As 2017 draws to a close, Jane and Beryl are in an uncharacteristically reflective mood, what works on the WOACA? 

 Here are their collected thoughts

1. Jane and Beryl believe in style over fashion 

Collectif dress £50 and heels Karen Millen £130

Fashion fades but style springs eternal. It's all very well for flibbety gibbets of 20 to get into the latest fashion no matter how ridiculous. Jane and Beryl are sometimes tempted to follow suit but have curbed these tendencies as a bare midriff is not a good look any more - if indeed it ever was. They only wear fashion-led clothes that appeal to their own individual style and are wary of the next 'in' thing, which will shortly become the next 'out' thing.

Nine Savannah Miller at Debenhams 
2. Jane and Beryl only buy what suits their body shapes and flatters their figures

 This is actually very hard to do, and the reason that Trinny and Suzannah had a set of rules for each of their featured shoppers. 

Wallis top £29
Jane, for example has the shoulders of an Olympic swimmer. Here, they have fused with her bosom to emphasise the immutable fact that she is top heavy. However, help is at hand: this inexpensive Wallis top literally cuts her jumpa-lumpas in half and the front and back vee streamlines her body. She has nice arms but adding a sleeve would not change the fact that her upper body is under good management.
Beryl has other challenges. She is but 4ft 11ins and particularly short in the waist. Like Jane entirely swathing her breasts in fabric is the mother of all terrible ideas. They must be divided and conquered at all times. The key to dressing Beryl lies in demonstrating that she has a waist. The tunic is not her friend as it obliterates her shape and shortens her legs. The proportions of the big skirt and short jacket on the other hand are a welcome relief.  

Wallis top £39, M&S velvet trousers £45

Precis jacket £99, M&S Skirt £49
Karen Millen shoes £150

3. Jane and Beryl throw them off the scent
 They do not draw attention to their bad bits by dressing them ineptly. Hide hockey players thighs in beautifully cut wide trousers. Pour thick ankles into kitten-heeled boots. Hide an expanded middle by an evening coat with an open narrow panel down the front. In short like Jane and Beryl, use your clothes to enhance and deceive. You will love them more, and they will love you back.

Top Zara £39

  Jane distracts the public from her food baby, by a flash of cleavage and lively embroidery. This top also highlights that she has the hips of a racing snake. 

Daughter's Quiz dress
4. Step back from the edge... 

Beryl and Jane humbly suggest that anything really edgy might not look that great anymore. They realise that this is contentious, and that they are treading on hallowed ground, but slowly and almost imperceptibly our duo have given up some of their more hard-edged looks. Beryl for example now favours delicious butter-soft suede over leather, and has forsaken the wearing of pelmets for a subtler more knee length arrangement.

Essentual skirt £40, velvet top Deadly is The Female  £45

 Just to prove the point Beryl has borrowed her daughter's, night-clubbing gear and somehow manages to look like a man in drag. Look how much classier she looks in a skirt that ends just below the knee.

5. 'But I don't like my legs'

Women in their 50s, may have all sorts of reasons for not wishing to show their legs. Choosing not to display any part of her body is the WOACA's perfect right. Jane elegantly side steps the issue with trousers, maxi skirts and boots. 

Second Hand jacket £20, Primark skirt charity shop £7

6. Worth it, not worth it

A Hobbs jacket and Marella trousers, both much worn 
Spending more does not guarantee style or taste, (Imelda Marcos springs to mind) and some mistakes can be very expensive ones. Jane and Beryl tend to flash the cash if the piece cannot be easily replicated by a cheaper item. A beautifully cut coat, well-fitting suede boots, a good handbag, are all contenders for a splurge. The not worth it camp, for Jane and Beryl include expensive glittery tops, (rarely worn) plimsoles, (expensive get dirty, just as easily as cheap) knitwear, (pilling and moths abound), and strangely lots of mid-priced chain store items, that are just not quite wonderful or unique enough. 

7. Jane and Beryl love colour 

Have Jane and Beryl mentioned the importance of colour?

Top Shop Coat £80
Phase Eight jumper £69 and
Ralph Lauren stretchy trousers $40

When Jane and Beryl were 20-somethings both living in Big London, arty-fashiony people wore black. Apart from the odd black dress with a low neckline, black does neither of our divas any favours anymore. Neither does grey (what is it with all the grey cashmere sweaters) and worst still - beige. 

8. Jane and Beryl don't keep anything for best 
Louisa Meachalla dress, second hand £60

This is something that Jane and Beryl both feel passionate about. The decision about what to wear and when to wear it should only be about how they feel. To always let their clothes sit in the wardrobe like sad debutantes waiting for a ball that never happens, is just too heartbreaking. 

Beryl feels amazing in this purple velvet dress, but talked herself out of wearing it on the only moment her son got to be part of a West End production team. One of the best bits about being over 50 is not being too hidebound about what others think. No-one was ever paid a compliment for looking normal.
 'Gosh, you look marvellously average today?' 
'You look really all right in that?' 
'I've always wanted to look that normal, but have never quite dared'

9. Jane and Beryl do not fear pre-loved clothing...

Bought at a vintage market £25
Some women just do not like second-hand or vintage clothing and will have no truck with it which is, of course, their perfect right. Jane and Beryl however love the thrill of the chase - exciting but  admittedly time consuming.

 Dress agencies generally are more costly more than charity shops, but they have done the hard work for you as items are selected and therefore the chance of finding a goody is higher. 

Beryl however has found some of her most beloved kit in the charity shop. A post war Chloe jacket for £5, a large Hermes scarf for £1.50. Jane's wardrobe is littered with evening wear which saw their first outings in a dim and distant past and more glittering (in Jane's imagination) past...

10. Jane and Beryl do not fear the funk...

Despite not being slaves to fashion they believe (Beryl and Jane have spurned almost all frocks this season due to a preponderance of high necks) our divas do like to throw some unexpected trendy kit into the mix, just to keep everyone on their toes and because they like them...   

Beryl's boot of the season M&S £79
Jane's ripped jeans £10 Tesco

11. Jane and Beryl have decided that size labels are liars... 

Jane and Beryl have just taken a deep breath and decided not to care about the size they wear. Sizing does vary enormously from store to store, they just find the one that looks the best. Oh, and another thing, just because the zip goes up doesn't mean it fits. Inexpensive clothing tends to have less fabric, so Jane and Beryl always go up a size in these. If the label doth offend you, pluck it out. Why should you have to look at a size label that clearly has nothing to do with your gorgeous body.  

12. Jane and Beryl listen to the voices... 

If a message is coming through from the other side, Jane and Beryl listen to it. These are the doubts that every woman gets in a changing room. Too tight, throw it back, wrong colour, too long, doesn't hang well, too high necked, too low necked, without a sleeve etc, all these issues will only seem magnified when you get the blighter home. 

Happy New Year, 
and here's to what we wear in 2018. 

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