In yesterday's Sunday Times STYLE magazine there was an article entitled Meet the Theresas.* "They are over 50, fabulous and living proof that your fashion shelf life doesn’t scale down with age", says Laura Weir, Fashion Features Director at the magazine. Well, Halleluja to that. Despite that fact that her referenced photos include 2 Hollywood actresses and the divine Inès de la Fressange (guaranteed to make most of us sigh with the knowledge that we are never going to look that good), I see myself and my friends in the women she writes about, and my list of regular clients certainly fit into the category of women who create their own style that suits the life they lead, aren't frightened of fashion, and have the means to make it happen. Laura Weir says that the 50+ age group spend more on clothing, footwear and accessories for themselves than any other age group, worth £2.7bn, or a whopping 41% of the total UK clothing market.
I made my fashion victim errors in my youth, as did we all, and by the time I started designing my own collections for others, that desperate need to wear the 'latest' fashion was long behind me and I had found the joy of designing clothes that were in harmony with my aesthetic taste and my need to create my own statement about who I am, rather than trying to cram a square peg into a round hole, so to speak. The fact that my designs are about how I dress obviously means that they do not have universal appeal, given my body shape, but it's the only way I know how to design. In fact, I believe it's this very element that attracts the clients I have, like-minded women who are looking for individuality, comfort, elegance and quality fabrication, and are prepared to invest in pieces that they know they will wear again and again, regardless of what is happening in the 'fashion' world.
|The lovely Fronza, from the SS12 collection|
I also believe that the 50+ age group can wear clothes that a younger woman can't. It takes the sort of confidence that comes with age and experience to be able to wear such pared down clothes and choose the right accessory to make the look yours and yours alone. You should wear the clothes, not have the clothes wear you.
One of the best compliments I ever received was from a French woman in the village. She said how much she'd always loved choosing what she'd wear each day, but after a few months of living in Lagrasse got fed up with the comments "who does she think she is?" However, since I had opened my shop and she'd seen me around the village each day in my designs, it had given her the confidence to get back out into the fashion world and put on her gladrags, even if it was only to go and buy her baguette. Of course, it's not Lagrasse that's the problem here, and it would take too long to go into the pyschology behind that silly comment, but it's proof that the more inspiring examples you see, the easier it makes it for you to assume your rightful place.
It's encouraging to see that high street brands are finally realising that there is a huge market out there that until now has been largely ignored, and with more and more older women demanding their place in front of the camera and media eye, laughter lines and all, it would seem our time is finally come. In any case, I shall carry on doing what I always have, putting my style out there for anyone who appreciates it, walking the walk, talking the talk and loving it.
* You will only be able to access the full article if you have a Sunday Times subscription. If you don't but are curious to read it, email me and I'll forward you a copy.