Our Willowberry Age Without Apology Insta Live Series is held over 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 writer and stylist Fatima Truscott - you can watch our chat in full here.
Fatima Truscott is the writer and stylist behind The FT Times blog. She was also the stylist for our Willowberry Age Without Apology campaign and is a member of our Age Without Apology Pledge Founder Member Collective. Having begun her career in the fashion industry in the lads culture of the 90s, Fatima talks about how representation and diversity has changed over the years. Our chat also examines why we should all embrace our own style regardless of trends, how running can be the best therapy and how comparison is the thief of joy.
A woman in the midst of lads culture
I’ve been working in the fashion industry since the late 90s when I landed a fantastic job at a national newspaper. That era was Loaded, Maxim, Nuts, it was lads culture, and the glamour industry was being polished so to speak. They wanted to make Page 3 look a little bit more like a feature, so one of my jobs was to go around Selfridges and buy beautiful thongs and beautiful bras. The stuff that I was producing in those days was of a time. When I was doing model castings there was definitely a look that most clients, most publications were after and usually it involved being young, being of a certain weight, a certain colour, a certain hair colour. Things have changed but we have still got oodles of work to do when it comes to representation across the board.
I am not really proud of some of the work I have produced over the years. It did come to the point where I wanted to leave the industry because it can make you feel very disposable. As the world was changing and evolving I couldn’t look at the work and feel proud of it so I fell into an awful funk. I was thinking, shall I become a florist, shall I work in my local library, will I get more fulfilment doing jobs that aren’t focused on image and what you look like?
The turning point
I was really fortunate to have been invited to a breakfast and my idol was there and that person was Caryn Franklin. I grew up watching The Clothes Show and for me everything that Caryn was involved in was so of-the-moment and so raw and that’s how I, as a young girl, learned to want to be part of the industry. I spoke to Caryn about how I was feeling and her words were so wise. She basically said to me that the industry needs people like you to question what we do, and if we all jump ship and leave it, it’s not ever going to change or evolve. I walked away from that breakfast feeling completely renewed.
Be the change you want to see
Fashion and beauty have got to evolve and the stories have got to be representative and can only be representative if there are diverse people telling those stories and calling things out. Whenever I write stuff now or I’m involved in any project, I always think, ‘are we being representative?’, ‘are we being inclusive?’ and I have a list of questions I ask myself. I don’t use certain language like ‘must-buy’ because there is no must, there is no need to buy anything. Maybe 20 years ago I didn’t have that sense of responsibility, I definitely have it now. I think a lot of people are a lot more aware and those of us who are lucky enough to be in this industry, we can change that narrative and we’ve just got to keep going, to keep unlearning, to keep relearning.
Older women in ad campaigns
You’ll always have the argument from a brand that the consumer wants aspiration. I would personally prefer to see a regular person, someone who looks like me or my friends. Especially when you talk about beauty products and skincare, I immediately switch off if I see a product that’s supposedly targeted to a perimenopause 40+ age bracket and they’re clearly using somebody who is not that age. The consumer is so much more savvy now, you’ve got social media, people are questioning and that’s the right thing to do.
Styling yourself as you get older
If it fits you and you feel fabulous in it, rock it. I’m in the industry so I can see how trends are so cyclical, trends come in and then they go out and then they come in again so you can feel a little bit jaded. I always dress to complement how I want to feel because that strategy of dressing is powerful. If you’re feeling rubbish, if you’ve got a full-on day and you want to feel a bit more put together, then dress and feel how sassy feels for you. Your version of sassy is going to be different to mine. It might be a blazer for me, it might be a trench coat for you, it’s so personal. There definitely shouldn’t be any age restrictions. Dress for your mood and for how you want to feel and the energy you want to project. It feels like there are rules but there aren’t.
Running as therapy
Seven years ago my Dad passed away very suddenly. Running, for me, was just time on my own and in my head, a way for me to process what had happened but also simultaneously get away from it as well and I think that’s what running does, it’s truly quite amazing. Are you running away from something, or are you running towards something? It’s so ambiguous. Sometimes I will go out there and just listen to Dua Lipa and I’ll just run and run and I’ll have this amazing playlist and I’m not really thinking about anything, I’m just kind of powering through. But most of my most meaningful runs are when I just go with no headphones. There’s definitely a therapeutic process that literally runs alongside the running.
London Marathon 2021
Running that marathon was just the absolute bucket list tick. It was just the most amazing experience. Apart from kids and getting married, the best day ever. Truly. Something like 1% of the population run a marathon, it’s not something that everybody is going to accomplish so you do have to dig deep, you do have to turn yourself inside out.
How to Age Without Apology
Comparison is the thief of joy. You can only be you. I’m there looking in the mirror and thinking, ‘well… if that could just be like that..’. We all do it, it’s very natural, it’s the information that we’ve been fed that makes us react this way but ultimately you can only be you and that’s amazing in itself. So then I look in the mirror and think, this is me, I can only be me. You’ve just got to shut that door and just go right, ok, done.
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