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Live webchat with Mary Portas on Monday 10 May (1-2pm). PLUS, if you're over 40, a chance to take part in her next C4 series

(327 Posts)
HelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 06-May-10 10:11:03

Retail guru and television presenter Mary Portas will be joining us for a live webchat on Monday 10 May from 1-2pm to discuss shopping, style and her brand new fashion crusade for women over 40.

As a mother of two, Mary juggles a television career and writing a weekly shop review column in the Telegraph with running Yellowdoor, her successful retail-branding and communications agency.

Mary's about to start filming a new Channel 4 TV series that will follow her quest to fill the gap in the fashion market for fabulous, forty-plus women.

She particularly wants to know:

* Do you think your fashion needs are served by high-street retailers?

* When you shop for fashion, is it as fun and easy an experience as it was when you were younger or do you find it a trial?

* Is there a brand on the high street that gives you what you want?

* What are the brands that are failing you?

* Would you rather see a picture of a woman your own age marketing the brands you buy or are you happy to see youthful, perfect faces?

Mary knows shops and shopping better than anyone and she'll be ready to answer all of your shopping quandaries, from where to find the best service to where to shop for the best one-offs.

Television cameras will be following Mary as she takes part in the live webchat. Your comments may be used in the television show but we won't identify you.

As part of the television series, Mary is also looking for opinionated women who will be part of her focus group, advising her on anything from where to buy the best-fitting dress to road-testing whole fashion collections.

This will involve a number of days filming in London over the next six months and will cover travel expenses for these days.

If you're interested in being involved please email maryportas@optomen.com with your name, your MN nickname, your contact details and why you think you should be part of the show.

Thanks, MNHQ

WilfSellOut Thu 06-May-10 16:49:25

God, I totally WORSHIP Mary Portas and want to be her. And a splendid idea for a programme. Not sure I want to be on telly though, although having lost two stone, could do with a bit of a brisk shake-over by a fashhag.

sfxmum Thu 06-May-10 16:59:38

oh I like her she can do bitch with class that is a compliment

WilfSellOut Thu 06-May-10 17:00:32

Actually, what I'd like even more than having Mary shake my wardrobe out, is a Portas v Cod standoff.

Like Celebrity Deathmatch. But with Prada gimp masks.

sfxmum Thu 06-May-10 17:01:00

and as someone over 40 shopping for clothes is a pain all so samey and badly targeted just don't get why retailers seem to think that only the youth market is worth their while

sfxmum Thu 06-May-10 17:01:38

LOL at Prada gimp masks

SparkyMalarky Thu 06-May-10 17:25:25

I love Mary too. I'd especially love to know where she gets her hair cut!

LoveBeingAHungParliament Thu 06-May-10 17:32:23

I love mary and will go away and think of my question.

Fimbo Thu 06-May-10 17:43:23

Oh good. She looks sooooo like my hairdresser.

I don't mind Kew or White Stuff but it's all pretty samey. I don't want to be wearing a top that 20 other mothers my age at the school will be wearing though.

BigBadMummy Thu 06-May-10 17:51:24

Mary Mary


No, the High Street does not cater to my fashion needs. I am a fattie curvy lady and everything in Evans is poorly made / tent like or short sleeved (have you seen my bingo wings?). Or M&S is frumpy.

So I have to buy stuff on line. Which I can't try on and is hardly "on trend".

So I end up in black and stuff that fits rather than the colours I should wear (autumn colours of greens / mustards etc) or stuff that suits me.

Would love love love some help with finding a new wardrobe.

Will cancel all plans so I can be in the same internet space as Mary "the God" Portas.

squeaver Thu 06-May-10 18:13:21


Back later to respond in full but she MUST have an old ducker from S&B on!

Not me, mind you. Where's Cyb? Bet she'll do it.

squeaver Thu 06-May-10 18:14:19

Lolol. Bloody iPhone. Obviously I mean old Fucker

ahundredtimes Thu 06-May-10 18:16:24

Oh good, I love Mary Portas.

The only brand I like at the minute is Comptoir de Cotonniers - but they're NOT high street prices. However, shopping there is good and it is fun and I like the clothes v much indeed. They are well cut, not frumpy, fashionable without being try too hard to pretend I'm twenty. And they don't show loads, so don't have to wade through stuff. But ££££

Hobbs - too officey and frumpy and I might as well die. White Stuff - too young. Top Shop - not suitably fashionable to walk in there with confidence and convince myself the jacket is working on a 41 -y-old. Ditto H&M and French Connection. Jigsaw - I liked for a while, but like C d C expensive, and the clothes fall apart, and they used to have nice twists but now are a bit 'unusual tunic' M&S - you have to look hard and I hate the shops because they depress me and I might come away with elasticated trousers if I don't concentrate.

I'm unloading. Now I've read Helen's OP and I'm wondering whether she actually wants all these answers now? grin blush

ahundredtimes Thu 06-May-10 18:21:36

Oh - and I quite like Cos too.

SelkirkGrace Thu 06-May-10 18:27:17

Well as someone who is almost 40,6ft tall and fluctuates between and 18 and a 16, I fins it hard to buy clothes that aren't too short, too frumpy or too tight. i can get jeans and torusers ok, but have a serious problem with affordable top half things that are fashionable. being tall, big and 40 (almost) does not mean I don't like to look good
I have a health problem, and have also started to get fitter and lose a bit of weight, and ant to revamp my wardrobebut cannot find anything anywhere!!
I do not think high street retailers cater to my needs, yes many do a tall range but its either up to size 14 only or not quite tall enough

WilfSellOut Thu 06-May-10 18:32:11

The dilemmas I have shopping are many. Too fat, though less than recently, to shop in the shops I used to love. And now too old probably. I would have lived in Reiss and Karen Millen and French Connection were I not too fat from having too many babies in my 30s. I basically have lived in Florence and Fred grin for ten bloody years. And I LOVE fashion, despite all my <ahem> femmo right-on credentials. And now I'm in my 40s, it is impossible to find clothes grown-up enough AND that fit (I'm now a rounded 16, aiming for a 12-14) AND that are in the right cost/taste bracket. I'd love to buy a wonderful sculptured dress, or marvellous dramatic tailoring, like yours Mary, and wear it with tights and big jewellery and heels (except for the killer bunions obv...] but a. with three kids and a mahoosive mortgage I can't afford more than the upmarket end of the high street on a regular basis; and b. oops, wrong size, and c. where, exactly, do I shop?

But I think the bigger issue is that having children and putting on weight somehow 'demolishes' ones style thing, and so all these women rock up in their 40s and just stand looking dazed into the glittery lights. And instead of having a go they retreat to disengage. God, I used to love clothes. And now I have no idea who I am, fashionwise...

RubysReturn Thu 06-May-10 19:33:15

I'll happily give an opinion, but would rather eat my own head than be in formal focus group.

* Do you think your fashion needs are served by high-street retailers?

* When you shop for fashion, is it as fun and easy an experience as it was when you were younger or do you find it a trial?

More limited - hate disposable clothes such as Primark and supermarket brands. I like things that are cut to accommodate womanly figures, and bra straps

* Is there a brand on the high street that gives you what you want? Mostly Phase 8, Gap and Fat Face

* What are the brands that are failing you?
All of the others!

* Would you rather see a picture of a woman your own age marketing the brands you buy or are you happy to see youthful, perfect faces?
Not sure - I feel equally inadaquete when gorgous well maintained 40 year olds frolic in dry clean only garments and heels.

OurLadyOfPerpetualSupper Thu 06-May-10 19:45:11

Ooh can't wait for this - even more the series.

Was just lamenting this very thing with friends yesterday - it's not that there aren't things out there, it's just you have to troll endlessly round so many shops to find One Thing that fits and suits you and doesn't make you look like a)mutton b)frumpy c)your granny d)try-hard.

And if you live in the sticks it's even worse.

So, does her 'quest to fill a gap in the market' mean she'll be bringing out her own range any time soon?

Fimbo Thu 06-May-10 20:20:47

I think Mary should look at the stick thin models in the Next catalogue. It's gross.

I want to see real women in clothes that fit.

Fimbo Thu 06-May-10 20:27:04

example, dress is hideous too.

sungirltan Thu 06-May-10 20:42:04

right then mary - i may not yet be 40 but i think becoming a mum has pigeon holed me into shopping at stores which arn't a nightmare with a pram but the clothes are too mumsy! example; next is a pram friendly shop but i bloody hate next - its so fashion watered down to a cosy level stuff euw. But....i also feel like i have outgrown topshop etc.

i know i can buy everything online but i don't because the trying on/deliberating part of the shopping experience is missing.

i absolutely do not feel my needs are met by the highstreet!

fishie Thu 06-May-10 20:49:02

i'd love to get more boutiquey stuff, the chains are so disappointing. all the shops are the bloody same whereever one goes or else hellish expensive.

it is useful to see a body inside the clothes. don't care how old they are.

SuSylvester Thu 06-May-10 20:58:03

HI mary
can you suggest outfits that dont involve dressing as if you live in london
sounds stupid but tbh most women dont wear dresses and 6 inch heels all day.

Earthstar Thu 06-May-10 21:02:26

I passionately love the Scandinavian labels, not really mainstream fashion, but they make over 40's look interesting and stylish and have good colours if you are of Scandinavian descent (ok going back a few hundred years).

Layering really us the key to looking good when your figure is less than perfect IMO and the scandis know this...

WilfSellOut Thu 06-May-10 21:03:14

Hey Su. What dya think of my Prada Gimp mask wrestling idea? wink

Earthstar Thu 06-May-10 21:08:13

I am not interested in how 6 ft skinny tall 16 year olds look in the clothes - I Am very interested in how women my own age and shape look in them and where shop assistants are my age and shape it really inspires me to buy the clothes that they look good in! It just makes picking things that will suit me so much easier!

SuSylvester Thu 06-May-10 22:37:22

oh yes am on for that

squeaver Thu 06-May-10 23:10:09

Oi Su! I live I'm London and don't wear dresses and heels every day.

Other than for the school run, obv.

OurLadyOfPerpetualSupper Thu 06-May-10 23:22:39

That's a good point re the London dressing - more power to those who can dress that way, but I must say that even when I lived there I didn't dress like that. < regrets >.

SuSylvester Fri 07-May-10 07:33:40

and the national obsession with " the winter coat"
fine if you are a commuting london based fashion wrtier but the rest of us A) use cars b) wear jackets c) have to cope wiht mud and kids

SuSylvester Fri 07-May-10 07:36:32

and while i am there <rantlock is firmly ON>
when the show workwear, i am thinking WHERE do these people work? you cannot wear half hte suggestions without being sacked or a laughing stock.
dont make us wear fancy dress.

also please refrain from saying killer heels, fierce, fashion forward or statement piece

SuSylvester Fri 07-May-10 07:37:57

how should hair and GLASSES change - reading what they said about scaninavian fashion where ALL women over 40 seem to have hair like Judi dench dyed beetroot with angular glasses, IS there such a thing as mutton hair wise

SuSylvester Fri 07-May-10 07:39:27

and why do shops not accept women may have breasts - make us all dress in smocks that make us look pG

OR that we dont wear sleevless dresses in the winter wtf is that about

chimchar Fri 07-May-10 10:07:52

i LOVE the way that mary dresses. in fact, she is super attractive, always looks well put together, fashionable and yet individual....<<creep!>>

i agree with everyone on here.

we don't all work in posh offices...but do need stylish, practical, easy to wash and dry clothes.

i want to look nice, feel nice, not be a slave to fashion, and yet look up to date etc...and yet, i am very consious of the mutton dressed as lamb thing going on...am only mid 30's!

i am a good curvy size 12, and struggle to fit in many trendy shop clothes, or come home after a fruitless trying on session feeling really bad about myself.

