Fashionable or frumpy?

baroness s g  

Baroness Susan Greenfield – 65 – An inspiration

Professor of Pharmacology at Oxford University

When sitting on a train last week I caught the headlines on a fellow passenger’s newspaper. ‘Fashion is not for the over fifties’. Which begs the question, ‘What is for the over fifties?’ As they get older some women do lose the plot with regard to what to wear yet to make the statement that fashion is somehow denied older women simply because of their age seems ridiculous. Older women have helped to shape the workplace and their contribution in all walks of life is immense. Baroness Greenfield (above) is working on a cure for Alzheimer’s and always looks modern and stylish.  We are not prepared to become invisible, because some fashion stylist doesn’t know what to do with us, and descend into the wearing of frumpy boring clothes.

cindy joseph 64

Cindy Joseph – 65

Founder of the cosmetics brand ‘Boom’

Cindy Joseph has endless energy and is always stylish yet very casual. No older woman wants to be a slave to fashion but we do need to be contemporary and this means adopting some of the elements of current fashion.

barbara alberti 71 write

Alberta Ferreti (writer) – 71 – The Epitome of chic


sleeveless jacket

Stylish & modern – sleeveless jackets work well

Women in their fifties and beyond have more than earned the right to choose whether they want to be fashionable or not. We can adopt the style that suits us, while keeping in mind some style guidelines.  Keep your look fresh and blend in the modern with some essential pieces. Do this and you will always look good.

PS: Does anyone know where the article referred to was published? If so please let me know.


Are English women vulgar? What do you think?

BERLIN, GERMANY - DECEMBER 07: Kristin Scott Thomas attends the European Film Awards 2013 on December 7, 2013 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Clemens Bilan/Getty Images)

Kristen Scott Thomas

On the 24th February (an important day in our house as it is my husband’s birthday) Kristen Scott Thomas DBE caused something of a furore in the Mail newspaper when she said that English women, with their fake tans and short skirts, were vulgar. What a fabulous word, and one which we don’t hear very often. Vulgar. If ‘some’ women are vulgar then what does it mean? My blog is very much about style rather than fashion. I love fashion and have been subscribing to Vogue magazine for years. However, the extremes of fashion usually don’t transfer to the realities of a woman’s life. But I don’t think that fashion is the culprit here. I believe it is the cult of youth allied to that really rather absurd obsession with celebrity. I have mentioned before that some degree of restraint is necessary to be stylish and elegant and I think the French could give masterclasses on this. Kristen Scott Thomas has lived in France for years so not unnaturally the French culture, values and attitudes have left a strong impression. The French seem to embrace age with  an openness that we British find hard. Tottering about on ridiculously high heels wearing a short skirt, too much make-up and sporting an ‘orange’ glow can never be stylish. Whatever your age.

Are English women vulgar? In my opinion some are. I’ll leave you to make up your mind. Please let me know then we can find out how much support Kristen has.

KST Award French

July 2015 receiving her Officer of the Legion d’honneur on Bastille Day

Why results need passion

For as long as I can remember I was intrigued and fascinated by creams, lotions and potions. My mother had a very puritanical and functional attitude to skincare, whereas an aunt had a much more hedonistic approach. Her bathroom was full of gorgeous bottles and heavenly smells. I spent hours there. I am incapable of walking through the beauty hall of any department store because I’m looking for skincare that not only produces good results but is also an experience in itself!

At last I’ve found the holy grail of skincare. I’ve been trialing some of the Temple Spa range and quite frankly I’m astounded. The products are exceptional and, guess what, when your parcel arrives there put in some chocolates. Now that is attention to detail. Having worked in the corporate world for decades I know that success is determined by results and results need passion. It’s passion about your product or service which really makes the difference.

TS Skin Truffle

If you can’t get to the spa this is the next best thing!

First Impressions – or are you invisible?

