I love fashion. It might be considered a frippery to many but it's part of my identity, my passion and my time. Fashion matters and can make a real difference not only to how you look, but how you feel.
image sourced from 123rf
I always say clothing, like makeup, is one of the best tools we can use to give us confidence - even when you feel tired or like you're putting on a front, with the right dress and a killer lipstick you can fake it 'til you make (or feel!) it.
Whenever friends ask me about which brands I love, I have my designer staples but I always, ALWAYS share my love for one high street brand in particular - Zara.
In fact, I love it so much that I often reference it as a 'must-learn-from' brand when sharing how one range can be suitable across the ages. Fast-fashion it might be but they really reflect (so I thought) how women want to buy and wear fashion.
Wearable versions of the catwalk that can be tailored up or down, well cut modern basics and the latest accessories - I often say that keeping up with trends and updating your look regularly is one of the fastest ways to looking and feeling more youthful and up-to-date. Zara does this intuitively, making it easy and non-intimidating.
Apparently, though, that only applies if you're 30. That is the age, claims a recent report that you become 'too old' to shop there.
As a woman who is just 50, it doesn't take a genius to work out why I'd feel so offended; I'm furious at this blatant sign of gender-ageism! And I'm not the only one.
Speaking at a Sheerluxe fashion event, no fewer than three major UK stylists and influencers, including one of my role models, Trinny Woodhall, mentioned their shock that a brand so beloved by lovers of clothing of all ages would be so quick to disparage such a large part of their audience.
So where did this statistic come from? Well, it's not apparently from Zara directly. The truth behind the research is that it was carried out by consumer analysis agency Insight Rooms.
They looked at a panel of Zara customers, basing the idea that women stop shopping with a brand when they stop engaging with them on social media. There is a steep drop off after 33 (later than many other brands apparently) which suggests that women over this age simply don't shop there.
I would suggest that this is a lack of understanding of the demographic. We are not the millennial generation who share selfies daily and interact socially as par for the course.
Whilst we are on social media, and do shop online, we don't tend to be as conscious of using social to share our identity - it's still considered slightly 'self-obsessed' to be that focussed.
At thirty-plus, women are often entering motherhood for the first time - never usually the best time for posting pics on twitter of your best outfit.
At forty-plus, we're re-energising our careers when we want to look amazing, but be taken seriously, and often we're re-finding ourselves after the early childhood years.
At fifty-plus sadly, many women feel too old, or invisible to share their fashion loves so prominently.
The expectation at this age is that you should be more focussed on family or duty and growing old gracefully (although if you check the Instagram hashtag 'advancedstyle', there are some really fabulous fashion blogs out there).
There are stunning, brilliant older bloggers doing it well, though. I love Kat Farmer's 'Does My Bum look 40', a seriously stylish fashion diary site aimed at mature clothing lovers, shares her mix of high-street finds, designer picks, within which Zara regularly features.
A-list stylist Deborah Sheridan-Taylor also shares her love for the range, citing their cuts and fast-turnaround as strengths.
The truth of the matter is that this research does NOT say that older women cannot or do not shop at Zara and its method of understanding of the older shopper is deeply flawed.
I can only hope that Zara understands its following well enough to know this and carries on being the great, multi-age appropriate brand that it is. Here's to their new collection!