JulesJules Fri 07-May-10 10:58:26

I am nodding furiously. (Not a good look)

Sleeveless dresses WTF
Shorts as workwear WTF
Statement anything WTF
Killer anything WTF

BigTillyMint Fri 07-May-10 11:21:30

Do you think your fashion needs are served by high-street retailers? Yes

* When you shop for fashion, is it as fun and easy an experience as it was when you were younger or do you find it a trial?
It's not as fun because I would like to buy all the stuff for teenage girls, but I am waaaaaaay too old. I do find it more difficult to find clothes that still look fashionable without being mutton, but not impossible.

* Is there a brand on the high street that gives you what you want?
I buy from lots of different places.

* What are the brands that are failing you? If you mean where would I be unlikely to find anything suitable - Jigsaw used to be great 10 years ago. Now it is drab and over-priced

* Would you rather see a picture of a woman your own age marketing the brands you buy or are you happy to see youthful, perfect faces?
I'd like to see the full range of different ages and shapes of women in the shops / magazines representing the customers the shops are aiming their marketing at.

ChequeredFlag Fri 07-May-10 12:03:04

What are these Scandinavian brands, must hunt them down? I am not yet 40 so don't really qualify, but STILL feel failed by high street shops - either too cheap-looking and trendy, or too frumpy and boring.

DumpyOldWoman Fri 07-May-10 12:55:15

The thing I hate most about shopping is the whole changing room experience.

Firstly, in this day and age when it must be possible to develop a cheap scanning devic to prevent shoplifting, amd I restricted to 4 or 6 itmes in the changing room. I am a mature woman, I shop for a 'wardrobe' every so often, not a T shirt our shopping with froends every saturday morning. I want to try things on together, the same thing in 2 differnt sizes, not to be treated like someone who cannot be trusted, and to have to pop in and out of the cubicle in some humiliating state of undress or wearing something that doesn't suit or fit.

Secondly, I have been clothes shopping all my adult life. I do not need a teenager on commission to follow me around saying 'those are great, have you seen these, can I help?' and WORSE then hovering outside the changing room so that when I step out to get a view in a bigger mirror or from a distance, I get an unasked fo commentary on how it fits, or suits me or whatever. Especially when clearly not true. And I know how to get dressed, i do not need a teenager on commission to shout over the cubicle door when I am in my bra and pants 'are you all right in there?'. Jigsaw has suddenly become terrible for this.

I pick and choose from a range of shops: Jigsaw, Whistles, Kew, White Stuff, Gap, Cos, Mexx, Great Plains, Boden, Nicole Farhi (approx one item every 4 years!!), but find I can't carry off really budget clothes any more.

I am 5'7" - 5'8", size 12

Sweeedes Fri 07-May-10 13:08:15

OMG I adore Mary Portas.

MP Can you please tell me who cuts your hair, it always looks amazing?

InThisSequinBraYesYouOlaJordan Fri 07-May-10 13:13:49

* Do you think your fashion needs are served by high-street retailers?

I think the High Street is too dictated by the "latest" trend - and yes, I realise that that is it's raison d'etre, but I would LOVE to see a bit more acknowledgement that women in their 40s, and I am in this bracket, would often like classic tailoring (for want of a better phrase) - what I mean by that is a range of staples that are always available - well cut trousers, jeans that accept that we have had babies and yoyo dieted for the past 25 years, nice dresses for day and night etc. Whilst perusing the high street this very week, it struck me that so much of it is based on whatever's in that if you don't like that look, you're buggered - I remember when "boho" was in a few years back, I couldn't spend the money I wanted too. Similarly, I want some summer shoes that are not gladiator - it's nigh on impossible when you factor in the fact that I'm an 8 (shoe, not dress). Plus, just because something's in fashion, doesn't mean you actually can wear it - Evans, Ann Harvey etc, I'm looking at you, here - there are some looks that are NOT for the over size 14, so for goodness sake, concentrate on the flattering and tasteful rather than making handkerchief tops with halter necks in a size 30/32!!!

* When you shop for fashion, is it as fun and easy an experience as it was when you were younger or do you find it a trial?

In a sense, it is - the range available, despite my rantings above, is better than it was when I was in my teens and trying to shop for my burgeoning 16/18 size and feared I would have to wear those polyester print dresses from the market for old ladies. Plus, I am more comfortable in my skin, I'm more sure of what I like, and I'm a little bolder in my choices.

* Is there a brand on the high street that gives you what you want?

Not everything - I have to shop around. I like Planet, Wallis, Monsoon, Designers at Debenhams, and occasionally find a gem in M and S or Evans or Dorothy Perkins.

* What are the brands that are failing you?

No one's failing me, but I think Monsoon are going through a rough period right now

* Would you rather see a picture of a woman your own age marketing the brands you buy or are you happy to see youthful, perfect faces?

As I'm a size 18, I do see clothes modelled by women more my size in catalogues like Simply Be and La Redoute's Taillisme, it's definitely preferable. You need to see what something looks like on a real woman and I think it would be better for young girls too, who are just bombarded with the unattainable.

Looking forward to the chat Mary

CMOTdibbler Fri 07-May-10 14:02:46

I totally agree about workwear. It drives me insane that I don't think that it is too unreasonable to want to buy suits that are interesting without being high fashion (ie, you'll be able to wear them for a couple of years at least), come with a choice of trousers/skirt/dress (and the matching pieces are actually indicated, not like Next where they exist, but you can't tell online), and are practical to look after.
I also want to look at pieces that will not reveal my erogenous zones, or have my male colleagues transfixed.

I want to be able to go in and buy a really nice white shirt, that isn't boring (nice little touches such as 3/4 sleeves, pin tucks, nicely fitted with seaming), is good quality, and is real woman shaped - not lollipop with breast implants

SuSylvester Fri 07-May-10 16:34:12

yes there is a big gap from NExt to then REALLY £££ suits ( although kew are good for this)

i LIKE being helped in a changing room - i dont want to have to go back out half dressed.
i like the way americans "open up" changing rooms for you
they have heel in there ot pranc in to get hte effect etc

SuSylvester Fri 07-May-10 16:36:33

i just felt distraught in debenhams - mausoleaum of polyester - its where viscose goes to die i think

god all those deigner led things are jsut NASTY embellisments and frills and crap

tiktok Fri 07-May-10 17:22:40

I adore Mary, too - great idea for a webchat!

Love her hair.

Love the confidence she has to wear slightly off the wall clothes.

The brand I have found which I really like is Crea Concept but the prices are way outside my normal budget - my SIL (more money than me!) wears it, and told me about it. I have never actually bought anything in the range though.

I don't like the chain stores. M&S is hard work to find anything - hate the way it is organised with its daft multi-branding so you get tops, trousers, whatever in 10 different places in the store. I do buy the occasional nice thing there, though. I bought a sweater dress in a limited edition which I have worn and worn all winter. Next always looks cheap to me. I like Hobbs shoes but their other stuff is a bit boring. I have bought trousers there, though. Jigsaw is a bit dull, too, and I think their sizes are skimpy (I'm usually a 12 but their 12s are always too small).

OurLadyOfPerpetualSupper Fri 07-May-10 17:34:42

Yes America is a whole other experience.

Was in Las Vegas recently where the clothes I could afford were generally hideous, but in the shops for old gimmers more mature women you had an assistant patrolling the changing rooms, asking 'can I get more sizes for anyone?' 'how's my jeans lady doing?'

Too in your face for lots of Brits but at least you don't have to completely get dressed before scuttling out to get more sizes, worrying about your stuff left in the changing rooms.

tiktok Fri 07-May-10 17:55:09

I would love that, OurLady.

I find it so annoying to have to go into the changing room with a 10, a 12 and a 14 of everything.

When it's not busy, John Lewis assistants are helpful like this..not actually patrolling and yahoo'ing though.

squeaver Fri 07-May-10 18:17:16

I agree with a lot of what has already been said, especially about changing rooms and the whole "work wardrobe" nonsense - although that is more to do with fashion media than retailers.

I do enjoy shopping but as I've get older I've become more comfortable in my body and very aware of what my "problem" areas are. I know what suits me and I know what to avoid e.g I have broad shoulders so for a few years couldn't get a jacket because of those puffy "mutton" shoulder bits.

At the same time, I love fashion, enjoy colour, like the way a great outfit can make me more confident and feel more youthful. In fact having been in my 20s in the power-dressing 80s, I now dress younger than I did 20 years ago!

So do I feel my needs are served by the high street? Not always no. I want to shop in Top Shop and Zara but I HATE having to wade through the sleeveless tops, the too-short skirts, the stupid prints and the cheap fabrics to find something I want.

In the case of Top Shop, maybe I am too old for the brand, but that shouldn't be the case in e.g. Zara.

I shop in The Gap, occasionally Hobbs, Kew, Cos, Zara as well Selfridges, Bond St, Harvey Nicks for when I'm splashing out. I like Hoss Intropia too. Can't be bothered with Marks most of the time and Next and Debenhams, are just too cheap.

The one shop that, I think, totally "gets me" is Banana Republic. I know I can go in there and ALWAYS find something to buy from jeans, through the dreaded "workwear" to dressier stuff.

Don't really have anything to say on the marketing imagery because I genuinely respond to the clothes rather than who is wearing them, whatever their age.

Having said all of the above, I would HATE HATE HATE to see an over-40s "ghettoisation" on the high street (an over 40s version of Evans, for example). I WANT to go into the shops I love, I'd just like to see more of what I want to buy in there. At the risk of repeating myself, why can't we have more tops with sleeves? Why can't we have better quality fabrics?

Magaly Fri 07-May-10 18:25:28

I've been forty for such a short time people are still sending me late presents grin

I find it harder than I used to. When I was in my 20s it was ONLY about what I liked. Now I sometimes pick up a catsuit and think omg, and then I remember I am 40. But at least I do remember.

Those scandy labels aren't great if you're not tall. Greenhouse etc. All their tunics look like maternity dresses on me.

DavidHameron Fri 07-May-10 18:36:14

One of the big issues for women in their 40s is surely Having No Time. Which means we either want to shop online (nightmare) or go somewhere where we don't have to think too much.

I have not yet found a shop I can walk into and feel safe that it will hit the right buttons.

I want to look like a woman in Grazia grin; but I don't have hours of trawling and thinking time...

Magaly Fri 07-May-10 18:38:45

I posted a Danish company on style and fashion board.

having no time is right! i remember the days when i would look in EVERY shop before i bought a top. then i'd get it home and try my new thing on with every other thing i already owned and swan up and down in front of the mirror modelling different potential combos! ha! now if i buy something new it might sit in the bag until i was getting ready to go out wearing it...

Slubberdegullion Fri 07-May-10 18:50:23

Mary, I Love You. You are just the best thing on television (well on the BBC).

As a slight aside from fashion and more along the shopping front, what would you advise is the best approach if one meets utterly shit service in shops (any shops)?

Do you ask to speak to the manager or do you just walk out never to return again?

CybilLiberty Fri 07-May-10 21:06:38

I love Mary too, but I wanna know....

why more shops dont sell fabulous BASICS, everything is trend trend trend. Now I'm up for a bit of trend as much as the next gal but all the shops are the same..

Would LOVE to be in a group discussing clothes though....but not sure I'm up to it clothes wise!

squeaver Fri 07-May-10 21:38:52

oh Cyb, you MUST do it. We can all dress you before you go on t'telly. Look how well we did with Justine.

And I STRONGLY agree re basics

noddyholder Sat 08-May-10 08:26:09

No question just wanted to say saw some pics of your house and it is very much in the same style as mine You have impeccable taste grin.Esp like the kitchen

SuSylvester Sat 08-May-10 08:29:00

i was thinking ust in bed when you read fashion people saying " oh i am 87 and i still shop at top shop"
this serves no pupose other than to say to me " you are shit, you go into top shop and think its so bad you catually laugh, its crap overpriced man made tat and YOU are crap as you dont like it"

thats all

noddyholder Sat 08-May-10 08:33:15

No not creep at all but did like her kitchen but hate those shows!Top Shop has had its day

SuSylvester Sat 08-May-10 08:35:10

i must agree am not a fawning fan.

noddyholder Sat 08-May-10 08:57:53

I think the fashion for all these 'transformation' type shows is breeding a nation of over styled/accessorised middle aged women with NO INDIVIDUALITY who somehow look uncomfortable and older

Birdly Sat 08-May-10 09:22:04

I think the shops really need to standardise their sizing.