As someone once remarked, ‘You don’t get a second chance to make a good first impression’. Various studies have been made on how long it takes to make that first impression. Ranging from 3 seconds to 20 seconds. Pretty daunting! Should we make an opinion based on how people look? Probably not-  but it is what we do. Many older women complain about being ‘invisible’ in the media with undue attention being focused on images of young, well-toned slim (naturally!) females. As you get older there can be a loss of confidence about your looks. It’s not unusual for women to say they don’t want to stand out or look ‘ridiculous’. Possibly this is about a fear of being judged and regrettably women are judged by how they look; far more than men.

The challenge? Overcoming what amounts to ‘fear-based’ dressing. This can take the form of wearing the same type of  clothes, sticking to dark colours or wearing what your friends do, so that you won’t stand out. If this sounds like you then there are some steps you can take to help you realise and celebrate your uniqueness. How you look matters and, yes, you will be judged by how you look. If you feel confident and at ease with what you are wearing then it really doesn’t matter what others think.

Bring some colour into your life

Colour can change your mood as any colour therapist will tell you. How often have you seen a friend or colleague wearing a bright colour and it transforms how they look. I have 2 friends who can’t wear black next to their face as it completely drains them. Putting it brutally they look ill. When they wear colours that suit them they look healthy and full of vitality. The red coat below makes a definite statement. If this is a step too far, then choose a bright colour that you like for trousers or a skirt.


turnups fuschia cardi

The fuschia cardigan transforms denim jeans and a white T-shirt. Worn with the scarf it looks stylish and chic.


If the thought of wearing a completely different colourful piece of clothing is too daunting then consider your accessories. A plain outfit can be brought to life with colourful accessories, as some of the items below clearly show.

ugg orange great with white jeans

large blue paisley

grey and gold necklace

kate spade flats coarl suede tassel

Getting dressed should be a pleasure. There should be some joy in knowing you look your best and you are getting noticed. My blog is all about celebrating the amazing contribution that older women have made, and continue to make, in the world. Lose that cloak of invisibility that dreary dull clothes provide. Stop hiding. Step out and stand out. You deserve it.

7 Tips to keep you looking stylish – No 7

Tip No 7 – Commit to being stylish

Here we are at the last of my 7 tips for keeping yourself looking stylish.

Whenever we set ourselves goals we need to believe in the ‘why’ of the goal. What is the purpose of achieving this goal? How will this goal benefit me? What do I get out of it? Perhaps you’re just fed up with how you look or you’re not sure exactly how to become more stylish. If rejuvenating your style is important to you then you need to commit to making some small changes. The first commitment is making the time.

Are you up for a challenge? If you are I’d like you to take each of the previous 6 tips and work with them for at least 6 weeks. You can take one tip per week or more. It’s up to you. But you do need to invest some time. I would suggest you do them in numerical order. Although tips 4 and 5 can be combined

Tip 1 – Being Organised

Take everything out of your wardrobe (s) and sort into 3 piles. Clothes that you never/rarely wear, clothes that are old and worn, and clothes that you wish to keep. The first pile you can give away or sell the second pile throw out. Using the suggestions in tip 1 (see previous post) sort out the clothes you intend to keep. When you look at the remaining items you should feel uplifted. If you don’t then perhaps you may need to shop for some key pieces.


Tip 2 – Be well groomed

Take any items that need cleaning to the dry cleaners and any items that need repairing (if you are not good with a needle) to a reputable dress maker. Carefully look at your footwear, polish or brush where necessary and take into a show repairers if required. If your hair needs attention check in with your hairdresser. Throw out all old hair, skincare and makeup products. Book a manicure. You can observe how she does this and replicate at home. Keep your nails filed and always use a hand cream. Now you are good to go!


We can’t all be Coco – but isn’t it worth trying?

Tip 3 – The importance of lingerie

Get a professional fitter to check your bra size. You may be surprised. When I go to buy new lingerie I always take a close fitting top or camisole. Why? To put on over the new bra to see how well it fits. Any lumps or bumps will be spotted instantly. Once you try on a bra that really fits you will never want to go back. Your breasts will be lifted and your posture instantly improved. When you are in the changing room you could also try on some shape wear if you feel you need it. Again, take the garment you intend wearing with the shape wear with you. If you need to buy new panties check that don’t produce any obvious lines/marks.


