Why the Fashion Industry is Dying—Laughing at Salad & Cleavage Snacks


Today we are going to talk about something a bit different, but maybe this might inspire your fiction, because if the world changes guarantee you a writer was behind it 😉 .

As I was perusing Facebook Friday evening, I came across an article that gave me an odd reaction. It made me want to stand and cheer, yet at the same time, rail at the heavens for the unfairness of it all. Tim Gunn from Project Runway leveled his crosshairs on the fashion industry. OMG I so love him for doing it, too.


A Plus-Sized Problem

According to Washington State University, there are over 100 million plus-sized women. The average woman now wears between a size 16 and a size 18 and yet plus sizes are almost never represented in fashion and if they are, the clothes are…ridiculous.

Most are passive-aggressive jabs at overweight women.

I am no longer a plus size, but I still recall the day I finally had to venture into the plus-sized section at a department store. I remember sinking into a corner and crying. I had always loved clothes but these weren’t clothes.

They were punishment.

In ways I still have this problem. The misogynist attitude of the fashion industry is all around. I am no longer plus size, but I am not a human stick either. I’m a healthy size 8-10-12-14-16.

Women will get that joke 😉 .

And I have…oh dear, this is so embarrassing. I actually have…I can’t believe I am admitting this. I have *whispers* …..boobs.

I KNOW! Right? Who would have thought that women actually come equipped with BOOBS?

And sorry, no, even Barbie would be crying these days because her shirts would runch up over her bust every time she moved her arms.

The fashion industry is not interested in Barbie. She still has girl parts…and cleavage snacks.

Even the mannequins can’t keep up.

Help those with no voice!

Uh-oh. Who gave the mannequin boobs?

The fashion industry is failing to appreciate that most of the women who need clothes actually have hit puberty. Many of us have even had children (sort of necessary for the continuing survival of the human race and all) and we have hips.

And I get well-meaning advice that I should ignore what is being elevated at “beautiful”, but the problem is that this distorted sense of what is “beautiful” affects what I am able to buy.


Shoot me.

Um, when did MATCHSTICKS become sexy?

Um, when did MATCHSTICKS become sexy?

When I have a selection of 42 variations of skinny jeans and shirts that ride up over my bust-line? It makes it tough to buy clothes. Of course, then I catch $#!* for living in yoga pants but nothing frigging fits.

It’s yet another passive-aggressive jab at aging women.

Older women just let themselves go.

All my life I have struggled because I wasn’t “thin enough,” and now I am no longer “young enough.”

Oh dear GOD! The horror! Kristen please stop. First you tell us you are female and now you are getting old? We can’t take it!

I know. I am so sorry.

Where are the Women?

Why can’t I be in a fashion magazine too? A real fashion magazine just for ME and my grown-up gal pals?

A magazine that doesn’t have me standing with a frying pan grinning over “Skinny Fried Chicken?” Or laughing at salad. What the hell is so funny about SALAD?

Maybe a forty or fifty-something woman might have amazing legs and love shoes. We still love mascara and buy it. Some of us even look pretty good in it.


We love hair! Some of us a little too much. We are called Texans 😛 .


Do we all have to be fawning over laundry detergent or adult diapers? Or grinning at yogurt? No wonder women are terrified of getting older. We disappear! Why is it that the only over-60 woman featured on the cover of Vanity Fair in a bustier used to be a man? Why not a sexy cover with Jessica Lange? Why does Lange get a turtleneck (1996) and Jenner get a bustier (2015)?

I see all these magazines geared toward the thirty and younger crowd, but the industry is virtually silent when it comes to the largest population in the country.

The one that is AGING.

In fashion, it’s no challenge to design clothes that flatter a teenage underweight flat-chested giantess. There are no “obstacles” *wink, wink* to work around. No wrinkles or a wider middle from having children.

Is it because us older gals might actually pose a challenge? We might make them think creatively, beyond sticking a bird cage in an up-do or a lampshade on our a$$?

Same with the articles. Seems to me it is far simpler to advise a twenty-something who’s never been married about sex and dating, than a forty-five-year-old who is out-earning her male counterparts and has grandchildren and an elderly parent to take care of.

Dare we talk about the fifty-something woman who likes sexting her…husband?

Oh no, Kristen. You have just gone too far.

Yes, I Want to Be Like Barbie


Untouched photo. I’m almost 43…and love shiny things.

The world is obsessed with giving young girls role models, which is awesome. They need dolls that aren’t all about fashion, that are astronauts and police officers and doctors. GREAT! They need different body types. The New York Times was all gaga over Mattel creating dolls of different shapes and sizes and heights and ethnicities.

Okay, fashion industry. Could you take a hint from a DOLL company? Yes, I want to be like Barbie. She is finally allowed to be short, tall, fluffy, skinny, busty, or even have glasses. Maybe one day she will even be allowed to grow old (Hey, I can dream, right?).

We don’t grow out of needing role models.

