Friday, 28 September 2012

Lingerie for grown-ups

That's Not My Cleavage. But that is my new matching lingerie set from Huit. It's called St Germain and is trés chic, n'est pas? When it comes to undies, I like a smooth silhouette so that usually means a t-shirt-style bra and mismatching pants. Leave the lace, frills and what-have-you to the 50 Shades brigade - which reminds me, the Blog Widower took me to see Jumpy last week. If you haven't seen this play yet and are in London, I urge you to go. There's a scene with Doon Mackichan in a basque that had me laughing so much, I nearly wet my navy plaid pants. Erm, That Is My Age. Anyhow. I'm always on the look out for interesting underwear that's not jet black or the colour of sticking plasters - and so this lovely checked design is right up my boulevard.

Huit is available from House of Fraser, and I've just noticed St Germain is in the sale! Might have to buy another set. I seem to be developing a penchant for French underwear - how about you? Where do you buy your pants?

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Dresses with sleeves by Allium B

Trying to get out of the house as quickly as possible each morning without ironing, shouting or forgetting something, I've found myself slowly going DOTTY (Dress Over Tights Thank You very much). As part of my journey to work involves riding a bike, this is an easy sartorial option. Well, easier than my regular uniform of trousers or jeans - we really don't need to talk about chafing. Fortunately all my frocks come in a modest just-above-the-knee length, so as not to scare the motorists.

Now. I can't tell you how pleased I am to discover Allium B. This relatively new fashion label sells simple, stylish, go-anywhere dresses, at very reasonable prices. The bird print shirt dress above is one of my favourites, beautifully made  - I've seen the latest collection in real life and can confirm this - and distinctive. Designed for grown-ups, these frocks are soft and unstructured and have a vintage-inspired theme. Fabrics and trimmings are often handpicked at vintage fashion fairs and used to create a thoroughly modern look.

Founded by sisters Clare and Mary Burgess, Allium B was borne out of their frustration at not finding suitable frocks on the high street, 'We've grown up with fashion and built our careers buying dresses for some of the best high street brands,' says Mary, who launched the Designers at Debenhams collection and then worked as head of buying at Topshop, 'There is a gap in the market, everything is either too young or too expensive, so we decided the only way to get the look we really wanted was to do it ourselves. We wanted something wearable, affordable and not frumpy.'

Mary and Clare Burgess wearing Allium B.

'Someone my age is happy to pay a little bit more for an everyday dress,' points out Mary, 'As long as they can wear it lots of different ways - and for more than one season. The idea behind our collection is that each dress doesn't do too much, so that the wearer can style it up as they wish: layered over t-shirts, belted or loose.'

I don't know about you, but Allium B is guaranteed to send me DOTTY this autumn. I think the Burgess sisters are onto something.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Hold the front row

Photo: 10 Magazine

In case you hadn't guessed, this is Pam Hogg. A British designer with a penchant for Tweety Pie-coloured hair and skintight catsuits. She creates other stuff too, like peekaboo nurses uniforms and leather bondage gear but let's be honest, the Latex bodysuit is what this Glaswegian does best. Lady Gaga, Siouxie Sioux and Rihanna are all fans - and if I could find the right occasion, I'd wear one too. Actually, this cape might look quite good on my bike:

Spring/Summer 2013 photo: Zimbio.

So. I went to the Pam Hogg show at Vauxhall Fashion Scout last week. Getting in was about as easy as gaining entry to Studio 54 on a mad busy, early seventies Saturday night, but I'm trying not to dwell on that (Pam, if you're reading I think you need to find yourself a new PR). I don't usually give a damn about who's on the front row at a catwalk show. More often than not it's Alexa Chung and Pixie Geldof, so I just skulk off and take my seat, at the back. One of the best things about going to see one of Pam Hogg's collections is the party atmosphere and the fact that the front row is almost entirely made up of fabulous people of a certain age, the great and the good of the 1980s London club/music/fashion scene:

Artist Duggie Fields (coral jacket, white glasses) taking photos.

