I hate articles that are written called ‘How to Look 10 Years Younger’ because implicit within the title is the assumption that anyone in their right mind must absolutely want to look 10 years younger, unless, perhaps, you happen to be in your teens, when presumably you want to look 10 years older.
Photo Left Above: Jumpsuit from LK Bennett, Gucci Soho Bag, Clark's sandals
Photo Right Above: White top from Cos, Massimo Dutti trouser suit and white sports shoes from John Lewis.
Anyway, one such article popped up in the Saturday Times last weekend and I prepared myself to be Very Cross Indeed. There were 17 tips from Anna Murphy the 46 year old fashion editor (so she’s the same age as my daughter - what does she know about ageing I thought, still very cross), but rather surprisingly I found myself agreeing with quite a lot she had written.
So I thought I’d cherry-pick a bit and choose 10 of her suggestions that make the most sense to me as a 72 year old who just wants to tread that fine line between frumpy and mutton (as in ‘dressed as lamb’).
1. Be Open Minded
I do actually agree with Anna M. that this is a good place to start. With age comes self knowledge (I know what suits me) which can blind you to new thinking when it comes to clothes (and hair and makeup). I have a whole raft of things that I no longer want to wear. Stiletto heels, short skirts, plunging necklines, all of which are fairly obvious. But I have also given up on dresses and skirts and maybe I should keep an open mind - after all do I really only want to wear trousers in some form or other until I kick the bucket?
2. Go Bright Lips and Strong Shades
One hundred per cent with Anna M. on this advice. We have now run a few fun competitions on Super Troopers with hundreds of entries of women trying out new looks with lipstick and showing us all how our two brightest and most vibrant lipsticks such as ‘Poppy’ for warm tones and ‘Fuschia’ for cool tones can lift and add the wow factor to an older face. Women on STs have been inspired and emboldened because the transformative effect is so obvious.
3. Getting Noticed is Good
So says (the 46 year old) Anna M. I’d say ‘Getting Noticed is a Miracle at 72!’ However the solution is not to throw in the towel and go ‘beige in old age’ but up the ante. The best way is by using colour to mark yourself out. For instance last winter the default coat for 90% of the older women I saw around and about was a black padded ‘puffa’ coat. Warm and practical and Oh So Dreary! I bought myself a bright red woollen coat and had so many compliments when shopping from younger shop assistants - no invisibility there!
4. Ditch the Handbag
Like Anna M.I’ve been an advocate of neat cross body bags for some time. I buy very few handbags so when I do I really make it count so on my birthday a couple of years ago I treated myself to a red Gucci Soho Bag (please don’t give me grief, I buy very few handbags), and I love everything about it. It’s small and neat and comfortable to ‘wear’ and it exactly fits my phone, a small purse, my lipstick and my bus pass. If necessary I can squeeze a small telescopic umbrella in too. It leaves my hands free (better for balance) and I can stride out confidently - and in my view - super-stylishly!
5. Go OTT on Jewellery
Especially earrings! On Super Troopers we have been having a love-in with earrings. What I personally love about bold, sassy and colourful earrings is that they fit everyone. Pear or Apple, plus-size or pin thin, earrings are going to fit you! And they can balance the proportions of your face if you choose the right shape for your face. Rules of thumb: Long earrings balance roundness and round earrings balance angularity at the jaw. A pop of bright lipstick and a pair of really amazing earrings can be all you need to look (ok I give in) 10 years younger.
6. Big Eyebrows are Good
Ummm. Not going to totally agree with Anna M. on this one. Maybe if you are a member of the Kardashian family big eyebrows are always good, but I see more and more older women trying the fashion for big bold eyebrows (sometimes permanently with tattoos - eek) and I feel that it creates a really unbalanced look. The problem is that with age comes a loss of something called the ‘luminance of contrast’. This is a fancy way of saying that features and skin become faded. Putting back colour and definition is why makeup is so brilliant on an older face - but it needs to be done subtly with something like our ingenious Bring Back Brow Shape (I use the grey) or all you see on the face are the caterpillar brows.
7. Trainers Modernise Every Look
This was something I realised last year when I bought a pair of white sporty looking shoes in John Lewis. Firstly they were supremely comfortable - always a big plus for a fashionable shoe - and secondly they transformed everything I wore into ‘a bit edgy’. So a big thumbs up from me for this one!
8. Find Your Brands
Last week for the Friday Teatime at the Ritz video I talked about the importance of fit and how difficult it is to get well fitting clothes given how few of us are ‘standard’ and ‘average’. I also talked about the brave new world that is coming down the track in the form of personal avatars, virtual fitting rooms and curated fashion in which our body shape would be more accurately matched with available styles. Of course we already do this when we keep returning to a particular brand because their clothes seem to work well on our bodies. My ‘go-tos’ are Zara for trousers, Hobbs for tops and Cos or maybe Massimo Dutti for something a bit different.
9. Try Before you Deny
Yes Anna M. you are right and I don’t do this nearly enough. Without a personal shopper to nag me, I always look at the same things in shops. I probably dismiss 90% of it and, like a magnet, I get drawn to the same old same old. It’s probably why I have at least 10 pairs of black trousers in my wardrobe all pretty much indistinguishable apart from the odd tiny difference (length, material, smart or casual). Anna M. mentions three current fashion trends: cropped trousers, jumpsuits and wonky hemlines. I went ‘off-piste’ last year and bought a jumpsuit in the sale at LK Bennett and I love it and am so glad that I challenged myself to buy something I would previously have dismissed out of hand.
10. Wear One Thing That’s A Little Bonkers
I am not brave with clothes and never have been. I am always in awe of people who manage to look a bit edgy and quirky but I know that I could never pull it off. However I do embrace three things which people don’t associate with older women. One is bold colour, the other is a bold lipstick (especially red which I always think of as a small act of rebellion) and the third is an arresting pair of earrings. Not very bonkers but in my own quiet way I feel that I am signalling that I am not dead yet (although I might not look 10 years younger!).
What would you say are your favourite ways to tread the line between frumpy and mutton? Do share your thoughts below - I love to read your contributions and I know everyone else does too! Tricia x