I am between sizes in EVERYTHING - jeans, tops, shoes, bras... the lot! I'm between lengths, too, so if I want to try on a pair of jeans I have to take 4 pairs with me (2 sizes, 2 lengths). And as sizes vary from shop to shop, it feels like I almost have to put the best part of a day aside just to try/buy one thing. And, quite frankly, I mostly just can't be bothered.

I'm someone who used to love shopping, but the whole business is made to be such hard work for us sometimes. Time is too short these days, and some of the stuff on the high street is of such poor quality that you can still end up with a duffer even after endless trying on. Pah!

I want to look OK enough not to scare children and animals, I've got a bit (only a bit, mind!) of money to spend and sometimes it seems like there's just nowhere for me to spend it.

No wonder the country's in the state it is, etc, etc, etc!! grin

SuSylvester Sat 08-May-10 09:22:48

agree noddy - think driving gloves

noddyholder Sat 08-May-10 09:30:30

grin and the rise of the strategically positioned scarf/brooch

SuSylvester Sat 08-May-10 09:31:26

and putting owmen in blardy prosthetic style undeerwear - fgs NO to corsets

noddyholder Sat 08-May-10 09:34:47

Not all women are supposed to look that way nor do they care.It is like all things in life variety makes it interesting.i have friends who are amazing cooks for example but I don't need to try and be that I juat enjoy their hospitality. I am mad on fashion/art/interiors but am just as happy in any old house with good company and some of my mated ptsl at me and my 'objets'I hate the way we are all being standardised emotionally amd physically.Vive la difference(although can see that is no help for a show!)

noddyholder Sat 08-May-10 09:39:29

yes and no Ye get me!

SuSylvester Sat 08-May-10 09:47:36

oh noddy = you look nice in htat picture with the award wink

noddyholder Sat 08-May-10 09:50:52

Thats not me I'm in the pink sparkly

SuSylvester Sat 08-May-10 09:52:13

julieanne moore always looks nice

noddyholder Sat 08-May-10 09:53:43

Yes she is stunning.

dawntigga Sat 08-May-10 10:24:40

Excuse me while I just gush!

Mary Portas I heart you! I LOVED what you did rescuing the boutiques - they were without exception all MUCH better after your make over!

Your questions:

* Do you think your fashion needs are served by high-street retailers?

No, it's why I make my own - blow the high street! I also customise what I can find on the high street, but I'm a porker (my description no-one elses), so finding clothes not so easy! Also, it's all to easy to throw away - this is where I get a bit woo! - I want something that will last and can be updated by a fun add on. Not only so I can save some cash (who doesn't need to save cash?) but also because of the effect on the environment disposable fashion has!
All the high street have retreated to safe and what works - that doesn't work for me as I want some sleeves!

* When you shop for fashion, is it as fun and easy an experience as it was when you were younger or do you find it a trial?

Oh god no! I've been everything from goth to mod in my time and nothing is even remotely as fun as when I was young clothes wise.

* Is there a brand on the high street that gives you what you want?

No, hence the making of my own stuffwink

* What are the brands that are failing you?

They are, to a man, hellishly expensive - the majority of people in this country esp now can't afford designer - or so boring and uniform that you don't bother! Boden - when they do my size are bit too woo. Next are to generic etc.

* Would you rather see a picture of a woman your own age marketing the brands you buy or are you happy to see youthful, perfect faces?

I want to see normal people in normal sizes on adverts! And I want the industry to stop calling the models bloody plus size - they AREN'T plus size they are normal, it's the industry that's got it screwed up!

My question!

As somebody who's looking to launch a clothing line strictly online, what's the one piece of advice you wish more people took notice of and is there anyway you and Simon Doonan could get together and make a series.


PS LOVED your review of Penhaligon’s I'm not a stalker honest!

cyb Sat 08-May-10 13:10:35

nodders you are veh wise

dawntigga Sat 08-May-10 14:21:43

Meant to say nodders - spot on!


noddyholder Sat 08-May-10 15:47:54

I am liking wise feel like an owl with my big round eyes grin

mamas12 Sat 08-May-10 17:13:41

I totally get what was said about time.
I used to do exactly the same thing, go home try it on with everything, look in the mirror etc.

Also I don't like the fact that we are fed a certain 'uniform' in every shop almost.
In a lot of shops we are presented with a coordinated 'look' with interchangable peices but really end up all looking the same.

I would like to see more interchangeable separates where we can all look good but different.

I would love to take part in this.

mamas12 Sat 08-May-10 17:15:31

oh and btw I'd definitaly like to see age appropiate modelling.
I just can't relate to a 14 yr old wearing stuff and I'm sure she doesn't either, she's just doing it for the money and fame of course.

littlelapin Sat 08-May-10 21:59:29

Some of the nicest things I have bought recently have been from Uniqlo. Inexpensive, but not to the disposable level of New Look or Primark, well made, easy to care for and COMFORTABLE (and god, yes, I realise I am showing my age, il faut souffrir etc, but when you are sitting in front of your computer in a dress all day you don't want the damn thing to dig in or ride up. Or look like a crumpled rag when you finally stand up).

Conversely, while I still love some of their styles, what the hell has happened to LK Bennett's prices?! One would think they were Louboutins (and oh my god, there is a shoe that fits divinely, if anyone would care to lend me £560? anyone? no?)

I find I shop a lot more online these days, time being so short as it is for many of us, so consistency in sizing is key. I want to be able to buy something knowing that when it arrives, it will FIT.

Congratulations on your upcoming civil partneship, by the way, I saw the pictures on Melanie's blog - excellent grin

GoingPostal Sat 08-May-10 22:11:57

What I find difficult is being short (5'2" - 5'3") and a size 12. So-called "petite" doesn't really work as I am not minute. (also it's only boring places like Next and M&S that have petite ranges.)

Nothing ever fits - jeans big enough to fit my arse are too long with massive waists, tops have straps that are too long, or the backs and necks always sag. Shops that offered some sort of alteration service, or even a sort of raw pieces pick n mix which you choose to be assembled for you would be brilliant (and impractical and expensive, I know).

I also find it hard to bridge the gap between jeans-and-tops-daytime-mum-of-3yo-casual and very smart. ie finding decent tops to go with jeans that aren't New Look / Top Shop young person acrylic shite but aren't OTT for going out to a bar or restaurant. Or dresses that don't make me look like mutton dressed as lamb without straying into overdressed / formal territory. Sorry these are quite specific points.

In terms of brands that serve me, White Stuff and GAP are my stand bys for the daytime mum stuff. French Connection is usually my failsafe for a decent and appropriate dress. Most other places fail and I leave depressed and empty handed. Even getting a white T-shirt that is not see through, doesn't get skewed seams in the wash and has sleeves to cover bingo wings for under £20 seems to be impossible.

Advertising - would love to see more normal shaped and shorter people wearing clothes, and wearing them properly - obviously things have to photograph well, but when everything is pinned behind a model's back it gives a completely false impression that it will fit Age of model doesn't really bother me.

<<As a complete aside to Mary, I heard you on Desert Island Discs and found your life story incredibly moving and inspirational.>>

DavidHameron Sat 08-May-10 22:29:24

Holy grail: fantastic jeans for apple-shaped post-baby muffin-topped jelly bellies...

comixminx Sun 09-May-10 09:32:49

I am not really interested in fashion so at first thought this thread was not much to do with me - but actually I do like to dress in stuff that is comfortable, interesting, long-lasting, practical, and looks good on me, so I suppose I am interested in clothes, just not in the fashion industry per se!

Like someone further up-thread, I find the throwaway nature of the fashion industry to be distressing and wrong from a green point of view - I'd much much rather buy something good quality, versatile, and long-lasting than 'on-trend'. This means I don't go shopping for clothes all that often and what I do have I wear in reasonably heavy rotation. Over the past couple of years I have been buying clothes from the internet - Charles Tyrwhitt and some Boden - because the colours are interesting and the styles work well, and I only need to buy one or two pieces rather than feeling that to make it worthwhile I should buy a slew of stuff.

Some niggles with high street fashion: I always hate the fact that women's clothes are short on pockets, so when I find trousers or skirts that have them I am quite tempted! And like GoingPostal above, I too am petite without (nowadays) being particularly slim - I too have to get things altered (or latterly I have taken to rolling up the hems and making like it's a purposeful choice...) Another niggle is that I vastly prefer natural fabrics which aren't always that easy to find (another reason to shop on the internet, where the textile is mentioned up-front). And finally - when I was looking for something to wear to a wedding a couple of years ago, I was horrified how impossible it was to find 'grown-up' clothes - it was all short skirts, revealing clothes, party-wear... even in the department stores. That was actually in America and I probably just didn't know which shops to target, but it is something that happens over here too.

hellymelly Sun 09-May-10 21:39:09

AAArgh.I used to love clothes shopping although I lived in vintage as I had no money at all and now I am older and have a bit more money I can't find anything I want to buy,or at least anything that isn't Marni or Margaret Howell. I still live in vintage but I'm in my 40s and I have to be more cautious about all my lovely Grannyesque bits and bobs now I am virtually granny aged.I also have very small children so I need easy everyday stuff.My shape is different,I'm not as thin and I have a post-two-c-sections tummy.I'm busty anyway but still breastfeeding so I am a ff cup and that rules out all those easy smocky shirts that everyone from White Company to Jigsaw t seems to market for 40 something women.I also have moved from central London to The Back of Beyond (TM),so I have no High st to speak of,and have to rely on mail order which is a pain.I don't know who is failing me,Jigsaw seem a bit more boring than they used to be ,I haven't been in Zara since I left London so I don't know what they are like now.I just hardly buy anything anymore,its too depressing. I have a small independant boutique about 45 minutes drive away that I like,as they are helpful and friendly and the shop is well stocked,I have bought some things from them.That is the nearest I've got to High Street shopping in a looong time.

I love Mary Portas !
I am well over 40 (oh ok,51) and feel that fashion is pretty stagnant really for my age group - I tend to dress pretty much as I did in my 30s and 40s - ie. in an unfussy way so that I don't immediately look as though I'm heading for the slacks and Ecco shoes look. I wear Gap, Monsoon, Boden and Great Plains mostly -I avoid colour as I don't want to look as though I'm trying too hard to be different -frankly it makes me feel uncomfortable. As an art student I dressed mostly in vintage stuff or interesting punky things - we plundered the antiques markets in Kings Road.
I don't want to not be noticed -as women of a certain age do 'disappear' but am afraid too to step out of my comfort zone.

hellymelly Sun 09-May-10 22:58:51

Oh Maryann those King's rd markets were great weren't they? I still have the most beautiful evening dress and coat fit for Carole Lombard that I got there for £30.

littlelapin Sun 09-May-10 23:20:55

Oh that's reminded me of the joys of Hyper Hyper on Kensington High Street - I had a bodycon dress in the early 80s from there (I would need at least two stitched together now!)

grin !! I still have the black crepe 50s dress I bought from somewhere on Kings Rd for my degree show - does anyone remember the shop in Covent Garden called Detail ? -jewellery and stuff

MaryPortas Mon 10-May-10 10:05:40


littlelapin Mon 10-May-10 10:11:11

Is that you pretending to be Mary, tech? You don't have the legs wink

Sweeedes Mon 10-May-10 11:09:12

littlelapin - I used to go to Hyper Hyper in the early 80s. Wasn't there also a shop called Che Guevara close by?

littlelapin Mon 10-May-10 11:14:29

Yes that sounds familiar. Hey, we may have fought over some truly hideous neon plastic bangles grin

Sweeedes Mon 10-May-10 11:17:54

littlelapin - grin

BoffinMum Mon 10-May-10 11:47:18

An unusual question but I'd really like Mary to answer this for us. Like most people over 40, when I was growing up and learning proper dressmaking at school (as we did then in the days before textile technology) you had Misses patterns for younger women and then patterns that were subtly different for the more mature lady who had had children. This respected women's different stages of life.

