When I was in London I had the pleasure to meet and interview Alyson, writer of the book Style Forever: The Grown-Up Guide to Looking Fabulous and creator of the blog That’s Not My Age.
We talked about her book, her own style and her plans for the future. We cover a lot in this interview and I think you will love getting to know Alyson a bit better. Enjoy!
Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself?
I’m Alyson Walsh a freelance fashion journalist and author. I blog as That’s Not My Age and I’m the author of the book Style Forever: The Grown-Up Guide to Looking Fabulous.
As a point of reference which age group do you belong to or perhaps you are willing to share your age?
I’m happy to share my age, it’s 52.
Can you tell us a bit more about your blog and why you created it?
I started That’s Not My Age, in 2008, in order to celebrate the creed ‘style begins at 40,’ to prove that midlife had evolved and discuss the issues of age, fashion and culture. Well received by the media and other bloggers, That’s Not My Age soon had a loyal group of engaged followers, stylish women from all around the world, devoted to the blog’s unique content, expert advice and insider fashion knowledge.
Prior to that, I’d been working as a fashion editor on a magazine – where I’d been writing all those prescriptive style rules, and I just wanted to talk to women in the way that I talk to my friends. I hope That’s Not My Age is empowering and fun and offers style advice in a down-to-earth way. I’m lucky to have a loyal following who I am eternally grateful to because without them my book Style Forever wouldn’t exist.
How did your book come about?
About four years ago, one of my friends Emma (a freelance journalist who works a lot in book publishing) said, ‘There’s a book in your blog.’ So, I wrote a synopsis and sent it out to a few publishers, had several meetings with people and there was interest, but nothing concrete. It was too soon.
I just forgot about it until early 2014 when what the artist Sue Kreitzman calls the Old Lady Revolution was getting quite zeitgeist-y and I thought it was worth giving it another go. I updated my proposal, pinged out a few emails and Hardie Grant, who’d been quite keen initially, came straight back to me and said yes. And they were right, it did feel like perfect timing.
Can you tell us a bit more about it and why 40+ women should read it.
I’ve had some wonderful feedback from people who’ve bought Style Forever – and they tell me that it’s fun, informative and empowering (which I’m really happy about). My favourite thing about writing the book was meeting and interviewing all the fantastic women.
These are role models, industry experts and women of substance who I admire like – Iris Apfel, Professor Wendy Dagworthy, Linda Rodin, Kay Montano, Thelma Speirs, Cindy Joseph. I loved interviewing them all.
Can you describe the Style Forever woman?
It’s every woman, it’s for women over 50 (well over 40 really – I was in my 40s when I started That’s Not My Age, in my 50s when I wrote Style Forever). For all the women included in the book, for feminists, for every woman.
What are some of your favorite quotes from the book from the women you interviewed?
I interviewed Iris over the phone and these are some of my favourite quotes:
On style: Being comfortable is the most important thing – and I don’t mean slobby! I never pay attention to trends, if something’s in fashion and I look like a horse’s ass in it then why would I buy it? If you don’t know who you are and you copy someone else’s style, then that’s sad. You must learn who you are and dress to suit your personality. It’s hard work getting to know yourself – the biggest fashion faux pas is to look in the mirror and see someone else
On Age: And I don’t know why people look in the mirror all the time and worry about their wrinkles, it’s so narcissistic. If they spent the same amount of time putting things into their brains as into their faces, they’d be much more interesting.
On staying current: I love museums and the arts, they’re very important to me. I always try to stay current and be interested in things, if not you just dry up. If I wasn’t designing or doing creative things I’d go mad. You must get out there and get involved – otherwise you’re still living in the dark ages.
You are currently working on a new book as well. What will the focus of this book be?
My next book will be purely about style, not about age. So, Ageless Style is the angle. Women of all ages wear similar clothes, shop at the same places and have a keen interest in style. We wear what we like.
How would you describe your own personal style?
It’s what I call Casual Glamour, a blend of day and evening wear and comfy shoes. (See Style Tribes in my book for a full explanation!).
What would you consider the most important components of your style?
I like to mix things up. I have a sort of Split-Personality Style: half minimal, menswear-inspired dressing, half bohemian, hippy-punk – with the occasional Advanced Style moment thrown in. And I think as we continue to reinvent ourselves throughout our lives, most women have become more comfortable with this high-low, pick and mix approach.
Key components: jeans, a kick-ass jacket, flat shoes or trainers and statement earrings.
Where do you live and how does that influence your style?
I live in London with Mr That’s Not My Age. The fashion/media industry is quite relaxed, so I can wear what I like, usually jeans or a jumpsuit and trainers.
What inspires your outfit choices the most?
I wear what I feel comfortable and confident in.
What is your current body type and height and what are your best tips for dressing for these?
I’m a UK size 12 and about 5’10” – my tip is always to wear what you love; clothes that you feel happy and confident in.
Has your style changed at all after turning 40?
My style has been pretty similar throughout my life. It probably varied a bit more when I worked as a fashion editor on a magazine but even then we could wear jeans in the office.
I was usually a bit smarter if I was going to an event or conference or meeting readers – in fact, I’ve just decluttered and sent all my old kitten heel ‘fashion editor’ shoes and heels to the charity shop! God knows why I’ve kept them so long, as soon as I went freelance (about 12 years ago, now) I went back to jeans and trainers, or Church’s brogues.
Do you believe in dressing ‘age appropriately’ and what does it mean to you?
It doesn’t mean anything to me. Age appropriate is dead. It’s all about ‘ageless style’ now.
Why is the way you look important to you?
I studied fashion and have always been interested in style, while I’m not obsessed about the way I look, it is important in terms of self-esteem and feeling good about yourself.
What is your beauty routine and what are your favorite beauty products?
My beauty routine is completely low-maintenance. I don’t wear a lot of makeup, would never do Botox or mess with my face. I love a good facial cleanser – my current favourite is Decleor’s Aroma Cleanse with no Parabens. With makeup, I tend to focus more on my eyes – Benefit’s products are ace -I can highly recommend They’re Real! mascara and all the eyebrow products are fab.
Do you follow trends? And if yes, which trends excite you at the moment?
Not really, I’m more interested in style and what individuals are wearing – I seem to be wearing a lot of khaki at the moment! For my freelance work, I do need to pay attention to what’s on the catwalk.
Do you have any fashion and style tips for women over 40?
Wear what you love, what you feel happy and comfortable in. And read Style Forever!
What are your plans for your blog and how do you see it develop over the coming years?
I’m currently busy with my second book and so don’t really have any immediate plans for That’s Not My Age. Though I do want to to continue providing interesting, informative, well-written content about age and style and to continue to engage with my lovely followers.
Be sure to visit Alyson’s website at Thats Not My Age and @ThatsNotMyAge for Instagram! Her book Style Forever: The Grown-Up Guide to Looking Fabulous is a great read full of useful tips and inspiring interview with 40+ women. Definitely recommended.
Which of Alyson’s outfits is your favorite?