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50-Something, but Make It Fashion

As Carrie & Co return to our screens, meet the Dubai women who personify #stylegoals.

It’s the TV show that changed the way we thought about fashion. And it’s back – well, almost. And Just Like That, the follow-up to Sex And the City, is set to make a return to the small screen this autumn. And while the actual release date of the first episode – which famously reunites Carrie, Charlotte, and Miranda, but not Samantha – is yet to be confirmed, what is certain is that every SATC fan worldwide will be OBSESSED with the minutiae of everything they wear 23 years after we first met them and fell in fashion love. 

Navigating New York City as 50-somethings (with a variety of partners/kids/baggage in tow according to behind-the-scenes snaps), Manhattan’s most famous friend group may well be older and wiser, but they’re no less fashion-obsessed than before. Setting social media alight with images of her awesome on-set outfits, star and executive producer Sarah Jessica Parker was pictured rocking numerous showstoppers: a shimmery purple Fendi Baguette (an upgrade to the beloved version stolen from Carrie on the street in Season 6), Celine Melody tri-buckle Mary Jane pumps, a bag from this year’s highly coveted Gucci x Balenciaga Aria collaboration, and a huge feathered headpiece (much like the one Carrie wore during her first attempt to marry Big). These are just four of the big-ticket items loudly dinging our fashion radars. 

Still mixing patterns and prints to dazzling effect and accenting her vintage finds with offbeat accessories, 56-year-old SJP is proof that Carrie (and indeed all of her friends, both old and new) have most definitely still got it. And why wouldn’t they? Would we have expected any less from the women who have always encouraged us to break fashion rules and wear whatever the heck we wanted whenever we wanted? Nuh-uh, honey. And despite the fact that SATC’s original costume designer Patricia Field is not a part of the reboot (passing the reigns on to protégée Molly Rogers and co-costume designer on the Sex and the City movies Danny Santiago), the sartorial legacy she created for Carrie & Co in their fledgling years remains firmly intact.

So what of our own city’s fabulous, 50-plus fashionistas? Well, there are plenty. Look around your average mall or restaurant, and it’s clear that Dubai has numerous exceptionally stylish older women, all of whom could give SJP and her NYC gal pals a run (or maybe a fast walk, heels permitting) for their money. Below, we meet three who you should follow immediately – your wardrobes can thank us later.

WHO?

Caroline Labouchere

AGE?

57

FROM?

England

OCCUPATION?

Model and ambassador

FOLLOW HER AT?

@carolinelabouchere

How would you describe your personal style?

Definitely classic – I do love a bit of monochrome. Colour scares me a little.

When did your love affair with fashion begin?

I’ve loved fashion forever. I used to cut and drape fabric around my body when I was young to create outfits. They looked great on the outside, but my finishing left a lot to be desired. 

What’s your signature style?

I almost always wear a belt.

Whose style inspires you?

Susi Rejano rarely gets it wrong, and I love Queen Letizia of Spain’s look.

What makes a woman stylish to you?

Possibly being subtle with trends – showing that you know what’s going on in the world of fashion, but remaining classic. 

How would you describe your style uniform?

Ballet flats, jeans, and a long- or short-sleeved T-shirt.

Can you share your favourite designers or places to shop?

I’m finding brands I had never heard of before that I absolutely love – Dea Kudibal, Michael Kors, Mr Mood, Me and Em, and Wear Commando are just a few.

How has your style evolved over the years?

My style is more capsulated – I know what works and I make fewer mistakes. I also now have some key designer pieces that can be dressed up and down.

What’s your take on sustainable style choices?

I definitely don’t visit high street shops as much as I used to. And my daughter Mimi and I wear each other’s clothes, too, so that adds another layer to my fashion sustainability.

What’s your ultimate style no-no?

Cut-off trousers – it doesn’t matter what shape you are, they look awful. 

What are your five style rules to live by?

  1. Less is more.
  2. Boobs or legs.
  3. Wear comfortable shoes to the mall.
  4. Make sure your shoes are well-heeled.
  5. Always wear a belt with your jeans.

What are the key items that every woman should own?

Belts, white shirts, straight and bootleg jeans.

What are the three pieces in your wardrobe you couldn’t live without?

A sun hat, a good long cardigan, and my black pleather leggings.  

What’s the best piece of style advice that you can give?

Take one thing off before you leave the house.

What’s the worst fashion mistake you’ve ever made?

Can’t think of any!

Which local brands/designers do you love?

Ezra Couture and Master Elliott.

Which Sex and the City character’s style do you most associate with and why?

None of them!

WHO?

Emma Sawko

AGE?

51

FROM?

France

OCCUPATION?

Founder/owner of Comptoir 102 and Wild & The Moon

FOLLOW HER AT?

@emmasawko

How would you describe your personal style? 

Parisian, sunny, feminine, rock, cool.

When do you think your love affair with fashion began? 

I can’t remember exactly. I feel it was always here. I remember my friends telling me I should work in fashion, and I was still in middle school…

What’s your signature style?

I have a seashell necklace that I bought in New York and kept ever since and, because I am working part-time in Dubai, I always wear a tan and a smile in the midst of the Parisian winter. My signature style is called “summer in my heart”. 

Whose style inspires you?

I love Caroline de Maigret’s French style, Alexa Chung’s British style, and Leandra Medine Cohen’s crazy New Yorker style – but I have my own.

What makes a woman stylish to you?

Kindness, good posture, and manners. 

How would you describe your style uniform?

I used to wear heels more often, but having to run between meetings all day, I gave them up and adopted sneakers and jeans. I try to make up for it with nice tops.  

