Style of a Certain Age

Does how we dress influence who we are? Can personal style bridge the generation gap? After all, what are we if not just naked bodies draped in cloth?

Keeley Bentley

April 21, 2016 | Crisis of Consciousness

My hair colour changes more or less biweekly and I add a new tattoo to my body in accidental correspondence with the moon cycles. I am sick to death of common rhetoric like, you might think they are cool now, but what about when you’re older? So, I decided to point the lens at the very woman who said those things to me… my Nan (of course, there have been countless others too). By now, she has begun to come around to the idea that women are different or that culture has changed. She’s starting to imagine how I might look when I get to be her age. At least she knows I’ll never be boring.

BENTLEY_504_1  Nan5

It kind of hit me when I was twelve years old, long before emo was cool in the UK, that not following trends, and instead choosing to be yourself seemed to start a trend of your own. Cher Horowitz in Clueless was my fashion saviour; that film taught me to be as experimental as possible. I remember someone saying to me, I wish I could dress like you, and I just thought, dude, wear whatever you want! It’s all about how it makes you feel. Fashion is the one thing that makes me feel confident. And for a someone who isn’t naturally very confident at all, clothes allow me to invite people into my mind.

Nan3  Nan1 (1)


Keeley: Hi Nan! Would you mind telling us a bit about yourself?

My name is Evelyn. I was born in 1929 in England.

What was your style like when you were younger?

I was always quite trendy, although we didn’t get the chance to buy very much during the War.

Did you have an attachment to any particular items of clothing?

In my younger years, there was a royal blue flared skirt with a petticoat, which I wore with a pale pink polo necked jumper. And once I was married, it was draped suits.

What is your greatest achievement?

Bringing up my children and grandchildren. I got such a pleasure from doing it on my own after my husband died.

Do you have any advice about staying young in the ways that matter?

Don’t smoke, don’t drink… Enjoy music and keep dancing! Being around family makes me feel young.

What do you think of my style?

[Laughs] Do you really want me to answer that?

Yeah! [both laugh]

Well I guess I would say I’m quite jealous of your confidence in one way, I guess, I was always a bit like that when I was younger… Now I’m older, I dress in the same things I’ve worn for 20 years.

But you always have something to say about the hair colour, and tattoos…

Well I don’t like the tattoos, but I guess that’s generational. The hair I’ve grown quite fond of!

Why do you think you feel that way about tattoos?

The artistry now is something we never had and your’s are a work of art, I have grown quite fond of some of them but for us they were for rough people and I guess that always sticks in my mind.

But didn’t Granddad have a tattoo of your name?

[Laughs] Yeah and I kicked him out as soon as I saw it! Although the sentiment was there, I never liked it. I guess that’s just down to me and my opinions…

Keeley Bentley

Keeley is a fine art photographer and student at Blackpool and The Fylde College in the North West of England. Find her at


  1. SmithShine
    April 23, 2016

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    Ha ha that’s ace! Your Nan is totally brilliant! I remember when we used to get stressed out about whether we looked ok going out and she would just say, all deadpan like, “who’s gonna look at you?” …. brought us right back down to earth lol :)

  2. Cheryl kirby
    April 23, 2016

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    Omg I don’t believe I had this conversation with my mum today. We were stressing about getting Skye a prom dress and she said “oh tell her not to bother. Nobody’s going to be looking at her” 40 years on and fashion may have changed but the rhetoric remains the same!!!

  3. aughghghhghg
    August 24, 2017

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    an eduacted child is a blesing unto his parents and unto the Maker, blessed be the maker, blessed be Andraste

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