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Ageing up: Why younger women have to change their style to match an older man

By ASHLEY PEARSON - More by this author » Last updated at 10:19am on 11th March 2008

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Katie Holmes posed provocatively on a recent photo shoot for a fashion magazine - the brunette looked glamorous and poised in her pinstriped designer waistcoat and trousers.

Her tousled bob and sexy, knowing smile indicate a woman who is on top of the world and no longer in need of any style advice from pal Victoria Beckham.

A familiar sight at her favourite shop - the Beverly Hills branch of Neiman Marcus - the actress is regularly spotted buying $1,000 dresses and wearing enormous designer sunglasses and a smartly belted overcoat.

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Katie Holmes

Katie Holmes preferred wearing jeans as opposed to glamour before she met her husband Tom Cruise, aged 16 years her senior

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Almost overnight Katie has seemingly transformed herself into an elegant Hollywood fixture. It is hard to believe that she has only just turned 29.

Things began to change when the doe-eyed starlet first laid eyes upon Tom Cruise, who is 16 years her senior.

Almost immediately, the girl who favoured Chip and Pepper jeans and Juicy Couture T-shirts began dressing in Armani, a label favoured by forty-something socialites.

Her long brown locks were snipped off and the ballet slippers replaced by Louboutins.

Her transformation nearly complete, she even began to refer to herself as "Kate" instead of "Katie". And "Kate" is merely the latest to jump on this fashion trend - dressing up in age in order to match your much older man.

Catherine Zeta-Jones is a perfect example. As soon as The Darling Buds Of May star clapped eyes on Michael Douglas, it was out with the big hair, leather jackets and tight jeans, and in with the Rita Hayworth look.

After all, at 25 years older, her husband was a member Hollywood royalty.

Her red-carpet frocks became more conservative, and, when in casual clothes, the Oscar winner often looked mumsy, appearing decades older than her 38 years.

Catherine even began wearing dodgy, diamond-patterned golf gear as she followed her husband around the world's most prestigious courses.

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catherine zeta jones

Catherine Zeta Jones underwent a major transformation after marrying Michael Douglas who is 25 years her senior

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Psychology consultant Dr Sandra Wheatley says it's understandable.

"It's human nature to try to match ourselves to the people who are important to us, and one of the quickest ways to do that is physically," she says.

"If you dress to match the other person's maturity, it's very easy for people to pick out that you are with him and he is with you.

"Otherwise, especially with such a big age gap, they may not realise that you two are together.

"It's an attempt to try to minimise the disparity between you. You know, those awkward, 'Oh, is this your daughter?' moments."

Often, as with Zeta-Jones, this kind of change in style may indicate a desire to fit into a different world.

After her split with down-to-earth Jim Threapleton, Kate Winslet met Oscar-winning director Sam Mendes, who happens to be a decade older than his actress wife.

Suddenly, Kate's well-worn jeans were replaced with glamorous designer evening wear.

And after pairing with Hollywood megastar Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie underwent a style revolution.

The Lara Croft star, who is 12 years younger than her partner, stopped wearing biker gear and now favours demure pencil skirts, sweater sets and designer handbags.

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Lily Allen

Lily Allen has certainly aged up in her dress sense since she began dating Ed Simmons

Who could imagine the change that would take place when 22-year-old Lily Allen began dating Ed Simons of The Chemical Brothers, who is 15 years older.

Gone were the cigarettes, dirty-looking caps and cans of cider that she'd partner with vintage frocks.

In fact, in photos taken for a magazine, the formerly scruffy singer looked like a demure, thirty-something Audrey Hepburn, posing in a frothy designer dress and a stylish chignon.

Stylist Nick Ede is a judge on the programme Project Catwalk. He says: "From a fashion perspective, an older man most definitely has a more conservative approach to clothing.

"Older men tend to just wear suits and shirts and occasionally jeans - they don't follow trends. The women with them often feel they have to follow suit.

"You don't want to look all tarty if you are going out with a man 17 years older than you.

"But I think that women should stay true to their own style. After all, you don't see Ashton Kutcher (married to Demi Moore, 15 year his senior) ditching the baseball cap and jeans for his wife.

"I think they should understand that there is a need to look good without sacrificing their own sense of style or personality."

It may be that these women are just trying to reassure their older partners that age doesn't matter.

Indeed, if she dresses the way her partner does and looks his equal, the pair will present a united front to anyone looking on. And, after all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

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22 people have commented on this story so far. Tell us what you think below.

Here's a sample of the latest comments published. You can click view all to read all comments that readers have sent in.

I am an old man, but I prefer the original versions of all these women.

- Peter Coates, Hove, England

The Stepford Wives Syndrome.

- Nigel Wroe, Doncaster

It is really embarrassing when the men try to age themselves down... hence the rapid age-up of their partners!

- Wini, South England

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