Wednesday, 29 February 2012

How to wear a white shirt

Emmanuel Alt, 44, gives good shirt. And that's a fact. I've been thinking a lot about white shirts lately. I have one, I wear it very occasionally, I prefer to wear black or navy. With white jeans. But then I saw the beautiful, new Margaret Howell campaign by Koto Bolofo:

And the Paolo Roversi exhibition at The Wapping Project:

Guinevere Van Seenus, Paris 2004.

And I tried on my old white Jaeger shirt. Which could be the perfect antidote to my crazy floral pants, don't you think?

The soothing quality of the plain cotton softens the punch of the vibrant print. Apologies for the creases, our steam iron died and I haven't got round to buying a new one. I'm as crumpled as an old French bulldog at the moment, not quite the same as a French Vogue editor but still has a whiff of Parisian Chic. N'est pas?

How do you feel about the classic white shirt?

Emmanuel Alt photo: Grazia

Monday, 27 February 2012

Clarks High Heel Society

People, how do you fancy an evening filled with Clarks shoes, canapes and champagne? At a top London hotel. Personally, as a comfy shoe-loving, bon viveur - kind of like Patsy Stone in flats - I can't think of a better way to spend my time. So, on Thursday 22 March 2012, fifty lucky guests can win the chance to meet some style experts (that's me, and a couple of other esteemed bloggers) who'll be talking spring/summer shoes, providing personal styling tips and an exclusive preview of Clarks latest collection. Sounds good doesn't it? I'd enter myself if I wasn't going to be there already.

My favourite go-anywhere footwear at the moment is the Clarks' Yarra desert boot, a perennial classic, I wear all the time. But on the big night, I may very well be sporting a pair of these gorgeous lace-ups, all gold and shiny like an Oscars statuette (hooray for 82-year-old Christopher Plummer and for Meryl Streep  - she looked lovely in Lanvin. I should have known The Artist would nab all the top prizes). I've had them in my sights for a while now. They're not high heeled, I know, but this Society is all-inclusive. Low heels allowed. And I'm fond of the cropped trouser and flat shoe arrangement.

So, if you'd like to come along to this fabulous event at the Metropolian Hotel, please enter the competition here. All entrants will receive 20% off the spring/summer collection and all guests will receive a luxury goody bag and a free pair of Clarks shoes. The top prize is a night at the Metropolitan Hotel, a full spa treatment and dinner at Michelin-starred, Nobu restaurant.

Good luck!

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Best-dressed costume designer: Sandy Powell

Academy Award Winner 2005.

We Brits may not be forming an orderly queue to collect Academy Awards tomorrow night, but thankfully we do have one strong Oscar-contender, Sandy Powell. Nominated for best costume design for Hugo. The 51-year-old south Londoner has three Academy Awards on her mantlepiece already: Shakespeare in Love (1999), The Aviator (2005) and The Young Victoria (2010), and admits to being quite greedy. So bring on trophy number four. Powell was first nominated back in 1992 for Orlando, and has since worked on numerous films including five Martin Scorsese flicks, probably because, 'Scorsese is a shoe man. He always gets in a good shot of the shoes.' As well as behind the scenes on iconic fashion films such as Far From Heaven and Velvet Goldmine. And even if she doesn't pick up a gong for Hugo, Powell can console herself with a very special, best-dressed, Style Begins At Forty Award (SBAFtA) from That's Not My Age.

And again in 2010.

Sandy Powell: quietly confident.

A great haircut, fabulous dress sense and wonderful array of carefully-chosen accessories... the award for grown-up style goes to Sandy Powell.

And I'd love Gary Oldman to win best actor but I think Mr Clooney's name might already be on the statuette.

