Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Berocca Boost: the elixir of mid-life

You know you're middle-aged when you get excited about a new vitamin drink. But this ain't no ordinary supplement, this is Berocca Boost with guarana. The elixir of mid-life. Nobody told me I'd feel so tired. That I'd be working twice as hard in my forties as in my thirties, for the same amount of money. That I'd enjoy drinking coffee and going to bed early. It's not very radical but I'm looking forward to tomorrow's strike day just so that I can have a lie-in.

Guarana is a natural energiser I first encountered in the rave-tastic early nineties, when I was young enough to party every night and still manage to sit upright at my desk the following morning. These days, I limit myself to two nights out a week, and one of those is a pilates class.

Berocca with guarana, more exciting than Marni for H&M. Well, almost.

How do you keep going? Do you have any energy-giving secrets you'd like to share?

Sunday, 27 November 2011

How to wear snakeprint

Today we inadvertently upped the casual glamour quotient by embracing texture and print. I'm wearing a vintage M&S faux fur jacket (complete with St Michael's label) and my new snakeprint sweatshirt, and Mr That's Not My Age has opted for an old Harris Tweed jacket and his star print scarf from Sandro. The thing to remember when combining fabrics is not to go crazy - and end up looking like a sample sale in a Christian Lacroix factory shop - but to go easy, and just add a couple of interesting elements to the mix.

Take a closer look, gorgeous isn't it? I love a sweatshirt, particularly when it's as eye-catching as this. Easy to wear and chic, and that as every woman over forty knows, is a winning combination.

Once we'd optimized our texture and print, we hit Columbia Road flower market, where I felt it was too early for Christmas trees. And no matter how long-lasting the pussy willow is, I'm not sure those furry buds are going to be around come Boxing Day.

So, we bought some amaryllis instead and then headed for lunch. Passed Rev's church in Shoreditch. How good is that programme?

To Story Deli, where both the metropolitan-rustic decor and the pizzas are excellent.

Story pizzas have a very thin, crispy base and so I'm sure they're quite healthy. I opted for organic goat's cheese and pumpkin. The Story Deli storyboard is inspirational - sorry, couldn't get a close-up, no photography allowed. Apparently.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Mary Portas: spring/summer 2012 collection

Now here's a Friday treat. For spring/summer 2012 Mary Portas has fine-tuned her fashion line. Whilst I liked the idea of the first range, there were a few random pieces - like the black jodphurs with grey suedette patches and an inexpensive-looking animal print sweater - that felt more Grazia than grown-up to me. Her second collection (apart from the, ahem, leatherette pencil skirt) feels much more cohesive. The Queen of Shops has consolidated her strong points and come up with a fine selection of - dare I say it, Diane von Furstenberg-inspired, printed dresses and some Portastic footwear.

Oh and a little bird told me there's a range of fancy pants - key trouser shapes in 10 different prints - coming soon.

What do you think of the new Mary Portas range? And has anyone bought anything from Mary & House of Fraser?

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Carmen Dell' Orefice

At the Carmen Dell' Orefice exhibition today, I realised that I have something in common with the grey-haired model. Just like the woman who lost all her money to Bernie Madoff, with my lack of pension provision, I'll be working when I'm 80-years-old, too.

CDO's impressive career spans 65 years and is currently being celebrated by the London College of Fashion. Shunting my thoughts on cosmetic enhancement aside for one blog post, the octogenarian model's longevity serves to increase the visibility of older women in the media. Surely, a positive thing?

Young Carmen doesn't really look like old Carmen. But see how she can dive (bottom row, middle):

Old CDO is good for a quote:

There's a lovely selection of old magazine covers and adverts.

Look at those cheekbones:

She worked with all the best photographers, Avedon, Beaton and Penn.

'For me things picked up again in the early 1980s when I was 49. I hadn't been working very much just modelling flannel nightgowns for Macy's and such, and one day Norman Parkinson showed up. He said, "You know, for an old bag, you don't look so bad. How about some pictures in Paris." Those pictures were in French Vogue and they were wonderful.'

'I projected a strong personality for a grey-haired ageing population - I gave them the permission to be themselves. Then my career was on the high road again, and it didn't really stop. Now I consider myself a cover girl. I am 80-years-old.'

Carmen: A Life in Fashion is on at the London College of Fashion, John Princes Street, London W1 until January 14. And you can see her recent BBC interview here.

First picture and black & white portrait: Models 1.
Cowl neck dress: Tim Peters.

Quotes: Financial Times.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Dresses with sleeves

I've decided to create a new regular feature - it doesn't need explaining. Suffice to say that dresses with sleeves look slicker, hide wobbly triceps and are the reason why Diane von Furstenberg is a very wealthy woman.

From the top: Libelula, Hobbs, Mary Portas, Hobbs, Diane von Furstenberg.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Scandinavian Style: The Killing

Feeling quite excited today. My sinuses are no longer creaking in agony (thank heavens for acupuncture), there's a Christmas gift guide in the weekend newspaper - I love a gift guide. Being such a tightwad, I never buy anything but I do find the under £10 section particularly fascinating - and series two of The Killing is on telly tonight. I can't wait for the latest installment. There were more twists and turns in the last series than a waltzer ride at Blackpool Pleasure Beach. Fantastic.

Sofie Grabol, 43, who plays Detective Lund has a new jumper (see above). Her fairisle sweater became something of a cult item in the first series, causing the actor to remark, 'I love that sweater and yet I hate it. It's so strong that it's almost wearing me. So before we made the second series we had a meeting and I said, "The audience wants the sweater so I'm not going to give it to them."' To help her grow to love her new scarlet chunky knit - and liven up those long, dark Danish days - here's how I think she should wear it:

This sequin maxi is by M&S and has my name on it. The velvet slippers are Penelope Chilvers. The sweater is another winner from Gudrun Gudrun. Oh and apparently Jumper Number One does make a comeback.

