One of the things I love most about blogging is that I never know what it will throw up next. A couple of weeks ago I was suddenly offered the opportunity to have afternoon tea with Twiggy. It was short notice – I’d just got home from London and it meant me turning round to go straight back down again but I couldn’t resist. I always welcome the chance to pick the brains of an older woman and I was keen to know more about one of our most enduring style icons.
It was an early start and when I opened the curtains I saw snow… lots of snow. Yes it was the day when the whole of the UK was covered by a whiteout but I was determined it wouldn’t deter me. In fact I was so determined that I arrived at the hotel in Knightsbridge two hours early so I had a long time to wait and wonder what Twiggy would be like. I spent a lot of time with celebrities at events or on shoots during my years at Selfridges and the one thing I learned was that you never know what to expect. Some of the people who seem so charming on screen still make my toes curl when I see them (the stories I could tell) whereas others make me smile to this day. So hearing Twiggy laughing her way through her interviews as I sat outside the meeting room was a relief.
Unfortunately, our session was the last of the day and by that time, the snow was coming down thick and fast. Twiggy’s car had to be called early and so with only a short time to chat I had to think fast… what could I glean from her that hadn’t been said before?
Take the lucky breaks, follow your instinct
As you would expect, I was hoping to get her to focus on her life after 40 but interestingly, she was very clear that she saw her path as a linear one. She will be 70 next year and so starting at 40 would mean telling her story from the middle. As she chatted away explaining how one thing led to another, I gathered that she sees her life as a series of lucky breaks and instinctive choices:
- At school she loved clothes and wanted to be a fashion designer so in her teens she focused hard on making her own clothes and creating a ‘look’ (instinctive choice)
- Her hairdresser asked to photograph her look so that he could display it on the walls of his salon. A journalist from The Daily Express went to the same salon, saw the picture and launched her modelling career (lucky break)
- Her career flew and she not only modelled but starred in film, TV and on Broadway but after having her daughter in 1978, she wanted to spend time with her at home and so she did (instinctive choice)
- Just as she was starting to think about relaunching her career, she received a call from Italian Vogue who wanted her to model for them. After seeing her there, British retailers started using her in their ad campaigns (lucky break)
- This gave her contacts in retail and an opportunity to pursue her original love of fashion design by creating collections with some of them (instinctive choice)
Now, she believes her life has come full circle to the point where she had originally hoped to begin: fashion design. Twiggy’s message to midlife women is that it is never too late to achieve your ambitions but you have to capitalise on the opportunities that life throws in your path. By working with retailers, she is fulfilling a lifelong dream and also doing it on her own terms. She is determined to spend as much time as she can with her family, especially her granddaughter and the roles that she has carved enable her to do that. Twiggy makes it clear that although she has had lucky breaks along the way, she has also had to work hard to drive her career in the direction she wanted to go.
And ideally isn’t that what a lot of us want the second half of our lives to be about? Collating all of the experience that we have gained and harnessing it by doing something that fulfils us?
Is now a good time to be a woman over 40?
I asked her if she felt it was a good time to be a woman over 40 and her answer was that there’s never been a better one. In her view, once you’re through the menopause you find that your confidence just grows and grows. She has found it liberating. She says that these days, if she has an idea she just goes for it, knowing that the worst that can happen is that someone might say ‘no.’ She pointed out that people do say ‘no’ to her but when that happens, it doesn’t floor her, she just moves on.
The only shadow that she lives under is one that we will all be familiar with and that is the loss of people that have been an important part of our lives. She says that grief is an ongoing factor for her and that she misses not just friends and family but also some of the amazing people that she has worked with over the years who are now no longer around. In her view, you simply have to accept that living with grief is part of growing older.
Twiggy’s latest collection
And with that we moved on to talk about her personal style (boyish with a feminine twist) and look at the latest glasses that she has designed for her Aurora range at Specsavers.
She explained that at the core of her collection are a selection of new classic black and tortoiseshell frames in the shapes that she believes to be the most universally flattering. She has also introduced colour with blue and red frames for the first time.
A key consideration for her when she is designing is weight. She feels it is important that glasses are light to wear and so the range also includes the ‘barely there’ aluminium designs that I am wearing here. The range of sunglasses includes a classic aviator style as worn here by Twiggy and available in the full range of prescription lenses.
The star of her collection is the new day to night frame which has a detachable diamanté trim that clips on if you are dressing up for the evening.
Specsavers kindly allowed me to choose two pairs of glasses from the Aurora Collection. I was slightly stunned to find out that my prescription had changed after only nine months, giving Mr MC and the boys more fuel for their theory that I spend too much time reading. I decided I had better opt for one pair of reading glasses and one pair of prescription sunglasses. Here I am trying them out as soon as I had collected them.
I so often wear red and navy together that I was instantly drawn to the ruby frames that I featured above.
Even though I still only need glasses for reading, I now wear them for such a large part of the day that it’s great to have a selection of different styles and colours for different outfits. Glasses are an investment but I suppose you can view them in the same way as shoes. They add oomph to your outfit and on a cost per wear basis you usually get good value out of them – so it’s worth having a few different pairs.
And here are the sunglasses, they’re my second prescription pair. I’ve always fancied a pair of aviator style frames but I’ve never found any to suit me. Somehow these seem to work, the frames seem to be slightly smaller than usual.
Both pairs are certainly the lightest glasses I’ve ever worn so Twiggy has really achieved something there. They’ll be so much lighter to wear in summer…. assuming the sun makes an appearance soon.
Back in London, I could happily have listened to Twiggy’s stories all evening but sadly her car arrived to whisk her off through the snow. And I headed off on an ‘interesting’ journey home… but at least I had plenty to reflect on. Although she is clear that time with her family is what she values the most, there are no signs of Twiggy’s career slowing down. She is brimming with energy and ideas. In fact I found it invigorating to spend time with someone who, as she approaches 70, is asking “what’s next?” Not only is she an enduring style icon but she is also an inspiration. Go Twiggy!
You can read more about Twiggy’s new range and watch a video of her sharing her key style tips here.
Disclosure: ‘Inspiring thoughts from a style icon’ is a post in collaboration with Specsavers however my interview with Twiggy was not directed by them in any way.
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