Norwich woman wants to look fabulous at fifty

How can you look stylish in your 50s without looking like you are dressing in teenage trends? That's the dilemma for reader Debbie Neale. Emma Harrowing joins her on the quest to find a style that suits.

A new season brings fresh fashion trends to the shops and boutiques in Norwich. This autumn it's all about the punk/grunge/90s look, the classic heritage tweed, the colours of red wine and mustard and the black Goth look which has had a luxurious twist.

Regular readers of the fashion pages every Thursday in your Evening News will know what these fashion trends are and will probably know how they can wear them - or not. However there is an age old debate growing about whether or not women in their 40s and 50s can wear the current trends without looking like they are dressing too young for their age.

Take Life Matters reader Debbie Neale from Frettenham for example, the 55 year old is a mum to a 15 year old Sophie, a step mum and a grandma. She longs to wear the latest styles and experiment with her look, but she is afraid that this will make her look like she is trying to look too young.

'The last thing I want to do is to end up looking like my 15 year old daughter,' says Debbie. 'However, I don't want to look like an old fuddy-duddy so I'm pretty stuck when it comes to finding a look.'

With six cleaning jobs, volunteering at her local youth club and looking after her family including her husband who has a bad back and her dad who is suffering from Alzheimer's, Debbie doesn't have that much time for herself which is why daughter Sophie nominated her mum for a makeover.

Sophie says: 'Mum never thinks of herself and she rarely treats herself. The only treat she has is having a sit down with a cuppa! I really want her to have a makeover because this is my way of saying thank you.'

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One way to ensure that you don't look like you are dressing too young for your age is to dress to suit your body shape. Debbie is quite tall and has a straight body shape. The best way to dress this shape is to mimick your shape by wearing straight styles such as shift dresses and tunics.

As far as this season's trends go the 60s inspired style will suit Debbie's body shape. A shift style dress with a hemline just above the knee rather than thigh length, worn with thick tights and knee high boots will give her a grown-up take on the style.

To help Debbie embrace this look Debenhams personal shopper Ellie is on hand to help.

Ellie says: 'There are a lot of shift style dresses in the shops at the moment from sleeveless styles to colour blocking patterns. To update this look for Debbie she should look for a style that is just above the knee to show off her slim legs and a dress that has sleeves or she can put a long sleeved top on underneath as this will give her a more covered up look. Exposing your arms and your legs can make you look like you are dressing too young for your age which Debbie doesn't want.

'As Debbie is conscience of her legs a pair of thick opaque tights will work wonders. Teamed with a pair of black knee high boots and a patent black bag and she has a simple take on this season's 60s style.'


One of Debbie's style icons is Holly Willoughby mainly because she admires the television presenters tousled hair. Chelsey and Norma at Kinki Boutique on Castle Street show her how to get the look.

Chelsey says: 'At the moment Debbie's blonde colour is a little brash. To soften her look I'm going to add golden pieces through her hair along with bleach to give her a more natural and textured look. Using different shades in the hair will also prevent any regrowth lines appearing which will make her colour last that much longer.'

To complement Debbie's new colour stylist Norma shows Debbie how she can get a Hollywood style.

Norma says: 'Debbie's long hair suits her so I'm going to keep the length but create volume and texture by adding layers. The addition of a side fringe will bring some hair onto her face to soften her look.'

To create the tousled waves Debbie longed for Norma uses hair straightners to create soft waves and then runs her finger through Debbie's hair to pull out the curls. The style is set using a spray wax.


To complete Debbie's 60s inspired look Givenchy makeup artist Poppy in Debenhams shows Debbie how she can update her look for the new season.


Styling: Debenhams Personal Shopping Service

Hair: Kinki Boutique on Castle Street 01603 633700.

Make-up: Givenchy in Debenhams.