High50 research this year showed that 96 per cent of people our age feel ignored by brands. Some people might find that shocking – and brands certainly should, since we are Britain’s most affluent age group and will form half the population by 2020.
I am more surprised, when it comes to fashion images, when I DO see women my age. There’s an occasional exception, such as Yasmin Le Bon for Monsoon, and Emma Thompson and Annie Lennox for M&S (shot by 65-year-old photography legend Annie Liebowitz).
But they are too few, and, inspiring as they are, I don’t only want to see celebrities in ads. We need ad campaigns to use 40- and 50-something women as models as a matter of course. If brands want us to spend our money with them, we need to see ourselves reflected in them.
We also need to not walk into shops where every garment we pick out is sleeveless, ends halfway up the thigh, or has a plunging neckline. It makes shopping on the high street a fruitless task and far from the pleasure it used to be for many of us.
So I’m on a mission to find the best mid to upper-priced shops for women over 50. (I mean today’s 50, not elasticated waists, loose cuts and shades of greige.)
I’m starting at Jigsaw, and have roped in my colleague Rosanna. Off we pop to its rather marvellous flagship branch, Duke Street Emporium, which also encompasses an in-store coffee shop, Aesop beauty products, selected books, and Shop at Bluebird.
With the help of Jigsaw’s Faye to help us choose the best pieces, let’s see how the store does on five indicators: sleeves, length, necklines, fabric and fit.
Our favourite trousers
Of the many trousers these were our favourite. We smartened them up with a cobalt top (still a trend for summer) and heels, but they also worked as a more casual look, teamed with a grey T and grey plimsolls.
A more casual look, with one of Jigsaw’s excellent range of T-shirts. A good find if the current trend for 7/8ths trousers is not your thing.
Our favourite skirt and shirt
If rows of sleeveless clothes are your bugbear, get yourself to Jigsaw, pronto. Sleeves galore. Short, mid-length and long. Oh joy!
Of the many tops, in all sorts of styles, this was our favourite as it can work for the office (for example, with this pencil skirt) or weekend.
The best dresses
After 50, knees on show is a no-no if we want to look stylish or professional. With bare legs in summer, it can be the knees that are surprisingly ageing.
Jigsaw dresses have always been good on length, but most of this season’s are too short. I’m 5’7″, though, so if you’re 5’5″ or below you’ll be spoilt for choice.
That aside, I love colour and I love pattern, so I loved all these.
The enomous rose-gold tote bag, by the way, is to die for, and includes a detachable clutch. I liked it so much I bought it.
A lace dress could easily be mutton but this is gorgeous on Rosanna teamed with a leather jacket.
I wouldn’t have chosen a maxi so thanks to the lovely Faye from Jigsaw, who put me in this. I love it, although it was just a teensy bit too short on me (I think a maxi needs to skim the floor). It showed me that a maxi could be the answer to my summer dressing dilemma (don’t want to bare my legs, tights are too hot, and rarely wear trousers).
Jigsaw star rating for women over 50
Sleeves: 10/10. Sleeves in abundance, of all lengths.
Necklines: 7/10. Several are too low but we found plenty we liked that weren’t.
Fabrics: 10/10. Excellent choice, quality fabrics. I can attest that, bar T-shirt dresses, Jigsaw clothes can last for years.
Skirt lengths: 5/10. Usually Jigsaw is good on length, but this season many are too short (we’re both 5’7″). If you’re 5’5″ or below, happy days.
Sizing and fit: 10/10. Jigsaw sizes are consistent and almost everything fitted as it should. If you’re a standard 10, a Jigsaw 10 will fit reliably.
And after all that hard work you can sit down for tea and buns in the in-house coffee shop. Nice.
Jacqui Gibbons is an editor at High50. Follow her on Twitter @jacqui_journo