Thursday, 29 November 2012

Get ready to party

That's not the latest Maison Martin Margiela tromple l'oeil top, it's a model wearing Flatter Me armwear from M&S. And a nude bra. This is a similar idea to Mary Portas' Armery - wonder what the Queen of Shops has got to say about that? - but looks a bit more substantial. A crop top style with a front bra fastening that's designed to be layered under a sleeveless party frock, to cover and shape wobbly arms.

Yep. That's enough chic for one week. let's get back to basics. I rarely have occasion to wear a cocktail frock, let alone a red carpet dress - and anyway, I prefer to let it all hang out. That's Not My Age Mansions is a Spanx-free zone. So, it's over to you. Is armwear a clever way to approach the festive season, and give extra mileage to a much-loved sleeveless style? Or is it better to avoid the Desperately Seeking Susan vibe and spend more on a dress with sleeves?

Your thoughts please.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Keeping it Chic

Over the last week, I've reached the pinnacle of chic. The summit of style. Firstly, a mention on the wonderful Keep it Chic blog left me giddy with excitement and lack of oxygen (I practically hyper-ventilated). Author, Preston Davis, is a New York style expert with many year's experience at American Vogue and Harper's Bazaar, a keen eye for detail and a real knack for pinpointing the latest Very Important Pieces. Imagine my delight when she told the world she loved That's Not My Age:

 '...I started to feel that there must be more blogs out there to love. So, I started with my readers’ and the first one I went to was a winner. That's Not My Age, a site authored by a former fashion magazine editor out of London, focuses on stylish grown-up women, lifestyle, and the goings-on in her world. And her writing style, dry, pithy, and laugh-out-loud funny, makes this blog a must-bookmark.'

Hold on a minute while I give myself a pat on the back.... 

That's better. And then I met Karen Scofield, the founder of luxury fashion label, Lucza. Another classy American, now based in London. 'When I lived in New York I'd see these women who were incredibly chic and put-together, nothing was super-stand-out, just very elegant. And that's what I strive for.' Scofield set up Lucza after searching unsuccessfully for good quality, simple styles she could throw on and feel comfortable in. With a background in film production, the nearest the 48-year-old had previously gotten to the fashion industry was working on Bono's Project RED.

'The idea is to provide effortlessly chic pieces that make getting dressed easy. Without having to worry about showing too much cleavage or underwear. Pieces that you put on and feel good about, without feeling too try-hard.' Most of the products are made in England and The Rachel Blouse (above) comes in the same silk fabric as Pippa Middleton's attention-grabbing bridesmaid's dress  - and we know how much that little number boosted the wearer's confidence. Fortunately, Scofield has a much more modest approach, 'Fashion is all very new and I'm still learning. It's a bit like when you read about people's homes and they just buy the furniture and paintings they love. I'm interested in putting great pieces together. The may cost a lot but they're worth it.'

Excellent concept. How chic is your week?

Sunday, 25 November 2012

My favourite shop: Brixton East

Something fantastic has happened in Brixton. A brilliant second-hand shop has popped up in an old warehouse on Barrington Road. When I first moved to south London in the late 1980s, Brixton was the go-to place for clubbing (The Fridge), gigs (Brixton Academy) and films (The Ritzy), and a bit rough around the edges. As Mr That's Not My Age concurs, 'You had to watch out for nutters.' But that was all part of its charm. The area has grown-up over the last few years and become a proper foodie destination - you'll always find me and Jay Rayner in the market on Sundays (though not together) - and well, a bit middle class.

Andy Luckett with colleague & fellow vintage fan,  Bridie Young

Brixton East is the latest development. Founder Andy Luckett has been buying and selling stuff at antique fairs for 20 years, storing everything in his warehouse and living in the flat above, 'I decided it was time to do the building up and make it sound. I'd been living here for years with rain pouring in and rats - and prostitutes hanging around outside.' Luckett is enjoying Brixton's new-found popularity, 'People in Brixton are lovely and the idea is that they can come in and see the building. I want my neighbours to come round for a cup of tea - and I want it to keep changing. We had a bit of an art show last month and there's a girl who's going to come and do a poetry reading.'

