October 19, 2021

Silver & Sassy- Grey Haired Women Are Not Invisible

Men are silver foxes but women are letting themselves go if they decide to ditch the dye?

When Annie Stirk first came to me with the seed of an idea to celebrate grey, white and silver haired women which we'd planned to be part of York Fashion Week 2019 I completely got it.

Silver & Sassy

I started going grey as a teenager, not really a shock as my grandmother was completely white at a young age.  Dyeing it every colour of the rainbow, from Navy Blue, Blonde, Bright Red and Plum , the list goes on.  I don't really remember anyone batting an eye.  Fast forward to age 45 when I decided to ditch the dye and embrace my grey hair and people suddenly had an opinion. Comments , which all came from women, included "You're too young" , "Don't let yourself go" and "it will make you look older".

I'm sure it's too do with societies conditioning around the fear of ageing. Grey hair is another sign along with wrinkles that we are ageing, and to be honest thank God we are lucky enough to still be here to show them when so many others aren't! There is still so much fear around the whole subject. We wanted to create an uplifting fashion event that challenges those outdated stigmas  and celebrates women embracing their grey hair. Reminding women that may be feeling a bit lost that we are most certainly not invisible!

The event, held at the beautiful Goldsborough Hall, involved 13 models who all volunteered to join Annie and I on the catwalk. These women had never done anything like this before but completely embraced everything we threw at them. With a fabulous styling team; Sara Anson and Trudy Fielding, behind us showcasing 7 brands from small independents to well loved high street names. It was important to Annie and I that not only did these women leave feeling more confident about themselves but so did our 90 guests. After the last 18 months there was a really positive energy coming from the audience and their support for every women that stepped out was palpable.

Our models ranged from late 40's up to 77 and indeed our oldest model Heather Sandler often stole the show with her sass and personality.

Why we need better representation in the media and fashion industry.

Although we have started to see more older women included in media and advertising campaigns they are still token gestures and  yet to be included in fashion campaigns on a consistent basis. Deciding to ditch the dye often comes at a time of great change in a womans life, children leaving home, adjusting to an empty nest, caring for older parents, the menopause. All these can have a huge affect on your body confidence. Add to that the lack of visibility in the images we are bombarded with daily and it's no wonder that women often feel invisible and lost.

When you consider that the over 50's spending power is one of the largest and fastest growing in the UK it makes you wonder at what point will brands start really listening and learning how to include us in their marketing. We were delighted to have high street brands John Lewis Leeds, Figleaves swimwear, Fenwicks and Jigsaw in York involved in the show alongside independents Copper & White, Cabi Clothing, My Vintage Beau, Natalia Willmott jewellery, Molly Titfer hats, The Yorkshire Handbag Company and Yorkshire Eyewear.

Seeing our models of all shapes, ethnicities, heights and at different stages of their grey journey really felt like a powerful statement. The women in the audience clearly enjoyed seeing the clothes on women they could relate to as they enjoyed shopping after the event after being inspired by what they'd seen. This seems to be a perfect way to shop and target the older market and perhaps we'll see more in person fashion events as an after effect of the pandemic. I really do hope so! I’d love to see more brands creating live fashion events to really connect and understand their midlife customers better.

Is the tide turning?

It does feel like the tide is turning with celebrity role models like Helen Mirren, Andie MacDowell and most recently Dawn French embracing their grey hair in the public arena. You often hear women described as being brave for going against the ‘normal’ and these women are under so much scrutiny in the spotlight but owning it. I completely agree with Andie MacDowell when she told Vogue she’d never felt more herself,  able to embrace where she is right now and completely comfortable in her skin,  I feel exactly the same and its freeing.

I’m sure that comes with age as much as embracing the grey, I’ve started to care less about what other people think of me. Deciding to ditch the dye can be a very positive experience and so many women find it liberating, stepping out of your previous fashion comfort zone can be a real part of that change.

With award winning presenter Christine Talbot as our host we knew we were in safe hands and it was a pleasure to have Jayne Mayled, founder of White Hot Hair and Tricia Cusden from Look Fabulous Forever as our guest speakers to share their pro-ageing wisdom too.( I have to say our award winning hair and make-up artist Sonia Schofield and her team did an amazing job enhancing all the models natural beauty using Look Fabulous Forever make up).

There’s never been a better time for women to support women and this event really showed that as we also raised money for the York based women’s charity Kyra.  The event was kindly sponsored by York Gin and Figleaves.

Enjoy a few of the images of all our gorgeous models, all at different stages of their own grey haired journey, different shapes, sizes, ethnicities and ages but all Silver & Sassy!

 

 

 

Annie and I are already planning what's next for #Silverandsassy and we want to reach as many women as we can with our positive message. The icing on the cake came from being featured on ITV Calendar and then going national on All Around Britain.   (watch from 31 mins in)

We are Silver & Sassy!

