Fashion for life: Leather or not? Winter's big dilemma

Kylie Minogue

Kylie rocks classic Ray-Ban sunnies


Puckish Posh carries off the leather look

There is, I have discovered, a definitive age limit for certain favoured fashion items. The fact that 39 happens to be the cutoff point for an entire galaxy of clothes is in itself vexing, but all the more so when something truly delicious saunters into the style spotlight, only to cast you a pitying glance and whisper, ‘Er, no, I don’t think so, luvvie.’

I’m afraid I got the luvvie treatment a few months back from a pair of sensational leather trousers. Much as I would have liked a pair of Isabel Marant’s wicked red leather pants, with their cropped hem and their devilish ways, I knew there was no earthly use. Even with all those styling details, and despite looking spectacular on Victoria Beckham’s puckish frame, they would be pure MILT (mother in leather trousers) on me. I think it has something to do with one’s bottom. At a certain age, it balks at being housed in leather, preferring the consoling embrace of a good pair of jeans or a well-cut wool-crepe trouser. It could do without the stretch and sheen and creak of cowhide on buttock, preferring instead a more refined, low-key kind of life.

Besides, there’s no getting around the fact that leather jeans are somehow bogus beyond 40 – like knowing what the number-one downloaded ringtone is, or who’s dating Justin Bieber. At a pivotal point in life, you simply have to let such things pass, like fallen leaves beneath your feet.

At a certain age, one’s bottom balks at being housed in leather, preferring the embrace of a good pair of jeans

Mind you, even a 27-year-old with a 27-inch waist wouldn’t have had a chance with those Marant pants, no matter how hard she tried – partly due to the fact that they cost £1,500 (an uncomfortable sum whichever way you look at it), but mostly because they sold out many moons ago. Brilliant. You and I won’t even have to suffer the ignominy of trying them on!

No matter. There are plenty of other trends guaranteed to give you the brushoff as you hover around the 40 mark looking for inspiration. A fake-fur gilet, for one. Plain silly. Pretty much anything by Juicy Couture. Rhinestone (as if you would). Knee-high socks. Ear muffs. Those 70s jeans that are about to be a huge fashion hit (prepare thyself) – particularly the MiH Marrakesh ones with the unforgiving high waist and the flappy bell-bottoms that look so darn perfect on Jessica Alba. Forget them, sisters, forget them all.

Forget, yes, but don’t retire hurt. There are, happily enough, countless lovely looks out there that perform the opposite trick and seem to love you more as time goes by. Cargo pants – still hot, hot, hot – can be the backbone of a daily wardrobe. Cable, cobweb and chunky knitwear, preferably cashmere, is charming and sophisticated (a rare combo). Classic sunglasses start to look better than the fiddly fashion ones (I’ve got my eye on Ray-Ban Outdoorsmans). Ooh, and lace – so fetching, quite daring, and set to be the life and soul of the party come Christmas. Then there’s the hushed glory of nude nail varnish; my current favourite is the delectable Cadogan Square by Nails Inc, a glorious milky caramel. More than can be said of wah-wah red leather trousers, don’t you think?


It’s the thought that counts, especially when it’s engraved on to a beautiful piece
of jewellery. Just in time for Christmas, online boutique is offering a customised engraving service on a selection of its classic pieces, such as this 18-carat yellow gold locket, £1,295 (above left) and sterling silver ring, £145. Available in three fonts, from £15 a word.


Erdem for Matches

Erdem, who continues his reign as the toast of British fashion, has created a
five-piece collection exclusively for London fashion store Matches. In purples and blues and glossy blacks, the range includes this Chiasa dress, £828. Also online at

It’s darling!

Elizabeth Hurley bag

Elizabeth Hurley and Aspinal of London have teamed up to create this gorgeous bag in aid of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. £100 from the sale of each ELIZABETH HURLEY BAG goes to the organisation. £295,