Alyson Walsh000339_clean
Photo: Dvora @fashionistable

One of the best things about denim is that it gets better with age – and we all know how we feel about that phenomenon. Research last week suggested that jeans shouldn’t be worn by anyone over-53: what a load of bollocks. More mutton-shaming. Let’s move on… and talk about my new Gucci loafers. Had some royalties come through for Style Forever, not loadsamoney but enough to treat myself to some posh, new shoes. What a decision, though: gold metallic, red leather, fuchsia suede? I went for timeless black leather, in the end. Perfect with jeans and as comfy as a pair of old slippers.

Alyson Walsh_9570

Meanwhile. What’s happening on the British high street? M&S is closing 60 stores and I was invited onto Sky News, at the weekend, to comment. Here’s what I said: I’m not surprised by the announcement, M&S need to rationalise – there are too many collections, too much stuff and it’s too confusing. They need a sharper edit. More good quality basics, more items made in the UK and why don’t they have stand-alone stores for basics, or for tights and undies? The quality of the clothes should be as good as the quality of the food.

The coat I’m wearing in the photograph was a gift from Jaeger (I know; available HERE). Another brand that’s lost it’s way a bit, lately. The flagship store on Regent Street closed last year and a new smaller store opened last week on Marylebone High Street – which is always a good, grown-up place to shop. The Jaeger store is bright and welcoming and definitely worth a look-in. The coats and jackets are popular and this lightweight boiled wool number is easy to wear and excellent for layering up. It’ll be accompanying me on a trip to New York, next week. And I’m not going to say anything else about the USA, right now…

Let’s distract ourselves with some splendid shoes, coats and jeans:


61 thoughts on “Denim has no age limit, M&S closures, shoes, coats and other stuff

  1. any chance you could do a WHOLE post on oversized coats? I have an idea in mind ( large, loose, wool, below the knee, a bit man style) but can’t find what I’m looking for

  2. Hi. This is not particularly relevant to the peice but the lovely photo of you with black cropped trousers and bare ankles made me write. I love the look but how do you maintain it in this horrible weather? l need alpine grade socks to keep warm ( I wasn’t meant to live in this climate!) but it spoils the look. I know this is all very trite given the current world events but it’s a useful distraction. Any suggestions welcome.

  3. I am French but lived in the UK for many years and loved shopping for clothes at Marks. Two weeks ago, I was in London and visited their Westfield branch in Stratford. I found it messy and was just overwhelmed by the sheer amount of stuff. I agree that it is confusing and I found the clothes frumpy and oddly shaped. The strong smell of plastic when you enter the shoe section made me do a U turn. Disappointing and sad that they are leaving France but they really need to get their act together. As for denim, I well intend to wear it until I drop dead!

  4. Agree with everything. I would be lost without jeans; I have tried over the years to wear other trousers but have never found a permanent alternative. As for M&S, as well from everything you said, they always over-embellish. Appliqué, plus a frill, plus lace, plus a statement belt all on one jumper/pair of trousers. However, I do always but undies and tights (and this year, t-shirts). Love the Jaeger coat.

  5. Rediculous article by Mail based on a survey of only 2000 people – which people?? I’m 53 and have the full range of denim and it’s staying firmly in my wardrobe!!

    However, minor issue compared to what happening over the pond.

    Love the Gucci loafers, couldn’t justify them so went for Office version which are very acceptable but not as covetable!!

  6. Such a moronic article about jeans and a woman’s age. Denim has been around for decades because it is so durable, so who would ever trade that in? PLUS, modern denim has stretch to make it comfortable as well, so there isn’t a more practical fabric around. I personally don’t like all the ripped and distressed denim that seems to be been in ‘style’ for the last few years, but it looks great on some people. I’m a classic dark rinse denim kind of gal. Saying older women shouldn’t wear jeans is like saying we shouldn’t like ice cream. There are so many varieties to choose from, if one doesn’t suit you, another will.

  7. I think I agree with you up to a point. I do lots of food shopping there, plus basics for the children all the time. And, this autumn I have bought actual clothes for myself aswell because I saw them photographed (not on the M&S site which styles everything hideously) online and in various magazines, and liked them. Yes, to stand alone stores (LOVE the foodstore on the A1 at Wetherby which we use all the time for in car picnics. It has transformed our frequent journeys up North). Also think they might as well shut lots of the in town stores which are dreary beyond belief and piled high with badly presented stuff everywhere. Much easier to order online and collect or have it delivered. I hope you enjoy your loafers: they look very nice indeed on you.

