The feature in the Daily Mail this week by Viv Groskop, really got us thinking and we have had many conversations among ourselves and with our friends in the fashion industry about the challenges facing both customers in this age group and retailers who target this market.
Personally, we sometimes find it a challenge to find clothes to suit us in our price bracket but not impossible. But is that because we work in fashion and know how to put outfits together? If we love something sleeveless, we’ll put a top underneath to cover our arms, if a dress is to short we’ll wear it over trousers. We know how to adapt, we understand fashion and know which looks are appropriate for our ever changing waistlines and age.
Maybe this is where the problem lies, the majority of women over 35 (and we don’t want to sound condescending here) have busy lives, jobs or children, or both, don’t work in fashion and shopping is not their priority. They don’t have the time or inclination to trawl through the shops, may be unaware of some of the quirkier brands and simply don’t have the confidence to try new looks or play around with outfits.
Here lies the challenge for retailers. As a former fashion designer I know about designing the key fashion pieces for the season. Add on a sleeve, make it a longer length or not quite so tight and you can more or less guarantee the key fashion piece will look completely wrong. Retailers are caught between a rock and hard place, water fashion down and offer co-ordinated looks and they are accused of being old fashioned and mother of the bride. Offer a more fashion forward range and be are accused of being too young.
Maybe its more about finding what you like, knowing what suits you and caring less about the latest ‘must have’ item. And maybe for retailers targeting this market its about offering some key fashion pieces (because lets face it some over 35’s can actually wear them) and also some well designed, simpler shapes with attention to detail, good quality fabrics and interesting colour and pattern. But we as customers have to be prepared to pay a little bit more for that quality and attention to detail.
There are some high street retailers who do this (but we wish there were more) Toast, Whistles, Cos, Muji, Banana Republic to name but a few.
Maybe the secret is when you are over 35 (or any age, to be honest) do not go into a shop, expecting it to answer all your prayers. Invest some time in finding out what you like, go online and browse, read some magazines (and of course The Womens Room) and put aside some time once in a while to look round the shops.
Looking good takes time and energy (don’t get us wrong we are not advising you dedicate your life to it, after all it is just fashion). But how do you think older European women look so good?