Ita Buttrose on the beauty item she's stock-piled and the word that's banned in her household.

Image via Getty.

There’s no denying it; Ita Buttrose is a woman who has charged through life with a signature style.

She’s confident, eloquent, whip smart and resilient. Case in point? At age 73, she’s still doing. A lot. She’s National President of Alzheimer’s Australia, an author, businesswoman, ambassador for OPSM’s Style At Every Age campaign, and entrepreneur. And Ita has some life and style wisdom she’d like to impart. Lucky us.

Image via OPSM.

You fell pregnant with your first son Ben around the launch of Cleo magazine in 1972. As a woman at that time, that could have potentially been a career ending thing, but it wasn’t for you, why?

“Because I wouldn’t go home. [Laughs]. They had really odd ideas about being pregnant back in those dark ages. I think, they thought it was some kind of illness, you know? And then they realised I was really well, that my brain was still functioning, and that I was still able to pitch to the magazine. Nothing altered.”


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What was it like being a pregnant woman in the office around that time?

“One day I was at a board meeting and Ben [Ita’s son] was kicking around in my stomach and my frock was moving. I was talking and suddenly I realised all the men at the board panel, because I was the only woman, were staring fascinated at my stomach!

Image via Instagram.


“The general manager of the company at the time said to me, ‘Could I feel it?’, and I said, ‘Yes, that would be alright’, and he put his hands out on my tummy and the look of his face was spectacular.You’ve got to remember men were kept away from these things - men didn’t even go into the birth room with you back then. They were really kept very distant. So, I think I helped educate the chaps.”

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A lot of young women these days have a tendency to say “sorry” and apologise for everything. Have you noticed this?

“It’s a wretched little word, ‘sorry’ is. Yes well, my daughter had that habit of saying ‘sorry’ and I would say to her, ‘what are you sorry for? What’ve you done?’ And I think I’ve eradicated the word from her vocabulary now.” (Post continues after gallery.)


It’s so bad isn’t it - why do we do it?

“We’re being polite of course, but we need to find another word, you know? So we might say, ‘Sorry to interrupt’, but we could say, ‘I’m going to interrupt you just for a sec to ask you something’. You’re saying the same thing, but without that word. ‘Sorry’ should be treated as a word, a word that one shouldn’t use, it’s an unacceptable word, like a swear word.”


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The older women in my life often say to me, “Oh, I just feel invisible, no one notices me any more”, and I think they’re so beautiful. Do you think this is something that older women struggle with?

“Yeah, yes I do. I think we’re judged so much by our physical appearance. Your friends should head immediately to Italy where men don’t seem to have a problem with older women. They admire women of any age.

“I was there with my Aunt, when my Aunt was 75 and I was 50 and, and my Aunt said to me ‘Those men are looking at you,’ and I said, ‘Don’t be silly Aunty I’m invisible,’ and she said, ‘Not to them you’re not,’ and I looked and she was quite right. They were eyeing me as though I was quite a desirable woman and so I recommend these women book a flight at once, go to Italy, they won’t feel invisible.”

You’re always wearing wonderful bright lipsticks, what are your favourites?

“Ah, well, the one I wear the most is Revlon Blase Apricot, but they’ve discontinued it. So I’ve been scrolling around eBay and Amazon and buying up every spare tube that I can land my hands on. I was in a store and I said, ‘I don’t suppose you have a Blase Apricot spare, I’ve looked everywhere.’ She said: ‘I knew you’d ask me that, it’s your colour isn’t it?’ I said; “Yes and they’ve discontinued it,” and she said, ‘I know and people do like it!” Well I wanted it, everybody asks me what colour I wear. I get a lot of requests for colour.”

Image via Instagram.


Have you got any tubes left, Ita?

“Yes, I’ve got three precious tubes. Oh God, they’re like gold [laughs].”

You’ve got your signature style, how can other women find theirs?

“Work out what your look is and refine it and work on it. Once when I was in New York (they don’t know me over there like they know me here) I thought, ‘I’m really bored with the way I look, I think i’ll go to Sax’. so I toddled up to Sax and I said to the bloke, ‘I want a new look,’ and so I was at the Chanel counters, and I had a lovely time, I got a new look and a different way of doing eye makeup. I think it’s important, sometimes, to do that because you can get stuck in a rut with how you look and through the years. What you wear when you’re twenty isn’t necessarily right when you’re 30 or 40 and so on.”


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A lot of women struggle with confidence, particularly at work. How can they improve on this?

“It’s true. I think if you employ women, you sometimes need to be conscious of this trait in them and push them, but women themselves needs to understand that it’s okay to ask for things like a pay rise.

“If you wait for it to be given to you, it won’t necessarily happen, so if you know you’re doing a good job and are worth more money, don’t just sit there and fester about it, go and say, hey, I think I deserve a raise!’”

Image via Instagram.


What’s your take on the “can women have it all” question?

“People have said to me, ‘Ita, you could have gone into politics’. And I say, ‘Yes, I could have, I suppose’. But I didn’t want to, you know? So on my terms, yes, you can have it all. You can have your definition of ‘it all’. So we should to stop trying to please others and please ourselves.”

What’s your take on our obsession with looking younger?

“Well I think we all try to look our best and I don’t see anything wrong with that. But I think you get to a point in your life when you realise that you cannot look like you once did when you were thirty. So, you’ve just got to be proud of what you’ve achieved and if you’re happy about yourself, you wear your years so much better. If you’re bitter and twisted about getting older, then that’s reflected.”