  8. Actually, I don’t know why I said up to a point. I agree with everything you have said. And the Jaeger coat is lovely. Lucky you.

  9. Agree about M&S – popped in yesterday to our local in Truro. The clothing has been culled and replaced by gifts. Unfortunately what has gone is Autograph. All that is left is the sensible/boring items. Frustrating as I find Autograph good for my job – stylish (mostly) and affordable.

    1. I agree Amanda, the Truro store has always been very hit and miss. I find that they very seldom stock any of the stylish items from collections that they may stock in other big city stores. I spoke to a member of staff and they said that they don’t sell well in that store (are we less fashionable the further West we live?!).

      I also find their website terrible to navigate. You see an item advertised in the press or in magazines (or even see it in store) and then you cant find any sight of it online!).

  10. I am 71 and have five pairs of jeans in my wardrobe. So there!

    Marks and Spencer…..I have very mixed feelings. We have a branch here in Corfu, where I live permanently. I rely very heavily on them for basics such as underwear and tights and I find the selection of clothing there very well edited, but when I return to the UK and visit M&S I end up hot, horrified and totally confused. I usually head for the massive shop at Bluewater shopping centre in the hope of finding everything under one roof, but recently all I find is a mish mash and the quality is certainly not what it was. There’s too much of everything….including nasty plastic belts. I imagine that it’s some of the smaller branches that will close, which is a great pity because they are certainly more customer friendly,

    As for the loafers and coat…..if I were in the UK Alyson, I’d be stalking you in the hopes that you might casually cast them aside!

  11. I’m enjoying your lovely choice distractions Alyson. I notice quite a few of the cropped jeans in there, I’ve been on a bit of a scissor rampage recently. Cropped an old pair of Current Elliott flares that frayed up superbly after just one wash! I think wide leg or flares work really well DIY cropping & give old jeans a facelift for Winter. I love how they expose more of my boots however I’m not a fan of culottes so this way I get the exact length perfect for me 😉
    As for the denim article I have no comment on stupidity.

  12. I do agree with you…what a load of bollocks. I’m 62, 5ft 5, and a size 6. I wear skinny jeans all the time…I have about 30 pairs…dressed up or dressed down. Fortunately, I’m pretty well toned, as I exercise (cycle) a lot. I look awful in loose clothing, skirts and dresses are impractical, I find, and I will probably be buried in jeans…skinny or otherwise (and my Chanel lipstick). I have some high-waisted jeans which I wear with some Karen Millen slightly shorter tops. Quite simply, jeans rock.
    The M&S announcement is simply an echo of a broken record. They’ve repeatedly been reporting a drop in fashion sales, but no one seems to have rubbed their two brain cells together and asked themselves why. It’s a mess, the sizing is bizarre, the clothes are frumpy and shapeless. For god’s sake, why can’t they get someone decent in to revamp their style. Mary Portas, hello??
    Your coat and shoes are divine and you look fab, fab, fab.

  13. Funny about the jeans article. I just read it, and I happen to be 53 (so very pertinent, haha) and (ironically?) seem to be wearing jeans more than ever. So, yeah, basically the opposite of what the nutty article says to do. I know right, how could I be so wrong????!!!
    But honestly, rules about what clothing one can wear at a particular age are just totally insane, and worthy only of laughter.

  14. No-one is remotely surprised at the closure of a substantial number of M&S stores. Too many lines of disjointed clothing, they haven’t a clue who they are actually selling their clothing to and aim at everybody and everything wildly, pot-shotting random styles around the store. More British made clothing desperately needed (and yes, the consumer knows that this would increase the cost), better fabrics (far less acrylic/polyester) better colours (Alexa Chung baby blue, anyone?) and less (no?) desperate, last-ditch attempts at increased profits collaborations with all and sundry. The average woman in the street can tell them where they are going wrong and we are not even asking for inflated salaries for the task!

  15. M&S has gone so boring. I went into a main branch and all I could see were rails and rails of uninteresting clothing. Nothing stylish. I had a voucher and couldn’t find anything. I have been saying for years that the buyers are to blame. I actually sent an email to somebody at the top some years ago and was told they are getting a new buying team. Don’t know what happened to them. So disappointing.
    Love the jigsaw coat.