Would women be Botoxing and cutting on themselves until they resembled a missing cast member of The Muppets if they had a healthy selection of women who were aging well to model after?

Most of us have no frigging clue how we are supposed to look for our age. We are surrounded by teenagers or models Photoshopped to resemble wrinkle-free teenagers. We are sold anti-aging serums by models who aren’t old enough to be using the product.

Hollywood will keep casting Jason Statham as an action hero until they have to use CGI to conceal his walker and orthopedic shoes, but what about Lucy Lawless? Why do we have Rocky XVI but no remake of Xena?

You want to see BEAUTIFUL women of all ages? Check out my Pinterest board Old Women Dressing and Behaving Badly.

MORE is Less

Want a good laugh? Peruse the magazines that are supposed to be speaking to mature women. Initially I was excited about MORE Magazine, because it was supposed to fill that gap and give women over 30 their own fashion magazine.

Unfortunately, when I picked up a print copy (among their first), I was crushed to realize it was just a Good Housekeeping retread. Lots of pictures of gardens and decorating and food and the only articles with actual older models revolved around how we could look younger and thinner.

I’m not kidding. And it hasn’t changed.

Check out the on-line Beauty Section. All kinds of articles about how to braid hair! Aaaand it’s just a bunch of twenty-year-olds with braids. ALL the articles have young models…unless you count the article about how to reverse aging naturally.

Bite me, More Magazine. Just bite me. Because anyone old enough to buy a house no longer wears braids.


And O Magazine offers more of the same. Articles about all the best plastic surgery or how to dress around my “problem” of being too short or too busty.

Why is it MY problem and not the fashion industry’s problem?

Industry in Crisis

But then magazines complain, “No one is buying magazines anymore and the Internet and Pinterest and whine whine whine” Retailers complain and are closing stores at a record pace (I.e. Macy’s).

Is it the economy? Or are department stores and malls now ghost towns because retailers have nothing to offer us. They are all clamoring for the attention of the group with the lowest disposable income who are on Instagram instead of at the mall?

Tim Gunn is baffled at why designers are ignoring plus-sized women, and a potential 20+ BILLION dollar industry, but I am even more perplexed why they are ignoring women over 40.

And for those of us over 40 who are plus-sized? We…are…doomed.

We older women (all sizes) need more than the three currently available looks: Tragic Pole Dancer, DMV Employee and Woman at Church Who Brings Casseroles.

But it IS Changing

Part of why I wrote this blog is I saw THIS over the weekend and I am now madly, deeply in love with H&M. I want to be HER when I grow up.



H&M is also featuring a 60 year old swimsuit model!!!! Because apparently someone has figured out that women over 30 still wear SWIMSUITS! I am hoping this marks a meaningful shift because aging is a gift denied to many. If we take care of ourselves, we will spend DECADES being considered “old” unless we change things.

I want to be in love with my older face and older body. I want to embrace the curves I earned with bringing a son into the world. Pregnancy didn’t “wreck my figure,” it evolved it.

I want to enjoy my laugh lines not be attacking them with needles and lasers. I want to be able to look up to more women like Gillean McLeod who show me I will one day still be beautiful, just a different kind of beautiful.

Above everything, I want little girls to grow up and one day have permission to be women & to love being WOMEN.

What are your thoughts? Do you feel invisible? Are you excited about what H&M is doing? Would you love a Xena remake with Lucy? Would you love more fashion models who were mature women? Do you struggle with cleavage snacks? Are they considered calorie-free?

Can you think of some stories or characters who give us grown-up women heroes? I miss Golden Girls, personally. Hey, erotica authors. Y’all could give new meaning to “Hot Flash” 😀 .

And I know they do this crap to the men, too just differently. But if it makes the guys feel better, check out this Japanese runway model who is ALMOST EIGHTY! Hubby was ecstatic.

I LOVE hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of SEPTEMBER, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

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  1. Wow. You nailed one of my biggest – if not the biggest – frustration. Same for older women – seniors. They think seniors no longer care or have a need to look fashionable.Great article. Thank you.

  2. I read the Tim Gunn articles and I loved everything he said. I’ve been curvy since 6th grade and have always had a time getting clothes to fit on my curves (boobs and butt) even before I was a plus size. I used to just take to get the top or bottomed to get altered, lately I’ve been sporting baggy clothes. I do agree with what you say about aging. I hate the stretched look of too many face lifts. I’m grateful for the women who are aging gracefully within my family. I look at some elderly celebrities and hope I never do that to myself.

  3. Love this blog, Kristen. And what about our elders in assisted living who dress in rags because nothing fits a body bent in age. This is a large population who have daughters and sons who would pay money to see them dressed a notch above homeless person. I know a good designer with a sensitive heart could solve this problem. A good business plan and some savvy marketing…we could make grandma great again!

