Fashion Fails Women 50+

This call to action blog post first appeared on LRF Style after the OOTHS team were approached by BBC Radio Stoke to comment on this report and visit the high street to source Christmas party options. Director, Laraine Robathan-Field shares her perspective below. 

A recent research study into fashion for mature women found that women over the age of 50 reported feeling let down by retailers. 61% said they felt their age group was forgotten by the high street and 66% said they would like to see more choice for their age group.

I have clients ranging in age from 14 to 85 and they all want the same outcomes, irrespective of their age. They want to look stylish and smart and wear clothes that fit and flatter them. They want to feel confident and enjoy a range of outfits that are appropriate to their lifestyle.

So is there a problem? I agree that this older age group is not so well represented in advertising and on the television and cinema. In fact, I have trawled through hundreds of images from retailers to find pictures for this post and I couldn’t find any! Women over 50 are one of the powerful consumer groups, spending more than £2.5bn per season on fashion, so advertisers, listen up, you’re missing a trick. We have come a long way in changing attitudes towards size and we need to do the same about age. There are lots of role models to choose from and we need to remind the world that great style is possible at any age.

I believe that there is plenty of choice on the high street but it is not being marketed to 50+ ladies, even those brands that know their target audience is probably in this age range. I also think that there are other reasons why women reach this conclusion. I’ve discussed the subject with my colleagues and clients and together we came up with a number of influencing factors:

  • We’ve been told for years that men become distinguished with age whereas women just age!
  • Change in body shape following childbirth and menopause may mean rethinking what suits.
  • Fear of dressing younger than their years or fear of appearing frumpy.
  • Neglected their own needs because priority has been given to needs of others e.g. children, teenagers, elderly parents.
  • Family and friends can influence in a positive way but they can also be negative.
  • Loss of confidence following ill health or loss of a loved one, the likelihood of which unfortunately increases with age.
  • Tendency to compare to younger people or younger selves.

Now it’s time to give these factors a positive makeover!

  • The idea that men become more attractive with age. To concur with this statement does little to help our gender. Could this ‘attractiveness’ be something to do with the fact that men generally become successful and powerful with age. Their achievements and experience are celebrated. Hello, successful business ladies out there and hello to all the great Mums out there who chose to have a different career.
  • Your body may have changed in size, shape and appearance but weight management, fitness regimens and healthy eating all mean that we can take some control of the way our bodies function and clever dressing can change the way we look. No one is perfect so don’t fret if you have a tummy or wobbly thighs.
  • We all age differently and whilst some women will feel comfortable in wearing a shorter skirt another won’t. There is no reason why a woman shouldn’t wear what she wants, it’s how she wears it that is more important. Dubious choices are rah rah skirts, thigh high spiky boots and dungarees but basically if your figure can take it, it’s your choice.
  • Women of 50+ usually have more disposable income and can afford to spend on themselves. Constraints on time should be less and it’s perfectly acceptable to spend some time looking after oneself.
  • The only person you need permission from to feel good about yourself is YOU! Finding out what works for you is the one of the best gifts you can give yourself. If you’re funky and dynamic you want to reflect that in your clothing. Prim suits and matching shoes & handbags are not going to do it for you and will instantly suggest frumpy.
  • Loss and trauma are inevitable as we age but we can give ourselves a better chance of recovery by looking after ourselves and doing things that give us a boost and raise our self esteem. Looking good and feeling good is part of rebuilding that self confidence and resilience.
  • “Comparison is the thief of joy” I love this quote by Theodore Roosevelt and there are many more similar quotes, such as “look in the mirror.. that’s your competition”. By all means admire people and be inspired by others but don’t compare, ultimately be your beautiful, unique self.

Festive Atmosphere for Shoppers at the Guildhall

December has been a busy month for the OOTHS team in Stafford working with The Guildhall Shopping Centre to deliver their Cupcake Countdown Campaign. The campaign was run in collaboration with the Guildhall’s team and several companies local to Stafford including The Original Cupcake Company, The Marilyn Jones Dance Centre and Sammy Hayes.

Over the three Saturdays in the run up to Christmas, we have given away 1200 free cupcakes, organised eight performances and wrapped 200 presents – creating lots of very happy shoppers! On the first weekend we were joined by the talented dancers from the Marilyn Jones Dance Centre, who brought the festive spirit to the Guildhall Shopping Centre with their pop-up dance acts throughout the day and you can catch the action here. Yummy cupcakes from The Original Cupcake Company were distributed after each performance as a festive thank you from the Guildhall Shopping Centre.