Tip 4 – Take good care of your skin

Make a commitment to review your skincare regime. Is your cleanser doing a good enough job? How happy are you with your moisturiser? Do you feel a beauty serum would be a good idea? To help you answer these questions, and any others you may have, visit your local beauty counter and ask for advice and for samples. I’m a big believer in trying before you buy.

chic make-up

Tip 5 – Up date your makeup

This links in neatly to tip 4 and follows more or less the same process. Be honest. Does your makeup need an overhaul? If your makeup technique and the products you use have remained static for some time the answer will be yes. Re-visit tip 4 (previous post). Check out the recommended Youtube videos and hit the beauty counter.

fab at 60

Tip 6 – Surprise people

Having decided on the clothes you are going to keep (tip 1) spend some time trying on different combinations to create a variety of outfits. What would lift a particular outfit? It could be a pair of patterned tights or an ‘in-you-face’ piece of jewellery. What about a great looking pair of sunglasses? Stylish women get noticed. Not because they glaringly stand out – but because there is always some small unexpected aspect to how they look. Something that takes people by surprise.

Chanel black whit arms


Wear a fabulous pair of sunglasses

wht top with blk skirt

Add a gorgeous bracelet

This is your 6 week challenge and I look forward to hearing how you have got on. You can become more stylish in 6 weeks by taking some small steps. Once taken I hope you won’t want to go back.

7 Tips to keep you looking stylish – No 6

Tip No 6 – Surprise people!

When writing a blog about style for older women it can be all too easy to assume that whilst older women don’t want to be old fashioned or, God forbid, frumpy, they don’t want to be ‘mutton dressed as lamb’. This is of course open to interpretation. The alternative? Mutton dressed as mutton?

Stylish women have edge. They have a presence. They rarely play it safe. By offering a surprise in how you present yourself you keep your style fresh and yourself interested in how you look.

colbalt blue

Wear a bright scarf – particularly if you usually don’t

ethnic beads bracelet

Wear an ethnic bracelet with a plain top

orange ankle strap shoe

Go for some seriously sexy shoes

Style is about the element of surprise. It’s about not being predictable. You may favour a fairly casual approach to what you wear. The trick is to add an accessory that surprises. You can buy some amazingly cheap costume jewellery which can transform an outfit. What you want to avoid is the appearance of a uniform.

ralph lauren style lasts

Go on. Create some drama! Small changes produce big results.

7 Tips to keep you looking stylish – No 5

Tip No 5 – Update your Make-up

Nothing ages a woman more than wearing the same make-up she did 10 plus years ago. This is usually down to two factors. Firstly, habit and secondly not knowing where to start with regard to changing. Most older women either wear not enough make-up (yes this is possible!) or far too much. At the risk of causing a riot I am of the firm belief that all older women need make-up. Yes, even if you have a glowing natural tan you still need to define (not obliterate) your eyes and lips. The fact is skin tone fades, muscles slacken and some skins get age spots. If you have grey hair you need some colour on your face or else you will look washed out. Tinted moisturiser is ideal as it is light and easy to apply.

women natural image

This women is wearing make-up and has subtly defined her eyes and her lips. This is a perfect daytime look. As all my readers are unique I can’t recommend one single product or range. Skin tone, skin type, shape of eyes and face all need to be taken into account. I can, as I usually do, mention products that I have used. As you get older you definitely need make-up, as the images below so clearly demonstrate.

bobbi brown before after

Bobbie Brown Makeover

lisa eld before and after

Lisa Eldridge Makeover

I hope I’ve proved my point. Both the above makeovers are on Youtube. Lisa Eldridge has her own blog which has some excellent videos. Lisa mentions the actual products she uses and has a down to earth style which certainly works for me. Do your research and then go into your local department or beauty store and book a makeover. All the main brands are very happy to do this. You then get a good idea of the type of product and the colours that suit you. Ask for tips on application. I have found Chanel, Bobbi Brown, Mac and Clinique to be excellent at ‘doing’ your make-up for you and offering useful tips too.

