Meridy Dunn walks through her CBD home to the cupboard that holds her fabric. Wearing a bright pink ensemble with a pair of her bold signature glasses, the 57-year-old’s presence is vibrant – both in real life and on social media.
“Style is self-expression, and we are all entitled to wear what we want,” she says. “Age is no barrier.”
At the age of 10, Meridy was taught to sew by her mother and sister, and experimented while growing up. There was a “hippy stage with lots of cheesecloth, then a disco stage where I would make an outfit during the day and then wear it at night,” and “years of leggings and shirts looking after children… Then I stopped [sewing] because I was too busy.”
Five years ago, after her three daughters graduated high school, Meridy returned to the machine.
“I’ve come back to it with a passion. I’m a much better sewer now. I’ve spent the last five years working really hard.”
Her passion is clear in the detail. A purple jacket is not just a purple jacket. It is textured with raised squares and lined – pockets and all – with doll-printed silk. A tailored green and black jacket has pink piping and a frilled tail. The blazer gives a new, classier meaning to the phrase ‘business at the front, party at the back.’
“I never just make something plain. I’ll always pipe it or line it with something or wear it with the complete opposite colour.”
Meridy’s Instagram account Groovy Grey Look has more than 5000 followers. Photos of statement pieces are accompanied with captions about the experience of making them, difficulties faced along the way, and the joy of wearing them.
“When I got on Instagram it was fantastic. I found people who speak my language. I might post a photo of a dress and people will comment asking, ‘Where did you get that fabric from?’ or, ‘How did you get the zip to sit in that position?’ Instagram is somewhere you go to find your people.”
Age is no barrier.
“Most people that follow me are between 25 and 34 and I have a theory about it. Things are changing so much in terms of age. Our mothers would get to 60 and they’d just look after the house and kids and grandkids, but that’s all changed now.”
She believes people are looking for older role models.
“They didn’t have to before because there was nothing to do when you got old. Now there’s a lot of people starting again at 50 and 60.”
Along with her sewing stories, the Instagram account includes weekend adventures with her family, travels, and activism. Meridy posted a photo of her face in January, with the caption, ‘My wrinkles are my friends. They are my timeline. I will never let anyone erase them.’
“If you live a good, long life, you can expect to have wrinkles. Why you’d want to erase them is beyond me.”
Continuously breaking down barriers of what it means to be an ‘older’ woman is part of what draws people to her.
“I get young people who just comment ‘goals,’ and I think that’s so cool. They think it’s cool that I look a bit different and out there.”
When people Meridy’s age tell her they simply can’t do it, her answer is simple.
“I always ask, ‘Why not? Just put on something that doesn’t match and you’ve done it.’ Embrace being old and enjoy every day.”
Do you have an older role model in your community? Let us know in the comments, below.