There have been a series of articles about the vintage hotties who are currently wowing the world: Sharon Stone and Helen Mirren, Susan Sarandon and Meryl Streep, all of whom have had major cinematic hits at a point in their lives when female movie stars used to become almost invisible. Their clothes have garnered as much attention as their performances – with Sarandon’s red dresses and Streep’s swing coats turning up on catwalk models half their age or less. But one thing few of them have been photographed in … is a T-shirt.
That doesn’t mean women over a certain age shouldn’t wear T-shirts – two of the UK’s finest talents: Judie Dench and Julie Walters, both made red carpet appearances in formal-style T-shirts this year, and Meryl Streep brought the long sleeved jersey T-shirt back into high prominence in The Devil Wears Prada, but it does mean there are new rules to be aware of.
Midriff baring is best left to the under thirties who have abdomens of steel – even the faintest wrinkle or bulge will look glaring if your skin peeks out from under your T-shirt.
The arms matter. In cap or short sleeves, you have to be sure that there isn’t some arm strangle going on – sleeves should be relaxed, not clamped around a body area that does tend to show one’s age at the best of times. For spaghetti straps, make sure you don’t end up with a back fat bulge – it’s not seemly. And while the very young can probably get away with three or four straps on each arm, for vintage ladies it’s probably best to just wear one set of straps and a good supporting, strapless bra.
Oversized T-shirts (Dawn French apart) are not good for public appearances unless you’re on the beach. It just gives the impression that you’ve surrendered to your age, or that you’ve had a senior moment and pulled on your hubby’s T-shirt by mistake. A fitted T-shirt is alluring, especially one that’s specially shaped to the female figure
T-shirts with clever slogans are great, but if you’re over twenty, you need to step back and ask if the message is so important that you want it across your chest. What’s cute in a teen can seem like a brash statement in somebody with age and authority on their side – Katharine Hamnett may have made a career out of T-shirt messages but be very sure that the words you wear really do define the person you wish people to see.