  4. You just said what I was thinking! First, I’m terrified of getting older. I mean, more than spiders or falling out of a plane. Second, you’re gorgeous! Third, I was in Banana Republic and could not find a single pair of pants larger than a size 38″ waist. Not that I WANT to be a bigger (I’m a 40, *wink, wink*) but it’s what it is right now. I would like to shop for nice clothes that I don’t have to fish out of a bin. I’m just sayin’. So thank you for calling it out! And the silver fox in that…what a beaut! If I could age that gracefully I would not be so terrified!

    • jdenatly@gmail.com on September 12, 2016 at 6:24 pm
    • Reply

    You are preaching to the choir here. I’ve had hips and boobs (large ones) since about the 5th grade and nothing fits like it’s supposed to. I could lose about 30 pounds and shopping for any event that requires more than my pj’s suuuuuucks. More than a magazine for mature women, you now what I’d love to see? I want to see an add for one of those tread-stepper machines with a woman on it who looks like she actually needs to work out. I don’t want to see a bubbly size 4 bouncing up and down on her exercise bike. I want to see a woman like me, who could lose a few pounds, getting on that machine and sweating like the rest of us do. Hey, if she can do it, I can do it. I would be much more tempted to at least pick up the phone and ask some questions rather than tell myself “Eh, I’ll pick one up at a garage sale one of these days.” Uhg. Okay. I’m done ranting about this now. Also, I looooove your blog 🙂 Thanks for making me laugh.

  5. I’m 68 and not particularly thin (12/14), but I really don’t have the problems you’ve detailed finding clothing. (Though I really did enjoy your blog.) I teach at a university, so maybe that keeps me in touch, though I’d never try to dress like most of the young women I teach. (Leggings are not pants and color should have a place in your wardrobe.) I check out everything from Seventeen magazine to Vogue to the catalogs (Belk and Chico’s mostly) and choose what I LIKE. I wear black stretch jeans and bright print wrap tops a lot but I also have bell bottoms (from Gap last year) and sweaters of every length and texture and color. If I have to “dress up” I go with a fancy top and shoes (and one of at least 30 pairs of black pants. Hey, if it’s good enough for Oprah …) When I pass the “big girl’s section” of the local department store, I’m sometimes tempted by the colors and big drapy tops even though they drape right off of me. So, I think you’re just looking in the wrong places. Times have changed and styles are catching up to us.

    1. So let’s put a picture of you in a magazine! I would love it! And you can teach us where and how to shop 😀 .

      1. I doubt you’d want the picture, but I’ll shop with you any time.

  6. I’ve felt invisible since age 30. That was 25 years ago. Well said.

    • shannonleegonzalez on September 12, 2016 at 6:30 pm
    • Reply

    I love this! Thank you! There is a satirical video you have to see that will either make you laugh or cry why it’s so relevant. They made a “faux” product Transparen-she.

    7 ways for women to disappear so their clothes won’t upset anybody By Liz Plank


  7. I love this post! There are so many beautiful older women out there and I think it’s terrible that society treats us like we’re no longer viable for anything. High five for the women over forty who are still going strong! 🙂

  8. I love this article but I promise you. There are some young women out there who think exactly the same as you do. My 15 year old daughter is one of them. She wrote a poem that mirrors your opinions. I only hope there are others like her. We need to teach then to love themselves while they are still young so when they are older they know it’s okay to be who they are.

  9. Reblogged this on and commented:
    This woman knows what she’s talking about. We should all be proud of who we are. As someone who is plus sized I say it’s time we reminded the fashion industry that we need clothes too.

  10. Reblogged this on Erotic Vampire and commented:
    I love this post. Especially the quip about erotica writers bringing a new meaning to the words “Hot Flash”. Thank you Kristen

    • Celia Lewis on September 12, 2016 at 6:44 pm
    • Reply

    I’m 73 and look “pretty good, not bad, better than most”… but puh-leeze, why can I only find muddy colours & cheap polyester crap for my 5’8” biggish boxy booby body?? More expensive labels smugly state “Dry clean only”. Sigh. And who thought 4″ zippers on women’s sized jeans was a great idea-? Insane. Four babies have left their marks on this bod.
    Loved your rant – now back to more revisions! Cheers.

  11. Fantastic blog, Kristen.
    I’ll definitely be reblogging this tomorrow, on the heels of my own blog about boobs, and perception 😉 … And as for Romances about older couples a group of Romance Writers are working hard on fixing the problem 🙂 … check out our facebook page dedicated to “seasoned” romance! https://www.facebook.com/groups/958318970951705/


      1. 😀

  12. LOVE this!!

  13. A recent extensive Time Magazine article detailed size disparity in women’s clothing labels. No wonder we’re so frustrated. Size ten in one brand may be size 14 in another!

    1. That is why when people tell me not to use a scale but go by my size? I want to throat-punch them.

      1. That’s crazy, isn’t it. My mother taught Home Economics just after WWII. A size chart I found in her stuff listed standardized sizes as measurements that were 20 inches plus the size. So 12 was 32-24-36. Sixteen was 36-28-38. Can you imagine what would happen if a company tried to use those sizes today?

