Carmen Dell’ Orefice, Hem lengths, Colour blocking and Discord colours

Carmen Dell’Orefice walking for Norisole Ferrari

Carmen Dell’Orefice.

At 81, Carmen Dell’Orefice is probably the oldest working model. She has just appeared at New York Fashion Week walking for Norisol Ferrari and the Finnish label Marimekko. I wanted to mention her in this blog as I think she epitomizes beauty, grace and style.

She first graced the cover of Vogue in 1947 at the age of 15 and went on to do three covers for them in her career. She has continued to spend her life in front of the lens.

She is inspiring as she has a love of life and is always looking for new experiences. For me, she takes a bit of the dread of growing older away and shows you can do it with dignity and grace.

On her continued modeling she says “It keeps me in touch with young people, and their perspective of not just beauty and fashion, but life in general, and their experience, how they look at the world,’’

On her age she says “I think America may be growing up and accepting the fact that the bulk of life exists beyond 50. Because demographically … the vast population is over 50,”

On having work done, Dell’Orefice isn’t shy about getting some help with her looks. She admits to using fillers, with the philosophy, “If your ceiling was falling down, wouldn’t you fix it?”

Carmen Dell’Orefice

Carmen Dell’Orefice

Hem lengths

Skirts and dresses:

I have wondered, as I’ve got older, how long I should be wearing my skirts and dresses and I worry about being inappropriate for my age.  With this in mind, I watched an interesting segment last week on hem lengths that aired on the American TV show NBC Today . Lloyd Baskin, who was presenting the segment, suggested that skirt lengths should be dependent on three things.

Workplace environment: If you are in a conservative or traditional industry you need to be careful about showing too much leg.

Condition of your legs: If you have wrinkled skin on your knees, you might not want to show them.

The balance of how revealing a total outfit is: If you are showing a lot of skin above the waist, low neck, sleeveless, or backless then you need to show less leg and vice versa.

Age: 20’s the length should be 1-2 inches above the knee.

30’s the length should split your knee in half.

40’s slightly above the kneecap

50’s and up, the length should also split the knee in half and you should see only your knees when you sit and not too much thigh.

Lloyd advises against falling into the trap that because you are in your 50’s you start hiding your legs with longer skirts and inadvertently make yourself look frumpy and older. He avoids mid calf lengths on anyone as it cuts the leg in half and flatters no one.


Classic style pants hems should cut shoes heels in half.


Slim or cigarette silhouette pants should be ankle length.

Wide leg pants should just touch the floor.

Colour blocking:

Colour block shoes at Meyer

Shoes at Meyer

Sandals from Zara

Sandals at Meyer

Christian Louboutin’s bought on Saks Fifth Avenue sale

Contrasting and Discordant colours:

The stores are all full of various forms of contrasting and discordant colour blocking  combinations at the moment. When I looked up the definition of discordant colours I found this colour wheel and the following explanation.

Colour Wheel

Color discord is created by using colors widely separated on the color wheel. These colors are visually disturbing … they clash. But, however unpleasant, they can provide excitement. For example: pink and orange. Olive green and turquoise. Lilac and lime green.

Other examples include: (a) a primary color and a tertiary color beyond an adjacent secondary (red and blue-violet); (b) a secondary and a tertiary beyond the primary (orange and yellow-green); (c) two tertiary colors on either side of a primary

Lisa Perry S/S13

Lisa Perry S/S13

Rocksanda Ilincic S12

Roksanda Ilincic S12

(blue-violet and blue-green)

Dian Von Furstenberg Sp13

These are some examples of colour combinations that I would love to wear, although all the dresses are too short for me, I have put them up for silhouette and colour combination inspiration . You can mix and plain tops, skirts, pants and make up these exciting combinations.

When I went shopping this week looking for garments in lovely bright colours  I consider appropriate for me I was a bit disappointed. Everything that I vaguely liked is too short for me. I don’t know how you cater for younger and older woman at the same time, maybe a long hem that you can let out if you need to? Or do you resort to sewing two inches of lace or trim around the hem of something you really like and ruining the whole look?

Cue dress

Kachel top at David Jones

Donna Karan dress at Meyer

Sonia Rykel at Meyer

Country Road skirt and loose top

The silhouette at the moment is very simple, slightly structured and reminiscent of the 60’s. Shift dresses, pencil skirts, fitted tops, and slightly flared ‘tent’ dresses .I really like the look of a fitted skirt with a long loose top. I tried it on but I unfortunately I do not suit it! Lucky I wasn’t around during the 20’s! I will stick to the shifts and ‘tent’ dresses.

I bought this Vogue pattern 8805 and have made it up twice. Here it is in plain crepe de chine and below it is in silk habutal porteno, both from Tessuti fabrics in Chatswood.

Colour block dress

Floral colour block dress

Dress back

Sky sandals from Sambag

I love these sky blue sandals from Sambag and I think they would look great with outfits in orange, olive green, lime green, pink.

Chanel pumps

I had to include these Chanel pumps although they are completely unaffordable! They are beautiful and cover all the current trends, flat, metallic and with a toe cap.

Witchery metallic grey lace top

Speaking of metallics, I really love this grey metallic lace top from Witchery. I think it would be beautiful with a coral or lime skirt, long or short or a black pants suit. I always stop to look at it when I am in the store. I am frequently drawn to shiny metallics and I usually end up with stacks of them in my wardrobe and no where to wear them to! I have to restrain myself and not buy them.

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5 Responses to Carmen Dell’ Orefice, Hem lengths, Colour blocking and Discord colours

  1. Marianne Isaacs says:

    Hello , I am glad you are doing this blog . I like your taste and your age !! :)
    I have yet to get into colour blocking . I will, but life is rather full on for me at the moment and I havent got time to sit and sew.
    I know what you mean about length. I find it very difficult to buy clothes as I am very long bodied and tall in general . I will enjoy watching your efforts and be inspired to get away from my habitual Red Black with touches of white soon.

  2. Lauren says:

    Thanks for the inspiration with colour blocking, I really both versions that you made – so unique :-)

  3. Michelle says:

    I used to colour block all the time, but for some reason in the last couple of years it’s been all about the print. I do love a good colour block though! Something to explore again this summer, especially with the recent acquisition of some delightful sandals that SCREAM to have some colour blocking to go with them!

  4. Sarah says:

    Really enjoyed this entry. Especially the skirt length guide and notes on colour blocking. Thanks!

  5. Elizabeth old says:


    Thankyounfor starting this blog. My mum is shopping for weddings at the moment and is running into the same problems you had! I came across your blog via the tessutti blog (which I love).

    Mum and I are now eagerly awaiting g your next post!!


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