When I was a kid, I always looked forward to the arrival of the spring/summer or fall/winter catalogs. Our grandparents always allowed us to pick one outfit and ordered it. Back then I did not stop at browsing the girls section of the catalog, but browsed the women section as well. There were about ten, may be twenty pages that clearly targeted women over 40 as customers using key words like mature women, women over 40, etc.
These ten or 20 pages featured outfits presented by beautiful 20 something plus size women. On the then pre-teenager me, this fact created the impression that mature women are naturally plus size! The clothes also looked very Old Lady on these young women. Looking at these outfits drove home the message that once you are over 40 or so, you are “done”. The TV ads of Oil of Olay (Oil of Olaz in Germany) saying “Oil of Olay is for the skin after 30” re-enforced that message and put the “women expiration date” even earlier than it seemed to be according to the catalog. My reaction on this youth emphasis and the sparse selection of clothes for “mature women” one day led to the statement “I will not become an adult before age 75!” That was about the age of Grandma Hannah back then.
Actually, at that time in Germany, many women in their late 30s/ early 40s were plus size due to too high doses of birth control and/or post-war effects of WWII. Staying hungry as a kid is counterproductive to developing a healthy eating habit. I recall overhearing many of these women saying to their own kids that …. (add your hated food type here) is too valuable to be wasted. We kids were often forced to “eat what is on the plate” because they would have been happy if they had had that food when they were our age.
Is the cloth situation for over 40 better today? Definitively not! Yes, there are some 40+ fashion bloggers (see for the longest list I know), but catalogs and online stores still present the twenty something models of all sizes.
Don’t get me wrong! I embrace that the models presenting the items cover the entire spectrum of shapes. A women in their 30s still may imagine how the look presented by a younger sister (with perfect body) will look on her. But how is a 40+, where plus stands for anything after age 40, supposed do that “interpolation?” These twenty somethings models have nothing to hide, distract from, and/or camouflage, you name it.
Now the runways celebrate older supermodels. We are all happy for them that they now can continue working in the jobs they loved, and are not forced to retire at 30ish. However, sorry guys and gals, what do you have your eyes for? These gorgeous ladies are what they always were – supermodels, the rare incident of nature producing something of perfection once in a while. Even at 80, these supermodels can pull on a potato bag and look to die for! Glue a high-end label to it and it will sell!
Get serious about us over 40s
We “commoners” over 40s (and this applies as well to our bros) are wonderful imperfections of nature. Think of the 2 carat raw diamond with visible coal flaws. We love to see the perfect ones on the runways, as fashion shows are shows, entertainment. But when shopping mail-order or online, we want to get an idea how someone like us would look like in the various clothes we put our eyes on.
We can much more relate to a 50+ woman being as flat as an American pancake with hips like John Wayne and ears like saddlebags, or a 60+ women looking like a mail box than to a 30-year old with a perfect size 2 or 18 body. It is certainly valuable information to know what the height, waist, bust, and hip measures including weight of that twenty something model are, even for us. But, didn’t I say, their bodies are perfect?
We want models of our age with our imperfections and the info about the kind of imperfection. When the said 50+ or 60+ can pull off an outfit and look young and hip in it, we can do it too. We then know that ordering that item will be a winner for our wardrobe too. If you want to sell us your clothes, get serious about who we are, and what we want! We don’t have our head on top of our necks to avoid that it rains into our lungs and stomach!
The scarf worn in the OOTD of this post inspired me to the unusual color combination of the work outfit shown in the above photos. As these two photos demonstrate neither from far, nor close up this color combination seems odd. The floral print shown in the photo below has the shade of the cardigan and skirt and ties the two colors together in harmony. I added red tights to make red the main color and appropriate for work. The white layering piece and black booties stay in the background, but occur in the scarf as well.
What does inspire your outfits? What are your problems finding clothes online? Let me know, comment by email. I am curious about what your problems are.
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Photos: G. Kramm (2015)
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