Sunday, 1 July 2012

The Fear Of The Mutton: How age doesn't matter

Should I put aside "childish things" such as wearing red glitter headbands-er no
Recently I received an e-mail from one of my readers who wondered if I thought there was an age limit when it came to  being interested in beauty, clothes and all things glamorous? Could a time come when wearing exciting clothes and dying your hair crazy colours was no longer acceptable?
Whilst my knee jerk reaction was to shout "No" as loudly as possible, it did get me thinking about how women who maintain an interest in clothes, make up and contemporary culture are viewed.
Over the age of 30 there is the unspoken sense that you should avoid looking like "Mutton dressed as lamb" a recent feature in a national newspaper claimed that when polled most people thought women over 39 should stop wearing bikinis and you only need to recall the pages and pages devoted to whether Madonna was "too old" to bare her breast onstage and shouldn't she just "grow old gracefully" to see that for many age is more than "just a number" it carries an expectation about how we should dress and behave.

Too old to flash?
The biggest problem I have with the concept of "growing old gracefully", and "dressing to suit my age" is that it seems to encourage women to construct tiny prisons of there own making, where trying on all the jewellery in Topshop  is frowned upon and a uniform of stone coloured clothes from stores like Next and Wallis become the uniform.
Not quite ready for the beige slacks
I think women nowadays are a unique breed. We know we have more opportunities than ever before but are still acutely aware of the corporate glass ceiling, we now transition through different stages of womanhood with an ease that would have baffled our grandmothers. From stay at home mum, to career girl, to part time worker, to chairwoman of the board.
We realise that society is still by and large a patriarchy and chip away at this reality every day whilst also knowing that men are gorgeous, vital and the perfect ying to our yang.
Gwen showing us how to look over the age of (gasp) 40
So for my part when looking for women to inspire me style wise as I inevitably grow older (its a fact ladies, it happens to us all) Im loving the energy of the frankly awesome Gwen Stafani with her mix of Jean Harlow Blonde bombshell and Ska inspired Rude girl chic, Pearl Lowe rocking a Louise Brooks bob and creating collections of clothes which inspire and excite. 
Pearl Lowe-Vintage Queen
From a fitness point of view seeing Jane Fonda talking about still having a healthy libido in her seventies made me decide to start doing my Davina DVD and yes  say what you like I love Madge for having the balls and fuck you attitude to still be getting her bangers out at fifty.
Jane Fonda-70 and still feeling sexy
And its not just celebrities lighting the way for how to rock individual style past a certain age tickbox. The Advanced style blog with its tagline "Proof from the wizened and silver haired set that personal style advances with age" crashes into my blogloving feed at regular intervals forcing me to revaulate what constitutes "mature fashion. Subscribe to their Youtube feed-you won't be sorry.

During the writing of this post  Illamasqua revealed one of the images from there upcoming campaign showing a frankly stunning 75 year old and I was amazed at the outpouring of love for the image when I put it on my facebook page.It seems we do want to see women over 25 in advertising campaigns, the invisibility of woman over a certain age in media is as old fashioned as it is short sighted. Im not naive enough to think a few beauty campaigns here and there signal a huge sea change but its a start.

For me the biggest inspiration I have when it comes to navigating personal style at any age is my mum. 
Mama Bee photographed on the swing in out garden in one of her own creations

A fashion designer when I was growing up, who turned up at the school run in Vivienne Westwood bondage trousers she still always looks amazing and incredibly youthful.
Outside her fashion boutique in the 1980's
She still goes to gigs (only last week she saw The Dammed) and retains a tremendous amount of style. To not care about clothes and fashion would mean not caring for herself, its as natural as eating, brushing her teeth and exercising. 
Showing me how it should be done-Mama Bee
Its my blueprint so as every year passes, far from thinking its time to start "toning it down' I intend to turn it all the way to ten.
So the next time you think you are too old to wear something, wear it anyway, unless its a nappy-thats just weird.

 Bopalena Tee Shirt Giveaway

This week Im offering one of my lucky readers a Bopalena Tee shirt. Designed and hand printed by the fabulous Nick Bee at BB Designs and available to buy at my boutique  it will make a rather fabulous Rockabilly addition to your wardrobe. Available in sizes small, medium and large.
To enter:
  • Join this blog if you haven't already
  • Leave a comment on todays post.

  • The winner will be chosen via random number generator on July the 7th 2012

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    1. Thank you so much for doing this post Betty - i am now convinced and will not be turning beige and invisible!! As for the workout dvds, i guess it makes us feel better ultimately!
      Your mum looks great by the way! Rachel x

    2. wow that lady in that advertising looks amazing! blows all the doubt out the water for me no normal beige for me! your mum is so beautiful!

    3. Great post. A good proportion of the fashionable ladies whose blogs I follow are over 40, and they are fab. You're mum looks great! I agree with you, at 30, why should I start wearing leggings, tunic tops and a pair of trainers... No thanks! Yep, great post! X

    4. I think it's up to ladies like ourselves to keep doing what we're doing and eventually society will have to catch up with us once they realise we're not going to "grow old gracefully".