Can you share your favourite designers or places to shop? 

I never go shopping. I am a buyer for my concept store, Comptoir 102 in Dubai, and I do so during the fashion weeks. I only buy what I love and would wear myself, and therefore inevitably end up buying from my own shop. I like Isabel Marant, Forte Forte, Raquel Allegra, and Ulla Johnson the most.

How has your style evolved over the years?

Even if I always loved fashion, I suppose my style evolved a little when I became a buyer as I had to develop a keen eye. When you shop for yourself, you may be more impulsive and sometimes make mistakes. But if you shop for others, you need to think about what will work, what will look good on your clients, and what style you want to convey. 

Getting older, however, didn’t change the way I dress. Society expects women to hide their ageing bodies – what is totally acceptable for a 20-year-old girl (showing legs or shoulders, for example) becomes more and more ‘ridiculous’ or ‘shameless’ as she ages. Youth is prized, wrinkly knees and bat wings not so much. It’s very sad because getting older is wonderful. Being faithful to your style and who you are, dressing the way you feel like? That is important. 

What’s your take on on sustainable style choices?

Sustainability has always been a concern and, as a buyer, I do take responsibility. We curate brands that work ethically – some because they are supporting women with financial independence in small communities, others because they chose to use ecological materials. As the market slowly opens to these values, we started scouting for green brands and recently introduced collabs with 100% ecological and vegan brands.

What’s your ultimate style no-no?

I have three. Classic leather handbags – especially those with ostentatious branding or logos all over – worn in the elbow crease are a bad idea. You can’t pretend you have something important or meaningful to do when you have a pink leather bag hanging from your elbow, nor can you look cool with your arm perpetually bent at a 90-degree angle. ‘French’ manicures are not French and look tacky. Total looks and trying too hard are the worst enemy of style.

What are your five style rules to live by?

  1. Wearing something that fits you rather than the latest trend. 
  2. Mixing low-key pieces with more sophisticated ones.
  3. Your clothes and shoes need to be comfortable because painful feet show on your face.
  4. Your style must reflect your personality – don’t try to look like somebody else.
  5. Recycle, re-use, or donate.

What are the key items that every woman should own

There is no such thing. Every woman should wear exactly what she loves and what she feels comfortable in. I suppose 20 years ago, the answer would have been “a little black dress” or “a pair of Manolos”, but we can live without a LBD or a pair of signature heels. In fact, the people we admire most for their styles are often non-conformists. 

What are the three pieces in your wardrobe you couldn’t live without? 

I only have two: a good pair of jeans and some cool sneakers. 

What’s the best piece of style advice that you can give?

Don’t be scared to develop your own style. Wear clothes that make you feel beautiful. Don’t obey fashion and society’s diktats.

What’s the worst fashion mistake you’ve ever made?

Each time I tried to go out of my own style. But at 51, I don’t do that anymore. No matter the circumstances, I never overdress. 

Which Sex and the City character’s style do you most associate with and why?

These girls are real New Yorkers with hairdos, perfect nails, designer bags, and heels. It’s harder for a Parisian like me to associate with that, but Carrie in her ballet skirt and wild hair looked amazing.

WHO?

Silke Styles 

AGE?

56

FROM?

Germany

OCCUPATION?

Personal stylist

FOLLOW HER AT?

@silke_styles

How would you describe your personal style? 

Casual creative with a Scandi twist.

When do you think your love affair with fashion began?

At a very young age, probably in my teens.

What’s your signature style

Less is more!

Whose style inspires you? 

Jenna Lyons.

What makes a woman stylish to you? 

When she wears outfits that reflect her style personality.

How would you describe your style uniform?

In Dubai, I like to wear wide-leg trousers with a button-down shirt and most probably sneakers.

Can you share your favourite designers or places to shop?

Usually second-hand stores, sustainable fashion. Sometimes COS and & Other Stories.

How has your style evolved over the years?

It has changed a lot over the years as I’m not a trend-follower anymore. I need my wardrobe to function for me and my current lifestyle, so practicality, comfort, and nice fabrics are key.

What’s your take on on sustainable style choices

I’m trying to make more sustainable fashion choices, and wear items that I already own by styling them in different ways. I know it’s a journey, but small steps will get us there. I believe this is the future for the fashion industry. I’m a big supporter of slow and sustainable brands here in the UAE and always on the lookout for new brands to recommend to my clients. I’m very excited that now we are starting to have more second-hand choices as well as renting fashion.

What’s your ultimate style no-no? 

When you’re not yourself.

What are your style rules to live by?  

Discover your style personality, find your colours and body shape, and just experiment and have fun.

What are the key items that every woman should own

There is no rule that applies to everyone since we come in all sizes and shapes and our daily routines are so different. A perfect outfit is something that underlines your inner beauty and makes you feel fabulous. It can be a very elegant dress or the perfect pair of sandals. 

What are the three pieces in your wardrobe you couldn’t live without? 

Sneakers, blazers, linen shirts.

What’s the best piece of style advice that you can give?

Be authentic and true to yourself.

What’s the worst fashion mistake you’ve ever made? 

Ha ha, too many – that’s why I studied to become a stylist! But I guess neon leggings?

Which local brands/designers do you love? 

So many, and they are all slow and sustainable fashion brands: @emiliaohrtmannofficial, @by.m.a.r.y, @goshopia_official, @mykaftan, @onlyethikal, and @f_l_o_r_e_n_c_eowens just to name a few.

Which Sex and the City character’s style do you most associate with and why? 

Can I pick two? Carrie and Miranda.

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