This call to action blog post first appeared on LRF Style after the OOTHS team were approached by BBC Radio Stoke to comment on this report and visit the high street to source Christmas party options. Director, Laraine Robathan-Field shares her perspective below.
A recent research study into fashion for mature women found that women over the age of 50 reported feeling let down by retailers. 61% said they felt their age group was forgotten by the high street and 66% said they would like to see more choice for their age group.
I have clients ranging in age from 14 to 85 and they all want the same outcomes, irrespective of their age. They want to look stylish and smart and wear clothes that fit and flatter them. They want to feel confident and enjoy a range of outfits that are appropriate to their lifestyle.
So is there a problem? I agree that this older age group is not so well represented in advertising and on the television and cinema. In fact, I have trawled through hundreds of images from retailers to find pictures for this post and I couldn’t find any! Women over 50 are one of the powerful consumer groups, spending more than £2.5bn per season on fashion, so advertisers, listen up, you’re missing a trick. We have come a long way in changing attitudes towards size and we need to do the same about age. There are lots of role models to choose from and we need to remind the world that great style is possible at any age.
I believe that there is plenty of choice on the high street but it is not being marketed to 50+ ladies, even those brands that know their target audience is probably in this age range. I also think that there are other reasons why women reach this conclusion. I’ve discussed the subject with my colleagues and clients and together we came up with a number of influencing factors:
- We’ve been told for years that men become distinguished with age whereas women just age!
- Change in body shape following childbirth and menopause may mean rethinking what suits.
- Fear of dressing younger than their years or fear of appearing frumpy.
- Neglected their own needs because priority has been given to needs of others e.g. children, teenagers, elderly parents.
- Family and friends can influence in a positive way but they can also be negative.
- Loss of confidence following ill health or loss of a loved one, the likelihood of which unfortunately increases with age.
- Tendency to compare to younger people or younger selves.
Now it’s time to give these factors a positive makeover!
- The idea that men become more attractive with age. To concur with this statement does little to help our gender. Could this ‘attractiveness’ be something to do with the fact that men generally become successful and powerful with age. Their achievements and experience are celebrated. Hello, successful business ladies out there and hello to all the great Mums out there who chose to have a different career.
- Your body may have changed in size, shape and appearance but weight management, fitness regimens and healthy eating all mean that we can take some control of the way our bodies function and clever dressing can change the way we look. No one is perfect so don’t fret if you have a tummy or wobbly thighs.
- We all age differently and whilst some women will feel comfortable in wearing a shorter skirt another won’t. There is no reason why a woman shouldn’t wear what she wants, it’s how she wears it that is more important. Dubious choices are rah rah skirts, thigh high spiky boots and dungarees but basically if your figure can take it, it’s your choice.
- Women of 50+ usually have more disposable income and can afford to spend on themselves. Constraints on time should be less and it’s perfectly acceptable to spend some time looking after oneself.
- The only person you need permission from to feel good about yourself is YOU! Finding out what works for you is the one of the best gifts you can give yourself. If you’re funky and dynamic you want to reflect that in your clothing. Prim suits and matching shoes & handbags are not going to do it for you and will instantly suggest frumpy.
- Loss and trauma are inevitable as we age but we can give ourselves a better chance of recovery by looking after ourselves and doing things that give us a boost and raise our self esteem. Looking good and feeling good is part of rebuilding that self confidence and resilience.
- “Comparison is the thief of joy” I love this quote by Theodore Roosevelt and there are many more similar quotes, such as “look in the mirror.. that’s your competition”. By all means admire people and be inspired by others but don’t compare, ultimately be your beautiful, unique self.