chanel acqua lumiere

My all time favourite

esttee renutriv foundation

Great for dry skin

All older skin needs some colour and some ‘glow’. If you can achieve this without using make-up answers on a postcard please! Personally I don’t favour powder blushes as the product can settle on skin that has wrinkles. There are many gel or liquid blushes.

chubby highlight stick

My new obsession!

I am a big fan of clinique make up. It has stood the test of time and continues to perform well. Their range of chubby sticks are easy to apply and save time. The chubby stick highlighter above is brilliant at making you look healthy and fresh. Simply stroke some on your forehead, bridge of the nose and the top of your cheek bones and then lightly blend. It stays put all day.

fab at 60

Fantastic at 60!

7 Tips to keep you looking stylish – No 4

Tip No 4 – Take good care of your skin

Even with well applied foundation poor neglected skin will show through. It’s difficult to look stylish if your skin lacks radiance, seems dull and dry and somewhat neglected. Dehydrated skin does not look good. Start from the inside by drinking plenty of water. Yes, I know you know. But do you do it? Water means precisely that. Herbal teas are good of course. However, good plain H2O is essential. Set yourself a challenge to drink at least 3 large glasses of water per day. If this seems too much then simply drink 6 smaller glasses spread over the day. Then increase by at least one glass. Why not turn it into a bit of a ritual and add a slice of lemon. I am a great fan of hot water and although it may take some getting used to it is reputed to act as good detox agent. Eat your 5 a-day and I promise you you will see the difference.

cindy joseph 64

Read my post on skin cleansing and make sure you clean your skin with a product which suits your skin type. Although there is one school of thought that says expensive cleansers are a waste of money I don’t agree. Buy the best you can afford. The key is use the right amount and not be heavy-handed. Always remove your make-up before going to bed. I do know you know this but it is such an important point it needs to be made.

bioderma wipes sensitive

Quick, easy and effective

eve lom cleanser

Use with a muslin cloth – fabulous!

ponds cold cream

Yes it is still on the market because it works!

Your choice of cleanser is very much up too you. I believe that you must start with clean skin and you need to be fastidious. Use a magnifying mirror (ghastly I know) so you can really see your skin up close.

Having really cleansed your face you now need to moisturise. There are so many moisturisers out they you are spoiled for choice. I will only ever mention products I have used personally or are recommended by people who’s opinion I value.

espa regen moist

Very impressive

I’ve been using the Espa Regenerating Moisture Complex for 4 weeks now and I am very impressed with how soft my skin feels. Because they incorporate essential oils their products not only feel lovely but they smell gorgeous too. You can only (as far as I am aware) buy them in beauty salons.

olay regenerist

Olay get a good press and whilst they don’t suit my skin – sorry Olay – I know women who swear by their creams. They are reasonably priced and easy to buy, even in your local supermarket.

terry baume de rose

Sheer delight!

Moisturise like it is going out of fashion! You don’t need to use vast quantities but you do need to find a good moisturiser that works for you. If you are post menopausal this is particularly  important. If you are thinking of investing in  a top end cream then go into your department store and ask them for a sample. All the well known brands have small pots under the counter which they are more than happy to fill up with their product. They can also give you some advice too!

Don’t become obsessed with any wrinkles, facial sag (I suffer with jowls!) or age spots. Look after your skin by keeping it clean, well moisturised and generally cared for. In the sun use an appropriate skin factor. When you get the chance have a facial. Absolute bliss and one of my favourite things. And don’t forget – get plenty of sleep. Lack of sleep shows on your face – always.