  14. I’m crying here. YES! I loved Tim Gunn’s article. My husband (who loves me no matter how I look, which is good right now) has always said that the guys in fashion hate women, they dress them all ugly and only pick boy-ish, fop-ish women. They hate “real” women with curves.

    I used to be pretty. Then came Fibro, then the MS came back. I’m now so damned heavy and can’t do anything about it. Above an 18, WAY above. And I hate pictures of me. I have a head-shot for most of my publicity but you won’t catch a full picture of me unless someone takes it without me seeing. I had one taken at a speaking engagement two weeks ago and I’m mortified. I honestly don’t know how my husband stands me. But working out, that’s not happening AT ALL. I can’t get down to do yoga, you have to have a crane to lift me. I can’t swim (they require suits and you have to find one to fit a whale…) I can’t walk without falling.

    And don’t tell me to not eat, today I had a bowl of oatmeal and a glass of tea, then two slices of brisket and some cabbage (cole slaw but without more than a teaspoon of dressing). That’s IT. I don’t eat.

    This is steroids. This is no longer getting around on my own. It’s medication that causes me to gain. It’s all sorts of things. But not the “usual” stuff.

    And fashion? HAHAHAHAHAHAHHA. A moo-moo. Or fat pants and a big shirt with big flowers. Nothing even equaling fashion.

    I hope Tim Gunn can get the designers to listen, to see what is really out here as females.

    But I doubt it. They’re all too busy trying to find size -4 pre-teens to foist off as “plus-size”.

  15. Thanks for making me laugh after a rough day! I want to read this again and again. I read Tim Gunn’s entire article and the comments. You said so much more, though. I have sewn some of my own clothes for a long while, and even that is challenging when nearly every sewing pattern assumes everyone is a B cup. I like to think we are moving into an era where everyone is allowed to be themselves and not fit into a mold just because of their age, physical appearance, income, or whatever. About 10 years ago, I discussed whether or not “women of a certain age” could/should wear miniskirts because frankly, I have pretty great legs, but kept getting the message that the miniskirt ship had sailed for people my age. A co-worker of the same age who never gave up her goth look told me, “Rock on with your bad self ’til you’re dead.”

  16. Personally, I think the fashion industry does a great job of marketing to the four women’s demographics: 12-Year Old, Sex Worker, Wallpaper, and Deathbed. Because of illness I’m rail thin. Apparently we don’t exist after junior high school So, you’re thin? Great! Go shop in the juniors department unless you’re into nursing home chic.

  17. Reblogged this on Susan Trombley's Blog and commented:
    This blog pretty much says it all, which saves me from saying again. Although I will add that it’s not just clothing choices that seem limited for women of a certain age and size. I’ve noticed that romance novels so rarely feature a heroine in my age group, much less in older age groups, though they’ve have gotten better at featuring women of different sizes. It’s almost like women of a certain age disappear from media entirely unless they’re playing someone’s mother or grandmother or friendly neighbor. I would like to see a change, and I think we will as the “gatekeepers” between the consumers and the producers disappear. I know that not all of my heroines will be in the “fertile” range. 😉 That may put those books in a “niche” market, but I have a feeling it will be a growing niche.

    1. Susan, if you’re on Facebook, check out “seasoned romance” …we’re storming the gates with older characters 🙂

      1. Thank you, I will check out your FB page. I’d love to see some older characters in romance.

    • Dwane Knott on September 12, 2016 at 7:48 pm
    • Reply

    Women aren’t the only ones frustrated by this. A husband who goes with my wife shopping, well let it be said that I get frustrated when she goes through rack after rack of clothes picking out things to try on, does so and turns them all down because they are stretched too tight in places that make the buttons scream in pain or hang like my mother’s old housecoat. We men who love our women want them happy.
    When we were first married, 42 years and two kids ago, I could buy clothes for her but not anymore. I have tried and it doesn’t matter what the tag says, it is not her size.
    Enjoyed the read.

  18. I find all the designs tend to assume that you are either small all the way from shoulder to knee or huge. Straight lines all the way (saves figuring out how to do a dart, I suppose). The idea that some women’s silhouette might, you know, go out and then in again and then out again and then in again – doesn’t get any attention from those who make clothes. Except, of course, those who make clothes for themselves, and I hope one day to be of their number.

    And another peeve – why does women’s fashion have only two settings: invisible-covered-up-older-woman and got-it-all-on-display-teen-wannabe? How about a show-just-as-much-as-you-want-to middle ground for all ages? Just because I’m under 40 doesn’t mean I want to prove my non-Barbie anatomical correctness every time I walk down the street.

    And while I’ve got my rant on, why is so much women’s clothing made of polyester? Is the old myth that ladies don’t sweat still in currency?

  19. Great piece. Always enjoy reading your offerings. And, I too love Tim Gunn!

  20. Reblogged this on CJ Burright – Author and commented:
    This post by the fantabulous Kristen Lamb just demanded to be reblogged!

