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Katie Trotter: on dressing your age

M's fashion expert stresses using your common sense in your choice of clothes.

Predictable. Appropriate. Both rotten old words tied up with age and fashion but all too palatable all the same.

It often occurs in a single moment - when grim realisation swoops in and claws at our last days of youth, finalising the fact that we can't get away with a vague age any more, no matter how many downward dogs or inward 360 planks we do. It's simply time to be a grown-up. From our teens through to our 30s, things were simpler, of course. Clothes were meant to be fun - a means of expression, a last-ditch offering of a carefree world before we entered the large and murky pool of uncertainty. Fashion simply got less interested in us after 40. It was time to hang up the boots and hand over the keys.

Then came Mary Portas, the British leading retail consultant who has made it a personal mission to champion the older woman's clothing industry. "It's not an age thing - it's a grown-up thing," her catchy mantra points out.

Whatever it is, it's a clever money-churning machine. Her age-appropriate collection - aimed at a much neglected market, if we compare it to plus-size or maternity - is available online at House of Fraser and almost guaranteed to clean up. Why? It's the thrill of the quick fix, and some honest hand-to-mouth guidance through the fashion minefield. We simply can't pass up such a gimmick.

Promising to eradicate the dreaded mutton-mirror moments for good, Portas has designed nearly half of the range herself to run alongside better known brands such as Whistles and Max Mara. But it's the pieces such as the "armery" (an arm stocking designed to sculpt bingo wings) and the "no brainer" dress (that will take decades off) that will make fools of the best of us.

"Hooray!" you will cry. "We have been saved!" you will chant. As I, ever the spoilsport, will sit back and sigh. You see, rule No. 1 when it comes to age-appropriate dress is - there are no rules. Instead of gimmicks, look to brands such as Marni, Lanvin (which cut the world's most flattering sleeve) and Dries van Noten (the master of the cropped jacket), all of which perfectly provide the correct form of camouflage.

What we really have to look at is size and cut, not age. Common sense should tell us that if there isn't enough fabric to sit on, then the skirt is not suitable. Too jazzy a fabric and you're obviously in some sort of crisis. You know all this.

My rule of thumb: look around you and listen. If all the young folk are still in bed or the music playing is a little "shouty", your time is imminent.



This week's highs and lows

NADINE LABAKI The Lebanese star is the new face of Hoss Intropia.

FASHION MOVES Rumour has it that New York Fashion Week will be moving yet again, this time to Hudson Yards.

VINTAGE PRINTS Versace is reviving its classic silk printed shirt. Pair with ripped-up jeans and a trilby and you're good to go.

BOOT WORRIES Yes, thigh-high boots are in, but how are we meant to wear them when they barely fit our calves?

SHOE BIBLE We are all over Christian Louboutin's new book release.

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