It seems to me that manufacturers have abandoned the notion that women's bodies change over time, and therefore we are now required to fit one of six fairly precise high street sizes (8-10-12-14-16-18) all based on the same pattern, but with 2 inches added on indiscriminately as the sizes go up. We end up with silly waistlines and bustlines that don't take into account our different, changing proportions after childbearing. Men's clothes seem to cater for them at all stages of life, however. They have a lot more choice of things like chest, sleeve length, collar size, leg length and so on - many more permutations.

Does this match with what Mary sees in the industry ? (I actually see it as something of a feminist issue, this denial of the female body post-childbirth).

FiveGoMadInDorset Mon 10-May-10 12:24:35

I would like advice on eher to go to find good quality clothes for the larger lady. I don't want to wear stuff that my mother wears but really struggle. Monsoon does my size but is expensive. It doesn't help that I live in a rural area. The weight is coming off but I am bored of wearing linen trousers. So any help for websites, shops etc would be greatly appreciated.

Penthesileia Mon 10-May-10 12:27:34

Mary: do you think it is important that shops provide transparent information about how they source their clothes? Ie. are they ethical?

I made a decision this year not to buy any new clothes (so am probably not the target audience for this webchat grin) - so far, so good - but when I start buying again, I'd like to buy ethically, as far as I can. It is very difficult to get clear information from high street retailers about whether their clothes are made in countries that uphold at least minimum standards for working conditions, pay, etc.

JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 10-May-10 12:32:54

OMG just realised I'm wearing Ugg boots blush.

ginghamgiraffe Mon 10-May-10 12:36:27

shock at Justine of Vivienne Westwood fame in UGGS

I have a question Mary, (loved your penhaligons column on Sat but was a bit SQUASHED by your one about White Stuff earlier in the year as it has become my go-to place of latesad)

We're going to a wedding in June in a marquee - it's bound to be cold, so reluctant to get out my winter legs, but don't particularly want to wear winter tights - any suggestions? I'm 43, 5ft 2 and fairly petite.

Thanks in advance

dawntigga Mon 10-May-10 12:36:51

Ooooh BoffinMum hello


LoveBeingAHungParliament Mon 10-May-10 12:39:50


I am 34 this month and I have realised that since my dd was born 2 years ago i have hardley bought any clothes for myself, what i ahve bought is crappy make do and mostly supermarket blush, as i packed away most of my pre baby clothes when i was pg and have now realised i can't/don't want to wear them again i am a little stuck. What basics do i need and what key little bits can i get to make them this season?

btw i loved your tv series, any more coming? <no honest i only asked one question>

GeorginaWorsley Mon 10-May-10 12:41:27

I would like to see a High street cheaper version of the sort of clothes Whistles,Cos,White Company do.
Classy classics in good fabrics,no horrible cheap colours that dominate in the High street now.
I would like well fitting trousers in various lengths,cardigans,long vests,simple but stylish dresses.
Plus accessories,although I usually find great necklaces in the likes of Wallis and Marks.

coffeeMonster Mon 10-May-10 12:45:24

What do you think about over 40s in Denim?

I have been reading a lot about double denim but only seen pics of David Beckham hmm
It puts me in mind of Billy Ray Cyrus tbh

I love my jeans but am tempted to buy a denim dress/ denim shirt. V nervous of looking too 'over-denim' Would you avoid anything other than jeans if you're over 40?

dawntigga Mon 10-May-10 12:51:12

Am mahoosively excited at only 10 minutes to go am stuffing The Cub with biscuits to keep him quiet!


Gleeb Mon 10-May-10 12:52:12

Were you really happy with the changes and improvements that came out of the Mary Queen of Charity Shops programmes? It seemed to me that you were originally aiming higher but had to lower your sights owing to various factors (staff, donations etc).

P.S. Loving your work.

chimchar Mon 10-May-10 12:52:59

this is my second post on here, but my first was just a comment!

i would love a nice, casual brown soft leather everyday across the body bag. i don't have a big budget as far as bags are concerned (about £100) but am wondering if it is worth saving up and investing in a posh one, or does bag fashion move that quickly i'll need to update it in the next couple of years...

champagnesupernova Mon 10-May-10 12:57:02

ginghamgiraffe - are you me?! I was rather hurt by the white stuff column, too as I've become rather reliant upon it (esp since having less time to shop now I have DC)

Mary, this is my problem too.

I am not over 40 but hope this doesn't mean I can't participate here.

I am nearly 33 and have a 2 year old.
On a good day I'm a 12/14 but I'm tall so can sometimes hide divert attention away from some of the muffintop.

I find that so few of the stores on the high street cater for me. New Look, Primark, topshop mostly too young
Can sometimes get some bits in Dorothy P's

So I end up relying on catalogues (CF comment about White Stuff) and I am indeed guilty of being a Boden-wearing MNer and I buy a fair bit from Long Tall Sally too.

I watch the TV progs that SuSylvester is referring to and I just think that the women can't go round wearing that stuff DAY TO DAY - I sure as hell can't wear heels every day.

I don't wear brooches or belts that are just slung round trews (and don't actually hold things up), or scarves because they feel "affected" - I don't want to look like the girls in grazia but I don't want to feel a frump either.

What hope is there for Mumsy, catalogue ridden me?!

JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 10-May-10 12:57:12

Mary's here - wearing office shorts shock.

MaryPortas Mon 10-May-10 12:57:41

Penthesilieaia Yes I think that's vital - so many people jumped on the ethical bandwagon to make themselves look like good retailers but were just paying lip service

Actually I think buying second hand is also something that's really important to women and I intend to have a second hand section in my shop - would you come if I had a second hand section?

chimchar Mon 10-May-10 12:58:19


dawntigga Mon 10-May-10 12:58:24

Chimchar try Dents classic bags great leather.


JumeirahJane Mon 10-May-10 12:59:08

Hear hear Boff smile

Hope Mary answers SelkirkGrace's question - I also struggle to find clothes that fit my 6ft size 16ish frame without resorting to frumptastic tunics and jeans that cling to my knees but sag round my thighs and end an inch above the top of my shoes. Etc.

VivienLeigh Mon 10-May-10 12:59:59

We need clothes with more pockets!

Where are you meant to put your credit card, school letters, keys etc? I don't want to take a bag out all the time, esp having spent the last 6 years lugging a change bag around and am now FREE of it! <emancipation emoticon>

Where can you find utility type clothes without looking like someone from Prisoner Cell Block H?

MaryPortas Mon 10-May-10 13:01:05

coffeemonster on denim: of course over 40's can wear denim - but never over denim ie denim short and jeans - but jeans are brilliant and I'm gong to go after the right fitting pair - women's backsides change after 40 and it's all about the fit.

DavidHameron: I feel really strongly that I have to understand physical requirements - but don't want to talk about muffin tops - I want to celebrate women's shapes.

I promise to find the right denims at the right price - ie not designer.

Housemum Mon 10-May-10 13:01:19

What are your thoughts on "vanity sizing"? Just because I'm past 40 doesn't mean I'm stupid - my waist is bigger post-children yet I'm now a size 12 jeans in M&S after being a 14 for years, without losing weight or toning up!

Like many people on here I'm after the Holy Grail of mum-wear - I want something other than jeans, that's not "workwear" (see Next) or the same as my mum wears (Per Una). True smart casual - WASHABLE nicely styled trousers and tops/jackets that are more relaxed than work outfits, and mid-height smart heeled shoes that you can walk to school in not high wedges to break your ankles or flats to make you frumpy. (But not granny-style court shoes) I'm hard to please I guess ...

MaryPortas Mon 10-May-10 13:01:36

VivienLeigh : have you never heard of a handbag?

MaryPortas Mon 10-May-10 13:04:31

hellymelly - you could live til you're 90 - why are you worrying about being a granny in your 40's? Go ahead and wear vintage but mix it with some modern pieces - too much vintage makes you look a bit odd - and actually this rule applies to all vintage, whatever age you are.

brimfull Mon 10-May-10 13:05:46

Mary-you're hair is fab , who does it? and do you spend ages diong it in the am?

spect that's been asked at the start of this thread

MaryPortas Mon 10-May-10 13:06:22

To Little Lapin and others On sizing: The high street have a system that doesn't work, not been updated in years. I will be looking at sizing and all shapes, because even a size 10 or 12 on the high street is made for a different shaped body - not the average 45 year old

MaryPortas Mon 10-May-10 13:08:05

Chimchar - you asked about expensive handbags: If you're going to spend a lot of money - get a classic that won't date - and yes I do think a great bag is worth the investment. Don't get stressed out about changing your bag regularly to match the slebs though - they all got theirs for free

BoffinMum Mon 10-May-10 13:08:45

Mary, developing the vanity sizing point, could you actually get rid of women's sizes such as 8-10-12-14-16-18 and replace them with centimetre and inches sizes so we know exactly where we stand with clothes, like men do?

brimfull Mon 10-May-10 13:10:07

god no boffin that would be so depressing

CMOTdibbler Mon 10-May-10 13:10:45

In your shops Mary, will you have a lady who is the jeans equivalent of the bra lady who looks you up and down, then fetches you a perfectly fitting, flattering bra ?

I hate buying jeans as there are so many choices, and I don't have time to go through umpteen different brands and shapes to find my perfect jeans. I'd pay a lot of money to have really nice jeans picked for me tbh

brimfull Mon 10-May-10 13:11:00

I just want clothes that flatter us with ample norkage.

dawntigga Mon 10-May-10 13:11:01

Boff, take a tape measure with you - I do!


BoffinMum Mon 10-May-10 13:11:20

And another thing ... why are women forced to hobble themselves in shoes that hurt even if you put gel pads in? Is it beyond the wit of science and cordwainery (if that is a word) to invent something that is actually comfortable to walk in, that you can't feel the pavement through, that doesn't make you look like a librarian?

chimchar Mon 10-May-10 13:11:33

thanks mary...not at all worried about keeping up with slebs...i'm far more of an aging studenty/scruffy/arty/individual type trying hard to grow my style up....although somehow i suspect that a grown up handbag won't actually do that for me! wink

you are fab! <swoon>

brimfull Mon 10-May-10 13:11:49

and a useful but stylish raincoat would be good

LoveBeingAHungParliament Mon 10-May-10 13:12:05

like a padded bra but for shoes?

MaryPortas Mon 10-May-10 13:12:07

housemum - agree washable is really important - who can afford dry cleaning? Sizing is a massive issue as I say and I'd love some of you to help me with this, I want to look at loads of women, so do shout if you'd like to be involved.

And no you are not hard to please - you're right. I want to hear this, it's important that you feel fashionable not frumpy but also that you can wear it. I'm hoping to work with Clarks on this very issue because I think they are brilliant shoemakers at high street prices.

BoffinMum Mon 10-May-10 13:12:24

Dibbler that is a genius suggestion!

brimfull Mon 10-May-10 13:13:23

there is a fortune to be made if half of these issues are addressed

MaryPortas Mon 10-May-10 13:13:53

To Fimbo, this real women debate, and real age and body size is something I feel strongly about and yet I don't know the answer yet, I think we've become so used to seeing young thin models, it might be too much of a shock to just stop abruptly. I will be looking at models and how we market the shop so women of this age feel it's for them.

CMOTdibbler Mon 10-May-10 13:14:35

Boffin - I have some Dr Martens high heels - they are comfy, have a solid sole that doesn't slip and is padded, yet have a stonking heel and are drop dead sexy. So it can be done - even on a budget.

MaryPortas Mon 10-May-10 13:16:19

SuSylvester (and others): What do you really want to wear and who are your style icons - who do you look at and think fantastic?

squeaver Mon 10-May-10 13:18:18

Another point on sizing/body shapes. Just because you're a particular size, it doesn't mean that you fit a stereo-typed shape.