On the second Saturday, we had the delightful Sammy Hayes join us for a festive sing-along with her performances running throughout the day, along with more free cupcakes. Sammy’s voice put a smile on people’s face and got them in the dancing mood, as you can see here, and the OOTHS team chatted to one family who had stopped to watch – here is what they had to say:

The retailers at the Guildhall Shopping Centre also had very positive feedback on the event too, here is Natalie, the manager from Claire’s Accessories, giving her feedback:

On the third Saturday we ran a gift bureau and gift wrapping service, as well as giving away more free cupcakes and on the spot prizes for lucky winners. We had great fun doing the wrapping and interacting with all the shoppers. Here we had a quick chat to one of our customers who were pleased with their wrapped presents – and are already planning on coming back next year already!

We had great feedback on the gift bureau and gift wrapping service from the retailers too with Hayley, owner of Kismet Rose Boutique saying,

‘The gift bureau at Christmas was such a brilliant addition to the centre, and they did such a great job. The gift wrapping service in particular was a big hit, I had so many customers come back to me chuffed, in particular men, and one lady was extremely excited as she was filmed and had her photos taken for their website, and she actually said she has travelled all over the world, and has never received such great service. This is definitely something that myself and our customers would hope to have back next Christmas.’

Thanks to everyone who supported the Cupcake Countdown campaign at the Guildhall Shopping Centre and the OOTHS team would like to wish you all a very blessed Christmas and New Year celebrations!


Cupcake Countdown

Are you ready for the Guildhall’s Christmas Cupcake Countdown? From Saturday 6th December to Saturday 20th December, OOTHS will be running the Guildhall’s Cupcake Countdown, so come down and join in the fun and enjoy the complimentary cupcakes! 

Poster for Guildhall Christmas_portrait

The Guildhall Shopping Centre in Stafford is planning to give their customers a festive treat this Christmas. 1,200 cupcakes are being specially made to order to bring some cheer and sparkle to the malls. The Original Cupcake Company on St Mary’s Mews have been commissioned to create and bake enough cakes to hand-out to customers on the three shopping Saturdays in the run-up to Christmas … and for 5 lucky shoppers there will be an added surprise of a £20 shopping voucher if they choose one of 5 special cupcakes concealing a golden star in the base. Richard Ralph, Associate Director at DTZ who manage the Guildhall said “This is going to be a special Christmas at the Guildhall as we want to create family-friendly days out where customers are rewarded for their loyalty”.

The cupcake giveaway will take place as part of a festive programme of events at the Centre. Music and dance are also set to feature to bring some sparkle and drama to the malls. On Saturday 6th December performers from the Marilyn Jones Dance Centre will be bringing the malls to life with their dance routines. At 11am, 12.30pm, 2pm and 3.30pm young dancers in festive outfits will be stepping out to popular Christmas songs.

More cupcakes and more music will follow on Saturday 13th December when professional singer Sammy Hayes will be performing Christmas favourites to get everyone in the festive mood. A mix of Christmas carols and popular Christmas tunes will entertain shoppers as they busy themselves in the new and improved selection of stores at the Guildhall.

For anyone struggling to find the perfect gift for a loved-one, Saturday 20th December will be the ideal time to visit the Guildhall’s ‘Gift Bureau’. Friendly, helpful staff will be on hand to offer advice on finding the perfect gift if you are working to a budget, suggestions of where to buy gifts and even a free gift wrapping service once your gifts have been purchased … and of course for anyone using the services of the Gift Bureau, there will be a FREE cupcake!

To round-off the Christmas events, the Guildhall will have the popular Victorian Carol Singers roaming the malls on Saturday 20th December. Singing popular Christmas carols such as ‘Jingle Bells’, ‘Hark the Herald Angels Sing’, ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’ and many, many, more, this is a great excuse for a sing-a-long with friends and family, so come down and join in!

Anne Graham, Marketing Manager at the Guildhall said “The Guildhall still has the only free to enter Santa Grotto in Stafford and each child will receive a free chocolate gift as well as the opportunity to discuss their Christmas ‘wish list’ with the Big Man himself. Santa will be in his Grotto every weekend from Saturday 22nd November as well as on Monday 22nd and Tuesday 23rd December.”

OOTHS Director Laraine Robathan-Field said: “Traditional retailing continues to face stiff competition from the growth of online shopping, so it is imperative for retailers to be innovative and think creatively to survive and compete.

“The key is to provide the customer with an experience they can’t get online. Our tailored Christmas events will help the Guildhall engage with customers and encourage them to visit and shop at the Centre by providing them with a fun and exciting experience.”


