Style. Not My Daughter’s Mother: Middle-Age Women Who Don’t Want to Dress Middle-Age. Second City Style Fashion Blog

November 5, 2007 • Fashion


Retailers just don’t seem to get it right. Trying to target this elusive
markets is like trying to catch an eel in muddy waters: middle-age women who don’t want to dress like middle-age women. Remember Gap’s short-lived and ill-conceived Forth
& Towne?

Here’s the deal…middle age women have major spending power and they view themselves as youthful. See the problem?

There are roughly 40 million baby-boomer
women, born between 1946 and 1964 and they don’t want to shop in stores labeled for mature women.

But several retailers are plunging head first into the shallow waters. Macy’s
Inc.’s Bloomingdale’s chain is rolling out a new department called
Quotation, which sells casual clothes aimed at 35- to 50-year-old
urbane moms and professional women. The idea is that by pitching to
boomers as well as younger women, Quotation will have a hip vibe that
will appeal to a broad cross section. Each department is positioned
next to contemporary labels like Juicy Couture, which are favored by
women in their 20s, and has a diverse range of separates.

Ann Taylor is also preparing to target this market
with a new retail concept it will launch next fall. And the 615-store
Chico’s chain, which had a cult following among suburban women but has
stumbled lately, is trying to draw more shoppers in their 30s and 40s
with new items like embroidered jeans and fitted jackets (say it isn’t so! We hate Chico’s).   

Clothing purchases by women over 35 accounted for nearly half of
the $102.7 billion in women’s clothing purchases in the 12 months ended
Aug. 31, according to estimates by market researcher NPD Group. But the fashion industry has struggled to appeal to
such a broad consumer group, which ranges from traditional types who
prefer flat shoes and ankle-length skirts to women who resemble
characters from "Desperate Housewives."

Michael Fink, women’s fashion director at Saks Fifth
Avenue, says it’s difficult for older women to figure out what’s age
appropriate, especially given the dizzying array of fashion brands
available at every price level. "I am even overwhelmed when I go to the
selling floor," he says.

Saks, whose average customer is 48 years old, is
trying to help by highlighting in its marketing campaigns specific
trends that can be worn by women of all ages each season. Two of the
strongest sellers currently are dresses — a one-zip solution — and
what Mr. Fink calls "sexy tops" that can be worn by women of every age.

Read "The Boomer Balancing Act" by Teri Agins at the WSJ

See the Top Ten Summer 2016 Trends for Women Over 40


8 Responses to Style. Not My Daughter’s Mother: Middle-Age Women Who Don’t Want to Dress Middle-Age. Second City Style Fashion Blog

  1. Ohbee says:

    GaBelle Designs by G A B produces a line that is appealing to the middle-age woman with her own distinctive style. The line is classic with a contemporary flair. GaBelle, designs figure-flattering clothing using high quality fabrics with a great feel in combination with complementing colors.
    Visit the boutique at or 130 Harrison Street, Oak Park, IL 60304

  2. deja pseu says:

    Well, as someone who was a die-hard Forth & Towne fan (as were many women my age) I have to disagree with your “ill-conceived” characterization. Items I bought at F&T *last year* were still very much on trend this fall. 3/4 sleeve swing jackets, anyone?. F&T was carrying these and pencil skirts long before Banana Republic, Ann Taylor or any other similarly priced chain.
    In addition to finding stylish yet “age appropriate” clothing, we also have to contend with items that just aren’t cut for more mature figures. I’m not talking about larger sizes, but pants that aren’t low-rise or tops with anything besides cap sleeves, and garments that skim the body instead of being skin tight.
    Whoever can hit this sweet spot (stylish, yet cut for more mature sensibilities) will be sitting on a gold mine.

  3. Nancy says:

    I totally agree that Forth and Towne was wonderful. Their style for the most part (every store has a few mistakes) was wonderful, sizing great, colors beautiful and sales AMAZING. I am still mad at Gap for never giving the store a fair shot. I know I will wait the great swing 3/4 sleeve jackets, beautiful A Line skirts and great jeans for many, many yrs. I am not even mentioning the great jewlery I purchased. If anyone can give me some other ideas of stores and/or websites with similar products it would be VERY MUCH appreciated

  4. Lauren - SCS says:

    Wow! Thanks for the feedback! I have to admit I never visited Forth and Towne, I just know it sorta bombed for Gap. You bring up good points. What about Banana Republic? I think the whole problem with getting a little older is that the low-waisted stuff doesn’t work. But, thankfully waists are rising. If you are looking for great wide leg jeans…I swear the new Geography Wide Legs we added to the store ( are amazing. The are made for WOMEN, flatter like nobody’s business and suck you in just right :)I just got my pair and am in love. I may never take them off. You can bend over and they don’t budge. I digress.
    I will start researching some alternatives for you all. Stay tuned.

  5. deja pseu says:

    My understanding was that F&T didn’t bomb (the one near me was always busy and ringing up lots of sales), but Gap execs decided that they didn’t want to spend to market/expand the brand, they wanted return the focus to Gap/Old Navy’s “core” customers, the younger, hipper crowd.

  6. Nancy says:

    Hi, had to write again regarding Forth and Towne and Gap’s decision to close it? deja pseu was correct I believe. Several managers told me that Gap and Old Navy were not doing well and they needed to take the money from Forth and Towne (a new venture that would require advertising, stores etc) and put it into the other 2 in hopes they could recover poor sales. I do not have an MBA but unless they improve the styles, quality and decide who their focus should be on it doesn’t matter how much money they throw their way; espec. Gap.
    I appreciate Lauren saying she would try to come up with some options in fashionable stylish clothing. I have always shopped at B. Republic and still do, love their clothes, but wish I had more than one store as my main wardrobe option. I love other brands like Ellen Tracy and Dana Buchman but unfortunately they are over my price range.

  7. Lauren - SCS says:

    I don’t want yo to think I forgot about this post. I have been really busy and sadly, am not coming up with much in this category. The best I have found is Nordsrom’s Point of View department is bit more fit friendly than the Savvy department, but if it’s price you are concerned with I’m not sure what else there is that isn’t in the same price range as Ellen Tracy and Dana Buchman.
    That makes total sense about Gap pulling Forth and Towne for advertising $. Gap and Old Navy have been sucking wind and are probably a total drain on the rest of the company. Good work!

  8. Nancy says:

    Thanks Lauren. We are on the same page because the items I have purchased at Nordstroms have mainly been from the Point of View Dept. If you discover any great websites or stores I should look at, please post them. Thanks again so much.

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