Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Rachel Weisz likes comfy shoes


She may be beautiful, brainy and married to Bond but when it comes to footwear, Rachel Weisz has the same problem as a lot of other women:

' I love Rick Owens, The Row, Stella McCartney, Narciso Rodriguez, Alexander McQueen, Rag & Bone, Hussein Chalayan, Jason Wu,' the 42-year-old actress told the Times, 'But finding comfy shoes that look good is the challenge.'

Nike trainers: peace out.

So, if the Bourne Legacy star is reading this, That's Not My Age recommends Grenson and Church's for classic brogues and loafers, and Clarks for desert boots.

Lovely brogues from Grenson.
The classic desert boot.

Do you have any other suggestions?

Sunday, 29 July 2012

London 2012: East End Style


People, I've been high on the opening ceremony all weekend. Bonkers-tastic, wasn't it? I'd have switched Macca for Bowie singing Heroes (live) as the grand finale but that's my only gripe. As you can see, London has been overcome by Olympic fever. Here are some lovely ladies I met at the Olympic Torch relay the other day, when my excitement was just about under control. Now I've upgraded to full-blown 2012 hysteria, and it's only day two. Lord knows what I'll be like when it gets to the men's 100m final.

So, today in the spirit of the Games, me and the Blog Widower had our very own road race. We cycled over to the London's East End, just a few miles away from the Olympic Park. As you can see at this point I was trailing Mr That's Not My Age but that was purely for the photo op. And I have got a Mark Cavendish-style finish.

Mr TNMA on his bike.

Even the fabulous Georgian houses in Spitalfields are flying the flag.


I feel an affiliation with this part of the city, my mum was born not far from here  - although the family was evacuated up north during the Blitz, I still like to think of it as part of my heritage. Like most London districts, the East End is a mixture of grit and glamour: 


The race ended at Columbia Road flower market, where, like proper cyclists we quaffed some caffeine. And like proper mid-lifers, bought some lovely lavender for the balcony.


Then I snapped some random photos of stylish people of a certain age:

Oh-so dapper yellow chinos.

A khaki waterproof. Sensible move.


Nice titfer (that's Cockney rhyming slang for hat).

Hope you're having a good Sunday. I'm off to catch up with the Olympic action, so I'll leave you with some pretty flowers.


Peonies: my favourites.


























Friday, 27 July 2012

Helena Christensen and Boden


There's trouble brewing in Boden World. The brand has responded to complaints of being 'too smug, expensive and out of touch with austerity Britain' by designing an 'edgy' range called Shoreditch (quite nice basics with a J Crew twist, hardly pre-Burton McQueen) and by using Helena Christensen, 43, as a model. That's cool I thought. Enough of the sickly prints already. Bring on the Jenna Lyons factor. And Christensen's healthy wholesome looks are perfect for the brand. The Fulham Mums will love it. But no.

Over on the Boden blog there's been much talk of whether Johnnie Boden is getting too big for his Chelsea boots. The majority of customers feel that the supermodel is 'too sexy and sultry and completely wrong for Boden'. The famous model has 'no concept of the lives we lead' and the clothes should be shown on everyday women who are 'not all slim and good looking'. Customers reminisce about the good old days when the catalogue was shot on real people ie Johnnie's posh mates and included pull-quotes highlighing their likes and dislikes. A friend of mine worked for Boden when it was just four people in a warehouse on a grotty industrial park in north west London - so I remember those catalogues, they were bloody awful. Amateurish and cringeworthy. People, move on.


My favourite comment is from Harriet who says, ' Forget Helena Christensen, get Kirstie Allsop on board and you might stand a chance.' Yeah, right. Get the Right Honourable Lord Hindlip's daughter involved, that's really democratic. So far, so Daily Mail.

Having seen the collection, I think this new direction is a massive improvement. I like the slicker more modern look - though there's still a lot of the old Boden prints and ruffles in there, so it's hardly a seismic style shift.


