Now this article came up in my feed a new days ago, it was from 2015, yet its as relevant now as it was five years ago. I do follow That’s Not My Age by former fashion editor, Alyson Walsh on social media, and I fully agree with what she is saying. As I’m the same age and grew up in Generation X, I was a Peacock Punk in the early 80’s which was more like early Spandau Ballet and less like the Sex Pistols. (Ask your parents, if you don’t know the difference) It was about dressing up in your own way rather than following fashion trends.
When Alyson talks about the fashion industry not recognizing woman over 50, I can hear myself, in my head of course, going Here, Here! Alyson’s motto is refusing to be invisible; I suddenly became invisible for the first time in my life in my late 40’s, I had always thought this was an urban myth until I found out it was actually fact. People talk about “Women of a certain age” which generally goes hand-in- hand with past it? Well, we all have an age number, don’t we? But does it really matter?
That’s Not My Age began in 2008, when Alyson noticed a space online to celebrate women of all ages. Over a decade later she still provides expert advice, style tips, interviews and podcasts, That’s Not My Age has been at the forefront of a movement empowering women and calling out ageism and sexism. The website was until recently free and there is now a small fee. Alyson has also produced a great book called How to Look Fabulous Every Age and is on Instagram and Facebook.
The most stylish and fashionable women that I know are in their mid -sixties and seventies and there are some wonderful examples of famous older women who look amazing, in fact far better than many famous twenty-year olds. Yet the fashion industry still caters for the young. My seventy-six-year-old mother wears skinny jeans and looks great in them, but the fashion industry thinks she should be wearing polyester trousers with an elasticated waistband. It does not make very good business sense to ignore one of the most cash- rich age groups in society.
Over the years I have worked for many well- known fashion companies. I remember one company that decided to pursue a younger, trendier market and dumped its loyal customers of over twenty years. Now trends come and go, and been totally on-trend is very fickle. So, it found, its new customers ditched them for the new latest company after a short time leaving them in serious trouble!
“Fifty isn’t that old. But the fashion industry sort of ignores you” Alyson Watson
I have worked in fashion since I was a teenager, but oddly enough I have never aspired to be fashionable, on occasion, despite this, I have been on-trend sometimes by accident. But I love clothes, more than fashion and hope I have my own style, which suits me. Because, lets face it not every fashion trend looks good on everyone, and some trends don’t look great on anyone. But it would be lovely to be able to find more clothes I actually liked on the high street. In my teens and early twenties, I bought a lot of second-hand clothes and I have started to do this again. I think pre-loved clothing is important for many reasons, but it also gives you the chance to have your own unique style rather than just wearing the same as everyone else, that season.
If you want to see something a bit wackier, a book called Advanced Style features some unbelievable woman with very distinctive styles like ninety-six-year-old fashion icon, Iris Apfel. Photographer and author, Ari Seth Cohen the creator of Advanced Style has devoted a project “to capturing the sartorial savvy of the senior set.” He says, “I feature people who live full creative lives. They live life to the fullest, age gracefully and continue to grow and challenge themselves. I noticed a lack of older people in fashion campaigns and street style sites. I wanted to show that you can be stylish, creative and vital at any age.” His first book published in 2012 has sold over 150,000 copies worldwide. In 2015, The New York Times fashion director, Vanessa Friedman, credited Cohen with helping to create the recent movement towards the fashion industry embracing older models.
I think true style is ageless and totally personal. One of the most original style icons is Iris Apfel, she has always espoused the virtues of not just dressing for yourself, but for being true to who you are and doing it unapologetically. Her colourful, bold style is not for everyone but then that’s the point and this makes her wonderfully true to herself. One of my personal style icons is Lauren Hutton, she has understated elegance, is ageless and totally comfortable in her skin and yet is over Fifty years young……
Style Forever: How to Look Fabulous Every Age by Alyson Watson
Advanced Style by Ari Seth Cohen
Both are available at Waterstones or Amazon