LONDON, England / The Telegraph / UK News / September 19, 2010
Advanced style: what, this old thing?
As London Fashion Week gets underway Victoria Lee meets the stylish senior citizens who find themselves on trend without even trying.
By Victoria Lee
Michele Edwards-Clark, 62, an information officer from Shropshire
I don’t take my lead from anybody – I have my own style! I design a lot of my own clothes, and have a dressmaker who runs things up for me from my rough sketches. I have loads of red, though I may actually not do red this year because it’s supposedly in fashion. Why would I want to look the same as everyone else? My fashion knowledge comes from her mother. She taught me to have a basic colour in my wardrobe. I’m trying to teach my step-daughter that – to always have a basic colour you can pair things with. Everything I buy has to go with at least two other things in my wardrobe. It’s a shame that the glamour of the 50s has been lost. You don’t get foundation garments now so you don’t get the shape you used to get from wearing them. Although I was in M&S yesterday and they look as if they are coming back, which would be good.
Caroline Darling, 55, secretary from Wiltshire
I’m not really a designer person at all – I tend to buy things from charity shops. Occasionally at the hairdressers I will flick through a magazine for inspiration but I’m not really a huge shopper. People say to me 'Oh, it’s very clever how you just put things together’, but I rarely decide what to wear until the moment before I leave the house. I wore these tights because I’m going to a memorial service for a very dear friend who wouldn’t have liked plain black. Many of my clothes I pick up abroad – this scarf is from Cambodia. But this old wool jacket is by Rosavetta Bles, an Austrian designer; I got the skirt from Walton Clothing in Wiltshire; and this tatty bag is now so old I’m not sure where it’s from. At home I have a couple of staple winter coats that I’ve worn to death. Oh, is it London Fashion Week now? I’m terrible, I’m not at all with it!
Jenny Fagan, 58, retiree from Sydney, Australia
I first got into fashion when I was at university. In those days, my friends and I used to wear long gloves whenever we could. It was a very glamorous time. Everything evolves, and fashion today is gorgeous. This jumper is Jaeger, but I love Escada because their clothes are so well-fitting. My favourite young designer is Collette Dinnigan, but I have a George Gross tan leather suit in my wardrobe which is my staple item. The top is the most divine thing, all beautiful interwoven satin.
Photo: Andrew Crowley
Camilla Nathhorst, 53, on business from Paris
My style has developed not from taking an interest in events like London Fashion Week, but from various influences over my lifetime. The first pieces of clothing I ever brought in was a Lacoste polo and a diamond-pattern jumper, which set the tone. This jacket I’m wearing is very basic and classic, but it’s a staple in my wardrobe. Like the skirt, it’s a staple by Gérard Darel. My necklace was a gift from a friend in Colombia. It’s probably thirty years old now. In the summer, I wear it over T-shirts.”
Sarah Brice, 60, retired housewife from Cornwall
Because I live so far away from everything, I buy most of my clothes online or by mail-order. I know what suits me, so I’m inspired more by what I see in the catalogues than by the catwalk. I concentrate on my shape and what looks good. I see that short skirts have come back in now, but I go for longer line jackets which cover my bottom – just like this suit and matching blouse from Gray & Osbourn. What goes around comes around! Another enduring item is this silk scarf my husband bought from Harrods many, many years ago.
Miranda Seel, 62, retired (“I used to work a bit for my husband”), from near Leamington Spa, Warwickshire
I rarely look at fashion magazines or catwalks because they are geared for younger people. It’s quite hard for my age group because a lot of clothes are too short, or have no sleeves. I bought this blazer while on holiday in Italy. Can’t remember the designer. The jewellery again is from abroad – Dubai. I love anything classical. I love structured clothes from shops like Hobbs, and Russell and Bromley, where these shoes are from. I prefer sticking to classics rather than following modern fashions – London Fashion Week designers are so 'out there’ – although I have a staple Giorgio Armani jacket in my wardrobe which I’ve had for many years.”
Photo: Andrew Crowley
Liz Morris, 65, retired, from Woburn Sands, Buckinghamshire
I’m not a slave to fashion, but I do try and pick bits up to make me a little bit up to date. For inspiration, I watch the videos on net-a-porter to discover the seasons new looks. I’m looking forward to see what Stella McCartney has come up with. My style is classical, definitely not edgy. The shoes are from Italy, the dress is by Joseph Ribkoff, the jacket from Cosco – yes, the warehouse shop! – and the bag by Lulu Guinness. I don’t want to be seen slobbing around town in jeans.
Elizabeth Cartazzi, 80, retired from Kensington, west London
I’m too old to bother about designers or that sort of thing. I just shove on anything in the morning. Today I’m wearing a Liberty print blouse, a silk jacket from a market in Hong Kong, and a bag that came from an American store called Pendleton. My style has built up over time rather than moving with the current trends. I wear now exactly what I grew up wearing, except my skirts are probably a bit longer now than they were. When I was younger I was always careful what I wore because I didn’t want to look a mess.
Jane Cooper, 51, currently retraining as a kinesiologist, from East Sussex
When it comes to clothes, comfort is my main criteria. I don’t often get inspiration from designers. For classics, I always buy Jaeger which lasts for donkey’s years. However, this jacket, which I bought 20 years ago in Paris, is definitely one of the staple items in my wardrobe. The shoes are by Gabor, the trousers M&S, and the bag by Claudio Ferrio. The necklace is special, because it was a Christmas present from my daughter some 25 years ago.
Photo: Andrew Crowley
Joy Pickard, “mid-70s”, retired teacher from Kensington, west London
My approach to clothes shopping is if I see it and I like it, I buy it. But these days I find it difficult to find things I like unless I shop in M&S. This cardigan is from East, my brooch from Harrods, my bag from Prada, and my shoes from Russell & Bromley. Jane Muir is an inspiration – I’ve got a top of hers that I wear and re-wear every season, a real staple item. I’ve built up my style over the years rather than following catwalks. London Fashion Week is too young for me but I’ve got two granddaughters, aged 16 and 18, and they’ve got the short skirts and the tight jeans. For them, the clothes are great fun. For me, the glamour of the past is gone. We used to go to a lot of evening parties when I was at university wearing beautiful dresses.
Helen Whitwell, “fiftysomething”, a retired doctor from Worcester
I keep most of my clothes for a long time so have lots of staple items. I picked up this Bonz jacket while in New Zealand about three years ago. I’ve had this carpet bag for years, from a little shop in Derbyshire. My fashion sense had been bred in. It comes from the clothes I’ve always worn, not from catwalks or designers. Occasionally I do look at Vogue and like some of the dresses, but a lot of the fashion is too young and not relevant to what people my age wear. It’s about time designers focused more on more mature women.
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