Photography by Brighton and London photographer Emma Gutteridge

How to wear pattern and print is something I’ve been playing around with recently (HERE and HERE). While there are patterns that make perfect sense: paisley, leopard print, camo, all kinds of stripes; I find others set my Frump Alarm off. Show me a blooming, great floral print and I’ll show you a woman filled with chintzy dread.

Attending a conference in Edinburgh recently, the two crease-proof outfits in my suitcase cross-pollinated to good effect. So, the vintage-inspired, floral pyjama top (I’d intended to wear with black pants), joined forces with the posh track pants (I’d planned to wear with a silk blouse). Result. Frump-free florals with a sporty twist.

Independent label The Age of Reason has opted for a bunch of floral sportiness, too. And employed gorgeous, grey-haired model Pam Lucas to showcase it. Founder Ali Mapletoft designs silk bomber jackets, pants and scarves, for women of all ages; all made in the UK. With the punky illustrations and anti-sweatshop ethos, there’s little chance of the Frump Alarm sounding, here. I had a quick chat with Ali from The Age of Reason about working with Pam Lucas:

Photography by Brighton and London photographer Emma Gutteridge

TNMA: Love the photos of Pam Lucas – is this the first time you have worked with an older model? And what influenced your decision?

AM: ‘My initial reaction to the first question was “What do you mean, she’s not that old!” And if you met Pam you’d see what I mean. She really isn’t. At 68 she’s a dynamic, creative, wonderful, powerful woman with energy.

We haven’t used many models, at all, at Age of Reason – I’ve been very careful about not attaching too many faces to my brand, because faces carry so much meaning. But it feels right with Pam. I’m not looking for a particular age, I’m looking for an energy that reflects the inclusive, feminine power I want to foster in my label. Seasoned women who know themselves are just as interesting as young girls who are bursting into womanhood. Change is exciting; and we all change’.

TNMA: How was working with Pam? What does she bring to your label?

AM: ‘I was drawn to Pam because she has that extra something extra. She’s the woman you can’t stop staring at in a public place – you feel like you know her already, or you’d like to. It’s not just about looks. Even the way she moves is fluid and interesting; I put that down to years of yoga.

I really liked her spirit and the fact that she has strong beliefs. She’s an avid anti-fracking campaigner and she kept her “Say No To Fracking” bracelet on throughout the shoot. We’ve not photoshopped these images at all – she is, as she is, in the campaign.’

Photography by Brighton and London photographer Emma Gutteridge


Being from Blackpool – one of the places where fracking has been given the go-ahead, I’m in full agreement with Pam Lucas on this. In these turbulent times, we must stand up for what we believe in.

How do you wear prints?

32 thoughts on “Pattern, print and older model Pam Lucas

  1. Pam looks incredible in these shots! But a lot (maybe most) over 60s would look ridiculous in these clothes. They don’t have the figures for them. Or the confidence.

    It’s a fine line with florals. So Alyson, if Erdem or Dolce & Gabbana sent you one of their wonderful floral frocks you wouldn’t wear it? I think they do very grown up florals and could be worn at any age. But you do need confidence and I have to confess I haven’t worn my very grown up Max Mara floral dress yet….

    And I have a family wedding coming up over Christmas. Cannot find anything to wear anywhere! Getting desperate. I don’t like any of the dresses around and I cannot find a velvet trouser suit anywhere! If anyone knows of just the thing, please let me know. Tall, elegant, pared back is my style. Thank you!

  2. I think it behooves us to see older models wearing all kinds of different clothing. Since none of us have the exact same body shape, it’s nice to see different options!
    It’s also much easier to imagine these pieces on ourselves, when the models are in our age range! That’s why I use both my mom & step mom on my blog…I figure if you only see some items on 20 year olds, you’d never think to wear them yourself. But once you start seeing them on all ages—it’s more fun!!

  3. Agree, Pam looks FAB. My take on floral sportiness was more structured than this, and I think it’s something that could be played around with to suit the individual. I’m not really a dress-wearer, Jill but you’re spot on, Erdem and Dolce & Gabbana do have gorgeous grownup dresses. So, if one landed in my lap….

    Leave the velvet trouser suit with me.

  4. Thank you Alyson. I feel a bit out of touch with current fashions because neither the Gucci nor the athleisure trends are really my thing. My hairdresser is horrified I might wear trousers but I don’t care! I come out in hives when anyone even suggests one of these “occasion dressing” shops or websites.

    Off to have a look at the age of reason website!

  5. I really don’t think you can do print when the remembered blush of youth has gone unless you are like Pam Lucas ( or Alyson), thin, super stylish and confident. So, for most of us it’s a no go. Imagine the outfit she,s wearing on a not so gorgeous, Plump middle aged woman ( e.g me) and it,s a completely different and frankly embarrassing picture. I have eradicated print from my life and have no intention of going back there until I lose 2 stone and 15 years. Even then….Nah!

