Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Pre-35 wardrobe: Tiny T-shirts and bare-midriff jeans. Post-35 wardrobe: Housecoats.

Yesterday I read in the Globe that Talbot's is taking over J. Jill. Apparently the two clothing chains are among the major specialty stores "for women 35 and over." Which I think I agree with, particularly in the case of Talbot's, whose offerings often veer towards the stodgy. In fact, I'd say Talbot's key demographic is professional women around age 50. J. Jill, however, sometimes features fairly hip-looking items (at least as I define it, which may not be saying much). I could easily see women in their early 20s wearing much of the J. Jill stuff.

Which is why it's so interesting that the Globe insists on characterizing the joint venture as aimed at older women. ("The combined companies will make a big footprint in the apparel market for older women, overtaking Ann Taylor, which had about $2 billion in sales last year...")

Now, Ann Taylor and J. Jill are hardly the places you go if you are a grandmother looking to buy a new housecoat. But apparently, those of us who shop at stores like these are stuck in the "older" category -- which is now defined as "over 35." Well, that's nice to know.

Do the people who write these stories, and the business analysts they quote, think that women morph directly from bubblegum-popping sylphs in ass-exposing jeans to dumpy matrons in dowdy suits? Why, in American society, are women shoved into such absolute categories? At 37 I'm not "young" anymore, so I must be "old."

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