Earlier this month, I featured the-bias-cut.com as one of my ‘go-to’ shops for wearable, on-trend clothes that don’t ignore mature women.
We had a great response, so I sat with the founder, the incredible Jacynth Bassett, to discuss mid-life style, ambition and challenging the ageist stereotypes we all hate.
Hi Jacynth, we’d love to know what made you decide to set up a fashion brand aimed at the 50+ women. Did you always want to work in fashion?
Fashion has always been one of my main passions since I was little, but I wanted to become a lawyer! I studied Law at Cambridge but realised whilst I was there that it wasn’t for me.
Instead, I wanted to do something I really loved and enjoyed. So that’s when I decided to go into fashion; I had a good knowledge of the industry already, but I also knew it would challenge me in new and exciting ways – and it does!
You’re still in your twenties yourself – does this ever affect how older women respond to you or have they really embraced your commitment to the ageism cause?
Somewhat to my surprise, women have really embraced my being younger. I started with a blog, and I was quite worried that some women wouldn’t like it, so I was a little more ‘behind the scenes’. But gradually I discovered that they really love it as they feel my younger age offers a more objective, fresh perspective.
The older blogging and influencer groups have welcomed me with open arms, and it has played a key part in so many industry leaders, such as stylist Claire Ginzler (who styled Prue Leith in GBB) to want to get involved.
Of course, there is the odd person who doesn’t understand it – someone said to me “why do you care?! Enjoy your youth and worry about that later”. But as I always point out, ageism is an issue that inevitably affects us all, it doesn’t mean you should sit by and ignore it. Seeing my mum treated so poorly in shops and by designers, being made to feel irrelevant and invisible was something I just couldn’t overlook; I had to do something about it.
How do you choose pieces to put on the site?
It’s quite a rigorous process. I start by looking for designers that share our values of believing in style at every age, and respecting quality and being sustainable and ethical. And they must have a unique, yet modern and stylish point of view. My rule is: if I wouldn’t want to wear it, why should our customer? The style shouldn’t be second best.
Once I’ve selected them, I’ll go through their complete collection, filtering out pieces that don’t tick three core boxes: excellent quality, flattering cut, contemporary (but not necessarily trend-driven) design. The cut is often where pieces go wrong, so everything must be tried on, and checked against different shapes and sizes.
We really pride ourselves on knowing cuts and some cases I’ve worked with designers to offer better exclusive cuts for our customers to ensure more women can wear them.
What’s the best feedback you’ve had?
One lady wrote to us saying how the confidence we’ve given her has been life-changing. Whenever someone tells us how they couldn’t believe how many compliments they received from family, friends and even strangers, it makes my day. It’s also wonderful when we’re complimented for our customer service which is extremely important to us.
What are your three favourite current pieces?
That’s a tough one! Problem is I wear so much of it myself as I love it all. Right now, from what’s on the website now it must be the Jacket Teddy Ecru as it’s so cosy and has a fabulous lining, the Narelle dress for its vibrant palm print and effortless style, and the Joplin Gold Skirt as it’s just plain fabulous.
I’m also obsessed right now with our new collection which will launch in a couple of weeks – there’s a real tropical vibe and our dresses are particularly fab.
A lot of our customers tell us they’re stuck in a style rut – how would you break this?
Most of us end up in a rut because we refuse to try anything new. So first look at your wardrobe and see what it is predominantly made up of. It might be a certain colour (often navy or black) or a shape. Once you’ve worked out what it is, make a conscious effort to avoid buying anything new like that for a while.
Instead, encourage yourself to step out of your comfort zone, and try something that catches your eye, but you wouldn’t normally go for. Try it on, and you might be pleasantly surprised. And if not, you can take it off again! But once you start broadening your horizons, you’ll begin having fun with fashion and find your style evolves in a new, fresh, exciting way.
One other big area of concern for many of us is whether we can still look ‘sexy’ rather than invisible at 50+, especially as so many of us find us starting again later in life. What do you think and what would you advise?
So, a couple of months ago I clashed with an older woman who runs a ‘going grey’ group on Facebook with several thousand members. She told me women over 50 shouldn’t care about being stylish or sexy; instead, they should be ageing gracefully, going grey and their clothes should be of timeless classic style.
I was pretty shocked. As well as disappointed and concerned that someone was promoting this message to so many women.
First of all, there is no right or wrong way to age – it’s about what is right for you. And second of all, women over 50 can certainly be sexy! To me, being sexy is about being confident, which means wearing what makes you feel good about yourself. And with that, it is up to you how you wish to age, dress and look.
Yes, there are all these terms about being ‘mutton dressed as lamb’ or being ‘age-appropriate’ but just focus on what’s right for you, and not trying to force yourself to be or look like someone you’re not. The biggest mistake is denying who you are right now, age included.
So simply focus on being the best version of yourself today and you will be your sexiest version too.
What’s next for the-bias-cut.com?
Once the new season has launched, we’ve got some fun campaigns coming up centring around Mother’s Day, occasion wear and holidays. We’re also planning on opening a pop-up shop in Brighton in late April as it’s important for us that we aren’t just London centric. We also have plans to design our first collection, so watch this space!