    • Celia on September 12, 2016 at 8:32 pm
    • Reply

    Yes! To a Xena remake with Lucy Lawless! To older models! To standard sizing and beautiful clothes for all sizes! To above 40 romance heroines! I know, way too many exclamation points… Thanks for this post. 🙂

    1. Never enough exclamation points on this topic 😀 . #GoLucy!

  21. And can we PLEASE stop with the movies that show 50 year old men having relationships with 20 year old women? It’s creepy. You’ve got an aging action star with gray hair and weathered features and then–I guess to prove that he’s still a man’s man–pair him with romantic lead that could be his daughter. I love the whole “tough guy rescues lovely damsel in distress” schtick, but maybe the damsel could be someone who was born before he graduated from college?

    1. WORD. I think that is why Viagara commercials actually ROCK older models. Originally all the commercials were men doing crap like going sailing…alone. Weird much? So I guess they decided adding a woman might be a good idea, but if they held to the industry standard it would just be…pervy.

    2. Misha, they have movies like that because MEN make them. A 50 y/o man with a 20 y/o woman is a man’s fantasy. And that’s exactly what it is, a fantasy. But we won’t see any changes until women make more movies.

      1. It’s certainly not my fantasy, nor the men that I know. There may be some men who are attracted to far younger women, but in my experience it’s a lot more common to encounter women with a taste for far younger men.

        1. I disagree. I see more couples with older men and younger women than the other way around. And all the commercials and movies are that way, too.

          1. All I can speak to is my own experience.

  22. I enjoyed every single line on this article, Kristen. A very realistic view into the fashion world…your witty comments kept me spellbound all through. Really nice…keep it up.

    • Leslie on September 12, 2016 at 9:56 pm
    • Reply

    LOVE this! I, too, live in yoga pants because I’m curvy (meaning I have boobs) but I don’t have much definition in my waist. Have been working on that for YEARS but to no avail. If pants fit me in the waist, they don’t fit me in the ass and vice versa. I try not to write “perfect” characters because PEOPLE.

    • Liza on September 12, 2016 at 10:39 pm
    • Reply

    Enjoyed the post! So true! And loved: “pregnancy didn’t wreck my figure, it evolved it.” Yes!!! Also, I wanted to ask you- I sent you my twenty pages to read and wanted to make sure you got them. I sent one email and then another with a more updated version of the first 20. Please let me know if you did! Excited to hear back! Thank you again!

  23. Thank you! I am glad that I am not the only one who hates buying clothes because it is hard to find any that fit!

  24. Great post, Kristen.Loved the article by Tim Gunn. I know a plus size 17-year-old who was in agonies for months looking for a prom dress. And she wasn’t the only one. I also identify with everything you said about getting older. [Hey designers – I may be older but I’m a shopper seeking attractive clothes.]
    Older women still enjoy looking and reading about subjects that the world at large thinks they’ve outgrown and should not be interested in. When the 50 Shades Trilogy came out some years ago a group of women I know, most in their late 60s or early 70s, read the books from cover to cover and not one of them [they were readers, not writers] had anything bad to say. I don’t know how many times I heard “It was a good story,” always said with a wink and a chuckle.
    Women’s interests do not suddenly change when they reach a certain age. We may not want to dress like a twenty-year-old, or even a thirty-year-old, but we want the variety and choices that seem unavailable to us.

  25. Fantastic post Kristen. I’m 42 and was recently in a changing room with my 10 year old who, when I showed him the new outfit, said ‘did you mean to look like Nanny?’ Needless to say I wasn’t a happy bunny.

  26. Love this – ‘Why is it that the only over-60 woman featured on the cover of Vanity Fair in a bustier used to be a man?’ Can’t tell you how much I laughed. I’m 63 and I know whereof you speak! Go girl. 😀

  27. As Long waisted, tall, stick in JH/early HS to OMG! Mae west on top, Twiggy on bottom – etc., etc., and rather picky about, “I DON”T Care if It’s in Fashion – Not comfortable, and I hate orange – and refuse to wear it – – ” – LOL – I may wait 10-20 years to stock up closet to meet daily needs of me, with stuff I actually am willing and LIKE to wear – so, seriously, I have to be honest, can’t truly feel all your pain, other than to say, “Come over here – been on my own ‘vote with my $” crusade for years now – if enough wonderful women do so, along side, sooner or later – they have to listen or go out of business – – ” – – LOL

    1. The problem is they ARE going out of business and still not listening *bangs head*

  28. Yes! Thanks for this. I didn’t consciously realize I’ve been living in yoga pants since skinny jeans became popular. And I spend an embarrassing amount of time thinking about letting my hair go natural and worrying I’ll look OLD. Do hair next! LOL.

