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Oh Lordy – what’s all this ‘Midster’ terminology?

1 Minute Read

Recently, there was a panel discussion on ‘Midsters’ and whether they were leading a colourful life. We sent well-being and fashion expert, Rebecca Weef-Smith along to find out what it was all about.

What’s with the Midster?

I took a bit of a dislike to the term Midster, it sounds like a slightly baggy low rise jean that Marks and Spencer would think was a good idea but – as was mentioned more than once by the audience at the launch – M & S do get it so wrong. I also have a feeling of it being too closely aligned to Mister and found myself humming some old show tune – mister can you spare a dime – but I will try not to let that interfere with my objectivity about the report which was commissioned by JD Williams, a company specialising in products for women over 45.

Overall the findings do reflect what we know here at AofA, life is bloody good when you are over 45; midster life for today’s 45-65-year-olds is a ‘distinct and exciting phase of life’.

Angela Spindler, the CEO of N Brown Group which owns JD Williams, was frank about her feelings of enjoying this part of her own life, “Age is just a number by which we are no longer defined.” There was much talk of possibilities, new opportunities and positive ageing attitudes in society at large. Women in the 45+ bracket are more confident in their appearance, have a better sex life, and are enjoying their leisure time more. However the report does also show that more than one in ten women are concerned about losing their sex drive, along with memory loss, independence and health problems.

A General Sense of Ageing

Thank goodness only 13% of those surveyed want to be 18 again but half – yes 50% – want to be thirty again. Are they mad? Has no one told them of the Advantages of Age?

As the panel discussed there is still loads of scare-mongering around; how dreadful this aging is going to be, oh the loneliness, the poverty, the poor health. AofA has a duty of care to put this right! We need to get out there and evangelise guys; 48% of 45+ women fear being a burden on loved ones and 68% fear losing their independence. This is not a reflection of my aging tribe, where is the flamboyance and sheer joy, where are the mavericks…has the word not spread that being a ‘baby-boomer’ is much better than being a ‘millennial’?

Women & Shopping

A whopping 70% of the women surveyed feel ignored by the high street, which brings me back to Marks and Spencer’s. And what can be learnt from this report that will inform the real world. At this point it may be useful to remember that JD Williams are retailers, and whilst the survey could be viewed from an alternative angle, my takeaway was that the launch was geared towards a fashion audience who are attempting to understand this demographic in order to sell them fashion, real clothes in stores and fashion-media, either traditional print or online.

The audience and panel discussed the disconnect between how we see ourselves and what we are being offered on the high street in terms of actual garments – how they fit, what styles are age appropriate -and the experience of shopping – creating environments that appeal to women 45+. What do we really want fashion retailers to provide that will switch us back on to enjoying connecting with fashion- shopping? 55% of women in this age group find it hard to discover clothing that they think suits them and the same figure -55%- stick to high street brands where they can try on before buying. 66% of the surveys stay with shops they feel comfortable in, even though 9 out of 10 put a lot of thought into outfit selection. My question would be where is the sense of adventure there? We need to encourage them to take a few more risks with where they shop and try something different, especially the 30% who desire to shop more fashionably but think they are too old! We need to do an AofA round the UK bus tour to get their flamboyance flowing! Come on ladies M & S isn’t the only option. Surprisingly shopping in charity shops didn’t figure large on the creating a positive fashion after 45. It seems that the idea wasn’t consider necessary to the survey. I wonder what the data would have revealed had they asked how many 45+ women in the UK bought fashion items from the plethora of charity retailers on every high street. My experience of working as a stylist with this age group is that there is a definite positive shift in the way that they create identity with clothes. I have a sense that age brings with it the freedom to explore fashion without the restrictions of going into an office every day, or dressing to attract the attention of men; I know that AofA members certainly aren’t all wearing ‘age-appropriate outfits’ but are certainly having fun with dressing to suit themselves.

Media Impact on body confidence

Even with all the apparent positive aging attitudes that the report reveals that the women surveyed still feel underrepresented by mainstream media; 8 in 10 don’t feel TV advertising reflects who they are, with the same figure believing that their age group has no presence on fashion catwalks.

