More and more mature women are becoming disillusioned with the lack of fashionable options that are on offer to them on the high street. It appears that once a woman hits her forties she is expected to go from being the glamorous, fashion confident woman she once was, to hiding her figure and style in poorly cut and generically designed clothing.
The fashion industry’s typical demographic is young adults, and the models that walk the catwalks are often blamed for an increase in young girls picking up eating disorders. Because of this, there have been efforts in recent years to broaden the focus of fashion and include women who are plus-size on the catwalk.
More and more stores are now targeted at plus-size women as a result, but it’s not just curvy women who are growing unhappy with their place in the fashion world – older women are discontented too. The recent growth in popularity of campaigners such as Mary Portas and Gok Wan appears to be painting a clear picture: women in their forties or above feel that they’re not being taken into consideration in the major high street chains. Much of the ‘fashion’ that is available to them in traditional high street stores can seem unflattering, repetitive and even as though the designer doesn’t care.
Market research by Mindel suggests that British women aged 50-69 are more likely than any other age group to go out and splash their cash on luxury and designer goods. With so much money available to spend, it’s surprising that the high street doesn’t deliver the quality and standard of clothes that these women once expected to see. This is a problem that Portas’ 2011 TV series, Mary Queen of Frocks, attempted to tackle, with the launch of a new clothes range that aims to allow women to feel confident and beautiful, no matter how old they are. Portas says, ‘Over 50% of women in this country are over 40, so why hasn’t anyone gone, ‘I’m going to dress and style you, and create the shop for you”?’
By listening to the issues and problems that women over 40 have with the fashion available to them and their bodies, some retailers have started to capitalise on the fashion landscape. Women over 40, who may have gone through several child births, are more likely to feel less confident about certain parts of their bodies. Stores for older women are already tackling this problem – for example, the abundance of stylish, flattering dresses with sleeves at isme.com.
So, whilst it seems that there’s still some way to go before we see real equality of age representation on the high street, at least some retailers are making strides in the right direction.
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