Oh, Madge! The bottom line is no woman over 50 should really be wearing fishnets
11:11 GMT, 27 March 2012
When Madonna wore fishnet stockings the first time around, it was 1990. Back then, she teamed them with a polka-dot jacket, black shorts, a bowler hat and a gamine crop. There was a huge dollop of attitude, too, and rather ballsy humour.
I remember she grabbed her crotch onstage in those little shorts. She looked incredible.
The outfit was not her idea, of course: she was mixing Marlene Dietrich with Liza Minnelli in Cabaret. She knew fishnets infer sadomasochism. They are slutty, especially if riddled with holes, and so segued nicely into her irreverent schtick.
Tight fight: Madonna in her fishnets at the weekend
She had a dancer’s buttocks and thighs but, most importantly, she was only 32 years old. I remember my 32-year-old buttocks rather fondly: I enveloped them in tiny olive green Calvin Klein shorts and fishnet tights, topped off with a gold Katharine Hamnett waistcoat, and took them to a disco in Marbella.
Fast forward 21 years, and my 53-year-old bottom now has the consistency of unrisen dough. I keep expecting Delia Smith to turn up at my house with a rolling pin, and dust me with flour. I’d no more wear my olive shorts these days than a snow-washed denim blouson.
But here Madonna is again in fishnet tights. And even briefer satin shorts. She seems these days to be channelling Bette Davis, or some sad relic from the Eighties, what with the arm warmers and Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel fingerless gloves. The awful quiff reminds me of the redoubtable fashion critic Suzy Menkes.
Not her best angle! Madonna's sag pictured from the side
Now, I know these comments might be rather harsh, but so is growing old. It’s ghastly. I reckon I’ve had as much plastic surgery as Madonna appears to have had, an equally large vat of filler squished into my cheeks because the pads of fat that used to lurk there have migrated to my knees.
But while our faces might still look freakishly young, it’s our bodies that betray us, no matter how many hours we’ve spent flat on our backs in a Pilates studio.
I might be the same dress size I was aged 32, but that’s about all that has remained the same. My ankles are now riddled with blue veins. My earlobes are heading rather worryingly towards my shoulders.
I find it a bit sad when I go to the
shows in Paris, as I did earlier this month, and see women in their 60s
shedding tears over a peplum skirt.
Note how Madge always wears those
fingerless gloves: I’d wager she’s developing liver spots, or at least
the skin on the back of her hands is now so thin she could read her
reviews through it.
saying women over 50 should stick to embroidered salmon twin sets and
the M&S classics range, hiding behind great big bauble necklaces and
wear outfits I’ve owned since 1990: hipster trousers with mannish
tailored jackets, baggy combat trousers, microscopic Prada T-shirts. Toe
rings worn with Havaiana flip flops. My Gucci embellished boot-cut
But there is an increasingly large
pile of clothes destined for Oxfam, not the Oscars. Even though we
children of the Fifties are so much better preserved than our mothers
(and my mum didn’t have one single natural tooth in her head aged 49),
there are still some garments that have a definite sell-by date.
skinny jeans: just too gynaecologically explicit and thrombosis
threatening. Anything pink, or with a bow. Sleeveless vests. I’m also
thinking of giving up wearing platforms, as I’ve become increasingly
worried about breaking my ankle and ending up on a mixed-sex geriatric
Bondage: The singer sporting fish nets on stage when she was younger and in her prime
Shorts are a distant memory, along with 20-20 eyesight and getting out of a chair without a groan. In fact, I can no longer wear anything above the knee, as I now have Demi Moore-like knee wrinkles.
Revealing my decolletage is tricky, too, as the jutting bones reveal me as not old, but long dead. And I’m one of the lucky ones. It’s far easier to grow old gracefully if your style has always been quite pared down, minimal and mannish, as mine has been: I always think the likes of Jo Wood, with her uniform of biker jackets and lots of black, can glide smoothly into senility pretty much unfettered.
But if you have always favoured ra-ra skirts, prom dresses and Jean Paul Gaultier conical bras, you might want to plan a great big bonfire.
For a 53-year-old woman to play the fashionable sex kitten is a bit sad, to be honest… I’m embarrassed for Madonna
Of course you can look fabulous over 50, but there is a crucial difference between being well groomed, a la Anne Robinson, and looking like a superannuated Barbie, a la Carol Vorderman, whose body-conscious Roland Mouret dress worn for a lunch with girlfriends was so tight we could see her kidneys, while a red-carpet gown worn at the National TV awards showed off way too much cleavage.
It doesn’t matter if you are as toned
and honed as Madonna: it’s simply not dignified to pull on an Herve
Leger bandage mini dress just because you can.
Moore might be a goddess, but I don’t want to see her upper arms or
stomach (I found the sex scene in The Kids Are Alright gut churning,
given I saw it with a boyfriend. I had never let him see my
fifty-something rump in broad daylight, and here he was getting it writ
large, across a 100ft screen).
Past 50, it is all about choosing classic
shapes that fit well, and exposing as little flesh as possible. Too
much anything — fake eyelashes, fake tan, sequins, satin and flesh —
only accentuates your slide into antiquity.
Madonna making her special appearance at the Ultra Music Festival held at Bayfront Park in South Beach
I never felt so silly or envious as when I saw Jenny Agutter, who turns 60 this year, being interviewed on The One Show on BBC1. How serene, how unadulterated is she Putting eyelash extensions on Jenny Agutter would be like giving the Queen a gold tooth. Wrong. And unnecessary.
I think being a fashion victim over 50, caring too much about trends and colours and hem-lines and whether men notice you or not, reveals something way more horrifying than crepey skin or a stomach with the consistency of cold porridge.
It shows that there is a yawning cavern in your soul where something more meaningful should be, such as, ooh, I don’t know, a family, or love, or even gardening.
I find it a bit sad when I go to the shows in Paris, as I did earlier this month, and see women in their 60s shedding tears over a peplum skirt. An older woman in head-to-toe crazy, clashing printed pyjamas just looks as though she has escaped from her carer.
For a 53-year-old woman to play the fashionable sex kitten is a bit sad, to be honest.
I’m embarrassed for Madonna — she is letting the side down. Memo to the postmenopausal: forget the fashion mantra of only exposing one erogenous zone at a time. After 50 you have no erogenous zones. Accept it. Move on. Cover up.