In the past few weeks I’ve noticed a little bit of negativity towards brands that specifically target the older woman, namely, the 40 plus market. This may seem strange to some of you considering that the majority of my audience are over 35 and I receive a number of comments talking about the need for more to be done to cater for the older woman.
However, it has highlighted the fact that a few of us are not so keen on being recognised as being old.
There, I said it: We’re old. And I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again:
This is NOT a bad thing.
“Old” is not a bad word. It’s only a bad word if we let it mean something bad.
Since I questioned why some women lie about their age, and subsequently featured new 40+ clothing brand Hope, some of the feedback I’ve received about anything that targets and recognises older women has been a bit negative. I get that we don’t want to be constantly reminded that we’re no longer 20-something, or that we “need” anti-ageing products, or that our waistlines are thickening… But WHY is it a problem for some women to be recognised as older and simply enjoy products that meet our needs?
I GET THAT WE DON’T WANT TO BE CONSTANTLY REMINDED THAT WE’RE NO LONGER 20-SOMETHING, OR THAT WE “NEED” ANTI-AGEING PRODUCTS, OR THAT OUR WAISTLINES ARE THICKENING…
I don’t think there’s any denying that we ARE different to how we were in our 20s or 30s. Yes, I know I often say I don’t feel different to how I felt in my 20s, but we have to be honest with ourselves. How many of us are living exactly the same life we were living 20 or 30 years ago? Are we living in the same house, with the same partner, with the same job, with the same household income, with the same children (who haven’t aged, or who didn’t exist then)?
Are we watching the same TV shows, going to the same places at the weekend, reading the same magazines and newspapers, walking the same dog, enjoying the same hobbies – and had no new life experiences, good or bad?
What I’m saying is that although many of us don’t feel any different, we are different, whether we like it or not. Life rarely stays the same over that amount of time. We’re always affected hugely by life events. Therefore, if you are older, you are different – and that’s not a bad thing, either.
I think the problem lies within the negative connotations that ageing has. The word “old” = bad.
Earlier this year I was lucky enough to be featured in the Sunday Times Style magazine, and one of the other women featured was British fashion expert Caryn Franklin. Most British women aged about 35 and over will remember her on The Clothes Show, an innovative fashion show from the 80s and 90s. In the magazine she was quoted as saying:
“I’D DESCRIBE MY STYLE AS ‘FEISTY’. IT’S GREAT BEING OLD. FASHION IS ON MY TERMS.” – Caryn Franklin
So there you have it – a stylish, incredibly attractive older woman describing herself as old. There was no apologetic tone about it; just a positive message of “I’m old, and it’s great”.
I think we need to stop apologising for being old. I’m guilty of it now and then, joking about my age on Twitter for example when I tweet something to a 22-year-old. However, it doesn’t make any sense why I do. There I’m communicating with others who have the same common interests as me (fashion, in my case), we’re all reading the same articles, enjoying the same runway collections, seeing the same celebrities in the gossip magazines.
But generally speaking it’s our lifestyles that are different. Some brands like Zara or Topshop have a target market of women in their 20s and early 30s and therefore present their collections, stores, advertising, website and tone of voice in a way that’ll attract that age group. And why shouldn’t they? If they tried to cater for women between 18 and 80 their marketing would be all over the place and make no sense to anyone.
So it shouldn’t be seen as a negative thing that other brands do the same for women in their 40s, 50s and older. We tend not to want loud music in stores. We tend not to want to show off acres of flesh as we get older. We tend to value comfort as much as style (nothing wrong in that). Brands who create a product that addresses these needs aren’t dictating to us how we should shop or what we should buy – they’re giving us an alternative that is more likely to appeal to us.
WE TEND NOT TO WANT LOUD MUSIC IN STORES. WE TEND NOT TO WANT TO SHOW OFF ACRES OF FLESH AS WE GET OLDER. WE TEND TO VALUE COMFORT AS MUCH AS STYLE (NOTHING WRONG IN THAT).
The problem is not enough brands are doing this, and older women are losing out as a result. When I talked about a new 40+ clothing brand that really appealed to me and received a few comments from readers saying they don’t like people being ‘put in boxes’ or that they ‘don’t believe that women of different ages should dress differently’, I got a little frustrated.
I agree, but not where brands and their products are concerned.
Brands have to do it, otherwise they will fail. It’s known as target marketing, which is identifying your target customers by asking whose problems your product or service solves. Older women have their own set of problems, just as much as young girls have their own, very different set of problems.
If you think about, no one has a problem with brands specifically targeting teens and 20-somethings.
Maybe it’s time we stopped trying to fight our age and made ourselves more willing to embrace brands that want to make us [even more] fabulous?
Remember: If you don’t ask, you don’t get.
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Let me know your thoughts in the comments below (or tweet me @notlamb if it’s easier)…!
P.S. Like this post? You might also want to read Dressing Without the Fear of “What Will Others Think…?”