HELLO retailers: It’s time to stop ignoring us!!

Older women fashion

*Sighs heavily*

As we have been saying for six years now – yes, we have blogging for six years – 50plus women are a growing market with money to spend, who are by and large mostly ignored by the fashion industry – and a recent major recent report by home shopping company JD Williams confirms this.

The survey revealed that only 20% of mature women feel that the British high street caters for them despite being one of the most powerful consumer groups in the UK, spending more than £2.5bn per season. Three out of five women didn’t feel well represented on television (57%) or magazines (58%), and 76% didn’t think they were well represented in advertising.

Also, as we have been banging on about for ages (stop us when we get boring) despite the huge number of face creams and anti-ageing treatments on the market, just 10% of women polled said they worried about getting wrinkles, while almost eight out of 10 (77%) said they would never have any form of cosmetic surgery. Apparently (yeh yeh yeh tell us something we don’t know) women’s body confidence is higher in their 50s than in their 30s and 40s, with 52% of women feeling most confident aged 45+.  So not only is our age group more confident, it seems we also don’t buy into the ridiculous claims and scare mongering made by the beauty industry – now there’s a surprise!!

Angela Spindler, chief executive officer of the N Brown Group – parent company of JD Williams, said: “There are more women in the 50+ bracket than ever before and it’s abundantly clear that they have felt let down by the fashion industry. We’ve made it our mission to address this. Shopping for clothes should be easy and enjoyable, whether you’re 16 or 60. Recent years have seen this population of women emerge as the most powerful consumer group and the fastest-growing fashion sector. No longer does 50 signal the start of the slow decline into old age, it now marks the midpoint of a woman’s life.”

It’s a tricky one, because personally I don’t want Lorraine Kelly as my role model (she is currently JD Williams brand ambassador) – don’t get me wrong she’s probably a lovely women and looks great etc etc, but as I’ve (again) said many times before, where brands go wrong when talking to our market, is lumping us all into one “over 50” group.

Like all the other consumer demographics, there are many different types of older customers and while some of us want realistic, age appropriate role models, there are others who want aspirational, fashion forward ranges. There lies the problem – no-one seems able (or willing) to take a proper look at our market and target the different customer profiles in a carefully considered and appropriate way.

Well done to JD Williams for trying, but their clothes only appeal to only one of the mature market profiles.

As an ex-designer and trend forecaster with a thorough understanding of consumer insights and the older market – I’d be more than happy to help any brands who might be interested in that £2.6bn?



  • Sarah says:

    Having problems leaving comments 5th try. Not a fan of the figure hugging dress covered with sequins that Lorraine was sporting int he ad I saw, as you say there are many types of over 50, as there are many types under 30 -who are so well catered for. Love the looks you have picked out above, someone should be snapping your arm off

  • Liz Shedden says:

    I am in total agreement – that’s partly why I opened my shop and gallery. I keep saying its not just an age thing it’s a style thing. We want to be interesting but not dressed like pantomime dames and most of us know our own style by now but some people need a little nudge. Website opening soon – in the meantime I’m on twitter at Lizziedesign.

  • lyns says:

    *sighs heavily*

    Thanks again for your posts on this issue. Thank you for persisting. I’d like to have fashion forward clothes for over 60s who are no longer as svelte as the wonderful models in your post. I imagine even this market has significant disposable income.

  • Phil Pond says:

    What a great posting Jane I’ve really enjoyed reading it and I agree with everything you say. I may be male, but I too am over 50 and feeling better than ever in fact I decided the other day I’m going on until 123!

    I’m still active in Trend Forecasting and talking to clients about this often. One of the issues is that ‘someone’ IS buying those creams and cosmetics to do with anti-ageing and a good portion of those ‘someones’ are females over 50. Another is that not enough over 50’s (of either sex) behave as if they’re still young and vibrant, confident and fashionable.

    In my opinion, which I hope I have taken time to come to, your needs will not be satisfied by designers, trend forecasters or anyone else trying to educate the manufacturers; the change will come ONLY when the demographic (women over 50) takes direct action and stops spending their sizeable disposable incomes with business that doesn’t meet the need.

  • amanda says:

    Fantastic comments people and nice to have you reading us Phil. I totally agree with you, we should stop spending with brands who don’t cater for us. A

  • steffi says:

    Let’s then make a list of the worst offenders and ACTIVELY de-activate from purchasing their products.

  • Cherry says:

    Great post. Over 60 and recently retired I am also not the shape I was in my 30s and don’t recognise me in the super slim older models either though I love how they look. If I could afford it I would dress in Margaret Howell but since I can’t have decided to begin making my own clothes again. Back to student days!

