An Open Letter to Fashion Designers Everywhere
Could I talk frankly with you for just a minute? Like some of you, I have been in the fashion industry for a long time (going on 25 years!) and I love it. There is, however, one critical area where our attention diverges. While most of the fashion world is focused on very young, tall and thin women, my clients tend mostly to represent the over 40 woman. As a result (and because I fall into this category as well), I know what she likes to wear.
Perhaps I could provide some insights to help you create your collection for next season? I know that your heart is in the right place and you want women to look and feel beautiful but, oh dear, have you tried your designs on women over 40 who might have a few extra pounds floating around here or there and are probably more often closer to 5’4” than 5’9”?
Your goal, I’m certain, is to sell all your designs and not have them end up on the end-of-season sales rack or a consignment store with the tags still on them. The problem is that there is a slight (and sometimes not so slight) disconnect between what we see in the stores and what is actually wearable by anyone with a little maturity.
I know you didn’t ask me but I also know from watching ‘Project Runway’ that you encourage constructive criticism, so I hope you will take this all in the kind and supportive manner in which it is given.
First of all, what I love about you:
- Thank you for making your designs for plus size and petite women. While some stores have misguidedly eliminated these departments, for those who still support them, it is wonderful to see beautiful garments for women who don’t wear the traditional sizes 2-14.
- Thank you for giving us a variety of skirt lengths, shoes with heels of varying heights and widths, and every imaginable boot style! There is something for everyone and that allows women to express their personality with comfort.
- The new version of the cowl neckline is great – very flattering and stays in place better so we don’t have to fuss with it like we did back in the 1980’s. Definitely new and improved!
- Thank you for bringing scarves back. It’s amazing how one piece of fabric can add so much beauty, warmth and personality!
I would also like to share a few thoughts of things that women need that seem to be missing from the choices of late:
- Fabrics With Substance. This is probably the most important request of all. That paper thin, stretchy fabric that so many shell/tank tops and t-shirts are made out of has got to go away…soon! It is unflattering on 90% of the women who wear it (even young women), because it shows every little lump and bump even on women size 2! It is so frustrating to find something in the perfect style and color to complete an outfit only to find out that the fabric is dreadful (and that is not an overstatement).
- Bring Brown Back. You promised! I heard that brown was going to be a staple again this Fall but it’s not really in the stores yet. Yes, there is some but it’s a warm chocolaty brown that only looks good on some women (like redheads, for instance). We need more of the basic dark, dark brown that works on so many people. (Oh, and in case you are wondering…no, black does not look good on everyone…and this becomes even more obvious once we get past of the age of 40.)
- More Jackets…Please. It makes getting dressed a little frustrating when you hyper-focus on one particular style to the exclusion of all else. Case in point…this season’s long cardigans. They are a great addition but do we really need 40 million of them (only a slight exaggeration, I think!). What happens is that there’s no room left for interesting jackets for women who enjoy wearing them or need to dress professionally for work. (And, please…we don’t need any more black or gray jackets unless, perhaps, they have super interesting details but even then there are thousands of other colors to consider! Let’s take a risk and add some beautiful colors. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised).
- Taking Dresses to the Next Level.Yay for dresses with sleeves. You have no idea how exciting this is after all these years to be able to buy a dress with sleeves. Believe me, when it’s literally freezing outside, a sleeveless dress just doesn’t cut it. So, two quick things about dresses.
- When you do make sleeveless ones (there are still plenty of them out there), could you please make some short cardigan sweaters in pretty colors (enough with the black already!) to go over them. Sure, the 20-something crowd can look trendy and cool in a long cardigan over a dress but for the rest of us, we just look and feel frumpy!
- And, lastly, not every woman wants to (or can) wear a dress that is body hugging. Many who have curvy hips and thighs look better with a slight A-line (no gathers at the waist, please). They were here in abundance a season or two ago, and we loved them. Pretty please, could we have more of these again?
These are just a few of our major requests for now. I want to thank you in advance for considering these ideas. If you think I am overstating this, please know that 90% of the women who get in touch with me say they can’t find anything they like out there to wear. Sure, sometimes it’s because they need some expert guidance but sometimes it’s because the choices are limited. I just know that together that we can remedy this, and women over 40 everywhere will thank you!
Thank you again. Feel free to get in touch with me anytime!
With beauty, style & grace,