From big hair to short bobs and high waists to low rise – British women have worn it all. In fact, according to research by mature online retailer isme.com, British women are masters in the art of reinvention, completely changing their look on average six times during their adult lives.
That means far more than just trying a new shade of lipstick. The survey of 1,000 women aged 50+ also demonstrates that a reinvention involves a total departure from one look in favour of another.
So confident are British women about transforming their physical appearance that 2.4 million will have completely rebooted their wardrobe 10 times before they reach their 60s – on each occasion ditching the clothes, shoes, makeup and accessories associated with one fashion life and replacing them with a collection for a new direction.
The results also show how accessible fashion has impacted the nation’s sense of style and change. Although they point to the average British woman experiencing an ‘eight-year reinvention itch’, a significant proportion of today’s over 50s (40 per cent) have gone through more reinventions in the last 10 years than at any other time in their lives.
And it doesn’t stop with what they wear, as the study by isme.com reveals how 3.8 million women have radically changed the cut of their hair 11 times over the years – from perms to power fringes and everything in between. What’s more, 2.5 million (24 per cent) women admit to having dramatically altered their hair colour 12 times in the pursuit of reinvention - sporting shades of blonde, brunette, black, platinum, grey, red and even purple.
As part of this research, isme.com set out to understand the precise motivations behind British women’s chameleon-like approach to their appearances. For 18 per cent of those surveyed, it would seem that the desire to shed an existing sartorial style was a way of escaping from a fashion-rut.
Delving further into the results, one in 10 (1.2 million) saw reinvention as an effective way of being taken more seriously in the workplace, while many others were spurred into reinvention following a major life shakeup - from kids leaving home to relationships breaking down.
However, for the overwhelming majority, the desire to reinvent comes simply from fashion being so accessible and immediate nowadays – giving modern women unparalleled opportunities to continually reinvent themselves whatever their age.
Nowhere is this more apparent than when comparing the reinventions of today’s 50+ ladies with those from previous generations. In fact, according to the results of the study, two thirds of mature women in the 1980s had never reinvented their appearance for the duration of their adult lives.
While modern British women have what is arguably an innate and unrivalled ability to recreate their appearances, 33 per cent (3.5 million) of those surveyed admitted they had been inspired to do so after seeing celebrity tales of reinvention. Top amongst these celeb reinventors are:
Top 10 celebrity masters of reinvention
- Madonna (48 per cent)
- Victoria Beckham (29 per cent)
- Lulu (28 per cent)
- Carol Vorderman (23 per cent)
- Esther Rantzen (22 per cent)
- Ann Widdecombe (19 per cent)
- Sharon Osbourne (18 per cent)
- Helen Mirren (17 per cent)
- Anne Robinson (15 per cent)
- 10. Denise Robertson (This Morning agony aunt) (10 per cent)
Harley Street psychologist, Ingrid Collins explains why we may feel the urge to refresh our appearance: “When we look in the mirror, we expect to see a very familiar image, and we have to do this every day. Reinventing our image not only to makes other people sit up and take notice of us, but also allows us to express an aspect of our multifaceted personalities.
“A change of image can mark a milestone in our lives – spelling a renewed sexiness, a youthful attitude, sophistication, rebellion, high self-value; any number of messages that help people around us understand what is going on in our life before we’ve said a word to them.”
Jackie Lewis, Shapeologist for isme.com’s Savoir range, which is tailored especially to fit a woman’s body as she reaches 50+ adds, “Women’s bodies go through three key phases of change – from adolescence to womanhood, once again when we have had families, and a third time as we pass our late 40s. This also drives the clothes choices we make, whether consciously or subconsciously.
“It’s natural to like to experiment in our youth, but as we get older we develop a much stronger sense of personal style and understanding of our bodies. You can always try new trends as long as you remember to focus on what you like best on yourself and make sure the fit of your clothes accentuates that. All our clothes on the Savoir range are tailored on models of a woman’s body shape aged 50+, so the fit will always be right without having to compromise on style.”