A women of a certain age? What? The Collins English Dictionary describes: “of an unspecified age”, as a ‘woman who is no longer young’. Are you any clearer..? A women over 30? A women past her ‘prime’? Is that a women past child baring age? Do we understand what is meant by the term ‘Women of a Certain Age’? which does, lets face it, sound like quite a slanderous comment. Ugly phrase or not, the market-place has no end of things they want to sell us and I know because I’m ‘a woman of a certain age’ too.
We may have already (by our ‘certain age’) consumed and shopped to our hearts content but does that mean we are passed it? Why oh why though, is so much on offer so often bland, boring and, when it comes to especially fashion, is about not being seen? Are we women of a ‘certain age’ embarrassing to the rest of society? Well I bloody hope I am, because I certainly have no intention of spending the next 40 odd years blending into some insipid wallpaper. I want to live, love and be loud and look my best whilst doing it!
My first port of call is Finery London clothing brand, an online store set up by two ex Topshop and Asos women (of a certain age). Caren Downie and Emma Farrow have had the courage of their convictions and created a digital hub for contemporary, fashion-forward, age-suitable and brilliantly designed women’s clothing.
Initially the idea came from their own frustration; the demands of commercial companies are so restrictive that the products on offer have become so commercial, therefore clothing was certainly not what they would want to design, buy and let alone wear. After all, both believe in good design and of course having great design that women can wear, and that great design and quality can still be delivered at a truly competitive price.
Now in its forth season, the brand is going from strength to strength and is only going to grow more because it is offering women what they really want. Not a polite collection of items that allows for blending into the cheese plant at the family party or getting lost in a sea of navy cardigans and matching 80 denier tights. No! This label is about bold design, quality fabrication all at amazing price points with the added benefit that many items are machine washable (oh and don’t come out of the washing machine looking like they are already worn out, 40 year hand me downs from grandma). They are filling a very big hole in the marketplace for grown women- especially those of us that have no intention of growing ‘older’ gracefully.
The collections are about empowerment and are not for the faint hearted. The team recognises we have all grown up with the high street where everything was available to us until we hit, lets say, an age bracket where we women are expected to either become invisible or suffer the indignity of keeping on wearing thigh-high skater skirt-dresses in chartreuse polyester- (to be fair I wouldn’t have even worn that at 21!)
Both ladies tell .Cent that the biggest sellers are the limited edition pieces like key leather items (all made in London), usually small runs and the print items, because as they explained, they make dynamic prints that don’t fade int the background. Alongside dresses, trousers, skirts and tops are accessories including bags, shoes, jewellery and scarves (first time for SS17). Interesting is the fact that the ‘safer’ items the company trialled at the beginning were not the pieces that ended up being successful, proving the point that grown women want to look just as fabulous albeit beyond their 20’s utilising a different approach to when they were 25.
However it is important to point out that the success of Finery London also has to do with the very nature of how the business works. The team has a wonderful pedigree with high street and digital brands which allows for an insider knowledge of the industry that certainly shows with the collections. But now as most new businesses are able to start up in a much easier fashion thanks to the internet, Finery London has seized an opportunity, lets be honest, that mainstream producers have SO missed the boat on. We are not just talking high fashion for women but companies being able to react to the way we are all now shopping.
In years past people would often go shopping at the beginning of the season for a new ‘wardrobe’. Now, however, with the advent of the inter-seasonal collections, things have changed; further more so by the e-commerce boom in fashion. Now we can see it and buy it straight from the catwalk and this trend is going nowhere but upwards and onwards.
This sums up so much about fashion; the right way of doing things in this digital day and age and a working practice that Finery London adhere to. Tight edits and good discipline makes for great core collections with a clear and bold DNA. The collections are updated every two months with new product appearing almost every week. This is the new business model for the clothing industry . Have a tight core collection that sums up a brand signature and build from that as well as include many drops over the year. If you have a successful item and then you sell out? Rather than remake it and ‘milk’ the success, rework it simply into a new fabric or colour. Finery London have adopted this clever approach, this way customers are never going to go out in their ‘statement’ and see their nemesis at the office party in the exact same outfit.
So how does a brand like Finery London keep relevant and grow? Well that is the challenge now that they have established a success brand with a clear DNA. Could it be a pop up shop? A mens collection? We will have to wait and see but in the meantime make sure you go weekly to the site and see whats new!
As much as we now have the freedom to shop for what we really want and when we desire, there are still things that ‘happen’ to us as we get that little bit older that need to be dealt with. Things drop, droop and sag; lets be fair none of us want to have a ‘loose’ face or a loose bladder for that matter..but hey joys of getting older are actually now finally being dealt with on the high street too.
Probably the best product to come out this year for a woman in need could so easily be the Rewind 10 Super Sonic Neck firm and lift duo from Crystal Clear. Yet again this is a product grown from women wanting to do it for themselves. Yes, you too can give yourself a non-surgical facelift whilst binging on your new favourite TV box set. The company Crystal clear was set up by Sharon Hilditch MBE in 1995 and creates beauty products for salons as well as for the public.
