Ageing Gracefully


“What about this?” asked my fab friend, Triona McCarthy, as she pulled out a gorge lace and jewelled jacket. We were in Selfridges in London, indulging in our favourite pastime… shopping. She was right. The piece she’d found was exactly the sort of thing that, about ten years ago, I’d have swooped on, with visions of elegantly lounging on the terrace of Pacha in Ibiza. Only now, as I looked at it, I found myself thinking I’d be more Nancy Regan in it, than Jade Jagger.

Triona kind of agreed with me, and the jacket was returned to the rail, but it’s been on my mind since. What happens at a certain stage in a woman’s life that what was previously edgy suddenly becomes matronly, or even worse, ridiculous? And have I reached that stage?

In truth, I feel like a bit of a millennial, trapped in a Gen X’ers body, but I have more sense (I hope) than to push it. I want to wear jeans ripped at the knees, rainbow plaits, cropped tops and henna’d hands, but I know well it wouldn’t work. Just as I know I’m beyond the aesthetic benefits of Kylie lipgloss and shimmery eye shadow. That’s okay, but do I now have to reverse directly into LK Bennett dresses and Ferragamo shoes? Because it’s not happening.

Where is the line between ageing interesting and ageing disgracefully? We had a long debate about it in the office this week as we looked at a photograph of a French woman at a YSL Beauty party in Paris. She was one of those women I’d seen from behind, dressed head-to-toe in black satin with a Powerpuff girls pink bob. But when she turned around, she was hitting seventy. Most of the girls involved in the debate thought her ridiculous looking, but Eoin (deputy ed of Cara) gave her the thumbs up, and put her in the Vivienne Westwood/Zandra Rhodes category of interesting, eccentric, and well able to carry it off.

I know I’ve a bit to go before I hit that fashion watershed, but I don’t ever want to be thought of as eccentric. Quirky is fine, but that’s where I draw the line. So does that mean yes to metallic Converse hi-tops, colourful Helen Steele dresses and opulent, silk Dries Von Noten clutches? (just not all at once, obvs)? Or Bella Freud slogan sweaters with black zippy skinnies and a River Island parka?

If so, I’m happy with my lot and will continue to keep on top of ageing. I’m just gutted I never got to try the rainbow braids, Kylie lipgloss and the henna hands.

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