He's also offering free tea and Brixton Buns - so I'll be back next week.

Brixton East is open 11am - 6pm every weekend until Christmas Eve.
100 Barrington Road, London SW9 (07973 312 023)

Friday, 23 November 2012

Russell & Bromley e-commerce launch

As far as I'm concerned, comfy shoes are a fundamental part of the grown-up woman's wardrobe. No one ever looks glamorous if their feet hurt. And they can't walk properly. But this doesn't have to mean a life spent in orthopaedic purgatory. Chic flats look brilliant with cigarette pants and a smart winter coat - and the good news is that British footwear brand Russell & Bromley is launching an e-commerce site on December 3, just in time for Christmas.

Here's Angelina Jolie in the über-popular Stuart Weitzman for Russell & Bromley over-knee boot. This swashbuckling style isn't something I've ever considered before but there comes a point in life when knee-coverage is a must, so I'm keeping my options open.

 Fashion VIP and Tomboy du Jour Alexa Chung loves a Russell & Bromley loafer:

But this isn't a label for A-listers only, I've tuned into R&B in the past and in-house style icon Mr That's Not My Age is the proud owner of a pair of classic suede ankle boots that, 'Are sleek and comfy and have lasted for years.' 

Oh and in other online news: That's Not My Age is now available by email subscription. See sidebar widget (over there on the right, below my Twitter/Facebook/Pinterest buttons).

Have a grand weekend.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

That is my age: hand cream

Back in the olden days, the That's Not My Age Family would sit around the telly every evening, watching any old crap and bickering, whilst my mum rubbed Atrixo onto her hands. At the time I thought it was some sort of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. But now I totally get it. I've reached an age where hand cream matters.

After years spent riding a bike without sun protection, my hands, are covered in age spots and wrinkles. Oh and my nails keep breaking. What's that all about? I'm convinced that it's some sort of peri-menopausal thing, and did start to research the issue, well, I spent two-minutes on the Daily Mail's forum page until I had to click away and give myself a good talking to. I eat a fairly balanced vegetarian diet, keep my nails short and don't overdo it with nail polish or falsies. Can anyone shed light on this phenomenon?

To help matters, I've been using Neom's luxury organic hand cream which is absolutely lovely. It smells nice, isn't greasy and I can highly recommend it. And I'm not just saying that because they sent me a free sample to try. Honest.

Monday, 19 November 2012

How to wear masculine tailoring

Paul Smith autumn/winter 2012. Photo: Marie Claire

Let's talk about layering up, tomboy style. Or how I like to dress in winter. Paul Smith is a master of the menswear/womenswear alliance, I would sell my pension plan (if I had one) for this neat tuxedo jacket and tobacco-coloured pants. Previous posts on mannish dressing have elicited a couple of pertinent comments: namely, how to wear the look if you're not six-foot-tall and model-sized (see Paul Smith jacket above) and how to do masculine dressing without looking too pared-down and, er, masculine.

Here are my thoughts on the matter:

1. Sounds a bit obvious, but that's never bothered me before: a pair of simple heels and a Michelle Obama-inspired contrasting leather belt are the easy way to add a more feminine slant to Tomboy Style clothing. The picture below is from Pure Collection - check out their site for simple basics at reasonable prices.

2. One of my favourite Advanced Style ladies Alice Carey does masculine dressing brilliantly. Her vibrant hair and sparkling accessories always looks fabulous against a backdrop of traditional tweeds and tailoring.

Ms Carey also knows what suits her body shape. No boyfriend blazers or wide leg trousers to swamp her petite frame. She sticks to shorter jackets and erm, plus fours. Not everyone's cup of tea, but it's Carey's signature style and she's sticking with it.

3. Make like Farida Khelfa and opt for a slick of scarlet lipstick and a feminine blouse.

4. I was hovering around the Haider Ackerman rail at Liberty the other day admiring the wonderful fabrics and exquisite cuts, oh alright...and daydreaming a bit about Tilda Swinton, when it dawned on me that classic menswear shapes in vibrant colours are an excellent way to get the androgynous vibe without looking like a transvestite.

