When I saw the photo of Madonna in bondage gear and a cardigan, baring her breasts for a magazine, I felt an overwhelming urge: to do up her buttons.
I’m no prude — how could I be, when I first modelled topless myself at 16? — but it made me uncomfortable. To me, these shots are less daring than they are desperate. Madonna is a gutsy, smart woman who I admire, but she doesn’t need these kind of pictures. We’ve seen her promote this look before — about 20 years ago. It’s time she moved on.
At 61, I’m five years older than her and I’m certainly not saying an older woman can’t have sexy photos taken. But I feel I should let her in on a secret — it’s no longer as simple as taking your clothes off. At our age, it often has more to do with what you keep on.
So Madonna, in the interests of sisterhood, here are my tips for stripping off in style . . .
TAME YOUR TUM
’tis the season to be jolly so they say and there’s nothing quite like some festive red to mark the holidays. And Jilly Johnson for one is working it this Christmas.
After remarking on Madonna’s recent ‘desperate’ topless shots, Jilly, former model, has stepped in to show us how to work lingerie when you hit the post 50 mark. And Jilly’s chosen set is so perfect for the season of merriment that we think everybody, old or young, should be working red in the bedroom right now.
Click right to snap up her Rosie for Autograph bra at M&S and if you want to complete the set, the matching midi knickers are available below.
As alternatives go on the high street, we’re rather taken by the Matilda pick at Asos and it has a bit of sneaky padding too, to give you an extra lift. So why not treat yourself to some new lingerie this Christmas, after all, it’s the time of year for treats, right?
The first rule about stripping off over 50 is to keep movement to a minimum. Mature flesh doesn’t travel well: if you turn round too fast your bottom arrives a few seconds after the rest of you — the antithesis of sexiness.
Fortunately, well-chosen lingerie that is sturdy, yet sexy, can work age-defying miracles, hold in wobbly bits and counteract the effects of gravity. This bra, for instance, boosts my bust, but doesn’t show too much flesh, so it solves the problem of crepey cleavage. The wide strap at the back gives good support and flattens back fat.
The pants have a tummy-slimming panel at the front and come up high enough to hide some of my jelly belly, which is the bit of myself I feel least confident about.
DON’T PINE FOR THE PAST
Madonna has always been the Queen of Reinvention, but now she seems to be stuck in the past. The trouble with harking back to your heyday is that it simply invites unflattering comparisons between your appearance now and what you looked like before. You need to move on and create a new image for yourself.
I experienced this first-hand, modelling for Janet Reger in the Seventies and then again aged 58.
The first time round, it didn’t occur to me to be self-conscious, even though the underwear left little to the imagination and I was in the window of their Bond Street store. Three decades later, I needed all the structure and cover I could get, yet still felt insecure about the results.
In this shot, I’m wearing a lacy body but, instead of revealing what’s underneath, it’s just suggested by the nude material. Even so, I can’t say I like this photograph.
I am at least a stone heavier than in my heyday, and it just reminds me of what I’ve lost. However, it’s important that I try to remind myself of everything I’ve gained in life. That was then and this is now — live in the present.
‘TIS THE SEASON TO BE JOLLY
If you’re posing for a slightly risqué shot, it’s much better to have fun with it than to look as if you’re taking yourself too seriously. If you can laugh at yourself when you’re in this slightly vulnerable situation, it will come across as innocent fun, not sleazy or attention-grabbing.
Much better to position yourself as one of the Calendar Girls, your modesty hidden by a strategically-placed plate of buns (or Christmas wreath in my case), than as underdressed mutton hoping to pass as spring lamb. Yes, people will laugh — but with you, rather than at you.
A couple of years ago, rather stuck for a Christmas present for my husband, I simply wrapped myself from head to foot in yards of satin ribbon. However, unable to hold the pose, I fell flat on my gift-wrapped derriere.
After he stopped laughing, he said it was the best present he’d ever had.