Sunday, 13 May 2012

Why I Hate Shopping Now I'm 50

When I was in my 40s I used to love going clothes shopping, rifling through the racks at New Look, River Island, Top Shop and the like. Nowadays, however, as I have past that dreaded half century mark, if I set foot in some of these high-fashion retail chains, they do nothing for my self-confidence.

Suddenly, the clothes that I once coveted seem far too young, and even more depressingly, the sizes seem to have got smaller. The last time I went into some of my favourite high-street fashion chains after several years away from the UK, I suddenly felt old and fat - with the fact that I have gone up two dresses sizes since my 40s doing nothing for the ego. And, is it just me or do the sales assistants seem to be getting younger and, even more annoyingly, thinner? 

In many of these shops I found it difficult even to find a size to fit, and when I did dare try some thing on, the cut and the fabric did me no favours. Feeling bad enough as it was, having to look at my expanding girth in the mirror, my bad humour was further compounded by the fact that overzealous assistants kept asking “How are you getting on?”  I also hate it when they pull back the curtain and reveal my figure flaws in all their glory – with me looking like a stuffed sausage in a size 14, whilst they look fantastic in their size 6.  And as for trying to find a “nice” dress with sleeves to cover those bingo wings, well forget it!

Therefore, now I’m in my 50s I've decided it is time to decamp to more more-age friendly labels such as those fashion concessions found in more upmarket department stores, where the quality of fabric is kinder to the body, but the price tag is not kinder to the purse.  

Even here, many of the sales consultants seem young by comparison to the target market, and have the annoying habit of pouncing on you, the moment you walk into the sales area. And, if you dare to spend more than a few seconds looking at a garment, they take this as a green light to give you a full on sales pitch.

Now, I am one of those iritating shoppers who just likes to browse in peace and if I want help, I’ll ask for it. Nothing will send me scurrying away quicker than being leapt on the moment I set foot in the department. Having said this though, I know that is unfair, as having worked in fashion retailing myself, companies are very sales-oriented nowadays and sales consultants are under tremendous pressure to approach customers.

Another pet hate is fitting rooms. Either they are so small that you can’t move (I hate it when they don’t have a seat - especially when you are trying on jeans), or so hot that, after breaking out in a sweat I give up and leave.  There is one particular fashion store in my home town, which, every winter, has its fitting room area so warm that I want to pass out.

Am I the only woman in my 50s, that feels that whilst I still haven’t given up on fashion, when I go shopping for clothes I feel fashion has given up on me?


  1. Great, much needed blog. I can't seem to find much helpful information on dressing for over 50, and body shape. Thanks, much appreciated. I'm a 58 year old goblet/strawberry...looking for help. :)

  2. Hi Leslie, If you are a stawberry shape then that's pretty typical of many women in their 50s. Having a thick waist and a heavier top half means that you may find dresses problematic and may well prefer separates, where you can mix sizes. I'm a similar shape to you and often have a problem with sizing as I need to go up a size for my top-half, but then clothes are often too big on the lower half of my body. For some suggestions on dressing the strawberry shape you might like to look at this link:

    This is just me, but I am a convert to empire-line dresses and tops, as they are very slimming for the stawberry shape, and when it comes to trousers, those with a higher rise work for me (and a side or back zip if you can find one), which don't give me a muffin top.

    When it comes to dressing in your 50s and beyond my tip is to buy better, even if this means buying less. I've learnt a lot from the women here since I have been living in France and now go for more classic, often tailored pieces in neutral and some strong colors in a better quality fabric and keep on-trend with print and color, as well as having an ever-expanding accessories wardrobe.

    As you get older this is the time when you can really wear color, and it's best on simple, tailored pieces. I'm a big fan of fuschia, cherry red and teal, which look great on older women, but you have to co-ordinate these colors with some neutral basics too. e.g fuschia top with white linen trousers for summer. Another great combination for the older women, in my opinion, is beige and black or beige and white - which give you a very chic look and not ageing. Dip your toe in the water of the current trends by wearing a simple piece in one of the prints of the moment, whether it be polks dots, stripes, animal print etc.

    Since I'm now at the age where I have the dreaded bingo wings I've also built up a collection of colorful shrugs/boleros - but a waterfall style cardigan would look great on your frame. Whereas when you are younger, cardigans can be ageing, the reverse is true when you hit your 50s and 60s, as the right cardigan can give you a youthful look.

    You might also like to look at this link, which gives some tips on how to dress in your 50s:

    Good luck!