Friday, October 26, 2018

Reader Question: Who Makes Clothes Flattering for the Mature Woman Size 14 and Up?


Reader Question:
I have a question I've never seen addressed in all the years I've followed your blogs: What clothiers make flattering styles for those of us who, upon hitting middle age, are no longer blessed with an ectomorph's svelte lines? Commenters, please hold the fat-shaming. The bitter truth for many of us, despite decades of creative starvation and self-immolation on the altar of exercise is that our genetics dictate we shall resemble stout Haflingers more than gamine Thoroughbreds. Blame it on the Celts, Goths, and Russians!
Does anyone out there tailor blazers, trousers, and flattering skirts for the mature woman size 14 up? The years rumble on like a creaky ox-cart, and one's field-hockey ankles and fencer's thighs have now become--egad, 60! 

28 comments:

  1. I would not shame you! I can empathize! Regardless of size, today's tasteless fashion is a mega challenge but especially for those of with ' curves'. I'm almost 60 and realized not too long ago that I needed to change a few things about my usual attire and my makeup ( I don't normally wear much makeup). My body has changed and I would like to have a few more outfits that are simple but flatter my figure and brighten my appearance. I found a blog written by an interesting woman who shares fashion, diet and beauty tips for those of who are aging gracefully ( wink). I would recommend reading her blogs and perhaps contacting her because I think she once worked in the fashion industry. Her name is Susan and she has two blogs. One of the blogs is ' Fifty, not Frumpy' and the other one is ' SusanAfter60'. Good Luck! Elizabeth

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    1. I feel like it's searching for the Holy Grail! I"m also in a similar boat, and look forward to checking out the blogs you recommended.

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  2. I'm with you, Sister. Would love to know the same thing.

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  3. Cordings' ladies tweed jackets are good value at £295 to £325 and go up to size 18. The jeans and skirts are available in sizes 14 and 16. Those not resident in the EU don't pay VAT at 20%.

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  4. Scottish suggestions for you - WalkerSlater.com and HouseofBruar.com. Both are a bit cheaper than Cordings. Ladies jackets, skirts, trousers etc are available up to size 20. Walker Slater has stores in Edinburgh, Glasgow and London. House of Bruar is based in Perthshire.

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    1. I passed Walker Slater while I was in Edinburgh about two weeks ago. I was so enamored I took pictures of the display in the windows. :)

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  5. Oh God Bless you. You're right, those fat cells really don't move much after a certain age. So now the exercise is to scrub plaque from the brain and arteries instead. Because my budget does not match those extra pounds, I went to (dare I say it?) Old Navy who has been true to me through thick and thin (literally). A reliable size 4 or 6 from them is now a few sizes larger and the cut of their pants still looks great on my shape esp. the ahem back area which I always have trouble disguising as not too bad after all.

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  6. Talbot's works. So does LL Bean for some things. I get polos from Lands' End. You have to pick and choose because the quality at each of these stores varies, but I manage to look pretty good! J. Jill also makes terrific khakis/chinos, btw.

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  7. I've had surprising luck with Pendleton who does petite sizes.

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  8. I as well suggest House Of Bruar for a quality, tweedy look, just mind the sizing chart. I have just the opposite problem, too petite for most of their offerings. Cotswold Collections is another one. Pendleton and Talbot's, however the quality is not what it once was. Upside of ageing, gray hair goes with everything! PA

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  9. And let's not get started on our hair which I've finally just cut all off. Sob. I've found Talbots to have some things which fit and help me to not look as though I've been hoarding clothes from the 80's which...uh...I have. But! Buyer beware! Talbots clothes are *not* good quality and you will go through them rather quickly, but they do in a pinch. I've found that yoga helps a lot to keep things, ahem, firm-ish and, of course, there's nothing that a well made Old Fashioned won't hide. At least to your own eyes. ;)

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    1. God bless you if you can do yoga. I couldn't have attained those poses at age 15, and nowadays if I ever did, it likely would take the fire dept. and my horses' veterinarian to get me out of them--driving the front-end loader! ;-)

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  10. In my experience, brands matter much less than fit and cut. Start with properly fitting shoulders, and make sure the item has some darts so that it can be better fitted to your frame. I have a hard time finding clothes that fit, as well, but for different reasons (borderline between petite and average, short waist, etc.) I rely on a tailor to alter things. Dresses and skirts are more forgiving than pants, and are my go to, even for casual, even in our New England winters, more often than not.

