Are Older Women Ignored By Fashion?

Illustration for article titled Are Older Women Ignored By Fashion?

Today, WSJ's Christina Binkley writes, "Here was my ideal outfit for Monday morning here in Los Angeles, according to my daily, personalized StyleCaster email: an oversized gray T-shirt and black tights." The problem? Well, she works for the Wall Street Journal. And she's over 35.


Binkley complains that many sites, like ShopFlick, StyleCaster, and SmashingDarling aim to make fashion shopping sites more than just online catalogs, but do so with a target customer between 18 and 34 years old.

She writes:

Are online marketers so youth-conscious — because it feels right — that they're ignoring lucrative markets just when they're most needed? The Internet is neither new nor young. The fastest-growing segment of Facebook users is women over 55, according to the Tracking Facebook blog. And the underlying assumption that young people are still the Web's most fertile market doesn't hold up to scrutiny.

In fact, 65% of online apparel sales go to women over age 35, according to market researcher NPD Group. Among these, the fastest-growing sales are to women between 55 and 64 years old — a boomer population that has always been known for its willingness to indulge.

In addition, she publishes this graphic:

Which clearly shows that there's way more money to be made in the over 34 demographic than there is in the younger age groups. Yet the choices seem to be slim: When it was announced that the First Lady, 45, would be shopping at Boden, commenters said stuff like, "Boden is the costume of a particularly smug brand of privilege..." And a writer for the Telegraph proclaimed the brand "too frumpy" for Michelle Obama. And while Cloris Leachman's line of clothing fills a certain — niche — women don't immediately turn tacky because they've aged!


So why are older women being overlooked by the fashion industry? Why is fashion a young woman's game, when it's clear that ladies of a certain age have the interest — and the financial means? Why is our culture so youth-obsessed? (And is it any wonder that anti-aging products are being shoved down our throats?)


The Forgotten Market Online: Older Women [WSJ]

Earlier: What Should Michelle Obama Buy From Boden?
Cloris Leachman's Clothing Line Is Wild
Related: Boden Is too Frumpy For Michelle Obama




Sorry but I can't agree with this. I'm 35 and have no problems finding appropriate clothes. If we're talking about workwear Theory and BCBG, to pick just two examples, have plenty of things that work for women over 35. It's just not true that the market goes straight from teenage mallrat to matronly. There's tons of stuff out there for sexy, stylish adult women. It's just that most of it isn't cheap, and the size range is limited.

It seems to me like the real issues are more avaliability of larger sizes and cost for well made work appropriate garments. Since more older women are likely to be sized out of the more stylish lines than younger women it may appear to be an age issue, but it really isn't.

Also I'm British and it seems to me that American have some odd ideas about what dressing for your age means anyway. If a woman still has more or less the same body type in her 40s as she did in her 20s why should she dress totally differently? There are a few common sense changes most of us make as we get older, like skirts cut to an inch or two above the knee rather than much higher, and toning down the amount of gimmicky embellishments, but other than that if your body shape stays more or less constant so do the styles that best suit you.