MN WEBCHAT GUIDELINES 1. One question per member plus a follow-up question if appropriate, ie once you've had a response. 2. Keep your question brief 3. Don't be disappointed if your specific question doesn't get answered and do try not to keep posting "What about me?". 4. Do be civil/polite. See guidelines in full here.

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

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

and
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 Netherlands 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...

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now