Saturday, 29 December 2012

Grown-up style 2012

Stella McCartney with Victoria Pendleton, Ellie Simmonds and Jessica Ennis.

Let's talk about the year's best grown-up fashion moments. The highlights. The That's Not My Age New Year Honours List. It's impossible to talk about 2012 without mentioning the London Olympics. The Games exceeded my wildest expectations. I cheered, I sobbed, I didn't want it to end. From Nicola Adams to Rachel Yankey, the Olympic and Paralympic athletes were amazing. But let's not forget the woman who created their sports kit: Stella McCartney, 42. Already awarded Designer of the Year 2012 and an OBE, I think she deserves another gong for bringing back the glam-rock inspired, gold Lurex jumpsuit. Three cheers for Stella.

Photo: The Times
Olympic rower Katharine Grainer and Clare Balding.

And what about TV presenter Clare Balding? Whose natural, easy-going style, genuine love of sport and superb knowledge, made Olympic-viewing a joy this summer. The 41-year-old recently told Grazia, 'I'm not super-glam and people can relate to that. I dressed casually because I wanted to say, "This is me. I'm not restyling myself because what I look like isn't the point."' Hoorah.  Here she is (above, on the right) looking super-glam at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award.

Photo: Time.

Of course there was something to celebrate on the other side of the Atlantic too. The whole world breathed a collective sigh of relief, early morning 7 November at the news of another Obama victory and four more years of the most fabulous First Lady. Who can forget Michelle Obama's brilliant speech at the Democratic National Convention - and her strong sense of style? She celebrated the election night victory in a worn-twice-before Michael Kors dress. The fashion world calls this recycling or repeating. I call it wearing old clothes.

Another big Michelle Obama, 48, moment came when she flew into London for the Olympic Games and eclipsed a gaffe-prone Mitt Romney. Remember him? How we admired her tact and diplomacy, and her love of a neatly tailored jacket:

Photo: Getty

Kate Moss made an unexpected appearance at the Olympics too. The Closing Ceremony definitely wasn't a patch on Danny Boyle's spectacular Opening Ceremony but hey there were supermodels and the ghostly voice of David Bowie. Here's Moss, 38, going for gold again, in vintage Marc Jacobs, at her London book launch.

Photo: Getty.

The Queen's James Bond cameo has already won a TNMA award, so let's give it up for Dame Judi Dench. The legendary actress looked absolutely stunning at the Skyfall premiere. And just in case there are people out there that still haven't seen the movie, let's just say it's not a happy ending for M.

Dial M for Marvellous. Photo: Zimbio.

Last but certainly not least, the wonderful Mary Berry whose culinary skills and striking floral jackets illuminated the Great British Bake Off. The 77-year-old's love of a Victoria sponge is quite impressive too, 'I know that you should only have a small slice but I'm never going to stop eating cakes. I love it.'

GBBO's Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry.

Who would you add to the list?

Happy New Year!

Monday, 24 December 2012

Run Rudolph Run

 That's Not My Wall. Photo courtesy of pepperblack.

Meet the latest edition to the That's Not My Age family: a fabulous felt reindeer. We're heading up north for a few days so I'd just like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and say a big thank you for all your wise words and continued support in 2012. Have a wonderful time.

I'll leave you with a festive Keith Richards.

Back in a bit,

Alyson  x

Friday, 21 December 2012

Keeping it chic at Christmas

Photo: Gerard Darel.

There's enough brocade around this season to deck out Poshington Manor. That's Laurence Llewelyn Bowen's pad, in case you were wondering. Autumn/winter fashion is all texture, embellishment and drama. And yet, and a dinner party the other night, I noticed that every single woman was wearing a combination of black, gold and grey. The chintz had been chucked, the frou-frou forgotten, we'd all decided to keep it chic. I was embracing 24-hour-style in my favourite go-anywhere outfit: a graphic print, silk Modern Love jacket (bought at their sample sale), slim black pants and Liz Taylor earrings. The only photo I have of said outfit is from the Mumsnet BlogFest (that's me on the right), never did get round to writing that up. Suffice to say it was nerve-wracking and fun. Caitlin Moran was superb. And I had a lovely lunch:

Oh and by the way, my feet aren't really the size of skateboards. It's the camera angle on the old Acne Pistol Boot. Here's a quick snap of my lovely Modern Love jacket:

And did you see fab photographer Ellen von Unwerth at the British Fashion Awards? She was embracing the black and gold theme too.

