The desire to dress your best never goes out of style — but priorities do change. So we wanted to find out how you really feel about fashion now that you’ve got decades of dressing yourself in the rearview mirror. You spilled on everything from jeans and shoes to bras and bathing suits and opened up about what it takes to be on trend in today’s world.
You Are Clearly Clothes-Minded
Hemlines may go up and down, but a woman’s fashion consciousness remains raised at any age. The majority of survey respondents (68 percent) say they’re style savvy, and 58 percent claim to care about looking (and feeling) pulled together no matter the occasion. Trendy? Yes, to an extent. Incorporating some of-the-moment pieces into your everyday looks is important to 46 percent of you.
You Want to Express Your Style Sense
While 30 percent of women 50 and over stick to a classic, conservative style, an equal number insist on making a unique style statement, plus 43 percent seek new ways to perk up everyday looks with personality. Perhaps this is a result of maturity — you’re no longer compelled to “follow” fashion. “I finally have a good sense of what works for me and what doesn’t,” says Eileen. But whether you’re boho or buttoned-up, comfort is key. “I want to look put-together, but I need to be comfortable — all the time,” says Penelope. “Nothing tight, no shoes that hurt.” We’re so there!
Most survey respondents (41 percent) typically shell out between $250 and $500 for each fashion season. Big-ticket items include special-occasion clothes, with 38 percent of you apt to purchase a new outfit for an event like a wedding and 22 percent willing to splurge on it. Yet some believe that’s a waste of money, as one woman opined: “How ridiculous to spend a fortune on something you’ll wear once, that exists only to make society find you acceptable!”
(More on what you’ll spend on specific items below.)
You’re in the Jean Pool
Talk about a style staple: 53 percent say denim is de rigueur. But you’re not about to pay big bucks for basic blues. Many of you (42 percent) will drop up to $100 for a pair of jeans that fit perfectly; 35 percent are in the under-$50 range. And deliberately ripped denims just don’t do it for grown women. “Where are quality jeans without those dreaded holes?” asks Kerry.
The Shoe Thing
Imelda Marcos, Carrie Bradshaw… and you, maybe? Most NextTribers (31 percent) confess to owning more shoes than you can wear in a year. But nearly the same number (27 percent) say your shoe collection consists of the bare necessities only. Some (30 percent) pay between $76 and $100 for a nice pair of dress shoes or boots, while 25 percent refuse to go above the $50 to $75 range for fancy footwear — about what most of you (41 percent) will plop down for a good pair of sneakers.
To get the most bang for your fashion buck, most (38 percent) of you opt to shop at “brands for less” outlets like T.J. Maxx and Marshalls. While our survey offered a list of 17 stores, 47 percent chimed in with preferences for other retailers, including resale/vintage/thrift shops, local boutiques and plus-size stores. When it comes to catalog and online shopping, most (30 percent) like Lands’ End, and 57 percent cited catalogs/e-tailers we didn’t list, including L.L. Bean, Eddie Bauer, and Zappos. Only a mere 2 percent have rented threads from Rent the Runway or used a personal shopping service like Stitch Fix. And brands known for marketing to women 50-plus don’t necessarily score, with only 16 percent citing J. Jill and 17 percent citing Chico’s as favorites (one woman dubs these looks too “shapeless”).
Shopping Has Lost Its Shine
Retail therapy doesn’t hold the appeal it might have held years ago. “Shopping is no longer enjoyable,” admits Maria who, like 50 percent of you, simply buys basics to fill in, often because current clothing no longer fits. However, 43 percent of you still take pleasure in the hunt for something fun and new. Of course, some items are more of a drag to shop for than others. Some 15 percent of you say jeans are hardest, while 22 percent counter that it’s bathing suits, and 29 percent insist that buying bras is the worst.
Finding Fashion Inspiration
When you’re wondering what to wear, you go to the authorities, with 33 percent of you checking out fashion magazines and websites. Only 12 percent get turned onto trends by friends, and just 13 percent take cues from well-dressed women on the street.
Accessories make all the difference when it comes to pulling together a look, one reason 56 percent of you have at least three handbags in rotation and 29 percent have as many as six. Scarves are popular with some 51 percent, with 20 percent calling them your ultimate go-to accessory. And while we live in the digital age, 34 percent of you still wear a traditional watch, while 19 percent prefer a fitness-tracker.
Clearly, women our age care about style, and many are downright disturbed by the fashion industry’s focus on the young, finding it a challenge to look stylish, not silly. As Marilyn puts it, the search is on for “trendy clothing that doesn’t look like I raided my granddaughter’s closet.” And Barbara, who says, “I try to stay in shape, so not looking to ‘hide’ a lot, but don’t want to show a lot either,” wonders: “Where can I find clothes that are age-appropriate but not frumpy?” For answers to this question and others, NextTribe is talking to fashion editors, stylists and other experts to solve your top clothing conundrums. Stay tuned!