  • Claire Robinson says:

    Brilliant post. I totally agree. The fashion industry is for the middle of the road audience, predominantly at the cost of all those who fall anywhere outside it. Myself and two other women felt the same way about women who are either hospitalised for prolonged periods of time, or living with chronic conditions. They are left to wear baggy old men’s shirts as they are the only options that will allow easy dressing, allowing any IVs, dialysis, chemo, dressings or other elements to be accessed easily. We are setting up a business designing beautiful clothes now that are specifically created for this market. There are literally hundreds of thousands of people who fall into this category. By finding themselves facing ill health does not mean they no longer want to look or feel good. That they don’t get an extra pick me up or buzz from wearing something they feel great in, feminine in. I really hope we can change that and hopefully in doing so will open others’ eyes to the need to create fashion and all the positive attributes it brings to people who are not middle of the road. Really great article. I love your blog.

  • Judith says:

    Having read this I totally agree! I’ve felt this way for a while now, and so last year me and my husband decided to do something about it, and start our own online store selling reading glasses, but which were fashionable and stylish (and didn’t cater for the ‘lump’ – as you describe it – of women over fifty who need reading glasses purely for function! You can find us at http://www.funkyreaders.co.uk if you’re interested, but in the meantime, a great post!

  • Shirley says:

    I love the pictures and agree with the thoughts in the post. I know the slim straight figure photographs so well and truly looks good in almost everything that my petite, curvy self cannot attain. I would to see some help for the over 50’s woman like myself who works hard to stay in shape, but will never have the long lines of that slim, straight figure.

  • Marcia says:

    I too would like to see fashion forward clothing for the over 60 woman. As you say there are many different types of over 60 women who don’t want to wear what their daughters are wearing or what the run of the mill vendors seem to think we should be wearing at “our age”, Some of us are retired and living on fixed incomes and some are still working and are still in need of a work wardrobe that is age appropriate. We also come in all shapes and sizes, so what may suit one person may not be right for someone else. Yes, fashion designers need to start designing for the real woman. Fifty and sixty are not old!!

  • Els says:

    Yes, I agree. Love the modelling but would like to see the more real life women our age in great clothes. Agree with Cherry too, will have to get creative…..

  • Sue O'Grady says:

    I think there us not enough fashion for the over 50 let alone for the over 60. We are not over the hill yet. I have 3 granddaughters that keep me young, so I don’t want to be old fashionly dressed. We are still young at heart. Not over the Hill….

  • Boatymum says:

    I have tried to buy summer dresses this year,
    Most too short with loud prints and sticky out skirts. What an awful sight !!!

  • Ilia says:

    I agree Time for designers to stop ignoring mature women and start designing clothing that is age appropriate, not frumpy but stylish and fashion forward! New styles can be modified for mature women. I do it all the time.

  • Susan says:

    At risk of sounding the same as everyone else, I couldn’t agree more. Trying to find something in the shops that doesn’t give you MDL ( mutton dressed as lamb) moment is getting more and more frustrating. I’ve gone back to making my own, at 5ft 8ins and 63 I don’t particularly want to wear mini skirts any more. Like most of us in my age group, we did it the first time round, and I’d like to keep my knees covered now. It’s not that hard to alter patterns to be more age appropriate and figure flattering. Come on fashion industry keep up. We got our way years ago when teenagers had a fashion revolution thanks to designers like Mary Quant, now it’s time they revolutionised fashion for the over 50’s who want to look stylish no matter what their figure type is.

  • Kitt kirk says:

    I. Am 80 plus size 12 just given up hope of finding a with it dress that’s not above my knees and is’nt sleeveless ,need a good cut one.Where do I go for the impossible

  • Glenda Smith says:

    Just the same issues in New Zealand. I think Australia sends over their garish garments that didn’t sell the previous season. A lot of us over 60’s are working and enjoy dressing stylishly but with a small population it isn’t easy in clothing retail. On- line is a great way to go now so I shop globally as well. Love your site..helped tremendously through all my health stuff.

  • Val Quinn says:

    The constant use of the phrase “cater for” says it all. The younger, slimmer market is coaxed, attracted or seduced into buying, while the older sector is treated like supplicants with begging bowls.

    We are a huge part of the population with most of our money worries over. We can afford clothes – just there aren’t any to afford. Car manufacturers amazingly ensure that their designs fit all shapes and needs. Get with it, fashion industry.

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