How to look effortlessly cool in your fifties
Streetwear might sound like something for your twenties. But even the edgiest of labels and trends can have something for everyone, finds Fiona Golfar
The other day I found myself lying to my 19-year-old daughter Molly. I had been meeting a friend in her early 30s
– I am in my mid 50s. We had dropped into Liberty together as I needed to pee. Anyway, the Ladies happens to be situated next to the shoe department, and I came out to find her trying on what looked like the most “comfy” pair of trainers I’ve seen in ages. Now, I don’t really know or care about cool trainers; it always seems to me to be an area of expertise too far. But I did note that these were by Raf Simons. My first thought was that they might be really good for my back: it’s bad, and I do wear trainers a lot – I just don’t much care who they’re by. I tried a pair on. Heaven, I felt like
I did in the Seventies when I wore my first Kickers: like I was walking on air. I bought them immediately. I wore them out of the shop and floated home in them.
When my daughter got home that evening she zoomed in on my feet like a heat-seeking missile before she’d even got her coat off, and said, “Where did you get those?” “What do you mean?” I asked, feeling a bit nervous.
“Well, aren’t those the Adidas x Raf Simons trainers?” she asked in that way that poured scorn on the very notion that I should have parted with money for something I have no right to be wearing at my age. “Julia was sent a pair and they were too big for her so she gave them to me…” I lied. Julia works in fashion and is always being gifted lovely things because she, unlike me, is young and cool.
Not too long after this narrow escape, I read a piece online on
Business of Fashion about Virgil Abloh, the fashion designer who has worked with Kanye West’s brand Yeezy and whose own label Off-white is doing extremely well. I don’t know the brand very well so I went on to Matchesfashion.com to investigate. Less than 90 minutes later a pair of high-rise wide-leg black and white checked basket-weave trousers were delivered to my front door. If that is new world education married to shopping experience, then I’m all for it. I loved the trousers, and they looked really good with my trainers.
That night Molly and I were watching TV together. “Nice trousers, mum.” I thanked her cautiously. “Where are they from?” she asked. “Oh, just this brand I’ve discovered called Off-white,” I muttered. “You’re wearing streetwear!” she laughed.
I had no idea. Streetwear or not, it seemed classic and comfortable to me.
The truth is I’m more comfortable both psychologically and physically in the clothes I’m describing than I am in, say, a flowery Gucci dress or the lovely green ruffled numbers that are in the window of H&M as I walk past at the moment. I don’t want to look “pretty”: I find it ageing. In many ways, I seem to have returned to the way I dressed in the Nineties when my gods were Helmut Lang, Comme des Garçons and Ann Demeulemeester. Then, I wore black suits with T-shirts and trainers for almost a decade. I have kept every piece of them and recently have been wearing a lot of them again.
My palette has become subtler; I am wearing grey, black, khaki and caramel tones where I would have
worn all black in the past. And this time it’s a looser sportier feel, so I might pair some well-cut trousers with a silky Adidas hoodie. This current trend for a more masculine silhouette is really appealing to me. The last time I put a flowery dress on I felt blowsy and, thank you very much but I don’t want to show my chest. I don’t care how good my skin still is or isn’t, it just looks ageing to me.
I have also noticed a shift in my beauty routine: no longer blow drying my hair, having longer and darker roots. The less I faff the less faffed I look, and I feel more comfortable that way. My make-up routine is about having clean, healthy-looking skin.
If I give more attention to anything, it’s cleansing and the application of regular masks and serums. Although I have a lot of skirts I have abandoned all my heels, partly because they just represent “sore lower back”, and partly because I prefer to wear skirts either with trainers or a pair of Church’s Chelsea boots or lace-up brogues.
The other thing that I’ve noticed is that there seems to be a bit of wardrobe raiding going on in our house. Not, as one would expect, between Molly and me – nothing to do with the fact that she is about 10 sizes smaller than me. I have found myself hankering after my 22-year-old son Joe’s wardrobe. He has a black oversized nylon jacket with SECURITY written across the back of it in fat white letters (no one seems to know where it comes from) that I keep pinching.
It looks great with a pair of black J.w.anderson wide-legged pinstripe trousers and a big Zara hoodie – they have a great selection this season. I find that far from feeling stupid and mutton dressed as lamb in these clothes, I feel comfortable, and there is a modern classicism to them.
Not long ago I was in LA and my very cool goddaughter took me to Silverlake, the home of the hipsters. We went to an Army and Navy surplus store and I bought Joe a $40 parachute suit in crisp blue cotton. He was having none of it. So I rolled up the hems and wore it myself. I was hooked. Am I too old to be dressing like this? Hell no, I’m just getting into my very comfy stride!
As the days are getting longer and colder, I’ve found myself falling in love with an oversized black pea coat at H&M with fabulous red silk lining and red stitching on the buttonholes. It works with everything I’m wearing and I’m obsessed by it. But when I went to wear it yesterday, I found that Joe had pinched it. Fair enough, I thought.
Right: Fiona wears jumpsuit from an Army & Navy surplus store in Silverlake, LA; Margaret Howell belt;
Adidas x Raf Simons trainers
Noah at Dover Street Market utility jacket; Chloe trousers; Adidas x Raf Simons trainers
Below: vintage Helmut Lang blazer; JW Anderson trousers; Comme Des Garçons Play at Dover Street Market top; Adidas x Raf Simons trainers
Far right: Urban Outfitters puffa jacket; Uniqlo roll neck; Alltimers at Dover Street Market T-shirt
All jewellery Fiona’s own