  29. Reblogged this on Indie Lifer and commented:
    Excellent article on the fashion industry’s oversights.

  30. I was cheering when a department store announced they were increasing their range of plus sized bras. Hurrah because once you hit D they are all huge metal supported battle armour, it’s not that I object to having a bra that ends above my cleavage but the limited choice in tops & dresses mean half the time I have a visible line of ugly beige bra above my top. So they brought in the new sizes, but somehow every female in my family 9 I’ve talked to about it have suddenly gone up 2 sizes + 2 cup sizes, so we need plus plus sizes that you guessed it, they don’t carry. I went to buy a new bra for my 12 Year old, just to make her feel more comfortable in a white school shirt, This is a child who wears size 14 child and 8-12 adult; her bra size is 14 or 16 DD. No pretty floral or pink bra for her, no delicate piece that fits under a sundress, Beige battle armour, I lie there was one white model, for her; at 12!

  31. For the record, I think you look awesome. I’m 33 but I’m actively looking forward to looking like Helen Mirren, or Sophia Loren, Debbie Harry or Susan Sarandon. They look amazing! True, I’d like to see more older women who aren’t really thin (just another reason to love Carrie Fisher, if we ever needed one) but I WILL be that older woman with mad hair, more eyeliner than Siouxsie Sioux and mismatched nails.

  32. It’s interesting this, you’re absolutely right about it and it’s troubling because these advertising stereotypes stick. It’s the same over here int he UK. Reading this has made me realise that a similar thing is happening to men too. If you’re under thirty you have to be ripped and dark and amazing, but if you’re over this age then you’re a dumb ass dad who knows nothing at all. Maybe it’s not far wrong lol

    1. I could write a whole other post (or series) on what they are doing to men. Go look at the cover of People when Richard Gere posed as a young man. Sure he was trim, but his body was attainable without living in a gym guzzling protein drinks. We celebrate Man-Boys and ignore Real Men.

      1. But that’s the thing, I see that real men are ignored for these young ripped guys. U guess it’s no different for women either, but it’s like we’re being told what we have to find desirable and seek it out.
        There the agony page inside for those that did what the cover suggested and got burned lol

        They have it all covered. By the way, I can’t stand heavily made up women. I like natural and those creams are such a con. They say you’re worth it but you’ll get broke buying them lol

  33. I was cheering and nodding all through this article. It is telling, isn’t it, when the average size is 16 to 18 and yet many, many designers stop at size 10? Of they’ll carry above size 12, but only online? And then they wonder why we aren’t in the stores!

    Of course we’re done with magazines. There are a slew of fashion bloggers out there that show plus-sized women, women over thirty, women of color, professional women, moms, whatever you’re looking for. We can now find the niche that we want rather than the shotgun one-size-fits-all model.

    This isn’t the 1950s. Conformity isn’t the end-all and be-all. If the fashion magazines don’t want to serve us, the internet will. If Macy’s doesn’t want to sell me clothes, I can order them online.

    As a woman above 40 with 2 younger kids, I have become “invisible” in so many ways. I am not longer supposed to be sexy. I mean I’m old and a mother . . .

    And I’m not sure why 40 is even old. On average, it means we have more adult years ahead of us than behind us.

    I a cynical gen-Xer, so I believe much of this has to do with commerce. If we were suddenly happy with our weight, a 60 Billion Dollar (yeah, 60 billion) weight loss industry would dissolve. And if we liked how we looked? That’s a $265 Billion cosmetics industry. Lots of people make lots of money making us feel bad about ourselves. And older women tend to have more disposable income, so if they target us with impossible objectives to look like we did before 2 children and 20 years of experience? We have the money to give them.

  34. Reblogged this on Love's Last Refuge and commented:
    Kristen Lamb hits one out of the park!

  35. Oh, hell to the yeah

  36. Hear, hear! Can we also get some nice slacks that don’t freaking cut us in half when we sit down to write?

    I found some awesome stretchy pants at Orvis (Kuhl Mova Pants), that are a nice thick fabric, comfortable, and not too damned tight across the ass. I can wear them in public without feeling like I’m in pajamas or highlighting the nether regions. Which is great. At least I can run to the store in the middle of a writing day without embarrassing myself. But yeah, they aren’t dressy or stylish. (Though my 28 year old niece told me that she loves them, so yay!) And they’re a bit heavy for summer wear (especially during a hot flash). I bought extras, because I figured that when I eventually wear out the first pair, they’ll no longer be offered.

    But when it comes to dressing up… oy. All bets are off. Things that look good while I’m standing really don’t do me any favors when I’m sitting. At 50, with two grown kids, weight that yo-yos between 30 pounds too much and 40 pounds too much, and IBS… my middle is not my friend. I don’t want my clothes to make me hate it more. Dresses can be too dressy. Slacks and a nice top sometimes are the perfect choice, but getting there is a nightmare.

  37. I love getting funky t-shirts from the teenage sectionin Walmart large. Just bought a Snoopy one. I’ll probably look ridiulous. I find it’s hard to find a long enough top to cover everything in leggings without looking enormous. Jeans is easier.

    • Renee on September 13, 2016 at 11:41 am
    • Reply

    Tim Gunn is terrific. Years ago, during an “Oprah” makeover show, Gunn remarked that a badly-dressed man in overalls looked “woeful” and made her laugh out loud.

    It’s bizarre how the fashion industry ignores the sales bonanza of plus-sized women – and the over-40’s. We REAL folk who age and can’t afford Botox.

    There’s never “one reason” for anything, and that’s true for the fashion industry’s troubles.

    In a great baseball flick, 2002’s “The Rookie,” the dad, Dennis Quaid, talks to his son about the sports injury that cost him his career.

    His son blinks up at him. “Is that why you didn’t make it?”

    Quaid’s character says: “It’s never one thing.”

    It’s never one thing. So while the fashion industry may be blockheads when it comes to ignoring the curvy or older woman, there are other factors at play – a stalled U.S. economy and online shopping. Big department stores and malls are going out of business – but are online sales really making up for it? Isn’t a mall retail shop a distribution channel for designer clothes, much like B&N and Amazon are for books?

    Even designer purses are declining in sales, smaller bags eclipsing sales of the larger purses because they’re less pricey. Forbes article: http://www.forbes.com/sites/greatspeculations/2016/01/05/u-s-handbag-wars-who-will-survive/#298e877b75e6

    Another sign that it’s economy-related (and most of us can’t afford it) – look at all the consignment shops that have popped up. My sister won’t buy new, she prefers finding an expensive, gently used item that’s been hanging in a closet.

    We’re driving older cars – many of us have to – we shop discount or used – and some of that’s okay with me – it’s recycling! Anyway, we’re doing what we can to live within our means.

    Publishing’s felt the squeeze of the economy, too.

    What I think is interesting, is that the printed book is hanging in there. eBook sales are stabilizing or falling somewhat (in 2015),. In this Publishers Weekly article, “digital fatigue” is cited as one of the reasons for eBooks tapering off: http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/digital/retailing/article/70696-as-e-book-sales-decline-digital-fatigue-grows.html

    Another article on eBooks in “The Guardian” –

  38. Bravo H&M!

  39. Torrid stores are awesome for women from size 12 and up! There, size 12 = 0, only time I have ever been able to fit in zero! They send out a catalogue and their plus size models are gorgeous, and their fashions are cute, not dowdy. Prices are reasonable, too. We need more of these types of stores.

  40. Tragic pole dancer . . . I’m going to be laughing about that one all day! I think I’m probably in the DMV worker category of middle aged style.

    I don’t mean to be spammy, but you did ask about stories with older heroines. I’ve published three urban fantasy novels in a planned seven series featuring a 50 year old lawyer who discovers magic is real, she’s immune to its effects, and everybody expects her to save the world. I self-published because I knew no matter how good it was, somebody in the agent/publisher hunt would say, “why don’t you make her 25?” At which point, I’d have to hit somebody with a chair and that wouldn’t be a good career move. But readers are really responding to having an older character who has to argue her way out of stuff as often as fight, rather then the usual urban fantasy teenager or twenty-something Ninja supermodel. It’s definitely an under-served reader demographic.

    1. That sounds awesome! Since it is relevant to the topic, give us the link 😀

      1. Thanks! Here it is: https://www.amazon.com/Laura-Kirwan/e/B00JX98A2E

  41. OMG, yes! Yes. Yes. Yes.
    Thank you!

    1. I honestly didn’t realize this was the problem it apparently is. I shop more than some, though I don’t buy much, mostly wandering through the mall looking at stuff I don’t have to grade. I see pants labeled “straight” or “curvy,” knits that look like they would fit anyone, colors that seem attractive to me. But apparently it’s not nearly enough. Kristen, maybe you have a new mission.

      1. Looks can be deceiving. They often are labeled a certain way but really are still a retread of the same thing. Shirts that are lovely but if you have a bust, they are far too short. Pants that claim to fit a curvy figure but you can’t get them past your knees. If you get the more expensive shops it can improve, but I am not paying $150 for a pair of slacks. Sometimes I go to Chico’s because the clothes are attractive and age-appropriate (I hit Clearance racks), but the vanity sizing is ridiculous. Thanks for saying I am a Size 2 but no. And I did finally get a pair of pants from there because they fit nicely on my thighs, but the waistline hits below my bust (Granny Pants). I hide it under shirts.

        Last year I had to go speak as a keynote and wore myself out looking for clothing that was for a grown woman. All the shops were a sea of super short shorts.

        And it isn’t just about clothes available. It’s about role models and seeing people who represent us. Women are already self-critical and when all we have to compare to are women half our age and unrealistically thin, it affects the self-image. We think we are “fat” when we are really just a Size 10 and built differently. Clothes designed to fit someone with no bust are uncomfortable. It affects the length and whether or not we can raise our arms.

        I am happy to see the Internet and enterprising entrepreneurs are stepping in to solve the problem. Meanwhile the magazines are shrinking and so are the malls and they are all so baffled. But should they be? It’s like when American car manufacturers nearly went under because they kept pushing giant gas-guzzling SUVs in a world where gas was over $4 a gallon.