Photo: Getty.

Another go-to outfit this season incorporates the Diane jacket from Lucza, jeans and flat Chelsea boots. Which I like to think adds a whiff of Ines de la Fressange's Parisian Chic to my life.

Photo: Lucza.

So, I guess what I'm saying is wear something you always feel right in. Having a fail-safe item of clothing to turn to is more comforting than knowing you've got a lift home and a lie-in. There's no point getting dressed up to the nines if it makes you feel self-conscious and stupid. As architect, John Pawson says, 'The state of minimum is not one of austerity nor deprivation, it is clarity of space.'*

What will you be wearing this Christmas?

* Taken from my Grown-up Guide To Parties.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Staying calm for Christmas

How y'all doing out there? This week's mantra comes courtesy of jewellery designer Valentine Franc, whose personalised tags are now on sale at the super-hip Parisian store Colette. I went into festive overdrive yesterday, bought and wrapped all the outstanding presents, finally booked train tickets for our Christmas trip up north and managed to tie-up all the loose ends at work without punching anyone. Perfect.

When we met earlier this year, Valentine Franc shared her advice for style at any age, 'It's stupid to say things like, "I'm too old for jeans." Believe in the style you have. It works for me, I don't think I've changed a lot. Don't change.' Sound advice. And here are her wise Christmas words:

Not being a fan of traditional Christmas desserts, I'd swap the xmas pudding for Mary Berry's utterly delicious yule log - but that would make a very long tag.

How are your Christmas plans going?

Monday, 17 December 2012

More Scandinavian Style

Scandinavian knitwear is not all chunky patterned jumpers and itchy trapper hats, you know. Anna Soderstrom, is a Swedish designer who creates simple, timeless accessories by hand. Born in Gotland, Soderstrom studied French & Linguistics at Oxford University and has been here ever since. On the subject of Gotland, I'd just like you to know that Mr & Mrs That's Not My Age once visited this Swedish island on a summer cycling trip. And swam in the Baltic. Without wetsuits. Hardcore, or what? Here I am beforehand, on the rocks:

And I'd have been quite happy to see a Nordic pullover afterwards, I can tell you. Anyway, enough about me, Soderstrom's great great grandfather was the vicar of Fåro, a remote island off the northern tip of Gotland that was home to Ingmar Bergman. (Went there on our bikes too. Beautiful). She started knitting 3-4 years ago when terrible morning sickness stopped her from reading, 'It was just the right balance of repetition and distraction. I had to concentrate to forget about the sickness.' Kate Middleton take note.

Got my eye on these fingerless mitts. Perfect for social networking in winter. Though I think I need to embrace Soderstom's philosophy:

'Just to slow down, to take the time to make something beautiful and do it with our own hands, that is purpose in itself.'

Saturday, 15 December 2012

The Sarah Lund jumper: a tribute

Photo: Radio Times.

It's rare that an item of knitwear becomes iconic: Audrey Hepburn's black polo neck in Funny Face,  Ali Mc Graw's Love Story scarf, Starsky's belted cardigan. As tonight sees the last episode of The Killing, ever, it would be rude to let the moment pass without a tribute to Sarah Lund's Faroe Island jumper. Series three has seen romance, nudity and of course, new knitwear. Don't know about you but I feel quite nervous when actress Sofie Grabol is without her trademark pullover. I think of it as a protective layer, like a cosy bulletproof vest. The chevron sweater is my least favourite style. It's just not Nordic enough - more Karen Millen than The Killing.

Photo: The Guardian.

Much prefer season two's red number, that, in true Scandinavian Style made an appearance in Vogue, alongside Grabol and an Arne Jacobsen chair.

Then there's the original Gudrun Gudrun handknit. As we all know, when a fashion item works, it's worth buying it in several different colourways:

Photo: Evening Standard.

Photo: The Guardian.