I've been eyeing up their Bistro crop trousers and sixties heels, and even contemplating Boden's take on the J Brand Houlihan (top picture). They're called Seam Detail Trousers, so as not to scare the customers. But there are some things that even Helena Christensen cannot help:



What do you think? Should Boden stay firmly in middle-England, or are they right to head to Shoreditch for inspiration?

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

The grown-up guide to t-shirts


Have I told you about my love of a good t-shirt? The That's Not My Age signature style is the grey marl Track Shirt from American Apparel which I buy in bulk when I'm in New York, and wear constantly. It pains me to put money into pervy old Dov Charney's pockets but it's the best I've found. If you know of something similar from a company that doesn't feel the need to use crotch shots on 60-year-old models, do let me know. Anyhow. Here's Lauren Hutton in The Track Shirt.


Now that we finally have Mediterranean temperatures in London The Track Shirt feels a bit neat around the armpit area, and so I've switched to a slouchier style. Not so long ago, a Vince t-shirt fan (sorry, I've forgotten who it was) asked me on Twitter where to find something similar for less . Mid-range American brands like Vince, J Crew and James Perse are lovely but end up being quite pricey in the UK. So I suggested American Vintage which is a French label and purveyor of very fine jersey knitwear. I have a couple of their t-shirts:



And Gap Pure collection, as I'd recently bought two v-neck tees: one navy and one fluorescent orange. Which I've been layering up. 



And I've just noticed that the tobacco-coloured t-shirt (first picture) is in the sale at Lands' End. I think Lands' End are underrated as a brand - they do have some decent bits and pieces - though that apostrophe does annoy me.


Where do you buy your t-shirts?

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

London 2012 here we come!


This week I'm in full-on Olympic Mode. The whole of London is gearing up for this grand occasion, Mayor Boris Johnson has even had a haircut. And, the only opening ceremony I care about is the one that's taking place in east London on Friday evening. So, last night me and Mr That's Not My Age had tickets to see the dress rehearsal for Friday's show. I was beyond excited to be visiting the Olympic Park. Though the entrance via Westfield shopping centre is just plain wrong, and there's been a big hoo-ha about corporate sponsorship and security, let us not forget that this is one of the biggest sporting events on earth. I have to say that the organisation, the atmosphere and the venue were all world class. Top-notch. And the stadium is fantastic. Designed by Populous, it's already been nominated for an architectural award. Just look at the lovely Olympic Meadow in the foreground.

It's beautiful on the inside too:


This is Anish Kapoor's Helter Skelter sculpture with a funny name. More corporate sponsorship.


 Zaha Hadid's Aquatic Centre is very fine - couldn't capture the whole structure on my little camera so here's one of the curves.



Sorry I can't tell you what the opening ceremony was like, Danny Boyle personally asked everyone  to #savethesurprise. Suffice to say that this is Great Britain, and on Friday there will be clouds:




Friday, 20 July 2012

Older models rule!


It feels like there's been a significant breakthrough on the older model front this week. I was already giddy with excitement about the Lanvin ads featuring Ari Seth Cohen's Advanced Style ladies - and then, just this morning, the rest of the Illamasqua Generation Q campaign popped into my inbox. The cult British beauty brand are celebrating age without limits, and that's the lovely Patricia (above). She's 53.

So, I said I'd get back to you about the Lanvin model: you probably know by now that it's the fabulous Jacquie Tajah Murdock who's 82 and a former dancer at the Apollo Theatre. You can read more about her here.


When I met Ari in New York at Easter, he told me that a couple of his gorgeous friends had been signed up for a major campaign but he'd be sworn to secrecy. This week he texted me to tell me that the news was out, and earlier today, another Lanvin model and Advanced Style star was revealed. The wonderful Tziporah Salamon a 62-year-old fashion consultant.



 Meet Karen, 45, and Marhi, 39, stars of the Illamsqua campaign:



Brilliant, eh? Let's hope this isn't just a fashion fad and that we are going to see more realistic images of women. People, older models are the future!

