You know when you're in Top Shop with a teenager in tow (in my case my own but you may have borrowed one) and they want to buy the same thing as you? Well that! Or is it that you want to buy the same thing as them?
Yes folks, it's the 'can I wear what my daughter wants to wear and not look like a) mutton or b) the geriatric version of Kids From Fame' game.
I may be the wrong side of 40 now but I still want to look funky. And why shouldn't I!? But there is a fine line to looking funky, edgy and cool that can swiftly turn into desperate, try hard and dated.
There are some shops that clearly the over 40's should avoid like a pack of Tena Lady Ultra hanging out of your tote. The cheap, fast fashion shops that churn out ill fitting, poorly made but 'on trend that week' acrylic loveliness for a start! You might get a fashion hit for a tenner but once you've washed it, you'll be lucky to get another wear, besides it will have already had it's moment!
Great tailoring and shape are important however old you are in my eyes, however as you age it's even more essential. Who gave a toss about even seams or a great fitting jacket aged 15? This is where spending a little more on your classics is important.
I'm not picking on shops like Top Shop at all - I LOVE Top Shop and we've had a constant love affair since the early 1980's - but now I need to edit carefully what I buy from them. A little bang-on trend peplum top will fashion-up my pencil skirt and won't break the bank. But sticking me in a cropped top will have my kids reaching for the bucket and my husband calling the police to report my indecent exposure. It's knowing which fashions are only for the young and nubile and which you can adapt to the much older and a tad saggier.....
Getting your lengths right is key. Shops aiming at the youth end of the market for the bulk of their sales, can be a little economical on the fabric front. This could mean your arse will be saying 'Hello' to strangers if you're not careful. Above the knee is fine if you've the confidence and the pins to carry it off. Thigh skimming is out of the question unless you're under 25 and have legs like Gisele. A few teenagers who might be below the age limit of mutton but have thunder thighs might want to take note here. Just cause you can wear it, doesn't mean you should....
So the moral of my story? Don't be frightened of checking out the younger end of high street shops for your basics and your odd bit of super on-trend fash-hits. In general, these places are best not frequented on Saturdays, when the smell of hormones and Impulse body spray can be a little on the ripe side. Check them out during the week when they'll be quieter and won't resemble a jumble sale.
Here's my short go-to guide to the High Street - all of these shops I like to mix with my vintage and designer.
Top Shop - fabulous for jeans, tops, knits and quick hit jewellery
River Island - super shoes, good swimwear, on trend jewellery
Zara - jackets jackets jackets! Oh and shoes!
Miss Selfridge - great biker jackets
Warehouse - good basic silk tanks
Oasis - good all round - choose one of the bigger stores or shop online for the best choice
Mango - cute jackets, great jumpsuits
Gotta hop, I'm off to order my playsuit......