Not so long ago women dressing for their mature years were forced to resign themselves to ill-fitting frocks and thick stockings.
However, according to new research by mature online retailer isme.com, millions of today’s older ladies can count themselves as part of the Stylish Over Fifty-Fives – or SOFFs.
In fact 28 per cent of those surveyed would rather take style tips from Helen Mirren, Lulu and Joanna Lumley than the likes of Amy Childs or Tulisa meaning that SOFFs are blazing a fashion trail that young women could learn a thing or two from.
The study into changing attitudes towards fashion and the older woman also showed that 89 per cent of British women believe our over-55s are more stylish than ever before, as they continue to rewrite the fashion rulebook on what they can and can’t wear.
In fact, one in four stated there are no age limits for what they feel they can wear to get the SOFF factor – as long as it’s cut right and flatters their figure. Meanwhile, there’s certainly no traditional British reserve when it comes to underwear: the results show 57 per cent of mature women regularly wear sexy lingerie compared to 43 per cent of those half their age (25-35).
Top of the SOFFS
The study also revealed how accepted style conventions are being turned on their heads, and that British women believe many younger celebrities would do well to take note of older celebrities’ elegance and taste.
The top 10 over-55’s that British women believe have more fashion sense than younger celebrities are:
1. Helen Mirren 86 per cent
2. Twiggy 85 per cent
3. Joanna Lumley 80 per cent
4. Lulu 77 per cent
5. Felicity Kendall 76 per cent
6. Judi Dench 74 per cent
7. Lynda Bellingham 73 per cent
8. Jo Wood 72 per cent
9. Anna Ford 70 per cent
10. Arlene Philips 67 per cent
According to the research the most important fashion tip to being a successful SOFF is dressing according to body shape, but that isn’t always so easy. Almost a third (30 per cent) of over-55s who say they’ve been forced to give up on fashion simply because shops don’t cater for their changing figures.
A quarter also stated that media attitudes can also make them feel ‘too old’ for items they would like to wear, making them fearful to do so – with many saying they would be more adventurous given the right advice.
Wardrobe classics… and sell-by dates
There are just as many SOFFs in the UK who still regularly wear their favourite little black dress and the demure pencil skirt compared to their younger counterparts under-35. And when it comes to casual attire, designer jeans, trainers, tunic tops, combat trousers and even hooded parkas are firm SOFF favourites.
The one item that was broadly agreed to have a wardrobe shelf-life, however, was the mini-skirt. The research revealed women of all ages believed it shouldn’t be worn, on average, beyond the age of 29 - and only two per cent of over-55s say they still regularly wear them.
According to Jackie Lewis, Savoir Shapeologist at isme.com: “The SOFFs are here to stay. Mature women today have lived through decades of changing fashion and we’re delighted to hear they don’t see age as a barrier to dressing stylishly. All it takes is the right cut and fit for the more mature body shape and even more women can get the confidence to dress as they really want.”