The arrival of the warm weather this week prompted an email from WR reader Sarah. Titled ‘Serious question’ she asked “What can women over 40 wear in summer without looking ridiculous”? Good question Sarah and its one that puzzles us if we’re honest.
Personally I am a huge fan of clever layering and a coloured tight and love winter clothes, so the summer is an endless sartorial compromise, involving exposing parts of my body I would rather keep to myself. As one gets older, no matter how fit or slim you are, there are certain areas that are best covered up. So how do we keep cool and look fashionable and have the fashion folk got anything to offer us over 40’s when it comes to summer dressing?
One of the areas Sarah mentioned was shorts and it’s a garment type we struggle with. The current trend is for short shorts and hot pants and even if you have legs like Twiggy (we’ve seen them and they are fabulous) this is a big no no. MDAL (mutton dressed as lamb) is not what we are going for.
Our first port of call for most fashion dilemmas is COS, as for us, it pretty much has our market figured out. But not this time, oh no, when it comes to shorts, we are devastated to say, this time COS let us down. Oh dear oh dear lovely talented COS desingers, what were you thinking? A whole range of tiny shorts, with even (wait for it) a pair of jersey shorts, that look like pants and not even big ones at that!
To be fair they do also have a slightly longer classic black style and a knee length orange pair, but six tiny versions says they are not thinking of their target customer and going off on a fashion forward tangent! #massivefashionfail
A further search online had me despairing of ever finding a suitable short and just when I thought it could get no worse, I decided to try good old M & S. They are targeting our market and Amanda had been Instagraming some great images of fashion forward looks from their press show last week, so surely they would have some stylish but age appropriate shorts.
The below styles featured on the first page when I typed in women’s shorts……………………………..WTF! Needless to say I didn’t bother to search through the next four pages, or indeed the rest of the site.
In the interest of public relations, I will make no further comment, but if anyone from M & S is reading – we need to talk!!
So having established we don’t want to look like a bad extra from a Robin Hood film/Adam Ant video, Jimmy Krankie or a Summer camp volunteer, I decided to never wear shorts again, that is until I found these rather lovely little numbers from Uniglo. Reasonably priced (some might say cheap) at £19.90, they are a good length, slim line and would look great with a crisp white short sleeved shirt and some Converse/Supergas, or a flat strappy sandal.
The main aim for summer dressing is to look relaxed, not to ‘try hard’ and cool (but not in the hip way) which if you are over 40 can be a little challenging, as we are temperature challenged at the best of times. Loose fitting or body skimming shapes are best, anything too tight is restrictive and difficult to pull off and anything too baggy can look slightly art teacher on a pottery course in the summer in Provence. We want to be elegantly stylish – think older Italian or French women, they never expose too much flesh and manage that ‘summer in the city’ look perfectly. If only British retailers would think the same!
Despite the fact COS let us down with their short selection, they are still great for cotton and poplin easy to wear shapes and they are the master of the body skimming dress shape. Mixing classic black and white with neutrals is easy and always looks stylish and for a fashion forward edge, add a pop of neon – go on, you know you want to!
And finally Zara have some prints, simple tops and dress shapes, The dresses can look short on the models but are usually quite a good length on a real person. Alternatively you can wear them as a tunic over a pair of stone coloured cropped capri pants.