  16. Regarding Jaeger I popped into the shop in Canary Wharf and was impressed with how well they do coats and winter stuff in general. My coat last year was from the Regent St store and I still love it and the quality is excellent I will definitely buying something from the current collection.

  17. Well, what cracked me up about not wearing jeans over age 53 was they said it was because they were too hard to find the perfect fit after that age—-really! You’re telling me even the 20 year olds don’t have to try on many pairs?
    But you have to admit, if they wanted media attention from this article, they got it!
    Both my mom (my 70’s model on my blog) and my step mom (my 60’s model) have some fabulous pairs of jeans—did it take awhile to find them? Sure, but it was totally worth it!

  18. I can’t remember the last time I bought clothing in M&S, in fact I am struggling to remember how long ago it was I even tried. I do know that I gave up in frustration – I am a fairly ordinary size (a bit plumpish at 5ft 3 and size 12-14) but nothing out of the ordinary, can I find trousers size 12 or 14 of regular/medium leg length? Can I hell. Even though I am pretty handy, if I cut off 6 inches of trouser leg to hem it, then I have lost the shape of the damn trouser, I appreciate some people have fabulous long legs – but judging by the numbers of long or extra long trousers that are always in their sales the long legged people don’t shop there any more than I do. Not only that, but as someone else has already mentioned – everything has fussy bits or embellishments, or shiny buttons that mark out the item as screaming from M&S. If people guess where I got my clothing well and good – but I don’t want to wear stuff that obvious as to where I got it. We won’t even go into the strange fit, the obsession with man-made fibres, the crazy patterns…

    If they want brand loyalty and people buying their stuff – why the hell don’t they just ask us what we want (and then take notice of what we tell them). Simple, subtle and unobtrusive basics in good quality materials shaped and fitted for the actual population, we want good simple things that go with everything else we have and we want to feel like the clothing we buy is worth it.

    I can’t even imagine buying jeans in M&S

  19. I live on the other, rather unhappy side of the pond and am grateful or the distraction of boiled wool coats and loafers. I remember your post after the Brexit vote and suppose that this must feel similar. I’m aghast.

  20. I wear black jeans constantly. With nice shoes, tops, jewelry, they can go anywhere. I’m 67 and long past the age of listening to what “I should do”. And thanks for not mentioning the U.S. This morning we are totally f****d up!

  21. So enjoy your blog and the wonderful distraction from the sadness, disappointment and fear I have today as a citizen of the United States of America. It is a very black day.

  22. Great photo of you Alyson. Truly captures your spirit. Yes, things are dismal at the moment here in the US. What is it you Brits always say? “Keep Calm and Carry On” never seemed so relevant as now.

  23. My Mum, who lives in Dorchester, says their M&S is like a penny bazaar (and not in a good way). Shame on the Guardian for publishing that piece on denim though it does lead me neatly onto asking a question about which jeans 50+ ladies find stylish/comfortable? I’ve been getting away with Gap and Uniqlo but feel a bit of quality would not go amiss at this latest stage in my jeans wearing life. I would like some flattering boyfriend jeans but nothing tapered, and at least mid rise. I am a size 10 with some slippage….

  24. Great call on the Gucci Loafers! After our election I could really use a pair! Retail therapy shallow but necessary today.

  25. Seconding the approval on the classic Gucci loafers – a good investment. So much better than buying several pairs of lesser quality that will not last. And so nice to see a focus on buying far fewer things of greater quality rather than constant consumption. I’ve unfollowed so many bloggers (in fact, all but two: you and one other) for their “buy buy buy” mentality: look at my new outfit, my new bag, my new shoes – every week rather than re-wearing what they already own and setting an example for how to keep things fresh without constant spending.

    I dismiss the jeans article as nothing but click-bait, something to which The Guardian is increasingly stooping these days, and as my news source of choice, that I find disappointing. How about instead they run an article showing women from their teen to their eighties looking fabulous in their jeans? I’ve been wearing jeans since I was in my teens, am now approaching 60 and will wear them until the day I die. When I put on my jeans, I feel like me.

