Back when the-Bias-Cut.com was a mere baby and just a blog, I interviewed my mum Marilyn Bassett – the inspiration behind the business. It was seeing women, like her, being increasingly treated as invisible and irrelevant by the Fashion Industry due to their age that made me want to fight back, bust through ageism in Fashion, and create an empowering age-inclusive shopping platform and destination.
It has now been 4 years since the-Bias-Cut.com boutique was launched and, with Mother’s Day approaching, I decided it was an ideal time to interview my mum again to find out if – and how – things have changed….
When I first interviewed you, you described your style as “chic and tailored, although feminine with a quirky twist”. And you aimed to “dress age-appropriate but not dowdy”, and with individuality. How do you feel it has evolved since then?
Well I certainly wouldn’t use the term ‘age-appropriate’ anymore! My attitude towards that has definitely changed, because what is ‘age-appropriate’?. But I would still describe my style as contemporary but eclectic, looking for pieces that have a twist or unique edge. It’s less tailored now though as I am retired, and I am much more adventurous in colours, prints and styles.
Yes I would agree with that. I’ve really enjoyed seeing your style evolve, try new things and experiment with different silhouettes. Do you feel the-Bias-Cut.com has played a major role in this?
Yes, it has opened my eyes to a wider range of styles that I can wear, and even colours that I have typically avoided. For example, I’m not a huge fan of red, but I have started to enjoy wearing certain shades.
Also, a big difference has been finally finding dresses that I can wear after many years of avoiding them as I couldn’t find any that flattered my figure. Typically speaking I used to wear tailored jackets and trousers, and whilst I still do, I now have new styles in my wardrobe that allow me to change up my outfits and have more fun with what I’m wearing.
I also have some really interesting pieces now from independent designers I would never have come across. I like that there’s a range of designers I can pick and choose from as that increases the variety in my wardrobe from an aesthetic viewpoint. I’m also getting more experimental with how I put together my looks.
For me, the-Bias-Cut is about find pieces that are interesting, modern, and flattering – that neither make me look like I’m trying to look younger, or age me. They simply make me feel great as who I am right now.
As we get older, so many women worry that they’re too old to wear something. But, as a result, I think they end up going to the other end of the spectrum, wearing pieces that make them look older instead. The-Bias-Cut gets the perfect balance: clothes that won’t age you nor make you look mutton dressed as lamb.
So when the-Bias-Cut.com launched in 2016, ageism in fashion was still relatively ignored. It is now highly topical, with demand for age-inclusivity continuously increasing. How do you feel attitudes towards age have shifted over the past 4 years – if at all?
In theory I think there has been progress. There’s more written about it in the press – and diversity in general (albeit ageism seems usually to be the last thought, if included at all) – and there’s more use of older models. However they typically either have a kooky Iris Apfel look, are tall, slim with long grey hair, or are a celebrity. So it feels tokenistic and I still don’t feel represented. As someone who is not tall, size 10, nor has grey hair, I don’t identify with any of them.
In the shops, I havn’t noticed much of a change at all – even amongst brands who feature older models in their campaigns. Shop assistants are no more inviting, and the majority of clothes still don’t cater to my body shape.
At the-Bias-Cut.com we are committed to inclusivity, with our models ranging in height, size, age, shape, ethnicity, hair colour… There’s so much diversity amongst women over 40, and we want to celebrate that rather than feature just one or two tokenistic gestures. How does that make you feel?
To me, it makes the brand more inviting as you see different types of women wearing the clothes. You will never see every single person represented, but the spectrum of diversity is more inclusive. So I feel very welcome and confident there will be pieces to suit me..
Well I was inspired to start the-Bias-Cut.com because I wanted to give you a shopping experience and destination that you enjoyed and felt inspired by, so that’s really lovely to know. But, as well as being the inspiration behind our concept, you’ve also indirectly played a role in our curation process, due to the style tips and influence you’ve had on me over the years. For example, you taught me how to appreciate quality, and invest in fewer pieces that will last for years, than waste money on trend-obsessed fast disposable fashion. And we share a similar taste in contemporary, unique pieces with a fun, personal twist.
Did your mother (my grandmother) influence your style in any way?
Without a doubt. My mother always looked good. She always put in the effort to dress and accessorise well. So she showed me how taking pride in your appearance can impact how you feel and present yourself.
But I also feel I’ve learnt a lot from you too. You’ve encouraged me to be more adventurous. And you’ve given me tips on how to style my clothing to give it that contemporary touch, such as rolling up a sleeve or tucking in a jumper another way – it’s those small attentions to detail that make a difference. Overall I trust your eye and judgement so you’re always a good sounding board if I have any doubts or want advice.
Thank you. I think it’s fair to say style has played a key role in our relationship over the years, in a multitude of ways.
Yes, we have a mutual love of style and understanding of its value and, despite the 40 year age gap, we are often attracted to very similar pieces. I had a demanding professional career, and you’ve always been very academic and studious, but since you were young we’ve always found time to go on girls shopping trips, to fashion shows, exhibitions and talks together – and still do. So many of our bonding moments and special memories have had style at their centre.
Also, whilst having different figures means we don’t share many clothes today, it has meant a lot to me seeing you wear pieces I had made for me in the 70s, or even my mother had made for her in the 50s. We do share accessories and shoes though as we are the same size – which means I feel happier investing in more expensive pieces as they’ll get more wear – and a subscription to Vogue!
It’s true – we have a chain of reading it! So finally, what does true age-inclusivity in fashion look like to you?
There’s no doubt that some styles only look good on the very young. So age inclusivity means giving the same amount of weight and attention to designing pieces for those women who are no longer young as it is to styles for the young. Aesthetically speaking, why should I want to dress any less stylishly, colourfully or interestingly than I did when I was in my 40s or even 30s? So an age-inclusive Fashion Industry means equally catering to how women’s bodies change as they get older, without compromising on style.
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