Monday, 27 July 2009

How to dress in your sixties

This piece by Lisa Armstrong

from the Times here

One of the accusations frequently laid at fashion’s sometimes gaudy door is that it’s frivolous. It’s like criticising cats for sleeping during the day, or curries for smelling of spices. Frivolity, inter many alia, is what fashion does. And what if it does? Frivolity gets a bad rap. What about being overly serious and boring everyone around you to death? An element of frivolity keeps a soul from atrophying.
I was reminded of this the other day when a friend, well into her sixties, turned up in an immaculate white shirt she’d bought in Dover Street Market, a pair of high-waisted Margaret Howell wide trousers and a tangle of neon-ended diamanté necklaces from Topshop.
Without the necklaces, the outfit was chic enough – too many sixtysomethings succumb to the elasticated waistband, the shapeless top and the given-up-all-hope underwear.
But the neon added an unexpected dash of verve. Make that nerve. Not dressing like a sixtysomething takes confidence and courage.
The forty and fiftysomethings have it easy. We’ve grown accustomed to seeing 45-year-olds in great shape and wearing Elle Macpherson-inspired wardrobes; we’ve accepted that Madonna, aged 50¾, is not giving up on summer’s short lease any time soon (satin horns and AstroTurf miniskirt, anyone?). But sixtysomethings? No one’s making clothes for them. No one wants their money. That’s the perception. No wonder many sixtysomethings loathe shopping and have nothing to wear........

If not, Topshop (yes, really), Zara (sizes are on the small side, though), M&S (tailored separates, swimwear), Karen Millen, Ted Baker, Banana Republic and Gap. And keep an eye on Alexon and Precis – they’ve modernised for autumn.
Sixtysomethings are still not visible enough in fashion shoots, but if stylists have any grasp of shifting demographics, that surely has to change. The only rules: more shape, less naked flesh – and a healthy injection of frivolity.

I agree very much with the main gist of this piece especially keeping it simple but wearing a great piece of jewellery

BUT, and there is always a but with me,

a) I am sick of having Madonna rammed down my throat as an example of positive aging. That lady is HIGH maintenance. I know for a fact she has a full body wax once a week, I think her body image is extreme and not a realistic one for anyone approaching 50 to hope or want to emulate. If you still think she is a role model you have SO got to check out this image of her

b)The list of places Ms Armstrong recommends to shop is dire, seriously Zara WAS cut on the small size, but is now far more generous with trousers up to a size 46. Top Shop is just a jumble sale and I know not one sixty year old that can tolerate the music or layout of that place for more than 5 minutes. M&S DULL, DULL, DULL, Banana Republic, oh, that is on every high street..not

What happened to Jigsaw? A very popular shop with all ages, as is it's sister Kew, which offers a huge range online.

This brings me to my final gripe (or two) This article comes from a national newspaper, why not emphasise the mail order companies such as The White Company or Toast? Both are excellent and hugely popular with this age group. I would also throw into the mix Pure, Great Plains and Saltwater. Oh go on then, COS too oh and Muji too, last years favourite of mine

More importantly I would have thought the best shop to recommend is the local boutique, the one that stocks more esoteric, quirky pieces. Why not build up a relationship with the buyer who can source from a huge range.

I have been in some amazing shops from Narberth in Wales to Dulwich in London. They are fantastic at what they do and in this climate deserve better from the fashion press.
Buy some fold-up flatties (jewelled, preferably) that can slip into a bag so that you have no excuse not to wear a pair of heels now and again.


If I catch my mother so much as sniff at a pair of heels I will be knocking on Ms Armstrong's door to help me nurse her through her broken hip.
Jesus, my mother is half blind, I do NOT need her toppling over like a house of cards as well.


materfamilias said...

My mother, on the other hand, Alison, at 78 was decked out in her heels for the daily radiation treatment at the Cancer Clinic!

But I do agree with you about the limitations of these kind of national publications, here as well as in your neck of the woods -- this kind of coverage tends to repeat the same names, over and over, and seem to rely on those brands' representation of themselves rather than even the most cursory browse through a local version. I'm with you in relying on an independent local boutique -- at least 50% of my wardrobe these days seems to come from one favourite shop. For fashion journalism to truly work, I think the investigative aspect of journalism is required -- a bit of digging, please, some real research!

indigo16 said...

Your mother must be far for nimble than mine.
Currently my mother trips or fall once a week just in her bBrkenstocks!
I agree research is the key, I sometimes think we know far more and post it, all for free.

venus said...

What a beautiful and inspiring post, Beautifully written...

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