Friday, 18 May 2018

Fashion style and beauty in our later years

The South Bank Centre in London is focussing on  older people through the (B)Old festival, with the participation of older artists, and with the support of The Baring Foundation, sponsors of the festival.. As the South Bank website tells us the festival "celebrates great artists who stand the test of time, and doesn't shy away from the issues facing them. In industries that often celebrate and cater to the young, when are you truly 'in your prime'? What impact has age had on your artistic practice, and how do you stay relevant?" The festival unfolds over the whole week, with many interesting events and performances.
I have been invited to speak as part of the panel Fashion Fades Only Style Remains - Saturday 19 May at 11.30 am.  I know, with the Royal Wedding taking place more or less at the same time most people will be busy watching the nuptials but I am confident that a few interested audiences will turn up, as this sounds like a very good opportunity to discuss issues of (in)visibility in our older years.  And anyway the South Bank is also hosting a Royal Wedding 21st century Tea Party, so you can come along to the panel session and then join the party, I definitely will.
The panel will try to answer questions such as the significance of style and beauty in our later years, whether the public gaze wanes as we age and whether there is liberation to be found outside of trends and fashion.  Once again I quote
 "whether it’s celebrating the bold confidence that can sometimes come with age or challenging the seeming invisibility that can come with older age, the panel will discuss fashion, beauty and style in our later years".
Photo by Oda Beide
I am quite excited to be involved and can't wait to meet my co-panellists - at the moment I do not have the full list, will update this post tomorrow afternoon, I just thought it would be good to flag up the event.  So that if you happen to be in London, after having had a glimpse of Meghan Markle's stunning - for it will be stunning - wedding dress you might make your way to the South Bank Centre and come and support this event, which is very important in terms of ensuring that perceptions of age and older people can shift.
Thinking ahead of the seminar there's a couple of things I would like to say. I am grouping them under a few relevant headings.

1. Style and Beauty in Later Years
As we grow older style and beauty still matter though in a different way. Style never fades and in our older years we are very likely to know what we like and what we don’t and are likely to have created our very own personal style, so this is the time to celebrate it.  As for beauty, it’s a highly subjective notion, I really believe in the saying that 'beauty is in the eye of the beholder'. Beauty changes as we mature. Beauty is not skin deep, really beautiful people are not just physically beautiful, they also have personality and it is this kind of beauty that does not fade with maturity, on the contrary, maturity enhances it.  So in many ways beauty is a state of mind. More than ever beauty in our later years is linked with good health, so looking after our bodies and our minds is vital.

2. Public gaze and age
The public gaze does not necessarily wane as we age, it just perceives older people differently. There is negativity attached to old age but I believe perceptions of age are changing and for the better.

3. Liberation outside the trends of fashion
 I have always been a believer that the best fashion is one we can style individually. So in a way we create our fashion trends. It is very difficult to be totally uninfluenced by fashion as most of the items we buy, like it or not, follow trends, it’s part of the consumer cycle from brand to shop floor. But we can always decide how to wear a particular item and accessorize it in our own unique way. I don’t care  for fast fashion, quality is important to me, I tend to visit charity shops a lot and often buy second-hand online. I think that if you are able to sew, then you are extremely blessed because you can make your own clothes. I have just bought a sewing machine and will be taking lessons, as I want to be able to make myself something different and unique.

4. Invisibility of older people
 Yes there is this coat of invisibility that is thrown on us oldies but we can make dents  into it and eventually remove it altogether. It is important to develop an attitude of bold confidence. We really should embrace every moment of our life cycle and celebrate the fact it is a life cycle. Eternal youth does not exist and honestly I would not want to look now like I was in my teens or twenties!
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Photo by Oda Beide

So these are my thoughts, off the top of my head, ahead of tomorrow. And if you wish to stay on do go to the Sex After Dawn  panel, it sounds really bold!

I look forward to seeing you there!