72% are concerned with the misleading effect of photo-shopping images leading to unrealistic expectations. The idea of real 45+ women’s bodies, the way we actually perceive our own bodies, and the manner in which we compare with celebrity bodies always comes back to Helen Mirren – 60% of those surveyed put her at the top of their most admired list – poor woman, can she never be allowed off her perfect perch.

The negative impact of the media on body confidence overall was deemed relatively low with 62% of women stating that the media had no effect on their body perceptions at all.

I was cheered by the fact that nearly 1 in 20 British women aged 45+ would post a bikini –clad photo of themselves on social media and this was before Alex Shulman posted her infamous image. Of the five panel members only one said she would absolutely not post a bikini- selfie, the audience weren’t polled, which was a shame because I really wanted to know; I also wanted to know how many would have put up naked photos on social media in order to walk the talk of positive body image but alas I didn’t get the chance to ask that question!

Sex and Intimacy

42% of women surveyed want more sex, with 6 in 10 agreeing that there is less stigma attached to dating in this age group than 20 years ago. I wonder if it is the other 4 out of 10 who make up the 42% wanting more sex. Sadly only 10% found that sex was better after menopause and 23% said that their post-menopause sex-life was worse. I’m pretty sure that the fact that only 25% of those surveyed felt that it is more acceptable to be promiscuous at 45+ has some relevance to this figure but I’ve yet to work out what that my be, or what promiscuous actually related to. I would have like clarification here, it all felt a bit prudish and a British brush it under the carpet attitude of not wanting the nitty-gritty. Come on I want to know what promiscuity means to the 45+ woman in the street, clearly the 24% only having sex once a year or less may be skewing the data.

Home and Work Life

Before the debate convened I was chatting to a fashion editor who only last week had become a freelancer after 40+ years of employment. It would appear, according to this survey,that being an older entrepreneur is still unusual; only 11% of those surveyed had a career change in their 50s. (There is no figure for a career change in the 60s so I’m reading that as 50+ which could be wrong of me). There was nothing in the report, which I could find, to highlight the growing band of older female entrepreneurs or freelancers who are generating positive working experiences for themselves.

25% of this demographic struggle with a work–life balance, which means that 75% have found a way to successfully negotiate this juggling act. Overall there was little good news in this section, with 45% of women in London seeing themselves as the main breadwinner compared to 34% in the rest of the country there was a feeling that there wasn’t much opportunity for these women to enjoy the extra leisure time that they had stated was the thing they were most looking forward when becoming a ‘midster’ (44%). Another one in five was most looking forward to their free bus pass, so more AoA bus adventures then!

How colourful are we really being at 45+?

The findings in this report left me feeling less than confident that this colourful life was taking place in many parts of the UK for 45+ women. I had hoped for multi-coloured chandelier earrings with bells and whistles. Or at least an exotic splash of red. It all felt a bit beige to be honest.

The panel didn’t seem very excited about being older either; they all looked great, women in their prime who should be having a great time, but the overall impression I had was that these women felt the choices they had were limited. I was very aware of my own bra-less state in a room full of sensible support underwear. This isn’t a judgement, merely an observation; my desire to be a bit of a rebel in the room, to see aging as an aspirational goal with a freedom-pass, may well have coloured my expectations of my fellow attendees. I just want them to have a bit of a blast in an Advantages of Age style. Come on ladies let your hair down and get on the Bus!

Brazilian twin sisters celebrate their 100th birthday with brilliant photoshoot

5 Minute Read

Brazilian identical twin sisters Maria Pignaton Pontin and Paulina Pignaton Pandolfi have seen and experienced a lot throughout their lives, including their 100th birthday.

The twins are from Ibiraçu, in the north of Espírito Santo, Brazil. Maria currently lives in the municipality of Aracruz, and Paulina in João Neiva. They celebrated their 100th birthday on May 24, but prior to the celebration, a Brazilian photographer offered them a free photo session, which they gladly accepted.