    1. Hi Sue
      I live in Australia where voting is compulsory. Just wondering… did you vote.
      If so what about your friends/workmates?
      Do you agree with our system?
      Looking forward to hearing your views

  26. Alison, you are right about the denim rule being bollocks (go, girl!), right about M&S and good quality sharp-edited basics, right about the choice of shoes. Oh, and right about the US of A, too. Today I went to Pilates, came home and booked a hair appointment with my very trendy Brick Lane hairdresser, on the basis that if the bombs are going to fall at least I’ll have cool hair and a superior pelvic floor.

  27. I love pretty well everything in your ‘collage’ today, Alyson! Simplicity and quality are my watchwords. You don’t get tired of quality stuff as you do with cheapos.

    Poor old Marks and Sparks – they hit the buffers when they went for the ‘yoof’ who have a squillion other places to go. As you say, some sharp editing is required. One thing that drives me nuts about Marks is that, in the rare event that you see something nice on a model, you can NEVER find it. Why don’t they display the stuff next to the model.

    Commiserations, dear USA-ians. Some black British humo(u)r I heard this morning. ‘We’d better not annoy Trump – he’ll invade us.’ ‘Don’t worry; he’ll look at the Fox News world map and invade Egypt instead.’

  28. I think this has been an incredibly difficult past 6 months for the High Street. The bizarre weather hasn’t helped. The Sales have been never ending – why pay full price – in 5 weeks it will be in a sale. Then there are the Online introductory discounts of 30% from Gap. Debenhams has been having a sale for years… Its not just M&S.

  29. Love your photo for this post–might be the most perfect coat ever! As for the denim article–thanks for pointing it out–ridiculous. Someone mentioned it was in the Guardian, but they first assumed it was the Daily Mail–guess what, it was from the Daily Mail. The “study” was done by CollectPlus–I don’t recognize that name, so we must not have them in the US. Honestly, the take away from this study is, why can’t manufacturers make better fitting jeans? But, when you do find a great fitting pair–it’s divine! And just so you know that your blog appeals to a variety of women, of age and style–I’m a US woman and I’m thrilled today! I have two degrees and just began working for myself because the job market is so crummy (the real one, not the one on paper). I’m looking forward to a brighter economic future.

  30. Love your fun photo, your great classic look, and today’s collage. Thank you for a small distraction from our national horror show. The view from Texas is bleak.

  31. I despair of “The Guardian”, I really do! “Research” with 2000 people-how in depth!!
    The writer of this “profound” article goes on to insult every woman over 53:”we all grow decrepit as we age” before saying she has only worn one pair of jeans herself. If she had begun her article with this phrase, and said ME instead of WE, it would have been a VERY different story….!!

    1. Oh well the best revenge for this rather silly woman whoever she is will be to wake up the day after her 53rd birthday thinking along the lines of – oooh decrepit you say? no more jeans for me you say? ohhhhh dear did I really write those stupid things????? Bless her, I wonder if she has piled on every current trendy look while she is still”young” enough and is wandering the streets like a giant bin bag of clothing

  32. Agree about Marks &Spencer, plus their stores are uninviting and grubby and often the changing rooms are actually dirty(Brent Cross and Moorgate to name but two, and the staff are obviously not encouraged to care about the place or the customers any more. Also the Sparks card is badly thought out – keeps sending me offers for goods I would never buy from Marks…. plus I so agree about the collections and so much of the merchandise is just wrong for example they used to stock very good merino knitwear now it is either shapeless cashmere or shapeless acrylic, oh, and a few shapeless lambswool v necks this season. And please, more British made goods.

  33. Bollocks, is right! I practically live in jeans. I don’t wear distressed or ripped jeans, instead opting for dark indigo or black in skinny, straight or baby boot cut. And…since when did 53 become old?!
    Great picture of you in action. I want those shoes in red.

  34. Can we have a whole chapter in your new book on how to pick the perfect jeans for your shape and style. Tbh I’d kill for great advice on that. Sad, but true.

  35. Alyson,
    Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for the distraction. A bit of grace and beauty on this (for me) woeful day is just what I needed. The whole look is great and the shoes sublime.

  36. Yes, we need distractions right now. Great look! I splurged on those loafers too when we were in Paris over the summer, and am so glad I did; they are fabulous! So comfortable. Yes, what nonsense about no jeans after 53 (?!?). Who comes up with this nonsense? Jeans are classic at any age!!

