'People don’t grow old.
It’s when they stop growing, that they get old.'

– Dame Trelise Cooper


Reaching a certain age doesn't mean you need to retire to a wardrobe of muted tones, watercolour prints and cardigans. Ella James interviews Dame Trelise Cooper and Paula Ryan to seek their expert views. Their sage advice will leave you feeling more youthful than ever before.

Renowned for her statement prints and adventurous use of colour, Dame Trelise Cooper continues to push boundaries and give women the confidence to celebrate life through the beautiful, playful and whimsical clothes that she creates. 

Paula Ryan's is known on her wardrobe essentials in high-quality stretch fabrics designed to flatter the body and be comfortable in your everyday life. And while the design-ethos of both brands may differ slightly in outlook, they compliment each other enormously too. The Yin and Yang of a dream wardrobe if you like. Interestingly enough, so to do the views of both designers when discussing fashion as we get older.

We asked Trelise and Paula if they believed that our fashion choices had to alter with age and why. Trelise took no time in offering an encouraging response.
"No. Our fashion choices don’t need to change. The only thing that does, is our attitude. Give yourself permission to be fabulous. Now is the time," Trelise continued with confidence. We should stop needing approval. Have gratitude, and express it through dress."

Paula responded that although our choices may adjust a little with age to a certain degree, it should in no way be seen as a negative side to growing older, more part of our journey and transformation. In fact, it’s not society that should scribe how we change our appearance as we age, but ourselves.
"Our bodies determine what we can wear. A good mirror and discernment through our own gut feeling will provide the answer".

Well aware of the fact that our skin and hair changes over time, Paula believes that the changes we make to our dress codes, need only be tweaked to address these physical changes.
"Let’s face it, no woman of 70 plus will wear a mini skirt, however she will likely suit clothes that she considers well beyond her reach, so exploration is key".


Above: Sophisticated and elegant but full of personality; the Paula Ryan Winter '19 collection. See here for full collection.


You've likely wondered why it is that dress codes differ so widely between age brackets. Whilst naturally there are physical changes, it’s perhaps the emotional changes paired with society’s expectations that take the biggest toll on our wardrobes and what women choose as we progress through life.

"Of course it is," exclaims Trelise. ‘We all need a bit of encouragement as we get older as sometimes we can start to feel invisible. Wearing gorgeous, statement making clothing is a perfect way to remind people that you’re still here."

And you'd have to agree; what better way to eradicate the notion of feeling invisible in society than celebrating your life in wonderfully expressive clothing?
She adds, "Be grateful that you’ve reached the age that you have. You’re alive, aware and able to wear anything that you desire. Now is the time to express yourself. Really, if not now, when?"

Paula says, "We opt to air on the conservative side if our confidence has taken a battering through the aging process. Do not lock yourself into a matron mentality as that will age your choices". 

During the conversation, both Paula and Trelise noted that with age comes knowledge and we should use it because knowledge is power after all.

"A woman in her mellowing years will have worn or at least witnessed all the fashion trends from decades past, be it psychedelic, hippie, retro, military, minimalism or maximalism", states Paula, so "why not take inspiration from your favourite looks from earlier eras?"

You’ll surely remember fondly the looks that made you look and feel unstoppable. Paula’s advice is to disregard current trends and, "just enjoy the clothes you love and allow your lifestyle and taste to make your choices," rather than allowing your age to dictate what you wear and how you feel. Trelise strengthens this notion,"Fashion is an expression. We should all be having fun like we used to. Use the wisdom that you’ve garnered."

So, what next? What steps can we take in feeling more confident with our fashion choices as we age? Paula seems to have the right idea in saying,
"It’s time to give yourself a major makeover. I suspect you’ve started living in a fashion rut with a wardrobe similar to what it’s always been. So, try on what you have always wanted to try but never had the courage to buy. You may be surprised what new options open up for you."

Trelise adds that it’s imperative to,"stay curious and explore fashion. Have new experiences." So, that garment you’ve been dreaming of with the wild, bold print that you just can’t picture yourself wearing? Try it on, today.

Dame Trelise gave the most perfect example of how experimental fashion can change your mood and mind-set in an instant.
"Wear more colour," she begins. "Some days you may feel like wearing black, but it’s on these days that you should go bold with your choices. You will look and feel better for it." 

The day that Magpie Style spoke to Dame Trelise was indeed one of those days for the designer. As she woke feeling tired, she recognised that her mood required lifting. So, instead of opting for an equally tired outfit, Trelise chose a gorgeous Moroccan green dress. The results were plain to see. Trelise felt younger, fresher and more energised, and the wonderful comments from people around her further confirmed the power of colour, even in the form of print or more subtle detailing.


Pictured: Celebrating life, texture, colour and print; Trelise Cooper Winter ’19. See here for our collection of new arrivals.


Paula too, recognises that we all have days where we feel less confident that others, and for these days, she offers this advice,
"On a flat day make more effort and wear one of your most flattering looks even if it takes longer to pull it together. Days like this call for fashion action and it’s important you enjoy what you’re wearing and feel comfortable in it'. And always celebrate the end of these days with - "a glass of champagne with a friend. It will lift your spirits."

Apart from a timeless and ageless sense of style, Paula and Dame Trelise have one other thing in common; an unwavering self-confidence and the willingness to take risks. We think this could be the secret ingredient.

You really are only as old as you feel. So, who’s for that glass of champagne?  



‘Be brave and start a new fashion journey’

– Paula Ryan



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Written by: Ella James
Portraits photography: Neil Gussey



Linda said:

You ladies look beautiful , and confident ..Thank you for reminding us age is only a number .I started wearing Lepord prints when I was 15 .I am now 67 and still wearing them .I also love bright colours ..

Thanks Linda .


Mary-Ellen said:

Thanks for this great article.
Lovely advice from two of my favourite designers 😀💃🏻

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