Bobby Gillespie, Nick Cave and Susie Bick. Photo: Zimbio.
Far left: fashion impressario Michael Costiff (grey bob). Middle wearing flat cap with antlers: stylist & accessories designer: Judy Blame. Next right in floppy hat: DJ Princess Julia.

Hogg has been going strong since the eighties and so I'll leave you with this fabulous photo of Pam and the Princess:

Photo: Fashion's Most Wanted.

Thanks to the lovely people at The Body Shop for inviting me to this event - do check out their organic beauty products online. I always use their camomile gentle eye-make-up remover, it's the best.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Art Of The Trench

Gulp. I have been debating whether or not to post this picture of myself for days. Most people would love to be a part of Burberry's Art Of The Trench campaign and have their portrait splashed across tube stations, and apparently, on billboards at the Hammersmith Flyover (not sure whether that last bit's a joke and I am certainly not going all the way over there to find out) during London Fashion Week. The posters were timed to go up on the day of the Burberry show and thankfully, I missed them. Yes, I missed my own 15-minutes. Shame. Whilst some bloggers are happy to post 'Today I'm Wearing' photos ad infinitum, I'm not. I hate having my picture taken, always feel incredibly uncomfortable - even more so when it involves standing in the middle of Regent Street at rush hour - and this anxiety is usually reflected in my face. Well, that's my excuse anyway. I'm all for the increased visibilty of older women in the media, just so long as it's not me.

So. This is what late-forties sans Botox looks like. And after seeing this photo, I'm convinced that I  suffer from some sort of facial dysmorphia because when I look in the mirror, this is not what I see. Now I feel bad about my neck/saggy jaw/marionette lines - and I wish I'd remembered what Bianca Jagger told me at London Fashion Week (yes, really) a couple of years ago, 'Don't let anyone take your photo from below!' Let that be a lesson to you all.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Style at any age: Nichollette Yardley Moore

Meet the fabulous Nicholette Yardley-Moore. I know the next half of this sentence is going to make me sound like some crazy-assed stalker but...I've been watching her for a while. Don't click away just yet. This gorgeous grey-haired woman works in Liberty's accessories department, and I've meaning to say hello and ask if I can blog about her, forever. Then as luck would have it, over at the designjunction exhibition yesterday, there was NYM on a stand showing Vintage Cushions. I was so excited I practically knocked over a table displaying expensive ceramic plates to get to her. As well as the job at Liberty, NYM designs and makes cushions, before work and on her days off. And the good news is that you can buy them online at the newly launched Vintage Cushions website.  Fabrics come from collectors and dealers and the quality is superb, 'I like beautiful colourings and collecting beautiful fabrics,' she says, adding, 'The reverse side of the cushion is important too. The back is just as important as the front.' Couldn't agree more. It's all about attention to detail and I find it v shoddy when purveyors of soft furnishings use cheap backing fabrics. Who are they trying to kid?

The Churchill Cushion: Nichollette's favourite.

These mid-century fabrics would look fabulous on the settee at That's Not My Age Mansions.

Nichollette (we're on first name terms now) studied fashion in the late sixties, has designed accessories, run market stalls and had her very own shop. This life-long interest in fashion didn't surprise me, I could tell from her wonderful, singular style that NYM was an expert. So, I asked for some tips on looking good at any age, ' Do not buy what's fashionable,' she advises, ' I must be able to put it on and go "That feels great." And there's no need to spend a lot of money, this black top was two pound in a second-hand shop. Buy clothes that last, like these palazzo pants I've had for yonks and yonks.'

Nichollette Yardley-Moore and her Vintage Cushions.

What are your tips for style at any age?

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has To Travel

I'm playing a game of Blogger's Roulette today. There are three ideas spinning around in my head and I'm not sure which one I'm going to shoot to pieces. Click. It's the new documentary Diana Vreeland The Eye Has To Travel. Which is good because I've seen a preview and it's out in the UK this week.