Do you have any Tomboy Style tips you'd like to share?

Saturday, 17 November 2012

30 years of Bernstock and Speirs

Say hello to milliners Thelma Speirs and Paul Bernstock. I love it when a small independent fashion label has staying power, and this duo are celebrating 30 years of Bernstock and Speirs with a brilliant, not-to-be-missed exhibition of their fabulous hat archive.

Popped along for a preview the other day and got to have a quick chat with fashion VIP and winner of this year's Style Begins At Forty Best Grown-up DJ Award, the marvellous Thelma Speirs.

TNMA: How do you feel about being 30? When you started out did you think you'd make it this far?

TS: Well, obviously I don't look my age....we didn't really plan anything, to be honest. I just knew I didn't want a proper job, so that was a motivation to keep going.

TNMA: Which is your favourite hat?

TS: The Topless Hat was our first international big hit,  Kylie Minogue wore it on the cover of her first album and it captured how we were to proceed. Sporty, slightly odd, we don't really do fancy. Our aesthetic is a mixture of utility and frivolity.

Orignal eighties topless hat (left).

TNMA:  Any career highlights or unlikely moments?

TS: We met Tilda Swinton  at the Eurostar terminal, on our way back from the Paris Collections. She just came up to us, we were carrying some storyboards and hats and so I asked her is she wanted a Bunny Cap. She just wore it and let us take her photo.

We need to talk about Tilda.

Oh and that's me, naked in Ponystep magazine. It was my suggestion. Full muff and everything. (Bravo Thelma!)

Nudity rocks, but accessorize.

Of course, I couldn't leave without asking for her obligatory tips on looking good whatever your age. Here's what the 52-year-old designer recommends:

1. Don't wear too much make-up.
2. Don't have Botox.
3. Do yoga. It's really good, posture is important as you get older. You can still look energetic without being a gym bunny.
4. Do your own thing. I've got my own style so I don't like to tell people what to wear.  I do think that older women can wear whatever they like, so long as they do it with aplomb.

And I'll leave you with one of my suggestions: the Veil Beanie. A 'nonchalant take on urban glamour', one of Bernstock Speirs most popular hats and a pretty neat way to disguise a wrinkly forehead:

Bernstock Speirs 30 runs from November 13 to 24 at Fred London, 17 Riding House Street, London W1.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Fab Shopping

Jolita Jewellery.

If you're looking for a new place to shop online (now that we're avoiding Amazon), check out the lifestyle website Fab. It's quite new to the UK and sells a range of goods from fashion and homewares to last-minute gift ideas. Like this lovely necklace.

One thing the fashion and beauty panel discussed at the Mumsnet Blogfest - sorry I haven't reported back yet, it's been a very busy week - was blogging and transparency. How it's wrong to receive freebies without flagging them up. Or not to declare payment. So, I have to tell you that this is a sponsored post. That I've been asked by Fab to go on an imaginary online shopping trip, to pick out my favourite pieces. And here they are:

I've always fancied a nest of tables by artist and Bauhaus professor Josef Albers. They'd fit in beautifully with the retro-modern vibe at That's Not My Age Mansions.  Both our radios packed-in this week, so let's add a new one to the imaginary shopping list. I've been listening to news via the computer but it's not really working for me... 

Safe Radio.

In honour of Nicholas Ghesquiere - wonder where he's going to pop up next? - lets include a keffiyeh scarf.

Maze scarf by Zuzunaga.

And I could do with a new rucksack. So let's go for something vibrant and modern. Just like me, ahem. This one's from Mandarina Duck.

