Friday, 29 May 2009
I have rarely delved into the world of fashion in this blog, partly because it is everywhere at Elle and this is just for my extra-curricular amusement, and partly because I am a little apathetic about the whole thing. I love reading about designers, trends, shows and the whole glamorous circus, but it doesn't really penetrate my little bubble of comfy jeans, pretty dresses and killer shoes. I prefer the word 'style', because I think the true, lasting style icons have always been the ones that dressed to please themselves and kept to a signature look which suited them. This is true of Marilyn Monroe (curvalicious gowns, halterneck dresses, feminine blouses), Audrey Hepburn (cropped cigarette trousers, androgynous jackets, polonecks and ballet pumps) and Jackie O (classic shifts, tailoring, those enduring glamourpuss sunglasses). The stars of more recent years who get the most 'best dressed' accolades are also people with a signature silhouette, usually from a favourite designer (Keira Knightley in luxe, draped Gucci, Jennifer Aniston in clean, simple Calvin Klein, Sienna Miller in goddessy Marchesa). I think style is something totally undefinable, something personal to you, and something you have to be an absolute fashion athlete to really maintain every single day.
The commute into London is a veritable playground of people-watching; I love, love, love the way London women play with layering, contrast and colour, and the mix of ethnicities, ages, shapes and working environments means a little fashion show is put on for me every day between Waterloo and Bond St. I am particularly admiring of Stylish Older Ladies in the capital; like Stylish Pregnant Ladies and Beautifully Dressed Children, it always puts a little joy into my heart to see them. There was an immaculately put-together SOL next to me on the tube this morning; in a black cotton wrap dress, impossibly soft chocolate cashmere cardi and accessorizing with a classic black Prada bag and sunglasses, perched elegantly atop perfectly Mirren-esque bobbed silver hair.*
I think it can be a challenge, but a fun one, to maintain a sense of style after a certain age. My mother gets more chic every year; she's having fun with finding glamourous workwear and bold accessories as trends change, but never forgets the best way to dress her shape. A lot of women slip into 'comfy' territory - this can be a good thing; my grandmother chooses the best quality materials and workmanship due to her dressmaker's instinct, and as a result is a very stylish septuagenarian - but I am determined to hold on to my style regardless of age and its restrictions. The absolute worst type of ageing is the surgery-stretched, teen-haired, muttony celebs who refuse to accept the inevitable (take note Joan Rivers, Madonna and Donatella). The SOLs I see around West London are passionately clinging to the classics; the camel trench coat, the wrap dress, the cashmere cover-up, the elegant pumps, the pearls, and the short, bouffant blow dry. I think you can be more diverse with your wardrobe than this Mayfair look post-50, but the silhouette is a brilliant place to start. I'm still trying to forge my style on a high-street budget, but it does make me smile to see so many British women working a fabulous Spring/Summer look in the city.
*Helen Mirren is quite literally the Queen of SOLs: gracefully looking her age but keeping her hair and dress daringly Oscar-worthy. I can only hope I have such poise and va-va-voom at 63. Here are my holy trinity of graceful ageing: