Right at the beginning of the year I was asked to answer a number of questions for a well-known national publication that was running a story on bloggers over 40. Although I usually struggle to fit in such requests, I thought it was worth my while as it would have been pretty good exposure for me...
...Five months and much chasing (with zero response) later, it turns out that the article has been and gone, without my interview in it. Nor those of some of my blogging friends (who were also given the same silent treatment). Now I totally understand if my interview didn't fit the article or something similar, but to be ignored is just not cricket, if you ask me (and I'm putting it politely).
So rather than letting my four pages of A4 answers go to complete waste, I thought you lovely lot would like to read it instead! I've missed off some of the "tell us about yourself" questions at the beginning (you can read all those things on my About page) and kept the more juicy stuff about my thoughts on my personal style, my style icons, what it's like being an over 40 blogger, that sort of thing.
Hope you like it!
WHAT DID YOU THINK OF MY INTERVIEW - WAS THERE ANYTHING I SAID THAT SURPRISED YOU OR RUNG TRUE WITH YOU? TELL ME IN THE COMMENTS OR TWEET ME @NOTLAMB!
How would you describe your style?I describe my style as eclectic, but it errs towards "Preppy with a twist". I also can't get enough of pattern mixing and bright colour. I only wear black occasionally, or as evening wear.
What would you say is your blog’s USP [unique selling point]?My blog's tagline is "Who wants to be "age appropriate", anyway?" which tells you a lot about how I feel about age appropriateness! I actively encourage women to see that age is not a barrier to looking good and feeling fabulous, and many of my posts challenge the notion of age appropriate dressing that, in my opinion, is so outdated. Although the blog is aimed at a slightly older audience, it is not exclusively read by older women. Judging by my readership, it appeals to the very young and the very old - and everyone in between.
Who’s your style icon?I'm a little bit obsessed with Rooney Mara - she looks so polished yet unconventional. I love the fact that her look is so unique, not just her clothes but her hair and make-up too. But my ultimate style icon is Grace Kelly. No one oozes class and sophistication more than she did.
Public domain photos from Wiki Commons: Rooney Mara (Leod23) | Grace Kelly (MGM)
What are your favourite labels to shop and why?I'm a high-street girl all the way. You're almost guaranteed to get a huge selection of current pieces and trends at very reasonable prices at my go-to shops ASOS and Topshop. (I very, very rarely buy anything designer - in fact there isn't anything designer in my wardrobe that’s coming to mind. It may come as a surprise to many but not all fashion bloggers are the millionaires the media leads us to believe: Some of us make a very modest living!) However, when I want to go for quality it's Hobbs and Reiss for their gorgeous fabrics and wonderful tailoring - plus I'm a fan of a longer hemline.
Do you have any fashion rules for putting an outfit together?Generally, no. For example, I've been mixing patterns for so long now that I don't even see that I'm wearing three patterns together - I just see them as three colours. Also rules for your body shape don’t always work. I'm an hourglass and style rules often say I should wear pencil skirts, but I've always thought they look terrible on me - I just don't feel right in them.
MY ONLY REAL RULE IS TO KEEP AN OPEN MIND WHEN PUTTING AN OUTFIT TOGETHER - AND DON'T FOLLOW RULES!
My only real rule is to keep an open mind when putting an outfit together - and don't follow rules!
Do you believe in dressing ‘age appropriately’ and what does it mean to you?I’ve probably already answered that question…! I can't bear the term "age appropriate", especially when it comes to fashion. What I consider so much more preferable is "occasion appropriate". Why should age dictate what you wear? If you're the kind of person who wants to wear something that’s deemed "too young" for you (leather trousers, shorter hemlines, etc.) but the occasion is appropriate, then it’s really no-one's decision whether you wear it but your own.
I admire women who aren't constrained by the pressure put on them by society to be age appropriate and don't give a flying sausage about what anyone else thinks of their dress sense.
Do you have any stylish-at-any-age tips?Yes and no. Since I've been blogging I've actually come to embrace the notion that women have the right to wear whatever they please at any age. I never follow style "rules" and don’t think others should either. I wholeheartedly believe that personality should dictate what you wear far more than body-shape or age should. I love seeing a woman who isn't regarded as classically "stylish", who has fun with what she wears, more than one who dresses without care because she thinks she’s meant to fade into the background as she gets older.
Zandra Rhodes is a great example of a woman who obviously wears what reflects her personality, despite not being considered as stylish as someone like Anna Wintour or Victoria Beckham. But what all these women have in common is that a great deal of thought has gone into their wardrobes and how they present themselves, and I admire that.
MY TIP IS TO WEAR WHATEVER YOU WANT AND ENJOY IT. DON'T LET ANYONE TELL YOU WHAT YOU CAN AND CAN'T WEAR - AT ANY AGE.
So my tip is to wear whatever you want and enjoy it. If you want to dress in a twinset and pearls at 22, then do it. If you want to wear leather in your 80s, then do that also. Don't let anyone tell you what you can and can't wear - at any age.
Public domain photo from Wiki Commons: Zandra Rhodes (Philkon) | The Style Crone
Any must-buy pieces for SS16?I'm all over Rose Quartz and Serenity* - Pantone’s (pink and blue) Color of the Year combination for 2016. I think candy colours are going to be everywhere this spring. If money were no object I'd be treating myself to a Burberry Kensington lace cotton trench coat in blush. However, a slightly more modest item on my wish list is a Michael Kors Jet Set tote in sky blue - that would satisfy my craving for something Serenity-coloured. Oh and I'm after a blouse with a ruffled yoke - I loved the Miu Miu ruffled blouse that was so popular last year so I'm hoping the high street will have their own versions in 2016.
* as it happens I wore Rose Quartz and Serenity on the blog on Monday this week.
** I did buy a high street version in the end - the M&S Archive by Alexa Harry blouse.
What has been your favourite outfit of yours on your blog?The vintage pink and white striped DVF jumpsuit I wore on holiday in Santorini is definitely my favourite. I was a bit worried that I looked like I was wearing pyjamas the first time I wore it in the UK, but wearing in the Greek sun with a Panama hat and red sandals made it the perfect summer holiday outfit. Someone even left me a message on my Instagram feed to say she spotted me in Santorini and recognised the jumpsuit from a previous post…!
Do you have any other style tips for women over 40 that you like to share – what has really worked for you (always, or recently)?Don't be afraid to wear what you like and what will bring a smile to your face when you look in the mirror - that’s more important than how appropriate it is or how much it suits you. If others think it doesn't look right but you absolutely love it, who cares? Life's too short to spend worrying about what others think of what you're wearing - in the grand scheme of things it doesn't really have that much of a consequence for other people.
Wear skirts above the knee if you want to show off your great legs or a crop top if you like your middle. Leather trousers aren't just for the teens and 20-somethings because they can look great on older women.
As mentioned I always keep an open mind, and I'm never afraid to try something I've seen on someone else. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. My proportions work better with a nipped-in waist and a longer hemline, however, so a fit and flare midi dress is my favourite dress silhouette. But then on the opposite end I'm a fan of masculine chic with boyfriend jeans and brogues, and a longline blazer has been my best friend for a while now.
I find that the "show off the bits you like, hide the bits you don't" idea works for me. I show off my shoulders, arms and waist and hide my legs and cleavage. It's as simple as that.
For practical tips I always say the following:
- Get yourself a full-length mirror. You can't dress yourself in a full outfit without one.
- To really get to know what suits you, take a photograph of yourself in an outfit, upload it onto your laptop or tablet and study the photo. Detaching yourself from your reflection in the mirror or picture on your phone is the only way to objectively see what looks good on you.
Make sure photos are taken on a camera with a zoom. Get your partner or a friend to stand back and zoom in - no phone selfies in the mirror or wide-angled shots. Many women make the mistake of judging how they look in photos taken with a wide-angle lens and think they're bigger or more out-of-proportion than they actually are (you end up with short legs and a big body). It can be a revelation for many women when they find out they're far more evenly proportioned than they thought, but that's why they fear having their picture taken - people unknowingly take unflattering pictures.
What are the advantages and/or disadvantages of being a 40+ blogger?There aren't any disadvantages of being a 40+ blogger for me personally. I think it may be harder time-wise for older women who have a family to look after as well as perhaps a full time job and a blog, but I don't have children and I blog professionally. My blog benefits from the fact that I can dedicate my time to it and give it 100%.
The advantages, however, completely outweigh any disadvantages. If I had to choose between being a 20-something fashion blogger or a 40-something one, I'd definitely go for the latter. The main thing that is always said by older bloggers is the sense of community that we have - we're too old and wise for schoolgirl-style trolling or shaming. I'm sure most over 40 fashion bloggers would say that there’s nothing but support and friendship in our community, and many young bloggers have told me that it's fiercely competitive for them and that they have no true blogging friends which makes me so sad for them.
I CHAT TO MY BLOGGING FRIENDS EVERY DAY. THROUGH EVENTS AND CAMPAIGNS I'VE MET SO MANY MORE AMAZING WOMEN THAN IF I WERE STILL WORKING IN AN OFFICE WITH THE SAME PEOPLE FOR YEARS.
I've made so many wonderful new friends - online ones and real life ones - through blogging. Being self-employed means I may spend most days at home by myself, but I chat to my blogging friends every day. Through events and campaigns I've met so many more amazing women than if I were still working in an office with the same people for years.
In other words, I can’t recommend blogging highly enough for older women who want to connect with others their own age and make a totally new, and wildly varied, circle of friends.
There are loads of other advantages:
- Being older is a great USP just in itself. There are less 40+ bloggers than 20 or even 30-something ones, so I like to advertise the fact that I'm over 40 just for that reason. It hopefully encourages other older women to participate in discussions with women their own age - or even start a blog themselves.
- Brands want to work with older bloggers. A large percentage of the collaborations on my blog have been with brands who are looking to target an older audience (who generally have more disposable income).
- You have more life experience and a more stable view of the world. I've noticed this in the writing of 40+ bloggers - they're more sure of themselves and their opinions.
- Readers are more intrigued by a 40+ fashion blogger - you stand out amongst the sea of 20-somethings. No one's expecting you to wear the latest trends all the time, so in effect you have free reign to wear whatever you like.
- Blogging saved me, sartorially-wise. Taking photos of myself every other day and studying the results on my computer screen has made me realise what I was doing right and where I was going wrong. I have no worries about getting older and what I should be wearing as each decade goes by. My blog sorts that out for me.
- I honestly wouldn't have got the exposure I've had if I'd been 20 years younger. My age is what's made my blog successful; it's what gets people talking. "Fashion bloggers over 40" makes a great topic on blogs and websites with huge readerships, and for that I'm grateful.
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