She’s gone from doing the numbers on Countdown to modelling the hot new collection for Isme. Loose Woman Carol Vorderman (who’s mum to Katie, 20, and Cameron, 16) is looking better than ever at 52. She tells Woman’s Own why it’s all thanks to her hot new wardrobe – oh, and her toyboy lover, 37-year-old Red Arrows pilot Graham Duff!
Carol, do you dress for your man, Graham?
No! I’ve always dressed for me. And if men don’t like what I wear, well, it’s all part of the package. I like tight, form-fitting clothes. I never used to wear dresses because there’d be no give in them so you couldn’t even sit down! But in the past seven or eight years you can either get stretch leather, stretch suede, all sorts and it’s fantastic! And you don’t have to wear Spanx underneath.
How do you keep in such good shape?
It’s walking. But I do watch what I eat. Occasionally I’ll have a bad three months having puddings and cakes but I know it’s because I’m over-tired. Often I get bigger when I’m working so hard that I need food to keep me awake.
Are you normally strict with your diet?
Ideally, I’ll have a huge bowl of salad with avocado and lovely things in it as the main volume and some paella or something on the side. I make a lot of vegetable soups too. But I don’t weigh myself, I haven’t weighed myself since 1999. It’s all on size. But with Lycra, it doesn’t matter! I’m a 10, and I can be a big size 10 or a small size 10, but the dress still fits well.
How do you feel about becoming a style icon?
That was the most meaningful thing, that Isme picked someone normal like me. We are shown false images all the time of Hollywood women who look slim in photographs but are almost unhealthily skinny in real life. So we women have this image of what you should aspire to be. But that’s not actually how most of us want to be!
What kind of woman are you representing?
What’s lovely about women in my peer group is everything we’ve lived through; Thatcher coming into power, the yuppies, having children in the 90s, changes in Europe, and huge political change – I think it’s made us want to be more real. I don’t aspire to be in Sex and the City. It’s not about being a style icon like a big Hollywood A-lister wearing £4,000 outfits, and carrying a big £20,000 Hermes bag. That’s not real! You can be happy with far less, and you can look great spending far less.
Do you think times are changing for women who are over 40?
I’m a woman of a certain age, and it used to mean that you were part of an invisible generation. Women who shouldn’t be seen, women who were just carolled away in the corners. But not any more. Everybody likes to feel confident and that they’re showing their best face. That doesn’t mean to say you’re the most beautiful – at this age you don’t think that way. You can’t be the most beautiful, because that’s what belongs to young girls. You don’t get into that whole competitive thing.
Do you think you understand yourself better than ever at this age?
I do have a different head at this age than I did in my twenties or early thirties. At my age you’ve had Mr Right – or Mr Wrong! You’ve had your children and you’re in a different space in life, so you don’t feel competitive at all. You’ve lived through all that. Also, it’s not about dressing because you want a date – you’re dressing for you. Some women want to be with someone, but some women don’t and I totally get that. With Isme it’s not just about the clothes but thinking about all the things that are very particular to women of my age.
Is your daughter following in your footsteps?
Katie’s passion is physics, that’s her absolute fundamental passion. Everything else is just stuff. She’s stunning but she doesn’t realise it, and she won’t until she’s older. She’s got the longest legs I’ve ever seen. She’s doing what girls in their twenties do.
Do you go clothes shopping together?
We’ve never done that. I order things online for her and give them to her, that’s how her clothes shopping works. We have attempted to go shopping in Bristol and we’ve always ended up in Carluccios having a coffee! We’ve never had a girly shopping day but we have been to the Apple store.
Are you like your mum?
My mum’s of a different age, she’s 85 now. I would love us to do something together, she’s very family-orientated so everybody’s younger than her, but there are a lot of people of that age who like to look smart. How they face the world is important to them, it’s telling the world something about themselves.
How do you deal with criticism that comes with your job?
It doesn’t hurt, I think that comes with age. I never read the comments now. I have in the past, but everyone gets it. sometimes I think, ‘Actually, that didn’t look great’. And so what if my elbows don’t look quite as good as Caprice’s! I’m not going to lose sleep over it.
Who is your style icon?
Elle MacPherson is terribly elegant, but I’m not six foot two with size six hips! So I could never look like her. Demi Moore has dressed very well over the years. Jane Fonda and Helen Mirren look great too. Probably not anyone from The Only Way Is Essex!
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