There’s no reason to stop caring about fashion after a certain age. Instead of resigning to so-called “age-appropriate” clothing, why not start developing your own sense of style at 50 or older?
Maybe you grew up in a very conservative environment, so now is the time to explore fashion and learn more about style icons like Jackie Onassis, Jane Birkin or Audrey Hepburn. We see woman over 50 such as actress Diane Keaton and model Lauren Hutton regularly continue to outclass younger starlets because they have remained consistently stylish with clothing that is not only perfect for their age, but also possesses a look that suits their personalities.
Seth Cohen writes the Advanced Style blog and has featured hundreds of style profiles of men and women over 60. He told Vogue magazine, “Advertisers are silly not to focus on such an important and large segment of the population. Youth culture is important but it’s sad when everything in the media starts to look the same – so many of the faces are expressionless and lack character, and it doesn’t make sense to chase an impossible dream of eternal youth.”
I completely agree. It doesn’t make sense that boomer women (and their moms) are constantly positioned as an invisible group of consumers that many brands (especially luxury ones) choose to ignore. I have no idea why designers and retailers don’t care that women age 50 and older control a net worth of $19 trillion and own/control between two-thirds and three-fourths of the nation’s financial wealth. These ladies are also expected to be the beneficiaries of the largest transfer of wealth in our country’s history, in part due to double inheritances from parents and husbands. Between the ages of 55 and 64, they spend more on apparel than any other age group.
The good news is that we are beginning to see some designers increasingly target this growing age group and develop fashion lines specifically for mature women that include professional apparel, party attire and attractive casual wear. For example, AARP recently profiled Marla Wynne, a designer who showcases her products on Home Shopping Network and says she targets the over-50 woman (but I must admit the model on her website looks quite young!).
One of the keys to dressing well after 50 is to make choices that are in the realm of classics. Banana Republic recently launched a line that is inspired by the 1960s drama “Mad Men.” The reason it works is because modern takes on the classics never go out of style. And we all know fashion goes in cycles. That’s certainly not to say that you need to dress in a boring way. Style, after all, is about capturing your personal essence. Cohen also told Vogue that many of his subjects – “use their life experiences to inform their clothing choices” – a context that provides a richer fashion statement that is trend-proof.
It just doesn’t seem prudent to marginalize a group that practically rules the world. It’s no secret that due to normal aging our bodies change – and no matter what our “body type” 50+ women look better in specific styles – so why not create a hip clothing line that’s both fashionable AND functional for the 50+ woman of today. We can take these physical changes into account by choosing clothing that fits well and does not accentuate imperfections. In general, clothes should never be super tight (at any age!), but when worn should project clean lines and proper fit. If you’re afraid of a fashion faux pas, shop with a stylish friend who delivers honest feedback.
If you can….treat yourself to tailored or custom-made clothing, but most importantly focus on quality and fit. It’s your time to thrive and clothes that you feel great in will help you exude confidence. Most of all – have fun. As Ralph Lauren once said, “Style is very personal. It has nothing to do with fashion. Fashion is over quickly. Style is forever.”