In praise of [slightly] older women

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Diana Rigg in the early Seventies (in her mid-thirties)

They were all beautiful in their twenties, and they remain beautiful to this day, but I have come to the conclusion that many of my favourite women looked their very, very best in their thirties and early forties. Which may or may not be somewhat biased by my own entering of my thirties. Ok, so I entered them three years ago but still… I think it is an important thing to notice, when all around are becoming consumed by vanity and their faces destroyed by undesirable injectables.

The puppy fat has fallen away, the features now more defined and enhanced by laughter lines and emerging cheekbones. They look relaxed; as if the pressure of ‘looking good’, which so restrains a teen or twenty-something, has lifted with the knowledge that none of it really matters a great deal. Maybe they’ve had a baby, maybe they don’t want to, maybe they’re still waiting for the right moment (Diana Rigg was 39 when she had Rachael). They know any man worth his salt won’t mind seeing them without make-up, and that he doesn’t really care about the size of their breasts or backsides. They know how swiftly life is passing, how much has been missed already, and how relatively little retains its importance ten or twenty years later. They don’t try to make up for their age by ignoring it or trying to behave like teenagers, they simply embrace the things which are worth embracing. They still make mistakes, but can handle them with good grace.

I realise I am making the cardinal mistake of putting words into people’s mouths and making sweeping generalisations, but I wanted to express how looking at these women makes me feel. And how it reminds me of why it is ok for me to have changed, to have matured and to have grown into my appearance. We all have moments when we wish we still had all that youth on our side, but a few quick glances at things I wrote, men I dated or photographs of myself ten years ago – soon remind me that I didn’t know anything, had very poor taste in men and was quite chubby in the face. All things I am glad to have [hopefully] grown out of.

So whether you are here (there) already, or have it yet to come, I hope you can remember these incredible women and weep for the stupidity of the likes of Lindsey Lohan, Lara Flynn Boyle or Carla Bruni. Plus, don’t forget to check back in with me in ten years time and see if I’ve started saying that ‘actually they looked better in their fifties…’.

Apologies for vague dating of some pictures, the tumblr effect means that very few are dated for me and I’ve had to do a certain amount of guesswork… Also, certain people I think looked lovely in their thirties have gone on to have pretty lousy work done to their faces and have, consequently, not been featured here. That’ll teach ’em!

Jane Birkin, 1982 (aged 36)

Brigitte Bardot in 1972, aged 38

Jean Shrimpton in the mid Seventies, in her early thirties

Charlotte Rampling in 1984 (aged 38)

Jacqueline Bisset in 1977 (aged 33)

Veruschka in 1972 (aged 33)

Françoise Hardy in the early Eighties (in her late thirties)

Grace Coddington in 1974 (aged 33)

Brigitte Bardot in the late Sixties (in her mid thirties)

Jacqueline Bisset in 1984 (aged 40)

Diana Rigg c.1974 (aged 36)

Charlotte Rampling in 1977 (aged 31)

Twiggy in 1983 (aged 34)

Françoise Hardy in the late Seventies (in her mid thirties)

Jean Shrimpton in 1979 (aged 37)

And in case you needed any more evidence, please see Duran Duran’s now infamous supermodel-stuffed video for Girl Panic!. Personally I believe they all look far, far better than they did in their modelling heyday.

Before They Were Famous: Jacqueline Bisset

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The unmistakeable Jacqueline Bisset, in a rather frumpy advert for wool.
Nova, October 1965. Scanned by Miss Peelpants.

Must See Vintage Films: Two for the Road (1967)

1960s, albert finney, audrey hepburn, films, Foale and Tuffin, jacqueline bisset, ken scott, mary quant, Paco Rabanne

My most recent Lovefilm rental was a film I’ve been dying to see for years: Two for the Road starring Audrey Hepburn and Albert Finney. I can safely say that it did not disappoint and I remain baffled as to why it wasn’t more successful at the time, or why it hasn’t been re-evaluated as a classic in the years since. I suppose it is mainly a lack of familiarity; when was the last time it was shown on’t’telly?

One reviewer explained the possible contemporary drawback that Audrey Hepburn was a much more established Hollywood star in 1967, and someone like Albert Finney would have seemed a terrible upstart to have equal billing opposite her. It doesn’t help that his character is a dominant, aggressive, opinionated Alpha male, and she is as delicately beautiful and softly spoken as always. That isn’t to say that her character is a washout, far from it, but in analysing a marriage across its entire lifespan, you will certainly see the worst sides of both parties. And the phrase ‘a bit of an arse’ was created precisely for a man like Mark Wallace.

The rhythm of the film is deliciously undulating and swervy, which is dictated by the fact that it is a road movie and that it switches between several different time periods through its entirety. You see how the couple first meet, how they fall in love, how they survive youthful poverty, pregnancy, the changing fortunes of their lives (and how these, perversely, make them unhappier), their dalliances, how they seem to be falling out of love. In fact, it shows every nuance of a complex relationship in snippy vignettes from several holidays, each involving a long journey across France. You never see their home, but you really don’t notice and certainly don’t need to.

It is also notable for Hepburn’s wardrobe, which is provided by a host of swinging young designers (Foale and Tuffin, Mary Quant, Paco Rabanne, Ken Scott etc…) and perfectly places each time period. You know where you are when her hair is long, and her beatnik jumper is red, or when her hair is perfectly coiffed into a Vidal Sassoon cut and her clothes are mod perfection.

You’ll laugh, if you’re anything like me you’ll cry, and you’ll fall ever more in love with Audrey and Albert. There’s even an early Jacqueline Bisset appearance. Definitely a ‘must see’, in my opinion.

Vintage Inspiration: Jacqueline Bisset

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Currently loving her very subtle and elegant Sixties self. My eye gets drawn to these photos every time I dip into my archives, yet I’ve not got around to posting them. For shame.