'She was the first blogger,' Diane Von Furstenberg says of Diana (pronounced Dee-anna) Vreeland,  'She was always sending out memos.' So as well as editing two of the world's biggest fashion magazines, advising Jackie Kennedy and discovering Lauren Bacall, DV was constantly churning out bite-sized pronouncements. Succinct and eloquent, she'd have been a star of the Twitterverse.

Now, I'm not a proper film critic, I haven't quite mastered the art of taking notes in the dark. I was almost tempted to take one of my bike lights out of my bag and use it as a torch but don't think that would've gone down well with The Times journalist sitting directly in front of me - and I'd already spilt my coffee down the back of her seat. Anyhow. The film is fantastic. I loved the preview and can't wait to buy the DVD. Lots of great clips of Vreeland in conversation, a gorgeous selection of her timeless fashion shoots and interviews with friends, family and business colleagues: photographers such as Richard Avedon ('Diana was like a crazy aunt...she was and remains the only genius fashion editor') and David Bailey, models including China Machado ('Diana was fashion'), Lauren Hutton and Angelica Huston and her put-upon assistant at Harper's Bazaar, Ali McGraw.

She was 'a woman of a certain age with power' as Angelica Huston points out. DV's creative vision - using exceptional-looking models sent out an important message at the time - and eloquent pronouncements, turned her into one of the most influential women of the 20th century. The legendary fashion editor admits that she never felt comfortable with her looks until she met her husband Reed Vreeland. DV's mother called her 'my ugly little monster,' though personally, I think she was incredibly striking. Beautiful in an extraordinary way. Talented, funny and charming.  And a bit of a fantasist too. From meeting Buffalo Bill on holiday in the Rocky Mountains to seeing the Lindberg flying over Brewster (which wasn't even on its route), you're never quite sure what's fact or fiction. As the Metropolitan Museum's Harold Koda points out, 'There were these moments when she was not representing the historical truth... she was a great inventor.'

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Style at any age: London Fashion Week

It's official. 80 is the new 18. Today's The Times Magazine features The Grey Best-Dressed List, a celebration of the top 40 most stylish dressers over 60. And Ronnie Corbett. I would include a link but it's hidden away behind that pesky News International pay wall - and you can probably guess most of the stars anyway. Some of my favourite Fashion VIPs are included: Vivienne Westwood, Daphne Selfe, Keith Richards, Bill Nighy, Charlotte Rampling, Lauren Hutton. I won't go on, but as 69-year-old model David Gant says, 'I think we've started recognising that there are older people and middle-aged people out there who want to wear clothes too.'
With that in mind, I popped over to London Fashion Week yesterday. Where one fashion show was enough. I felt like punching the woman next to me for constantly waving her mobile phone in my face. Thank god it wasn't an iPad. Yep, there was a fair amount of tablet-waving going on too. Are these people even looking at the clothes? Bring back the notebook and pen, that's what I say. Far more civilized. Fortunately by the time I met fellow blogger Michelle from Allways in Fashion (above), for a coffee and a chat, I'd calmed down. Ordinarily, I'm a bit of an anti-social networker. It's not that I'm unfriendly, it's just that I'm time poor. Anyhow. Michelle is over in London, from Texas, for a few days and so it seemed like the perfect opportunity. We had a blind date, which was very nice. And if I ever get to the Rothko Chapel, we're going to meet again. As you can see, this 70-year-old fashion insider is an extremely stylish dresser. She's predominantly wearing Anthropologie, with a leather top from Zara and Michael Kors sunglasses.

After lunch, I was drawn, like a French paparrazzo to a topless princess, towards the fabulous Orsola de Castro. Just look at those gold trousers. Unfortunately they're from a small inexpensive shop somewhere in Spain, though I have noticed Cos has a pair of silver sparkly slacks this season, if you're in the mood for fancy pants. The Italian founder of sustainable fashion label From Somewhere has been mentoring design students from Central Saint Martins and is at Esthetica to promote this collaboration. People, you are looking at the queen of upcycling.

