The Fashionable Forties and Beyond…


I have an ongoing debate with a slightly older cousin over what age one is classified as ‘middle-aged’. For him, the minute he turned forty the writing was on the wall, that was it, he was now middle-aged, game over. I begged to differ, I was in my thirties and not exactly relishing the prospect of the big 4-0 myself, his sort of negative press was the last thing I wanted to hear. And besides I resolutely believe that middle-age is no longer your forties. Just as 30 is the new 21, 40 is the new 30. He could be middle-aged if he wanted (and perhaps being successful and married with children for several years, in his eyes, made this inevitable) but for me middle-age was some way off. I had a baby, was retraining and still yet to settle down so somehow this not altogether flattering label didn’t feel right.

Middle age is whatever you perceive it to be. If you don’t think it’s appropriate for a middle-aged woman to wear slogan t-shirts, mini skirts or bikinis then you are indeed probably middle-aged. I am not. But then I think it perfectly acceptable to wear slogan t-shirts, mini skirts or bikinis – although admittedly not all at the same time; I don’t condone looking like a Spice Girl.


Micro-shorts: teenager territory sadly

Any stylist will tell you that the key to looking good is finding the right clothes for your shape, those that flatter you most, downplay the bits that aren’t so great and draw attention to your best features. If your best feature happens to be your legs, then for goodness sake wear a mini skirt! If you have incredible gravity-defying boobs then it’d be daft not to wear bikinis on the beach, hell, wear one on the school run if they’re that good. The point is (and I know here some stylists will disagree) whatever makes you feel good will probably make you look a hundred times better too. That’s why love and sex and a fulfilling career do wonders for your complexion. Just one of those things at any one time will make you walk taller, as will a pair of ridiculously impractical Louboutins.

Do you remember how Trinnie and Susannah from What Not To Wear often used to diagnose women who’d lost the plot in terms of their wardrobe as being stuck in the decade in which they were happiest? Well, I think there is a lot to be said for this theory, I suspect I’ve been guilty of it myself to a degree. I even find myself back in a relationship with a man I first knew when I was 17, despite marriage, babies and whole lifetimes happening to one or other of us since those happy, heady days of the early nineties. I am relieved to report I am not still wearing baggy shorts and t-shirts with baseball boots and sporting a bubble bob a la Madonna in her Express Yourself video however.

I agree that there are some things best left to the very young and perky – one should proceed with caution when entering a New Look or a Miss Selfridge for example – but don’t rule these places out entirely based on their fondness for very tight, cropped vests and hooker shoes. I know several women in their sixties who shop in H&M and so they should, they are confident people who know what colours and styles suit them best and H&M has always had a plethora of colours, sizes and looks to choose from. More fool the older woman who stops shopping on the ‘young’ high street for fear of looking like ‘mutton dressed as lamb’. My mum even shops in Hollister which is way too dark and noisy for my liking but she finds lovely little t-shirts to wear under cardigans and it works. Go Mum! If you are 60 and have slim legs then why not wear an elegant pencil skirt just above the knee or knee-length boots over your jeans? You probably don’t look 60 anyway so who cares? Helen Mirren rocks a bikini and she is certainly middle-aged. So sue her, she’s got an Oscar and designers lining up to dress her, I don’t suppose she’s losing much sleep over it. Catherine Zeta Jones on the other hand, tends to wear stiff evening dresses with too much embellishment and usually very austere looking big hair way beyond her years. Perhaps if your husband is much older you feel a duty to downplay your youth. And actually that’s rather sweet if so. I don’t go for older men so phew, I can leave my denim mini and slouchy boots on. The Knitwear King thinks flip-flops shouldn’t be worn outside the confines of your own home so he clearly has standards and would surely comment if he thought I was still dressing like a teenager…

H&M: Everybody welcome!

H&M: Everybody welcome!

According to this week’s Grazia the average woman spends 49 hours sourcing their Christmas outfit. That’s a lot of hours, way more than a whole box set of Grey’s Anatomy-worth of time. And actually it’s only time well spent if in the end you are totally thrilled with the resulting outfit. I for one have yet to plan my festive wardrobe and given I’ve just received an email telling me to bring sensible shoes for the big walk planned for Christmas day, I’m going to need every one of those 49 hours. Is that 98 hours if you’re planning your son’s outfit too? We’re going to need a bigger bag…




About aftercarrie

I help people refine their wardrobe to suit their shape, colouring and lifestyle. I am a style consultant, personal shopper and colour analyst working in London. Be the loveliest possible you. My first book SHOPPED was released on 5th July 2016 (September Publishing).
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3 Responses to The Fashionable Forties and Beyond…

  1. T. D. Davis says:

    A valiant effort to classify middle age as an attitude. Keep it up as long as you can. 🙂


  2. Pingback: Women Our Age | marissabergen602

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