Will you be watching The Killing?

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Liberty Print by Edwyn Collins

I totally understand why Obama didn't want to wear an Hawaiian shirt at the APEC meeting this week. There's something quite tragic about men in party shirts. Like David Miliband's attempts to look nonchalant (in Paul Smith) after losing out to brother Ed - trying to signify fun, sartorially, often looks desperate. Having said all that, I'm prepared to make an exception for this lovely Liberty print shirt. The ornithological drawings are by the fabulous Edwyn Collins, 52. After suffering a double brain haemorrhage six years ago - with the help of his wife and manager Grace Maxwell - Collins made a slow recovery. Paralysed and unable to speak, walk or use his right hand, he started drawing, re-learnt all his songs and finally went on tour again. So, much respect for Edwyn Collins and for Liberty who have turned his drawings into a print for spring/summer 2012. The Jackdaw shirt is from Barbour's Heritage collection and will be available from My-Wardrobe.

And here's Edwyn Collins, with his band Orange Juice, singing Rip it Up:

Photo: www.edwyncollins.com

Monday, 14 November 2011

Aggie MacKenzie - and your chance to win a cookbook

Aggie MacKenzie, 56, has just returned from a 400km charity cycle ride in Kenya. She says she's fine post ride, a few painful days with very swollen, surnburnt lips but that was nothing compared to the women with blistered frottoms. Yes, there! You may remember Aggie from the TV series How Clean Is Your House? I know her from my former, more glamorous, life. Many years ago - when Aggie was head of the Good Housekeeping Institute - we bonded over bicycles in the National Magazines car park. So, back from the bike tour, I finally had chance to catch up with the TV-presenter-turned-celebrity-chef (well, she's been on Come Dine With Me) and chat about cooking, cleaning and other stuff:

TNMA: Do you have a cleaner?

AM: Yes, she comes once a fortnight. I tidy up before she comes. It's a bit disrespectful not to clear up. I tidy the surfaces so the person can get cleaning - they're not there to pick up after you.

TNMA: OK, so we probably tidy up once a month, is that enough?

AM: A home needs to be clean enough to be healthy and dirty enough to be happy.

TNMA: Very diplomatic. You look very healthy and happy on the cover of your new cookbook what's your secret?

AM: I look a bit like Gloria Hunniford. Well, I do yoga once or twice a week, still cycle around London and I run round the park every morning. But I looked shit that day.

TNMA: So have they Photoshopped it?

AM: To be honest, I'm not sure. Probably.

TNMA: Do you have any style tips for my readers?

AM: Don't wear fuchsia, unless you want to look like a desperate divorcee. That colour is fucking grim on me. And get a good haircut. I like mine short as long as there aren't any spikey bits at the back, like a chicken. At the Abergavenny Food Festival a woman came up to me and told me she had two chickens called Kim and Aggie - though I'm not sure that's got anything to do with my hair.

TNMA: So what's your best vegetarian recipe then?

AM: Probably one of the puddings. We're really very meaty, the book's a bit thin on the veggie front because it's what we eat here. Oh I do a good fried cheese sandwich with sliced white bread, that's the best thing.

TNMA: Well, I'm partial to a cheese sandwich, but what about a pasta or risotto dish?

AM: Oh yes, there's a pumpkin risotto recipe in there. I once went to a risotto-making day with Valentina Harris and she took us through the method: chop the onion finely and cook it very slowly, don't let it colour. Add the rice, cook for ages till it's toasty and then the rice should sigh as the white wine goes into the pan.

TNMA: I like the idea of the rice sighing. So apart from a vegetarian cookbook, what's next?

AM: I've been studying a course in psychoanalytic psychology. It's hell but I enjoy it in a sado-masochistic way. I'd love to do a daytime telly programme on women who are obsessed with cleaning. Where the root of that is. A lot of that stuff is subconscious - you have to dig in, to unravel it and sort it out. I want it to be helpful to the person.

And now dear readers, I'm going to be helpful to you. To win a copy of Aggie's Family Cookbook all you have to do is answer the following question:

What's the topping for the Queen of Puddings?

There's only one copy, so all the correct entries will go into a hat to be drawn by Mr That's Not My Age on Saturday 19 November. Alternatively, you can buy a copy here.

And don't forget to check out Aggie's website and blog.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Jenna Lyons and the J.Crew spring collection

I know I'm not the only one to have a grown-up-lady-crush on Jenna Lyons. I've heard the rumours. The 43-year-old president and creative director of J.Crew turned the American label into a global phenomenon by adding sparkle to preppy basics. Think tomboyish trousers for evening and sequins for the supermarket - actually, make that an Elle Decor photoshoot:

Lyons summed up her clever approach to fashion in The Times this week:

'When I think about how women dress these days, I notice how work clothes are too camp, and weekend clothes are kept separate. I think it works best to mix both sides of the closet...I try to think of ways for women to get dressed in an outfit that will work in an office as well as for going out to dinner in the evening.'

And here's a small preview of the J.Crew spring/summer 2012 collection. Sadly, Jenna Lyons wasn't in town, think she's got more pressing matters to deal with:

My favourite piece is this chambray denim blazer with jet beading - apologies for the wobbly photo, think I got a little overexcited:

Denim and Lurex, sequins and stripes. Now that's what I call Casual Glamour.

J.Crew is available in the UK at Jcrew.com and Net-a-Porter - and there's a London shop coming soon. Though I'm not averse to a trip to New York.

Jenna Lyons: handbag.com and Elle Decor