You can sign up for their regular newsletter here, follow on Facebook and Twitter @FabUK

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Beauty at any age: Maryam d'Abo

After posting pictures of myself all over the internet like a street-style blogger on speed, last week, I'm now back behind the dashboard where I belong. Having said that, this image of former Bond girl Maryam d'Abo reminds me to add soft focus (Vaseline on the camera lens?) to my modelling repertoire, currently limited to standing sulkily in the distance, wearing sunglasses or - the preferred option - chopping my head off. Blogging is so much easier when you don't have to worry about a double chin and wonky teeth. Anyhow. A couple of weeks ago the Telegraph ran a feature on the beauty secrets of three glamorous women over 50, which I chucked onto my ceiling-grazing to-do pile and rediscovered whilst doing a spot of long-overdue housekeeping last night. My favourite tips came from 51-year-old d'Abo:

'I'm not bothered about the lines - I can't see them as clearly now, thanks to long-sightedness, which increased after a brain aneurysm five years ago. I am too vain to have Botox; what if it went wrong?
Lines show expression. I think of gorgeous actresses - Simone Signoret, Jeanne Moreau - there was no Botox then. A holistic approach to ageing interests me more than surgery.'

What kind of approach to ageing do you have?

Monday, 12 November 2012

The World Of Interiors: Fashion Houses

Nicholas Ghesquiere's Parisian flat.

The December issue of The World of Interiors magazine is fantastic. A fabulous fashion special. From Armani (all black and chrome and 1980s) to Westwood (lots of eighteenth century references), we get to peek inside the homes of some of the world's biggest designers. I love Dries van Noten's kitchen cabinet, as you can imagine his Belgian home is all rich textures and deep colours:

Dries Van Noten's Neo-Gothic kitchen cabinet.

And you can tell Phoebe Philo's husband runs an art gallery:

The Max Wigram effect.

But my favourite home, isn't part of the high fashion extravaganza. Tucked away at the back of the magazine is the lovely Welsh cottage belonging to Jamie and Jessica Seaton, founders of lifestyle brand Toast. And who doesn't want a Toast lifestyle? Beautiful backdrops, earthy colours, simple clothes in natural fabrics, and top-notch bedlinen. Lovely.

Toast blouse.
Nice trousers.

Sometimes, it's not the glamour and glitz but the simple things in life that are most attractive. Though I'm pleased to see that the Seaton's minimal-rustic style is offset with a couple of velvet sofas and a smattering of animal print. I give you Casual Glamour for the home! Less is more, people. Less is more. Hubert de Givenchy can keep his French castle and Nicholas Ghesquiere can have his 17th century Parisian apartment avec seventies nightclub-inspired furnishings. Though I do quite like Azzedine Alaia's St Bernard.

How would you describe your lifestyle?

Friday, 9 November 2012

Austerity Chic and Stuff

Isn't this a beautiful photo of Jourdan Dunn in the latest Boden catalogue? As we all know, Boden use supermodels rather than Johnnie's posh mates these days. Think slicker, less Sloaney, with a curfew on hotch-potch print. As this week is all about austerity chic - first Michelle Obama and then Kate Middleton pulled out dresses they'd worn before - I've decided to show you some of my old clothes. Make that timeless classics. Sort of.

I don't usually post so many pictures of myself on the blog, I have a one per page rule which is rarely broken but this week I seem to be suffering from some sort of Blogger's Block. Just in time for the Mumsnet festival tomorrow. Perfect. And it's reached the point where I'm even taking inspiration from the Boden catalogue. I'll be doing Zumba next. Anyhow. Here I am in Zara red jeans and a posh James Perse sweatshirt. Have to be honest and tell you that these jeans haven't seen the light of day for about a year. Ever since I spotted a pair in the Twiggy at M&S Collection. But, I have some ancient patent shoes, just like Boden's sixties heels (they're a bit knackered, so I'll keep them to myself) and could work a bit of an On The Road/Beatnik vibe.

Guess I really should be thinking about what to wear to tomorrow's Blogfest. One thing's for sure, I'll be dragging out The Beast (my vintage sixties coat):

Photo: Dvora

And giving the Church's Chelsea boots a whirl:

Went to the Boden spring/summer 2013 preview this week. It was fantastic. Very J Crew. Lots of colourful cashmere sweaters, spots, stripes and sixties-inspired styles.

Even Johnnie Boden has had a pop-tastic makeover. Not quite Jenna Lyons, but beautiful nonetheless.

Click here for my grown-up guide to wearing fancy pants. Think I need to get my hands on Hobbs' precious trousers or a pair of jacquard print trews, rather than relying on the old red jeans which are a bit passé- but That's Not Austerity Chic.

Have a good weekend.