Fabulous Fashionistas – meet the ladies

We talk to the stars of the Channel 4 documentary - extraordinary women in their 70s, 80s and 90s who do things we might not expect, and look stylish while doing them

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Name: Bridget Sojourner

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Age: 75

Job: Ageism campaigner

Style: “Pioneer of colour”

“I inherited a design consciousness from my mother so I’m good at putting things together. I like coordinating colours but I also like it when they clash. I was putting yellows with oranges and pinks three years before colour blocking became fashionable on the high street. I think I’m a bit of a pioneer generally.

“People stop me everyday in the street, amazed that I look so stylish at my age.  The insidious ageism in our society says that you become invisible as you get older and that’s what I’m fighting against visually with my clothes. It’s great to see women like Mary Berry and Mary Beard on television but it’s tokenism when you remember that Anna Ford and Moira Stewart had to disappear because of their age.

“I want older women to believe they can do and wear anything. I’m still waiting for the call from Channel 4 asking me to read the news.”


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Name: Jean Woods

Age: 75

Job: Boutique gift shop assistant

Style: “Dr Martens with everything”

“I’ve definitely become edgier as I’ve got older. I’m not sure I would have worn a floaty Topshop dress with Dr. Martens thirty years ago, but these days they’re my staple items.

“Five years ago my husband died suddenly. I was in a terrible state and was going to get a job in a charity shop to take my mind off it. Then my son suggested that I apply to Gap instead. I thought it was a ridiculous idea because nobody over 21 goes into that shop but I went in anyway and they gave me the job immediately.

“When I turned 71, head office sent someone to check on me because I was the company’s oldest employee. They saw I was all in one piece and that was that.

“My advice to women my age would be to dress for yourself. I don’t think I look silly in what I wear so I wouldn’t ever be influenced by a negative comment. There’s no age limit on style. I don’t dress to feel younger. I dress to feel like me.”


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Name: Daphne Selfe

Age: 85

Job: Model

Style: “Classy funky”

The world’s oldest supermodel, Daphne Selfe, 85, has worked in the fashion industry for over 60 years. She appeared on the cover of Italian Vogue aged 80 and this year became the face of Tk Maxx.

“I worked as a model in my twenties. I wasn’t anything special but I stopped completely to have children. Then, when I was seventy, I was rediscovered and asked to do London Fashion Week for a brand called Red or Dead. I couldn’t believe it! It was the first time they had used older models and I just loved it because I enjoy wearing clothes, whatever they are. I was prancing up and down the catwalk and, even better, I didn’t have to wear high heels!

“After that I did a photo shoot with Vogue for an article on ageing and that led to me being scouted by a modelling agency. It’s amazing – I’m busier now that I was in my twenties. In the old days you didn’t go anywhere other than England for photo shoots but over the past few years I’ve been to Paris, South Africa and Los Angeles. I’m still hoping to be sent to New York on a job because I’ve never been and I’m not sure I’d want to go on my own.

“I don’t believe in being a slave to the latest trends. You should wear what you love and what suits you. I did wear hotpants for a bit when I was younger but my legs got cold so I gave up. I still wear my going-away suit from my wedding although I tend to save it for things like Ascot or Henley because it’s a bit smart these days.

“Now that I’m older I approach fashion and modelling differently. I’m not perfect anymore so I don’t worry so much. It’s very liberating. Getting old really does have quite a lot of advantages.”


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Name: Lady Trumpington

Age: 91

Job: Conservative life peer

Style: “Lucky if it hits the spot”

In 1989 Conservative life peer Baroness Trumpington, now 91, became the oldest ever woman to be appointed a Government minister. In 2011 she became a Youtube sensation when she flicked the Vs at Lord King of Bridgewater in the House of Lords. She has since caused a stir on Have I Got News for You.

“When I became Minister of Agriculture in 1989 I didn’t have time to go shopping so I started ordering my clothes from catalogues. Mind you, I did end up in some very odd outfits. I was at an agricultural exhibition once in Saudi Arabia where I obviously had to be covered to my ankles. I was also wearing an enormous hat. Everyone burst out laughing when I walked in. I suppose I did look very strange.

“Funnily enough I didn’t own a tweed coat until recently so I ordered one by mail order. It’s terribly nice and it came so well packed with a coat hanger in the box. The only problem with catalogues is choosing a size. You have to think: ‘Am I getting thinner or fatter?’ I’ve decided not to give myself room to get fat.

“I was brought up looking at people who wore lovely clothes. Saying that, there were no lovely clothes when I worked in intelligence at Bletchley Park during the Second World War. You did these awful shifts and you wore whatever was comfortable. You certainly didn’t bother with appearance.

“These days practicality is still important. One of my favourite items is a three-piece wool trouser suit with pockets that I bought from Harrods about 20 years ago. I must say that I do love pockets because I’ll always have a Kleenex to put in them.

“Women have a very difficult time in politics but I’ve never felt that I have to wear something specific to be taken seriously. There are some particularly odd numbers dress-wise in the House of Lords but it has no effect on their excellent speeches.

“Simplicity is the key. There is nothing like a single rope of cultured pearls to dress up something drab. They’re not expensive and they’re in all the catalogues.”


Fabulous Fashionistas is at 10pm tonight on Channel 4


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