I’m a Millennial, which means I love to spend what little money I have on expensive coffees and ridiculous clothes.
My wardrobe is full of see-through tops and dresses covered in Barbie logos or camo print.
Since I’m often strapped for cash, most of these items come from websites like Missguided, Boohoo, and Pretty Little Thing. These brands offer me cool and unique garms without breaking the bank.
Then, you have the likes of Next and Warehouse for the thirty-and-forty-somethings. But what about women over 50?
According to a study by J. Walter Thompson London, 69% of women between 53 and 72 feel that they’re ignored by the fashion industry.
Thinking about the campaigns we see, aside from the odd image of Twiggy for M&S, you don’t often see women over 50 in fashion ads.
If you do, it’s in an advert for one of those catalogues, with more emphasis on the interest-free credit you can get if you buy than the clothes themselves.
As well as this, 82% of the women surveyed believe that the clothes aimed at their age group are too old-fashioned.
We all know what that means: The elastic waistbands; the awful Pat Butcher prints (no hate to Pat, she’s an icon); the floaty shapes that do nothing for anyone’s figure.
It surprises me that the baby boomer generation seem to be the ones left behind here.
They have plenty of disposable income and grew up in a time where fashion really came into its own.
Looking at old photos of my mum, it’s upsetting to see someone who used to be so adventurous with their clothes be reduced to a lifetime of ‘jeans and a frumpy top’.
There are options if you want to walk on the sartorial wild side, but often they’re much more costly than their counterparts aimed at a younger market.
Founder of Hope Fashion Naya Mackintosh (who’s worked with brands like Asda and M&S) says she created her line for women in this demographic after noticing a major gap in the market.
She says: ‘Women over 50 typically have more money and more time than they perhaps have done ever before, but when they go out on the high street or online, they struggle to find a brand that speaks to them.’
Some people might ask ‘well why not just go to Topshop or Missguided for clothes?’ But that just takes the issue in the opposite direction, still not addressing the need for a middle ground between the age groups.
As women get older their body shape often changes along with their needs. At 23 I barely feel comfortable in some of the items at H&M or River Island.
The hems are often too short to accommodate my big bum, or there isn’t enough arm coverage, which means items make me feel exposed. I can only imagine how a 63-year-old might feel alienated in these stores and wish for an alternative.
On doing a simple Google search for the brands I know are aimed at women over 50, I’m greeted with only pictures of young models. Naming and shaming the likes of Wallis and Look Again, I can’t actually find a women who isn’t in their twenties wearing their clothes online.
The styles aren’t much better either. We all love a baggy jumper sometimes, but is that really all we can expect (alongside basic work dresses) as we hit a certain age?
It actually seems like supermarkets have been leading the way in this. Gok Wan for Tu at Sainsbury’s really takes into account the wearer, and trend-led pieces can easily be picked up on the hanger at George at Asda at an affordable price.
There are also brands like Mackintosh’s Hope Fashion or Lorraine Kelly for J.D. Williams that are trying to improve on the status quo.
Outside of this, women have to either settle for what they can find, or venture into unwelcoming shops and see how they fare.
It’s not all terrible news. Debenhams, for example, is an unintimidating place that champions collaborations with designers like Preen, Jenny Packham, and Jonathan Saunders.
Boutiques and independent designers also have a lot more to offer for the baby boomer generation, understanding their customers and genuinely working for their money rather than simply expecting to ‘build it and they’ll come’.
All we have to do is wait for the high street – and digital high street – to catch up.
You don’t have to dress for your age, but nor should you feel trapped in the only clothes that are available for your style.