Monday, 30 January 2012

Boden does Parisian Chic

Has anyone else noticed that the Boden catalogue has gone all Parisian Chic for spring? When Ines de la Fressange published her style guide last year, grown-up women swooned. A Mexican wave of approval swept the blogosphere as we all agreed we wanted to look like Ines. Be like Ines. And so, here we have un petit hommage. Shot in the French capital, on a gorgeous model (quite similar to Ines' daughter Nine, don't you think?) wearing timeless basics - the blazer, the tan leather jacket, the jeans - to create that pared-down, 'made in Paris' look. 

Meanwhile, in an intriguing sartorial twist over at the haute couture shows last week, Ines de la Fressange swapped Parisian Chic for English Heritage:

Make that flannel, corduroy and tweed. Maybe she's working on another style guide? What do you think?

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Laura Linney's guide to ageing

Another Sunday, another decluttering session at That's Not My Age Mansions. I'm feeling quite virtuous as I've already given two bags of books and clothes to charity, and now I have two more. Though, it's always a bit dangerous when you uncover old photographs and realise a) that you didn't actually look that bad when you were younger and b) there's a point in your forties when all the elasticity drops out of your face. But award-winning actress Laura Linney, 47, has spoken. And I've taken a reality check:

'Worrying about ageing is kind of a waste of time - and time is valuable. I hear someone complain about ageing and I just feel almost violent, you know? I don't want to spend my life in my 40s feeling bad about being in my 40s, and then all of a sudden I'm 50, and I will have missed a whole decade! I think it's pretty damn good to age and I hope I always feel this way.'

 On that note, I'll get over myself and on with the tidying.

Photo and quote: The Guardian/The Times.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Martin Margiela Carpet Boots

Look at these magic carpet boots from Maison Martin Margiela. Beautiful aren't they?  Sitting happily in the middle of the fashion/interiors venn diagram, they'd be right at home at That's Not My Age Mansions. And, as January is all about staying in, carpet boots feel like the perfect footwear for lolling and lounging and looking good.

Just like the rug in the Big Lebowski, these boots could really tie an outfit together. The Persian carpet colour scheme, with its indigo blue highlights, means they'd look fantastic with jeans.
Classic J Brand jeans.

And as January is the Sunday morning lie-in to December's Saturday night out, let's add a cashmere sweater.
Striped sweater by Chinti and Parker.

Or a bath robe if you really want to do it like the Dude. But for a trip out - in a parallel universe where I can actually afford designer clothes - I'd throw on the gorgeous Haider Ackermann jacket that Tilda wore. With jeans of course:

How would you wear a pair of carpet boots?

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

KARL by Karl Lagerfeld: the preview

Let's take an exclusive look at the KARL by Karl Lagerfeld collection for Net-a-Porter. Now, isn't that the best logo you've seen all year?  If there's one silhouette that says fa-fa-fashion, it belongs to the Kaiser. Love it. So, the KARL line launches on Wednesday 25 January, has an affordable price tag (starting at £50 for KL's signature leather gloves, to just under £1000 for a biker jacket) and, as you can imagine, carries a lot of monochrome.

Dress like Karl? Fun, but no thanks, was my initial reaction to the range - as I recalled a set of dancing Lagerfeld-look-a-likes spotted the last time (and it was the last time) I went to a festival.

But it's not all Zoolander and high camp. Classic black and white always looks elegant and oh-so French. The soft leather biker jacket, silver Lurex tunic and distressed metallic jeans all have a whiff of Emmanuelle Alt's pared-down, rock and roll style, and as Natalie Massanet states, ' It's a very strong, well-edited collection with a great mix of street attitude and timeless chic. It also is an entire wardrobe that mixes and matches well with itself.'

I'm pleased to see KARL has given white jeans his leather-clad thumbs up. Every summer I battle with the Hurley/Middleton aversion but now the balance has swung back into the Ines/Karl camp, I can confirm that, this season, white jeans are classy not trashy.

And there were sequins. A simple dress and a sparkly biker jacket that was borderline Cher in Bob Mackie but on the right person...

