‘They say I’m an old lady who doesn’t give a damn, and that’s sexy’

In an age ob­sessed with youth, Sarah Jane Adams, 61, tells Bev­er­ley Had­graft how she’s man­aged to be­come a style icon to thou­sands

Sunday Herald Sun - Body and Soul - - MY STORY -

“Is­tarted my In­sta­gram page @sara­mai­jew­els three years ago to pro­mote my jew­ellery busi­ness. I’d just set my­self a goal of 300 fol­low­ers when I came down­stairs wear­ing a red vin­tage Adi­das jacket my daugh­ter, Olivia, had bought me and a pic­ture of it at­tracted a cou­ple of smart-arse com­ments on­line.

Why do peo­ple think they can do that?, I thought, and I got my hus­band, Dave, to take a photo of my­self out­side our in­ner-Syd­ney home look­ing p-ssed off. I posted it on In­sta­gram and wrote: So far to­day I’ve been told I look like some­one from Grease and Dorothy from The Wiz­ard of Oz and it’s only 10[am].

Then my other daugh­ter, Tash, rang. ‘Mum, what do you think about what I’ve done?’ she asked.

She had re­posted my photo with the hash­tags ‘My mother’s cooler than me’, and ‘Ad­vanced style’.

Ari Seth Co­hen, creator of the blog (now a book and film) Ad­vanced Style, had seen it and wanted to pho­to­graph me. Then Adi­das re­posted my shot with the hash­tag: ‘Orig­i­nal­ity is time­less’.

JEW­ELS IN THE CROWN

Since then, @sara­mai­jew­els has gone crazy – I’ve cur­rently got 62,000 fol­low­ers – and I’ve posted pho­tos of my­self wear­ing a va­ri­ety of colour­ful, un­con­ven­tional out­fits in all parts of the globe. They con­tinue to in­clude Adi­das, not be­cause they pay me, but be­cause they’re colour­ful, time­less, prac­ti­cal and stop me look­ing like a sad old hippy.

It’s be­come a daily di­ary, al­most a ther­apy. I love the vis­ual side of com­pos­ing pho­to­graphs and the ther­a­peu­tic side of putting se­cret mes­sages in the pic­tures.

I don’t like be­ing called a fash­ion icon. I’m an anti-fash­ion icon. I find the pres­sure to keep up with fash­ion alien. I al­ways have. I went from school uni­form to jumble sale and thrift shop finds. I never go to shop­ping cen­tres or de­part­ment stores. Although I sell jew­ellery, I rarely wear it.

It’s too mean­ing­ful or valu­able and I’m not in­ter­ested in wear­ing rub­bish that looks like a weapon of mass de­struc­tion.

I don’t wear heels, I don’t own a ful­l­length mir­ror and I’ve never worn a bra be­cause there isn’t one small enough.

I don’t try to be age­less. I’m fine be­ing 61. It’s like money – I’ve learnt through busi­ness that money’s just a com­mod­ity to al­low you to do things. Age is just some­thing you are, so deal with it.

I can’t cope with peo­ple who have cos­metic surgery and put rub­bish in their hair. Age­ing grace­fully is age­ing as you are, not with a face that looks as if it will melt as soon as you go out in the sun­shine.

In fact, I cre­ated the ‘my wrinkles are my stripes’ hash­tag after I was bus­tled into a shop in Syd­ney’s city cen­tre (I mis­tak­enly thought it was a jew­ellery shop) where a girl started dab­bing creams on my face.

‘This gets rid of your wrinkles for a week,’ she said and I leapt out of my seat. ‘No, no no! I love my wrinkles,’ I replied.

AT­TI­TUDE TO BOOT

Equally I’m not ob­sessed with weight.

I own no scales, no tape mea­sure and none of my clothes have sizes in them. All these things are what give me my sense of free­dom and the courage to do crazy sh-t.

I prac­tise yoga but I eat what­ever I want. I never eat low-fat. I don’t eat red meat or sugar and I pre­fer or­ganic when I can but I’m not hung up about it.

That’s not to say I ig­nore age­ing. I sold my fam­ily home and got rid of most of the con­tents be­cause I don’t want my daugh­ters to have to clean up after me when I’m gone. There’s so much anx­i­ety in get­ting rid of par­ents’ things. We’ve been sold this story of how there’s se­cu­rity in hav­ing stuff but it’s sim­ply not true.

On a visit to New York, I was be­sieged by fash­ion­istas and stylists. ‘How do you get so many fol­low­ers?’ they kept ask­ing.

‘I have no clue,’ I replied hon­estly. The next morn­ing I posted a photo of my­self with my face red from its daily ex­fo­li­a­tion and asked: “Why are you fol­low­ing me?”

There were many replies.

‘You make age­ing look like some­thing to be ex­cited about and at ease with.’

‘I’ve been feel­ing the pull to break free of the tiny box I’ve put my­self in. You make me want buy noth­ing but bright colours.’

‘You’re an old lady who doesn’t give a damn. That’s so sexy and makes me look for­ward to con­struct­ing my own def­i­ni­tion of age.’

I’ve been of­fered lots of busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties. I’ve said no to most be­cause I didn’t want to go there or sell that and be­cause I fear age has be­come a sales tech­nique, the new ‘heroin chic’.

How­ever, I have just filmed a cam­paign for a Euro­pean de­part­ment store, signed as an am­bas­sador for the Grey Model Agency, and been in­vited to be guest of hon­our at the wed­ding of a woman who dances on ice­bergs and is mar­ry­ing an Inuit. I wouldn’t miss that one for quids!

We’re all given op­por­tu­ni­ties in life, we just have to de­cide which ones al­low us to re­main our au­then­tic selves.”

“To me, age­ing grace­fully is age­ing as you are, not with a face that looks as if it will melt as soon as you go out in the sun­shine.”

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