I hate all those style rules. That’s what I told the Telegraph when they asked me for advice on ‘navigating fashion through the menopause.’ Style is an individual thing. It’s not about dressing your age, it’s about dressing for your body shape. And being comfortable. Yes, body shape changes around the menopause – mine has, I have that ring of flab around the middle and so I’ve adapted, a bit (basically I’m less inclined to wear a figure-hugging t-shirt) but there’s no one-size-fits-all just because you’re older.
So, as part of my research, I Googled ‘menopause style’ and whoosh, up came a screen full of images of women wearing pastel clothes:
Dear Advertisers, that’s not how my menopausal friends look…
I prefer Christa D’Souza’s approach, like most of my pals, the journalist and author of The Hot Topic, is wearing what she’s always worn. For 56-year-old D’Souza, that means strappy heels and mini dresses, sleeveless tops, denim skirts, platform ankle boots and blonde balayage hair. Meanwhile, I’m sticking to my uniform of jeans, flat sandals and a Lovely Blue Shirt.
Obviously, during a full-on Hot Flush Fest – and I do find mine come in phases – adapting what you’re wearing makes sense. Small tweaks here and there improve comfort. I’m not going to wear that polyester top from COS or heavy cotton drill boiler suit because I’m feeling FLUSHED, and I’ll be boiling. Tops that are open around the neck, layers that are easy to remove, looser styles, natural fabrics like cotton, silk and linen all get a mention in the Telegraph advertorial piece; as do chandelier earrings over a sweat-inducing statement necklace. But then, I wear them anyway. It’s down to individual choice and what works for you. Try to stay calm and not freak out during a flush; as my friend Amelia Bullmore says, ‘An opportunistic hot flush can piggy-back a moment of embarrassment.’ I’ve also invested in a new duvet from The Wool Room that helps keep me cool and calm, all night long. Brilliant.
I liked Christa D’Souza’s book The Hot Topic – a life-changing look at the change of life, it’s honest, informative and funny. She reckons that we smell a certain way during menopause, ‘You could almost call it a pathology, the ability I have to smell smells seemingly unsmellable to the average human nose… If I were a dog I’d almost certainly have a coat on my back and be employed in an airport.’ Going on to say…’Correct me if I’m wrong, but wouldn’t an unhappy vagina* and increased propensity to sweat automatically have an impact on the way you smell?’ It’s full of interesting research on the menopause – including a visit to a San Franciscan convent to meet some menopausal nuns. The Sisters of Perpetual Adoration who have synchronised hot flushes. Imagine that.
*D’Souza is referring to dryness caused by falling oestrogen levels
Ultimately, wear what makes you look and feel good. Here are some clothes that I like. And yes, I know some of the models are pubescent – I didn’t choose them – something else to discuss with the advertisers: