Exhorbitant Drug Price Increases
This Week in Elder News: 16 August 2008

Elder Fashion – An Oxymoron

[EDITORIAL NOTE: If you have written anything this week about issues related to the upcoming election, please get a link to me today so I can include it in the Sunday Election Issues post.]

category_bug_journal2.gif In a recent email exchange, Nancy B of eChronicles lamented how difficult it is to find clothing designed for elder women’s body shapes. As it happens, the same thing had been on my mind recently, although my mood about it tends toward more ire than lament.

‘Tis the season for bargains in summer clothes – a good time to buy for next year - but as I peruse the catalogues that pour in, I see more transparent blouses and even pants than much of anything that actually covers a human body. The euphemism this year for transparent, by the way, is “gauze.” Perhaps there are so many left over because even younger women don’t want to be seen in public looking naked.

With few exceptions, even with sellers such as Coldwater Creek that supposedly cater to heftier bodies, there are fewer elastic waists on pants than in the past. In my case, that means when a pair fits my hips, the waist can’t be closed since mine – and that of many other elder women - long ago expanded to equal the size of our hips.

With the possible exception of the few Katharine Hepburn types of older women, everyone’s waist thickens with age. What are designers thinking? Certainly not about older women.

In blouses and tops, they are enamored of so-called boat necks that lie about two inches below the back of one’s neck. There aren’t many older women who don’t get a bit beefy in that area as we get older and it’s not something I want to show off. Aside from turtlenecks, a large number of sweater styles meant for cold weather are designed with boat necks too. (Also, too many collarless jackets are cut low at the back of the neck.)

Lately, I’ve been buying winter sweaters in the men’s department. The necks are located in the same place as human necks, they hang much more nicely than women’s sweaters and aren’t made in clingy fabrics.

It is nearly impossible to find a suit that fits an older body. Designers just add fabric for larger sizes without considering differing proportions so that if a jacket fits at the shoulders, it is unlikely to button at the waist. A larger size results in shoulder seams halfway down one’s upper arms while the matching pants or skirt are then baggy.

Lack of thought in design applies to shirts too. Given my shape these days, I like what are called “big shirts” to wear with pants, but those too are missing proportion in petite sizes (I’m just under 5’ 2”). They are so long, I look like an eight-year-old wearing daddy’s shirt. The problem is that clothes are originally proportioned for 5’ 8” and above models, and in sizing down for petites, short legs and short waists are ignored.

And why do the few dresses designed without waists all look like muu-muus of the 1950s – totally shapeless? There are numerous ways to cut and sew fabrics to give some style to dresses without waists, but no attempt is made to do this.

And don’t go telling me to shop in big-size stores or whatever the polite phrase is for fat-girl shops. Those clothes too are designed for younger bodies that although they are larger than clothes for skinny girls, are created for young, not old, proportions.

Our bodies begin to thicken about the time we start menopause (our forties for most of us) and although there were more than 52 million women in the U.S. 45 and older in the 2000 census (37 percent of the female population), and a few million more now, we are the forgotten women in the rag trade. One of the ways old people are maligned is our lack of style in dressing. Don't blame us. It's the fashion industry which has not given one second's thought to how our body shape differs from that of a 20-year-old.

If there are any fashion designers reading this who wouldn't scoff at making a fortune off us elders, give me a call. I know a whole lot more about what’s needed to reach our market and I’ll give it to you for free just to have something to wear that fits and is attractive.

[At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Mort Reichek gives us his Reflections on a 64-Year-Old Photo.]

Comments

Recently,I was asked at the last minute to serve cake at my niece's wedding requiring something with more inspiration than I was planning to wear. My favorite consignment shop came through for me. The owner only accepts clothing that is clean so, at the last minute, I was able to find a dress with my prerequisite high neck for $20 and a matching bag for $10. It seems all of the elder tasteful dressers look alike. Find that designer, Ronni.

What makes me laugh is the new blouse styles which are all cut as to make the wearers look pregnant. Whoever thought that up? And the cheesey imitations of 60's styles. The idea is to change things every year so teenagers, and the rest of us, keep buying more cheap stuff rather than good clothes that last. When was the last time you saw something that was made really well? Since it is all made overseas these days you might as well buy something in Walmart, than in a "better" store. It's all the same crap. I'm for jeans (with side elastic in the waist because I still have one) and t-shirts these days. And good sports clothes like polar fleece. We bought our ski jackets from a local place that seems to be ahead of the curve in the high tech fabrics that make us comfortable when out sweating in the snow. But there is nothing really nice in my wardrobe.

I always loved the clothes on The Golden Girls - still do, but I have never been able to find anything like them in the stores.

My solution to the cloting dilemma is to buy cotton-polyester pants suits. The pants have elastic waists. With three identical suits in different colors, two pair of pants each, I csn mix and match, and when it's too hot for a jacket, my wardrobe of knit tops has to stand on its own.

Do I ever look great? No, but I'm 75, so who cares? I guess my style is so nondescript that nobody notices that I always wear the same outfits (I do have quite a varity of knit tops).

An ideal solution? Hardly, but until I find someone selling more suitable clothes for those of us with thick middles, it's the best I can do. And my outfits are machine-washable, too! By the way, I order most of these garments from Appleseeds. Who needs name designers?

And the shoes. Remember growing up those references to "the little old lady in tennis shoes"? Well, it wasn't quirkiness, she just couldn't find a decent pair of dress-ups. Ahead of her time, I say. Even comfortable, attractive summeer sandals bought two years ago are no longer made.

I blame it on the boomers, that huge demographic, so obsessed with youthful looks that bias designers toward silly stuff for "mature" women.

Men's "fashions" are not any better. Of course, they don't change as much as women's fashions, so we have the advantage there.

I've given up trying to shop in the local stores -- they never have my size, and if they do, it's too tight in one place and too loose in the other. And everything is geared toward the 20-somethings, so trying to find clothing not in some egregious color or style is nigh impossible.

Fortunately, I've found one online store that has my size and color choices, with good quality as well. Don't know what I'll do if they go out of business!

I had trouble finding T-shirts this year. They are all made of spandex, and much too tight. I generally buy a size too large in pants, and ignore the fact that they are baggy in the back.

I just can't get enthusiastic about doing alterations on garments that are going to fall apart in a year or so, anyway...

You break it down so well. I couldn't do that. but the same goes for older men in a way. itry to find stuff that looks smart but realize we are forced into a series of uniforms for old men much the same way older women used to resign themselves to flowered and dotted prints. The other thing that annoys me, is that flashy colors seem to be the older woman's alternative to body shape. I see older women who dress themselves in bright bright colors and big white hats- their compromise to style. I mean from afar one can tell, an older lady is on the way. She'll be wearing shades to protect her eyes from her own flash.

They don't fit all the younger women, either. I am so tired of things that don't fit my waist or don't fit my butt (which apparently is not supposed to be that much larger than my hips - well - tough - it IS). Not to mention pants so long I could stand on them because many petite lines are even worse about fitting above my thighs! (I don't buy those, I'm not willing to alter them, but I do mutter when I find them.) It would be so nice if more companies would consider all the shapes people come in. I think they're getting better about some of them, but others get ignored still.

By bizarre coincidence, my eight year old daughter was asking me about fashion for older women yesterday, when we saw an example of the baggy dress, in bright flashy colors, with horrid neckline and length cross the street in front of us. This launched a whold discussion on the fashion industry, clothes designed for older women (as in...NOT), so I just had to laugh reading this post. Absolutely right on in your observation and I'd love to know if any fashion designers DO get in touch with you!

I hope you don't consider red a flashy color:) I have been a red girl all my life and will stipulate that everyone has to wear red to my funeral. It makes me sad how few New Yorkers wear red.

I usually buy Land's End overstocks, but for casual summer tops, Walmarts is fine. It's lovely to shop in a store where there is lots of stuff too big for me.

so true Ronni

I am a few inches taller than you at 5'4" but from your description I am a similar shape.

The only place I have found for pants that fit me is Talbot's Woman
Petite. I wait for the sales there. I don't dare buy anything from a catalogue as I am difficult to fit.
Believe it or not, I have found some sporty stuff at Sears Woman.

Sigh

This year I discovered Kohl's and have been enjoying shopping for the first time in years. They had a smock top (Sonoma line)that hangs from the shoulders and goes almost to the hips (of course, I am almost 5'7" so it would be different for someone else). It was soft fabric that draped which is definitely better than something that balloons out and a gentle scooped neck; so not sure how it'd work for the back.

The only problem I have had to watch out for with their styles has been tops that have v-necks that go down too far for feeling comfortable in public (except when I am in Tucson where women wear less because of the heat).

Yes, there were those tops that remind me of pregnancy with the elastic at the bust and then hanging loose to the hips but at my age nobody is going to wonder if I am pregnant. I bought two of them (one a dress). It's a good line for me to not blouse way out from my bust and hides that midriff bulge. Their colors were good for me, bright cheerful but also strong neutrals.

I don't know if this is normal for Kohl's styles or just this season. Wednesday is a day where those over a certain age get a discount and their sales were good. I noticed they have a petite section and a woman's section.

I bought my granddaughter some school clothes there and we ran into the same low cut neckline in a few things, not sure what that was all about but she didn't want it for school as she'd have had to wear another top under it.

I buy things at Target also which can have good styles and prices are lower but a lot of it is clinging which shows every body line.

From what I have seen today most clothes are made overseas. The Sonoma line seems to be made in the Philippines. One other plus about them (and Target) is printing the brand on the back, no tags that I have to cut off as they always rub my neck wrong.

I don't have a problem buying clothes unless you count the length of pants or jeans. At 5'10" (and shrinking -- yikes!) it's less of a problem that it once was. As far as jeans go, Bill Blass makes them geared to the more mature body. And they're proportioned, too! I find them at Macy's and they put them on sale a couple times a year. I shop online a lot and at resale shops.

I'm infamous for my finds at places like Goodwill. I've always worn classic clothes that don't go out of style.

I'm luck that I've always been, more or less, built like an ironing board. Thank you daddy for the genes!

Good News - There is a company that designs specifically for older women. Bad News - I don't remember the name of the company. However - remember Gilligan's Island? The owner of the firm is the actress who played Mary Ann (or maybe Ginger). I saw a fashion show put on by this company at a Senior Expo. The women there loved the designs.

Mike Nichols and Charlie:

Thanks for chiming in. As I was writing this, I was wondering if men have similar difficulties.

Oh, lordy, YES! Like Rain, I've found some good pieces at Kohl's. I'm a little taller - 5'6 - and too busty, which has me looking like a broody hen in some styles; I try to keep it (them, damnit) under control with Bali minimizers, but my thicker-than-it-used-to-be waist can have me looking like a fireplug if I'm not ever vigilant. I am still working - writing federal, state and private foundation/ corporation grants for a large, international charity, and I'm in the office most days (why not? It's not exactly physically challenging, after all - and mentally, it keeps me on my toes as well as keeping my financial status reasonably solvent). I also meet with a lot of funders, so I need to look "professional" as well as being age-appropriate and comfortable. Kohl's has been decent - and although the Vera Wang line tends to be on the young and petite side, she does make some nice, drapy tops that look great with slacks of skirts. In fact, those of you who are shorter than I am, might find a few of her pieces that would suit you. But, having said all of that, I used to do a lot of sewing - especially when my daughters were little. I sewed for them and for myself. Lately, I've been giving a lot of thought to trying to design a very simple jacket pattern, cut on the bias with raglan sleeves that could be stitched up in a variety of fabrics and colors - anything from a woolen tweed to a dressy brocade. It would work with skirts, slacks, or even over a simple shift dress. If I manage to create a prototype, I'll get my husband (he's a software engineer, and can do stuff I can't do on the computer) to post the pattern via photoshop or something, and maybe we can all start a trend - if you can't sew, I would imagine you could find a local seamstress to run you up a jacket or two in some fabrics that would work for you. I don't intend to copywrite or take out any sort of patent on the pattern - if it works for me (and I get around to actually doing it) I'd be happy to share the wealth, so to speak, with anyone who wanted to use it personally. Does anyone have any ideas, though, how I could prevent a professional designer or manufacturer from using it to mass-produce and sell them? I would love to share my ideas with other elders like me who could maybe put them to good PERSONAL use, but I'd be a little chagrinned if I were to see them stitched up in Indonesian sweat shops and sold at WalMart.
Anyway, Ronni, thanks, as usual, for addressing such relevant issues - you never fail to strike a compatible chord. I really, really, appreciate your blog!

I so agree with everything you say, Ronni! I am 5'3" and nearly 55 years old and I just despair when it comes to finding new clothes that fit my shape.

Since I no longer drive I have to do my shopping on line. Most of my clothing comes from Coldwater Creek and I like their styles. However, I have had to return more garments than I care to think about because of the fit. I also bemoan the fact that their pant suits don't have pockets.

I haven't worm jeans for 40 years, but decided to buy a pair to wear when doing yard work. The waist was supposed to be normal, but they hang just below my expanded waist and I am miserable wearing them. I think they will soon end up in the Goodwill bag.

Isn't it strange that when we're young, busy, and poor there seem to be tons of clothes in stores? The stuff is often bad quality and soon to be out of style, but there's a LOT of it.

Yet when we're older and better off, there's next to nothing to wear?

My mother complained about this, and now that I am the age she was when she was decrying "menopause blue," (a once-ubiquitous bright, ugly cobalt) the situation is the same. Actually it's worse; there's ten times as many stores in square footage, it seems, with the same bad, boring, inappropriate, junky styles.

I have never a clue what motivates the fashion "industry," but sales volume must not be it. I know I'd spend probably two-thirds more on clothes if there were any to actually crave.

On this very subject, there was a great piece yesterday in the New York Times about how a 55-year-old highly successful female designer was run out of the business making clothes for her peers by her "owners", apparently Liz Claiborne, Inc.

Here is the link:

http://tinyurl.com/6b65dd

Here in Vancouver, a friend of my mother's buys from Land's End catalogs (meaning she buys from the US, since Land's End isn't in Canada) because she says there are no clothes in Canada which fit her. Note she was very athletic when she was younger, and is now (in her late 60s) very stocky and wide-shouldered.

However, Land's End isn't known for its dressy stuff, but she never dresses up so it's fine for her.

You'd think, given the number of middle-aged (and up) baby boomers, that there'd be *more* styles catering to that demographic. Alas, so much of fashion is already too young for me, and I'm 30.

As for me, as a man, I don't find much trouble in clothing. I started wearing Territory Ahead casual clothes with elastic waist bands several years ago. I literally live in these clothes.

I definitely feel like the odd one out here and this comment will probably bring howls of protest, but I just can't imagine why anybody over 45 would want - much less need - to keep buying new clothes every year. Are the clothes people are buying so badly made that they fall apart in a mere twelve months?
Apart from a new pair of hiking boots (because the old ones were split and leaking), a couple of T-shirts (to support causes I believed in) some jeans from the thrift store (because the old ones were so frayed) and a frock for my stepson's wedding (because it was formal and I didn't own a long frock), I haven't bought new clothes for years and don't expect to have to. There's nothing wrong with the clothes in my closet and most will probably see me out (except for the hiking boots, since I'll probably wear them out in a couple of years). The idea of my dashing round the January sales at the age of 72 is one I find quite abhorrent. But it just goes to show how well the 'fashion' industry has brainwashed women that so many are still doing it and see it as 'normal'.
Given that what the planet needs right now is a lot less unnecessary consumerism and a helluva lot more frugality, I think elders should be setting an example, not taking their cue from the youngsters.
Don't get me wrong - I enjoy dressing up. But I already have clothes. Why would I need to keep on and on buying more?

Now hold on just a minute here, Marian...

Some of us have no clothes because there has been nothing to buy for years. I'm desperately in need of a suit for occasional business meetings. Been looking for more than a year(well, not often, but I try) and can't find one that fits properly and looks good.

I also don't have an appropriate dress-up outfit for the same reason. Not that I need it often, but now and then. And if there's a funeral or wedding any time soon, I'm sunk - nothing to wear.

I've been wearing the same pants and tops/sweaters for up to ten years each. They're worn out. In fact, I just took a couple of cotton sweaters out of the dryer this afternoon and there are holes in both - okay for around the house, but not for social occasions.

And, I'm losing enough weight that my pants are beginning to slip down my hips.

Generally, I agree with you. I've got some stuff I've had for more than 20 years that are good, old friends - an advantage since I can't think of much I dislike more than clothes shopping.

But general, everyday stuff? It's investment time. If you live long enough, stuff wears out, particularly - as I think a couple of commenters noted - everything is so poorly made these days, it falls apart. Well, anything I can afford.

And in the girlie category - I'd love to have a couple of dresses. I get so tired of wearing pants every day. But I haven't seen anything in years that isn't cheaply made or just ugly.

I've had luck for several years with Liz Claiborne (on sale)and also LLBean catalogue for style and fit.
I think I read some time ago that Claiborne designs with the older woman in mind. Hope it continues.

Dear Ronni......you really pushed the button of us all this time.

I wear a 20, and just to keep my self esteme above the water line attempt to stay vaguely fashionable. I too fight the good fight with money, style, and what fits.

I love window shopping at Macy's....the Mission Valley store has really good stuff where the others do not. I love nordies, but the fat department is awful. JC Penney's bores me to tears in the women's department...or is ugly, or is for kids with no brains...but once in a while I find a piece or two.

It all boils down to thrift stores, Ross Dress For Less, and a dash of Target here or there. Otherwize, I find nothing with in my budget that looks good on me at at all.

You are really not alone.

OK, point taken, Ronni. I have no problem with the idea of replacing clothes that are worn out.
I think the problem for me is that in reading all these comments, I keep seeing names of companies and how well their stuff fits elders and not one single mention of whether those companies are sustainable or environmentally or socially responsible. LLBean, Liz Claiborne, Kohl, Walmart - none of those are (specially Walmart - they are among the worst). You can check it out -here's
a chart

I can forgive teenagers for seeming to care more about fashion and fit and the shape of their jeans than they do about the politics of the clothing industry or about peak oil or about environmental collapse and how their buying habits are connected to all of that. But I just can't help being critical when elders do it because I expect more from us. More leadership in the things that really matter. I look a a dress shop and all I can see is the women of the global South who slave away for pennies while fat CEOs in the global North make millions and it makes me sick. Sorry if that makes me a wet blanket but I can't help it.

I'm tall and still have a shape, but I'm the large economy size. Ross saves my life. I can find fashionable jeans and tops.
When in France, I went to the C & A & bought two cheap pairs of polyester pants, two tops, and a jacket. That's my travel outfit. I always look decent and put together in those completely washable duds. Wish we could get comparable things in the States.

I am of no help, except to chime in and say that my wife, 5-2 and 61, has the same difficulties expressed above. One of her difficulties if finding pants that reach the waist, and not some area further south.
She likes to dress nicely, but has taken to going to Orvis, LL Bean and
Lands End, at lease for casual stuff.

Good luck to one and all.

an off-the-rack 42 regular,
Ron

OK, here's my two cents - my complaints are as follows:

Years ago when you bought permanent press items you did not have to iron them. Now no matter when I pull them out of the dryer, they need ironing!

Ronni, you mentioned how hard it is to find pants with elastic waists - even when I find them the elastic is not like what it used to be - there isn't much give to it.

I have "old" pants and the elastic has a lot more give.

When I shop and finally see something I like, I try it on - size large is tiny and ex-large is too small - so I try on 1X - way to big!!

I have a wedding coming up in September - will try Chico's. If I don't find anything there, I'll shop in my closet!


A good portion of my wardrobe comes from Chicos, some from Coldwater Creek and once in a while Territory Ahead. My new fave is Duluth Trading, which are outdoor work clothes mostly but with some really nice style now and then, and they FIT, especially their jeans. A rarity these days. The clothes are designed for active work, so they have a lot of room in them.

But then, I also work really hard to still have a waist. Lots of pilates and yoga classes...

You might also try Draper and Damon, which carries some really nice stylish clothes geared towards mature figures:

http://www.drapers.com/

And Catherine's, which has some of the most gorgeous plus sizes I've ever seen. I was actually jealous of a friend who shopped there and wished some things came a bit smaller!

http://www.catherines.com/

I used to buy a lot from Lands' End but really haven't seen much quality there since the Sears buyout, which was a damned shame.

I am coming in at the tail end but I have to add that some of the recommended retailers are way, way, over my budget. I shop thrift shops and sales. My present wardrobe is mostly items that are at least 5 years old or more. I have had four major surgeries for abdominal cancer so my body shape is not pretty. I would like to find comfortable clothing at decent prices. I often cant stand anything on my waist so I may have to resort to mu-mus if I can find some without plunging necklines.

Department stores can be cheap if someone can buy offseason. They will have sales at 80% off. I learned a long time ago that top department stores have the best sales and some of my friends pick up dresses for weddings as I have but it takes going which isn't easy for everyone. Although some now have their online sales also which are worth checking.

The tops I bought recently were on sale at $12 at Kohl's and that was without the senior discount if I could have been there on a Wednesday or their once a month for card holders (it is a scratch off card and always 15% but can be up to 40%).

Having store cards often save money with extra discounts and cost nothing to own if you pay them off each month. Several of the things I bought at Kohl's hung from just below the bust or the shoulders which would be perfect for someone who wanted nothing around their waist. I like dresses and skirts when it's hot since I don't wear shorts anymore except around the farm.

My philosophy is I buy wherever I see things at the price I want and that includes Walmart which can have good quality with low prices. They now have brand names like White Stag. Shopping does take some time and where I mostly don't like doing it, if I know I like something, I buy multiples.

I read above about the idea of not buying new things, just wearing out what one has and I can see the logic of it, but my mom loved to shop in catalogs. When she died at 85, she had a closet totally full with hangers that held multiple items (and she didn't have a lot of money. By her last years, she didn't have a lot of things she could do as she was legally blind with macular degeneration. Shopping gave Mom joy. She found good deals and she loved owning those clothes. After she died, I gave some to friends and the rest went to charitable outlets where others could enjoy them. To me, is clothing like any other choice. If it's enjoyable, then it's not wrong if you can afford it. I have a fairly small closet and it limits what I can buy but I enjoy having things that make me feel good when I go out or even around the house and new styles or colors often are fun. I sure have enjoyed the new ones that don't show that midriff spread-- as much.

Bringing up the rear as usual but this topic strikes a nerve. Two years ago I lost 40 pounds an for the first time in several years can buy regular rather than plus sizes. Problem is I hate almost all the new styles I see. I especially hate the regurgitated 60s styles in horrid colors. Disliked them then; hate them now.

Zoe, I am interested in your pattern. I will be retiring in several months and am feeling a draw to my sewing machine. I remember my own mother had several patterns she used over and over with different materials. One added thought is that sewing will probably not save money but clothes will fit, have quality construction and colors. I will never sew jeans when I can buy a perfect fit at LLBean (free shipping with their credit card).

Marian - big KUDOS to you for bringing up the sustainability issue with clothing makers. I have virtually no money to spend on new clothes, yet my nearly 6' tall body has changed so much in the last decade I'm desperate for clothes in my new size. Yet I refuse to shop Walmart, Target, Kohl's - all those places that abuse women in order to meet the whims of other women. Isn't it sad that the most humane makers of clothing still only get a grade of C??? And how many women who read this blog have an understanding of the sweat-shop conditions happening RIGHT NOW and IN the good old USA?? (PBS did an expose not too far back on California.)

Thanks for posting the CoopAmerica link - I refer to it often, and share it even more often. Here it is again:
http://tinyurl.com/5f3dsm

And Ronni, while on the one hand I hate to be commenting on a post about clothes, thank heavens you wrote it! It is just an outrageously frustrating thing. My pet peeve is not having shirts with long enough tails to gracefully (and maybe just a touch flatteringly) cover my rear end, since I no longer ever tuck in a shirt, even though I'm still on the low side of "normal" weight ("normal" doesn't mean my shape hasn't gone completely wonky on me).I had imagined that had I the money to shop in much nicer stores, I'd surely find the clothes I was after. Doesn't sound like that is necessarily the case.

I also refuse to buy (new or used) anything except natural fiber fabrics - cotton, linen, silk, wool. All those other, synthetic fabrics are, of all things, petrochemical. I refuse to support the oil industry being involved in the clothes I wear, never mind the chemicals that get into my bloodstream from wearing them.

Sure seems like there's a great business idea in there somewhere - a nice little co-op made up of the women it would serve, and hiring women in need in THIS country to do the sewing for an actual living wage. Wish I had the know-how to do it! Otherwise, guess I need to just dig out my sewing machine and start sewing again.
Stella

Interesting thoughts. If all Americans and assuming Europeans stopped buying any clothing made overseas in less advantaged nations (I looked at my labels when thinking about this and they go around the world including South America), what would those women do to make money? Are they held captive in these factories or are they making more money than they could elsewhere?

We are in an international world where a lot of what we buy has someone making money at many levels. Like that sweater put together in Nicaragua might have been marketed by someone in Europe and sold by someone else maybe in the US.

I also don't believe everyone can buy used. If people who can afford to buy new all turn to used, where does that leave those who cannot afford new? Eventually there'd be no used; so do we stick to only the elderly being told to not get new things? Is that a new form of discrimination? Over 65 so we don't need new?

