Youre a real trouper Anne, but at 68 (like me) its time to grow old gracefully


You’re a real trouper Anne, but at 68 (like me) it’s time to grow old gracefully

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UPDATED:

01:52 GMT, 2 October 2012

Anne Robinson looked every one of her 68 years as she stepped out on the morning of her birthday this week

Anne Robinson looked every one of her 68 years as she stepped out on the morning of her birthday this week

Anne Robinson and I are the same age exactly — so I know how difficult it is to look good at 68, and how much effort it takes to keep the years at bay.

Hair plays a vital role in the careful framing of an older woman’s face, so Anne was unlucky to get caught in a gust of wind that suddenly made it a very bad hair day when she was photographed walking to a London salon last week.

But, sadly, that wasn’t the worst of it. What the world will remember after looking at those pictures is the unfortunate state of her knees, encased in sagging, mottled skin and looking at least 20 years older than the rest of her.

As any older woman knows — or should know — knees are an area of the body that should never, ever be revealed in public after the age of about 40.

It doesn’t matter how much exercise you do, how toned and honed the rest of you is, how much hard-earned money you have spent on skilled cosmetic surgery: the brutal truth is that nothing — absolutely nothing — can be done to avoid crinkly, gnarled knees.

Most women of a certain age lament the advent of crows’ feet, the sag of their breasts and the loss of their waist, but legs are another, often unacknowledged, problem area.

As I know only too well, it is impossible to prevent them from ageing. Legs thicken and lose shape with age, thighs go crepey and wrinkly, and ankles accumulate fat.

This deterioration is among the many ills that ageing female flesh is heir to.

The only solution is to keep them hidden from the world. Even if they’re smothered in expensive fake tan — and Anne’s pins do look particularly orange — older legs must never go on show.

There’s no shortage of ways to camouflage this particular Achilles heel — jeans, trousers, below-the-knee skirts, dresses, tights. We older women must take advantage of them all.

Don’t get me wrong — I am not singling Anne Robinson out for particular criticism. After all, she has always held up far better than me in the ageing stakes. And no one can deny the awesome hard work she has put into holding the years at bay.

She admits to having had two facelifts, and they have been nothing short of a roaring success. I saw her at a church service some years ago, before she embarked on any surgery, and she looked older than her years.

I, too, had a facelift in 2009, and never looked anything like as good as the TV presenter after her surgery.

Anne has taken care never to put on weight, maintaining her enviably slim figure over several decades, while many of her peers have happily expanded into comfortable old age.

Looking good: Anne Robinson has often triumphed in the fashion stakes

Looking good: Anne Robinson has often triumphed in the fashion stakes

Looking good: Anne has often triumphed in the fashion stakes, and here is two great examples

She has a personal trainer, does
punishing daily swims, and dedicates herself to keeping fit with the
sheer grit of an elite athlete — she runs four-and-a-half miles four
times a week, while many women her age are happy in a comfy armchair in
front of the television.

Anne is always immaculately groomed, and invariably clad head-to-toe in beautiful designer gear.

She
certainly looks younger and fitter than most women of her age, and
while no one would argue that she is one of the world’s great beauties,
there’s no doubt that she cuts a striking figure for a woman just two
years short of 70.

In addition, she has risen early and worked late into the night throughout her career, making sacrifices when it came to her health — she was an alcoholic as a young woman, probably due to stress, and as a result lost custody of her only daughter during her first divorce.

None of which changes the fact that revealing those knees was a big mistake — and an even bigger surprise.

At nearly 70, surely it is time for Anne to put away that black above-the-knee dress and those chunky biker boots and start to grow old gracefully.

She would, after all, still look fantastic. She just wouldn’t be accused of being mutton-dressed-as-lamb. She is so attractive, so youthful-looking that she doesn’t need such outfits, which frankly would be more suited to a trendy teenager. I think there comes a time in every woman’s life when she has to embrace the ageing process.

Looking good: Anne Robinson has often triumphed in the fashion stakes

Looking good: Anne Robinson has often triumphed in the fashion stakes

Seen on our screens throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Anne obviously spent a lot of time and energy getting her outfits, make-up and hair just right

That doesn’t mean having to sacrifice
style or individuality, but it does mean dressing for your shape and
covering up those parts of the body that have not — and will not — stand
the test of time.

Anne’s
outfit is a very expensive disaster. The voluminous leather jacket
dwarfs her tiny frame, the dress drowns her gorgeous figure, and it’s
all too black and drab for a woman of her years and colouring.

Redheads
have to be more careful than the rest of us about what colours they
wear, and one golden rule is that they should never, ever wear black.

It
is ageing and unflattering, even on young redheads. Anne’s dominatrix
look was part of her TV persona on The Weakest Link, but now that’s
behind her she can wear the colours of the rainbow with abandon.

Of course, many women — especially
those who rely on black for its slimming effects — insist on wearing
black, assuming it to be smart and sophisticated.

I, too, had a facelift in 2009, and never looked anything like as good as Anne after her surgery

I, too, had a facelift in 2009, and never looked anything like as good as Anne after her surgery

But Anne has a
gorgeous figure: she doesn’t need to wear black to look slimmer, or to
hide herself inside loose tailoring.

She should be in funky greens, pale
blues or autumnal hues, and she should ditch the leather for something
softer and more flattering.

Of
course, we’d all love to look young and beautiful for ever, but the
cold, harsh facts are that the older we are, the more careful we have to
be about what we wear and how we wear it.

Maintaining
an aesthetically pleasing appearance becomes ever more difficult with
the passing years, and at some point there dawns the day when we know
that we are fighting a losing battle.

Those of us in our late 60s don’t have to surrender to the total invisibility of the pension years.

There’s
no need for us to wear beige and biscuit colours, to rely on
elasticated waists, or to hide our ageing bodies inside shapeless
cardigans.

But nor can we confidently show off any amount of flesh. Whether it’s knees, arms or cleavage, there comes a time when growing old with grace requires us to cover up.

We tend to look to celebrities, who court publicity at every turn and who can afford to maintain an entourage of style and fashion advisers, to show the rest of us how to look good at any age.

Anne Robinson is, in many ways, a fine role model: a clever, talented and independent woman who has put in as much time and effort on her appearance as she has on furthering her stellar career.

Yet, in this latest ensemble, she has let herself down — and I can’t help feeling that she’s let all of us women over-60 down, too.

So come on, Anne. You have money and good taste: now you need to get real about growing older. You can start by keeping those knees under wraps . . .