What Women Want

By Bobbie Jo Reid

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When it comes to looking fabulous, renowned fashion designer and Vancouver native Simon Chang knows what women want.

Boomers and seniors today are different from previous generations. Women now are fit, body-aware and stay in shape longer. And they are looking for comfortable, casual clothes that fit their active and adventurous lifestyles.

"Older women today are younger," says Simon.

In an industry that idolizes youth, Simon is one designer who explores options for women's changing fashion needs through all stages of their lives. Sixty-somethings don't want to wear what 20-somethings wear, and vice versa. The solution is a designer who talks to and, more importantly, listens to his clients. The result is wearable, washable, workable pieces that women can easily put together to develop their own signature style.

"I try to adapt my collection and it makes total sense," says Simon, who launched Simon Chang Concepts Inc., based in Montreal, in 1983. "As a designer, you have to be out there talking to people." And being in the world, not tucked behind a desk, is why the women who wear his clothes love this successful yet affable designer.

"I like the idea of knowing more about people who have something to say. Women won't buy clothes that aren't wearable," says Simon. "Women are very vocal, especially mature women."

Because of the youthfulness of this generation, it's easy to turn current fashion into more flattering fits – for those armed with the right knowledge. And the most important knowledge: every woman should know her own body. Since women's bodies change as they age, even if they remain slim, knowing what to enhance and what to downplay can make all the difference. (See tips and tricks sidebar)

Simon's older clientele have told him they feel invisible as they age - they feel ignored. "As you get older, you have to make a statement," he says.

To achieve a signature look, go for a fabulous accessory like glasses, jewelry, shoes, handbags or scarves. "You can't be invisible!"

"I love older women in colour," says the designer. “With colour, women display a confidence and it rejuvenates the look of the outfit. Women project a happy mood when they wear a beautiful colour."

Focus on ageless pieces, like colourful scarves and accessories. "You don't want to dress like your granddaughter, but grandma can still be hip." People are not slotted into age categories as much as they used to be. "We don't have to be slotted," says Simon. "Marketers try to group us, but it's just marketing dialogue. It's not real."

"In the fashion industry, boomers are almost the visible minority that nobody wants to talk about, except they are the majority. They still appreciate arts and culture and music and movies (which they pay full price for instead of downloading free online)," says Simon. But the shift hasn't happened in the marketplace. "We need a new marketing company to address this demographic, which is hip, cool, active, in fabulous shape, look great and are not dead!"

Simon believes department stores don't understand their clients. They carry too many products and don't listen to the needs of their shoppers. Consumers are lost because nothing fits properly. "It's frustrating for a lot of women," he says.

Women who want to look professional, sophisticated and well put together need to go for quality. Specialty stores and boutiques carry clothing that is expertly made and conformed to the needs of their clients. Simon suggests buying good quality clothes and making them work. For the budget conscious, stretch dollars by buying separates, perhaps five easy pieces and develop several seasonless outfits. A great look can be achieved without spending a lot of money. Accessories are perfect!

Boomers and seniors have to find fashion lines they identify with. Some lines fit too small; they are for young girls.

“Women in this age group have experimented with style all their lives. They understand themselves more, so they know what flatters,” says Simon. “Don't follow trends. Wear things that look good on you."

For example, skinny jeans are very current, but they don't look good on everyone. So, women need to make adjustments and modifications to work with their body types and style. Heel heights can also be adjusted to be more comfortable and practical to suit one's lifestyle.

"Be memorable," says Simon. Recycle pieces from former decades. "There's a lot to play with in [vintage]." Styles repeat themselves and come back in slightly different forms.

"It's about finding your true self."

And all women want that.


Tips and Tricks:

Neck - With sun damage, crêpe-like skin and creases, many women are conscious of this area of their bodies. They don't want to be totally covered up with tight-fitting turtlenecks, so softer, breathable fabrics that hang beautifully in this area can address those concerns.

Arms - Even while women can maintain a youthful appearance in their faces, parts of their bodies may have sagging skin (raise your arms if this applies to you). Many women don't want to expose their arms, but in warmer weather, it's hard to stay covered up. Simon suggests avoiding sleeveless options, but going for a slightly longer sleeve in a lightweight fabric. Or pairing a cover-up to an outfit that emphasizes bare arms.

Waist - Some women experience a thickening of their waistlines as they age. If that is the case, clothes should not be too tight-fitting. Go for a relaxed rather than cinched shape around the waist. Instead of the chunky tight belts that you may have worn in your youth, a relaxed chain belt might be more flattering.

Knees - Even thin legs can reveal a woman's age. Gravity works on the skin on the knees, dragging the whole leg down and making skirt length more important. But even if you want to wear a shorter skirt, it's possible to still look fabulous if you pair it with leggings. Leggings help to flatter a woman's body, so short skirts or long tunics can keep you looking current and fashionable.

Jeans - Women of all ages love jeans and want to wear them. Options like control-top jeans are flattering, comfortable, and offer a smoother look.

Under-garments - Under-garments like Shapers smooth lines helping women of any age feel more confident and less inhibited by little rolls. Simon recommends them for all women.

Fabrics - When it comes to fabrics, Simon can't say enough about jersey. It is appropriate for older women because it's comfortable, flattering, casual, travels well and isn't fussy. Look for no-nonsense, easy-care fabrics that better suit your lifestyle.

Simon looks for seasonless fabrication. With travel, climate fluctuations and indoor heating and cooling systems, Simon tries to design adaptable clothes. Layers are the way to do this.

"I love stuff you can wear year-round and add to," he says. "It's great to have things that you love to wear. Seasons don't exist anymore, especially for people who travel globally." Layering is a more sensible way to dress. Lighter weight fabrics accommodate the climate and are adaptable to the environment.