For example, I am an 8 - 10 but, as it happens, I have big calves so I can't wear skinny jeans - I just can't get them on (even the stretch ones). Equally, I know many people who think they are "fat" and are a size 14 or 16 but have the most FANTASTIC LEGS. They should be wearing skirts that show them off but can't find any that don't make them look cheap.

We all love Duo here - they have revolutionised boot buying for us cankled ones. We need more brands like this.

MaryPortas Mon 10-May-10 13:18:45

Sorry my turn to ask questions of you: Do you find the high street shopping experience boring?

Penthesileia Mon 10-May-10 13:20:02

Mary, thank you for answering my question and confirming my suspicions!

If I may ask a follow-up question: what can we do to improve the high street's commitment to fair-trading, ethical trading, etc?

Yes, I would be interested in a well-run, well-stocked second-hand section. I think the success of ebay (and charity shops, of course) suggests that people are very comfortable with the idea.

DavidHameron Mon 10-May-10 13:20:36

Oooh Mary you're here!

Now. About my time question. None of us have any: how will you solve that one?

I saw that John Lewis show and they seemed to be trying a 'boutique' approach in their buying policy. I've yet to shop there for clothes but the website looks good.

But the alternative to online, is to make it somewhere women REALLY want to go and spend time there surely? I wouldn't mind if it felt like a treat. The problem now is that shopping is so alienating: 12 year olds sizing you up and laughing behind their hands, 8 million things into the changing rooms all of which look awful.

I would like it to be like a hairdressers where you can get a manicure a coffee and a head massage too, where no-one has forgotten that YOU are the most important paying customer, not the 15 yo size 8s.

champagnesupernova Mon 10-May-10 13:21:07

Hi Mary
Yes boring and stressful
So much of it is the SAME.
(and yes I know how it works, I remember Meryl Streep's "cerulean blue" speech in Devil Wears Prada)
That you run the risk of wearing the same dress as someone to a wedding or something if you go high st
(three women in the same Monsoon dress at one wedding I was at a couple of years ago, and it was in my wardrobe at home!)

DavidHameron Mon 10-May-10 13:21:24

Boring, no; more horrifying these days. There nothing in between teenage carcrash and old lady. And it is ALIENATING...

KristinaM Mon 10-May-10 13:21:34

I like the styles of lots of the women featured on The Sartorialist ( but i know i will get scoffed at for this)

I am 48 and standard 5'5'', size 10 and am HORRIFIED at what most high street retailers think a woman of my age should be wearing eg Portfolio shock

My best high street shop is Zara, although many of their dresses are not cut for women with boobs

Sometimes the high street is very boring indeed. Minimum effort required in order to get your money. They don't try hard enough! Expectations are low though, so it's not surprising

brimfull Mon 10-May-10 13:22:08

yes high street is dull

but we are spolied in this country-it could be a lot worse. Thinking of my shopping trips in canada.

MaryPortas Mon 10-May-10 13:22:44

Squeaver: How about I create a shop that's about fit, flatter fashion and quality, and if that inspires the 30 plus then brilliant - would that work for you or would you still think that was ghettoised? It would have the over 40's at the core, but might appeal to others.

dawntigga Mon 10-May-10 13:22:47

Style icons:

You - natch
Kristin Scott Thomas - sometimes!
Michelle Obama - great taste that woman has
Audrey Hepburn - when I grow up I'd like to be her please!
Katherine Hepburn - if I can't be Audrey then...
Sandra Bullock - sometimes
Demi Moore - sometimes
Joanna Lumley - sometimes

And god yes. I remember going shopping for clothes as a real look forward to event and now it's boring. Ah the days of Cloud 9 in Manchester.


squeaver Mon 10-May-10 13:22:52

Re style icons. There's a problem here, because they (mainstream over 40 celebrities) are all too skinny and have had too much botox
e.g. SATC women, Julia Roberts etc

I admire Emma Thompson's dress sense, but wouldn't copy it.

Julianne Moore always looks good. Also Cate Blanchett

I totally agree with what Noddy said earlier about that Loose Women mutton-dressed-as, over accessorised look.

DavidHameron Mon 10-May-10 13:22:55

Susylvester's style icon is Cruella DeVille I fear.... grin

I have no style icons - perhaps that is the problem: I think lots of young middle aged women have no idea who they are any more.

MmeLindt Mon 10-May-10 13:24:44

I live in Switzerland (previously in Germany) and have found that there is a much of a muchness in the British High Street.

If you were to plunk me down in the middle of a random High Street, I can guarantee I would find: M&S, Next, Primark, Evans, Clarks, Debenhams, Monsoon...

Is that our fault because we stopped buying from small boutique shops?

It is pretty boring tbh.

squeaver Mon 10-May-10 13:25:43

Yes I think that could work. Just don't be overt about the age thing.

And have nice changing rooms. And sofas.

MaryPortas Mon 10-May-10 13:26:07

champagne - what a nightmare - sadly this is going to happen when you have massive chains that dominate the high street. Can't think of anything worse. Only advice - don't go for the obvious, stick with the classics and update with good accessories.

I find that although I am a 10/12 because of having 3 children and because of my age I have a tummy which is like a blob. However control panel swimsuits are never available in a 10.
Decent swimwear for over 40s seems to be hard to find.
Shopping is a trial generally. When you have trawled all of the high street and can't find anything it is a bore.

KristinaM Mon 10-May-10 13:26:45

I don't find it boring - i find it depressing

So many shops i browse in but just don't buy

as others have said, very little between 20 soemthing shops like top shop, river island, dorothy p ( although ok for the odd sweater or accessories)and frumpsville ( most of M&S etc)

chimchar Mon 10-May-10 13:26:59

high st shopping is not boring...its really hard work...eg..each item is placed around the stores ion lots of different sections...so you know you want a pair of say black trousers, but you have to search through 8 different trousers section of the shop to find them in various styles/fits etc..

i went in to the brand new "hollisters" shop in the new st davids 2 shopping centre in cardiff...it was amazing! the lighting was bloody awful, but the whole experience was really new and different....i didn't buy anything though...too young and thin for me, but the feel of the shop was exciting...

Birdly Mon 10-May-10 13:27:25

Hi Mary

Yes, high street shopping is boring. Not only is it boring, it's often fraught with indifferent service and goods that are poor quality. All the shop windows look the same.

Another crucial point is where you live. Big cities tend to have more non-high street stuff in their high streets, if you see what I mean, but smaller cities and towns are depressingly samey in what's on offer.

Yes, we can shop online, but as I mentioned in an earlier post, sizing varies so much that in my case I know I'll just end up legging it backwards and forwards to the Post Office with parcels to return. Which, of course, defeats the object! grin

DavidHameron Mon 10-May-10 13:28:16

Re: the question of own age marketing, there was an interesting campaign by someone or other (was it comptoir des cottonieres) which had mother and daughter models. I'm not sure I liked the message (that the brand is for everyone) nor the smugly beautiful genetics, but it WAS nice to see wonderful looking women in their 40s. All skinny as rakes though but I still dunno whether people really want to see fatties: they want to imagine themselves slimmer, no?

InThisSequinBraYesYouOlaJordan Mon 10-May-10 13:28:42

In terms of much older (than me that is) women, I think Helen Mirren and Sheila Hancock are looking very good atm.

Mary, I would definitely be interested in the "fit, flatter and quality" shop, ghettoised or not, but can I PLEASE beg you not to stop at a size 16 though??? That really is ghettoising.

MaryPortas Mon 10-May-10 13:28:54

On style icons: The ones we still talk about are mostly from yesteryear and they've not been replaced because marketing is obsessed with youth. The average age of the Burberry shopper is 53 but their cover girl is 19 - BUT it's working - so hard to persuade them to change it.

MaryPortas Mon 10-May-10 13:29:43

BoffinMum: I am so with you - I am printing this out to take to Clarks with me.

BoffinMum Mon 10-May-10 13:29:54

1. Style icons: Grace Kelly, the 'French Women Don't Get Fat' author Mireille Guiliano, Kate Winslet, New Look Dior, Audrey Hepburn.

2. I love beautifully cut gamine clothes in navy and cream wool crepe with soft Italian leather ballet pumps and dramatic silk scarves, silk Chinese-style jackets and floaty but understated chiffon skirts. But this is not currently a Permissible Look.

3. High street shopping makes me lose the will to live. Assistants are either rude or apologetic, the clothes all look the same, it is a case of me filtering through the rubbish to find something that makes me look adequate rather than me actually selecting clothes and expressing myself through fashion. The irony is I am quite a normal size and shape and reasonably attractive. If they can't cater for people like me you have to wonder if all this stuff is actually ending up in landfill half the time.

LoveBeingAHungParliament Mon 10-May-10 13:32:04

Mary in that case tell clarks from me i want a pair of knee high boots and have done for years, my problem? my calfs, I've been to evans though great bound to find something in here, no they were too big [argggghhhhh]

MaryPortas Mon 10-May-10 13:32:08

On sofas: I really want to create a shop that's about space - rather than just about the margin. The high street has to turn over stock to make profits and therefore they compromise your comfort. I am trying to create a slower, more sociable environment and allow people even to socialise.

BoffinMum Mon 10-May-10 13:32:31

Wouldn't it be nice if you could have your feet measured in Clarks like kids do, and then end up with designer shoes in different width fittings that really worked well with your feet?

champagnesupernova Mon 10-May-10 13:33:09

More on style icons
It's true about the fact that it's icons of yesteryear that we want to be

But also because I don't really wanna look like the "youth" of today - and we see them SO often with the "circles of shame" in the gossip rags - ooh look, cellulite, crow's feet, sweat marks, mangled feet from wearing heels (insert body criticism here)

Who've we got?
Catherine Zeta Jones - gotten too skinny of late
Posh - ugh no thanks - too "affected"
Kylie - botoxed to the hilt see also Dannii minogue
Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton et al - I don't want to see your ladygarden thanks

Only filmstar of roughly my age I even vaguely aspire to is Reese Witherspoon

squeaver Mon 10-May-10 13:33:23

Lovebeing - you have to get to Duo.

KristinaM Mon 10-May-10 13:34:10

nearly every year i get one or two pairs of stylish comfortable shoes from Clarks.When people ask me where i got them I am embaraased to say .......their image is so frumpy.I am scared to mention these shoes purchases on the S&B threads on Mumsnet blush

you are right mary, they make comforatble quality shoes at high street prices. please help them sort out their styling

brimfull Mon 10-May-10 13:34:31

I secretly look at old ladies in their comfy shoes and clothes and 'don't give a shit attitude' and think god it'll be so much easier when I'm 80yrs old .grin

MaryPortas Mon 10-May-10 13:34:35

DavidHameron - you make me laugh. I like these ads - but the fact they had to put a daughter in meant they were hedging their bets. I agree you don't want to see fatties in the ads, you want to know that that dress is available in your size. I want to celebrate fashion in the same way the youth market celebrates fashion

chimchar Mon 10-May-10 13:35:09

i know that taking kids shopping is a HUGE pita, but sometimes, it is not possible to do it without them...i am far more inclined to go and mooch round a shop that i can push a buggy round than go in a shop where all the womens clothes are upstairs...not everyones problem, but i know i'm not alone..take a look around any high street...buggies galore!

LoveBeingAHungParliament Mon 10-May-10 13:35:52

thanks squeaver wink

DavidHameron Mon 10-May-10 13:36:18

OK, no 'muffin top' discussion allowed. But there is a massive problem for those of us with apples left after having lots of babies: trousers that fit properly. You either end up pulling them up all the time <and I expect a chorus of agreement here because MN discussed trousers for apples A LOT> or you have to use a belt (and then end up with lots of capacious baggery) or they don't go any further than yer arse...

And we really CAN'T wear hipsters: some of us have had C-Sections for god's sake!