Photos: The Guardian, StyleList, Telegraph.
Quote: The Observer

Thursday, 23 February 2012

The grown-up muse: Thelma Spiers

Proving that you don't have to have youth to have style, designer Peter Jensen always chooses grown-up muses. And how about that for a spot of rhyming poetry? I'll be working for Hallmark next. Meryl Streep was the inspiration behind his resort 2012 collection and for autumn/winter 2012 he's chosen the fabulous Thelma Spiers, 53. A Casual Glamour enthusiast and flat shoe-lover, London milliner and DJ, Spiers has appeared on That's Not My Age before. Here's Thelma:

On the right: Thelma in Bernstock Spiers bunny hat.

Headphones as accessories.

 In a Peter Jensen jacket. Nice.

Thelma Spiers knows how to have fun with fashion, and is half of the design team Bernstock Spiers who have a hat shop on London's Brick Lane and have been working together since 1982.

In the era of the Del Rey handbag, it's refreshing when designers recognise older women who dress well.

Catwalk: Elle
Thelma Spiers: Bernstock Spiers and The Independent

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

For art's sake...

This is American artist, Lynda Benglis, 70, who after nearly five decades in the art world has her first solo exhibition in the UK. There are some major shows on in London at the moment, what with it being Olympic year and all, the city has bought into the blockbuster event, big time. But when I view art, I want the gallery to look like this:

One of Benglis' fallen paintings.

I go swimming when the pool's empty, prefer a quiet to a congested bar and I don't want to be behind the hordes at the museum. So, the Hockney, Freud and Kusama exhibitions are going to have to wait. For a mid-life, gallery-goer the timing has to be just right. Or a blockbuster turns into a blood-vessel-buster. Art Rage is not a pretty thing. But in the meantime, there are plenty of smaller shows to see. Which is where Lynda Benglis comes in. On Saturday, I went along with the Blog Widower to see her work at the Thomas Dane Gallery.

And then onto Sarah Lucas, 49, at Situation (a pop-up venue arranged by gallerist Sadie Coles). Sarah Lucas was in the house, with a couple of friends, a greyhound and a glass of champagne. I was struck by the similarities between the two women. Both sculptors, both feminists, both fearless. Neither afraid to do their own thing. Benglis famously stripping naked and posing with a dildo, in 1974, for an ad in Artforum. Sarah Lucas taking a more humorous, British seaside postcard approach to art.

Sarah Lucas.  Photo: Coline Millard.

So, if you're looking for something to do between now and the opening of Picasso/Turner/ London 2012, avoid the art crowds and check out some of the smaller shows.

Lynda Benglis, Thomas Dane Gallery, 11 Duke Street, St. James's, London SW1.
Sarah Lucas at Situation, 4 New Burlington Street (first floor, next door to Sadie Coles), London W1.

Lynda Benglis photo: Bryan Derballa.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Sweet Sixty

So, I've been bumping into gorgeous sixty-somethings all week. If there's one thing that puts the ageing process into perspective, it's meeting an older woman with sparkle and vitality. This is Chloe Lonsdale and her charming, 62-year-old mum, Chekkie. To coincide with London Fashion Week, the denim label MiH (Made in Heaven) jeans has turned the gallery space at Anthropologie, King's Road into a store. Which is where I met Chloe (the MiH founder) and Chekkie (who couldn't believe that I seriously wanted to take her photo for my blog). Here are mother and daughter looking lovely in matching leather jackets. A coincidence, not a sinister marketing ploy. Checking that I'm not wearing the same outfit as my mum is a problem I never envisage having, ever, but that's another story.

Back in the early seventies, Chekkie modelled for the denim brand Jean Machine (see photos below). 'Imagine growing up with a mum that every guy in your class fancies,' mused Chloe, 'Actually, what am I saying, I still have to put up with it 30 years later!' Another problem I'll never have, but where was I... oh yes, the pop-up MiH store is on the site of a former Jean Machine's shop. Another coincidence, but this one was intentional.

Any doubts I was having about looking fab in my sixties were swiftly assuaged by Chekkie, 'Your 40s are neither one thing nor the other - you're not young, you're not old. Being in your 50s is good, but 60s are even better.' Glad we've got that sorted, now at least I have something to look forward to.

