Turns out, men don’t face the same ‘changing room moment’ as women do even after they age. Most of them remain comfortable in the outfits they have worn earlier in their lives, and don’t feel that the item is ‘too young’ for them, a new study has revealed.
For the research on how men respond to fashion and clothing choices as they age, Professor Twigg conducted 24 in-depth interviews with men aged between 58 and 85 from a variety of social backgrounds and sexual orientations. The study showed that men did not face the same ‘changing room moment’ as did women when they saw themselves in the mirror and realised that the item was now ‘too young’ for them. Most of the men remained comfortable in the outfits they had worn earlier in their lives, particularly if their careers required them to dress in a certain way.
For example, those from ‘creative’ industries continued to dress in stylish, fashionable manner while others had a smart-casual style, mixing blazers with trousers and ties and shirts as they wanted. Others embraced retirement as a chance to expand their wardrobe and add more colour to their clothing.
Furthermore, they saw clothing worn by younger men that they did acknowledge as ‘too young’ for them — such as hoodies, trainers, and tight jeans — as ‘silly’ and viewed it with contempt and so something they would never want to wear. However, the men interviewed did have a strong negative reaction to clothing that they thought would mark a clear end to masculinity and the onset of a decline of life — with elasticised trousers viewed with horror.
This concern of a loss of masculinity in clothing choices also related to the idea of wearing dirty or unkempt clothing. Several of the men interviewed relayed stories of men they knew who they viewed with a mix of mild pity when they saw them in a poorly dressed state, as it suggested to them that they had lost their inherent masculinity and were effectively giving up.
Notably, many linked this situation to the loss of a wife who was seen as previously responsible for ensuring this did not happen. Finally, despite being confident in their dress choices, several men admitted that changes in body size that comes with old age impacted their ability to dress as they wished, with some noting the ways clothes ‘shrink in the wardrobe’.
“It is clear that men have a different relationship with dressing up, and the research shows that this continues into later life. There is less of age anxiety in their choices, but there are clearly issues that affect how they dress and how this changes as they get older,” said Twigg. The study appeared in The Journal of Ageing & Society.