Remembering My Hat

23rd October 2013

(a)Dressing the Ageing Demographic seminar: Part 4

Filed under: Uncategorized — rememberingmyhat @ 10:47

More extensive notes from a seminar. I did say it was a really good day! Part 1 here, Part 2 here and Part 3 here.

The next bit of the day took the form of a kind of ‘open mike’ event where people had just a few minutes to tell other people about their own research or work in the field. Some people had prepared slides in advance, others only decided to say something once they were at the event. I thought it worked really nicely. I might steal this idea for the next conference or seminar I organise.

Anne Karpf, London Met. New book about discourses and ideologies of age – trying to distill cultural and social gerontology into popular form includes discussion of age-quake, swamping, being overwhelmed. Seen as demographic fact, not ageism. ‘How to Age’ Pan-MacMillan, published in January.

Penny – Older women who writes regularly about clothes finds in charity shops. Found lots of fashion blogs for young people and 40s and 40s, not much for 70-ish people – that’s her niche. Fashion as you age – you can become more creative in the way you dress, not bound by work clothes or caring for children [hmm, this is a position of considerable privilege – danger of appearing mad if clothes are too eccentric]

Man who didn’t state his name: Need to retheorise lifespan development in the light of new ageing populations. Is there a connection between dress and resilience and coping strategies [yes, obv around privilege. But poss more]. How much does how you present yourself affect your ability to access care services?

PhD student: Sensory impacts of clothes. We change our clothes and our clothes change us. Person animates the clothes, but the clothes dress the person. Family metaphors for clothes ‘these are the sister pair of the other shoes…’. Semi-retirement in 2nd home in country when no longer suitable for London life. Poem ‘ode to the clothes’ Pablo Neruda, 1954 [look this out – she showed extracts, was really good!]

Reader in Psych at London College of Fashion. Interviews with women aged over 60 – all said didn’t want to look young or younger, wanted to look good at their age [but I’m suspicious that this is just about knowing what are the politically correct answers are].

“When somebody dies, it’s like a library on fire” people are a huge resource. [I think this is a rather outdated image – physical libraries are no longer the place knowledge and experience are stored]

Mary Harlow Univ of Leciester. Ageing Romans. Does work on clothes and ageing and Romans. Toga as clothing you can wear at any age (as a man), other more military clothes only approriate to younger men. Julius Cesar notorious for dressing unusually (invented laurel wreath to cover bald patch! Long sleeves (unmanly), didn’t wear a proper toga – wore shorter tunic.Clothes v simple for Roman men – tunic + toga. Little differentiation. Toga not pinned – held in tension by yr body. Difficult for ageing body. But older men  wrap themselves more. One emperor gave permission for old men to wear cloaks as well, otherwise not allowed. Old age relatively undifferentiated because clothes so simple

(cc) Mary Harrsch

Amy Twigger Holroyd. Keep & Share – her design business Just finished PhD. Folk fashion – homemade clothes. Amateur re-knitting as sustainable strategy. Knitting as both modern cool hip thing and granny, boring, sad, unfashionable. Knitting coded as grannies. [Knitting defined as grannyish and grannies defined by knitting – ace!]

Kaili-Lotta Juhkam [sp? Of surname] Estonian designer and entrepreneur. Ceremonial garment design for older women.

Older woman emphasising embodied realities of ageing. Affects fashion. Less choice.

Design for Ageing Well: Dressing the Active Ageing through co-design with Industry Stakeholders

Jane McCann, Univ of South Wales

Project aiming to enhance autonomy and independence of 60 – 75s by use of smart fabrics and technologies – innovations such as breathable and waterproof, fleeces.

Techno clothing started mainly in sports. Techno clothes with aesthetic appeal for OP are lacking. Designs are not good for older bodies – too clinging.

Project used user-centred design process. Did initial ‘show and tell’ session where people brought in clothes they liked [and looked like also ones that supported them being active] (seat/backpack, jacket with lots pockets, nightie that’s decent for going to loo on holiday)

Older woman user rep went to trade show for activity clothes, showed reps how she couldn’t access zips, collars, hoods.

What technology did users want incorporated in their clothes? Designers expected health-related technologies but users wanted pedometers, GPS. Keep me warm was v imp, keep me cool only just less.

Globalisation and fast fashion don’t help – mistakes creep in. Designers in West, clothes made in China, Bangladesh etc.

Companies [v. big names I won’t mention here] playing major role in this research but not wanting to be named – v interested in ageing markets but don’t want to be seen as making clothes for OP.

Need for ‘Slow Fashion’ (Shah, 2013). More expensive clothes that last longer. Fits better with how OP tend to approach clothes [although will that last when my generation are older?]

The final speaker was Beth Butterwick, the CEO of the Bon Marche clothes chain. We were told that some of the information in her talk was commercially sensitive, so we weren’t to discuss it outside the seminar. Since I’m not confident of my own ability to distinguish which parts of her talk this applied to, I won’t say anything except that it was very interesting and I found it a bit depressing about the way retailers (have to?) work with stereotypes.

General discussion

Women’s clothing has become so sexualised. This makes it very hard for older women who get demonised if they appear to be trying to sexy.

JT: Yes, clothes have got very close to the body in last 10 yrs or so. Rise Shapewear is one response to that, for younger women too. Pornification of clothes? [Influence of Strictly?]


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