Details - Most women don't like pulling tight clothing over their heads. Tiny buttons aren't practical. Some people have difficulty lifting their arms into tight turtlenecks: they find them suffocating. Even arm holes have to be cut precisely and more generously. Beautiful sleeves that are not too short - sometimes three-quarter length - are the way to go. "I don't design garments that need an instruction pamphlet to put the outfit together," says Simon.

Beautiful draping can hide a tummy. Garments have to be cut properly so they hang right and cling in the right places. Women like their bottoms covered, so tops are designed a little longer to make women feel comfortable and confident.

Find Simon Chang online at www.simonchang.com



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Showing 1 to 20 of 40 comments.

I'm looking for pants model 6787 in a regular size 8 in navy. Can you suggest where I might find them?

Posted by Hendrika Spoelstra | September 11, 2017 Report Violation

I was recently watching the Marilyn Dennis show where your fashions were shown. I am interested in the black sheared muskrat coat. Where can I find a retailer in Canada that caries your line?? I live in Alberta. Thanking you for your response, Joyce

Posted by joyce juneau | October 13, 2016 Report Violation

I have a pair of Simon Chang jeans (several actually) but one style I find perfect for my dog training. Is it possible to find others of the same style? The Model is 3-6065, Lot 2488. Any suggestions how I can find more of these?

Posted by Heather Trainor | June 26, 2016 Report Violation

I am looking at the Sept. 2015 issue of Good Times Magazine a Red jacket for $185. What site do I look at to see your Fall items. I am so happy Simon that you are producing for us Sr./middle income women. I have purchased a blouse from Work Wearhouse of your label and jeans from another store under your label. Great to have them here in Courtenay, BC.

Posted by Dorothy Lamberton | September 25, 2015 Report Violation

i would like to purchase the dress Good Times March issue pg.36.....where would I find this dress?

Posted by Laraine Brocke | March 4, 2015 Report Violation

I live in Australia how can I buy Simon Chang clothing here

Posted by Loré Reid | February 25, 2015 Report Violation

I love the fit of the size 4P dressy black poly-denim straight leg pants style #3-6195P that I recently bought. The rise is just right for my 60 year old figure, and it is a very flattering cut. I do keep in shape with yoga and cross-country skiing and these pants are stylish but not too young. However, one problem that I have found is that thease pants are almost too short for my 5'2' height. Even my French Dressing brand jeans in a petite size are an inch longer, after they have been washed! I almost was not able to buy these pants. If they do shrink after washing, I may have to put a false hem on them- an shame for $80.00 pants.

Posted by Marilyn | February 16, 2015 Report Violation

In the March issue of Good Times, where can I find the Collection dress (bottom left on page) and the Collection blouse on same page - I live in Ottawa, Ontario.

Posted by Rosemary Swindells | February 5, 2015 Report Violation

March issue of Good Times magazine, pg.39 - Where can I buy the handbag at the top right-hand corner of the page. I live in Toronto, ON. Thanks.

Posted by Mary Seymour | February 5, 2015 Report Violation

Where can I buy Simon Chang stretch pants in San Diego, California? I saw a pair on a woman today & really liked them.

Posted by Carolyn Swall | November 20, 2014 Report Violation

I bought Simong Chang Jeans at Fudges in Waterloo O I would like to more but cannot find a store that sells stylem1-5430p Can yyou help me.. them.

Posted by Pat Raines | October 17, 2014 Report Violation

In the middle 70's i purchase most of Simon's geometrics and stripe silks and still posess them today each time I wear a piece of Simons fabric I still get comments on the fabrics.I tried to find where I can still purchase some. I would love to send some photos regarding my silk pieces and I did alterations to save and maintain some of them in instances of weight gain.All are fitting me wondwerfully again.Angela

Posted by ANGELA crawford | May 23, 2014 Report Violation

I found a health magazine with Simon Chang interview Also in that magazine they showed a Simon Chang Batwing-sleeve cotton pullover $ 130.00. I have tried to find this sweater and have had no luck. Would anyone know where I could still obtain one, Style area page 4 favorites for Fall.

Posted by carol a buker | October 22, 2013 Report Violation

I like the way these jeans fit on top but it would be great if the leg could be updated and made narrower.

Posted by Marilyn Beattie | September 5, 2013 Report Violation

Where can I buy Simon Chang jeans in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

Posted by Carmen Humphrey | June 7, 2013 Report Violation

I am looking for SimonChang jeans in size 14 or 16 petite......where can I go to buy some in the Surrey B.C. Canada area? Please let me hear from you as soon as possible. Thank you.

Posted by Olga Poremsky | June 4, 2013 Report Violation

Can you advise where I can see Simon Chang fashions, I have pants but would like to see lightweight summer dresses in plus size.

Posted by rehona farrell | April 19, 2013 Report Violation

Looking for Simon Chang white denim pants 3-5353 Size 10 Tummy control comfort waist ultra stretch micro twill

Posted by Gail | April 3, 2013 Report Violation

I bought a Simon Chang black suit several years ago in Tampa, Florida. I know live in Connecticut and would like to know where to buy this brand.

Posted by Beth | March 31, 2013 Report Violation

I recently bought a pair of Simon Chang black jeans model #3-5831 (or 3-5631) . They are 95% cotton & 5% elasthane. I have only washed them twice. The seat & knees bag out badly after wear. They cost 85.00 which is to me a lot to spend on jeans. I have a pair of navy denim jeans (a different brand) that I have worn to death & they never bag. What gives?

Posted by Karen Rennie | February 19, 2013 Report Violation

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