Age-Positive Style Pioneer Alyson Walsh Wants You to Embrace Mid-Life (and Beyond)
Meet the journalist, author and founder of age-positivity style site That’s Not My Age.
Alyson Walsh launched the website That’s Not My Age in 2008, and has since built the style-centric site into a platform that boasts a shoppable component, as well as a podcast. Here, the journalist, author and age-positivity advocate tells us more about her fashion influences, wardrobe favourites, and why it’s never to late to express yourself through dressing.
What’s your earliest style memory?
As a teenager, I was into music rather than fashion. It was all very DIY in the 1970s and often unintentionally shoddy. I wore a lot of second-hand clothes and army surplus pieces. I was still at school when punk exploded and a bit too young — and uncool — to get fully behind the movement, but it was a huge influence. My younger brother and I used to buy NME New Musical Express every week, and I’ve always been a bit of a tomboy so a lot of my icons were men. I was into bands like The Clash and Joy Division, and the women I admired were Debbie Harry and Patti Smith — artists who appreciated the importance of image and aesthetics as well as music.
Describe your approach to dressing.
My aim when I’m getting dressed is to be effortless and faff-free — to put clothes on and then forget about them. So, flat shoes, stompy boots or sneakers are a non-negotiable. My signature look is grown-up tomboy or elegant gentlewoman. Most of the time, I’m pretty pared-down — in minimal menswear-inspired clothes — but then I’ll add a touch of casual glamour with a rakish scarf or vintage leopard-print coat. It’s always good to throw a little Keith Richards into the mix.
What motivates your work?
Fashion gets a bad rap, but it can help people feel really good about themselves. I know it’s more complex than that, but just think about how you feel when you’re wearing a sharp jacket or favourite dress — when clothes are on your side. As a fashion journalist, I want to offer helpful advice, to provide style inspiration and, most of all, to empower women. When I started That’s Not My Age over 12 years ago, I wanted to see more diversity — more older women I could relate to — and to call out the ageism and sexism that sadly still exists today. I wanted to celebrate mid-life and beyond — to show that beauty can be many things and is not just associated with the young.
Describe your ideal day.
On a beach with Mr. That’s Not My Age and a good book — somewhere warm and sunny where I can swim in the sea. It’s been a long year locked down in London!
What’s one fashion item you think everyone should have in their closet?
A jumpsuit. I’ve got seven — in different fabric weights and with varying degrees of slouchiness — that have seen a lot of action this year. There’s a proper workwear version from French brand Vetra that I call the “Industrial Onesie” and then a supersized khaki version from Bliss and Mischief that I call the “Military Onesie.” People tend to be put off by the fear of toilet trouble, but I consider the time and effort saved getting dressed in the morning as a trade-off for the extra time it takes to go to the loo. The boiler-suit balance. Makes sense, no?