As we mature, our parents do as well, along with their fashion and clothing needs. Several years ago, I worked with a client and her mother, who was in her 80s and had every intention of dressing as stylishly as she always had. Her challenge was feeling that her aging body was not cooperating.
How do I help my mother feel current in her style without compromising her well-being and independence?
One option has been pre-shopping for a client at a few stores and putting together a week’s worth of items that will mix and match comfortably. I either bring the clothes to the client, or we go to a few stores where I have the clothing being held. I limit the time and the number of items she will need to try, to build her a small but fashionable wardrobe that is easy to care for.
If mobility is a concern, taking your parent shopping might not be an option. Perhaps you can go online together and visit department store websites like JC Penney, Macy’s, Dillard’s and Stein Mart. These sites feature several vendors that specialize in clothing that is stylish, easy care and affordable for the senior shopper.
Ask her what is most important in selecting her items. Does she prefer patterns to solids, cotton to polyester, buttons to snaps, full length to capri length, long sleeves to three-quarter sleeves, and zippers to elastic-waist pants. Whether shopping online or in stores, the more information you gather, the easier the shopping experience will be.
- Senior-friendly brands include Alfred Dunner, St. John’s Bay, Kasper, Travel Elements, Allison Daley and Cabin Creek.
- When you’re shopping for someone else, order or bring two sizes to increase your chances of finding a good fit.
- Bring straight pins along to mark any potential alterations.
- Look for quality, no-iron garments, which often come in a blend of cotton, polyester and spandex.
- Check care instructions on the label to ensure the item can be washed in a sink or the industrial washing machines used in many senior living communities.
- Rub a corner of the fabric over your cheek or wrist to ensure it’s soft to the touch and will not irritate fragile skin.
Let your mother wear what makes her happy, unless it’s an ungodly high heel. Look instead for a wedge that’s a safe, stylish solution. I also encourage clients to purchase clothing with color, especially when worn up around the neckline. Patterns tend to camouflage occasional spills and stains better than solids and are more fun to wear anyway! Remember that color worn above the waist brightens waning skin tones and brightens eyes. It is also helpful to stick to darker colors like black, brown, navy and camel on the lower half of the body. The ever so popular white pant is a stylish look, but the option of bright pants in red, royal blue or purple works equally as well.
Lastly, be creative with accessories, and most of all remember that blue rinse does not have to be her hair color!
From my closet to yours,