetic enhancement and Robert Smith-inspired eyeliner, I'm relieved that you only get to see the back of my head. Not that I have a scary, frozen face to hide. No, I like to keep it natural. Wrinkles, wonky teeth and all. Anyhow. In August, That's Not My Age was invited to preview the Mary & House of Fraser shop-within-a-shop, Channel 4 were filming and as predicted most of the footage ended up on the cutting room floor. Phew. But you can read my review of the collection here.

You know how much I love Mary Portas because I've told you so, here and here. I find her mesmerising. Brilliant, talented and funny. And she looks amazing. Portas-tic. Though I disagree with her comments on female politicians and old biddies, I know she's right about Kate Middleton. Right to focus her new business venture on women over forty. Portas admits she's no designer - so there's definitely an element of risk involved in this project - though having Antonio Berardi on speed dial and a three hour-long TV series certainly helps!

Have you seen Mary Queen of Frocks? Or the Mary & House of Fraser collection? What do you think?

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Penelope Chilvers' Velvet Chelsea Boot

Thanks to David Cameron's mid-week economic advice, we don't have to pay off our credit cards just yet. As in the last Great Depression, simple clothes adorned with fancy accessories is the way to go. Which is probably why this plush, claret velvet, Chelsea boot feels right for now. An easy way to rev-up my pared-down aesthetic, and for the first time in my life, wear Cuban heels. The androgynous, late sixties feel makes me think of Keith Richards in Anita Pallenberg's clothes. As Keef so eloquently puts it, 'Anita had a huge influence on the style of the time. She could put anything together and make it look good. I was beginning to wear her clothes most of the time. I would wake up and put on what was lying around. It really pissed off Charlie Watts with his walk-in cupboards of impeccable Savile Row suits, that I started to become a fashion icon for wearing my old lady's clothes.'

Cubana boot, Penelope Chilvers.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Age-defying style - or mutton dressed as lamb?

It's been a muttonous week. First, Joanna Lumley says there's nothing wrong with dressing young, shopping at Topshop and wearing cheap clothes. In an interview with Woman & Home magazine, the 65-year-old actor admits she enjoys 'mutton-dressed-as-lamb shops' and experimenting with fashion, 'The other day I put on a pair of old Jean Muir shorts I found at the back of the wardrobe and I felt fabulous. Mind you, nobody said anything about how I looked - not a compliment in sight - so maybe I didn't look that great. But, gosh, I felt fabulous,' adding, 'It's important to be daring and not worry what people say.'

And then, Ewan McGregor pipes up, in the Observer, ' I turned 40 in March. But I don't feel it - you never do. I have to ask my wife: "Do I look a cock, or is this alright, the way I'm dressed?" Because you don't want to be 'that' guy, but you also don't want to listen to that voice either. I want to wear skinny jeans when I'm in my seventies. Why not? Who cares?'

They have a point. It's important not to give up on fashion - and to wear what you like. Clothes have the ability to make us feel fabulous and confident, so long as they fit and flatter. Mixing high street with investment pieces - like, erm, Jean Muir shorts - is the modern way. But it's wise to be demure. Fine to show off your good bits, but don't let it all hang out. Joanna Lumley rules, but I do hope she was wearing opaque tights with her shorts.

Joanna Lumley: Telegraph
Ewan McGregor: Zimbio

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Ari Seth Cohen talks about the Advanced Style Book

When Ari Seth Cohen asked to take my photo in London, last year, I was both flattered and alarmed. Flattered because Cohen is the young man behind the Advanced Style blog who wanders the New York streets looking for fabulously stylish women. Alarmed because I'm in my forties, and ASC has a strictly-over-sixty rule. I know my Botox-free face makes me look older than my years but I won't be buying a Smythson bus pass holder just yet. Anyway, enough about me. I can fret about my wrinkles any time. Let's talk about the Advanced Style book. The senior street-style blog designed to ' help people get over the fear of getting older, and embrace the wisdom and strength that comes with age,' will be available in book form, spring 2012. Don't know about you, but I'll be pre-ordering a copy here.