Not everyone wants to be Karlified. There's a tipping point when imitation turns into fancy dress. So, the Kaiser can keep his big collars and leather fingerless gloves. More Jackie Stewart than Jackie O. Madonna may have been sporting the Chanel gloves of late, but I'll keep my age spots on show, thank you very much. When in doubt, just ask yourself,  'Does this say Parisian Chic? Would Ines wear it?' I think we all know the answer to that little fashion conundrum.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

A moth-free wardrobe

The annual wardrobe decluttering project hasn't quite got off the ground at That's Not My Age Mansions but preliminary preparations are afoot. One of my favourite Christmas presents was this hand-crafted, moth-repellent bag containing homegrown Kent lavender. Made from vintage-style fabrics by a crafty friend of mine, who carefully pointed out, 'It's not magic but it smells quite pleasant.'

Also available with a mosquito logo (containing citronella) for summer. For further information contact:

Friday, 20 January 2012

Style Icon: Felicity Green

It was an absolute joy to hear Felicity Green in conversation last night, I love listening to fascinating people talk about their life and work. The first woman to join the board of a national newspaper - Green worked for the Mirror Group in the 1960s, when Fleet Street was an exclusively male environment and London was in full swing. The 85-year-old journalist with over 60 years experience in industry, spoke of her days as fashion editor on the Daily Mirror; of taking the mini skirt to Moscow, meeting Mary Quant and giving Harold Wilson's wife, Mary, a home perm. A delightful raconteur with strong opinions about style, Green insisted that the host for the evening, Susie Stone, remove her belt before the talk began, 'That dress shouldn't have an interruption!'

Then it was back to a childhood in Dagenham, where her fashion sense came from watching films. Skipping school to go to the cinema every Thursday afternoon with her father, Green was inspired by the Hollywood greats, 'Norma Shearer was my favourite. I kept a big scrapbook full of her pictures - but then I caught whooping cough, vomited all over it and the book had to be burned!'

And the octogenarian fashion expert's tip for looking good at any age? 'Look at this dress I'm wearing now (a simple black tunic), I'm 80-odd but I would have worn it in my twenties. Women mostly go wrong because they read an article saying 'Puff ball skirts are in' and think that they have to follow the latest craze. Experiment with fashion, just don't buy anything this year that you'll look daft in next year.'

Read Felicity Green's advice on how to develop your own sense of style here.

What are your tips for achieving timeless style?

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Margaret Howell MHL shop opening

That's not my walk-in wardrobe. Trying to find something in my closet is like trying to find an honest tabloid journalist at the Leveson inquiry.  I long to have neat-freak tendencies, a Sleeping With The Enemy approach to storage. But, no. This is the newly opened MHL shop in Shoreditch, London.  Which is excellent news for grown-ups - like me - who love Margaret Howell's Great British style.

19 Old Nichol Street
E2 7HR
(020 7033 9494)

The shop is open Monday - Friday 11am -7pm, Saturday 10am - 7pm and Sunday 12 -5pm.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Dresses with sleeves: over to you

Had enough of uber-glamorous Hollywood movie stars at the Golden Globes? Then you're in the right place. Today, That's Not My Age is keeping it real with the latest instalment of Dresses with Sleeves. As Carey Mulligan said, 'It's not a natural thing to stand on the red carpet in a pair of shoes that you would never ordinarily wear, and a dress that you would never ordinarily wear.' So thanks to everyone who sent photos in, of dresses they would ordinarily wear.  Here's my first round-up:

For Goodwood Festival last summer, Kim Hunt (above) - one of the team behind the Modern Love label - wore her cowl neck dress, off-the-shoulder. As slow fashion and perennial style are the brand's main themes, my winter style advice would be to keep it on-the-shoulder and pair with black opaques and platform heels/ wedges.

'Lending weight to the campaign for non-dowdy arm coverage,'  fellow blogger, Lisa from Privilege looks classy in Narcisco Rodriguez.

'This old See by Chloe frock has always been good to my upper arms,' says the eternally glamorous Faux Fuchsia ( Cult Australian Blogger).