    Currently, I have Talbots and Land's End pants in my closet, skirts from Talbots, and tops from both. The Talbot's bottoms have needed much more in the way of alteration for me. I have random items from other brands of clothes from Nordstrom, TJMAXX, Macy's etc. It would be lovely to have a store or brand with consistently sized clothes that rendered shopping less time consuming. Quality is low even at high prices, and fit can be bewildering, unfortunately. Best of luck with your search.

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  11. It is sad and sobering that, after decades of loyalty to certain brands, we seem to be abandoned. Talbot's and Lord & Taylor were my go-to stores for decades. I no longer recognize L&T. Still shop at Talbot's but am aware of decline in quality....

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    1. I so sadly agree. I confidently relied on LLBean for casual clothing, Talbots or L&T for everything else...when did things change so? Talbots still offers classic styling, but the quality has declined. L&T now caters to the trendy. I don't even bother.

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  12. Please don't "skinny shame" me, but I have a real problem with vanity sizing. Yes, I am 65 and slender, I enjoy quality and style, but I certainly avoid that "mutton dressed as lamb" look that I see on women now and then. That's just sad. I know that the population is much heavier now than in years past, so for marketing purposes, clothing manufacturers made a 4 the new 12. It is ridiculous that I was a 6 when I was much younger, and now I'm in the 0/00 range with no weight change. Talbot's was great for me back in the day, but as others have stated, the quality isn't there. I have cherry picked around through the various chain stores, and sometimes I get lucky. Brooks Brothers isn't what it once was, but now and then there is something. It certainly is a challenge, and I wish that I could be more helpful, but just know that being slender might be easier in some ways, but it's mostly just a sad retail scene these days.

    Jacqueline

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    1. Brooks Bros. Women's is a good example of how things have changed, in ways that are almost impossible to wear for those of us over 35. Their polo shirts have ridiculous tiny "cap" sleeves that flatter almost no one, and are cut to be skin-tight made worse by clingy, cheap fabrics. (Which they don't use in the men's shirts, I might add!) Compare the cut to an old Izod/Lacoste from the 80's, and you'll see what I mean; the old classics skimmed, never clung, were long enough and had sleeves that covered the upper arm with "Medium" basically a 10/12.

      Somebody out there in threadland needs to get it that "body-conscious" and sexy at 22 becomes "oh, please, body-CAMO!" after age 35. We do NOT want to "let it all hang out," especially in this age of constant assumptions being made about one's habits, health, even worth as a person based on size alone. And there are many environments in which showing a lot of skin just feels wrong. Appropriateness is a factor in comfort!

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    2. Jacqueline, I have the same challenge compounded by being tall. Lands End et al do not make tall sizes (in pants I'd wear) smaller than a size 6. I'm a size 4.

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    3. Averyl and Anon.@1:23: It is just downright challenging to find clothing that makes you feel good, look good, and is appropriate. I have never been one to show much skin at any age because I'm more modest in that way, and I have spent my lifetime trying to stay warm no matter the season (bloody a/c!!!). Brooks Bros. is such a disappointment these days. I guess it's a "First World" problem, but it's pretty much a mess of overpriced low-quality blended fabrics. Fast fashion has absolutely no appeal to me at any price--not even for free! End of rant.

      Jacqueline

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  13. Genetics, hormones and a busy lifestyle have certainly taken their toll on my physique and whilst I used to be a happy size 8/10 just 22 years ago, as I approach 60, I am now firmly ensconced in size 14 and it is indeed harder and harder to find clothes that fit well. Whilst I have lost almost 10 kgs (close to 20 lbs) over the last 5 months, I am still purchasing loose-fitting clothes online, just in case I put on weight again. I find Seasalt (a company based in Cornwall) has forgiving cuts and can be very flattering, particularly their needlecord dresses. The styles are somewhere between classic and bohème. When I was in Edinburgh a few months ago, I visited the Barbour shop and found most of the sizing ran a full size small and had to go up to a UK 18 (US 16) to find something decent.

