Alyson Walsh is the fashion journalist and former fashion editor behind the successful blog, That’s Not My Age.
Following the success of her first book, Style Forever, she’s written a second, Know Your Style, in which some of the most creative (and stylish) women around the world spill their sartorial secrets: “This time, the aim was to talk less about age and more about style…”
What prompted you to write your latest book, Know Your Style?
I can’t quite believe I’ve written one book, let alone two. But my publisher Hardie Grant was so pleased with the first book (Style Forever) that they asked me to write another. This time around the aim was to talk less about age and more about style. To try to figure out ‘what goes with what’ (and that was the tentative title of the book at commissioning stage). How do we know what to buy when our lifestyles are constantly changing – today more people work remotely from home than ever before – and there’s so much on offer? How to colour match or mismatch? How to wear flat shoes? The idea was to create a modern style guide for women of all ages.
What’s the response been like?
Really positive. I’ve had lots of lovely comments from my followers and women I meet at events and book-signings. Know Your Style is selling well so my publisher is pleased, too!
Where did you draw inspiration from for your book?
One of the best things about writing a book is meeting and interviewing the women who inspire me. I really enjoyed gathering thoughts and style tips from super-chic, super-talented women including: Lucinda Chambers, Caroline Issa, Linda Rodin, Pat Cleveland, Michelle Ogundehin, Lyn Slater and many more.
How did you find your illustrator and how did you go about bringing the book to life together?
We met through my publisher – Ayumi Takahashi lives in New York and so we didn’t have a great deal of contact during the writing process. But when I launched my book in the USA she came along to the party and we got on brilliantly. Later that week, we met for coffee and went to an exhibition together, we’ll definitely keep in touch (on Instagram and in the real world).
What do you think is the definition of style?
It’s not about spending money. Style is feeling comfortable and confident and it has to be authentic and individual. You have to feel like you.
Illustration by Ayumi Takahashi
What are your top 3 spring wardrobe essentials?
The jumpsuit has become a bit of an obsession – once you start you can’t stop! I have five now, including a couple of proper workwear versions and a black, lighter-weight style from Hush that’s good for summer.
I’m such a Denim Lover; I really do live in jeans. Straight-leg or boyfriend styles work a treat with ankle boots and go with a slouchy cashmere sweater right now and a silk blouse or mannish shirt when it gets warmer.
As a sporty kid I spent my life kicking around in trainers, and I'm still a fan of this laid-back look. Whether they’re in fashion or not, to me, a pair of trainers teamed with a tailored jacket and slim or slouchy pants are an essential part of dressed down daywear.
What’s an easy way to update your wardrobe for spring?
A new pair of shoes (or trainers), fabulous statement earrings or a slinky scarf are all good ways to refresh an outfit and add personality.
Any trends you have your eye on trying this year?
I tend to have a bit of a uniform – jeans, jackets, jumpsuits - and so it’s not really a trend but I am on the look out for a new khaki, military jacket.
What is your greatest achievement and what would you like to achieve next?
Setting up That’s Not My Age and being at the forefront of an online movement supporting older women. I’m proud of speaking out against ageism and the ridiculous invisibility thing and encouraging change within the fashion industry. I hope That’s Not My Age is empowering and fun and offers style advice in a down-to-earth way. I’m lucky to have a loyal following who I am eternally grateful to because without them my two books wouldn’t exist. I receive lots of lovely, positive messages from my readers and from women at events and book-signings – and this is what makes it all worthwhile.
Who or what is the love of your life?
Mr That’s Not My Age.
When are you happiest?
When I’m swimming in the sea on my summer holiday – followed by some serious lolling on the beach with a good book.
What - if anything - keeps you awake at night?
Coffee. Work. Circadian Rhythm Disorder.
What was your plan B?
This is my plan B! Plan A involved working in the clothing industry after graduating but I always wanted to be a journalist and so eventually ended up doing work experience on a magazine, when I was about 30.
What is the best advice you have ever been given?
‘Forget about the wrinkles and focus on the silhouette,’ Linda Rodin.
What would you tell your 18 year old self?
Be more confident and don’t waste time worrying about stupid stuff.
We think female friendships are something that should be treasured and celebrated. What quality do all your friends share?
A sense of humour.
Fantasy Girls’ Night Out. You get to choose six women – dead or alive – to spend the evening with. Who? And where do you go?
Gloria Steinem, Barbara Hepworth, Ali Smith – you need a brilliant raconteur. And it would be brilliant to get Millicent Fawcett and Gillian Wearing together (Fawcett campaigned for women’s suffrage and Wearing has created the sculpture of Fawcett that’s going to be unveiled in Parliament Square). Michelle Obama would be excellent company, she might sing karaoke and then at the end of the night Barack could pick her up and come in for a cup of coffee.
Book you wish you’d written?
The White Album, Joan Didion.
Film you’d like to see a sequel of?
Another Before Sunrise sequel from Richard Linklater – though I don’t know what it would be called (After Midnight? The Small Hours?)
Song that always gets you dancing?
My Baby Just Cares For Me, Nina Simone.
Over or underdressed?
Underdressed. My ideal outfit is a combination of day and eveningwear. It’s a relaxed look that goes everywhere – or what I like to refer to as Casual Glamour.
Owl or lark?
Night in or night out?
Night in with Netflix and Mr That’s Not My Age.
Word you over-use?
Last time you laughed out loud?
Just now when I typed-in the last answer.
Desert island beauty product (we’ll give you sunscreen)?
Aromatherapy Associates Shower Oil.
Be kind, be yourself and have fun.
Follow Alyson on Instagram @thatsnotmyage, read her blog at thatsnotmyage.com and find her new book here!