I can't bear the thought of life without Lund, let alone the jumper of truth and justice. But at least I can while away a wintry Saturday evening indoors knitting my own WhodunnKnit Danish Detective:

Hair tied back, she means business.
What do you think is going to happen in the final episode? Will they find the girl? Is Lund going to cop it?

Friday, 14 December 2012

That Is My Age: Beauty Candy With Collagen

Help, I'm a collagen addict! I've just polished off an entire box of strawberry-flavoured Beauty Candy. That's 12 gummy bears with added collagen (2g per box), and vitamins A, C and E. As someone who's not prepared to mess with their face, I'm always on the look out for healthier ways to revitalize my drooping flesh. And so, sugar-free Beauty Candy with added collagen is very appealing. I've no idea if it works but it tastes good. Though I've just noticed the 'excessive consumption may lead to laxative effect' warning. Er, I'll let you know how I get on.

Have you discovered any new beauty products lately?

Beauty 'In (what's with that apostrophe?) Beauty Candy is now available from Selfridges.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

In praise of a chic sweatshirt

Today, you can find me over on the FT's How To Spend It blog discussing my penchant for posh sweatshirts. Having previously blogged about the excellent go-anywhere credentials of this multi-tasking fashion item here and here, I'm now spreading the word amongst the business world too. I've thrown in some expert tips on How To Wear It, so do take a look.

And isn't this the 3.1 Phillip Lim number the poshest, ever?

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Beauty at any age: Charlotte Rampling

Photo: Getty

This was going to be called 'Not Invisible.' Or given Charlotte Rampling's honorary French status, 'Pas Invisible'. My attempt to challenge the idea that women beyond the age of 46 (on this side of the Channel, at least) disappear from view. Arguably, there are fewer older women in the public eye. Fewer older women in ad campaigns, in parliament, on TV, in films. And the pressure to stay young-looking is immense, but ageing shouldn't affect our standing in the world or our self-esteem. I may not be as energetic as I once was and I don't have the bone structure of a movie star, but I certainly don't feel invisible. Just because I'm getting on a bit, doesn't mean I'm fading from view - surely the abundancy of blogs featuring women of a certain age has put paid to this old-fashioned notion? That's Not My Age will continue to celebrate older women by making this a regular feature, starring female role models who feel the same. First up is 66-year-old Charlotte Rampling, who told The Times earlier this year:

'We live in a sexist society, we live in an ageist society. So when we start looking a bit tired and old, we're put out to grass. I can fight it more because I'm not in the system.'

Photos: Greta Illieva.

The Essex-born, Parisian-based star refuses to indulge in Botox and fillers and says of the obsession with plastic surgery, 'They've all gone to the same surgeon so they've all got the same faces. But I've got a good face...' Adding, 'They need older women in films, and Hollywood is having a lot of difficulty finding people who look that age. So don't change your face, and you can get really interesting parts. And not just granny parts - you can get sexy parts too.' And she's not wrong. Rampling is currently playing a femme fatale in her latest film I, Anna.

Photo: Harper's Bazaar.

"If you focus on it , it becomes alarming, but you can just... dance with it and really not worry about it.'

 Photo: Helmut Newton.

Famous for getting her kit off in The Night Porter and for Helmut Newton in this 1974 Vogue shoot, age hasn't deterred her. Rampling posed nearly-naked for a 2003 Marc Jacob's advert, shot by Juergen Teller.

From the same Juergen Teller shoot.

And again for Teller in 2005 when their creative partnership resulted in the book Louis XV.

As Charlotte Rampling proves, attractiveness is related to confidence and the way you feel about yourself. What are your thoughts on the Invisible Years?

Friday, 7 December 2012

That is my age: Christmas decorations

The second weekend of December is when the Christmas decorations go up at That's Not My Age Mansions. That's the rule. Any sooner is, well, just a bit previous. The small artificial tree will be spruced up once again and the decorations unwrapped. I much prefer traditional decos like these glass baubles from Toast or handmade objects from RE.

Newspaper stars.

Ball of buttons.

Which got me thinking about DIY decorations - just like mother used to make. Except I won't be using tin foil milk bottle tops. We were poor, alright! No, I've been stealing ideas from this Homemade Christmas & Festive Decorations book by Ros Badger with Elspeth Thompson (£5.99 from Sainsbury's).

