Interview by Ceri Wheeldon
The latest of our ‘Fab Women’ sharing her midlife journey with Fab after Fifty is Maggie Cox, who has just published a book about fashion for mature women.
I worked as a newspaper reporter and commercial writer for many years before taking up a second career as owner of dress shops in Broadway and Stow on the Wold. From my home in the Cotswolds I write about fashion and am passionate about helping older women find their own individual style.
When did you start to write?
So…. I have been writing ever since I was twenty, with my first job as a reporter!
What have been the challenges for you?
The biggest challenge when writing a book was finding my own individual voice. It’s a totally different way of writing, much more chatty and easy, than writing news reports, or copy writing, or corporate speeches. It took time and practice to get it right. I wanted to share lots of information and tips, but in a fun, page-turning way.
When was your first book published?
My first book, “It’s Never too Late to Look Great! – Style for the Young-at-Heart” is just out . It was inspired by getting older, and feeling just a little bit left out of the fashion scene ( even though I ran a dress shop!). Fashion was, and still is, largely dominated by beautiful, skinny, young role models who can wear anything and look great!
When I retired from the retail day job five years ago – I had time to think about how we over-fifties, and sixties – and ever upwards – can stay as stylish as ever. And I kept coming back to the idea that fashion is something that is churned out four times a year – and is nothing to do with real style which is how we put clothes and accessories together. But I wanted to find a way, baby steps if you like, that helps us get there.
I came up with four style STAR steps, which everyone can follow, but are particularly helpful for over fifties. These are the keys to success: Surprise, True to Yourself, Artistry and Reinvention. Masses about this in the book. It’s a way to start reassessing yourself – and help you rethink how to dress with style.
Are there any key issues you wanted to draw attention to?
When doing reading an research for the book, I talked to boutique owners all over the county, and ordinary, mature, women (not celebrities or fashionistas) who stood out from the crowd. And they all said that the “youth culture” still drives fashion, and makes it harder for women who no longer have the perfect shape (did we ever?) to find flattering things to wear. They said things were changing, slowly, but there was still a long way before there was more, and varied, choice for us.
The other big thing I learnt was that style is driven by personal attitude. And if you have the get-up -and-go to develop style, you might also transform your life as well!
What do want readers to take away having the read the book?
When, as an older but young-at-heart woman, you transform the way you look – you get compliments – you feel better. And you start to think more positively. Good style is not just about vanity (although it helps to have a bit!) it’s a way of becoming more visible in the world.
What’s next for you – will there be a sequel?
I would love to develop the theme of sustainability in fashion, and show that it’s not stuffy, and penny pinching, but fascinating and creative.
What 3 tips would you offer women looking to write their first book?
Have the confidence to know that your ideas are valuable.
Talk about, and reassess, your ideas with friends you admire.
Prepare to stay the course. You need resolve – and lots of discipline.