And, I don’t know about you, but springtime always makes me want to throw out my entire wardrobe and start again from scratch!

Of course, I won’t do anything quite so rash, partly because my winter uniform of a colourful warm round-necked jumper teamed with black trousers and black ankle boots (and a jazzy pair of earrings) never dates, and partly because I’d have absolutely no idea where to start with a whole new wardrobe. However I do know what I don’t want, so maybe I should start there.

What I no longer contemplate when buying clothes:

High Fashion

I realised a while ago that I don’t really think in terms of ‘fashion’ any more. Style yes; fashion not so much. I just googled ‘top fashion trends for 2022’ and was reliably informed that my new spring wardrobe needed fringes, sequins, bold clashing colours, wide leg trousers cinched at the waist with a boxy top, and something called ‘elevated shapes’ in the form of trapeze dresses (no, me neither). Looking at the accompanying photographs I honestly can’t see myself wearing any of these apparently trendy items.

elevated_shapes

High-Heels

Last winter I wore a pair of boots with a tiny 1” heel for a few hours, most of which time I was either standing or walking. That night I woke in excruciating agony, which I suspect was a form of plantar fasciitis. I was lucky that it lasted for a few hours and has never returned, but am now very wary of any form of heel, however small. Some outfits just don’t work with flat shoes, especially with milk-bottle legs like mine, but fortunately flat ankle boots or trainers with everything are both styles even I can happily adopt, so I now try everything on wearing one or the other of these on my feet.

Uncomfortable underwear

When I was young and foolish I’d often try something on in a changing room and think ‘if I lose some weight (!) or wear some shaping underwear I could maybe get away with this figure skimming dress or skirt’. Well, no more! Sometimes a better pair of knickers or a good bra works wonders, but that’s about as far as I am prepared to go in search of a ‘sleek silhouette.’ The trouble with lycra designed to flatten your stomach or smoothe your lumpy waist, hips and thighs is that it will make you feel and look miserable. And as to buying something with a view to ‘dropping a few extra pounds’ - well - be honest - did that ever happen?

So, having clarified what I don’t want - where to look for inspiration?

Fashion Articles in Magazines

This ought to be easy and straightforward! Magazines know  a great deal about their readers. They know their age, social class, educational level, lifestyles and they’re good at serving up content which they know will appeal. Except in their fashion spreads! My theory is that it’s partly because the brands that they show don’t want to be associated with an older demographic and partly because clothes featured in fashion spreads always look better on tall, slim young bodies. I look at these desirable images and just know that my older body would not look remotely like that in the same items. This reinforces the sense that these clothes are not for me.

zara

Zara sale fashion shoot for platinum magazine

Fashion catalogues aimed at me

Well, they must be aimed at me because they arrive on my doorstep practically every day. In the past couple of weeks I have kept all these promotional fashion booklets which I’ve been sent. Clearly I must be on a lot of mailing lists. There are ten in all and they’re from Hush, Sahara, Poetry, Pure Collection, Bella Di Notte, Wrap, Saint + Sofia,Wyse, Woolovers and Cefinn. In the past I have bought from at least five of these companies and yet not a single image in any of their catalogues is a woman who looks remotely like me. Some of the models might be in their 50s (but even that is doubtful) but none is in their 60s or 70s. Would these styles suit me? How would I know from looking at these images?

catalogues

A selection of fashion catalogues I’ve received

Actual Shopping on the High Street

This is like a lottery and is totally hit and miss. I’ve been shopping a couple of times for some spring clothes with very mixed results. In fact the first time I tried a few of my favourite shops like Cos, Massimo Dutti, Boden and Zara but came home tired, disillusioned and empty-handed. I went back again recently for a haircut and decided to browse the fashion section in Peter Jones (aka John Lewis). Last year I bought a pretty silk blouse from there that I wore a lot with white jeans from a new brand, NRBY. This was launched by an older woman, Jo Hooper who has a long track record in the rag trade. By chance in Peter Jones I bumped into Cornelia Smith, one of Jo’s team, and she told me a little of the story of the brand. I was so impressed that I ended up buying another very pretty NRBY blouse which will be a staple all summer.

springblouse

Me in my 2 NRBY Blouses - the blue I bought last summer, and the pink this spring

Personal Shopping in Stores

If you have a special occasion or just feel in need of some new ideas then booking a free session with a stylist in a large department store could be a good option. I had a very bad experience with this in Selfridges when shopping for a Mother of the Bride outfit over 14 years ago, and they’ve obviously not changed their ways, because a Super Trooper recently encountered a similar level of outright rudeness, hostility and snobbery (and possibly ageism) when she also attempted to book a session. She was asked how much her budget was and when told it was £300 - £400, the snotty receptionist said that the starting point was a minimum of £500 and ”in your size (she’s a 16) you may be better off in Hobbs or Jigsaw.”  I too was so rudely spoken to that I wrote a stinking letter to the CEO and was given a free designer bag as an apology, but I have never been in Selfridges since. I went instead to Liberty’s for my wedding outfit and the people there were lovely.

A Personal Stylist and Colour Analyst

If you have the budget this can be an excellent way to update your wardrobe and get you out of a style rut, especially if you lack confidence or feel that you have lost your way as we all emerge from various lockdowns. Personal stylists often know where all the best stock is in your neck of the woods, can sometimes have clothes put on one side in particular shops for you to try on, saving lots of time, and may be able to get you discounts in some stores. I can guarantee that if you do go this route you’ll end up with some great items in your wardrobe which you would not have considered, but which you will love wearing.

So, if like me, the spring sunshine has stimulated thoughts of renewal and this includes your wardrobe, then I hope I have given you some ideas and inspiration. I so wish that magazines and catalogues were more helpful than they are for us women of a certain age. I can’t believe that just one older model used with all the younger ones would seriously taint their brand, but they obviously think that it would, despite the fact that their target market is (often well) over 50. As for the rest, it’s all rather hit-and-miss. Some of you may think that I am shallow, caring about new clothes with everything else that is going on, and maybe I am. However, just as during the pandemic, my spirits lift when I get ready for my day with my lovely LFF makeup applied, my hair done and something nice to wear which is both comfortable and flattering. World peace is rather beyond me at the moment, but feeling better able to face the day is not!

Tricia x 

Upcoming Event Information:

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Makeup Magic Monday - The Importance of Well-Placed Makeup

Join us in April for another Makeup Magic Event, where Sally and Tricia will discuss the do's and don'ts of applying makeup

Day: Monday 4th April

Time: 11am

Link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86836645810?pwd=MDJqWis1a3FlSllITEVqRUFMUUFZUT09 

Meeting ID (if needed): 868 3664 5810

Password (if needed): LOOKFAB

Friday 15th April

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Film Club - The Piano (1993)

Available on Netflix

Watch the film before and join us for a discussion!

Day:  Friday 5tht April

Time: 4pm 

Link:https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86109288705?pwd=TUgzQW5IK0VnUGI2MGdtb0FQN3hxZz09

Meeting ID (if needed): 861 0928 8705

Password (if needed): LOOKFAB