Our Willowberry Age Without Apology Insta Live Series is held bi-weekly on our Instagram page. These live chats with expert guests are designed to help you navigate age with confidence and style. Here are the highlights of our recent chat with stylist Anna Cascarina - you can watch our chat in full here.
Stylist Anna Cascarina has worked in fashion for over 25 years. A former magazine fashion editor, her passion lies in ‘empowering women to become visible again’. Her blog and Instagram account are a rallying cry against ageism in fashion underlined by her mantra: ‘Everyone can wear every style. Whatever their age.’
During our Instagram Live chat we discussed the lack of older women in fashion campaigns, how to buy less and wear more of your clothes and why we all need to love pre-loved fashion sites.
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I’m 47 and I started to feel a little bit invisible, not relevant anymore, not represented. So, I thought; if I’m feeling like that, other people would be feeling like that too, so that is why I started my Instagram account. I wanted to be that person over 40 that still loves fashion, still loves beauty and still wants to feel relevant.
Sorry Madam, that brand is not for you…
There are a lot of brands that won’t work with women over a certain age. That just really p****s me off because, why?! Why is it that you get to a certain age and you’re not supposed to wear that brand? Surely it’s about your own personal style? Why does age come into it? I find it so frustrating, so I want to change that narrative. I think as long as you know your own style and your own personality and you know what you love and you’re confident about what you love and what suits you, you can usually find something in any store.
At my age we often have more disposable income. The brands are missing a trick! There are women over 40, 50, 60+ … we are incredibly stylish, we know what we love, we have money and we want to spend it and if they’re not going to represent us then we’ll take our money elsewhere. But I do think a lot of people don’t have that confidence because they are constantly being told that they can’t wear that, they can’t shop in that shop because of their age. It’s annoying.
Older models and ageism
I think a few brands are doing better, they are using older models: Mango is really good, Zara is really good. You can see that these women look incredible in the same clothes that a 20-year-old is wearing.
Seeing as many people as possible represented across the board is all I want. It’s about showing everyone, every age, every size. We talk a lot about representation and that includes older people as well. I feel the age thing is something that is left out of the conversation and it needs to come to the forefront.
How to dress when your body shape has changed
I think it’s really important to know your new body shape. Our bodies change and that’s just the way it is. Our bodies change after kids and ageing and hormones and menopause and whatever, so I think it’s important to really take a look at yourself and see where those changes are happening, whether your bust has got bigger or smaller, whether your hips have. Once you know that, you can really start to dress for your shape as it is now, rather than the shape that you were.
Making sure you’ve got really good underwear that fits is so important. Get yourself measured; you will probably be surprised because our bodies change all the time.
If you’re not sure about certain items in your wardrobe, turn the hangers around so that they are facing out and then every time you wear one of the items, put it back the right way. In 6 months time you can see what you haven’t worn. Even stylists need to go through their wardrobe and filter it out a bit!
Buy less, wear more
Have really good quality basics, t-shirts and vests, that you can build from. When you buy something, have a think about how you can wear it, what you can wear it with. Can that pair of trousers be worn with heels or trainers or with a blazer or a jumper? If you can think of different ways before you buy it then it’s going to work really hard for you in your wardrobe. Try to ‘wear your wardrobe’ because we have to start thinking more sustainably and not buying as much.
Always look at pre-loved sites, too (like Vestiaire and Edit Second Hand). You can get better quality things, the pieces are like new so you can get really good quality, beautiful fabrics at the same price as something from the high street.
Style for hire
There are so many hiring sites as well like On Loan, My Wardrobe, Hurr, By Rotation. For something like a wedding or an event that you’re just going to wear an outfit once for: just hire it. You can get an incredible dress, incredible shoes, you can even hire bags and create an amazing outfit and then you just send it back.
How to age without apology
I think we all just need to start enjoying our age and being unapologetic about it. I fight the ageism thing but it gets to me too, because we’re bombarded with it. Surround yourselves with positive people. We are really privileged to get as many years past us as possible and I think we forget that sometimes don’t we? It’s all about trying to reverse age… you can’t! So we might as well enjoy it.
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