Question Time: Liz Jones, fashion editor

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The Independent Online

WORK: Fashion editor-at-large of the Daily Mail and columnist on the Mail on Sunday. Her book, The Exmoor Files: How I lost a Husband and Found Rural Bliss, is published on Thursday by Weidenfeld and Nicolson.

LIFE: 50 and single. Lives on a farm in Exmoor with dogs, chickens.

BALANCE: Horse-riding.

What inspired you to become a journalist?

I really wanted to be a model. I went along to Laraine Ashton (founder of IMG models), suspecting she might say I was too short or too old at 20, and instead she said, "You've got really bad skin." So I decided I would work behind the camera as a fashion journalist, and landed a job on Company.

What is your new book about?

The Exmoor Files is about getting over a messy divorce, upping sticks to the middle of a remote, inaccessible moor and rehabilitating a race horse.

You have admitted to not being truthful about your age. Is there ageism in the media?

Maybe now, but when I started out, the older women were really looked up to and revered. I worked at The Sunday Times for 11 years, and there were lots of really experienced women working there. Meriel McCooey, the fashion editor, was hugely inspirational and hilarious. The puzzles editor, Barbara Hall, did everything on a manual typewriter. And of course Dilys Powell, the film critic. These women were incredibly nurturing of the younger ones, like me. Today, young people in newspaper offices are just treated like glorified skivvies, while the older ones desperately try to hang on to their jobs.

What's the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

That was from Jeremy Langmead, now editor of Esquire. He told me to "Never complain, never say you are tired, never say you can't do something."

You're a fashion editor, which item of clothing would you save if your house was on fire?

I think my dove grey Bottega Veneta strapless silk dress. Even though it refuses to stay up (What is Sarah Jessica Parker's secret?) it always looks understated and sexy and perfect.

What are your desert island media?

When I travel for work I take DVDs with me, mostly Cary Grant and Irene Dunne ones. I still drool over Vogue, even though I know it is as debilitating as swine flu. I can't seem to stop reading Grazia, and love Esquire for the writing and Wallpaper for the chairs.