Saturday, October 9, 2010

How To Dress Your Age?

Five decades of famously stylish women explain how they achieve their look. Plus, an age-specific guide to this season's key trends:

Teens: Diana Vickers, 19, pop singer
20s: Coco Sumner, 20, musician

30s: Sophie Ellis-Bextor, 31, singer
40s: Sadie Frost, 45, actress and designer
50s: Jo Wood, 55, organic entrepreneur

extreme left: Sophie Ellis-Bextor (with her auburn hair - mama looking good!)

My style hasn't changed much over the years, but I think my taste has improved – I make fewer mistakes. I still have clothes I had when I was a teenager. I'm quite experimental – I love quirky fashion and don't take it seriously. It's only putting clothes on, so it doesn't matter if you get it wrong. I'd rather do that than play it safe.

I love vintage fashion, especially 50s and 60s styles. When I was growing up I found fashion intimidating. So I worked out that if you wear customised or secondhand clothes, you're taking yourself outside of that world and you'll not be judged so much on whether something is "on trend" or not. All my favourite pieces are really exciting finds that were cheap and cheerful, found in charity shops, markets or on eBay.

Once I reached my late 20s and had my children, I started feeling more comfortable in my skin. I'm in better shape than I ever was when I was younger. Everything seems to have fallen into place and I understand myself better. I've stopped caring what anyone else thinks. I've lost my inhibitions and rediscovered the joy of dressing up, too.

I've always had a clear sense of what I liked and what I didn't like. There's a slight misconception about me – that I'm always well turned out – but I think the complete opposite is true. I always have ladders in my tights, loose threads hanging down or safety pins holding things together, but I just don't think it matters that much. Fashion shouldn't be po-faced, regardless of what age you are – it's fun.

I still feel a bit too irresponsible to wear designer clothes all the time. I have a healthy mixture in my wardrobe, and I like classic designer pieces, but I tend to treat all my clothes, irrespective of whether designer or not, the same. Sometimes I'll see something crumpled up on my floor and I'll wince and think that's really not the way I should treat that. Some of my favourite designers are PPQ, Chanel, Paul & Joe and Dolce & Gabbana – who are particularly good for stage stuff – but I think we're lucky to have the best high-street shops in the world.

Growing up I always loved Sindy – before she looked like Barbie. She had big, dark hair, red lips and eyeliner, and she was really curvy. I also used to watch Mary Poppins, The Sound of Music and Grease lots. If you take the tartiness of Grease, the tailoring of Mary Poppins and the remaking ethos from The Sound of Music, that's sort of what my wardrobe looks like. A tarty nanny in a curtain.


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