Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Something's Missing

A friend commented on my last post and she said the reason we like vintage patterns so much was that they were "grown-up clothes". Nowadays, she said, the clothes are all for kids. "They never show what the clothes look like on someone over 16." she complained. "or a person of color, or a handicapped person." I agreed. It's as if anyone old or handicapped or ethnic doesn't exist in fashion retail world. "Don't they want my money?" she complained.
A co-worker asked me how I shop for clothes now that I can't walk that far. I shop online or I sew my clothes, I told her. Going to the mall is just too hard for me.
"They don't make it easy to spend money." she said.
This made me start thinking, why is it so difficult to find clothes for grown-ups? And why does retail ignore older women, larger women, ethnic women, handicapped women...basically all women who don't fit their very narrow demographic? Something is wrong if almost all of my coworkers, in all ages and size ranges, feel left out by retail fashion. They have money to buy clothes, but they can't find anything that fits. Or they can fit into the clothes, but the clothes are inappropriate for adults.
"You're lucky you can sew", my neighbor said. Believe me, I know it.
I feel like Carrie Bradshaw by ending my essay by asking, "Where does a woman find grown-up clothes today?"


Mary said...

I have made a concerted effort to avoid fashion magazines, store ads, circulars in the newspapers etc in order to NOT see 14 yo modeling career wear. It's a pet peeve of mine-the anti age bias in this country is so hurtful and small minded. I was going to add that it is stupid from an economic point of view but then realized that most younger people probably live on credit.

The other issue is a corollary to the first. If we accept 14 yo modeling young adult-30ish clothing, then we probably won't accept 50-60-70 yo models showcasing adult clothing. Don't even go to the problem of rarely seeing differently abled folks in fashion. (The pictures in pattern catalogs notwithstanding
...whole 'nother blog post)

stepping off my soapbox gingerly,

Zabrinah said...

Nice post!! I love it. You're a very good writer! Your voice comes through the writing!


Best wishes from one blogger to another,


AuntieAllyn said...

I'm in 100% agreement with you. As a 55-year-old woman in the workforce, I don't even bother going to the malls for work clothing anymore. Thank goodness I can sew, and thank goodness the internet now gives me access to such wonderful fabric sources and sewing resources. I should admit that I do like the Jones New York clothing line and occasionally purchase their dresses . . . online, often through eBay at significantly reduced prices!

karen said...

Exactly the reason I've decided to take up sewing again.....tired of not being able to find classy, well-made, clothes that fit my
5'11" plus size body....

JustGail said...

Older women are the invisible group for designers (and advertisers) for the most part. And yet, they forget we have as much, if not more, purchasing power.

I still get 1 fashion magazine, but it's hard to picture most of the items in my life. Part of it is due to the "artsy" poses, rather than showing the clothing, part of it is the styles oriented toward thin teens-twenties ages.

A couple of years ago, there was a show on BBC America(?) about a modeling contest for modeling hopefulls. The contestants were (as usual) in their late teens/early 20s, but they all had various handicaps - 1 was blind, 1 was deaf, 1 in a wheel chair, and the rest had at least 1 missing limb. I think one had severe ADD. I wonder if the winner's (or any of the other's) carreer went after that show.

badmomgoodmom said...

Call a Nordstrom personal shopper; explain your taste, size and disability; make an appt early in the day (they will even open early for you).

Jen M said...

I agree with you, and I would add the following - grown women these days don't seem to want to look like grown women. They seem to want, often, to look/act like/be mistaken for their teenybopper daughters. I don't get it. I enjoyed my teen years, and now that I am 38, I am happy being an adult woman, not a kid. So, maybe some retailers are just making what their customers want, teenybopper clothing for adult women?