Monday, 20 August 2012

Is "cute" a good look for over sixties?

That is a rhetorical question, as I already know the answer.  Once we are over sixty "cute" isn't an easily achieved look and it's certainly not one we should be trying to achieve any more.   Herein lies my dilemma.

I am short, I have freckles and cute hairstyles suit my small features - so I guess that over the years that has been my signature look.  Some women look elegant, others look dramatic and a few are effortlessly glamorous, but these looks have always eluded me.  If you are tall and slim you will look stylish no matter what you wear, but when you are five foot something it isn't so easy.  No matter what clothes you wear, the best you can hope to achieve is - yes, that's right, cute.

I have been through my wardrobe with a ruthlessness that I didn't realise I possessed.  I have recycled all my "cute" clothes and have been relieved to find that there are still enough clothes left to get me through the week. A few are relics from the days when I had to go out to earn a living and others are more recent purchases to help me cope with the hot summers here in Spain.  Going through what remains, I was trying to figure out what my new look could be.  At the moment the best I can come up with is "classic", which is fine, but a small voice is whispering "boring".  Now I am over sixty, do I have to settle for looking boring?

Being British, the look that I would secretly love to adopt is "eccentric".  It's fine to be over sixty and eccentric, especially if you are British, though I'm not sure how that would go down in the small Spanish town where we live.  The mere fact of being English and pale-skinned is enough to make people notice me, even when I am wearing boring clothes.  I'm tempted to dye my hair bright red and start wearing dramatic clothes.  Would this be a step too far?

The amazing Vivienne Westwood - my style icon

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Have you been inspired by the Olympics?

According to the organisers of the Active Ageing Congress, as reported on the BBC website, over 70s should be inspired by the Olympics to take up competitive sport.  I have long been an advocate of the importance of taking regular exercise for adults of all ages, but the prospect of hoards of over 70s signing up to play squash or even tennis does set a few alarm bells ringing.  If said over 70s have been sitting on their backsides for 50 years or more, a sudden burst of energy could do more harm than good.  Let's preach caution here please: anyone over 40, overweight and/or with health problems should seek advice from their doctor before undertaking any form of exercise.

However I would like to think that the Olympics has inspired a generation of young people to take up sport instead of playing the latest video games, and if it motivates older people to get fitter that is also a very good thing.  Our parents and our grandparents didn't have it as easy as we do, with all our labour-saving devices.  Housework and gardening alone were enough to maintain their fitness levels.  Many of us drive everywhere during the daytime and spend our evenings slumped in front of the TV - and with a remote control we don't even need to get up to change channels.

John and I are both over 60 and we have a dog to exercise, so going for several walks a day is a necessity rather than just choice.  Before moving to Spain however we ran several times a week as well as walking everywhere.  Many friends in the same age group as us who live over here drive everywhere and seldom walk.  They all suffer from a variety of health problems, many of which I am convinced would be helped by them exercising regularly.

The experts say that we should get 2.5 hours moderate exercise a week, which is less than half an hour a day.  Not an impossible target, and it doesn't require the hard work and sacrifice that Olympic athletes have undertaken over the last 4 years, so why not switch off your PC and go for a brisk walk now?

In search of the perfect jacket

I need a new jacket, specifically a black or navy jacket for the cooler months.  I have one hanging up in my wardrobe, but sadly it has seen better days (you could say the same about me!) and needs to be replaced.  I have trawled the local shops, but so far to no avail.  I don't think I am particularly difficult, but I want a jacket that will last and that won't date, which rules out many shops that are aimed at younger women.  To be completely honest, many of the jackets in the shops aimed at younger women were also too small for me!

Take this jacket from Zara for example:

I like it: it's fun and people would notice me, but maybe for the wrong reason.  We are talking fashion for over 60s here and I have to admit that this is aimed at a slightly younger market.  Zara is trendy and, though I would look fine wearing it now, by next year fashions will have changed and there's nothing worse than wearing something that is obviously last year's fashion trend.  If I had a huge budget I might succumb and buy it however, even with a recent tax refund, it would be inadvisable to buy something that will start looking dated. I am trying to streamline my wardrobe and build up a capsule collection that will all work together, so it's a definite no-no.

I have tried shops that cater for the more mature woman, but many of their jackets are, frankly, boring.  I don't want to look like mutton dressed as lamb, however mutton dressed as mutton can be dull.  My other problem is that many of them are too large for me.  I don't want huge shoulder pads and a jacket that drowns me.  Yes I know that shoulder pads can be removed and sleeves shortened, but if the jacket is too long as well, it's not a good buy.

I may be over 60 but I'm a UK size 12, which I believe is US size 10.  I don't think that qualifies me as a Plus size does it?  I even have over 60 friends who are slimmer than me! I have actually seen Over 50 fashion collections that start at UK size 14.  Why?  Some of the designs are good, but they don't have them in my size.

