Well! Last week's blogpost - "Are you Mrs M&S? No, Me Neither!' certainly stirred a veritable hornet's nest of pique and frustration with (what was once) the Nation's Favourite Store. The key problem for all of us with M&S would appear to be the absolute dearth of good quality, well made clothes in a range of colours without tacky patterns and embellishments. Many of you commented that you still want to look stylish but could no longer find anything that appealed on the muddled racks of clothes in M&S. Which brings me to this week's blog which is about style versus fashion. It's very hard to define exactly what the word 'style' means - but we usually recognise it when we see it.
It's also an opportunity to tell you about a feature that we will be running every month called 'Fabulous Forever Street Style'. We have asked a young photographer, Beatrix Blaise, to take pictures of stylish older women whom she spots 'out and about.' We are following in the footsteps of Ari Seth Cohen whose Advanced Style blog shows his wonderful photos of stylish older women in his native New York (see one of his images at top left). We intend to build a portfolio of similarly inspirational images to share with you every month. Beatrix and I started the project on June 4th when we headed to the Royal Albert Hall where there was an afternoon performance of Swan Lake. We spotted lots of fabulously stylish older women for our new portfolio all of which we'll share with you soon. I have featured four here, including Nicola (50, left) who looked wonderful in her vibrant pink accessories.
Style v Fashion - What is the difference?
Style is personal. Fashion is universal. Being stylish is about choosing clothes and accessories which say something about who you are. I like quite simple shapes and solid colours so I inject interest with accessories jewellery (especially earrings) and scarves etc. Angela (66, right) looks taller and slimmer wearing a long silk scarf which co-ordinates perfectly with her teal dress, and light tan shoes and bag.
Style is ageless. Fashion is ageist. The latest fashions are rarely showcased on older models for a good reason they may or may not work on an older body whilst they will invariably work on very young, tall thin models for whom they are designed. The current big trend is for wide culottes (see above right in a recent Guardian fashion shoot). Not a good look on me with my heavy bottom half!
Style is enduring. Fashion is fleeting. If you develop a strong enduring style you dont have to keep changing your wardrobe every season. You can update your clothes by selecting what works best for you from the current trends. I invariably wear black or navy trousers on my bottom half. So I refresh my wardrobe by finding new and interesting tops and accessories - see me left in a checked top and trousers from Zara.
Style is knowing which colours work best with your face and hair. Fashion is about this seasons colour. I have read three articles this week saying that yellow is the must have colour for summer 2016. But yellow looks terrible on people with cool skin tones like me and doesn't always suit people with warm tones either! Andrea (62, below right) spotted her purple dress and stripy jacket in an Oxfam shop where she works. Total cost? £3.99! Teamed with pink suede pumps she looks fabulous! This shows that a good eye and knowing what suits you means that you don't have to spend a fortune to look great.
Style is easier when you are older. Fashion is easier when you are younger. Think of the most stylish woman you know is she young or old? It seems to me that you need to have lived for a while before you can develop a distinctive personal style.
Style is what suits you. Fashion is what suits the designer's vision. Women come in many shapes and sizes. Fashion models dont. I know that I will never be 6ft tall and pin thin. I am pear shaped and the top half of my body is much nicer than the bottom half. So I try to make the bottom half disappear by wearing dark colours and covering it up. I then draw as much attention to the top half as I can using colour, accessories, a great hair cut and, of course, LFF makeup!
Style can incorporate comfort. Fashion has no interest in being comfortable. Yuko (nearly 70, left) looks relaxed and comfortable yet extremely elegant in a long pale pink tunic loosely belted over grey trousers.
There are so many examples of stylish older women that it's difficult to know where to start! How about Judi Dench with her signature cropped hair and floaty dark clothes enlivened with a long bright scarf on one shoulder? Or Christine Lagarde, head of the IMF, the epitome of French chic in beautifully cut trouser suits and Hermes scarves? Or Anna Wintour whose signature fringed-bob hairstyle hasn't changed in 40 years despite her life spent in the high fashion world as editor of American Vogue.
Please tell us about women whose style you admire (and why) and I hope you will enjoy seeing our regular updates of Forever Fabulous Street Style!