IT could be argued they are the last people to be associated with the phrase fashion icon, but so-called frumpy and practically-dressed grannies are inspiring the season’s latest dress code on British streets, according to department store Debenhams.
The fashion set saw granny-style cardis, tweed mid-length skirts and flesh-coloured tights walk down the catwalks of New York, London and Milan, and the trends have now filtered down to the high street.
The look has been embraced by fashion icons and ‘now’ girls, Alexa Chung, Miquita Oliver, the Olsen twins and the Geldof girls.
Demand for “nan favourites” such as round-neck blouses, mid-length skirts, tweed skirts, brogues, low-heeled shoes and even flesh-coloured tights – albeit with a designer twist – have soared in Debenhams stores, including Blackpool.
Geraldine Turner, womenswear supervisor at Debenhams Blackpool, said: “Some may say this trend is more Miss Marple than Marni, but its popularity continues to increase.
“Once reserved for bingo halls and bridge classes, ‘granny chic’ is more likely to be seen on trendy streets in Manchester, Blackpool and Glasgow.
“This is progression from the popularity of vintage clothing we have seen in recent years – but now, instead of buying old clothes, the cool kids are imitating old women.”
We went to South Shore Community Centre’s Wednesday morning chat and Scrabble group, to see what local grans made of the trends.
Beryl Howell, a grandmother-of-nine and great-grand mother to 10, said: “I think it’s nice fashion is moving towards older styles and clothes which are a bit more feminine.
“I have always loved shift dresses and they never seem to go out of fashion. It seems like chunky knitted cardigans are coming back.
“Fashions keep coming round and if you keep something for long enough, it will be back in fashion again. Things like velvet jackets are back in now.
“My husband liked the mini, but we didn’t wear it like now with pointed shoes and stilettos, we wore it with cuban heels and chunky shoes.
“I like the mid-length skirts, and the kilt-style skirt. I like the trousers and the Tesco top. I like the Jagger tote bag as well.”
Shirley Hill said: “You do see a lot of older styles about now. My favourite decade for clothes and fashion was the 50s. Everything was so feminine, really glamorous. It was all about nipped-in waists, showing that hourglass figure, like Audrey Hepburn.
“And we used to always make our own clothes. The only bought dress I had was one from Marks and Spencer which was bought specially for when I had my photograph taken at Gaunts photographers on Bond Street.
“I liked the early 70s as well because you could wear a nice, long maxi dress even during the day without feeling too dressed up.
“It’s funny how things which were old-fashioned come back in – like stockings with the seams.”
Elaine Martin said: “I like the Principles mid-length skirt, in purple. The Principles shoes have some 40s styling, but they would have had a thinner heel. Not really thin but less chunky than that one. I like the quilted handbag. I’m not as keen on the vintage shoes, they remind me of school shoes. I do have a coat like the Jasper Conran coat, and a mac.”
And Pat Dobson, who has nine grandchildren, said: “We were talking about crimplene and saying that hasn’t come back. But it was so handy. I like the purple skirt.”
Great grandmother-of-three Evelyne Wright said: “All fashions get recycled eventually. I like some of those items of clothing, but not all. I remember the pleated skit and the Monsoon mac is quite Laura Ashley.”