The project explores the role of clothing and dress in the changing cultural identities of older women.

The research focused on the ways in which older women negotiate changes in the body and the self through the medium of dress. Exploring the interlinkages between dress, the body and ageing, it addresses the ways in which identities are constructed through clothing choices, and the responses of the Fashion/Clothing System to this.

The research was based on qualitative interviews with older women (55-81) and key respondents in the fashion/clothing system, in the form of design directors and fashion journalists. It also drew on an analysis the media and secondary data sources. The research was funded by ESRC RES-000-22-2079


The book of the projectBook cover of a woman wearing a red hat

Fashion and Age: Dress, the Body and Later Life

Bloomsbury, 2013

Reviews of the book

“An absorbing and imaginative book which opens out a new area of investigation in cultural studies and the sociology of age. Drawing upon interviews with older women and those working in the fashion industry, the research provides rich insights into the role of clothing and dress in shaping identity in later life. The book provides an exemplary balance of empirical, historical, and theoretical perspectives. This is an outstanding study deserving of a wide readership.” –  Professor Chris Phillipson, School of Social Sciences, The University of Manchester, UK.

“This innovative book provides a carefully crafted, rich and sophisticated account of the interplay between bodily and cultural aging through the lens of fashion and dress for older women. Fashion and Age explores central questions in contemporary culture, including how dress plays a significant part in the constitution of identities. By weaving empirical research with a breadth of theoretical ideas, this agenda-setting book is essential reading within ageing, gender, and consumption studies.” –  Professor Sara Arber, Centre for Research on Ageing and Gender (CRAG), University of Surrey, UK.

“Age studies makes a heady, liberating move into fashion with Julia Twigg’s smart and entertaining book. Focusing her research on the intersections of feminism, cheap consumables, and women’s individualized development of their own look in relation to “appropriateness,” Twigg can explain how it is that (in spite of fashion’s cult of youth), many more women of a certain age are finally dressing without pain.” –  Margaret Morganroth Gullette, author of Agewise: Fighting the New Ageism in America and Resident Scholar at the Women’s Studies Research Center, Brandeis University, USA.

“Fashion and Age is a path-breaking book on the neglected topic of how later life and clothing function in today’s society. Julia Twigg shows how older women, the media and the High Street all interact to create our understanding of both ageing and dress. In doing so, Julia Twigg has produced a key text for those interested in the operation of the fashion industry as well as those seeking to understand the links between the personal narratives of ageing and the contemporary nature of embodiment. Fashion and Age provides plenty of food for thought for students and researchers alike and is a valuable addition to the cultural sociology of ageing.” –  Paul Higgs, Professor of the Sociology of Ageing, Faculty of Brain Sciences University College London, UK.