  6. Ms Lucas looks incredible – she oozes pzazz, chutzpah and style (and lots of other z type words) and would look stunning in a bin liner. I, on the other hand, despite being tallish and slimmish – would look about 108 in these prints and slightly insane. I think one needs the ‘presence’ to pull this off which this lady has in spades.

  7. I’m the same age as Pam Lucas and believe that this is the wrong tack in ‘ageless’ dressing. Modernism, simplicity and clean lines work best on every body type as we age. Chapter 1: Elements of Style from your book contains the perfect advice.

    1. Thank you, Lynn – that’s very kind. I probably wouldn’t go head-to-toe but think the bomber jacket would look great with a pair of black cigarette pants.

  8. Jill, Massimo Dutti have a dark green velvet jacket and pants on their website.

    Pam Lucas looks great, but on anyone with less presence (i.e. me) the outfit veers into frumpy land.

  9. Like the other writers I’m pleased to see the use in this campaign of an older grey haired model, albeit a very slender one. She also appears frequently in the Saturday Guardian magazine all ages photoshoots. She always looks good. As I wrote in when you last had a blog about wearing patterns although in my mid-60s and only medium height and medium sized I wear and have always worn a lot of checks, plaids, spots, stripes and other patterns. I would not want to be in tasteful monochrome outfits. Last summer I wore Uniqlo Liberty print t-shirts with jeans or olive cotton trousers as my uniform. If wearing a striped top I often combine with a pattern scarf that matches tonally. Patterns can be worn together if in the same colour range. This is very much a look right now. It can be tried in degrees. At least a colourful patterned or Paisley scarf, like an Etro one, can brighten and add to plain coloured separates like jeans and jumper. Increasing age doesn’t keep me away from patterned clothing.

  10. Thank you Lillibet! Will have a look. Sometimes the Spanish brands are cut too small for my 5ft 10 frame (: The high street can be difficult. I am a great Winser London fan but they don’t have the right thing for the wedding. Everything Jaeger has done is either dull black and/or sleeveless. Er no. No snazzy trouser suits or anything. I really expected to have a choice there. And I trade up to Max Mara in the sales and there is nothing there either. Feel very let down by these go-to brands.

  11. I find this trailer trash awful , I do love witty clothes but feel amused here.
    I think the model would look a zillion times better even in a sensible outfit from M&S .
    I haven’t worn florals since the 80s but if I liked them I’d wear them without worrying about the frump factor . Actually it feels like a style challenge and I may have a look through some vintage stores for one of those 1930’s crepe dresses .
    I would wear it with ankle socks and ankle boots .

  12. Jill, I saw a velvet trouser suit in M&S of all places last week. It was black, though, which may not be what you want for a wedding. We have a wedding coming up (my stepson’s) and I’m determined not to do the mob thing, God only knows what I will wear though. I feel your pain.

    I love Pam, she looks great in the Guardian.

  13. I used to never wear florals (too girly) then I slowly ventured into dark or black florals & began warming to more. I agree it’s what you wear them with that makes all the difference as to whether they look old fashioned or Nana-ish (word?)
    I bought a dark floral, long sleeved midi dress recently that was “sported up” with a black & white striped crew neck. This hybrid style is my favourite way of wearing flowers. Like you Alyson I tend to prefer them with an athletic twist.
    Pam is sexy & gets away with wearing anything because of the attitude she exudes, not everyone has that. Although I’m with her all the way on this Fracking nonsense – It’s going on in Aus too & my Dad is constantly on a march somewhere trying to stop it. Bloody ridiculous idea in the first place that’ll no doubt end up doing untold harm to our delicate Planet.

  14. Thanks Jane! I saw that too and it’s in the back of my mind. Good luck with your hunt! I want to avoid buying something for the wedding that will never be worn again. And I think it’s more chic to look like yourself and your own style rather than have morphed into some sort of MoB creation lol!

    1. Totally agree, looking like yourself is really important. Trouble is that my look tends to be pretty casual these days and turning up to a formal wedding in a leather jacket, big sweater, leggings and biker boots is never going to work, no matter how posh the scarf and earrings! Tell us what you eventually buy – I need all the inspiration I can get!

  15. I love seeing adventurous style on the likes of Pam and Iris Apfel; but while their highly individual style looks great on them it’s not one everyone can, or wants to copy. Me – I’m almost entirely solid colours but have a huge wardrobe of scarves and wraps of every kind in flamboyant colours, some floral, and tops in small geometrics and stripes. I’ll sometimes mix up a large and small pattern, or a spotted neckerchief with a Breton top, but keep the colours toning. But flowered tops/dresses/skirts? No: I’d look like a herbaceous border on the move.

