#Marie Helvin was telling readers of the #Daily Mail yesterday what women of 50 should be wearing.
The lovely Hawaiian-born ex-model started well, by stating that when she was younger she was “concerned with looking glamorous and sexy; now it’s more about looking glamorous but chic”. So far, so absolutely on the nail.
When you get older, she notes, “your skin tone changes, your hair probably changes colour – whether you dye it or not – and you just can’t wear the colours you used to like”. Again, true.
But then she starts being bossy and proscriptive, and Cyndy and I would disagree quite firmly with a lot of what she says. For instance: “Suddenly bright shades look harsh,” she avers.
Well, no – not if they are the right bright shades for you: I still wear some greens, blues, violets and pink (and it’s always about the particular shade of pink, not the colour – every woman can wear pink, as long as it is “her” pink), and they look great. Cyndy, as regular followers of our #What We’re Wearing on Monday blog will know, looks stunning in orange, yellow, bright green and mustard– it is about choosing the shade that works for you now – and that may be a pastel, a muted shade or a bright, #Ms Helvin.
Also, declares #Ms Helvin: “A beautiful #white shirt will always make a woman’s face look good, no matter what her skin tone”.
Er, excuse me: with your fabulous olive skin, brown eyes and rich brown hair (natural or courtesy, perhaps, of #Sibi at #Daniel Hersheson), of course you look stunning in a beautiful white shirt. But have you seen what white does to the two-thirds of the female population aged over 50 and not blessed with your colouring? With my highlights and sort-of-peaches-and-cream complexion or Cyndy with her strawberry blonde hair and Celtic skin-tone, we both look half-dead in white. Important lesson: never confuse what works for you with what is a universal fashion solution…
Her fashion icons, she declares, are #Audrey Hepburn, #Grace Kelly and #Ava Gardner. “Their classic looks and clean lines should be the cornerstones of your wardrobe”, she advises. But their “classic looks” were far from classic in the 1950s and 60s when they wore them. They were very on-trend. And for the prescribed wardrobe of “white cotton shirts, black Capri pants, pencil skirts and ballerina skirts” to work for you in your 50s, you have to be an ex-model who has pretty much kept her figure, and be able to work a trend.
Which brings me to my next quibble: “You have to forget about trends — fashion is not made for women in their 50s — but don’t give up on style.”
Oh really? Try telling that to Anna Wintour (61), Dame Vivienne Westwood (72), Helen Mirren (60something), me and Cyndy and thousands of other fabulously on-trend, gorgeously well dressed women of 50-plus. You should never “forget about fashion” at any age. Fashion is made for every woman, of every age. The clever and stylish women know which trends to choose and which to reject so that fashion works for them.
If you forget fashion you will ultimately give up on style – or it will give up on you.
After that, her “golden rules” cover everything from heel height to advice about wearing ankle boots only with trousers, and her very firm: “Steer clear of mini skirts”.
Rules always sound good, and newspapers love them, but the reality is that rules – especially fashion rules – are made to be broken. The cleverest, most chic women break rules all the time. If you are tall, slender, with great legs and confident enough to wear one, a mini skirt can look stunning at any age. As, equally, it can look disastrous on a 25-year-old if she doesn’t have the body shape or height to wear one… it’s about finding what looks fabulous on you, and ignoring rules.