Or lilac! My mother-in-law was both, but then again my mother-in-law was middle aged by the time she was thirty. Fear of being described as mutton dressed as lamb puts many older women off being more adventurous with their wardrobe and they end up conforming to a safe look, a sort of middle-aged uniform you could say.
Okay so maybe hemlines shouldn’t be too short, nor necklines too low – unless of course you have pins to die for and a spectacular cleavage, in which case if you’ve got it flaunt it – but it is perfectly possible to stay stylish well into old age, without looking either desperate or sad.
Just look at women like Annie Lennox, Ruby Wax, Helen Mirren or Diane Keaton (been in love with her look since Annie Hall), all confident older women who have found their individual style and know what works for them regardless of their age.
I keep a gentle eye on what’s on trend and may tip my hat at it through the cut of my jeans or the length of my skirt but I’ve never been a slave to fashion. However, the older I get, the more colourful my wardrobe becomes. My favourite colour is yellow; you could call it my signature colour as I am almost always to be found wearing some shade of it or other.
Last summer I fancied a pair of dungarees and asked my daughters if they thought I was too old to carry them off. “You’re never too old to wear what you want” they replied but warned that I might have to suffer their father’s ridicule. They were wrong: “Go for it” he enthused, “I fell in love with you wearing dungarees”. Before you all reach for the sick bucket, he went on to spoil it later by calling me Grandma Walton when I actually wore my dungarees out.
And when I wore them with a yellow T shirt (of course) my daughters said “Love the dungs mum, but you do look a bit like a Minion”!
Although I don’t have the confidence to emulate Iris Apfel, New York’s eccentric 94-year-old fashion doyenne, you’ve got to admire her style. I doubt many people would guess if they spotted me in a blue-and-white polka dot dress over yellow jeans – one of my favourite summer outfits – that I am actually quite introverted and reserved. Yet, when fashionista Caryn Franklin wrote in the Guardian “What I love about fashion is that you can celebrate being an individual” she could have been writing about me!
Want my advice? Forget the rulebook, ignore the sceptics but most of all steer clear of beige.