Who Are You Calling a Little Old Lady?
What does the three letter acronym LOL mean to you? Maybe you put it at the end of messages to loved ones to say ‘Lots of Love’ or maybe you apply it to amusing posts on facebook to indicate ‘Laugh Out Loud.’ Well I have a new one for you ‘Little Old Lady’ which is apparently used in the fashion industry as a term of abuse about certain styles. There’s another term ‘frump chic’ typified by the fashion for silver grey hair worn by the very young and wrinkle-free as an ironic symbol (of what I am not sure).
All of which has got me thinking about how those of us who have actually earned our silver threads can avoid being labelled ‘Little Old Lady.’
Let’s start with Granny Knickers!
I have to confess that as I’ve grown older comfort has become much more important than style when it comes to my underwear.
This reached a nadir recently when I found that I hadn’t packed any knickers* on a trip to Edinburgh for a speaking event. I found a large M&S in Princes Street and started searching for something suitable. I was in a hurry to catch a train to Glasgow, so grabbed a 6 pack in size 14 in a floral cotton material. When I got them out I fell apart laughing. They were HUGE and when I pulled them on practically up to my armpits I immediately felt, well, like the ultimate LOL. Since then I have bought myself some much more stylish, lacy pairs in plain sophisticated colours to remind myself that underwear is also important to morale!
When I say ‘Little Old Lady’ hairstyle what comes to mind?
Hairstyles. It instantly conjures to me the image of sausage curls and the weekly ‘shampoo and set’ much beloved of our mothers’ generation. Happily, we all grew up in the era of Vidal Sasson and Mary Quant with sharp geometrical shapes cut with precision and blow dried using styling brushes, a technique I still use between haircuts. What’s brilliant now is the profusion of styling products to give more volume and to hold hair in place without stickiness. I use Serie Expert Silver Shampoo by L’Oreal to keep my hair free of ‘warm’ undertones and Kerastase Mousse on my wet hair to add volume. Most days I also use Kerastase Lacque Noire hairspray to give some much needed height which also adds a really lovely shine.
Technology. I have to admit that I tend to resist upgrading my phone because I can’t stand the kerfuffle of learning a new system. I’ve also kept the same TV for twelve years because it seems to me that you need a degree level qualification these days just to turn the wretched things on! Naturally my children see me as a LOL in relation to technology and even offered to buy me a new Smart TV for my 70th (an offer I politely declined). However I recently used my phone as my boarding pass when I went to Dublin, my daughter having downloaded the Aer Lingus App for me. I felt as though I’d finally joined the 21st century and can now see the considerable advantages of not having extraneous bits of paper cluttering up my bag (see below).
Have you ever been with a friend who has an enormous bag and can never find anything in it?
Handbags. Purse, glasses, phone, car keys, Freedom Pass. All disappear into the capacious body of the bag never to be seen or found again without taking everything out whilst muttering ‘I know they’re here somewhere!’. About a year ago I decided to go ‘hands free’ when it comes to my handbag because I was fed up with both the weight and the inconvenience of a big roomy number. I bought a smallish cross body bag which threw up some challenges in accommodating all I needed when out and about. This coincided with using a contactless debit card instead of cash, so I got rid of my big bulky purse* full of heavy change and edited everything right down. My new bag just about fits my Kindle, keys, phone, debit card, bus pass and lippie and makes me feel organised and in control.
Glasses. I need some new specs. I’m short-sighted so have been fine without glasses for reading or writing as long as my vision is corrected for driving or for the cinema or theatre. My eyesight suddenly seems to have deteriorated so I needed to book an eye test. Before I did so, I had a quick look at the styles on offer and was immediately depressed. I was hoping for something a bit stylish and maybe colourful and interesting, along the lines of Prue Leith’s specs in GBBO. What a depressing array. Talk about LOL! In fact I tried a few pairs on and instantly morphed into my grandmother. I’ve decided to seek out an opticians that can offer me some glasses which say ‘Stylish Older Sophisticate’ rather than ‘Myopic Old Mare’.
And finally what about LOL makeup?
Makeup. My first thought is the expression ‘powder my nose.’ My mum was always saying this as a euphemism for going to the loo, but whilst using the facilities she really did powder her nose using a pretty compact and little round sponge. I think of Little Old Lady makeup as overly powdery and lacking in colour and definition, especially at the eyes, cheeks and lips. We have the occasional LOL for a makeover in our Wimbledon shop so we add a little light eye makeup with a sweep of mascara, a touch of pinky-toned Radiance Blush on top of Light Look Beauty Balm and persuade her to try a pretty lipstick. She may have come in as an LOL but she leaves with a spring in her step and a Lovely New Look.
I have used a photograph of 97 year old Iris Apfel at the top of this blogpost because she’s the polar opposite of the LOL. Interesting signature specs, a great haircut, wonderful makeup and bucket loads of style and sass. I’d also like to namecheck the Queen who has herself just turned 93. I was looking at a series of photographs taken of her in the past year and she looks fabulous in every single one of them thanks to her brightly coloured outfits and sensational hats. So in future when I feel myself turning into my mother I am going to channel Iris and the Queen and tell myself that becoming a Little Old Lady is not my inevitable destiny.
*For our US followers: In the UK we call ‘panties’ knickers or pants. What you call ‘pants’ we call trousers. We call ‘purses’ handbags. What you call ‘pocket books’, we call purses. Just so that there is no confusion!!
Queen Source: Joel Rouse/ Ministry of Defence www.defenceimagery.mod.uk
Iris Apfel Source: INC International Concepts
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