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

How to give yourself a facial massage: with expert tips from Su-Man



Do you remember the lovely Su-Man? Facialist to the stars, including Juliette Binoche and er, me. Alright, so I've seen her three times in two years but let a woman dream, why don't you. Anyhow, now that I'm in the process of upgrading my beauty routine (I recently bought a top coat nail polish, for the first time in my life), I plan to have a regular facial massage. As Su-Man, 48, points out my current approach, 'Is like living off McDonalds and eating salad once a year.' OK, point taken. And the good news is that my facialist now works at the fancy pants Away Spa at the W Hotel once a week (much nearer to That's Not My Age Mansions, so, apart from the expense, I have no excuse).

Away Spa. W Hotel.

Oddly, as a virtual stranger to the spa world, I wasn't intimidated by the flashy surroundings. Arriving early, I was escorted to the changing room and told I could use the sauna. Where I met a lovely man - naked apart from what looked like a carefully positioned hand towel. Feeling a bit uncomfortable anyway in my belted towelling bath robe, I tried not to stare.

I'd forgotten how fabulous Su-Man's treatments really are. She's very firm, pummeling tired muscles until the face looks plumped up and younger. Yes, younger. An effect that lasts for a day or so. 'It's the discipline that let's people down,' Su-Man said, pointedly, 'Just like any other part of your body the face needs to do exercises to stimulate muscles and keep it toned. It helps improve the circulation and unblock tensions.' Of course, I knew that.

'You need to spend more time taking care of yourself,' she added, 'I clean my face twice a day, apply toner, serum and moisturiser - but each time I put something on my face, I massage the muscles for a few seconds to make them firm and bouncy. So, 5-7 minutes is my daily skincare routine.' Feeling  inadequate, I begged for extra help and Su-Man very kindly sent me her DIY massage routine:

Follow this sequence after cleansing your face. All the exercises are easier to do sitting down.

1) With elbows resting on a table, massage the face with moisturizer. Using the heels of both palms, start from the chin moving along the jaw bone up to the base of the ear 36 times  (I ask you to do each massage 36 times. The reason for this is that in Chinese culture the number six is considered a “lucky” number) .

 2) Take the heels of both your hands from the edge of your nostrils and press along in one continuous line underneath the cheekbones up to the edge of your ears. Again, 36 times and always, in one direction. Never press downwards. You want to lift the face muscles up – not down!!

3) Take the middle fingers of both hands and press the area between your eyes and nose, at the very top of your nose. Press gently but firmly downwards following the nose line to the side of your nostrils. Do this 36 times. This also clears the sinuses and helps to improve your breathing.

4) Make two small claws with your four fingers of each hand. Put them together on the middle of your forehead and press quite firmly (without pulling the skin) in an outward direction, smoothly, until the temples. 36 times and again, only in one direction.

5) Tap around the eye sockets with your fingertips, use the natural weight of the fingers. Do not tap too hard! Six times above the eye socket and six times below. Do not tap the eyelids! They are too delicate and this can damage the eyes. This exercise reduces any puffiness or swelling above or below the eyes. Once a day is enough. To finish off this exercise you can continue tapping all over the face. But you only need to do this a few times.

6) Finally,after finishing the above exercises, take the fingertips of both hands, and tap everywhere on the scalp and cranium quiet strongly (using the natural weight of your fingers). Please note: it is not good to touch your face after this exercise as you can transfer dust and dirt from your hair.

When you have finished this sequence, I suggest you drink a glass of warm water to help the chi flow. Once a week, I recommend that you exfoliate and use a face mask.

 

Hope this all makes sense. I highly recommend a trip to Su-Man who will skilfully demonstrate the exercises and make you look younger. Haven't started my new beauty regime yet, but Su-Man if you're reading this, I'm on the case.


Bookings: facials@su-man.com or W Away Spa 0207 758 1071

Monday, 16 July 2012

How to wear a navy blazer



So, here I am on the High Line in New York, earlier this year. Thought it was about time I showed my face again. It's been a while. Mainly because, as I've mentioned before, I don't like having my photo taken. Which is probably why I'm squinting. Or maybe the sun was in my eyes. Believe me, after three months of persistent rainfall, I've completely forgotten what that feels like. Actually, who am I trying to kid? Those lines are a permanent fixture. That's what forty-something-without-Botox looks like.

