Sizing up aging: finding clothes that fit.

Some people hate going to the dentist.  Others do anything to avoid cleaning out the garage.  Or doing their taxes.  Or  raking leaves.

Me…shopping for clothes.  Oh it used to be fun, years ago. Maybe I’m crazy  but it sure seemed clothes were more attractive back then.  Putting them on wasn’t difficult.  (Weren’t the buttons bigger?  They sure seemed bigger.)  Looking in the mirror wasn’t akin to watching a vampire movie.

Not anymore.  Is it me, or does there seem to be a conspiracy of ugly clothes, impossible sizes and dressing room mirrors that double as carnival sideshows?

Just because we’re boomers, we shouldn’t have to be tortured when we go shopping.

Things change.  We’ve changed.  And clothes have changed…and it seems, not for the better.

  • A new study published in the International Journal of Fashion Design, Technology, and Education reveals, “The average size of an American woman is now between 16 to 18, which is an increase from 10-year-old data that indicated most women in the U.S. were a size 14.”  Scientists have now determined that the average waist circumference has increased 2.6 inches in the past 21 years, which is why there has been an increase in clothing size.
  • 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.  Some 82% of the women surveyed believe that the clothes aimed at their age group are too old-fashioned.
  • And it’s not only women.  The average weight of American men has increased by about 15 pounds over the last two decades, according to a new study published today by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Especially depressing is to embark on a new fitness program, sign up for classes, be ready to sweat and work hard, and then try to find workout clothes you can breathe in.  Surprise!  They are made for 75-pound people who run along the shore all day posing for soft drink commercials.  They are not made for anyone who wants to lose 10 pounds.

Why are we letting this happen?  We should rebel.

All of us. 

Give us clothes that ft. Give us clothes that we feel good in.  Give us clothes we can actually leave the house in.  

After all, it was OUR generation that transformed fashion, took risks, brought high styles to women in affordable, wearable clothing. So why have we been abandoned?  Why does it feel like a scene from a James Bond film when we shop?  (“We’ve caught you, double agent 543, and now for the torture…you have to try on these clothes, in front of a 3-way mirror, and actually walk out into the store!  And if you don’t give us the secret war codes, you’ll have to try on….a swimsuit!!”)

According to Forbes:

“Boomers are finding themselves trapped between two worlds–desperate not to become their parents and reluctant to dress like their children. Their challenge is to find clothing that is age-appropriate and fashionable….Unfortunately, according to a Mintel survey of Baby Boomers, more than half of respondents said there are few retailers that carry appealing merchandise, and one-third said stores catering to their demographic have unstylish clothing….

Yet it’s us baby boomers who have the most money to spend. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the current 83.4 million Boomers have a collective spending power of more than $2 trillion and hold 50% of all discretionary income.

Add to the dilemma the barrage of messages you get online about all the things you should not wear if you’re over 50.  Not that too many of us are running out the door in a micro-mini skirt or speedo swim trunks, but come on.  After a while, it starts to feel like we should stay inside with the shades drawn, or just put a hole in a potato bag and tie a rope around our waists.

(Yes, children, potatoes used to come in bags. See how worldly we boomers are?)

RockTheWrinkle has made this appeal before to retailers: pay attention to us!  Macy’s, Dillards, Chico’s, J Jill, whoever and whatever…get smart!  If you stock it, they will come!  Of course there’s always the great catalogs who seem to get it more than others, like Land’s End, LL Bean and others.  Clothes that fit, sleeves long enough to cover a few brushes with too much cheese dip, and forgiving lines.  And they actually look good.

But so many times a trip to the dressing room is just too depressing.  And it shouldn’t be.  We are NOT (most of us) a size 4.  And we don’t want to be.  We are beautiful, or handsome, just as we are and we should be able to dress that way.

And don’t even get me started on shoes .  (But thank the universe for Aravon, Taos, Merrell, Cobb Hill, Rockport, Rieker and Jambo, to name a few.  You make stylish shoes for women that take orthotics.  Thank you.)

So what do you think?  Do we stop shopping?  Do we write designers and clothing manufacturers and tell them what we think?  Do we call up online catalogs and offer our opinions?  If you have an idea, I’d love to hear it.  How are you handling this frustration?

“Style is something each of us already has, all we need to do is find it.” —Diane von Furstenberg

“Fashions fade, style is eternal.” —Yves Saint Laurent

“When in doubt, wear red.” —Bill Blass










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1 Comment

  1. I can relate. I too wrote about this very subject in an entry in my book OUR DAILY MOMENTS. And I agree, Baby Boomers live caught between two worlds, in more ways than one. I wrote about that too.
    I remember the simple and comfortable clothes of our grade school years, as well as when I was a young woman. Things have changed. I avoid shopping!

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