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Age should be no barrier to style

If you read Easy Living, Red or Eve magazines, you could be forgiven for thinking that older women had it sorted when it comes to fashion.

Older in the eyes of the media seems to mean just over 40, and our magazines are filled with pages of yummy mummies looking fabulous in the high street’s finest product. Older? Really?

Maybe that’s why research firm Allegra’s recent ‘How Women Shop’ report stated that 49% of women over 65 found it difficult to find the right clothing. Meanwhile, in the US one third of women over 55 can’t find jeans that fit.

This might be a useful time to remind ourselves of exactly who is an older woman these days: Julie Christie is 67, Marianne Faithful is 61 and Diane von Furstenberg is 63. None of these would take kindly to a pair of trousers with an elasticated waist. Beautiful, wearable, flattering clothes for real older women seem to be relegated to big book catalogues and the plus-size market. Just ask your mum where she shops and she’ll give you an earful.

The situation is something of a vicious circle. Retailers will insist the market isn’t there – indeed Allegra’s report goes some way to proving it: women aged 65-plus only buy 38 items a year in comparison to the 100-plus that younger women purchase. But couldn’t that just be because we aren’t tempting them to shop? Right now, many of them are buying Marks & Spencer’s Per Una range, which is delivering a great mix of fashionability and wearability.

Surely there is a niche for smart independents to find fabulous clothes for this all-but-forgotten market. 62 is after all the new 42… just look at Charlotte Rampling.

Juliet Warkentin is content director at online trends analysis business WGSN. Visit www.wgsn.com.

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