By Beverley Harvey
When it comes to personal style, turning fifty can either be completely liberating or a disaster waiting to happen, depending on your point of view. Because unless you’re Madonna, the rules of the game have changed; you can’t just sling on a linen-look sack from H&M or Primark and expect to look amazing.
What you can do, is take said bargain ‘sack’, layer it with a boxy little jacket, put it with black leggings, a great pair of strappy heels and ONE huge statement piece of jewellery – and expect to look fabulous. Because after fifty, accessories are a girl’s best friend.
As are well cut jeans, whether boot or skinny (it’s the fit that counts), butter soft leather jackets, beautiful prints that light up the face, fake tan (the gradual subtle stuff – not the creosote variety) and the right hair length and colour for you, which is absolutely personal but very important.
I recently published my debut novel, Seeking Eden (Urbane Publications from 6th July) which is about (among other themes) getting to a certain age and thinking ‘is this it?’ In it, one of my characters, Lisa, a beautiful divorced WAG, cuts her long blonde hair short in an effort to be taken seriously and to meet a sincere man. Instead, Lisa ends up meeting another sexy bad-boy and reverts to type, big blonde hair et al – because that is who she is.
All those rules about cutting your hair short after forty are nonsense. Let your hair find its own natural shape. For me that’s longish, with a centre parting; a variation on rock-chic style. Thirty years ago, women of our wonderful life stage stopped enhancing their locks with colour, lopped it all off and as often as not, had a bubble perm while they were about it. Thankfully, that era will never return. Be gentle with your hair and don’t fight it too hard with straighteners and product overload. #WavesAreSexy!
Not trying to look young, just as good as I can
At fifty-five, I no longer attempt to look young; I just want to look as good as I can. And not all the time, that would be tedious. Believe me, there is no cut off point for grottiness when it comes to dog walking, cleaning or relaxing at home; I genuinely couldn’t care less what I look like at any of these times.
I used to work in advertising and PR; every day was a fashion show and I loved it! My uniform then was mostly black cigarette pants, cashmere vest, longline jacket and heels. These days I work at home as a writer and nobody is looking or judging. Most of Seeking Eden was penned wearing skinny black jeans (often none too clean!) and one of several Jigsaw jumpers in the winter, and a cotton H&M or River Island T-Shirt during the summer months. I dress for comfort, but I hope I can still turn heads when the need arises.
Because here’s the thing ladies; no matter what your style, forget frumpy. Nah – not happening. I will go down kicking and screaming if I have to. For me, one antidote to this banana skin is not to look too done. Neat is the enemy of style after fifty. Not that I advocate dirty hair, ragged nails and holes in your tights, but simply not trying too hard. Don’t do matchy matchy; let (no, insist) your shoes and handbag clash joyously.
Let’s talk tummies for a moment; unless you are an athlete, it probably isn’t as firm as it once was. If that’s the case, just cover it up and forget about it. Seriously. Move on from the tummy – Marks & Spencer’s amazing shapewear can solve that problem.
Ditto other flashpoints like upper arms and knees; over fifty we just need to shift the focus to something much more gorgeous, like our lovely generous boobs, fabulous ankles and very sexy sparkly eyes. Newsflash: All the best flirts are over fifty – we’ve had the most practice.
I operate on a tight budget, but even if money were no object, you wouldn’t find me in Bond Street, snaffling Gucci and Prada. Even if I had a generous clothing allowance, you’d still find me in All Saints, Mint Velvet, H&M and M&S. Online I’m a great fan of Hush and Baukjen – these clothes work for me, giving me comfort and confidence. I think they work for most woman – of any age.
Seeking Eden published from 6th July 2017: Urbane Publications
Beverley Harvey is a freelance writer, living and working in Kent with her partner Mark and her naughty terrier Brodie.