10 Style Essentials – No 10

The Skirt

Here we are at number 10 of the style essentials that will keep you looking good. For some women wearing a skirt is almost a major event. We have all become so used to slipping into our jeans or a pair of trousers. Yet a skirt is possibly the most feminine article of clothing around. I believe that the reason so many women have shunned the skirt is because, as yet, they haven’t found the right one for them.

print flared

Great shape for a flat bottom

There are several areas to consider when choosing a skirt. Firstly there’s the fabric. A creased skirt looks dreadful unless or course it is linen. Contradictory but true. Then there is the style of the skirt. Pencil, A-line, pleated or full? Then one of the most important aspects – the length. Coco Channel once remarked that the ugliest part of a woman were her knees. I’m not sure I entirely agree, however some women do have unattractive knees, even those with fairly good legs. So, what is the most flattering length? In my opinion I believe it is any length that hits at mid-knee. Please be aware that a skirt length that rests on your mid-calf will shorten and thicken your leg. The only exception to this is a fairly tight pencil skirt with either a kick-back pleat or wrap over (to allow easy walking) which can look stunning.

Knit Pencil

Pencil wrap skirt

valentino pink lace

Ultra feminine Valentino

The A-line shape above is flattering for most body shapes. It can hide a large bottom and give shape to a boyish figure. So if investing in a skirt is a new decision for you it may be best to go for this shape.

striped stretch chic

Just the right length

The outfit above demonstrates the importance of proportion. However, the stripes, while looking very chic, can have the effect of widening the hips particularly for those women with short bodies.

navy pleated

Navy pleated skirt – classic

Pleated skirt are very feminine and provided you wear the right top they look good. No flounces or frills please as the pleated skirt requires a simple top.  A note of caution for older women. Don’t be too conservative with your choice of top or accessories. Why? You will look old fashioned! The model above gets away with it as she is fairly young.

pleated blush zara

Pleats by Zara

Should you wear a mini skirt? It really is up to your level of confidence and how good your legs are. If both are not what you would wish I would say ‘no’. And remember that when you sit down wearing a short skirt you may reveal more than is necessary, which is never stylish. Personally I don’t like to see women over fifty wearing very short skirts because I don’t think it looks stylish and can give the impression of being desperate. But as I say it really is up to you. Towards the other end of the scale is the long usually shapeless skirt. The length tends to hover above the ankle by about 2-3 inches. Please resist this at all costs. You will only succeed in looking as if you have joined a strange religious sect. If your legs are heavy and you don’t feel good wearing any of the styles mentioned than go for a long length which skims the floor. This will look equally good with ballet flats or ankle boots, especially if you are tall.  There are some really lovely maxi skirts around at the moment.

white slightly flared


If you haven’t worn a skirt for a while why not make 2016 the year all that changes. Decide on what type of skirt you want and then do your research. It may be helpful to read my article called The Art of Shopping posted last month. A final piece of guidance. Shop with some pins. If the length is too long pin it to the length that suits you best. Then get a good dressmaker to alter it. As I’ve said before using the services of a dressmaker or tailor will make a remarkable difference to how your clothes fit (unless you are a classic size and everything fits you perfectly!).

You now have your 10 essential key pieces. Mix and match to your hearts content knowing you look stylish and chic.

The Emperor’s New Clothes


This is not a post on style, despite the title, just to let you know I’m back on line. A big thank you to my local Cafe Nero, in Hexham, Northumberland. They have helped to provide a lively and very comfortable working environment. Why the title? My loss of internet connection was due to a provider telling me that they could ‘definitely provide a quicker broadband speed’ and then failing to do so AND creating a break in service. I live and have a home office on the Northumberland moors, when I’m not travelling, and had been told by BT that super fast broadband was not possible. Morale of the story? Don’t promise what you can’t deliver. Why do some technology companies try and blind us (and to a large extent themselves) with visions of wonders that don’t exist?

Tonight I shall have a relaxing bath with one of my favourite treats. REN Moroccan Rose Otto Bath Oil. This is the perfect way to end a rather frustrating few days!

ren rose otto bath oil