Turning Japanese: Fashion & Cocktails

The beauty of running events means that the OOTHS team gets to travel all over the UK. On Tuesday night one of our founders, Hannah Jean landed in Bournemouth to host a fashion and cocktails night for fashion bloggers at the newly opened Sakura. The Japanese inspiration behind the venue lent itself perfectly to the current fashion trends. Below we share the five key ways that Japanese style is influencing the current style trends for autumn/winter.

Sakura Hannah JeanFashion commentators have been claiming that the impact of Japanese aesthetics this season is reminiscent of the 1981, when Rei Kawakubo and Yohji Yamamoto burst onto the Paris fashion scene. At the time of relatively conservative dress, the new shapes that they brought with them threw the fashion world into array. Their ‘dark, voluminous, misshapen coats worn with huge brimmed hats that hid the models’ faces’ displayed the deconstructed lines of Japanese fashion that was the antisepsis of western bodycon and shoulder pads at the time.

Fast forward 23 years and the Japanese aesthetic has held a long and successful courtship with western fashion. Within the current trends, there are five key influences that trace their inspiration back to the influence of Japanese culture:

Oversized Coats

Reboot your outerwear. The ideal coat this season is bobbled finish, with a tonal wool-blend design cut into a cocoon silhouette and finished with notch lapels. This design actively defies the western philosophy of cutting and stitching the fabric to fit the body, and embraces the Japanese aesthetic of wrapping the fabric to envelop the body.

Earthy aesthetic & washed out florals

Creativity with texture. Folk influences flow from the craft couture movement; and nowhere is this more highly regarded than in Japan. Quality fabrics –think Japanese denim – have always been important culturally and often high-end Japanese fashion is still hand finished within people’s homes even today.

Simple structure & fabric fluidity

The fluidity of the cuts signify the link the nature and the importance of fabric flow. Alongside this, the clean design lines and emphasis on structure is ironic of Japanese design and brands like Cos on the UK high street encapsulate this beautifully. It’s all about doing something different as the opening to Issey Miyake’s show for AW 14 illustrated.

Urban retro

Bold graphics & punchy sportswear is the look this season. Work it your way. Influences from the streets of Harujuku can be clearly seen in this trend, and in how the looks are pieced together.

Seeing red

Red is the colour that turns heads by day and by night, as it is the first colour that the eye sees. In Japan it is associated with being life-giving and traditionally red and white are the two colours used to celebrate weddings. Red can be seen everywhere this season particularly for coats and dresses to make an impact.

To finish up the session we handed over to the bloggers to turn their hand to Japanese style with fashion origami. See below for the results & many thanks to Phil Maclean for capturing the moment on camera too!

Sakura Bloggers

Application: Do you have Japanese inspired fashions in your store at the moment? Could you arrange a Japanese inspired evening as a way to interact with your customers and offer them an experience to remember. Think Cherry Blossom cocktails, origami inspiration and promotions on Japanese inspired collections. 

Back to School

Heading back to school after the summer holidays can be a pressured experience for both parents and children alike, especially in the area of school uniform. One of our founders, Laraine Robathan-Field shares her insights on the benefits of uniform. 

A phone call from a friend prompted me to write this post. She was upset after a tussle with her 11 year old daughter about having to wear school uniform. For many youngsters last week’s return to school no doubt brought excitement and fear in equal measure, especially for those about to start ‘big school’. Social media was plastered with proud parents showing pictures of uniformed youngsters. However, the school uniform can be one of the most stressful aspects for parents and children alike.

marksandspencer_982011411800037Wearing a daily uniform often coincides with the age at which we often feel self conscious and worry about body image. Fear of social rejection and concern that our appearance is in question may lead to avoiding situations and missing out on fun activities and making new friends. A poor body image often results in low self-esteem and negative thoughts can lead to eating disorders. Bullies often use appearance as a means to direct their jibes and torment, making school life a misery for some pupils.

Add to this the external influences such as magazines, advertising, film, television and the fashion industry, it’s no wonder that parents and children find it one of the most challenging aspects of school life.

So what can we do to help the transition go a little more smoothly? It’s important to explain to your child that wearing a uniform has many advantages as it:

  • removes the decision about what to wear saving time, effort, worry and energy
  • gives a sense of belonging to a team & community
  • provides a means of identification
  • saves money in the long run than having to buy a range of clothing
  • removes some of the peer pressure about following fashion & trends
  • means everyone is the same irrespective of individual budgets
  • provides practical and usually easy care
  • gets children used to a dress code and standard of dress which they may encounter in future careers
  • allows children to get more excited about ‘out of school’ clothes which gives them the opportunity to express their individuality.

