When I was younger, the mother of one of my friends, who was in her late 30s or maybe 40s, was what we’d now call ‘hot’: lithe, tanned, beautiful. ‘She’s got the body of an 18-year-old,’ another friend whispered once as Charlie’s mum went by in tennis whites and ankle socks.
18ct gold plated vermeil bangle, £210, Monica Vinader
After I spat out my mouthful of Coke and shoved aside the McDonald’s fries I’d been eating, I reminded her that we were 18 next birthday. And that, unless we changed our lifestyle in a serious manner, we were in no way shaping up to resemble Charlie’s mum.
Calf leather bag with chain, £995, Mulberry
Since then I’ve thought that dressing ‘for your age’ is nonsense. There is no such thing as a skirt that suits a 42-year-old, or shoes for 19-year-olds only. Style comes with dressing for your personality, your body shape and your circumstance (work, rest or play). Age just doesn’t come into it.
18ct yellow gold hoop earrings, £450, Ruth Tomlinson
When I was a student, I wore wide-legged sailor trousers and skater shoes. More than 20 years later, that’s still roughly my style. One difference is that now my clothes actually fit me.
Back then, I continually bought clothes that were two or three sizes too big for me because I thought I was ‘probably a 12’. The least you can do when you’re a grown-up is to wear clothes that fit. It’s hard, I know, because shop sizings aren’t consistent.
So what if you’re an 8 in one store and a 12 in another? Just like age, size is a number we get too hung up on. I know women who are size 14 who won’t buy a 14 because they don’t want to be a 14. And a former colleague once told me she only bought US clothes because she ‘liked seeing size 6s rather than 10s in my wardrobe’. Please. Life is too short to sweat these digits. They don’t matter. Style is not, and never has been, about a number.
Tortoiseshell sunglasses, £15, Marks & Spencer