I do think it’s important to wear something sparkly during the day.  And I try to live by the maxim of not keeping things in the wardrobe to wear for ‘best’ or ‘going out in the evening’.

This view was reinforced by a fantastic 2 days spent in London with the likes of academics, fashion journalists, older people, students, models (I met Jenni and Alex and both had modeled for Guardian’s All Ages) and four of the Fabulous Fashionistas at the Mirror, Mirror Conference held at the London College of Fashion.

It all kicked off with Ari Seth Cohen talking about his attitude to older women gained by being with his two wonderful grandmothers and ended with the Fabulous Fashionistas – more about them in a moment.  In between were academic papers, two of them (I kid you not) on Petula Clark and Joan Rivers accompanied by clips and extracts from YouTube films that quite frankly I wish had been left running for a bit longer!  Not that the academic papers were difficult to understand and actually it’s quite uplifting to know there is a huge raft of work coming from academia on the ageing baby-boomer demographic.

A question that came from the audience quite late in the day was ‘why is there all this interest in women/older people, fashion and ageing?’  There was a lengthy answer as there is no single reason.  But one important factor is that the baby-boomers born shortly after the Second World War are ageing.  We are the people who have had it all: jobs that were plentiful and easy to get, and a mortgage and a house as soon as you got married.  We are the ones who went to university for free; even me.   I graduated at the age of 40 and, reader, I would never, ever have been able to do it without the grant I had, because by then I was married with kids and had to bring in some money.  Today, I wouldn’t have got anywhere near a university.  But that aside, now we are ageing, how will we fare?  Surely we will be more demanding of society?  This is what the academics are interested in and in this arena the academics are focusing in on women, fashion and ageing.

Fab fourFour women who actually needed no encouragement to age with style and pizzaz were the Fabulous Fashionistas.  Bridget is the one I like the most because of her love of charity shop shopping, but they were all (Jean with her amazing hair and boots and Daphne with her elegance) in their own way, just fabulous in their attitude and stylishness.

Sue Kreitzman (the fourth Fashionista at the conference) who is an artist and curator and (and I don’t think she would mind me saying) a very colourful character indeed, thinks dressing and dress should be a daily artistic creation.  Oh yes!  Furthermore, she said (and apologies for any misquotes as I was scribbling all this down)  ‘No-one should be invisible.  Less is not more – more is better – and more is not enough.  We are old, we are bold and we are very happy to be here!’  Hear, hear, Sue.  And although that would be hard to live up to every day, what I did notice was all of the four worked and didn’t want to stop – retirement was out of the question  – and none had been under the knife.  They were grey-haired, they were lined, they were interesting.   Their lives, as they said, were in their faces and they were wonderful.  Altogether, it was a brilliant experience to be there!

P1010842And reader, what did I wear?  Well, on Day One I wore my Karen Millen outfit, not the 75p one, but the £12.00 one, which I’d pounced on when I saw it. (Photo of it coming soon)  By the way, the next day I popped into a charity shop not far from Victoria Station.  Just to look, you understand, and check out the type of clothes on offer.   Good grief, I nearly fainted at the prices – nothing much under £40 and coats for £150 plus!

So, on Day Two I wore my plum faux shot-silk skirt with the plum Horrockes jacket which featured in my post on Vintage, customized with matching plum sparkly costume jewelry (Thank you Aunty Rhoona – long story!)  While I was up there I found a hat (not second-hand but new, oops, slipping!!!) but had to buy it because its colour just matched to perfection.  And with my dark London coat, I wore a woolly scarf given to me by a friend – thank you so, so much as it just completed the outfit.

That’s all for now. Next blog will feature frocks for the party season and shoes as well!

With love

Penny

The frugal fashion shopper

P.S.  I met Invisible Woman – was thrilled!

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