Crystal Clear Rewind10 Super Sonic Neck firm and Lift Duo is a breakthrough anti-ageing neck moisturiser with sonic applicator designed specifically to lift, firm and restore the neck and décolletage area. Inspired, Sharon told us, by sonic toothbrush technologies she created. First a treatment wand for the delicate eye area that helped to tighten up heavy bags under the eye, then the Duo set and finally the the Contour It system which give sharper cheek bones without having to undergo any form of surgery or implants. A complete non invasive way to achieve high cheekbones, contouring and a defined face without make up. So forget those dark stripes of make up pasted on the face next to a highlight line also pasted, with the sonic home treatments there is no need to have zebra stripes.
The Sonic Neck Wand takes sonic energy to lift and firm skin to make real impact on the neck and décolletage. Sonic vibrations help the super-charged moisturiser penetrate the skin leaving it lifted, firm and toned. Skin is visibly younger looking, smoother and plumped for over 48 hours. Use it across the face, neck, cheeks and even lift the brow for a sharper toned and defined look.
Sharon has a background in skincare (since she was 17) and, alongside having worked in cosmetic surgery, she has a well documented understanding of how the skin works, which is always the best foundation (and of course reassuring) for beauty products. Sharon spotted the potential for a non-surgical skin resurfacing treatment that would bridge the gap between salon facials and medical procedures, thereby creating a new market in the beauty sector with a selection of targeted products and procedures which has actually won Sharon numerous awards.
The Active Ingredients in the moisturiser are:
Pheohydrane- this clinically proven ingredient acts like a second skin, locking moisture into the skin for several days.
Unisteron Y-50 (Phytosteroid Complex) works to increase elasticity and smooth out lines and wrinkles.
Phycojuvenine (Algal extract) energises cells, resulting in restoring collagen production for improved and rejuvenated skin.
Aroleat Samphira taken from Sea Fennel with natural powerful anti oxidants and wrinkle reduction whilst protecting the skin from daily free radical damage.
Click for the Rewind 10 Super Sonic Neck firm and lift duo from Crystal Clear set and here for Crystal Clear’s other products
The next nifty little devise may only speak to a small selection of ladies, but certainly will speak volumes to those who have been through childbirth. Like not wanting to have a saggy face, no woman wants a saggy bladder either. We have all heard about doing ‘our pelvic floor’ exercises but how many of us really know which bits we should actually be squeezing? Fear not, there is a new easy-to-use device that acts as a visual aid by showing you if your muscles are contracting the way they should. The Neen Pelvic Health Educator is a system designed to help women develop strong and healthy pelvic floor muscles. Developed from the award-winning Periform® Probe, it helps you strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, reducing your stress incontinence symptoms.
Simple to use and lets you know if you’re doing your pelvic floor exercises correctly and it strengthens your pelvic floor muscles, attach the indicator wand to the body of the Educator. You’ll then insert the Educator into your vagina (similar to inserting a tampon). Do your Kegel exercises. As you contract your muscles, the indicator wand will follow the internal walls of the vagina, so you’ll know if you’re doing it correctly. The effective system quickly eliminates the kind of incontinence and pelvic floor problems typically caused by pregnancy, childbirth, menopause or weight issues. Neen has won several prestigious awards for design, enterprise and research and development, including a coveted Millennium Products award from the Design Council.
Now ladies after all that information you are going to need to have a good laugh (as long as you have worked your pelvic floor muscles that is). Why not try the Samantha Ellis play How to date a Feminist, playing at the Arcola theatre in Hackney. A spin on the Hollywood rom-com for the more discerning amongst us, this is a humorous look at the hell of modern dating.
Two actors play six characters with the play being about the meeting of a young woman and man and includes the history and bi-stories of their romance. Ok this may sound quite straight forward but its the male lead character Steve, who defines himself as a feminist, who thoroughly confuses the female lead Kate (Sarah Daykin). Steve (Tom Berish) starts his marriage proposal with the not very romantic line, ‘Before you say anything, I want to apologise for the patriarchy’. He grew up, it turns out, at Greenham Common to a somewhat scary feminist single mother, Kate, a smart journalist, admits to a weakness for ‘cads and bounders’. Not so straight forward then; the play pokes humour at a romance between Kate, who confesses to liking bad men, and Steve, who believes whole heartedly in ethical confetti. So how exactly do these two overcome their belief systems in order to to have a 21st century romance?
The story line is eccentric and laugh out loud funny but the play comes to life under the clever pacy direction of Mathew Lloyd. The stage is small and the audience are intimately involved as their seating is almost on the stage, so Mathew has used clever lighting techniques in order for the two actors to literally and physically change characters in front of the audience. Both actors also move furniture and props themselves as lights dime, also allowing for the small costume changes they make in order to play one of the six characters.
Between the two actors the six characters are Kate’s father, an older stubborn Israeli divorcee, Steve’s mother the hardcore Green Common living activist, Steve’s ex girlfriend who still does the allotment with Steve’s mother and, lastly, Kate’s male chauvinist newspaper editor and boss, who have had a fling in the past.
Although the characters do sometimes veer a little too near to caricatures, the humour carries things through along with the excellent direction that brings the written piece alive and vibrant in a clever crafted pair of hands thanks to Mathew Lloyd deft direction.
How to date a Feminist at The Arcola Theatre for a limited time only.