  37. Ahhh. A girl after my own heart. Denim will NEVER have an age limit with me. I wrote about it too!

    I wish I had seen you on the news but we don’t get all the British news here in the States. It’s been a trying day for me. I’ve cried all day on and off. America has voted the most vile, horrific, bigoted, racist man on earth as President. American women have been pushed back over 50 years with this vile pig. Amerexit her we come!

  38. Off topic slightly but what about a shout out for Melania’s awesome white pantsuit. If it was Michelle wearing it we’d never hear the end of it.

  39. M&S perplexes me. I was in the Leeds branch the other day and it seemed to have no rhyme or reason. The clothes veered from the utterly tedious – Classic range – to the deliberately peculiar – Per Una – and then to something I can\t describe – Autograph – and with the oddest colour range. And if you visit the lingerie department, it is heart-rending. You have two choices: pole dancer or person in a home. And, re the jeans: it is Virginia Ironside. Who has only owned one pair of jeans in a long life. You might as well ask her to comment on getting a Mohican. Thank God I am almost 60 and actually only wear Levis. Jeans for women are too linked with sexy, tight, Daisy Duke bods so the thinking goes that if you are not sexy and young, put them away. Try a pair of comfy slacks. Be nice and crisp and fresh. What is this? 1950? We’ll be expected to tie a clean ribbon in our hair each day and wear rollers to bed soon. Off to put my oar in on the Guardian.

  40. The Jaeger coat that you pinned has almost redeemed this label for me. Every time I look at their clothes I think “This range is really for my mother”. My mother is 82.

  41. I simply cannot imagine life without denim. It’s one of the few things that are truly democratic, truly ageless. Nothing wrong with the fabric. Agree the fit, however, is the issue….

  42. You can still find some gems in M&S but I wish they’d go further with the cull and get rid of Per Una and some of the bra brands – there are simply too many to choose from.
    You’re bang on the money with denim — I always thought it was the one item that can happily be worn by every age group, albeit with style nuances depending on your age. Mary Berry looks good in denim!

  43. First of all I must tell you my mother in law is 91….yes,that’s 91 years old and she loves her jeans!
    As for M&S,how do they manage to get it so wrong when they have loads of “experts” advising them? We’ve been going on for years how the way they display things and lack of certain sizes so frustrating and most people find too much stuff everywhere very off putting.Love those shoes and that Jaeger coat….and the jaunty pose!

  44. Safety pins are the new fashion statement in the US (borrowing that idea from you Brits!). Look into the background. It’d be lovely for our creative bloggers to show us how to style the pins.

  45. Jaeger and Marks & Spencer both seemed to go off the rails after Jean Muir died. I think her influence is greatly missed and no one has been able to replace her.

  46. The most telling part of that article is the last sentence – only one pair of jeans in her entire life? Well then, its life I suppose, but not as we know it! I crave a decent pair of proper fitting jeans ie: a straight leg that is actually straight, not one that tapers to the ankle, or flares below the knee, in a lovely dark denim and a not too low rise….oh, and without needing a mortgage to buy…..dream on!

  47. What a crass article. I am 64 and I practically live in jeans. Jeans are perhaps the only item of outer wear that can be worn by 9 and 90 year olds. As for saggy skin and wrinkles and decrepit bodies, well, nowadays, lots of men and women over 50 exercise and keep fit; we are not collapsing at the rate suggested by the article. Jeans lose their shape quickly; true, but only if you buy cheap cr*p. If you buy a decent pair of jeans and look after it properly, it should last you for quite a while.
    You can wear jeans casually or dress them up; they are definitely not just for gardening.
    Marks and Spencer…where does one start? I have given up. It may be a great British institution but they have lost the plot. The clothes are awfully boring and the service leaves a lot to wish for. They are either not training their staff properly or giving them the right incentives, or both. Talking about their underwear, I went to the store in near Liverpool Street earlier this year. I needed a post-surgery bra. I asked the assistant where I could find one and she didn’t even look at me, just waved me in the direction of a rack; went to another department store, where the assistant showed me the different types of bra on sale and suggested a fitting. How difficult is that?

Leave a Reply

Thank you for commenting but please be respectful and considerate.
If you want to be in my gang, play nice.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.