    5. Well as lady of over 40 I will confess that I do occasionally have a fear of the mutton label but on the whole I don't look or feel over 40 (except maybe at 6.30am on a Monday morning!) There are things I will never wear again like the hotpants and micro-mini skirts I used to wear constantly in my 20's, if I looked like Kylie in them I still might but I don't so no, for me those days are behind me. Other than that I still have the same passion for clothes I have always had and infact in some respects I dress better now because I am comfortable in my own skin and I have found my own style.

    6. I turned 40 this year and have given myself a makeover for fear of the 'boring' pics I was seeing. I blogged yesterday about a night out where I shoved aside my fear of colour and dresses and I LOVE my pics!
      I do think madge needs to rethink the whole 'swim suit' obsession she has thought some very unflattering pics have been shown recently and whilst I hate that sort of thing, at 50 I think she could still look amazing without being an embarrassment. I am finding my style.. not the one I had in my 20's, or 30's, but for my 40's and that is fabulous 'dahling'! lol As they'd say in Ab Fab!
      Great post Bee and your mum ROCKS!! wish I had such inspiration in my family.

    7. I was talking about this with my mum the other day. She was recalling (happily) that women of her age, when she was my age, were expected to 'look like grandmas'. Now, whilst she chooses clothes that are a bit more conservative than in her teenss (she wore mini skirts with matching hot pants then!) she is definitely fashion aware and we were discussing how liberating it is for women and how it has changed people's outlooks and perceptions of themselves too. And she DOES wear a tankini (OK, not a string bikini) on our girls' holidays.

    8. I looooove your shirts and your blog!! I really hope I win the Bopalena Tee shirt!! My :)

    9. Another fabulous post! It's no wonder that you look so fab - your mum looks amazing !! First you inspire me by telling me to ignore restraints on size and now age. I love living this restraint-less life and for someone to tell me that I'm not in the wrong and that's the way it should be done is validation that I can keep on keeping on !

    10. you're so right! No age restraint and no size, I maybe learning this late but I'm learning. I'm enjoying fashion more now and feel your blog has helped me, so thank you.

      Julie aka mama_mooo from Twitter.

    11. I blogged a few days back about this, I had an am I too old panic related to a flamingo hairpin, then I thought, oh who cares and bought it anyway! X

    12. its so good to read all the positive comments as well as Betty's fabulous post. I was having a crisis of confidence , in particular about was it ok to wear vintage when you are getting rather vintage yourself! But reading all this I realise it really is good to wear what makes you happy - Life is too short to spend half of it 'toning down'! Thanks for the inspiration x

    13. i love that you wrote about Gwen Stefani! ADORE this women! she was such an example for me since i first heard dont speak/just a girl! copied her eyeliner and never leave the house without that since then!

      would love to win the tee hihi!


    14. I have mixed feelings about this, being an individual with creativity is important at all ages, but enjoying the age you are is also important and I feel the mutton comes into it often when a woman of 40 tries to look 30 by dressing 20. Be who you are but with fun and peace with yourself.

    15. Hear hear, I get so fed up hearing my mum and older relatives saying they can't wear certain things because of their age, by theory is if you like it wear it - just make sure it fits you!! :-D xx

    16. I recently cleared out my wardrobe of rabbit eared hooded t-shirts and anything neon I had left over from one of my previous more 'Harajuku girl' style phases. I gave them to my 13 year old daughter (I'm 31, myself). When she asked why I was giving up these clothes I said "I'm going for a more mature look" which has led my little family to question me on whether I fear I'm becoming old! I thought about it for a while and I've decided that's not what I meant at all. I'm going for a more mature style, yes, because I'm dressing in 1930s vintage this year. Next year though, who knows...

    17. Your mum looks amazing, lucky you having such good funky genes & my advice is to grow old disgracefully...far more fun <3 <3 xx

    18. What a brilliant post - quite frankly I cant wait to be a kooky pensioner!! xx

    19. Love this post! What a brilliant message, and how super stylish and cool is your mum!? She's amazing! Totally gorgeous !


    20. Totally inspiring as always. I could see myself heading down the route of tunic tops and wide leg trousers, as it's what 16-18 size ladies like myself are 'expected' to wear.
      Over the last few months I've been amassing a selection of fab dresses as i didn't want to go there. Then I found your blog and it just reinforced everything I was thinking and really gave me confidence to carry on with my idea. Thank you for talking about this, for showing us some of your inspiration. Love that your mum is still looking glam, why shouldn't she?! <3

    21. I think you should dress how ever you want for as long as you want as long as your happy.

      I get stared at whatever I wear, whatever colour my hair is because of my wheelchair. So I find myself purposely wearing bright colours and changing my style to keep people guessing.

      When people come up to you and say "its lovely some one like you (disabled) makes an effort" - I cringe - I'm just a woman who takes pride in her appearance and as long as you have pride in yourself and the way you look in yours eyes is all that matters.

      And by the way your always look fabulous!

    22. I think it is nice to see people dressing individually, being daring and not getting to a certain age and reaching for the M&S pastels range! I think there is a big difference between dressing with panache and style and clinging on to something from your 20s because you are too scared of getting older or trying something new.

    23. Well said! You rock on girl. You look fabulous!
      I am new to your blog, but am loving it.

    24. Thank you for sharing such inspirational women with us all! I certainly believe that having your own unique sense of style keeps you as young (or as old!) as you want to be, confidence in yourself is the key. There certainly has never been any beige in my wardrobe for the past 36 years & never will be, it really doesn't suit my colouring, it's all about the brights for me!


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