IN A town when running a business can be a fickle affair, to stay on top for 20 years in Noosa is reason to celebrate.
Lorraine Kenway marked the 20th anniversary in March of her fashion boutique, Noosa's Classy Lady, and the 66 year old says she may stay on for another 20 years if she can. She certainly has the energy as any one of her loyal customers will vouch for.
Dressing mature women comes second nature to Lorraine. She ran a fashion boutique in Kiama in NSW before she came to Noosa 20 years ago to retire.
"I couldn't handle retirement," Lorraine said. "I needed to open another shop. I looked at Hastings St but decided to go to Noosaville. I loved the river, the calmness of the area. I always had a vision that Noosaville would grow."
No amount of vision by anyone could have seen the remarkable change in the river strip of Gympie Tce in Noosaville.
Twenty years ago when Noosa's Classy Lady opened in the space where a swimming pool shop had once been, there were just a couple of cafes and fish and chip shops, a bait shop and just a few small retail outlets in the area.
Once the old Queenslanders were replaced with new resort buildings and more shops and restaurants opened, the area became a serious rival to Hastings St.
Lorraine just kept on keeping on doing what she is so experienced at: buying the best and latest fashion labels and dressing local women and visitors, always keeping in mind their age and lifestyle.
"None of the labels I opened with 20 years ago exist today," she said. "Every one of them has gone."
Gone, but replaced by beautiful Australian and European labels that clients can't get enough of.
"I would have dressed thousands of women over the past 20 years," Lorraine said.
So what fashion does the mature woman go for so that she looks up-to-the-minute fashionable while avoiding the dreaded 'mutton' look?
"I like to stand back and have a look at a woman before I start to help her decide," Lorraine said. "I look at body shape and then ask a lot of questions like, what do you need this for? what are you looking for? Even in pants I ask what length? Colour? I inquire a lot and then start helping. Today's mature women don't want to look like our mothers looked. But we also don't want to look like teenage girls. We have to make sure our bottoms are covered, that everything is in proportion, especially the length of our tops."
Over the past two decades Lorraine has also hosted dozens of fashion parades showcasing her style, but always with a charity in mind.
"I've been doing parades since I started," she said. "I did them for Zonta, Frangipani Dreams, and now it is all for Santa's Classy Helpers."
Santa's Classy Helpers is the charity Lorraine established six years ago to help disadvantaged families at Christmas.
Her 'helpers' hold monthly events where they bring along practical non-perishable items to stock-pile throughout the year until December when hundreds of hampers are made up and given out to families in need.
"It started small, with one morning tea, now we have major (fundraising) events," Lorraine said. "We have hundreds of 'helpers'. They come when they can, help when they can. No-one is pressured to come to ever monthly event."
Lorraine's style tips for women over 50.
Wear colours that suit you.
Don't be afraid to wear boots. Even in a Sunshine Coast winter you can wear boots.
Accessorise. Make sure your jewellery is the right length for the right garment.
Sleeves must always be pushed up to take the eye away from the hips.
Buy good quality labels in classic pieces
Wear swimwear, but buy a good label that is cut for mature women.
Listen to advice.
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