LoveBeingAHungParliament Mon 10-May-10 13:36:45

The dove campaign but for clothes.

sfxmum Mon 10-May-10 13:36:47

biggest problem for me is that I have boobs and am not pear shaped, can be awful to find trousers and tops that fit have pretty much given up on dresses

style icons anyone with boobs who does not look matronly or tarty

DavidHameron Mon 10-May-10 13:37:01

I make Mary laugh...


MaryPortas Mon 10-May-10 13:37:10

BoffinMum What you're describing is what I call Paris chic and interestingly Parisian women of all ages are celebrated and we don't do it here. They know what classy styling is, they're grown up women, not dressed as girls. And if that's ghettoising then so be it. Even Louis Vuitton put Catherine De Neuve in their ads - we have 16 year olds who have achieved nothing. Look at Carla Bruni etc

BoffinMum Mon 10-May-10 13:37:10

I think size 12 models are a good compromise - got some curves but don't make you think you have joined a New World of Fat People's Clothes.

squeaver Mon 10-May-10 13:37:52

Is high street shopping boring? Yes when you have to wade through so much stuff to find anything you might want (M&S).

Or find nothing that comes close to what your looking for. At the risk of being boring - what's wrong with SLEEVES?!

Or when the whole high street slavishly follows a trend which suits only a very few - e.g. nudes, right now.

Not boring when you find a shop where you can be pretty much guaranteed to find something you want to buy. And then you'll wander round the store desperate to find something, anything... Banana Republic fills this need for me, at the moment.

watfordmummy Mon 10-May-10 13:38:09

As a working mum, not long returned full time, I find I need smart work clothes - now have a wardrobe full of wrap top dresses, as bigger busted - as well as trying to look yummy mummy at school events etc. Don't seem to have the money to spend to get either wardrobe just right - including shoes.

Don't even want to think what I am going to wear through the summer or on holiday, as I am also overweight and out of shape.
God I sound attractive!! grin

BoffinMum Mon 10-May-10 13:38:34

Mary, how about taking a few of us to France to be dressed by nice friendly ladies in ordinary boutiques and seeing how we end up looking compared to our 'English' selves? I ahve always thought that would make grest telly.

JumeirahJane Mon 10-May-10 13:39:06

Boring boring boring YES! It's an international problem too. I live in Dubai and guess what, Debenhams, M&S, Clarks, Next, River Island, Zara, Gap, Top Shop, H&M etc, variations on a theme in EVERY mall. Nice to see familiar brands away from home you'd think, but it is monotonous and interchangeable.

The quality is becoming noticeably sloppy post-recession as overheads are obviously being squeezed in order to deliver more affordable goods to what they think is a cost-conscious public. This is not how to retain custom. Be interested to hear your view on this.

pickledmonkey Mon 10-May-10 13:39:10

i'd like a shop that had really well made basics. i quit like esprit at the moment but their sizing is very small. even a perfect black t shirt is very hard to find on the high st.

DavidHameron Mon 10-May-10 13:39:59

God Mary, you're gonna clean up with this project.

Johnny Boden is going to take out a contract on you.

MaryPortas Mon 10-May-10 13:40:09

Mary is completely head to toe in High street apart from the shoes. Techs are going to try and post a pic. Justine just trying Mary's shoes on as we type - apparently comfy - by Acne. Pic to come soon Mary's outfit

brimfull Mon 10-May-10 13:40:50

JumeirahJane-yes I was bitterly disappointed in the shopping in Dubai.Same old stuff-different currency

I avoid anything without sleeves -unless you can wear something to cover up- I've always hated my 'Victorian' arms as my best friend calls them - mind you,looking back at old pictures they were much nicer than I'd imagined.
I don't want to be in my 80s and not bothering about clothes - my granny always looked amazingly good in her late 80s, but my MIL tends to wear beige from head to toe. I would be so depressed !

GrumpyOldHorsewoman Mon 10-May-10 13:41:16

I'm rapidly approaching my fortieth at the end of this month and have developed quite an agricultural style. I live in a rural area (was born in London) and feel I've lost touch with fashion and style. I go shopping and come home with things for everyone except myself. I'm an expert in children's fashion and live out my chic fantasies on my 6 yo DD who has a killer wardrobe and immaculate hair.
Outside of London, why is everywhere so samey? I swear to god, if I'm confronted by another polyester chiffon blouse touted as smart/evening dress, I think I'll barf. I don't feel any different than I did at 16 and I'm almost the same size (just under 5'2", around 8st with a 25" waist). I shop in places where teenagers buy their clothes and fluctuate between feeling mumsy (when I wear 'smart' clothes) and inappropriately youthfully dressed. I feel like people are looking at my wrinkly face and wondering why I'm wearing a Hollister T-shirt when I should so obviously be wearing something in sparkly polyester chiffon.

BoffinMum Mon 10-May-10 13:41:35

Mary, I think I speak for us all when I say it is such a change to be listened to. We have been patronised and fleeced for so long. I am feeling quite emotional here over the keyboard.

KristinaM Mon 10-May-10 13:41:46

oh yes, finding dresses for women with boobs is a nightmare, as sfx says they are all so matronly

summer dresses are worse because they're all so short and while I'll brave short skirts in opaques my naked 48 year old knees should not be seen except on the beach ( just on the knee is fine)

or thin straps so you cant wear a bra

or polyester

or boden horrific prints

I am top half in Gap and bottom half in Zara jeans btw

MmeLindt Mon 10-May-10 13:42:24

I also find that the Brits tend to take to fashion fads much more than the women on the continent.

If something is fashionable, be it a colour, cut or style then it is EVERYWHERE.

And if it happens to be something that does not suit everyone eg. leggings and tunics then you are pretty stuffed.

A couple of years back almost every dress was bias cut - totally unflattering for me with my curves. I need fitted clothes, that skim over my curves.

CMOTdibbler Mon 10-May-10 13:42:43

God yes, width fitting shoes. My nemesis. Last year I salivated over some ox blood red wedges in Clarks - they were too narrow by far. They don't do widths in normal shoes. So I took my money to M&S (which I hate in many ways), and bought three pairs of wide fitting patent shoes in there instead.

I want to go into a shop and find the trousers together (for instance), with an assistant who knows 'oh, those are looking lovely on women your shape, but those come up narrower on the thigh, and I don't think they'd work for you'

MaryPortas Mon 10-May-10 13:43:27

SySylvester: I think you're right and wanted fashionable glasses - otherwise I look too bookish

Go for a classic sunglass shape that will last - find some and get lenses put in.

What you're talking about is women who want to make a fashion statement but not sure what it is so try and go a bit zany and dye their hair and wear really odd tights etc. I want to provide an alternative

Boden prints are to be avoided - specially anything so self consciously 'wacky' as the hotchpotch things..ick.
What about broad shoulders too - things aren't cut decently to accomodate them.

BoffinMum Mon 10-May-10 13:43:59

LOL at Boden mafia. grin
My views on yummy mummy uniforms are widely known on MN. bring on the Top Gear tank, I say.

DavidHameron Mon 10-May-10 13:44:05

I'd like some nice fabrics too. Whatever happened to fine wool trousers, half-lined on the high street? No I don't want fecking polyester or baggy linen: I'd like a bit of structure now I'm, er, old and I can afford it please.

domesticslattern Mon 10-May-10 13:44:27

Styleandbeauty threads are often bemoaning that we simply don't know where to shop anymore, not just for over 40s but I think also over 30s too. I'm not yet 40 but feel that the high street has completely passed me by.

Basically, once you are old enough to be a bit scared of all of the pounding music in Top Shop, and a bit worried that you look a bit cheap in flimsy Dorothy Perkins bits, but Next is too trashy and Jigsaw too blah and Boden too.. well.. bodeny. Reiss and French Connection all very well for stick insects. Comptoir des Cotonnieres lovely stuff but some odd colours. I find clothes shopping incredibly stressful and depressing. sad

And I do have a muffin top. I don't mind the term, because it's blatantly true. (Muffins contributed to it, as well as a baby). I have needed new jeans for many many months now but I know that the shopping experience will be too depressing so I am putting it off and putting it off. The idea of a shop where they actually look after you and don't just expect you to slog round and round and round desperately hunting for non-low-cut jeans... I'd spend some serious money.

JackieNo Mon 10-May-10 13:44:39

But it's no good just having an assistant who knows stuff - you have to trust them too, and believe that they're going to do their best for you, not just out to make sales.

Tarabear Mon 10-May-10 13:44:58

Mary your hair always looks amazing!

My question is where can i buy well-cut comfortable, elegant, practical basics?

I don't enjoy shoppng any more. I never have the right amount of time to get round the shops and try things on. I've two little boys 2 & 4 years. My figure is not the same as in my twenties either! I search for well-cut clothes,comfortable and just can't seem to find anything I like on the high street anymore. I used to swear by whistles for basics but they've gone all strange these days. I buy the odd bit from Uniqlo, Cos and Paul and Joe sister, but am still lacking in good, strong, comfortable chic basics.

I watched the film Coco Chanel at the weekend and was struck by how maverick she was reinventing womens wear to be comfortable, elegant and glamourous. I think lots of designers need to start making more clothes like this for busy mothers!

Tara x

squeaver Mon 10-May-10 13:45:12

That's true MmeL e.g. purple, last season.

And, Mary, if you can do ANYTHING to break people free from the tyranny of leggings and tunics (see MN threads ad infinitum), you really will deserve sainthood.

BigBadMummy Mon 10-May-10 13:45:34

Mary if statistics say that 47% of women are over a size 16, why can't find anything "on trend" for my size 20 top and size 18 bottom on the High Street?

I have money to spend on quality items but I just can't do it!!

chimchar Mon 10-May-10 13:45:34

oh god kristina...am of very "ample" nork, and can't ever find anything in the summer which shows no cleavage (looks too much like an arse crack blush) or that will hide my hefty but pretty bra straps....

i think in short mary...we want nicely cut clothes for real women....

KristinaM Mon 10-May-10 13:46:18

you'll get wool trousers, half lined in jaegar sale, david

BoffinMum Mon 10-May-10 13:46:27

Hands up if anything you are wearing feels uncomfortable at the moment, ladies?

MaryPortas Mon 10-May-10 13:46:32

JumeirahJane - I agree with an awful lot of what you say. Because they think the customers want new new new all the time they're changing product every 2 weeks

We've lost the fashion season - and newness being every 4 months not 2 weeks

Plus rents so high on high street so no independents can make it.

champagnesupernova Mon 10-May-10 13:46:36

hear hear domesticslattern

watfordmummy Mon 10-May-10 13:47:32

OMG shock I have been that person Mar described, dyed hair and strange tights. Mary we/I need you!!!

domesticslattern Mon 10-May-10 13:47:56

Tarabear, yes Whistles, WTF happened to Whistles?

BessieBoots Mon 10-May-10 13:48:27

As someone who works in retail, do you think that too much pressure is put on women to look good all the time, and would you not agree that the same pressure is not put on men?

(always love your shoes, btw)

BoffinMum Mon 10-May-10 13:48:27

This is the best webchat all year. It's practically therapy. grin

brimfull Mon 10-May-10 13:48:37

whistles is trying to be topshop or allsaints

MaryPortas Mon 10-May-10 13:48:48

Pickled monkey:

Basics are vitally important and that's something I'm considering. It's about quality material so they don't shrink after a couple of washes - so worth paying a bit more for quality, because classics will last

I think Cos are doing good basics, but are quite pricey and I'd like to be a bit cheaper

Housemum Mon 10-May-10 13:49:13

Whoever said Parisien style is spot on - I felt decidedly frumpy in the gym changing room the other day as I changed out of the jeans-and-t-shirt with the youngest DDs whilst elegant-mum slipped on a beautifully fitting slim but not tight skirt, cap sleeve top and cardigan - then she spoke to her (elegant) child in French - mystery solved! I would say the style I like the look but not price of is a bit Agnes B, a bit Ralph Lauren (the non-logo stuff, subtle classics with enough style in the cut to look chic rather than old-lady)

dawntigga Mon 10-May-10 13:49:36

I will buy from George's value range as I can't see the point in buying anything else as shopping is such a grind - esp with a 1 year old.

