Age-Positive Style Pioneer Alyson Walsh Wants You to Embrace Mid-Life (and Beyond)

Photography by Claire Pepper

Meet the journalist, author and founder of age-positivity style site That’s Not My Age.

By
Odessa Paloma Parker

Date March 26, 2021

Alyson Walsh launched the website That’s Not My Age in 2008, and has since built the style-centric site into a platform that boasts a shoppable component, as well as a podcast. Here, the journalist, author and age-positivity advocate tells us more about her fashion influences, wardrobe favourites, and why it’s never to late to express yourself through dressing.

What’s your earliest style memory?
As a teenager, I was into music rather than fashion. It was all very DIY in the 1970s and often unintentionally shoddy. I wore a lot of second-hand clothes and army surplus pieces. I was still at school when punk exploded and a bit too young — and uncool — to get fully behind the movement, but it was a huge influence. My younger brother and I used to buy NME New Musical Express every week, and I’ve always been a bit of a tomboy so a lot of my icons were men. I was into bands like The Clash and Joy Division, and the women I admired were Debbie Harry and Patti Smith — artists who appreciated the importance of image and aesthetics as well as music.

Describe your approach to dressing.
My aim when I’m getting dressed is to be effortless and faff-free — to put clothes on and then forget about them. So, flat shoes, stompy boots or sneakers are a non-negotiable. My signature look is grown-up tomboy or elegant gentlewoman. Most of the time, I’m pretty pared-down — in minimal menswear-inspired clothes — but then I’ll add a touch of casual glamour with a rakish scarf or vintage leopard-print coat. It’s always good to throw a little Keith Richards into the mix.

Patti Smith, one of Walsh’s early style influences. Photography by Patrick McMullan/Getty

What motivates your work?
Fashion gets a bad rap, but it can help people feel really good about themselves. I know it’s more complex than that, but just think about how you feel when you’re wearing a sharp jacket or favourite dress — when clothes are on your side. As a fashion journalist, I want to offer helpful advice, to provide style inspiration and, most of all, to empower women. When I started That’s Not My Age over 12 years ago, I wanted to see more diversity — more older women I could relate to — and to call out the ageism and sexism that sadly still exists today. I wanted to celebrate mid-life and beyond — to show that beauty can be many things and is not just associated with the young.

Describe your ideal day.
On a beach with Mr. That’s Not My Age and a good book — somewhere warm and sunny where I can swim in the sea. It’s been a long year locked down in London!

What’s one fashion item you think everyone should have in their closet?
A jumpsuit. I’ve got seven — in different fabric weights and with varying degrees of slouchiness — that have seen a lot of action this year. There’s a proper workwear version from French brand Vetra that I call the “Industrial Onesie” and then a supersized khaki version from Bliss and Mischief that I call the “Military Onesie.” People tend to be put off by the fear of toilet trouble, but I consider the time and effort saved getting dressed in the morning as a trade-off for the extra time it takes to go to the loo. The boiler-suit balance. Makes sense, no?

For style inspiration, check out Walsh’s wardrobe staples:

Anu Raina scarf, $160. Universal Standard jumpsuit, $235. Maguire boots, $300.