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An open letter to fashion designers and manufacturers from a Zoomer reader.

By Kathryn Brown

Mature women say repeatedly they simply can’t find clothes to fit them. As a sewing teacher who specializes in “fit,” I’ve observed the changes in women’s bodies as we mature – and the lack of changes noted by clothing manufacturers.

Clothing sizes for women seem to be based on ego now, rather than standardization. I know I can wear a size six in some clothes but can be a 10 to 14 in other brands. What has happened – and why – is an intriguing tale that, I believe, is ready to be told.

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In 1969, I was the first woman to show up wearing pants at my bank job in Halifax. I chose an Italian knit pantsuit from my closet because it was beautifully tailored to my then young, trim body. I was called into the bank manager’s office and cautioned: it was okay for today, but I should not make a habit of this attire. Our mothers and grandmothers never wore pantsuits. Pants were worn on the farm or maybe in the factory. Pants were never designed to fit women. Pants were men’s clothing. Our mothers wore housedresses at home – housedresses that were straight on the sides and never encouraged to show a female form. Dress-up occasions and social functions meant a fitted dress, but under this dress was a full-length corset or a girdle. My, how we’ve changed.

Yes, we are true pioneers for the fashion marketplace. Women in their 60s and 70s are now much more vibrant and active than in previous generations and would like to own clothes that fit their lifestyle. We exercise, travel and work in a new world. We don’t wear cotton stockings and laced leather oxfords, but manufacturers don’t seem to understand what to do to make the clothes they design fit our mature bodies. We simply aren’t ready for polyester pants with elastic waistbands!

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