I am not someone who buys clothing frequently as I mentioned above, but when I do, I have looked at where things are made. Some of those sweaters in my closet were made in Vietnam. What happens to the women making them if the plant closes? Unless it is slave labor, which sometimes has happened in the US with people brought in and then not allowed to leave and forced to work (but this has been going on a very long time and certainly not recent), but is this the case in say Vietnam or Nicaragua?

It seems something to think about but a lot of what seem to be simple answers turn out to have ramifications that are anything but simple. Like this idea of buying carbon offset credits and making a lot of money for the companies running that whole thing. We don't live in a simple world.

I've certainly had my share of difficultly finding clothes that fit decently due to my body shape in recent years. Am glad to be out of the "X" sizes where I languished for a couple of years. But my hips make me look for long tops and jackets. I've seen a number of styles that are traditional in India and China, possibly some other oriental nations, that I wish I could buy here.

Yeah, I wear clothes for lots of years, detest brand names and especially those who plaster their name or initials on their product -- just won't buy them. I'm not going to advertise free for them and resent the obvious status-creating intent.

It seems obvious, but learning to sew will give you some control over fit and style, and you can even duplicate some of those classic ethnic styles that are indeed suited for women of different shapes and sizes.

I also believe that fashion designers will start respecting and appreciating and GRACING middle-aged and elder women's bodies more when WE do. I am always stunned by the amount of hateful, self-deprecating language and incredibly critical picking apart of their perceived flaws that women do. Nope, we're not all going to look like Madonna at 50, and it's hard to change the culture, but why buy into the myth and take it out on yourself? And why expect fashion designers to think our bodies are great when we constantly send the message that we don't think so?

Take care of yourself and appreciate your curves, strength, resilience and yes, beauty, and opt for a few well-made clothes that make you feel great instead of a lot of cheap junk that only makes you feel worse.

Rain, I agree there are rarely any simple answers to these things. And in the short term, you are probably right about women losing out. But unless we think long-term, nothing will ever change. I think if enough of us were to choose only clothes with a 'fair trade' label (and were prepared to pay a bit more for fairly-traded garments - closer to the 'real' price in other words), the clothing manufacturers would start awarding their contracts to the factories that paid their workers a decent wage and provided them with decent working conditions. Then more factories would lift their game in order to score the contracts. Cheap clothing isn't really cheap if it is bought with human misery. But, like with supermarket bananas (grown with pesticides that make the growers and packers ill)people have become accustomed to these prices and resent having to pay more. And people on low incomes are forced to chase bargains. Its a sorry situation and there are no easy answers.
But there are obviously opportunities for some of the needlewomen among us who enjoy sewing (count me out - I am hopeless at it)to get a bit entrepreneurial and start designing and stitching together some really neat elderfashion and selling it to this community. Or bartering it. (Even better). There's clearly a market right here amongst the elderbloggers, just waiting to be tapped!

Drapers & Damon - in their stand alone stores or on line has clothes that fit most any female who is not looking for teen clothes. They may be more expensive than some might desire, but they have good sales and a catalog "basement sale." Some of their things may be too "embellished" for some.

When I was married, I could afford to buy clothes, but rarely did. I sewed almost everything.I never felt they looked that good on me--when I found a pattern that DID fit, I made it in several fabrics and lengths.
After my divorce, I had NO money, so I discovered the wonders of thrift shops.My friends say I look like a million bucks in my choices (usually good labels)and, when you pay only $2-$3 for a garment,you can toss it after a season and have something new. I do love clothes and like to have new (to me)ones. Now that I have to rely on a seated walker to go anywhere, the aisles in my favorite shops are too narrow, so I have discovered online sales. I just bought 3 different pretty colors of 3/4-length-sleeve blouses (hard to find, but perfect for New York State spring and summer)from Haband, for a grand total, inc. tax and shipping for $20. Something not mentioned here is that many, if not all, of the thrift shops I know are run by volunteers, with a church, or SPCA benefitting. I feel good about that. At my apartment complex, which houses 240 + seniors, we have yearly clothes swaps. Ours is next week, and I'll clean out my closet of not-loved or too-tight clothes and come home with some new ones that fit. I found Kohl's velour pants for fall through spring at Ocean State Job lot for half-price. Sorry to be so verbose--I am gearing up to start submitting my writings &and photos to Elder Storytelling after a 2-year hiatus, due to health issues.

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