a1 School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research, University of Kent, Canterbury CT2 7NF, UK.
The article explores the interplay between bodily and cultural ageing in the provision of clothing for older women, examining how design directors of UK clothing retailers act as cultural mediators, shaping the ways in which later years are imagined, experienced and performed at an embodied level. Based on interviews with clothing retailers with a significant involvement with the older market: Marks & Spencer, George at Asda, Jaeger, Viyella and Edinburgh Woollen Mill, it analyses the contexts in which they design, discussing: the potential of the grey market; the association of fashion and youthfulness; and the tensions between lifestyle and age in the formation of the market. It explores the ways in which they adjust the cut, colour and style of clothes to meet the requirements of older bodies and the changing cultural interpretations of these, addressing debates around the interplay of bodily and cultural ageing, and the role of consumption in the constitution of age. Reflecting both the cultural and material turns, it argues for the need to expand the social gerontology imaginary to encompass wider sources shaping the meanings of later years.
(Accepted July 15 2011)
(Online publication September 12 2011)