Battleaxe tackles the difficult challenges of buying mid-range clothes for funky, slightly bohemian and fashion-conscious women d'uncertain age.
- do not want to look like frumps
- do not want to look like mutton
- or old slappers
- or Pagan Priestesses(avoid shops that smell of patchouli and promote 'Magik')
- or Mad Cat Ladies
- shy away from anything 'classically elegant', or even 'age appropriate'.
- don't need plus size clothes
I like clothes to be comfortable but not obviously elasticated. Fitted, but not sausage skin tight. Droopy, baggy, shapeless things are right out. I follow the maxim: loose top, tight bottom, or fitted top, loose bottom.
Watch out for frills, fringes, plunging necklines, shiny tacky fabrics, clothes with writing on.
I am no skinny twig, but not seriously overweight either. Like many older women, this Battleaxe has thickened up across the shoulders and round the middle - not much waist. Need to avoid tight tops that show tyres, back fat etc. Need to avoid tops and jackets too tight in the upper arm, blouses that gape.
Some are self-conscious about showing their arms - for myself, I don't care about that.
Others make a big fuss about skirt length. Personally, I think both maxi and mid-upper calf lengths look frumpy. Ankle, lower calf is fine. Around the knee is fine. Above the knee is fine if you have the legs for it and wear opaque tights, but not too short. Skirts gathered at the waist - no. Even stretchy lycra skirts with a longer top - fine.
Quick note on trousers - many say older women should not wear skinny jeans. I say they look fine with maybe a slightly longer top. Stretchy jeggings? I love them. Make sure trousers fit round the waist. Baggy leg trousers can look frumpy, unless they are summer linens.
So, where can we find our clothes?
Urgh - where to start.....Looking on the web, it is interesting that even for the brands I like, all the clothes are modelled by tall, skinny young women....
Right now, I think High Street shops are going through a very bad patch. Garish colours, fussy floral or 'tribal' prints, unflattering designs, too much glitter, horrible cheap fabrics. Marks and Spencer - what can I say? I no longer shop there.
I just walked round Debenhams - racks of unsold horrors still left over from their sale - purple and jade green floral tents in shiny nylon, stretch sequin body-con mini-dresses, baggy lurex animal print tee shirts, acrylic electric blue studded cardigans. What were they thinking? Who on earth wears the Star by Julian Macdonald clothes - hookers?
I used to like some of the Jasper Conran, John Rocha and Betty Jackson designs for Debenhams, but no more.
Mantaray is a bit like White Stuff, which has similar styles but a bit more expensive. - I like their clothes, but their knitwear goes a bit bobbly, and tee-shirts can lose their shape.
Most high street shops are totally hopeless. Too skimpy, too girly, too cheap-looking. River Island, Top Shop, Warehouse, Oasis, H & M, Miss Selfridge and these days, Next - all out. What else? Hobbs, Jigsaw and Whistles - occasional nice things but expense. East, Phase Eight, Wallis and Laura Ashley - frumpy. Coast, Karen Millen, L K Bennett, Monsoon - too dressy, Reiss and Mango - small sizes. I'm not wearing something marked XL.
So, what do I like? In terms of stand-alone shops, I always look in Noa Noa. Their clothes are a bit expensive, but they have some flattering styles in good colour ranges. Jigsaw, worth a look but expensive.
Most of the brands I prefer are available in better department stores, for example Fenwicks, or John Lewis, House of Frazer, but ideally, I like a good independent shop.
Anway, you get the idea.
I still very much like vintage, but not top to toe, and nothing that I wore the first time round!
I never tire of a good mooch in TK Maxx......
Basics? Am currently a fan of Tu at Sainsburys for plain cotton tops and jeggings. Step well away from Gok's lines though - enough static electricity to power the National Grid.