Your school will be able to advise you about where and what to buy. High street stores and supermarkets have made school uniforms affordable for everyone and many schools and parent groups have pre loved items for sale. Involve your child in the process and make sure that all items are comfortable to wear. Get them excited about the idea of wearing a uniform, reiterating the advantages. Encourage them to take pride in their clothing and make sure they know the basics of good grooming.

If you have any concerns you should discuss them with your school who will have encountered most issues involving uniforms including bullying. If you would like further information about body image and self-esteem take a look at the Dove Self-Esteem Project that provides excellent resources for both schools and parents.

Image: Marks and Spencer
Image courtesy of
This blog post was adapted from LRF Style and the original post can be found here.


Looking the business

With the release of university and college grades, many young people will be looking to make that transition from study into the working environment. Retailers can support their customers by offering promotions and deals that help graduates to find what they are looking for. One of our founders, Laraine, shares below how she worked with a recent client to achieve her look.

Image credit: PR shots, Next

One of my clients this week was a young woman who had recently completed her studies, gained her professional qualifications and had secured her dream job. She admitted that, during her studies, clothing hadn’t been a priority and that a casual wardrobe had seen her through university and most of her social outings. She pointed out that for her job interviews she had purchased a reasonably priced dress but realised that full time employment in a professional environment meant that she needed to give consideration to her working wardrobe.

So what is a working wardrobe? It’s two things; firstly it’s a wardrobe that fulfils the demands of your lifestyle and allows you to express your personality and secondly it reflects what is appropriate for your work and helps you to showcase your skills,
competence and value in the workplace.

Being well groomed, smart and comfortable gives you confidence and reflects reliability and trustworthiness, qualities that you would want to project to your boss, client or colleague. Giving the right impression and paying attention to detail can pay dividends. Scuffed or dirty shoes could infer that your work could be shoddy and your attitude unprofessional. The bottom line is that the way you look can affect your career. 

If you are new to the company find out what’s expected. Most employers have a minimum standard of personal presentation and you need to find out what that is – ask if they have a dress code. If necessary, pay a visit and observe workers leaving the premises and check out what they are wearing. You may work in a creative environment where traditional business attire may  be inappropriate, therefore, you need to ask what’s acceptable.

It may be that you have a work uniform but you can still look at ways in which you can make it look individual. Neutral colours are great building blocks for any wardrobe but a splash of colour can inject personality. If you don’t know which colours suit you best, get your colours analysed and also find out how colour can impact on your audience. 

Back to my client! What did we buy for her? We started off with a trouser suit. It’s practical, hard working and versatile. She can wear it with different tops and for more options she can separate the trousers and jacket to mix and match with other pieces. Next we added a classic coat like the trench to help her deal with the British climate  and still look stylish. A tailored dress, a couple of pencil skirts, a white blouse and fabulous belt mean she can still look feminine.  A great pair of shoes and quality handbag can elevate an outfit; a simple structured bag can give the impression of being organised.


Images: Topshop, Jaeger, Wallis, Jaeger, Wallis, Accessorise, Next
All images courtesy of
This blog post was adapted from LRF Style and the original post can be found here.

How colour impacts our communication

Visual communication is a vital part of our life experience with approximately 40% of our brain’s real estate being taken up by our visual sense, compared to just 8% for touch and 3% for hearing. Within this we can distinguish 17 million different colours[1], which are detected by light receptors in the eye and interpreted by the brain. Each interpretation taps into our neuron pathways that are coded with associations according to our personal experience and cultural conditioning, thus affecting our response to colour.

How does our brain respond to colour?

Colour can affect our mood, alter our actions and affect our response when used in different situations. Typically warmer tones such as red, orange and yellow prompt an active response from us, while cooler tones such as green, blue and purple will relax us more. Take a moment to think about your response to the following colours.

Red – energy, excitement, power
Orange – creative, confidence, friendly 
Yellow – happiness, warmth, positivity
Green – peace, nature, health
Blue – trust, authority, safety
Pink – relax, youth, affection
Purple – imaginative, wise, luxury
Grey – balance, trustworthy, calm
Brown – comfort, stability, permanence
White – clarity, neutral, peace
Black – respectability, sleekness, decadence

Interestingly our brain recognises red first as we have a dominance of red cones receptors (64%) in our eyes, compared to green (32%) and blue (2%) hence why it prompts action. Green is associated with relaxation because the eye is most sensitive to wavelengths at 510 nm, which translates to green light, making it easy for the eye and the brain to interpret.

How can you use this with your communication? 

Understanding the essentials of colour psychology can equip you to use colour with purpose within your communication. The Logo Company has produced this great infographic that shows how brands use colour to communicate their message.