Read the full story here: Brazilian twin sisters celebrate their 100th birthday with brilliant photoshoot

Fashion wakes up to the older woman | The Guardian

8 Minute Read

Lyn SlaterVictor Hugo/Patrick McMullan via Getty Image

When the former magazine fashion editor Alyson Walsh began her blog, That’s Not My Age, nine years ago it was as a reaction to the fact that she “wasn’t seeing anyone that looked like me in the media, and I wanted to celebrate the fact that older people are cool too and you don’t just disappear off the radar once you’re over 40”. Bloggers and ‘influencers’ are celebrating mature consumers

Read the full story here: Fashion wakes up to the older woman

Wake Up Older Dating Men – how to get stylish!

1 Minute Read

So, she’s agreed to go out with you on a date and you’re well-groomed, dashingly well-dressed and generally ready to sweep her off her feet. Or are you? Internet dating is now big. But, despite its growth, I’ve been hearing a lot from woman friends of their disappointment at the poor efforts made by older men when dating.

I write a blog about my search for style as an older man so have more a passing interest in how we present ourselves to the world – and the picture, by some accounts, isn’t always good. What is the woman’s experience? Where are men going wrong? What are they doing right? What advice can be given to the older man looking to date successfully?

This e-mail is typical of the comments I’ve had from older women in the dating game:

David EvansDavid Evans Photo: Daniel Pryce

“At the ripe old age of 44 – and with three small children – I recently decided to dip my toe into the murky waters of internet dating. I was anxious and excited at the same time but there seemed to be a rather depressing recurring theme online. Most of the men I fancied were a good ten years younger than me. They were the ones who stood out from the crowd – presenting themselves with a decent haircut, a smart shirt or cool t-shirt, some kind of “style” that said they still cared about their appearance. I wasn’t specifically looking for someone who worked in fashion, or who was even particularly fashionable, but the men in my age bracket seemed to be stuck in some kind of sartorial rut.

So I chatted to my other single older woman friends about it and it seemed to be a common problem. Where are all the stylish single older men? How difficult can it be to purchase a decent pair of straight-leg jeans, decent trousers a grey or navy t-shirt or sweatshirt and a smart pair of shoes, jacket, tie or suit? This is not cutting edge fashion; it’s just a smart, simple, casual and classic look that should be easy to achieve by shopping on our high streets.

Do men reach a certain age and give up on looking after themselves? I would have thought most single men would be trying to make the most their looks especially as let’s face it, with internet dating, you have one chance to make a good first impression and whether you agree with it or not, it’s going to be based on your profile photos first and foremost.”

I discussed these matters with a well-known personal stylist, Sarah Gilfillan. Sarah occasionally helps me out on the blog and there is little she doesn’t know about dressing a man well. As a stylist, she works mainly with men, helping them select styles and buy clothes. To my delight she agreed to carry out an informal survey of women over 40 (contacted through Twitter, Facebook or social contacts) who’d tried internet dating.

We wanted to see what view they took of the men they met – were they trying hard enough? What could they do better? Is there any advice we can give to men who are finding it difficult to achieve a stylish look for a date?

This is Sarah’s report on the information she gathered:

“I sent out a short survey to find out how women liked to see guys over 40 dressed for dates. In general terms, when asked how they liked their man to dress, women want to see a man looking smart, groomed, and wearing good quality, well-fitting clothing. There seemed to be a slight leaning towards soft tactile fabrics – like cashmere sweaters, velvet jackets and soft brushed cotton shirts – all the better to cuddle up to!

It was pretty clear what they didn’t like on their guys over 40: baggy jeans, bright logo tees, trainers, and poorly fitting clothes. Men tend to wear over-large garments, which look sloppy. There were a few comments about mismatched items – either in terms of colour/pattern/fabric or the styles ie: walking trousers and a smart shirt.

No one thought guys over 40 should stop wearing jeans, as long as they’re dark, smart, fit well and are not too faded, ripped, skinny, or showing pants! Worn with a smart, plain t-shirt, polo shirt or casual shirt and perhaps a v-neck or half zip sweater, most felt that jeans are good weekend staples.