And, in case you were wondering, my pick of the MiH collection is this lovely Aztec woven jacket, which obviously would look fantastic with jeans:

Friday, 17 February 2012

Twiggy designs a range for M&S

In the size-zero-shaped gap between David Beckham showing his H&M underpants last week and Twiggy launching a collection for M&S Woman this week, Suzy Menkes spoke out about celebrity fashion labels.

'As a fashion editor, I have to ask myself whether taste and style are really a match for creativity and experience? Sometimes I get mad thinking how tough it is for talented young creatives to get financing while stars are lavished because they’re already famous.'

Ahem. But Menkes did go on to admit that actually this is nothing new, even Coco Chanel used her connections to get ahead in fashion. And Mrs Lawson has turned her hand to designing before, remember Twiggy Dresses in 1967?

Anyhow. I was invited to see the Twiggy collection this week, and it's not bad. The sequin blazer caught my eye immediately and the multi-talented model's trademark, slightly androgynous look, is apparent throughout the range: tailored jackets, good quality stripey t-shirts, stretch skinny jeans and some very wearable dresses.

Monochrome skirt dress, with sleeves!

Twiggy looked and smelled fantastic (when we met, she'd just spritzed her signature perfume which will be sold in America, soon!) - not scarily plumped and stretched like practically every other celebrity over 35, but naturally pretty and good for her age. The 62-year-old told me that she's been working behind the scenes on the range, with Kate Bostock and the M&S team, for the last few years. The design process included a trip round to Twiggy's London flat to go through her wardrobe, ' Well it's very important that my clothes reflect me, and they didn't know me, so I showed them my favourite things.' How very Kate Moss.

Unlike Mary Portas, Twiggy wants her collection to be ageless, ' I hate it when you're told this is for women in their  40s, 50s, 60s. There are no rules, just taste. I wanted a range that everyone could wear. See that dress over there, my daughter would wear that...'

And Twiggy's advice for That's Not My Age readers? 'Don't get caught-up in fashion, it should be fun. Be brave. Choose new shapes and styles, as well as old favourites. We tried to make the range comfortable, stylish and affordable, which is what women want. '

What with that and the Twiggy Factor (practically everything she modelled in the 2005 ad campaign sold out) I think M&S could be onto a winner.  What do you think?

Twiggy for M&S Woman launches online, 12 April 2012.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Alexis Bittar is Absolutely Fabulous

Love the Alexis Bittar Ab Fab advert. That's all, Sweetie Darling.


Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Style Icon: Gary Oldman

Isn't it about time we had a chat about Gary Oldman? I've been thinking about him for a while now - well, about 20-odd years - ever since the early days of True Romance and Leon, particularly around the time his marriage to Uma Thurman failed. Actually, I'm not talking about my delusional tendencies, I mean Gary Oldman the well-turned-out-man-of-a-certain-age who so far this year has been shortlisted for a Bafta, appeared on the Prada menswear catwalk alongside Willem Dafoe and Adrien Brody, and is one of GQ magazine's best-dressed men of 2012. How Prince Harry and Elton John made the list, I'll never know.

Anyhow. Oldman is a fantastic actor, intelligent and intense - and, like Mr That's Not My Age, he's a working class lad from south London. The 53-year-old wears good glasses, has floppy David Bowie hair and is a fan of elegant tailoring. Favouring Paul Smith, both in the real world and on the set of Tinker, Tailor...

'He wears fashion in a very discreet way,' says Sir Paul in GQ, ' He mixes it with clothes he has had for many years.'

And that people, is the way to do it.

Photos: GQ and Zimbio.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Dresses with sleeves

And now for the latest instalment of Dresses With Sleeves. The March issue of Vogue says fifties-style shirtwaister dresses are a woman's best friend. And here's Aggie MacKenzie with her new best friend Samantha Sung (available from Fenwick and KJ's Laundry). Whatever happened to Kim?