Boff, nothing I'm wearing right now is uncomfortable as I live and die in yoga pants and t-shirts or jeans and t-shirts. I will occasionally go out out but I usually wear something I made.


brimfull Mon 10-May-10 13:50:21

what size do Cos go up to?

champagnesupernova Mon 10-May-10 13:50:24

LOL at BoffinMum
You are RIGHT

dudhope Mon 10-May-10 13:50:24

* Do you think your fashion needs are served by high-street retailers?
No. I'm 5ft 4in, size 16 on the top, 12 on the bottom, and apple shaped. Nothing fits me.

* When you shop for fashion, is it as fun and easy an experience as it was when you were younger or do you find it a trial?
The only shops I can get anything in are Laura Ashley, Jigsaw, Phase 8. But I can't afford them and so resort to ill fitting clothes at Tescos mostly.

* Is there a brand on the high street that gives you what you want?

* What are the brands that are failing you?
All of them.

* Would you rather see a picture of a woman your own age marketing the brands you buy or are you happy to see youthful, perfect faces?

I hate seeing young models. What's wrong with the world that we have present skinny youth just to sell clothes to the rest of us?

DavidHameron Mon 10-May-10 13:50:27

See, now, I don't long to be elegant; I long to be a 42yo version of 'a teeny bit edgy'. It's a bit sad but there you go: desperately hanging onto youth in my head. Unfortunately it's pretty difficult to pull off these days for fear of going horribly wrong. I'd like the option though. I was the girl who made my own school disco dress out of green kagoule material, and zips on the shoulders worn with a silver face grinblush. Now it's all bloody M&S fucking linen... My mum wore Mary Quant; she too would like a shop like yours for a 67 yo...

The hair thing is interesting: we all love your hair and your look. When I go in and ask for 'edgy' they see fat old mum in baggy linen trews and decide what I'm allowed to have.

Nobody's listening.

Unless one is supremely confident, already dressed that way

CMOTdibbler Mon 10-May-10 13:50:51

Yes, you have to trust them, but I hope Mary would staff her shops with ladies (obv, she'd have a flexible working policy so that women in their 30's/40's/50's would flock there) who were trained in their stock, and empowered to be able to say what they like.

I'd like to be able to buy quality clothes too - I can afford it, and want to buy basics that will last a few years and look good for all of that time. Same with shoes - I won't pay mega wonga for uncomfortable CL or JC shoes that won't get the wear, but would def consider it for beautiful, comfortable, stylish work shoes that I can walk in easily and will keep going

Housemum Mon 10-May-10 13:51:13

I don't mind paying a bit more for quality but there is a limit - my budget is top-end M&S maximum, not Jigsaw/Whistles/Hobbs.

KristinaM Mon 10-May-10 13:51:32

cos have fab clothes which don't suit women with boobs

even the staff in there with norks ( who are 22 years old and gorgeous) have trouble finding their uniform

BoffinMum Mon 10-May-10 13:51:44

I am with HouseMum on that. You wouldn't see a French woman in a corduroy lime green Boden skirt with a matching spotted cardie.

I wonder if the reason so many of us struggle with our weight is because the world around us here in the UK is so utterly frumpy anyway that it hardly matters. Is that too outrageous a statement?

dudhope Mon 10-May-10 13:53:01

PS: I live in pyjamas mostly because I can by them at Primark and strangely they fit. but I have to buy a size 18 to get them to fit me all over. So either I hit the playground with my pjs on, or I look rubbish post-2 kids and aged 42. Sadly it's mostly the latter.

brimfull Mon 10-May-10 13:53:14

that rules cos out for me then

domesticslattern Mon 10-May-10 13:53:33

Basics, yes please.

If anyone can tell me where I can buy a scooped neck white T-shirt with three quarter length sleeves in a heavyweight cotton which doesn't shrink/ bag after two washes and which isn't so thin it's see through and which is 100% cotton and which is long enough to cover my tummy, I would be very much obliged. Because I have tried about seven different brands recently and no joy.

Mary, someone has just leaned across in the office where I am taking my lunch smile at the moment and said, Oh Mary Portas, isn't she getting married soon? if so many congrats!!

DavidHameron Mon 10-May-10 13:53:35

No I think the UK has the coolest fashion in the world; it just doesn't spread out to 'ordinary' women v much. Far better quirky Britishness for me than the bloody European 'Uniform'.

MaryPortas Mon 10-May-10 13:53:45

MadameLindt: When you really look at style icons like Michelle Obama, Carla Bruni they're not really slaves to fashion, they're just extremely stylish. I want to encourage the over 40's to be more like that. We should be talking about how to dress, not how to dress in the look NOW

brimfull Mon 10-May-10 13:54:03

pmsl at ' corduroy lime green Boden skirt with a matching spotted cardie'

dudhope Mon 10-May-10 13:54:18

Mary, what do you think about the fact that sizes in shops are all different? I don't have time to try things on, and it's a big problem because when you buy online, you have to keep sending stuff back. I bought a coat in Monson and a dress at the same time. Both size 14, the dress fits, the coat was too small. What's that about?

dawntigga Mon 10-May-10 13:54:20

Anyone else feel that changing rooms should have a sign on them that says:

20 somethings quite welcome but everyone else abandon hope ye who enter here!


domesticslattern Mon 10-May-10 13:55:01

Cos no good if you have boobs. I can confirm this. I got all excited when it opened here and then... nope.

Housemum Mon 10-May-10 13:55:15

I don't mind a bit of fun stuff though - I actually quite like my appliqued boden skirt from the sales a few years back, but with just a plain top and sandals, I don't dress head-to-toe in "wacky" prints. Go too far down the "classic" route and it's more like 60-year-old fashion. Classic cuts with the basic tops/trousers/skirts but a nod to current trends in detail or colour. Inspired by the latest fashion not slavishly following it.

MaryPortas Mon 10-May-10 13:55:25

Domesticslattern You're absolutely right, see my post on French chic - how Chanel pared it down to beautiful stylish clothes, grown up clothes for women.

GrumpyOldHorsewoman Mon 10-May-10 13:55:45

BoffinMum, your statement is not outrageous. I think that every day at the school gates. We are, to a woman, a disgrace. There is one mother who always looks good - everyone wants to be like her and, guess what, she's Italian.
Probably the only non-British parent in the school. The rest of us either look like cop-outs or in fancy dress (esp the one who dresses like a fortune-teller)

JackieNo Mon 10-May-10 13:55:52

Yes - more style, less fashion (but I agree with liking a bit of an edge, sometimes, not that I ever really achieve it!).

CatherineHMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 10-May-10 13:56:04

Scroll down this page to see the photo tech just put in of Mary's outfit today.

BoffinMum Mon 10-May-10 13:56:08

TBH I think British fashion is fashion designer led and industry-led, whereas the European uniform is more buyer-led. I don't think British designers can cut any more (in the sense of cutting a pattern).

brimfull Mon 10-May-10 13:56:23

what are the classics then?

I need it spelled out for me .

fishie Mon 10-May-10 13:57:30

yes that's it david. i don't want to look like everyone else.

and i'd like to have fun shopping. anthropologie is fab to visit but far too expensive and all a bit floaty for me.

i don't want to be in flowery dresses that stop just below the knee and write reviews on boden complaining that the necks are all too low. it'll be elasticated trousers next..

that;s what I want - an effortless,classic look - Like Carla Bruni - I like how Jane Birkin/Francoise Hardy look - that French chic

MaryPortas Mon 10-May-10 13:57:44

CMotDibbler - you want someone who knows their stuff and knows how to sell and serve. I want over 40 sales team, with knowledge and care and empowered to say what they think - anyone want a job?

DavidHameron Mon 10-May-10 13:57:58

gotta go to a meeting now but Mary: I officially love you and I would love to think about being on your show, though may well chicken out as I am in the kind of job where probably shouldn't be on telly (aren't we all?)

fab hair Mary !

dawntigga Mon 10-May-10 13:58:41

Boff, completely with you on that - had to alter a designer outfit for a client, I will not name names and to say it had been cabbaged was an understatement. And it was poorly constructed.

Don't get me started on the wedding dresses I've seen at a friends place!


Housemum Mon 10-May-10 13:58:41

Mary, which are your favourite high street stores?

brimfull Mon 10-May-10 13:59:34

where is the photo??

I can't find it help

tiktok Mon 10-May-10 14:00:13

Love the outfit Mary is wearing - I would never wear the shorts, but the colour combination of that khaki and that sort of dark duck egg blue is great.

BoffinMum Mon 10-May-10 14:00:17

<has fantasies about being one of those lovely, impeccably blow-dried ladies in a provincial French boutique, making everyone look gorgeous>

champagnesupernova Mon 10-May-10 14:00:18

Mary's 13:40:09 post

fishie Mon 10-May-10 14:00:36

yy cos and boobs. is all those pleats and stiff fabric.

MaryPortas Mon 10-May-10 14:00:39

GrumpyOldHorsewoman: I love the way you tell it how it is, it's positive opinion not just depression. I think you should be able to buy really great fashionable clothes and you shouldn't need to go into youth shops to do it. I'm not sure Hollister is fashion btw grin

OurLadyOfPerpetualSupper Mon 10-May-10 14:00:41

Am I too late to join in?

That comment about finding your own style is so true - trouble is, 'fashion' is so pervasive, and, while I try and aim to concentrate only on what suits me, I do wobble when I see everyone wearing jeggings, or come on here and people are discussing hareems or gladiator sandals, as if it's a given that we should all aspire to that look.

domesticslattern Mon 10-May-10 14:00:46

Yes Mary, pls answer Housemum's question if you possibly can. Which are your favourite high street stores?

squeaver Mon 10-May-10 14:00:51

yes yes to C Bruni and M Obama as icons.

JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 10-May-10 14:01:18

Photo is at 13.14

tiktok Mon 10-May-10 14:01:22

Would also love to know who does Mary's hair

chimchar Mon 10-May-10 14:01:46

mary..can i ask if you agree with the thinking behind the mn campaign about the sexualisation of little girls?

brimfull Mon 10-May-10 14:01:55


see only Mary could pull off khaki and grey together

CatherineHMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 10-May-10 14:02:16

Does this link to Mary's pic work?


BoffinMum Mon 10-May-10 14:02:20

Mary, I am worried your shop will be too small, and the whole of the UK will descend, and everyone will be too busy to be properly nice to us and we will still get that sick feeling when we're about to spend £300 on clothes but aren't sure if it's going to have been a success. Like me last week in John Lewis.

I did use the word therapy.

MaryPortas Mon 10-May-10 14:03:52

Houseman: I still think Gap does really good basics (and are called Gap because they identified a gap in the market). I think Cos do casual well, but not smart, and I think if you really search Zara - if you can be bothered. There are pockets, but nowhere I think that's where I'm going to go to first.

GrumpyOldHorsewoman Mon 10-May-10 14:03:57

Believe me, Mary, Hollister is the epitome of fashion where I live!

I want to look like a laydeee, without feeling as though I've nicked my Mum's clothes.

CMOTdibbler Mon 10-May-10 14:04:17

Could you add to the list of requirements for your staff, that they actually want to help their customers - not look at them in distain when they go in, no matter what they look like.

I love your outfit - my customers would die if I dressed like that though !

brimfull Mon 10-May-10 14:04:19

lol boffin
and we'll al be saying
that's def a Mary outfit

MaryPortas Mon 10-May-10 14:05:19

Fave biscuit btw - rich tea with butter shock and a proper Walkers shortbread - a butter fiend.

brimfull Mon 10-May-10 14:05:59

rich tea with butter!!
digestive better with butter

squeaver Mon 10-May-10 14:06:26

Agree with you on Cos/Gap/Zara.

BessieBoots Mon 10-May-10 14:06:59

Ooooh digestive with peanut butter...

