By Guest Blogger Mary Schmidt, Marketing Troubleshooter
However, should I wear them is another question.
Recently, the NYT had an article about us 50+ women and our fashion choices (written by a 50+ woman) - Irony & The Old Lady in which she ponders, "When do coy socks, Heidi braids and vintage hats stop working?"
Personally, I was never a fan of Heidi braids...although I've always thought one should wear whatever one wants, at whatever age...as long as you look good in it (with some notable exceptions such as Italian Vogue editor Anna Piaggi, shown at left - she's a walking piece of performance/life art, and us common folk shouldn't try this in the real world.)
So, where am I going with this?
Well, let's segue to a basic marketing to women point: Anyone selling anything to women somehow, someway must deal with style. We may not even be conscious of it, but we notice design. This doesn't mean that we don't also care about the technical details, product performance and service. And, as we get older our tolerance for frippery and BS decreases dramatically. The guy will be all a quiver about the ginormous flat screen; we'll ask the same techie questions (for different reasons) AND try to figure out how to make it fit the decor.
Now, specifically about selling fashion (whatever that may be at any given second) - we grown-ups have it tough. The majority of designers and clothing stores seem to really not like us - when they're not ignoring us all together. At best, we get larger sizes of things we really shouldn't be wearing at all. (Sorry, fellow boomers, but those tiny little belly shirts, floaty flower child tops, and strappy, barely there tees? Not a good idea. Makes us look like we're desperately clinging to something we may not have had in the first place.) Or, we get fobbed off with box-shaped sacks designed for matronly figures. Sure, most of us have a bit more of - ahem - what we've always had, but that doesn't mean we can't still "clean up good" as we say down South. We simply need a little consideration of changing shapes.
Me? I've pretty much stopped buying clothes. Of course, part of that is due to my lifestyle and the laid-back culture of New Mexico (My summer look is a man's linen or silk shirt, over capris, with good earrings, a scarf, and my "good" flip-flops. That's dressed up compared to many.) But, even when I go out purposely to buy something new...I often come home with nothing. I refuse to wear those tiny styles writ large (way too much showing in all the wrong places) or give into the matronly sack look.
If somebody designed for us grown-ups (and offered pieces at an affordable price) - they'd make a mint, even in a "down economy." Yet, seemingly every industry is still chasing the youngsters, for everything from entertainment to electronics. (Psssttt...this 51-year-old woman can't wait to see the new Transformers.)