Like this garland made from old Christmas cards - only problem is I recycle mine on the twelfth night. Would it be rude to cut up this year's?

And these recycled gift tags. Hold on, is that a milk bottle top I can see?

In the olden days, I always made my own Christmas cards - they were dire but no one complained. And now Clintons has gone out of business, it just feels right to get crafty. So much better to add that personal touch, don't you think?

Have you put your decorations up yet?

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Ageless Style

I can't look at this picture of Carmen Dell' Orefice without smiling. And that's not me being smug about That's Not My Age getting a mention in the January issue of Harper's Bazaar, oh no, no, no. It's because the 81-year-old model declared - on Inside Claridges the other night -  that the reason she loves the famous London hotel is because its discreet room-service staff don't bat an eyelid when they see her in rollers and flannel nightgown. Yes. The über-glamorous Carmen Dell' Orefice wears a flannel nightgown. Maybe my Wincyette pyjamas aren't so bad, after all?

That's not me being blasé about fabulous media coverage, either. Prepare yourself for some trumpet-blowing of the first order. Parp. I'm delighted to be mentioned alongside blogs like Advanced Style and The Women's Room who, like myself, champion the fact that older women matter. That people who have grown up with an interest in fashion and style don't suddenly start bulk buying elasticated-waist slacks the minute they turn 40. Or have any use for the latest Rihanna-inspired crop top. To paraphrase Chanel, there's nothing more ageing than trying desperately to look young. Which reminds me, I must buy a copy of India Knight's new book Mutton.

Could the fashion industry be finally waking up to the fact that the majority of women in this country are over 40, have money to spend and need something to wear? Yes, says a recent 'Mature Markets' feature in the FT, where That's Not My Age gets another mention. Parp, parp. We're now seeing older models being used in ad campaigns and on the covers of style magazines. About time too.

Didn't Iris Apfel looked wonderful in the November issue of Dazed & Confused? Albert Maysles is currently working on a documentary of her life, due out autumn 2013 - which I can't wait to see. And it's impossible to talk about Ageless Style without giving Grace Coddington a mention, this i-D magazine cover is brilliant. Coddington's recently published memoirs are on my Christmas list, if anyone's stuck for ideas:

Not so long ago, I gave a talk on Ageless Style and this is how I summed up what grown-up women really want from fashion:

1. We want to look good for our age.
2. We are more discerning now than when we were younger. So we invest wisely in clothes that are modern, chic and made to last.
3. We don't want to look like we're trying too hard to keep up. Desperation is never a good look.
4. Women want to see clothes (and other products) on models that reflect their age and size and race.

What does Ageless Style mean to you?

Monday, 3 December 2012

J. Crew to open London store

J. Crew is opening a London store later next year, on Regent Street. In other news, the Pope's on Twitter, sorry.....I've seen the brand's spring preview and it's fantastic. Lots of striking prints, sequins and vibrant colours. Though the best thing about this American label is Jenna Lyons. The 43-year-old creative director/president is stylish and smart and has a way of mixing things up that is thoroughly modern. She's the best J. Crew advert, ever. Here my grown-up lady crush is wearing a pair of fabulous floral flares from the spring collection (unfortunately Lyons wasn't in attendance, maybe next year?) - and a preppy shirt. Beautiful.

Photo: Getty

I'm a regular visitor to New York - thank you Manhattan Brother - and have to admit that in the past when American stores have opened over here, I've experienced a kind of 'grass is always greener on the other side of the Atlantic' effect. If it's readily available in the UK, I'm not interested. With Banana Republic this could be because their offer's not as strong as it used to be. But with Anthropologie, I think it's just sour grapes. Both London stores are fantastic, the fashion, accessories and homeware are all lovely, I just don't want anyone else to buy them.

Anyhow. Here's some more spring J. Crew:

And here's a gratuitous photo of Jenna Lyons:

Jenna Lyons and Solange Knowles. Photo: NY Mag.

Mind you, I don't really think there's anything to worry about, as Anna Wintour recently said, ' J. Crew is a force to be reckoned with, and anyone who tells you otherwise is insane.'

Quote: Daily Mail.