columnfinal.jpgGemma Cartwright writes...

The women's press loves to set style rules. For those who're unsure about style, it's easy to be pulled into the 'What Not To Wear' idea that certain shapes and colours work and others don't. There are rules for body shape, height, colouring...and there are rules for age. Rent-a-controversy Liz Jones has just written a piece for the Daily Mail about age rules when it comes to clothing and (shock, horror) it's a bit of a painful read. Even with the tongue-in-cheek tone, it's still incredibly patronising. Not only does she lay into the likes of Dolly Parton and Barbara Windsor (who as far as I'm concerned are well into 'untouchable' territory and can wear whatever the hell they want) there are also the requisite pictures of Lulu in a minidress, Madonna in a pink blouse and Helen Mirren in that bikini. The picture editor must have had a field day on this one...

But how seriously are we supposed to take the advice of a woman who reckons jodhpurs with high heels is a good look (hello thighs! Nice to see you) and suggests "khaki pedal-pushers and a long white or navy sailor top with three-quarter sleeves [are] a look to suit any age"? Not only is that dull as dishwater, but pedal pushers are one of those garments that the whole world seems to think are flattering, when actually they're just cankle-enhancing disasters on most women. Especially those who insist on wearing them with Crocs.

According to Ms Jones, at 25 I'm already too old for pussy bow blouses, 'banana' flats (whatever the hell they are) maxi dresses and dhotis. What rubbish! Among other stupid rules are the news that women over 60 shouldn't wear high heels (apparently they might injure a hip) cleavage is out at 50 (my mother has better boobs than me, even if she doesn't show them off as much) and sequins...well they're ok until you're 90, apparently.

Generalising in fashion is one of my biggest bugbears. Helen Mirren is not the only woman in her sixties who looks better in a bikini than the vast majority of women twenty (or even forty) years younger. There are plenty of twentysomethings who could do with putting their legs away, while some women in their mid to late 30s or older (step forward Gwyneth Paltrow) can still pull off micro minis.

Ironically, the best comment on the whole piece comes from a reader called Gemma from London (not me, I promise) who says "Every woman has a different body and ages differently so there's no such thing as a cut-off age. It's the whole look that counts."

I couldn't agree more.

Gemma Cartwright doesn't care if wearing Alice bands and flat shoes makes her look "like a 12-year-old going to a school disco". Getting asked for ID in the pub is actually quite flattering.