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Age shall not wither her trendiness

Whether a trend is right or wrong for a woman in her fifties is all in the mind, says Rebecca Furbank

Why is it that one woman aged 50 can look fantastic in a short leather skirt and biker boots, and another like someone who should know better? Is there an age when one should walk away from true fashion for a wardrobe of wool, flannel and comfortable shoes, or is it possible to be fashionable through the decades?

That a woman in her fifties can look great in a leather skirt and biker boots surely shows that it is possible to stay fashionable despite your age. Does figure play a part? Undoubtedly. If you have a slim, fit, athletic physique then the years seem to be reduced, clothes fit better and the opportunities for what you can wear are far greater.

Does environment play a part? It has to. What someone would wear in Padstow in Cornwall would be far removed from what a London city dweller might wear. The fashion element would have been toned down from the catwalks so much that by the time it reached the coast of Cornwall it would be unrecognisable. So a 50-year-old could get away with far more in the throng of the UK cities than a country girl.

But would every physically fit, slimly built, city-dwelling 50-year-old wear leggings and Pucci print smock tops? The answer is no. Therefore it must be a mental thing, related to how the individual feels inside. So it's not the actual age, but the mental age. Leggings and Pucci print tops may be a step too far for most 50-year-olds, but there's no reason why a toned-down version cannot be acceptable if you feel OK in it.

Staying on top of the fashion trends as the years progress comes naturally to very few individuals. More often it comes to those who lead fashion trends. Madonna is a shining example. She's not yet 50, but she is the trendsetter for flicked hair, leotards and leggings.

Undoubtedly it gets harder to make informed fashion decisions as you grow older. My glamorous fellow director Annie, who in her fifties has a body many women would give their right arm for, has asked me several times if something she is wearing is too young for her.

It reminds me of an occasion in a previous career when, after a 'team building day', the group were invited to a party with the theme "Come as you aren't". I stuffed a cushion up my top and arrived "seven months pregnant". I stood at the bar and was tapped on the shoulder by a handsome guy who asked if he could buy me a drink. When I turned around the shock on his face was a picture.

I guess the same applies to fashion. Is it too young for me? A more blunt way of putting it is: "Does the face fit the outfit?"

Wool, flannel and comfortable shoes aside, whatever your age I believe that you can follow trends as long as they fit your physique, your environment and your attitude.

- Rebecca Furbank is a partner in womenswear store Anne Furbank in Buckden in Cambridgeshire.

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