10 In Beauty/ Substance

Beauty and Age

These phrases annoy me: ‘Ageless Beauty’, ‘Timeless Beauty’, ‘Anti-ageing’, ‘Age-proof’, as if ageing is a terrible thing.  It happens.  And as we know, ageing certainly beats the alternative!  Maybe I am only paying attention to this now that I am writing the blog, but I think things are changing.  Media and beauty companies are realising that women want to see someone THEIR OWN AGE or even older in an ad or magazine.  Personally, I feel great admiration and inspiration when I see a beautiful and/or stylish woman who is much older than I am.  I went to a party in Mallorca a few months ago where  in a room of 150 people of all ages, one woman was the centre of everyone’s attention.  Why? She was exquisite, poised, and Stylish. She was also in her 70’s.  I’ll do a photo shoot and blog post on her when I go to Mallorca next, I promise. I’ve already warned her!  Back to my observations…

The current November Issue of Elle magazine in the US features eight different covers of Hollywood stars.  Four of those are over 40; Jennifer Garner (42) Tina Fey (44) Annette Benning (56) and Jessica Lange (65). That’s really something! Especially for youth-obsessed Hollywood and the magazine industry.




I’m sure you’ve seen Charlotte Rampling (69) as the face of the recent Nars Audacious Lipstick campaign.


And Brooke Shields (49) in the MAC campaign she fronted inspired by her unique look.


Karen Walker, a fashionista’s favourite sunglasses designer, used the ladies from Advanced Style (if you have not seen the book or documentary, you must) for her 2013 eyewear collection. I adore this photo of Joyce Carpati (82) from the campaign.

karen walker sunglasses

Just this month, Helen Mirren (69) became the brand ambassador for L’oreal in the UK.  I was pleased to see that she insisted in her contract that her images aren’t retouched.  In the press announcement, Helen said “I am not gorgeous, I never was, but I was always OK looking and I’m keen to stay that way.”  That is a message everyone can relate to (and clever marketing, bravo L’oreal). In summer 2015, the brand ambassador role will go to Tilda Swinton (54), so this is clearly a formula L’oreal wants to stick with.


Iris Apfel (93) is showing everyone how it is done. In January of 2012 she inspired the Iris Apfel Rare Bird range with MAC (which nearly sold out before it was even stocked) and last month she collaborated with &Other Stories to help the Scandinavian store launch in New York.   Who better to introduce a new brand to New Yorkers than their own native Icon of Style and beauty?


So.  What is happening here?  Now that the media has collectively decided that beauty can be of all colours and nationalities, are they figuring out that it can also be of all ages?  It is a joy to see beauty companies using older women to sell fun, colourful makeup products rather than just anti-aging creams with pseudoscientific ingredients, or hair dyes to cover the greys.  The formula usually seems to go as follows: When your film career dries up because you are too old to play the damsel-in-distress or girl-meets-boy roles, you front a campaign for L’oreal or Olay as your airbrushed self tells the world that they are worth it and to fight ageing every step of the way.  Poor Katie Holmes has entered this phase a decade early, currently fronting campaigns for Olay and Bobbie Brown, because that is what happens when you marry and then divorce an Operating Thetan.  It takes TEN YEARS off of your life, people!  Scientology is dangerous like that.

Maybe advertisers are figuring out that if you are older, you might have savings and some disposable income that could be spent on nice products.  Now at 45, if I want a pair of gorgeous shoes, I buy them, and I can still afford to eat.  When I was in my 20’s in New York and bought a pair of gorgeous shoes, I lived on bagels three meals a day for the rest of the month.  As the population of the Western world gets older and has fewer children, the demographics change;  more older people, less younger people.  The older segment of the population is living longer and retirement age is increasing.  I think  advertisers are finally waking up to this; there is a large market of healthy, vital, older women who have places to go and money to spend. No matter what your age,  you want to look great at your office, with your family at home, and with your friends when you’re out.  I realise I’m dangerously close to using that annoying advertising phrase ‘Timeless Beauty’, but this shift in the way women over 40, 50, and 60 are being presented in the media shows that Beauty doesn’t have an expiry date, and we are all free to go on being gorgeous for as long as we like.

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  • Reply
    Jan Sugar
    November 23, 2014 at 4:32 AM

    This one is music to my ears. It’s About Time, non?

    • Reply
      November 23, 2014 at 9:25 AM

      Indeed Jan 😉

  • Reply
    December 25, 2014 at 1:18 AM

    I see far more character in my face, and more of the bone structure, than I ever have before in my life, and I’m happy about that. I also wear less makeup than ever before, and am fine with that, too. Age isn’t scaring me yet…..but ask me again when I’m 60, instead of almost-45… 🙂

    • Reply
      December 26, 2014 at 11:12 AM

      It is a good feeling to be happy about your age, Terri. The media tries to make us dread it and fight it rather than celebrate it and enjoy where we are.

  • Reply
    October 8, 2016 at 8:40 AM

    Sing it sister!
    Slowly but surely – Still I noticed an ad for Loreal hair colour to cover greys was modelled by a 12 year old GRRR
    Great post Lisa thank you.

    • Reply
      October 8, 2016 at 10:51 PM

      WHAT???!! Thanks, Michelle! xx

  • Reply
    October 26, 2016 at 9:20 PM

    I’m so happy to see 40+ women being featured in fashion…. just because we’re “aging” doesn’t mean we’re giving up. We enjoy fashion and beauty just as much as the younger ladies. Great post! Love your style!

    • Reply
      October 27, 2016 at 6:15 AM

      Thank you so much, Tren. I completely agree with your sentiments; style never ages! xx

  • Reply
    November 30, 2016 at 5:06 PM

    I don’t know why we can ‘t say “she looks great” without adding – “for her age.” It always seems so damning!

    • Reply
      November 30, 2016 at 10:22 PM

      I couldn’t agree more! xx

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