THE days when women of a certain age donned twin set and pearls and sported a blue rinse have thankfully long gone.

Today's more mature women are sassy and stylish and are able to achieve their youthful look from the extensive range of clothing in the high street and online.

Being of a certain age doesn't mean you can no longer be fashionable and Bradford's very own self-styled fashionista, Maureen Russam, proves the point perfectly.

With her blonde wavy hair; perfectly applied make-up and embellishments - the cuff-style bracelets and jewelled collar adorning her monochrome bodycon dress, Maureen defies her advancing years.

She oozes glamour and most people wouldn't believe she was soon to celebrate her 78th birthday.

"The thing about growing old you don't grow old inside," explains Maureen.

"The things that thrill you at 16 are the things that do it now."

Unzipping a wheeled holdall, she reveals some of her expanding wardrobe. The first is a beautiful red, black and white crimpolene long-sleeved floral patterned dress, she created in the Sixties from some material reminiscent of the Mary Quant period.

"And it still fits me," says Maureen, who boasts a size 12 slender frame.

True to Maureen's ability to customise the creations she comes across, she adapted the dress in the Eighties to make it longer.

She explains how she used the extra material she had left after making the original dress to re-fashion it into a longer style.

Over the years Maureen, who has worked in retail and textiles during her working life, has become adept at adapting outfits.

She explains how she buys clothing, some of it not quite perfect, from the sale rails at many of the high street favourites, and adapts them to suit her style.

Another outfit, a strikingly colourful shift dress with matching coat she re-fashioned to create a longer dress, and she used some material similar to the coat to deepen its hem. The matching fascinator was bought as a less-than-perfect purchase from a high street store which she adorned with artificial flowers, to match the colours in her outfit, and some feathers from her duster!

Charity shops and Leeds market are also popular places for Maureen to go foraging for her fashion pieces. Undeterred by a fault, a hole or a tear in what was previously an expensive garment, Maureen will repair and wear and no-one is non the wiser!

She picked up her basic sewing skills at Gregory's School for Girls in her home city of Bradford. She also recalls her Mum buying her a Singer treddle sewing machine when she was a teenager.

Maureen expanded her sewing skills while neatening seams and doing alterations for a school clothing company.

The arrival of her daughter, Annette, gave her the opportunity to put her techniques into practice creating garments as Maureen recalls.

"In the Sixties I wore A-line shifts and I made one for me and one for Annette."

A collection of knee-skimming backless sequinned dresses, purchased for just a few pounds each, were re-modelled by Maureen to create a long glamorous evening gown which she has the opportunity to wear, along with the many more outfits she has re-fashioned, at Napoleons Casino in Bradford, and the events they organise throughout the year.

Race days, cocktail parties. the Lord Mayor's Ball and seasonal celebrations are just some of the calendar occasions allowing Maureen to glam up.

And testimony to her eye for style and alteration talents, Maureen has previously clinched awards at the races for her outfits.

Maureen believes dressing up builds confidence but today's fast fashion may be prompting more to adopt a more casual approach to style.

"I think they are turning special occasions into every day," says Maureen, referring to the fact that more people don't dress up as they used to.

"If I am going out on my Birthday I want to dress up," she says.

One of Maureen's celebratory highlights was buying a cut-price designer wedding dress for each of her pals which she asked them to customise for a Birthday dinner party at her home.

She tells how her customisation of outfits began when she invested in a beautiful suit for an event and discovered two other women wearing the same outfit!

"I was totally mortified!" laughs Maureen. I looked like a singer with my backing group!"

Maureen decided she wouldn't take the risk of turning up in the same outfit as someone else again and decided to adapt the clothes she bought to suit her style.

She transformed a sleeveless shift-style dress by adding lace sleeves she had kept from a blouse she bought years before!

Recycling has never been as popular as more of us return to the Make Do and Mend era and put into practice the 'waste not want not' ethic.

The gift of a beautiful necklace from son Reggie for her 75th birthday gave Maureen another outlet for her creative flair.

Brandishing the stunning piece, Maureen explains how she stitched it intricately on to a piece of felt so it would lie flat on her neck.

Since then she has purchased less-than-perfect pieces of jewellery which she can break up to fashion and re-model her own bejewelled collar creations.

Delicate flowers and diamantes add a touch of glamour to Maureen's outfits. "I should have been a magpie!" she laughs.

Maureen estimates she has adapted hundreds of outfits, each costing little more than £60 or so - and that includes her customised collars.

Perhaps she missed her way in following a career in fashion design? "If I had been born 30 years later, I would have gone to design college," says Maureen.

Adding: "It is the time, and the place."