Jenny Bannister, one of Australia’s best established fashion designers, has been pointing out some home truths to her industry. Bannister, like Vivienne Westwood, successfully transcended a ‘70s fashion career to become a couturier of note, and she’s complained about the clothing choices available to larger, older women. Her focus is on the top end of the market, where billionaires and multinational entrepreneurs who just happen to be female, hang out. For them, designer clothing is a natch, but what about the women a little lower down the food chain, who are still powerful and need to be presentable, but don’t have a haute couture budget?
Bannister was direct, ‘You buyers out there, who think the fatter the customer, the less money she has to spend, look at [mining billionaire] Gina Rinehart and [socialite Eileen] Red Bond you lot’ she said and insisted that women over forty want clothing that is:
1. Natural, quality fabrics in flattering colours
2. Not based around neutral shades, because they can make large women look larger
3. Vintage and classic styles, with accessories that are fashion forward
4. Knee length or longer dresses with sleeves.
Even that set of criteria rarely works for women who have non-desk based careers. If you’re a pilot, a shipping magnate or a journalist, clothing has to be rugged yet smart, adaptable and crease resistant.
1. Good tailored jackets
2. Classic trousers with designer belts, teamed with quality shirts – stretch poplin, for example, works well for all shapes of body and has inbuilt ‘snap-back’ smartness
3. Round-necked, long-sleeved T-shirts with bold scarves.