I went to five stores before I found the right pants for a trip. And when I did, it was an accidental discovery. Seems to me something is wrong with this picture.
A few days before I was leaving for Scotland, I went shopping for pants. I wanted something lightweight, mid-rise, not too tight and not too loose. I wanted something I could roam the streets of Edinburgh in that wasn’t jeans and had a tiny bit of style. I also didn’t want to spend a fortune.
The adventure was a frustrated endeavor in finding pants that looked like they might work on a hanger, but when I tried them on were clearly made for a younger woman or at least someone who wouldn’t mind emphasizing every inch of her body. There were pants with side pockets that were not meant for anyone who had hips, pants with a rise that emphasized the one part of my body I don’t want to call attention to (my menopausal belly), and pants that made me look like a Grandma. I am a grandmother, but I don’t want to look like one.
I’m not young, but I don’t have one foot in the grave either. I like to look and feel good—just like I did when younger.
When I did find the perfect pants, with the perfect fit, the perfect everything, it was unexpected. I was in Athleta and suddenly came upon their Brooklyn Travel Pant. Lightweight, with stylish side seams, a nice ankle length with a cut in the seam and best of all, a wide waistband that would not dig into my stomach.
Voila. I had found them.
Then I thought, why wasn’t Athleta making a big deal out of this line of clothing? Why aren’t they marketing to us? I know countless women who would buy them without a second thought, and not just for travel. These pants would look good on young women, yes, but they had the right elements for an older woman’s body as well.
After my shopping adventure, I did a quick website search of some of my favorite outdoor brands just to see, was anyone marketing directly to women over 50?
And the answer is no. Columbia, The North Face, Patagonia and even REI did not feature adventurous older women on their website. I could not find myself in any marketing initiative. It was like women over 50 disappeared after all the attention in the ‘yummy mummy’ stage. These brands likely had something for me, but they weren’t talking to me, they weren’t issuing any invitations to the over 50 set.
Something is wrong with that picture.
Women over 50 finally have time for travel and outdoor adventure, and the money to spend on the apparel and gear that makes these adventures comfortable, yet we are essentially ignored. This conversation comes up over and over again with friends and family—where to shop, which retailers and brands consider older women in their clothing lines, and the impossibility of fit. This is an enormous opportunity for brands.
Some comments left on the “Our Stories Today” Facebook page:
“I like to go a little trendy but not so much that people say “what is she wearing at her age.”
“I struggle to find stylish clothing that’s not too young and not frumpy. Like Goldilocks, I want “just right.”
“Every once in a while I get dressed and think “I look ridiculous…” At almost 70, I either feel like I look like I’m trying too hard or out of style. And don’t get me started on fit! I’m short, have no waist and big boobs. I’m between a small and a large….really.”
So, I decided to do a little research to add to my perceptions:
According to AARP, there are 108.7 million folks age 50+ with 53.5 percent of this number women. We aren’t couch potatoes and are pretty pissed off that we are either being ignored or pigeon-holed in a way that doesn’t resonate. And according to Forbes, statistics show that approximately 70% of all disposable income in the U.S. belongs to baby boomers who make up the largest segment of consumers.
Girl Power Marketing has this to say, “Boomer Women recognize their importance. Today’s Boomer Women feel ignored by marketers, and in turn, have decided to write them off. In a recent survey, the majority of respondents indicated that they are indignant and angry that many industries simply aren’t taking them seriously, and they’re proactively looking to give their business to those that will. They don’t demand that ads feature only women 50+, but they don’t like ads that never feature women 50+.”
The irony is that there are likely brands out there, like Athleta, that have clothing lines that work well for our demographic, but they are doing little to capture us, never mind pay attention to our needs.
I don’t know if this ignorance comes from outdated societal perceptions when considering grandparents or from the simple fact that most marketing professionals are young and have no interest in or idea who we are, but over the next few months, I’ll be spotlighting brands and clothing lines that DO work to invite baby boomer women in.
Let’s see if we can’t shift this perspective together.