Clothes maketh the ‘older’ woman

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WE recently went on holiday and I took a few changes of clothing.

Nothing excessive.

In fact my collection of T-shirts and shorts was positively minimal.

But there was sufficient to keep me clean and tidy for our week in the Dales.

However, my better half had a different take on matters.

In a somewhat accusing manner she commented: “You don’t bring much because it saves you from having to think about what to wear.”

To be honest, I hadn’t thought about it one way or the other.

But she was absolutely correct.

Why court confusion?

But then, I suspect I had dropped on a fundamental difference between men and women.

They see clothes as an extension of their personality. For personality, read mood and you begin to see the problem.

For they like to dress not only as it suits the occasion but as it suits their mood at the time.

So the suitcase quickly filled with clothes which my wife was never going to wear. Not in a month of Sundays, let alone a week of holidays.

That small episode confirmed two lessons which have been sinking in slowly but surely over many years of wedded bliss: clothes are important to women.

I say all this as a way of confessing that I am no expert on the subject I am about to embark on. But, an article caught my eye the other day which bemoaned the fact that Marks and Spencer stood accused of neglecting its core customers - ladies of a certain age.

It seems that the High Street icon has lowered its necklines and upped its hems in order to appeal to a younger, sexier and shapelier customer.

What nincompoops.

Don’t they know which side their bread is buttered?

I know that their trading figures have shown an improvement but don’t they realise they have a duty to the nation’s older ladies?

A duty to continue satisfying the ladies who have kept their tills tinkling for years? For generations, as mum indoctrinates daughter into the special place M&S plays in her wardrobe?

And what is more is that as M&S stood accused of deserting older women, those same ladies are getting younge. Relatively speaking.

For it is a proven fact that we don’t think we are old until we are well into our 80s.

There was a time, when I was a lad, that anyone over 40 was over the hill.

And that wasn’t just a question of perspective.

People really were older in the old days. Everyone dressed the same - blokes copied their dads; lasses looked like their mam.

It was us Baby Boomers who broke the mould and began to dress, think and behave differently.

Chances are you are of the same generation and will know what I mean.

Born between 1945 and 1963, we have seen the world change and - let’s be in no doubt - we are still breaking moulds, not least in terms of growing old.

We are young at heart, sound of body and up for just about any challenge.

What is more, we are doing it with style. Complete with the outfits to suit the occasion and the mood.

Leading that charge, of course, are the ladies.

Ignore it at your peril, M&S.