London is really A-dressing the “Art” of Dressing and Growing Older
On October 22, 2013, the Royal College of Art had a seminar about clothes and growing older. There are a few great Bloggers who really follow this growing important societal issue. More importantly this issue has become one that researchers and academic professors have been researching. Among those at the one day seminar were: Julia Twigg, Jenny Hockey, and Joanne Bichard (separate blogs will be written about each each one of these speakers.)
Culturally, there has been a persistent age ordering of clothes, especially in women. Largely, it is about what NOT to wear. Society has historically dictated these norms, such as: higher necks, longer skirts, looser clothes, darker colors, and anything attempting to claim sexual attention.The women in Julia Twigg’s studies generally did accustom themselves to the age ordering and in doing so suffered from a sense of cultural exile of femininity.
However, in recent history this age ordering has lessened and in Academia is it called the Reconstitution of Ageing Thesis.” The hope is that through more positive role models such as Mary Berry/Helen Miriam. That brighter colors, strong accent colors will be introduced. A focus on cheap fast fashion is also helping to democratise fashion, with easily affordable clothing creating a faster shopping cycle. This could go two ways either positively or negatively as advertising is still aimed at idealizing younger/thinner/richer individuals.”
Ms. Hockey has studied footwear, identity and transition. According to her research, footwear shows something about chronological age and the linearity of a person’s life course. The life course can be interrupted, disrupted, or subverted, but generally,1) people may attempt to defer their ageing by avoiding comfortable shoes because they make you look older; and/ or 2) people can be released from holding on to the past by embracing the freedom to wear comfortable shoes; and/or 3) people may also draw resource from the past and embrace vintage shoes. Generally,though, everyone is aware of the age-meaning of their shoes!
Ms. Bichard, one of the organizers of the event and a researcher is looking to produce a book out of the symposium and help build a body of research that can feed into design research and new approaches. Today, women are still judged by how they dress for their age, yet, fashion still revolves around youth. As a result, women often end up buying clothes they never wear. Most importantly, and as I have been saying since DAY ONE, “It’s not sustainable for the environment or self-esteem.”
Let’s hope that with these bright researchers and sociologists that the disconnect between age, class, and fashion can be ameliorated to make for much healthier societies.