What I am looking for is a stylish black or navy jacket, slim-fitting (as I like to look slimmer and taller than I am in reality!), well-designed and made from a decent material so that it will last me as long as my previous black jacket.  Is that too much to ask for?

Monday, 13 August 2012

My fashion forecast for Autumn and Winter 2012

I received an email recently from's Petite Fashion guide written by Paula Darnell, outlining some of the key looks for Autumn  - or Fall as our American cousins call it.  I'm no fashion expert, as regular readers will testify, but I thought I would give you my own spin on these trends for over 60s, and particularly for those of us who are over 60 and petite.  Many of my warnings should also be taken to heart by anyone who is over 40!

1.  Rich Wine colours

Paula endorses this trend for petites, though she does point out that she can wear these colours, which suggests to me that many people can't.  I recollect from the dim and distant past that although I looked good in our burgundy school blazer, many of my blonde and redhead friends didn't.  As we are fast forwarding nearly fifty years, I am not going to assume that I will still look good in this colour.  I will try on any tops or dresses that I like, but I will be ruthless about whether this shade suits me now and I may restrict any  purchases to accessories.  I suggest that if in doubt you do the same.
Croco tote
One for my Christmas present list?
2.  Winter white hues

Light colours aren't very slimming and, if like me you have a dog in the house, they're not practical either so I think I will give this one a miss.  However for some over 60s white is softer and more flattering worn close to the face than black, so if white suits you don't write it off, just don't wear it on the widest parts of your body unless you want to emphasise your curves.

3.  Big and baggy tops

Just one word for this one - no!  If you're not a petite you may be tempted by this trend, as it hides a multitude of sins, however all over 60s look better in clothes that skim their body rather than shapeless clothes that just emphasise their bulk.  Baggy tops are only for wearing curled up in front of the TV, if at all.

4.  Trouser suits, aka pants suits

This is a good trend for petites, particularly if you choose a dark shade that flatters you, and also for any over 60s who want to look slimmer.  Make sure that the jacket doesn't end at your widest point though, and I would suggest that if you are petite you will look better in single breasted styles.

5.  Velvet

Velvet is good if you are tall and slender, but because of its nap it can add weight to any woman who doesn't have a model figure.  If you're short and not so slender like me it can definitely make you look bulky, so it's best not to combine this trend with the previous one and buy a velvet trouser suit.  A velvet scarf or collar though in a shade that suits you is a good way to embrace this trend.

6.  Embellishments

Jewels, lace, sequins, embroidery, beads - sounds to me like a recipe for disaster for most petites, who are likely to be overwhelmed if they go for this fashion,  and in particular for those of us who are more mature.  I like to wear a dress and not have the dress wear me.  I do have a sequin scarf in my wardrobe though that could add a fashionable touch to some plain tops and dresses.

7.  Military fashion and in particular khaki

This is an ideal trend for over 60s who look good in khaki, although petites like me should avoid double-breasted styles and long coats.  A quick way to update your favourite coat or jacket would be to replace its buttons with metallic ones.  Not being that handy with a needle and thread, I may look for a khaki handbag to update my wardrobe.

My advice is to check out the fashion magazines and websites, decide whether a particular look will suit your shape, your colouring and - we're going to have to be honest with ourselves on this one! - your age.  If the answer is yes, then go ahead and update your wardrobe.

JOSEPH Khaki Cotton Stretch One Button Blazer
This is tempting, though I would need to try it on in case it is too long for a petite

Saturday, 4 August 2012

The good, the bad and the Uglympics

You may or may not have noticed that the 2012 Olympics is taking place in London at the moment. John and I are keen sports fans and have been watching as much of the Games as possible, even to the extent of taking  my smartphone to a concert in our local castle last night and checking the tennis results while the band was warming up.  Such dedication, I hear you say!  Those of us who are over 60 may not be as athletic as we once were, but we can still enjoy watching sport and it may inspire us to great things in the Race for Life that takes place in November.

There are many good things about the Olympics and here are just a few of them:  
- watching personal striving by all the competitors to do their best and admiring their achievements, whether it is an Olympic medal or a new personal best; 
- team spirit, especially in those events when one member of the team is being supported by the others to win a gold medal while their own reward is only the satisfaction if they succeed; 
- patriotism (in a good way).  My fellow countrymen seem so proud to be British, which in itself isn't a very British characteristic;  
- showcasing the host nation's sights (London and the other venues have been looking amazing); 
- inspiration for future generations (I loved the fact that seven promising young athletes lit the Olympic cauldron rather than a "big" name);
- friendships being forged between the different nations.  If we can unite in sport, maybe we can learn to understand each other, to appreciate our differences and respect all the world's citizens.