I'd show you a photo of me in Cornwall but there's not much to say about an old kagoule and walking boots. Anyhow. If the Great British summer had not been replaced by a monsoon season, I'd probably be dressed something like this: navy Paul Smith blazer, Gap broken-in chinos, my favourite Church's boots and the Blog Widower's scarf.

So, obviously as soon as I'd found the perfect summer jacket, the weather made like a post-budget George Osborne and took a U-turn. But having worn the blazer briefly, back in March, this is what I know:

1. The navy blazer works well given an androgynous edge. Try slim navy trousers or coloured chinos teamed with flat shoes/boots - or add a casual spin with a pair of Liberty Nike Air Max.

2. The navy blazer looks wrong with denim jeans. Too Sloaney. I've tried it. Once. In my bedroom. And I couldn't get the jeans off quickly enough. Pictures of Naomi Watts as Diana confirm that this is not a good look. And no woman (or man) wants to look like Jeremy Clarkson.

3. On hot summer days the navy blazer looks chic with slim white jeans. As long as the proportions are right. And the general feel is relaxed. Try a mannish jacket with rolled-up sleeves, an open-necked shirt and embellished sandals. The aim is to look like Ines de la Fressange, not Pippa Middleton.





How would you wear a navy blazer?


Saturday, 14 July 2012

Older Models: Lanvin Fall 2012 Campaign


The Lanvin autumn/winter 2012 ad campaign features a striking older model. Not quite sure who she is at the moment - my brain is still on holiday - but I'll get back to you on that.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Summer Holiday



When you read this Mr & Mrs That's Not My Age will have decamped to Cornwall for our annual summer holiday. Where I'll be having a technology-free time. Instead of blogging, I'll be relaxing and visiting beautiful beaches. Baroness Susan Greenfield will be proud. 




Unlike David Cameron, I'll be eating plenty of these:

Freshly baked Cornish pasties.

Then going for a coastal walk here:


And stopping for refreshments along the way, keeping my eyes peeled for cheeky seagulls who have been known to dive bomb for their afternoon snacks:



Though this year I think I'll be needing one of these:

Toast fishtail parka.


Back in a bit,


Alyson
 x

Friday, 6 July 2012

One man's search for style

Grey Fox photo: Niall McDiarmid.

Today I'd like to introduce a fellow mid-life blogger, Mr Grey Fox. We first met virtually in the blogosphere and then eventually bumped into each other in the real world. At a Mr Porter party, where we bonded over sharp tailoring and very strong cocktails. I still think it's funny, in a good way, to be introduced to someone by your blog name. Anyhow, proving that it's not just women of a certain age who want to streamline their wardrobes and edit their style, here he is:





What am I doing writing a blog describing a middle age man’s search for style? It was the inexorable pull towards grey Velcro-strapped shoes and polyester slacks that drove me to examine where I was going clothes-wise. I started blogging some months ago - very tentatively, because I have no background in the fashion world.


What have been my influences? Where has my search has taken me so far?

I read about The Sartorialist and it was his photos of stylish older men that made me realise that there is a world out there to be explored. Their approach is to wear classic and well-made clothes. On the whole they avoid the badges of youth; low-slung jeans, white trainers and skatewear. They look for tailored blazers, chinos and classic footwear. These are set off with small but significant individual touches, a bright pocket square, colourful socks, a hat or a classic wristwatch.



Slowly I have started to transform my wardrobe, throwing out all the cheap tat that I rarely wore because it was so unflattering. This process continues, and I now see that quality need not necessarily mean expense. Quality lasts longer (and can be bought at good reductions in the sales!)

It’s early days for me and my search for style continues. Blogging on this subject is frustrating – few older men seem interested in dressing stylishly and even less so in reading blogs about it!

Finally, I offer a few of the pictures that influence my search for style. It helps to look at blogs, books and websites for ideas – adopt what you like, reject what you don’t; that way you establish and clarify your own sense of style. And above all, experiment!



Follow Grey Fox's mid-life style journey here.