Huge thanks to everyone behind the scenes who helped make the day the success that it was.

All images @Olivia Brabbs Photography

February 27, 2019

A Golden Age of Positivity, Front Cover Goldie Magazine Jan 2019

I was so excited and honoured when I found out that I was going to be on the front cover of Goldie January 2019 edition. To have a platform like Goldie magazine to share my views about body confidence and the lack of over 40+ models represented in the fashion industry is something I am very grateful for. I really do feel part of the growing change in attitudes towards ageing in the fashion industry and love any opportunity to challenge the industry and help break down some barriers. Goldie magazine is fabulous, it celebrates everything positive about the over forties and above, for both men and women. Celebrating our diversity, not shy to tackle difficult conversations around ageing and it's packed full of great articles.

If you haven't discovered it yet then I can definitely recommend it!

www.goldiemag.co.uk

 

Front cover Goldie magazine, Jan 2019.

"So what is it that causes us to shy away from embracing our older bodies? The lack of representation in the media must be a contributing factor, because women over forty are rarely used in lingerie or swimwear adverts, sending a very negative message that no one wants to see them"

"You're worth more than Gold'. Photographer Steve Cockram, MUA Rachel O'Dell, Stylist Trudy Fielding

AUREATE adjective Made of or having the colour of gold

"As someone who lacked body confidence until my forties I can appreciate the journey I have been on with every part of my body, We are a team and something to be cherished"

"With a depth of beauty that only comes in later years, we are redefining what middle age looks like. So next time you look in the mirror, remind yourself that your body s like gold: precious and beautiful"

Photographer: Steve Cockram

www.brusselstreetstudio.com

Stylist: Trudy Fielding

MUA/Hair: Rachel O'Dell

Words and Images as featured in Jan 2019 Goldie magazine

May 26, 2018

Women over 40 wear lingerie too!

As a woman in her forties I still love to sit down and read fashion magazines and I'm guilty of losing hours shopping and browsing on line. I love fashion and that includes admiring and buying nice underwear. I am a 34FF bra size so that in its self limits my accessibility, although there are so many more brands doing my size fashionably now. However what I find completely demoralising as a shopper is that they are always modelled on young, fresh faced models who look stunning with their youthful bodies. But trying to imagine what I might look like in my 48 year old body compared to the image is never a positive comparison. Our body shape changes, are skin isn't as tight and firm as it used to be, I need more support up front!

But I can still look and feel good in the right lingerie without being constantly reminded that I am ageing. It does leave you with a feeling off being written off by the fashion industry and things need to change.

Lingerie set (XL) and dressing gown , Gifted from F&F Clothing. Photographer Mya Fawcett, MUA Emma Denton.

Whilst there are some very positive brands embracing this change such as Berlei, Panache and Lonely Label wouldn't it be nice if all brands got on board and didn't just see it as a quick PR eye catcher for individual campaigns but don't carry it through the rest of their website or advertising.

This Berlei campaign is the way forward and they are at the fore front of embracing all ages in their continued advertising. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we saw these kind of images every time we opened a magazine.

How amazing does this older model look for Lonely Label lingerie, I look at this photo and I can't help thinking that if we saw women of all ages we would be less insecure about growing older and it would help our self confidence and body positivity as we change through the decades.

Whilst I think this photo of 57 year old Julianne Moore modelling for Triumph is beautiful, I only hope they continue down this road in their ongoing branding and images. I want to be able to relate to the models in magazines and fashion branding ,please don't alienate us, after all we have money to spend and make up a high percentage of your sales!

Panache lingerie set 34FF

Basque set Bravissimo 34FF.

April 30, 2018

Why are women over 40 so invisible in the fashion industry?

Flick through any fashion magazine and you will notice a distinct lack of middle aged 40-50 year old models . Whilst it is wonderful to see the increase in older models such as the incredible 70 year old Maye Musk, the industry seems to be completely overlooking the middle aged bracket. Why are we so invisible to the high street fashion market? Especially when you consider that women over 50 make up 47% of the spending market. I want to be inspired when I open up magazines by women of my own age group that I can relate to and that reflect me, wearing high street modern fashion. We have money to spend and there is #nowrongage to express yourself through your clothes.

Green top- UK16 www.boohoo.com

Vinyl skirt- UK14 www.simplybe.co.uk

Shoes vintage www.etsy.com/uk/shop/myvintagebeau

I love this outfit an ended up buying the whole outfit,including the vintage beret from https://facebook.com/myvintagebeau Trousers and dustecoat www.simplybe.co.uk

Flamenco dancer in the making! Beautiful dress from Simply, UK16

It's good to step out of your fashion comfort zone and try different looks, after all there are lots of different sides to our personalities.

Trousers and jacket www.simplybe.co.uk Boots www.tkmaxx.com

Thank you Laura Carly Adams for the fab photography and Trudy Beau stylist for helping showcase some cool outfits.

 

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