If you have to ask whether you’re too old to wear hot pants, you’re too old.
Recently I found myself clothes shopping. It is not something, that as I have aged, I like to do. Besides the weight gain that often accompanies age, the shift where it lands, the new territories, can be overwhelming. Not to mention that designers, for the most part, would like to forget we, or this situation, exist. Let’s be honest, they have relegated us boomers to looking like Aunt Bea, or Bea Arthur and everything comes in tent size and an elastic waist, if it is over a size 10. We seem to get a choice of body hugging or a box shape; crew neck and button down, and never forget the bow at the neck thing on the floral print blouse, that gaps at the bust line. Oh, I know there will be those of you reading this who still for the most part have retained some of that youthful figure (good genes gone wild), those of you who might not get this whole dilemma, or nightmare known as the “Highway to Hell”. Yes, I have several enviable friends in that department. They know who they are and can stop reading now. The rest of you, come along on my shopping trip with me, although my guess is you have been down this road.
So, I go to the department where I know I can, almost, sort of count on finding one or two things that might fit the bill, oh screw bill, fit and look flattering on me (long gone are the days where I could prance in almost any store and grab and go an entire evening outfit, from the sales rack no less, without even trying it on). Anyway, I head to Karen Kane, she seems to make a little something for everyone from 0-plus size … whatever that is these days. Now I am not a plus size but often find myself reaching for some of them, because well, things aren’t what they used to be, and I figure it is easier to have things taken in than to try to find something in MY size, which seems to vary from rack to rack. I suddenly realize, I am not looking at the style or color of the garments at all, I am looking for sleeves! It is 90 degrees out and I am looking for a sleeve. Not a cute cap sleeve, but a good to the above the elbow sleeve. Much to my delight, I find a couple of tops with just that!!! Oh wait, one is neon pink, one is neon yellow and the other, dare I say it, white… really!? Then I notice a couple are meant to be tied at the, ahem, waist. Really? So I ask myself, who the hell is buying this? Quickly my hopes are dashed. I keep sliding the hangers in hopes of finding a nice soft shape, with a sleeve in a nice light, complimentary fabric that comes in nice rich colors, that don’t scream “LOOKY! LOOKY! I FOUND A TOP WITH A SLEEVE”! Ok enough of the tops, because that’s not happening; let’s move on. Pants. I grab a few off the rack, jeans and slacks. I eye the size and decide to go up one or two because, well, just because. Once in the fitting room, I am under the, oh so not flattering fluorescent overheads that tend to accentuate (I won’t go into detail you get it), where I begin to try on my finds. Ok, designers, get this. NOT EVERYONE HAS NO HIPS. Next pair, hmm… they slide on nicely, and even for a straight leg jean, seem to have some curve, nice. I pull them up only to find the waist is a bit inadequate (ok small). Well we all know if you lay in the floor you can zip any jean, and I am determined not to do that. So I pull it together and button and zip, viola! Muffin top extraordinaire! Ok, designers, you made it nicely fit through the hips and thighs, and decided to make the waist a good 10 inches smaller, really!? Ok, I’ll move on to casual dresses. Or not. Seems they don’t make any that aren’t cut down to the navel or up to your cooch. Maybe it’s me. My body is, seemingly, so distorted it can no longer wear off the rack clothes. No that can’t be. I can’t be the only one. I finally decide to can this whole shopping excursion and think it over, and use the words “when I lose some weight I will come back and get a few things”. I shouldn’t have to do that to buy clothes. I should do it because it’s good for my health, not to accommodate clothing designers.
Ok, I know I have gained a few pounds over the last year. I have failed to work out, so I am a bit softer than I should be, but… is it me or is it the clothing designers who choose to ignore a few simple things that older women want? Hell – that we need thanks to the changes that the “change” brought us… These are a few of my ideas dear designers.
Sleeves. Older arms are best covered, it doesn’t matter their size. Helen Mirren rarely shows her arms, yet always looks wonderful in her red carpet gowns. Heck I think even Jane Fonda and Jessica Lange do sleeves now. So designers, please make all tops and dresses with a minimum of elbow and at most long-sleeved version for the over 50’s/60’s. No
matter how thin a lady is there are many who just don’t want to show of that feature.
Bustlines/necklines. Older breasts are sadly lower and larger than younger perky breasts, or surgically enhanced perky breasts. Please cut tops, jackets and blouses in a way that takes this fact into consideration, not to mention often our backs expand too… As Styx once
sang “It’s a Grand Illusion” so for example by cutting that scoop or v neck line just a tad lower, it gives the illusion that the breasts are that much higher… I am not a designer, but duh…
Find a way to accommodate thicker waists and round tummies without resorting to gathered elastic waistbands or yoga pants. We can now video chat on a wrist watch surely you designers can figure this out. I don’t know maybe just a slight piece of elastic in each side but still button and zip. Well now that I think about it, my most flattering pants, have a hidden side zipper, and a hidden button. Yes, take the extra bulk from the front altogether! Side zippers!! Whoo hoo hey while you’re at it, how about side zippers in our dresses too!? Our flexibility isn’t what it used to be!
Make clothes in a fabric weights that hang and drape beautifully without clinging to all our “imperfections”. Lining things when possible would be oh so wonderful. We don’t want flimsy synthetic materials which might be ‘easy wash and wear’, but which look cheap (like mesh) and drape badly. How hard can this be?? Conversely, since we have thickened with age, all those cuddly nubby fabrics don’t work so well either, they tend to thicken and box us… also, don’t be afraid of adding some colorful accents as long as they are colors that grown ladies wear rather than teens or clowns. And white, try not to make the best thing in your collection, white… all those things I have listed, really get accentuated in white… just saying.
Lastly, please pass on the wash and wear, ready to go frumpy look, and give us style! Fabulous style! I must say Iman, who is 60 certainly puts style in her line, but for her it is easy she is tall and thin and rocking that model physique. Diane Gilman puts style, but not all of us look good bedazzled like Cher. Not to mention you can’t go to a store and try either line on, you have to order and hope for the best when they arrive. Karen Kane does it so subtly that it is hard to find just those cuts among all the younger stuff in her collections. Michael Kors tries but again it’s sometimes hard to find. Chico’s used too, but have you noticed their models as of late? I think they are friends of Iman. It’s a fine line between, trend and style, just as it’s a fine line between frump and classic. Our choices should not be limited to well the Limited (named for the slight cut of the clothes no doubt) to Omar the Tent Maker. I would think you talented clothing designers could pull this off if you wanted too. Oh and it’s not like you have to single us out… I noticed a lot of tags on pants say, “modern” “classic” “slim” etc. How about a clever little word for us? Like “Chicas”.
Hey listen up, our generation rewrote the fashion book, I would think a couple of clothing designers could bear that in mind and do something fabulous for us. Just sayin’.
PS… Don’t forget to scroll down and leave us a comment!! We are trying to make it easier to find!