Many favoured boots for casual wear as an alternative to trainers – desert boots, Chelsea boots, Redwing boots all came up as ones they liked. The other favourite was the ever- popular pair of brogues.

For a smarter look – going out for dinner – nearly all said smart jeans again, or trousers/cords and a shirt, possibly with a smart jacket and worn again with brogues or smart shoes. Interestingly, only one person said a suit.

Nearly all of the women asked said that grooming was very important, but not overly groomed TOWIE style (which they found a complete turn off)! Most preferred clean-shaven, but some were happy with a beard as long as it was not too long or scruffy. All said regular haircuts were a must – even if there’s not much left, it needs to be neat round the edges.

Other aspects mentioned were tidying up nose and ear hair, and clean short nails – fingers and toes! There were mixed views on aftershave – one said “lots so it wafts” and some said it wasn’t important. It generally seemed that the ladies did like some sort of scent (I guess to denote that you’re fresh and clean) but not to go overboard.

One of the other things that cropped up was the importance of accessories, helping to make an outfit look groomed and smart and also contributing to a more modern, youthful look when chosen carefully. Colourful socks, good quality belts, bags and wallets plus hats – either flat caps/baker boy style/trilby (maybe as a distraction from thinning hair?) were items mentioned.

Every woman, bar one, said that it made their man more attractive to them when they were better dressed. Good advice! But if you are feeling intimidated by this or think it’s shallow, you might be cheered by the couple of girls who said; ‘he’s a bit of a scruff, but I love him’ and ‘I knew I was marrying a scruffy muppet so no problem!’ I would still argue though that you should get ahead in the dating game by not being a “scruffy muppet” but dressing well and giving yourself an edge over all the other men.

So, gentlemen, whatever you may think, the women’s perception is that older men entering the dating game aren’t trying their best. As one woman remarked, ‘We make all the effort only to find that the man hasn’t even tried to look presentable.’

The overall conclusion was that simple, smart, classy and well-fitted clothes work. You don’t need to try to be too young or fun, just find your own style and make sure it fits well. Update your look with interesting, quality accessories to keep it fresh and modern.

So, with Sarah’s report ringing in our ears, what advice can I give to you for dressing and preparing for a date? Here are a few fundamental points:

  1. Show that you care by demonstrating that you’ve tried hard with your appearance. You may not always get it right – the woman won’t be expecting David Gandy – it’s the effort and the thought that counts.
  2. The same goes for the photo that you use online. Don’t use an image of you in your budgie smugglers on the beach last year, from your employers’ website, or picking up your degree certificate 20 years ago – select a photo that shows you as you are now in smart but casual clothes in a neutral situation and certainly not trying to look sexy.
  3. Wear smart, good quality, clean and, above all, well-fitting clothing – jackets, good quality knitwear. Go for smart casual with style. Proper fit is everything when it comes to selecting clothes.
  4. Avoid busy, mismatching clothes. If in doubt, select plain, well-cut styles.
  5. Accessories can add to a stylish look, showing that you’ve thought about your appearance.
  6. Soft tactile fabrics go down well.
  7. Wear good shoes. Poor or dirty/worn footwear will spoil any look.
  8. If you go for jeans, wear dark raw denim that fits well and isn’t artificially distressed.
  9. Good grooming is essential. Clean, scrubbed, smelling nice, minimal excess hair.
  10. Are your teeth well looked-after and clean? If your breath smells, visit a dentist, get advice, use a breath-freshening mouthwash such as the excellent Ultra Dex.
  11. If in doubt, get style advice from a knowledgeable friend, a stylist like our own Sarah Gilfillan of Sartoria Lab or read a good men’s style blog like Grey Fox Blog.
  12. Make an effort; you can be sure that your date will have done. Show self-respect, and respect for her, by trying your best. It’s not my place to tell you how to behave during the date, but show interest, ask questions, don’t just talk about yourself.
  13. Enjoy yourself!

David Evans is the founder and writer of Grey Fox Blog

Sarah Gilfillan runs a personal styling, shopping and wardrobe management service for men

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