So, who would you add to The Grey Best-Dressed List 2012?

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Replacement Hipsters

I'd rather hang out at the Church of Scientology than spend the weekend amidst a scrum of street-style bloggers at London Fashion Week. And really, who wants to look at pictures of the same old, same old anyway? Much better to stay at home and admire the older folks featured on the Replacement Hipsters tumblr. That has got to be the best name for a site, ever, don't you think?

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Quote of the week: Terry Jones

Isn't this photo of Terry and Tricia Jones fantastic? Just lovely. There's an interview with the couple in the latest issue of Cos magazine. Not only has the Scandinavian retailer got understated chic down to a sheer cotton T, it has a smart magazine too. That's my idea of grown-up style. Anyhow. In 1980 Terry Jones founded i-D magazine and a couple of years later, Tricia (who'd been teaching up until that point) joined the business. They've been married for 44 years, so unsurprisingly, this is a joint effort but as Tricia has had a That's Not My Age quote of the week already, this one goes to Terry.

Terry: 'People in fashion try to hold onto a vision of youth, whereas I love the rose as a bud and I love it as it's falling off the bush, so I love the natural order of things.'

Tricia: ' I think the other thing to say is that we can't possibly see ourselves as a youth magazine - I mean look at the age of us. We're grandparents.'

Who knew such arbiters of style and diversity were nature lovers too? You can read the full interview online here.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Feeling hot, hot, hot...

So, today I'm going to let you into one of my beauty secrets - don't worry I won't be making a habit of this, I'm sure most women of a certain age do not need to know about my chipped nails and cracked heels. Above is the lovely Mallorcan beach where I was wiped out by heat stroke. Nasty. I've never experienced that before and it's very debilitating. I barely moved for two whole days, even when there was a forest fire at the end of our street. My thermostat was out of control (blimey, those night shivers are scary), but at least my armpits were cool and dry and that's because I was using my favourite deodorant:

I always use Dove Original because it's fragrance-free. Though sometimes when I'm busy and don't get round to replenishing stocks, I'm forced to use Mr That's Not My Age's anti-perspirant which is a bit macho and smells like old-fashioned after shave. The stench bothers me all day. Obviously it doesn't bother me when Mr TNMA is wearing it - but I tend to keep my nose away from his armpits. So when the people at Dove challenged me to wear this deodorant for seven days and blog about my experience, I was more than happy to oblige:

It doesn't smell, is better than the stuff Mr TNMA uses and leaves the armpits feeling soft and smooth.

For more information visit

This is a sponsored post.

Friday, 7 September 2012

My favourite shop: Fenwick

Metallic top: By Malene Birger from Fenwick.

Do you plan what's going to be featured on your blog? Or is it just stuff that pops into your head? My approach is fairly haphazard. Usually what's happening each week or random thoughts that have been brewing for a while. But then I also have a special notebook with a 'Things I Must Blog About' list, which I usually refer to when I need inspiration.

Top of the  list, and it's been there for some time now, is the fact that one of my favourite shops, Fenwick now has a website. The Bond Street Store is my guilty pleasure. There's a Blink concession, where I get my eyebrows threaded - I'm not capable of doing them myself these days, but that's another blog post - so obviously that means I have to visit on a regular basis. Any excuse. It really is grown-up shopping heaven. Always a pleasant experience and never too crowded. Perfectly edited fashion from American Vintage to Zoe Karssen. And a brilliant underwear department too. You can often find me browsing the sale rails, looking for a bargain or putting together my imaginary wardrobe. What's the equivalent of window shopping, on the inside?  The website launched a couple of months ago and is slowly growing in size. So, the good news is I can visit the store every day, even when I don't have unruly eyebrows.