  42. I’m 4ft 10.5 (yes, that 0.5 matters!) with an ample bust and an hour glass figure.Tops that fit my bust are baggy around my waist and cut to fit people with a longer body than mine. For the past 13 years I’ve avoided a lot of sartorial stress as I almost exclusively wear baggy combat trousers and t-shirts, but when I have an event to go to, my heart sinks at the thought of the arduous search for something to wear. Bra shopping’s a pain in the ass as well. Being little makes me short in the shoulder so the straps don’t sit where they should. I loathe clothes shopping.

    I’m 41 now and I wonder what I’ll be wearing in 20 years time. I don’t know if I’ll be able to maintain my current mode of dressing without looking like a sad, older lady who’s trying too hard to look cool!

  43. Yes all the way! I hope some higher-ups in the fashion industry read this post. I personally love the Advanced Style blog – I want to be like those ladies when I grow up. 😛

  44. Reblogged this on My Writing Journey and commented:
    I love Kristen Lamb. LOVED this blog post.

  45. I love this post, as a size 8, post mastectomy, 52 year old who worked for a long time in the fashion industry it is music to my ears… https://ailsawishes.wordpress.com/2016/07/24/highnecksummer/

  46. I worked for in retail formal wear for a large chunk of the ’90s. I feel your pain. Sizing was a complete nightmare. We carried 4 or 5 bridal lines, and about as many bridesmaids lines. Every manufacturer had it’s own size chart. Even in companies that produce both bridal and maids, each line had it’s own size chart. It was hard to tell a size “8” that her bust/waist/hips measurements threw her in a size 8, a 10, and a 12 on the hips. No woman wanted to hear that. They also didn’t want to hear that we would have to order according to the largest size and alter the rest. Otherwise, she would look funny going down the aisle in a dress that wouldn’t go past her boobs or her butt. It was very VERY rare to have a dress come in and it be a perfect zip & fit.

    So, yes, some standard size charting industry wide would help quite a bit. A real chart for ACTUAL women, not some fence post with lipstick on it. Take today’s size 4 or 6 measurements and make THAT a size zero. Build your chart from there. And those previous 0, 2, 4s? Give them new sizes. A, AA, AAA.

  47. Reblogged this on mchllmdm and commented:
    Some good thoughts about fashion and getting older.

    • Candace Williams, author on September 16, 2016 at 3:35 pm
    • Reply

    It’s true! It’s like we’re being punished for being older (oh, okay *old* – I’m 66) and/or overweight. I’m finally, finally out of the W section at the store. But now I’m looking at “dresses” the length of men’s dress shirts, plunging V-neck tops that would show most of my heart surgery scar, and pants with waists that sit on my belly button (the belly button is *not* the waist.)

    “We are called Texans.” Baahahahha Yes We Are! What a fun/serious article – thank you. I’m following your Pinterest board now. (psst: that swimsuit model guy isn’t Japanese; he’s Chinese.)

  48. Reblogged this on Jeannie Hall Suspense and commented:
    What it means to be a woman over 40 who still wants to, you know, still wear pretty stuff…

  49. I’m just jumping in to offer support. It definitely sucks for the female gender. And I have seen that all the magazines aimed toward females (since guys aren’t allowed cook, own homes, sew, or pretty much 70% of the magazine rack) do all suggest that women everywhere need to be 10 pounds lighter and bake a new dessert while learning a technique to better please a guy. I haven’t gotten to know any women who have those same three primary objectives month after month, but those magazines sure seem to think they exist. Though, like you said, maybe that’s why they’re sinking like the Titanic. (Pfft, it’ll be *fine,* the ship CAN’T sink…) I do know women who drive demo derby cars, skydive, lift weights, work 90 hour weeks… and yeah, they can’t find clothing. Know what happens when a guy loans any article of clothing to a friend who is a girl? It’s NEVER coming back. “OMG this is the most comfortable thing EVER *drooollllll* WhereDidItComeFrom? What magic is this???” Yeah.

    1. LOL! SO TRUE! Thanks for the support *fist bump*

    • imogene nix on September 27, 2016 at 2:52 am
    • Reply

    I get 100% what you’re saying here. I remember several years ago, I was in Cairns at the shopping centre (mall) with my husband and young daughters. Now, I’m never going to be a size 14 or 16 (I left that behind in my teens!) but this young girl and guy were ahead of us and she pointed and laughed at me. I had dressed nicely, in a top made for me. It was bright and geometric and I loved it. If I’d let her, I would have felt crushed, but I decided a long time ago that I’m me. I like me. But the thing is, so many who don’t know how to cope find this mindset driven into them from a young age. If you aren’t blonde, lithe and “beautiful” in the hollywood or model sense you’re a nothing. The industry has a lot to answer for with the growth of body issues girls (and to a lesser extent but nonetheless guys too)

    But sadly it’s a narcissistic industry. It’s going to take something huge to change mindsets.

    1. Yeah I get irritated when people blame Barbie for body image issues. I am all, “I am NOT A MORON! I never expected to look like a TOY!” No you want the body image culprit? Fashion industry.

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