For these 4 stylish seniors, age is nothing but a number

They might be in their 50s or older, but these stylish seniors say an eye for style and a fierce passion for self-expression have nothing to do with age

Rocking eclectic fashion with her attitude

Ms Irene Chew’s unique style proves that age is nothing but a number.

At 66, her impeccable sense of style and love of fashion see her constantly putting together the most eye-catching ensembles – looks that someone half her age might be hesitant about pulling off.

For the petite mother of two, dressing in muted or modest pieces is a no-go as that does not suit her outlook on life.

“I worked in the fashion industry when I was younger and have always enjoyed trying to build my own unique style,” the retiree says.

“I don’t believe that you have to look a certain way because you are a certain age. Personally, that old-school traditional look is really not for me.”

Instead, what she loves are eye-catching pieces, everything from embroidery and bright patterns to fitted tailored pieces and bling.

In keeping with her bold aesthetic, she also let her hair go grey naturally over the past two years and now rocks it in a pin-up-style up-do.

When it comes to amassing her eclectic, quirky wardrobe, Ms Chew turns to places such as Siam Paragon in Bangkok, as well as designer Ann Teoh, whom she patronises at Delfi Orchard for her tailored pieces.

She also goes to cut label boutiques to get designer pieces from brands such as Gucci and Dolce & Gabbana at a steal.

The grandmother says: “I often get stopped by people who want to take my picture. It goes to show that style has nothing to do with age – it’s all about your attitude and how confident you are about the pieces you wear.”

Creating a unique style with batik

Mr Tan Dib Jin – or DJ, which he prefers to be known as – is a big fan of casual, comfortable attire. But for the 69-year-old father of two, an informal look does not equate to looking sloppy.

“I’m not saying there is anything wrong with wearing slippers and shorts when going marketing or doing your gardening. But for me, it is important to look neat at all times.”

His first love has always been batik, which he began wearing when he was a teen.

 

“I had an aunt in my family who was Peranakan and I was drawn to the bright colours and unique patterns of the clothes she wore.

I still feel they make the wearer look very distinguished.” In recent years, his frequent travels for his job in the education industry has helped grow his impressive collection of batik shirts, jackets and suits.

Whenever he finds himself in Malaysia or Indonesia, he picks up fabrics that catch his eye – it could even be a scarf with an eye-catching print. He gets them worked on in Hong Kong by a tailor he has been going to since 1990.

The result is an array of vividly printed and embellished batik pieces, in some cases mixed with solid-coloured silk fabrics or pearl-style buttons to create one-of-a-kind designs.

For Mr Tan, his bold and colourful wardrobe is a source of pride.

“I’m not afraid of wearing bright colours, which is why batik is so special to me – it is something unique and out of the box while still being traditional.

“Plus, I like that I can dress it up or down depending on the occasion.”

Love life, love dressing up

Ms Shirley Tay is very much the life of the party and has a wardrobe that reflects her personality.

For the 71-year-old, fashion is all about being “fun, loud and classy” – no black or muted tones for her, thank you very much.

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Her love of colour extends to her hair, which she often streaks in shades of blue, green and pink with the help of a collection of wash-off hair dyes that she keeps at home.

A professional chef by training, she loves cooking up a storm and hosting parties for friends and family. She says her style is a reflection of her love of life.

“When I was younger, I couldn’t afford to buy new clothes all the time. But I had an elegant aunt, whose style I loved and whom I always tried to emulate,” the grandmother of two recalls.

“I really began dressing up only in the past 20 years, but now I’m definitely a shopaholic through and through – someone who loves a fun outfit, preferably something bright and colourful.”

When she is not working as a chef at Orchard Road restaurant The Peranakan, she says she loves jamming with her newly formed band, going out for meals and dancing the tango.

She says of her outgoing personality and confident style: “I don’t see why you have to become boring as you get older.

“For me, age doesn’t matter. Dressing up makes me happy and you should always do things that make you happy – that’s the key to enjoying life.”

Fit frame to go with bright, bold outfits

Mr Edmund Koh is 11 months shy of his 60th birthday, but with his trendy style and well-kept physique, he could easily pass off as someone 20 years younger.

The father of two says it is his work in the jewellery business that fuels his love of loud and eyecatching looks. “I need to dress up so I can catch the attention of potential customers. That’s why I’ve always enjoyed bold outfits and accessories.”

His love of fashion started when he was in his teens, so much so that he started his own textiles business when he was 21. And though he eventually moved into the jewellery trade, his love of bright colours and prints has not faded in the least.

“I’m drawn to greens, yellows and reds and often wear them together so my outfit looks bold. Besides that, I also don’t mind wearing trendy pieces such as a bright blazer or ripped jeans, which I buy when I’m overseas in places such as Australia, Hong Kong and Spain.”

To keep himself in tip-top shape, the 59-year-old boxes and does 300 push-ups every day. In his free time, he also enjoys busking and donates the money he earns to the less fortunate.

Asked what he thinks of the stereotypical “uncle” style – say, sporting ill-fitting clothes or a paunch – the sprightly businessman says with a laugh: “I think I will stay away from all that for as long as I can. I don’t believe that you become old at a certain age – as long as you think positively and take care of the way you look and dress, you will always look and feel young.”


Spotted in Orchard Road: The auntie attitude

Spa therapist Helen Ong, 53

"I would say my personal style is anything that is very bright and happy - orange and yellow are my favourite colours and I have a lot of pieces in these shades."

Ms Jacqueline Boyer, 50,

who works in the communications industry "My personal style is all about comfort and dressing for the weather, but also having little pops of colour to add something interesting to my outfit."

Graphic designer Natasha Hassan, 23

"I haven't heard of the term granny chic, but I can definitely attest that my style is all about comfort. On a scale of one to 10, comfort is a solid nine for me. Socks are one of my favourite accessories. I have numerous pairs and I like to wear them such that they peek out from my shoes and boots."

Stockbroker Jojo Kerk, 52

"I would describe my style as easy. I like colours, layering and pieces that make me feel comfortable."

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 18, 2018, with the headline 'Are you more stylish than Auntie Irene?'. Print Edition | Subscribe