Where do you like to shop?

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Ageless Style at M&S

In order to drag themselves out of the womenswear doldrums, and win back older customers, M&S have changed tack. Gone are the tired ads with Myleene Klaas and Twiggy frolicking around pretending to be friends - let's not even think about Gary Barlow and Dannii Minogue - and in comes a fresh line-up. With older models: Yasmina Rossi, 56, she of the fabulous grey hair that every woman on the blogosphere covets, and the lovely Angela Dunn Radcliffe, 48, (equally gorgeous red hair, wearing a parka, above). And a whole host of younger models of different shapes and sizes.

The 'For Every Woman You Are' campaign is out this week. And to help further improve their fortunes, the company have brought in an esteemed fashion expert to write an A-Z of Ageless Style for their customers.  Er, that's me, and you can read my wise words in the latest issue of M&S magazine. There's a snippet online here - but much better to go in-store, pick up a copy and find out what's written in that blacked-out box, below.

Yep.  Not just any old fashion blogger, I'm now an M&S fashion blogger. What do you think of the new campaign?

Monday, 3 September 2012

Fashion for grown-ups: Atterley Road

After a couple of days in isolation, I've recovered from post-holiday style syndrome but unfortunately been struck down by a severe dose of empty cupboard condition. The sun's out, I'm stuck indoors waiting for a delivery (one of those 9am - 5pm jobs, with no tracking facility and just an automated voicemail for company) and, apart from a shriveled-up cucumber and a carton of houmous that's way past its sell-by-date, the post-holiday fridge is bare. Nice.

Trying to take my mind off the hunger, I went for a little trip down Atterley Road. Founded by ex-Jigsaw buyer Katie Starmer-Smith, this new website aims to mix high-end-high-street with small independent designers and to 'recreate the experience of your favourite shopping street online.' Good idea. And Atterley Road does a decent job of editing together some quite lovely labels: American Vintage, Levi's Made & Crafted, Petite Bateau, Hobbs, Whistles and Iro. The site looks clean and simple and is easy to navigate. Though I have to admit, I'm not a huge fan of the name, it's just not very catchy. According to the Telegraph it's a pun on the French word atelier, but my brain is playing a strange word association game that goes: Atterly, Utterly, Utterly Butterly. Or maybe that's just the empty cupboard condition getting the better of me. I'll be gnawing on my Post-it notes next.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Post-holiday style syndrome

Photo: Style Passport

I'm in that post-holiday transitional stage - you know the one where you're wearing what's left of your clean holiday clothes, with added layers. Well, that. In my head I look like the lovely model in this picture. In reality, I look like Julie Goodyear on Celebrity Big Brother. In less than 24-hours, I've gone from forest fire to freezing cold, and it's reflected in my wardrobe. Did you notice that after I championed the Birkenstock in my last post, up popped Sam Cam in a pair, in Mallorca? But readers, I have an admission... I've also been embracing the espadrille. If you can't be bothered to schlep to Spain, there's a great website called er, Espadrille where you'll find a decent selection of summer shoes. I like this pair of olive wedges and they'd look great with my imaginary outfit above.

I'm also hankering after a classic navy pair to go with jeans:

When I get dressed properly, I'm going to ditch the vest top and jersey harem pants and upgrade to an old, oversized J Crew shirt and jeans. Maybe it'll help me to recapture some of the laid-back holiday vibe, just like in this lovely photo.

Photo: Toast

Mr That's Not My Age is suffering from post-holiday style syndrome too. Though he's swiftly slipped back into jeans and t-shirt mode, he won't give up his summer holiday sandals. The Blog Widower is a big fan of the hybrid sandal/walking shoe thingy, which I've now renamed Cleggs after seeing this:

Photo: The Sun

I know. I've tried to shame him out of them, but he won't budge.  And who am I to deny a man his comfy shoes?

What are your tips for getting over post-holiday style syndrome?