What About the Rest of Us?

Clothing designers do not consider women of my age and shape when they decide which styles to offer to female shoppers. They aim for another group of women entirely: the young and thin.

I have spent hours searching for shirts, blouses, and dresses that have sleeves. By sleeves I mean an adequate length of fabric to cover the upper arm. I find sleeveless tops, tops with spaghetti straps, tops with one- and two-inch-wide straps, and tops with so-called “cap” sleeves. The “cap” is simply a half-moon piece of fabric extending about one inch from the end of each shoulder seam and covering the tip of the shoulder blade. It has no business calling itself a sleeve.

I looked up the word sleeve in my Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. The definition reads: the part of a shirt, jacket, etc., that covers all or part of your arm. For clarity’s sake and in order to avoid any confusion, I also looked up the word arm. The definition given is: a human upper limb; especially the part between the shoulder and the waist. Surely designers can find a way to make available to us garments with sleeves.

I won’t elaborate on the reasons why I like sleeves. I don’t feel the need to justify my preferences in clothing. I do, however, feel the need to make heard my voice and the voices of countless other women who are not young and thin, and we are legion. To clothing designers everywhere we say, “Give us sleeves, please!”

We also want the waist of our slacks to circle our middles, the area of the body that contains the belly button. We consider pants whose waist is made to sit on the hipbone to be objects of torture.

I see young women wearing jeans that are basically two stovepipe pieces of denim with a waistband attached to their tops. How do these women manage to walk or even to breathe? When I sit down, I want the seat of my pants to accompany me into the chair. A person sitting behind me should not see any skin between the bottom of my shirt (with sleeves) and the top of my pants.

We also would appreciate some consideration from shoe manufacturers. We don’t like wearing shoes whose soles are six-inch-thick platforms made of cork. Neither do we want shoes that define themselves as sandals but in addition to the strap that goes between the toes, have another strap that makes several circles around the lower leg all the way up to the knee.

We value our health and safety too much to buy stilettos. We are not looking for flashy, sparkly, sexy shoes that cry out “Look at me!”  We are looking for stylish little numbers that whisper, “Comfort.”

I suspect that all clothing and shoe designers are engaged in a conspiracy to make older women look hideous. We don’t need any help. Time and gravity have done that for us.

We do not aim to look young, nor is it our goal to look sexy. We don’t wish to look hip, or to show portions of our hips. We want to feel comfortable, to look our rightful ages, to appear neat and coordinated, and to find clothing and shoes that will allow us to meet those goals.

Women, put on your pants with a natural-fitting waist, a top with three-quarter-length or longer sleeves, and a pair of comfortable walking shoes. Join me in the march to end discrimination against the not-young-not-thin women shoppers.

If those in charge of making and selling women’s clothes do not comply with our demands, we may boycott dress shops entirely and stop wearing clothes at all.

Nobody wants to see that.

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20 thoughts on “What About the Rest of Us?”

  1. I have a nice top with 3/4 length sleeves. I wear it so much that it is in every wash load. I wanted another and so last week I went back to the same store as they’ve carried that brand for years. They don’t have that brand now. I think I’ve exhausted the supply of 3/4 length sleeves in my town. I see plenty of cap sleeves in my stores. I was remembering you wrote that your sister prefers those 3/4 sleeves. Where does she get them???? I’m joining you in demanding clothing that covers me!

      1. Yes, especially when women wear tops that have, in addition to the plunging necklines, giant holes on each shoulder sleeve. Just how much skin do some women want to show?

    1. Where does she get them? Anywhere she can find them! I do know she shops Belks.com for tops. She is one of those shoppers who takes her time in a store and does not leave until she has found exactly what she is looking for. I’ve told her the next time I go shopping with her, I’m taking a folding chair.

  2. Debbie, I smiled all the way through this post. Love your humor! Definitely with you on preferring jeans that come to the waist. Had a funny experience once buying a pair of jeans (after two hours in the fitting room trying on every imaginable pair in my size). Turns out they were a terrific deal on clearance, but the store couldn’t take off the plastic/metal theft tag thingy. ?? The store said I could put them back (after all that work??) or keep them and good luck with the tag. I kept them. Tried several stores, none of which could remove the tag. Finally my husband broke it off so I could wear the jeans! What we do for clothes that fit!!

    1. What a great story, Pearl! I especially liked your insertion in the third sentence (after two hours in the fitting room trying on every imaginable pair in my size). We’ve all been there. Agreeing to take the jeans along with theft tag thingy (I love this word too. What are those things called?)is something I can identify with. After I’ve spent two grueling hours trying on jeans, I’m not leaving empty-handed. 🙂

  3. I hear you! What does a woman my age wear without looking dowdy? One sleeve off the shoulder, pants that the zipper is 4 inches long and stovepipe legs, wedges that lace up the leg is not a pretty site on me or anyone that weighs more that 90 lbs.

    1. Well said, my friend! I forgot to mention in my article the four-inch-long pants zippers. The minute I spot one of those on a pair of jeans, I know the jeans weren’t made for me!

  4. I;m joining you in this demand, Debbie! I’m willing to march at Washington DC if it comes to that! (As a side note, I have had “some” success with clothes that are stylish for my age AND comfortable at Coldwater Creek—oh I I wish they had not closed their stores so I could actually try things on…but thankfully they still have their catalog online store.)

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