Judith from The Style Crone always looks chic.  And is never knowingly under-dressed. Here she is striking a pose in a vintage geometric print Diane Von Furstenberg maxi.

Rose from Forever On The Catwalk Of Life in Phase Eight, 'It's only drawback is that people know where it came from, unlike most of my clothes which have a mysterious quality to them. Or is that just my imagination?!'

And finally,  with apologies for the quality of her phone-sourced photograph, here's Maggie in a silk Zara dress, ' There's not a single working camera with a memory card in the house -  one of the perils of living with teenage girls.'

More dresses with sleeves next week. In the meantime, keep those pictures coming.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Austerity Chic

As usual, there are more receipts than bank notes in my tatty old purse. And even though my credit rating would make Merkozy frown, I'm thinking of buying a new wallet. So, I've been checking out the new collection from Beyond Skin.  Made from 100% recyclable fabric, the purses are available in a range of eye-catching patterns and prints, and with a little scrimping and saving, mine will soon be bulging like Madonna's new cheeks.

Did you see The Graham Norton Show last night? I'm getting a bit worried about Madonna's face.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

That is my age: I'd rather be warm than cool

You may remember my friend Caroline, she bravely appeared on the blog - in control pants and very little else - the December before last.  We thanked her for her services to womankind and Caroline generously agreed to do some more modelling. Here she is with her clothes on, road-testing the Women's Luxe Down Parka from Lands' End:

One freezing morning last month, waiting for a bus, I was transfixed by a girl ahead of me in the queue. She was setting off for work wearing – as you do in mid-December - a lightweight leather jacket, miniskirt and ballet flats. No tights, of course, no hat, no gloves – in fact, no concession at all to the fact that it was around 0 degrees out and completely Nordic. From the way she was holding the edges of her jacket together, it was obvious she was frozen, but I suppose she figured it was worth it. After all, if she’d worn a coat like a normal person, the rest of us in the queue wouldn’t have been able to admire her beauteous 21-year-old form.

Underdressing in winter is one of those youth things that makes me glad I’m old. Young women evidently believe that if they wrap up in a scarf, hat and down jacket (ie, what I was wearing), they’ll look frumpy. Well, maybe they would. But guess what? They’d feel so much better, because nothing beats the feeling of not freezing your butt off. I know she wouldn’t have believed that, though. It’s something you don’t discover till you’re 40.

And therein the dividing line between youth and middle age. When I was young, my winter coat was an unlined linen swing coat, under which, in really cold weather,  I might wear a cardigan. Looking stylish was the goal, and if I froze, well, it was in the service of fashion. But now, twenty-odd years later, I’d never leave the house on a cold day without a down jacket, gloves, scarf and hat. (For especially Arctic conditions, I also have little glove-warmers – plastic sachets you pre-heat in the microwave and then wear inside your gloves. Though talking about them is making me feel a bit orthopaedic, so forget I mentioned them).

Basically – and the 20-year-old me would be aghast by this – when the temperature plummets, I  care more about comfort than glamour: I’d just rather be warm than cool. Maybe this is a point all of us reach eventually, when we realise that it’s okay to let go of certain ideas about how we should look. I appreciate that it’s the thin end of the wedge, but sometimes you have to bow to the demands of your inner thermostat.

Which brings me to the coat I’ve been road-testing. That's Not My Age asked me to try out a Lands’ End down parka, and the thing has been a near-revelation. I’d been getting through the last few winters in a Gap down jacket, which was fine, but this jacket is something else. Not only is it much warmer, it has the kind of little touches that make me groan with pleasure: a fleecy neck and cuffs (think how chilly your neck gets), soft, deep pockets so you can thrust your hands in up to your forearms and three additional buttoned/zipped pockets for carrying things. There’s also a detachable hood and a belt, neither of which I use (the belt might make me look more hourglassy, but I prefer the extra waist-room). I’m delighted by this jacket as I haven’t been by an piece of clothing since…I can’t even remember. I may never be cool again. But, dammit, I’ll be warm.

Has your wardrobe changed over the years? Do you care more about comfort than glamour?

PS The parka's in the sale!