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  14. Would you consider wearing men's clothing? Muffy has modeled some and it looks fantastic on her. I ask because assuming you like classic clothing which is often unisex you can get larger sizing with a roomier fit. I'm considering buying men's khakis since they come in longer lengths than women's.

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    1. That's exactly what I do; BB, Polo, and Lacoste men's are actually better fits. My particular favorite is the "Pimasoft" cotton by RL. Pants are more of a trial, because of hips. Men's won't work for me, more's the pity. Another trick is to buy up a size to avoid that shrink-wrapped feeling.

      Just glad to hear everyone who responded saying they've noticed the same problems--thereby decrying a gap in the industry wider than the Cape Cod Canal which SOME worthy entrepreneur should seek to fill--profitably!

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    2. I started buying men's chinos a couple of years ago when I was desperately searching for 100 percent untreated cotton khakis for women ( they don't exist). My husband needed an inexpensive pair to wear casually for 'dirty' volunteer work. While searching with him, I found the perfect pair for me in Steinmart made by the Charleston Threads brand. They had khaki, washed red and green in my short inseam. I was thrilled! I have a straight 'matronly' figure now so, they work well for me. I also noticed that men's pants now contain spandex so I guess I better hang on to these! Elizabeth

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  15. While my stature is petite I am constantly fighting unwanted pounds. I have found a satisfactory compromise that actually garners compliments from strangers. The classic wrap around skirt is a game changer. Depending on the pattern and colors in the skirt it can be paired with basic tees; collar shirts and turtlenecks. Add a sweater over the shoulders for warmth. Depending on the season—sandals; ballet flats and boots work well to complete an outfit.

    I have been able to find wrap around skirts here and there in small shops that usually carry boho wares and folk art. I have thought of finding a tailor or dressmaker that could whip up a few wrap around skirts in fabric of my choosing be it solids or prints. I have not found such a person as of yet, but when and if I do the wrap around skirt possibilities would be endless.

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  16. You've touched on the story of my life. I'm 5'5" and now wear a size 14/16. To make my life simple, my uniform = nice pants, jacket, turtleneck or shirt, loafers (Church’s), silk scarf, a good bag and good jewelry (earrings & brooches). My all time favorite jacket is the Geiger SKU 55090 in size 44 (the Boyfriend jacket). I have it in many colors - I can dress it up or down. I can wear it most of the year, excluding the summer months.

    I used to be able to get my wool flannel pants and cashmere sweaters from Orvis, but now I get them from HouseofBruar.com. I use to get my shirts from Brooks Brothers, but now I get them from oconnellsclothing.com. I have also had several made to order.

    Having a good tailor is a must - I can't buy off the rack anymore. Also a couple of years ago I had two tweed blazers made - yes, it was expensive, but I got exactly what I wanted and used Holland and Sherry tweeds - they will last me the rest of my life. Finding jackets that are long enough and of good quality is impossible.

    I also shop in the men’s department for sweaters, shirts (I get the tails and selves shortened) and accessories. I have several Barbour vests and I just get them taken in under the arm area.

    For the summer, I have been able to find some “fun” pants at Talbots, but I sure do wish I could go back to my high school days and pop into Pappagallo.

    I hate everything they have done to Brooks Brothers!


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    1. Although APPLESEED'S regrettably shut down their eight New England brick & mortar stores - catering to mature women - several years ago, their website and catalog still exist ... a pretty good source for our (aged 50 & up) beloved classic, practical, and dignified clothing.

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    2. anonymous at 4:24 - does the House of Bruar sizing follow their chart? The seem to be very generous. Thanks, scotmiss

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  17. Clothing source
    https://www.jjill.com/
    https://oldpueblotraders.blair.com/s/apparel/1207.uts
    https://www.garnethill.com/popularsearches/Mature-Womens-Clothing.html
    https://www.vermontcountrystore.com/women/category/women

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