Colour infographic

If you want to prompt action or convey power, then adding a touch of red can convey the message you want. Equally using yellow can help to stimulate the brain – after all post-its were originally yellow for a reason! On the cooler side of the spectrum, the calmness of green has been traditionally utilised by television companies using green rooms for guests to relax their nerves. If you want to promote trust, then using or wearing the colour blue can help especially when complimenting it with the stabilising of grey or the neutrality of white.

Your psychological message can also be defined by the brilliance, darkness and lightness of a colour. When thinking of a light sea blue-green, this can remind you of calm tranquil waters, while a lush brilliant turquoise will excite the eye more as we associate it with the desirability of tropical holidays. The psychological association of a colour can often be more meaningful than the visual experience and evoke a personal response within us.

[1] Society of Dyers & Colourists, ‘Communicating Colour’, 2008

Application: OOTHS branding is based on orange and grey to reflect our creativity, trust and action principles. What colours do you use to communicate within your retail branding and shop displays? How do you think your colours make people respond?

Success in Stafford for #STYLEHUNTERS

Our #STYLEHUNTERS event at The Guildhall Shopping Centre from 30-31st May in collaboration with Stafford FM and Go Ape has proved ‘extremely popular’ with customers in Stafford and ‘hugely successful’ with the centre’s management team.

#STYLEHUNTERS team Stafford

Last weekend #STYLEHUNTERS arrived at the Guildhall Shopping Centre where the OOTHS team ran a treasure hunt and invited customers to follow a series of clues around the shopping centre that took them into 24 shops across the centre to seek out the answers.

Anne Graham, Marketing Manager at the Guildhall said “We were absolutely thrilled with the response to the event. Over the course of the 2 days over 400 people followed the clues around the shops. The feedback from our store managers and our customers has been extremely positive and I think everyone has had a good time. We are very grateful for the support shown by Stafford FM who joined us for the 2 days and also to Go Ape who sponsored the event”.

First prize went to Kelly Bradley who completed the trail with her son Tyler and won the top prize of £100 of shopping vouchers. Two runner-up prizes of £50 of shopping vouchers went to Mark Davys and Kelly Griffiths and 4 prizes of £25 voucher went to each of people putting the best photos on the Guildhall’s Facebook page. They were Daisy Heys, Grace Hawkins, Aidan Doran and Holly. All of our winners come from Stafford and Stone.

Every participant received a free gift and there were spot prizes throughout the day including over £450 worth of vouchers to the Go Ape Forest Adventure and other prizes donated by Guildhall stores. OOTHS would like to thank everyone who took part and made the event such a success! A full gallery of the image from the event can be seen here.

#STYLEHUNTERS Weekend at the Guildhall Shopping Centre

A host of prizes will be on offer to visitors to the Guildhall Shopping Centre when the first #STYLEHUNTERS event designed by Only on the High Street takes place at the end of May.

Stylehunters Poster

In Stafford, local super sleuths will be able to follow a trail of clues through 26 stores including Wallis, River Island, Evans and JD Sports with a treasure trove of shopping vouchers waiting for the first detectives to solve the mystery. There will also be prizes for everyone who takes part – including vouchers for those who post photos of their hunt on the Guildhall Shopping Centre’s social media profiles.

Guildhall Shopping Centre Marketing Manager Anne Graham said: “We are delighted at the response we’ve had from our traders and can’t wait for the weekend to arrive!

“As well as the £200 of shopping vouchers for our winners, we’ll be offering up to £100 for the best #STYLEHUNTERS inspired selfies that are taken during the event and posted on the centre’s Facebook and Twitter – just remember to use the event hashtag!”

Steve Moran is Management Surveyor for DTZ, which manages the centre. He said: “This is a new and exciting event for the Guildhall and we hope that our customers will enjoy completing the trail as much as we’ve enjoyed creating it. As the majority of our stores are keen to be involved, we have designed two different trails. Each one should take about 20-30 minutes to complete. Anybody who wants to complete both trails is welcome to do so to be in with a better chance of winning great prizes.”

The #STYLEHUNTERS Weekend takes place on 30th and 31st May 2014. Full details can be obtained here by visiting the Guildhall’s website.


The Street is Your Catwalk

In the last couple of weeks, our team has been involved styling spotting for Intu Group’s Style Hero event at both Watford and Stoke-on-Trent. We’ve had a great time, met some fabulous people and been inspired by what we saw on the streets of the UK. Our experiences reminded us that style is for everyone, irrespective of age, budget, gender or ability.

We thought we’d share one of our photographs from one of our earlier events called ‘The Street is Your Catwalk’. The photograph was taken by our photographer Maximilien Letek of Black Projection. We love how the picture reflects each person’s individual look.

Only on the High Street