Last time, Patrice Jones talked about the frock that changed her life. This week, Avril Charnock talks about her dream dress from the Princess Diana era, and what happened to her style when she retired.
Ever wonder what would happen to your wardrobe if you didn’t have to dress for work anymore?
That’s what I asked Avril Charnock when she retired after 40 years in the health service.
“My style felt a bit institutionalized. I had to dress conservatively for work, not drawing attention to myself,” she says.
“What is perfect about retiring is that I have more than 3 minutes to decide what I feel like wearing. Instead of speed-dressing, I’m enjoying the process of putting outfits together and experimenting.”
Avril is a big fan of colour. “Colour has taken over my wardrobe now. I’m in a new phase of my life, not only having retired, but I’ll be 60 this year.”
She has no plans to retreat into the shadows. “I want to celebrate my age, without appearing to try too hard.”
She’s inspired by people who know what suits them. “Princess Diana was inspirational for me. Our figures were similar and she dressed to suit her shape. I also enjoy how TV presenter, Alex Polizzi, dresses. She’s adventurous.”
Avril is having fun pushing her sartorial comfort zone. “I wear purple nail varnish, and recently bought some new pieces, including a black lace jacket and an asymmetric fluid tunic. I’d love to experiment with vintage!”
What’s inspiring about Avril is her obvious excitement about embracing new colours and looks. She nails it perfectly – she’s youthful and adventurous in her choices, but avoids age-deception of what she can pull off. That’s a tricky balance.
Avril certainly isn’t retiring in the style department. She’s opening herself up to inspiration and experimentation. “A friend said I am like a butterfly emerging from a chrysalis.”
Biggest fashion disaster? “A matching coral jacket and skirt from Viyella. I saw it on someone else, and thought it looked good – big mistake!”
Best outfit ever? “My wedding dress from 1990. All the bridal dresses in the shops at the time were inspired by Diana’s gown. I was in despair, wanting something simple, fitted and chic. I couldn’t find it in the shops, so I bought a pattern, got some fabric from Liberty and had it made. I loved it because it was so ‘me’, so different from anything I’d seen.”
Advice for women seeking their own style? “Don’t be afraid of colour. And don’t give up, no matter what your age. My 85 year old mother looks a decade younger when she lets me put some make up and a colourful scarf on her.”
In next week’s interview, Sarah Guerra talks about learning to dress for yourself.