Fashion advice - for life

Tunbridge Wells style guru Paula Fry gives us ladies permission NOT to dress our age!


Who says you have to dress for your age? Ladies, there is absolutely no need to reach for a twin set and pearls just because you’ve reached ‘a certain age’

National treasure Carol Vorderman took a lot of stick last year (mainly from our friends at The Daily Mail) for not ‘dressing her age.’ Uproar followed as women took to Twitter and fashion blogs to politely (and some not so) tell the press to bog off. Carol appeared on morning TV to defend herself and, for the following week, was pictured daily wearing something deemed ‘inappropriate’ or more suitable for her daughter!

Dressing for your age is the most common subject with my customers and frankly for some of them, the most stressful debate we get into. The first thing to remember, ladies, is that there are NO RULES. You make your own.

Now Carol has a killer figure so in my eyes she can pretty much do no wrong. She gets her hemlines spot on, she’s not afraid of colour or print and she highlights her curves. We haven’t all been blessed with the same genes or indeed the Vorderman Will Power (Carol is careful with diet and exercise), so how do you see yourself dressing for your age?

Let’s look at some common misconceptions:

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• Older women shouldn’t wear short skirts. If you didn’t wear mini skirts in your twenties happen you don’t have the legs for them or maybe the confidence? If you do have legs like Claudia Schiffer, you can still get them out, whatever your age. Just make sure they are clothed in the appropriate hosiery and your bum cheeks aren’t visible. This has nothing to do with age and everything to do with decency

• You can’t mix prints over 30 as it’s ageing. What waffle! Mixing prints is a great trend we can all indulge in, in fact it’s matching your items that can give the game away! A lavender dress with matching bag, shoes and knickers screams middle age louder than carrying a Country Casuals carrier bag

•           Leather is for young rock chicks. Don’t tell Jo Wood that! Again, if you’re going to wear leather trousers, just make sure the cut is right (not too tight, nice straight legs), same with leather jackets (not too biker after your forties unless you have the confidence to carry it off).  Leather is such a wonderful, luxe fabric to wear at all ages, it makes you feel great and can be really flattering in chocolate and warm colours

• You shouldn’t get your arms out after 40. Women have bingo wings. Fact. Unless you work out like Madonna (frankly, who wants arms like her?) you will have loose skin. It’s life. Get over it and think of how to dress so you feel comfortable and confident. Boleros help with strappy evening dresses, as do pashminas cleverly tied around the back. Another great invention is the ‘armery’ by Mary Portas. Buy these from House of Fraser (I would suggest getting the larger size as they are snug) and these slip under your dress to give the appearance of sleeves.

You don’t need to be wearing a twin set and pearls once you hit the heady heights of 50 and beyond. As Coco Chanel said: “Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.” 

Just don’t let the way you dress get caught up with everyone else’s idea of the norm.  Now, where are my nipple tassles?