“Fashion you can buy, but style you possess. The key to style is learning who you are, which takes years. There’s no how-to road map to style. It’s about self expression and, above all, attitude.” —Iris Apfel
As part of Melbourne Fashion Week I attended a forum of fashion industry professionals in conversation around the theme of ageless style.
On the panel were some interesting woman from the fashion scene. The conversation was facilitated and organised by Sarah Conners ( www.sarahconners.com.au )who is an accessories designer and Sally Mackinnon, who is a personal stylist based here in Melbourne (www.styledbysally.com.au ) Other panel members were Margaret Porritt, designer and CEO of the Feathers fashion Brand. (www,feathers.com.au), Kara Baker, a fashion designer (www.karabaker.com) and Lou Kenny, a 60 year old model and yoga teacher.
The conversation centred around a few themes to do with fashion and styling for women over 60. here are some snippets that resonated for me
WHAT DOES AGELESS STYLE MEAN TO YOU?
Lou : It’s about timeless style and not age. Knowing yourself and what works for you. I can wear sneakers with an evening dress because I can make this look good and I’m comfortable wearing sneakers with almost everything. Poise and posture is important. I love a denim jacket, good jeans and lots of white shirts. Block colour rather than patterns work for me.
Kara: When we don’t have the bloom of youth its about elegance and good grooming. Keep the big jumpers and leggings for lounging at home but don’t go out looking like that..or in your active wear… keep that for the gym.
Margaret: Simple, good quality clothes. a good cut. You only need a few basic items but make them good quality. Ageing is an attitude we choose. Surround yourself with the energy of young people but don’t copy them. Women look great when they don’t dress out of character. Know yourself and dress for your own look not the trends.
Sally: Wear whatever style you want but wear it with confidence
OLDER WOMEN OFTEN COMMENT, ” I FEEL INVISIBLE”. WHAT’S YOUR TAKE ON THIS?
Kara: what does this mean? Do we mean invisible to a male gaze?
Sally: yes i think this is a really limiting statement. we want to feel good about ourselves for ourselves.
Lou: This is a very outward focused sense of self. I prefer the idea that a sense of self comes from internal balance- the internal space. Yoga is important in developing that inner sense.
Margaret: I think this happens at check-outs a lot. We’ve lost the idea of service of interacting with the customer and getting to know them. It’s a cash and wrap culture in retail now not a service culture.
BAD BITS VS GOOD BITS
Sally: When women come to me for styling they always talk about their body negatively- they talk about the “bad” bits they want to hide. It would be great if clients said ” these are the parts of my body I really like and I want my style to enhance them.” Thats confidence. We need to get to the spirit and soul of being a woman through good styling and confidence.
Margaret: A good design is ageless. I turn 80 next year and I’ve been in the business as a designer and CEO of Feathers for many years. Australia is built on negative energy. We seem ashamed to say good things about yourselves and women especially tend not to talk positively about their bodies.
Kara: Self care is really important in fighting negative body image.
AT WHAT AGE DID YOU FIND YOU ARE REALLY IN YOUR OWN SKIN?
Lou: It varies from day to day but working internationally over the last 5 years has made a big difference. But I still know I need to cover my neck more than I used too!
Margaret: Probably around the age of 50-60 it all came together and I feel very comfortable with who I am and what I’ve built
Kara: I always dressed differently to others so its never been much of an issue.
The forum was interesting in that it echoed some of the themes we often hear.
- There are no rules or trends for ageless style
- Style is a personal thing that you develop to reflect who you are and how you want to be seen
- Style at any age is about inner confidence, self – care and poise
On feeling invisible my take:
I am a pretty self-reliant person, world traveller, actor, director etc etc. On a recent trip to visit the children, my son and I went up to the counter to order lunch. I had been standing there waiting briefly and then my son came up beside me and the person at the counter looked over me and asked him what I wanted. I was pretty shocked and then I noticed it happening several times over the next few days. Feeling invisible is far more than simply not being noticed by the opposite sex. I think it has to do with the assumptions others make about women as we age.
This is so true! Standing at the counter, solo dining in a restaurant, in shops, I’m often invisible to waiters and service staff. Do other readers have this experience? I think It’s about ageism and a youth obsessed culture. I seem to have developed a scale of responses now, where at one time I would walk away or wait and get increasingly angry. Now “Excuse me” becomes ” I’m ready to order thanks” which becomes ” Over here..I’m next!” I remember watching women in New York owning the space with greater confidence and expecting service…and being hellishly loud when they didn’t get it!…….Not my style and I don’t feel comfortable being loud and demanding but maybe that’s how we change attitudes..? A good conversation for an article…Thanks Maureen….Always inspirational!