Sarah is an English woman in Australia and author of the Semi Expat blog. She's wearing a seven-year-old M&S Autograph frock, 'It immediately makes me feel dressed up. I particularly love the scalloped lace along the neckline. Very flattering. It seems to work well with opaque tights and shows of the pins, which are still reasonable. I heard that they're the last to "go" as you age, so I'm getting them out whilst I can!'

Grammy Award-Winning Adele likes Dresses With Sleeves too. Though I doubt she'll be wearing Chanel anytime soon.

In beautiful silk jersey Catherine Malandrino, Canadian blogger Materfamilias likes to keep it simple, ' Besides my vintage gold hoops, I eschewed jewelery - my glasses are ornate enough and the dress print is fairly demanding!'

And I can't go anywhere without mentioning the Baftas. Meryl Streep was dressed like a winner in her Vivienne Westwood corset gown and matching jacket. And don't you think Tilda Swinton looked magnificent in Celine? She didn't pick up a gong for We Need To Talk About Kevin but definitely should've won an award for The Best Hair.

If you'd like to take part in my campaign for Dresses With Sleeves, please email a photo to

Aggie: Paul Tansley
Adele: Billboard
Tilda: Flickr

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Marimekko: Share Your Voice

This is Finnish textile designer Armi Ratia who founded Marimekko with her husband Viljo, in 1951. From Danish drama to Nordic knitwear, I'm a sucker for Scandinavian style, so there's a fair amount of Marimekko at That's Not My Age Mansions.

My favourite cup and 'special occasion' glass bowls.

We always have a Marimekko oven glove in the kitchen. Don't look too closely, it needs a wash.

My breakfast: porridge in a lovely bowl.
I bought a square of this world-famous fabric in Helsinki.

At least I'm in good company. In 1960, Jackie Kennedy bought a selection of affordable cotton sun dresses from a Marimekko stockist in Cape Cod. After being criticised for spending too much money on Parisian designer fashion, she was then complemented on her thrift. And JFK went on to win the presidential election:

Cape Cod Chic.

In a simple pink frock on the cover of Sports Illustrated (1960)

Anyhow. To celebrate what would have been Armi Ratia's 100th birthday on 13 July 2012 (sadly she died at the age of 67) Marimekko are running a 'Share Your Voice' competition. All you have to do is tell them your recipe for happiness. This can be a list, a poem/aphorism, or a sentence or two, and you can also take part in a lottery to win a gift certificate worth 500 Euros.

I'm off to pen a few lines, and with any luck I'll soon be dressing like a first lady.

Photos: and Decor Arts Now.

Friday, 10 February 2012

The grown-up guide to patterned trousers

Mary Katrantzou spring/summer 2012.

OK, so here's an admission. Last year, I told you about a pair of 25-year-old floral print Capri pants  I'd just rediscovered. Tried them on for the That's Not My Age photoshoot and never wore them again. In my youth, I didn't give a damn about having stupid hair and crazy trousers, but a quarter of a century later, my sartorial courage is lower than my oestrogen levels. I can hold my own in tomato red jeans but throw a bold pattern into the mix and I'm afraid to leave the house.

Crazy legs: my 1980s Hobbs Capri pants.

But this year, things are going to change. Thanks to David Hockney's A Bigger Picture exhibition, bright colours are de riguer  - and there were more patterned trousers than 15-year-old models on the catwalks for spring/summer 2012. Now, even my favourite newsreader Kirsty Wark's got in on the act. Here she is on The Late Review, I've got a feeling her pants might be vintage Prada but I could be wrong.

So, the good news is that fancy pants can be worn all year round. I'm thinking of trying mine out with a chunky sweater and ankle boots this weekend. And I love the idea of a sharp tuxedo jacket:

Printed silk crepe pants from A.L.C.

If you're looking for something more affordable, try River Island.

And when it's warm enough to leave the house without a jacket, I'll be tucking a shirt in:

Classic black and cream print, By Malene Birger.

Label-to-watch Suno's 'Little People' print pants are neat.
Hobbs taking floral pants into the 21st century.

Could patterned trousers be the new coloured jeans? Will you be wearing fancy pants for spring?

Catwalk photo: Elle