Old Timers

Age Is Just a Number: Six Ladies Who Defy Fashion Norms

These stylish grannies are taking over Europe. A group of British women—some nearing 90—breaks all of the rules of old age in the hot new documentary Fabulous Fashionistas.

Fabulous Fashionistas/Christopher Kennedy

Growing old and gray may not be easy, but six stylish Britons do old age in style.

Fabulous Fashionistas, a new TV documentary on Britain’s BBC4, follows these women, who believe in forever young and forever fashionable. With an average age of 80, none of this remarkable group of six have ever had Botox or plastic surgery, maintaining a “screw that” attitude to the standard dictates of age in all aspects of life. “I don’t give a damn what people think of me or the way I dress. I dress for myself because I love style and design and color,” says one fashionista.

Why should old age be depressing and boring? Bridget, a 75-year-old great-grandmother, says it best: “Getting older doesn’t have to mean getting into a care home and sitting in a circle with one’s mouth open and the teeth falling out and all that stuff,” she explained.

For this quirky bunch, self-expression through clothing doesn’t always come with a steep price. For one woman whose source of income is a state pension, shopping trips are limited to charity shops, not luxurious, high-street stores. All of them would agree, it’s not about how much you spend, or dressing like a 20 year old, but “having an identity beyond ‘old lady.’”

Beyond showing off their head-turning fashion choices, these women share their stories of experience, loss, insecurity, and, of course, their enduring passion for style. Though they stand out for not dressing like little biddies, they are also notable for redefining what it means to get older—with sass and a stylish buoyancy. And with their age comes wisdom and this critical lesson: Life will be rewarding when you dare to make the most of it and challenge those who try to keep you from realizing even your loftiest of dreams.

An aspiring model in her later years, one fashionista said, “I think the fashion industry probably isn’t ready for us quite yet. I came in as a campaigning influence to change the way older people are seen in society. I want to inspire people to know that getting older isn’t a bad thing,” she said.