Housemum Mon 10-May-10 14:07:00

wow I had a sex change and didn't notice - must stop wearing these jeans... grin

MaryPortas Mon 10-May-10 14:07:14

OurLadyOfPerpetualSupper: What I'd love to ask you, if I was able to convince one of the really good fashion mags to do a massive piece on this to say it's OK NOT to be a slave to fashion. Because I have to have the media on my side. The financial crisis is one of the best things to happen to fashion because people started to stop doing the so last season phrase...

domesticslattern Mon 10-May-10 14:07:34

Gap T-shirts are diabolical quality.

<Looks down at misshapen rubbishy T-shirt which fitted neatly for about two wears and now looks all baggy and which almost certinly should no longer be worn to the office except in cases of terrible emergency/ oversleeping on a Monday morning, ahem>

Photo is fab BTW.

Housemum Mon 10-May-10 14:08:21

I like Zara but it seems to be designed for shorter people (with small feet) - I'm not hugely tall, 5' 6" with size 8 feet, but I feel like a giant in there as the arms are too short and as a size 14 I usually have to get size XL.

BoffinMum Mon 10-May-10 14:08:44

Mary, can you have a go at the glossies as well, because they are terrible for making us feel inadequate.

MaryPortas Mon 10-May-10 14:09:51

gggirl I've been doing this for years so have developed my own style, but it is about simple rules.

Everything comes down to confidence and I think we've been knocked by a youth obsessive industry - it's not even celebrating beauty it's celebrating youth. I just want to celebrate beautiful clothes that celebrate women not just girls.

squeaver Mon 10-May-10 14:10:26

But the problem with the fashion press is that they are such SLAVES to the big chains and also to their own lack of imagination - see all the posts earlier in the thread about "workwear", "the perfect winter coat" etc etc.

And I LOVE fashion mags. They just frustrate the hell out of me.

BoffinMum Mon 10-May-10 14:11:13

I have to say I felt the same when I was 20 and was a size 10/12. I am not sure it is a youth thing, I think it's a contempt for customers thing.

Housemum Mon 10-May-10 14:11:24

Nicest bits in my wardrobe at the mom were from Phildar in France - a lovely black bobbly wool jacket, and a long sleeved sheer top that is long enough to cover the stupid gap when I can't find jeans that go up to my waist!

(Thank you M&S for the "Roma" jeans but please make the same waist height in straight as well as bootcut)

JackieNo Mon 10-May-10 14:13:23

Maybe we all need to be out there customising our own clothes - mind you, my sewing skills are nil. Or at the very least getting things altered so they fit us properly.

brimfull Mon 10-May-10 14:13:55

sneaky question

is the rule that horizontal stripes making you look bigger a load of crap?

OurLadyOfPerpetualSupper Mon 10-May-10 14:14:21

And so much bloody polyester everywhere!
This may have been covered, and I know there are others on MN who feel this way - but this cheap and uncomfortable fabric seems to be creeping in to higher end high street shops nowadays.

I walked out of LK Bennet this winter gutted after refusing to buy a totally flattering, perfect party dress that cost £225 for polyester.

And, having boobs, finding a flattering dress doesn't come easily to me.

champagnesupernova Mon 10-May-10 14:14:29

Possibly JackieNo but 1/2 the prob is that the clothes aren't good enough quality to stand up to altering, innit?

<regards bobbly jersey top>

brimfull Mon 10-May-10 14:15:21

i wouldn't care what a garment was made of as long as it suited and fit me

JackieNo Mon 10-May-10 14:16:33

True, champagnesupernova sad. Though if you knew something would then fit you properly, maybe you'd be prepared to spend more money on it in the first place.

domesticslattern Mon 10-May-10 14:17:13

I think Boffinmum has a point. When I was younger and thinner I didn't identify with the models then either. It is just that I found it easier to get away with wearing cheap clothing.

It's as I have got older and my shape has changed that it gets harder and harder to carry off flimsy fabrics, poor cuts, lazy finishing, styles which are designed for a "straight-up straight-down" figure. It's more about that than the models, for me.

I think in ten years of buying three fashion mags a month I can count on one hand the number of times I have seen something in the mag and gone out to buy it. The mags seem to inhabit another planet. I wonder why I keep buying them? confused

MaryPortas Mon 10-May-10 14:17:34

Chimchar: More than happy to back the campaign.

Delighted so many have signed up, hope the rest follow suit. Come on those who are still considering like Next, BHS and Primark it looks really bad for your business - pull your finger out and show us your money.

littlelapin Mon 10-May-10 14:18:18

Mary Portas namechecked me <boogies round thread in really good shoes> grin

Drat I missed it, was mowing the lawn blush. Mary, if you are still there <hopeful>, why is it that some shoes are incredibly high but still very comfortable (ie Louboutins) while others of similar price are not (Choos)? Is it just that the last of the former is better for my particular feet? I wish you could get reasonably priced shoes that felt like that.

<shoe obsessive>

MaryPortas Mon 10-May-10 14:19:47

What do you think I should call the shop? Any ideas? If you come up with the perfect name for the shop, I'll dress you in the perfect outfit

brimfull Mon 10-May-10 14:20:01

arf a LL mowing the lawn in LOuboutins

MaryPortas Mon 10-May-10 14:20:11

ggirl: The answer is yes they do make you look bigger>

Housemum Mon 10-May-10 14:20:25

How about the whole 80's idea of the "capsule wardrobe"? I can't believe I have so many clothes yet still end up being lazy and keeping things just-in-case, then wearing the same old stuff. Gok Wan's programme promised this idea, but when you analyse what he did, it was basically one or 2 items with tons of accessories. You'd quickly be here-she-is-in-the-same-frock-again. How much is too much? How much do you really need? Sorry, rambling a bit...

brimfull Mon 10-May-10 14:21:07

Help the 40's

champagnesupernova Mon 10-May-10 14:21:16

Quite Contrary
(to the rest of the tat on the high street)

<books appointment for perfect outfit fitting>

MaryPortas Mon 10-May-10 14:21:23

Littlelapin: It is totally about the platform and the make. And Clarks are so good at this, and that's why I want to work on this with them. You are so right

brimfull Mon 10-May-10 14:22:12

<cancels idea of jaunty breton top>>

brimfull Mon 10-May-10 14:22:45

contrary mary

MaryPortas Mon 10-May-10 14:23:38

Thank you so much, you've not only been interesting but thoroughly entertaining. You've got great attitude and I could go on all day. If any of you would like to take part in a filmed focus group and be part of my team - please email maryportas@optomen.com

Thanks again and see you in the shop.

brimfull Mon 10-May-10 14:23:39

can you spell out classics I should start acquiring?

Birdly Mon 10-May-10 14:23:56

40 not out! grin

brimfull Mon 10-May-10 14:24:36

thanks Mary
look forward to your shop

tiktok Mon 10-May-10 14:24:37

Thanks, Mary Good luck with the shop.

(never did find out about your hair )

MaryPortas Mon 10-May-10 14:25:42

Oh sorry one last thing Joel at John Freida cuts my hair....

domesticslattern Mon 10-May-10 14:26:17

thanks Mary
I will be an interloper in her 30s in your shop. <hope you won't ask for DOB ID on the door> smile

chimchar Mon 10-May-10 14:26:35

thanks so much mary!

brimfull Mon 10-May-10 14:28:09

Come back when we're all banging on about finding a good raincoat..should be in a few months time.

littlelapin Mon 10-May-10 14:29:29

Pretty Maids (going with the Contrary Mary theme). Not that that sounds patronising or anything grin

ggirl, doesn't EVERYONE mow the lawn in Louboutins? <hides muddy wellies>

Thank you Mary! Can't wait to see the shop, and try on the shoes grin.

MaryPortas Mon 10-May-10 14:31:00

ggirl and those who asked about the classics.

At the moment a v slim legged trousers - always 2 dresses in your wardrobe to wear casually or with a heel

V difficult to wear separates well if you've put on weight
Always a great jacket can update any look
I have jackets that have been in wardrobe for years

People think baggy trousers look good - but slim trousers with a comfy high shoe...

And ggirl you can buy your breton top, but it will make you look larger - so best if you're tall and can carry off the look with jeans and flats.

MaryPortas Mon 10-May-10 14:31:51

And now I really am gone - goodbye!

squeaver Mon 10-May-10 14:40:12

Name of shop = FFFQ or FQubed (geddit?) or TripleFQ

(for fit, fashion, flattery, quality)

squeaver Mon 10-May-10 14:47:06

And thanks, Mary. And will you come back and let us know how it's going?

BoffinMum Mon 10-May-10 14:59:24

Call it 'BCBG'

French code for 'bon chic bon genre'

BoffinMum Mon 10-May-10 15:02:08

God, she was fab, wasn't she?

Thanks Mary x

LoveBeingAHungParliament Mon 10-May-10 15:18:25

fab gutted I had vistors arrive hlf way through [grr]

SuSylvester Mon 10-May-10 15:59:04

and i missed her as was out buying ( gasp) clothes with MIL

Sweeedes Mon 10-May-10 16:12:09

<googles Joel at John Frieda>

comixminx Mon 10-May-10 16:13:43

BoffinMum - isn't there already a French shop called that? Or even a Franco-US one

DecorHate Mon 10-May-10 16:20:24

i missed it too as I forgot! i wasn't eve doing anything in particular hmm

Did you have a good birthday Su?

littlelapin Mon 10-May-10 16:20:41

I thought BoffinMum was saying that BCBG fulfills the sort of brief that Mary wants to with her shop...

BoffinMum Mon 10-May-10 16:24:44

No, it was that I didn't know some shop had already got what has to be a fab name!

brimfull Mon 10-May-10 16:42:52

hey she answered me
am so thrilled thanks Mary
<creep >

I will resist breton top as am short arse

BoffinMum Mon 10-May-10 17:10:49

Can't you wear it sideways on, ggirl? grin

bobdog Mon 10-May-10 20:33:05

I apologise for the state of the Exeter shops last Sunday. A friend (size 8 boyish) and I (size 12 curvy) went with money burning a hole in our pockets. She tried on every bloody dress from Primark to LK Bennett for a wedding outfit found nothing. I'm having a style crisis of dispair and am looking at revisiting my Goth/vintage roots in an All Saints/Old Town Clothing way.

I refuse to curl up and die in expensive, badly made clothing in bright colours that don't really suit me but because I have n't got the time to update my wardrobe evry fortnight end up buying from the usual mail order suspects.

TheMarquisofCranberry Mon 10-May-10 21:07:17


everythingiseverything Mon 10-May-10 22:42:28

I like the French expression Bien dans sa peau - feeling good in your own skin, but I'm not sure it works as a shop name.

OllieWollieWoo Tue 11-May-10 07:25:11

Soooo annoyed I missed this (enjoyed reading it tho) - but just wanted to say (in case MP looks at this for updates???) that I think Mint Velvet is a welcome addition to the High Street for over 40's - not everything in the collection is suitable but there are some lovely pieces at reasonable prices in there. Just a thought.

BoffinMum Tue 11-May-10 09:41:22

I think Bien Dans La Peau is such a good phrase - it sums it all up really. Interesting that we don't have a phrase like that in English, isn't it?

dawntigga Tue 11-May-10 12:38:07

I quite liked Pret A Portas myselfwink


elkiedee Tue 11-May-10 13:30:08

bookmarking for reference later

DavidHameron Tue 11-May-10 13:31:01

Pret a Portas: vv good

cyb Tue 11-May-10 21:26:45

I want to be her Saturday girl

squeaver Tue 11-May-10 22:02:07

Me too, cyb.

Do you think we'll be able to sneak out the back to talk about boys and do our hair?

cyb Tue 11-May-10 22:36:10

Oh I'd love to

I might email her just to see what happens

brimfull Tue 11-May-10 22:42:35

ooh I'll be the tea lady
like Mrs Apron

cyb Tue 11-May-10 22:45:16

Mrs overall FOOL

brimfull Tue 11-May-10 22:54:30

oh yes

from now on sh eis mrs apron


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