Column: Don't let them make you a fashion victim

Mid to late 30's? Well, don't bother shopping at Zara anymore because it seems you are too old. A recent study of Zara customers found that women tend to stop '˜interacting' with the brand after the age of 33.

The research studied the way that women socially engage with the Spanish brand, and it found engagement ‘peaks’ between the ages of 23 and 27. I’m 49, and I don’t shop at Zara, but only because they design clothes for women with hips (which I don’t have) and no boobs (which I have too much of).

My best friend, just 50 and a designer herself, swears by Zara and would laugh in the face of this ‘research’. For what it’s worth, I also shop in Topshop (along with my daughter), New Look, French Connection, River Island, and Marks and Spencer. But does that make me weird? No, because I don’t shop as though I’ve given up.

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Nothing ages a woman faster than the middle-aged menopausal haircut and comfy elasticated-waist trousers. It not only says you’ve given up on yourself, but you’ve given up on life. What these ‘experts’ fail to grasp after we’ve blown out the candles on our 35th birthday cake is that we’re not suddenly past it.

Women no longer become invisible after the age of 40, because, haven’t you heard, 60 is the new 40!

This means, by my sums, that we 40-somethings are still basking in our 20s, and we don’t suddenly choose to take up knitting or decide to wear crimplene trousers. In fact, my own mother, who is shall we say a little over, erm, 21, still wears jeans. But she’s got great legs, so why shouldn’t she? And that is the crux of the matter.

If you look good in something and it makes you feel good about yourself, then why not? Age is only a number, and I’ve seen some 40 and 50 year-olds look and dress a far sight better than girls half their age. This is because by the time you reach middle-age you generally feel more comfortable in your own skin.

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By this age you should also know what does and doesn’t suit you. Like me, you’ve probably tested out every fashion disaster going. From perms to puffball skirts and leg-warmers to ra-ra skirts, I’ve seen it all, and no, I didn’t look good in any of it (particularly the leg warmers).

Instead, I buy clothes not only to suit my taste but also my body shape. From designer to second-hand vintage stores, I scour them all, because I’m old enough and grown up enough to shop wherever the heck I like.

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