LONDON — Image-conscious women don't "dress their age" until they reach 70 years old, according to new research carried out by the retailer Debenhams, a department store group that has a strong presence in such categories as women's clothing, shoes, children's wear and beauty.
The research found that a majority of women (89%) aspire to dress younger than their years, with 55% citing 70 years as the age they felt would be appropriate, or had been the age they were happy to dress their age. However, 45% of women said that their 70s would be no barrier to dressing and looking younger.
"You only have to look at celebrity examples like Elle Macpherson and Sophia Loren to see that women are looking younger than ever," stated Debenhams representative Carie Barkhuizen. "So it's no surprise that our customers are also dressing for how they feel, rather than what it says on their drivers' licenses — and we want to encourage them."
The research also found that it is not always about looking younger. More than 70% of women said they styled themselves to look older in their teens to impress boys or get into bars. Women in their 20s also emerged as a decade for dressing older, with nearly 80% of women giving career progression as the reason.
Most women agreed that their 30s and 40s were torn between dressing frumpier when adjusting to the demands of babies and small children and a growing concern with looking younger. More than 50% of women said they started to dress younger in their 30s, and 90% admitted that they had started to dress younger by their mid-40s.
The top five items suggested by shoppers for feeling and looking younger: well-fitted, supportive underwear, such as shapewear; trendy accessories; high heels; fitted jackets and contemporary makeup.
Meanwhile, only 12% of men said they had ever thought about dressing to look younger.