  16. I have never steered away from florals if I see something I like. I have some floral shirts and dresses and not felt frumpy just a different mood when wearing them. Love the silk bomber jacket and that the pattern matches across the zipper due to the skillful seamstress. Completely support Pam’s anti fracking stance. There is so much natural gas available that fracking is totally unnecessary in towns or near any food producing regions. I would have thought that would mean no fracking anywhere in Britain. On another note I saw Chrissie Hyndes in concert last night as support for Stevie Nicks. We were there to see Chrissie and she looks amazing rockin’ tight low rise denim.

  17. There’s florals and florals. Sprigged anything is pretty dire. I have a problem with polka dots. But I don’t believe age has anything to do with it. Liking something but turning away because it has been deemed over for you is accepting meaningless limitations. We need to stop thinking this way.

  18. Florals aren’t generally my thing either (and never have been so it’s not age affecting my preference). I might make an exception for a gothic Alexander McQueen number though. I like to mix in some texture differences if wearing “plain” colours but am not adverse to print and love the Breton top/variations thereof. I lucked in on a Kenzo/H&M silk pj shirt thing which sports a nice printed design and am looking forward to wearing it with black velvet wide leg trousers for Christmas. Love this blog and the interesting comments – inspiring – as is Pam.

  19. I have two J Crew/Liberty shirts that I wear with jeans. One is floral with a white background and has a spring feel to it. The design is small and I don’t feel overwhelmed by the floral. The other shirt is paisley which feels similar to a floral pattern in terms of how to wear it. Relatively small design and great Liberty autumnal colours work really well for me.

    Jill – have you looked at Boden’s velvet jacket/trousers?

  20. Floral patterns are like cursing. Some of us can curse like a sailor or curse to make that sailor blush–but we can get away with it because of our personalities and “foul language charisma” (Um–that would be me!!!)
    And some of us can wear floral patterns and get away with it. There are those women who can wear a floral dress that will remind us of Laura Ashley of back in the day–and those women won’t look frumpy or twee. Their floral charisma will make us realize they can get away with it.
    I am not one of those floral women. I have a floralish pencil skirt that works and I have a pair of floral fuck-me pumps–they work. But any florals for me are best left in a vase of water in my home!!
    This was a fun post. Pam Lucas has an epic head of hair and a great look!

  21. I love both the jacket and the shirt, but for some reason don’t care for the athleisure-ish trousers on myself — I’d wear the above with jeans or skinny black trousers, the shirt maybe with a denim skirt. Actually, few floral prints appeal to me, except on silk scarves, but these are in my colors and very well done (some prints seem designed to look cheap, like the ones on nursing scrub suits). I wear lots of stripes, some checks and plaids — adore color and always have. I also love black/white/grey prints (and love to mix them), and navy/grey prints (when I can find them, which is rarely). I don’t think age really has anything to do with whether or not floral prints are appealing or attractive. Yes, there are some kinds of floral prints that shout ‘dated’, ‘frumpy’, ‘dowdy’, or ‘cheap’, but others are beautiful, even elegant. A lot depends on whether or not the colors, the scale of the prints, and how they’re worked into the outfit as a whole flatter the individual wearer, at any age.

  22. Jane – me too! I live in waterproofs and wellies in the winter (two dogs) and so now I can’t bear to wear anything “constrained”. It also means we don’t have all the other accessories and “shape underwear” that those who go out to work, etc. have to hand. I tried a couple of fitted dresses with zips up the back (everyone says they are slimming and flattering at a certain age) but they felt so uncomfortable and last millennium. Who wants to need someone to pull their zip up in this day and age? And how would I manage my Michael Jackson impressions on the dance floor?!

    Thanks everyone for their suggestions. Much appreciated. And sorry Alyson for taking up so much space on your blog! I have decided on either Whistles’ wide leg velvet trousers all dressed up, a red trouser suit from Max Mara Studio, or a very very expensive navy loose caftan dress from Matches which will hopefully still be around in the sale. It would involve sacrifices in other areas but is very wearable and actually might serve me well over a number of years. And because it is navy and most of my clothes are navy, I have accessories – not that the dress needs anything else. It’s just the thought of spending all that money…

    Have a great time Jane! I fully intend to.

    1. Thanks for making me laugh with your MJ comment. Those sound like great choices. I’ m going to check out Self Portrait and Needle and Thread, both recommended in The Times this morning. Expensive but looking promising. Shame we live so far apart – we could shop together, I think we’d get on.

  23. I was totally inspired by this post, visited Age of Reason and bought the most wonderful scarf, which summed up parts of my life to date and a guiding principle going forward ( one of the Never Surrender series). Fab personal service too…. am now a major fan of the studio.

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