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Technology for grown-ups

Don't let the title fool you, this is not a technology masterclass.  Though, I can tell you it was the iPhone's fifth birthday yesterday. No, I'm a Luddite, the world's crappiest computer-user. Wikipedia says that technophobia is an irrational fear or dislike of advanced technology - but I'm not afraid, well apart from having a video close-up of my wrinkly face beamed across the world on Skype - I guess I'm just stubborn and lazy. I haven't got the time or the inclination to read through the instruction handbook. More of a silver slacker than a silver surfer. And everyone knows YouTube is the font of all knowledge, anyway.

So, Manhattan Brother has recently moved over to Mac. He calls to tell me to prepare for some Face Time, or was it Skype? Is it possible to do both at once?  Kind of like stereo. Or a scene from Videodrome? Anyhow, I check all the settings on my phone ready to go face-to-face, fortunately I'm at a friend's house and she has a wireless network so we think we've got it covered.  In New York, Wi-Fi is like oxygen, as Manhattan Brother reminds me every time he visits and ends up trawling the streets like an internet-junkie looking for his next connection.  I may have carried on drinking the caffeine and cava this month, but 2012 is the year Wi-Fi will be installed at That's Not My Age Mansions. Anyhow. Back to Face Time. Now that my friend has found a magnifying glass to read the tiny Wi-Fi code on the box there's more frantic texting. But no video call. Manhattan Brother reminds me about the code, I text it to him. And wait. Nothing. In the end I pick up the phone and have a good, old-fashioned, trans-Atlantic telephone conversation, adding, ' Oh and by the way, I knew you couldn't log on from 5000 miles away. Honest.'

Technology doesn't always make life easier, as Joanna Lumley told the Mail this weekend.  Lumley says she keeps her mobile phone switched off, would never join a social networking site and prefers to use pen and paper.

Tell me, how do you feel about technology? And now I'm off to make friends with someone who subscribes to WIRED

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Happy Birthday Mr Bowie

When heroes become pensioners, you know you're middle-aged. From the Dries Van Noten autumn/winter 2011 menswear collection to Kate Moss on the cover of French Vogue, David Bowie is as influential today as he was 40-years-ago. You'll not see him dragging his ageing carcass around the globe on some greatest hits tour. No, he's keeping quiet - and dignified - though BBC economics journalist Evan Davis seems to think Bowie selling bonds on his future back-catalogue may have started the credit crunch. I'll say no more. Here are some photos.

The Man Who Fell To Earth, 1976.

December 2011 French Vogue. Photographed by Mert & Marcus

Kate Moss 2003 British Vogue. Photographed by Nick Knight.

Tilda Swinton for Another Magazine. Photographed by Craig McDean

Bowie at Cannes 1978 (Getty Images)

Dries Van Noten A/W 2011

David Bowie and Iman, New York 2010 (Getty Images)

Friday, 6 January 2012

Dresses with sleeves

Meet the sleeves of my favourite dress. An old LK Bennett sale bargain. Bought approximately seven to eight years ago, if memory serves. Did you hear that the latest research from University College London (published by the the British Medical Journal) shows that brain function declines from the age of 45?  Earlier than previously thought. Now, there's something I knew already. My brain hasn't been functioning properly for years. Anyhow, back to my favourite dress.  Which is made of silk and doesn't get to play out very often, I save it for special occasions like weddings, job interviews and so on. This is about as smart as I get. Ever.

Not quite the same style but beautiful in all it's khaki-silk-arm-covering glory is my dress of the week from Irwin & Jordan.

And people, this blog needs you! I'd love to post pictures of you and your favourite dresses with sleeves. So if you'd like to be involved please send a photograph to me at

Very much looking forward to hearing from you.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Quote of the week: Sarah Mower

Top fashion writer and the British Fashion Council's ambassador for emerging talent, Sarah Mower, is an early contender for the That's Not My Age Quote of the Year. Which as we all know is much more significant than an MBE:

'You can't do much about how old you are – I am not a Botoxer or filler – but I hold onto the idea that dressing well is the best revenge against ageing!'

Hear, hear.

Photo: Andrew Crowley
Quote: Another Mag