Alyson Walsh is my Woman of Substance for the month of July. She is a fashion journalist and fantastically popular blogger (she blogs as That’s Not My Age –www.thatsnotmyage.com @thatsnotmyage) and is the author of Style Forever: The Grown-Up Guide to Looking Fabulous, published by Hardie Grant; a book I really enjoyed reading. Alyson writes for both The Guardian and the Financial Times websites. She also lectures part-time at the University for the Creative Arts – and strongly believes that you don't have to have youth to have style.
Alyson, do tell us how your ‘That’s Not My Age’ blog and your new book came to be.
I started That’s Not My Age seven years ago because I felt that a whole group of women were being ignored by the fashion industry. My idea was to champion the creed ‘style begins at 40’ and celebrate inspirational women of substance. The response has been phenomenal. My recent book, Style Forever, has been so well-received – the timing was absolutely perfect.
Did you ever envisage your blog becoming such a huge success?
I’ve been a journalist for many years and so I guess I just treated That’s Not My Age as I would a freelance commission and made each post as professional as possible. I’m delighted that it is so popular – people seem to enjoy the combination of honesty and expertise!
How do you decide what to write about?
It’s quite random. Usually something news-related or an item that grabs my attention, or it can be as simple as what’s happening in my world that week.
How long did it take you to write your book and what were the biggest challenges?
Not very long! It was a really short turnaround. I literally had a couple of months to write it, partly because of the very tight deadline and also because I lecture part-time at university and had to wait till the summer holiday to get started. It literally was written in about two and a half months, but it’s a lifetime’s work and contains information and expert advice gathered from many years working in the fashion industry as well as up-to-the-minute feedback through That’s Not My Age. The process itself was not very enjoyable at all, which surprised me. I’ve written for years – features for magazines and websites, I write for The Guardian and the FT’s How To Spend It, as well as shorter blog posts – but this was a totally different experience. It was very intense and the time constraints meant that I just had to keep going; to keep writing a certain number of words every day.
What was the best thing about publishing your first book?
The wonderful feedback from my readers – Style Forever would not exist without them. The other day one of my students told me she’d seen it in the V&A book shop and I felt very proud to be amongst the best in fashion.
What is your Style Tribe? Trend follower or innate style?
I’d like to think it’s innate style! I tend not to follow trends. In my book I discuss various ‘Grown-Up Style Tribes’ and I would say I’m a cross between a Gentlewoman and a Casual Glamourpuss.
Who are your icons?
Oh, I’m quite fickle, I have loads: I’ve just been to the Barbara Hepworth exhibition at the Tate so she’s inspiring me at the moment. Lucinda Chambers from British Vogue for her unique way of mixing things up, Tilda Swinton for her other-worldy, androgynous style, the late Lou Lou De La Falaise for her fabulous accessorising…
Seaside or Poolside? And where will you holiday this Summer?
I’m from Blackpool so I prefer the seaside. We’re off to Sardinia for a week in July, staying at a small B&B with a pool, not far from the beach. So we’ll probably be doing a bit of both.
What is your favourite piece from the Winser London Spring Summer 2015 collection?
The Lauren silk blouse – as detailed in Style Forever. It’s so versatile, and I love the fact that it has a detachable tie.