And the good news is, That's Not My Age got to ask ASC for the lowdown on his latest project:

TNMA: I noticed that you have Gitte Lee on the cover of your book - not a New Yorker! - what is it about Gitte that makes her a cover star?

ASC: The book will have photos from my travels to Italy, London, Paris, and Scandinavia, as well as the best shots from New York. Gitte Lee is a perfect mix of modernity and classicism. She is a strong, confident, stylish older woman and I immediately thought of her as a cover option. She has a great sense of personal style and is a wonderful role model for people of all ages.

Here's Gitte Lee in Italian Vogue - and below in London, where she met Mr Advanced Style.

TNMA: With so many fabulous images to choose from, how have you managed to edit them down? Can you tell me who are your favourite Advance Stylists, and why?

ASC: 'This edition will only feature the women I have photographed. I would love to do one that features men, in the future. The editing process was difficult, but I wanted to keep the book as diverse and inspiring as possible. I don't necessarily have favorites, but there are a few ladies that I have had the opportunity to photograph several times, interview, and become friends with. They will have special long features in the book. I love 91-year-old, artist and performer, Ilona Royce Smithkin's spirit and colorful take on life. Another special woman is Ruth who just turned 100-years-old. She practices pilates once a week, lifts weights, and lives by the saying, "Celebrate everyday and don't look at the calendar."'

Here's the lovely Ruth:

TNMA: You said that your grandma would be proud of the book, is she your inspiration - and how would you describe her style?

ASC: My grandma was my best friend. She always encouraged me to be creative and she is the reason I moved to New York. I was more inspired by her spirit than her style. Style is not only the way we dress, but how we carry ourselves and my grandmother was a wonderful and intelligent woman.

TNMA: What would you say are the top three style tips recommended by Advanced Stylists?

1. If you try to imitate too much, you will look like nothing. Never compare. You are you! Ilona Royce Smithkin, 91.
2. Style is about the right jewelry, the right know-how, the right neckline, and above all, the right attitude. Joyce Caparti, 80
3. We must dress every day for the theatre of our lives. Lynn Dell, 79.

Here's Lynn (on the right, with Linda Fargo):

TNMA: And finally, are there any downsides to the job?

ASC: 'The downside would be not having enough time to tell everyone's stories. I wish I could share all the wonderful stories I hear everyday.'

Hope that means the Advanced Style Menswear Issue is coming soon!

Sunday, 2 October 2011

What to wear for an Indian Summer

No, I'm not off on an Ibizan yoga retreat, it's hotter than Spain in London at the moment, and this October heatwave means a return to summer holiday clothes. So, out came my Les Prairies de Paris harem pants. The soft crinkly cotton is perfect for covering varicose veins and keeping cool. I tend not to wear vests around town, so there was a brief 'does my bum look big/arms look wobbly?' moment, till I came to my senses. Thought sod it. When it's 30 degrees, who really cares?

I'm also wearing Nike/Liberty print hi-tops and some sunscreen. Having sensitive skin, I usually opt for Avéne or Dermalogica but this year I'm wearing Nia 24. Don't let the 24 fool you, it's actually factor 30. And it smells like fresh laundry. Which I like.

The flowers at Columbia Road flower market were looking lovely today.

And so was stall holder Irene Duffy. Irene loves a jaunty scarf and elegant shirt. She's 89-years-old and has appeared on the blog before.

We all know that polka dots are the new stripes:

I do like this layered outfit (above). It is October, after all. And though it's scorching hot in the middle of the day. Mornings and evenings are much cooler - and darker. Which is very disconcerting.

Outside one of the second-hand furniture shops, three boys were making use of the display chairs and the shade:

Then it was back home, past The Shard which is nearly finished and looking pretty fabulous. We can see the top from That's Not My Age Mansions.

A swift spot of flower arranging - these burgundy dahlias are my nod to autumn colour - then off to the park for a picnic.

Feels like summer, looks like autumn. I'm trying not to think about the ice caps. And yes, I'm back to lopping my head off in photos. It's the quick, easy, pain-free way.