Fashion ageism

A recent study of over 600 retired people in the London area by the U3A has revealed that most feel society has expectations about what older people should and should not wear.
 
  A supporting survey of the wider public found that two-thirds of respondents across the region believe that people should dress their age.
 
  Asked at what age people should stop wearing certain clothes, miniskirts (45 years old), skinny jeans (47) and baseball caps (51) were among the garments deemed too young for older people.
 
  Furthermore, the fashions most commonly identified as being suitable for older people in the region were: socks and sandals (49 per cent), cardigans (59 per cent) and elastic waisted trousers (40 per cent).
 
  Over a third would tell an older family member if they felt they were dressing too young and over a third would even hide items of clothing they deemed unsuitable.
 
  Despite this, just 37 per cent plan to dress their age when they are themselves older.
 
  The survey revealed that just a quarter of older people allowed society to dictate what they should and should not wear, with a third saying they would continue to try out new things when it comes to fashion.
 
  The U3A is urging the public and those who work in fashion not to pigeonhole older people. They gathered the testimonies from their members to share their experiences of fashion ageism, which is rife. Among the observations were:
 
It surprises me to see someone of your age wearing jeans.
• A young shop assistant saying bless when I was telling her what I wanted and not the supposedly age-appropriate item she was trying to sell me
The older ladies fashion rails are over there
• I was in the bra section and was directed to the bras for older ladies as they are droopier, I was advised.
• A young assistant in a trainer shoe shop greeted me with Hello Grandad, what do you want?‘ I didn’t answer and didn’t buy anything either.
• 30 years ago I was asked why I dress too young. I still do.
 
The U3A has also released the result of a regional members’ vote for the best dressed British over 60. Among the most admired are Helen Mirren, Joanna Lumley, Judi Dench, Colin Firth, Prue Leith, Bill Nighy, Mary Berry, Carol Vorderman, Moira Stewart, and Lenny Henry.
 
Sam Mauger CEO of the U3A movement said: We have almost 500,000 members and they are all individuals with a positive outlook and a range of styles. Older adults bring a richness of experience and personality to the world, and we don’t want to be fitted into a uniform stereotype especially when it comes to fashion, and style. We are pleased to note that Vivienne Westwood has been voted the most popular fashion icon among the under 24s. We want society to embrace the individuality of older adults and see the person.