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Winter is around the corner, and YEI readers believe it is time that the South African fashion industry needs to finally get a grip on the difference between the stereotyped “senior” and the reality of the mature modern woman.


Season in, season out – the same old matronly type clothes (shapeless house dresses, support hose and thick soled shoes!) are regurgitated for seniors.  YEI decided to ask some of its readers about their wants and desires when it comes to fashion and how they wish to project themselves.

Jill: “Always stymies me .. Why do clothes retailers do not cater to this age group when we are all saying we cannot find suitable clothing.  We like to buy quality; we wear up to date clothing – if not too revealing or ‘out there’.  Many over the age of 50 have the money to spend.  

We are not like our mother’s generation – we’re ‘cool’ dudes and dudettes!”

Janet: “I’m afraid clothing manufacturers and stores haven’t realised that the world population is ageing and there are millions of 50/60/ even 70-year-old women with spending power who want to look good in age-appropriate clothes. I don’t have difficulty in finding winter clothes, but come summer, it is impossible to find a suitable summer dress.  Older women want to cover the top of their arms and won’t wear thigh high skirts. I’m looking for a summer dress with sleeves, a zip, bust darts ie. something made to fit. But all one can find are sleeveless shifts in clinging fabric which you pull over your head.  I do realise that clothing like everything else has been dumbed down. Extra fabric for sleeves, zips, decent material etc. is more expensive than producing a sleeveless short shift.   But not for me and millions like me. There is a huge mature market that needs to be catered for in suitable, fun, quirky clothes with the problem bits covered up.  We want a clothing manufacturer to get it right for the elegantly ageing!”

fashion for seniors


Cathy: “This is an important issue for many of us in the over 50/60 age group.  We are NOT our mother’s generation.   We need and want stylish, well-made, affordable and comfortable clothing.   Retailers could surely do in-depth marketing surveys and appoint buyers who are better tuned in to more mature and discerning customers. Students have become inventive, mixing affordable cheaper-range items with more expensive designer jeans etc.   We need retailers who will do the same for the over-50 age group”.

Maureen: “Basically I have become very disillusioned with nearly all the clothes retailers.  Basically, they don’t sell simple well-made clothes anymore – they cater for a market that likes tight, blingy and badly finished clothes.  The youngsters are well catered for.   I am particularly disillusioned with some of the popular retailers, some of whom in years gone by, were reliable for selling good quality clothing at a reasonable price.   Now, their basic clothes are mostly made in China and are total rubbish.  If you want something decent, it’s imported from Australia and costs the earth.  Which is why I’m now asking a home-based designer and sewer to make my clothes – at a lesser cost that some of the well-known, popular retailers”.

Lesley: “There are just not enough sizes or choice for the plus-size ladies.  The fabrics generally seem to be large bold florals, bling everywhere or great big blocks of colour.  We would like softer colours, flowing garments but still with a modern flair.  Don’t discount the larger ladies by making dowdy, frumpy gear – we too want to look feminine, modern and comfortable”.

Helen: “This has been bugging me for years and is much discussed by all our friends! I’m fed up with teeny bopper clothes in size 0, or the other extreme – very frumpy old ladies’ clothes, or very expensive imported clothes!   T shirts for instance! We want the tummy covered, looser fit (but not baggy!) and longer above elbow sleeves! Is that too much to ask? I’m sure we could all do some designing for the fashion shops!!”


seniors fashion


So there you have it!  Some disgruntled “seniors” – all who love fashion, who want to express their dynamic, vibrant personalities with designs in beautiful colours, shapes and textures.   Clothes that are individual, interesting, fashionable and reasonably priced.   Clothes that flatter our changing body shapes and reflect our true selves.

Do fashion designers live in a world of trend development?  Are the clothing buyers young and are they in sync with what the mature market want?  Do clothing retailers overlook or even understand the wants and needs of the mature woman?  Are they oblivious to the fashion opportunities for older women?  Do they need a push in the right direction?

We think they do!!

To YEI readers: 

  • What is your view on this topic? 
  • Do you believe that retailers and fashion designers are taking the needs of older women into consideration?
  • Are you able to source good-quality, reasonably-priced fashion that works for you?
  • Should clothing retailers be offering seniors/pensioners discounts on a “Pensioner Day” once a month. why don’t you complete our Shopping survey here to give us an insight into your wants and needs.

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  • Babs Hughes says:

    Agree with all the comments. Perhaps someone can give me the contact number of a good dressmaker in Northern Johannesburg

  • Gayle says:

    I live at the coast and cannot find suitable and reasonably priced clothing with 3/4 sleeves and not as formal. 🙂

    • Angela W says:

      Dear Gayle, it seems from the comments and mails we are receiving that there are more seniors who are struggling with clothing than we previously thought. Retailers need to start listening to us!!! Angela (YEI manager)

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