There are plenty of advantages to being in one’s 20s. You get away with a lot, by virtue of being young and foolish; you still have all of your teeth; and you can shop anywhere. Those in their 20-somethings have the pick of the high street when it comes to fashion. Midi dresses? Check. Maxis? Check. Bodycon dresses and skinny jeans? Check(ish).
For women of 40-plus, the choices seem more limited. There are few women in their 40s who design for women in their 40s. Does Stella McCartney count? Fruit-printed dresses and shapeless blazers are hardly covetable items. What about Diane von Furstenberg? The grand dame of the wrap dress is catering for a wide audience, but her wrap dresses have become the go-to style for the mature matron.
Which is why Mary Portas has hit the sartorial nail on the head with her collection for House of Fraser. In Mary Queen of Frocks, the Channel 4 documentary that detailed the process, Portas set out her stall: "I'm 51 and I don't want to look like a whore or a granny."
The result is a covetable (for all ages) collection of dresses, trousers and separates.
We’re talking sleeves, knee-length dresses, boat necks and bright colours and prints. In the new Mary section of House of Fraser in Dundrum Town Centre in Dublin, you’ll also find items from other brands that were hand-picked by Portas.
Although Portas may be the first to so specifically aim for this target market, hers is not the only label that provides for this age group. Other safe bets? Whistles, Jaeger, Reiss and, of course, Zara, which shows no signs of slowing down its domination of the high street.