Mind the gap and other mid-life clothing dilemmas

Summer is always the worst time.

Finding something comfortable and stylish to wear when you're getting old and fat (and hot) is an annual challenge. For about three decades the first sight of sun would send me running for shorts and a T-shirt, but no longer. I wouldn't want to embarrass myself, let alone my children or anyone else.

But even covering up can be difficult. Every second year the crop tops are back in fashion, fine if you're 15, not so much when you're 50. And even a standard length top may look fine in the shop, but after a couple of washes it will fail the 'gap' test.

You see as a carer (and front lawn trimmer) I frequently have to squat or bend to make an adjustment on my daughter's wheelchair. If I'm not careful this can result in a visible strip of flesh between top and jeans. Attractive in a 20 something perhaps. Not so much 30 years later. A kindly Mum even pointed this out to me one day with some well-meaning advice about buying long vests. Oh dear!

I could wear a dress I suppose, though they're not exactly practical and do lead to the rarely discussed - but highly unpleasant - problem of thigh chafing. Not something I'd be happy to endure.

And what about bra straps? Remember I grew up in the Madonna era, where we proudly displayed more of our bras than just the straps. Now I seem to be the only one who wears T-shirts that sink off one shoulder...

Then there's the issue of swim wear, and I could write a whole post about that, but one of my fellow bloggers already did. For me the realisation that a bikini was just not going to cut it any more happened about the time that my children got bored with going to the beach. So that's alright then. Smiley still loves swimming, but when I bring her now I wear the most inconspicuous one-piece I can find. It screams "look at anyone except me!"

You see my body shape has changed in middle age. I never thought this would happen to me as my Mum fought it off with lots of Yoga and Cottage Cheese. I've a hint of 'matron', and as that happened I suddenly found that I wanted to cover up - never a priority before, especially as I love the feel of wind and sun on my skin.

But what to wear?

There's definitely a conspiracy out there to deny attractive clothes to middle age women. Don't believe me? Watch any programme about shopping and they always recommend targeting the young customers, even though it's said that older people have more money. I'm not sure what we are supposed to wear, or how you transition from Top Shop and River Island to all those unknown, unshowy boutiques that are aimed at the more 'mature' woman. I've made it as far as M&S and I'm not sure that I want to go any further. At least M&S makes some clothes that are easy to care for, comfortable, flattering and don't make me feel about 85.

Then there's the question of colour. I blame the makeover programmes that seem to have a mission to put women of a certain age into the gaudiest clothes they can find, with results that are often eye poppingly mortifying. Please don't tell me that I should start wearing clothes in shocking pink, or dayglo orange, they just make me feel like an extra from Balamory.

Tight clothes look wrong, cheap clothes, baggy clothes, fancy clothes, even high heels on older women can look, well, a bit suspect. It's a minefield, and I'm struggling to navigate through it.

So for now, I'll stick to my uniform of black, grey and blue long sleeve tops and skinny jeans. But how long will I get away with looking like an eternal student?

This looks tidier in real life!


  1. A lot of the young girls now are wearing dresses with a pair of shorts or trousers underneath, rather like the Indian way of doing it (actually, I think they do this most of the time, rather than wearing tights which are usually too thick and more difficult to get on and off). Not sure if chafing is the reason or just making sure people can't see their underwear. I wonder if anyone makes some thin bloomers or something, so you can wear a (long) dress without adding too much heat (which defeats the object, or at least one of them, of wearing the dress).

    1. Yes there are various solutions that some people use, including wearing cycling shorts or leggings of different lengths under dresses.

  2. I tend to stick to the same-old, same-old too. I often wish I had the confidence to go for something fresh and new - a whole new look but feel too shy, too fat, too knackered and too ugly. A new look won't be happening any time soon for me, it seems!

  3. I can't offer any style advice (I wear a long vest under every top!!) but your Balamory reference made me laugh!

  4. Buying tops for covering the butt and ones that don't cling to the muffin roll are quite a challenge for me. Middle age spread is a pain. I feel your pain. xx

  5. I agree completely, I want to modify my own style and fashion to my age and changing body shape but the options just aren't there. Definitely on an eternal quest for the longer tops that stay long after washing!

    1. Perhaps you could check out the science of shrinking clothes? (And explain it to Penney's!)