How to choose clothes for an elderly relative

How to choose clothes for an elderly relative

It can be tricky to know exactly how to choose clothes for an elderly relative or pal. A recent survey conducted by women's classic fashion brand, Carr & Westley, revealed that of those people who said they had purchased clothing for an older relative before, almost three quarters found the process stressful and were unsure what to look for. More than half said they had got the wrong size, length or unsuitable style with a previous item.

They've put together these tips to help you in your hunt:

  • Tiny buttons or small zips can be difficult for older women to manoeuvre, so look for pull-on and wrap-around styles of tops and trousers
  • Choose fabrics that can be machine-washed and dried in either a home or care situation and avoid fragile fabrics that require special care, such as hand-washing. Look for fabrics that feel soft against sensitive skin
  • Two-piece garments can be complementary for women who are different sizes on top and bottom as they can make for a better fit
  • Wraps and shrugs can be useful for wearing over tops and dresses for those relatives who often feel a chill

Tips for choosing a top

  • As the waist can a problem area as women get older, look for tops that are between waist and hip level as they cover the stomach and rest just above the bottom at the back
  • Steer clear of tops and t-shirts that hug the neck and look for tops with V-necks and lower rounded necklines
  • Arms are an area that older women often feel self-conscious about, so tops with full length sleeves are a good option. Raglan, dolman or kimono sleeves are also a better fit for rounded shoulders

Tips for choosing trousers

  • Jeans are ageless and suit every size and shape. If your relative is slightly larger on the bottom, look for a boot cut style, as the flare with help draw attention away from their mid-section and give them a slightly taller look, which is important as you get older. If they're a bit smaller on the bottom, look for straight or skinny leg instead.
  • With all trousers, look for an easy-fit stretch waist for a comfortable fit. A little spandex/lycra content will also help to control any problem areas.

Tips for choosing skirts and dresses

  • For skirts, stick to straight or A-line cuts that hit slightly below the knee
  • Pleated skirts are good for allowing the fabric to spread over the knees when seated, which is especially important if your relative has mobility issues
  • Accessible, but concealed side or front pockets on dresses can be useful for women who want to carry personal items around with them
  • Dresses with belts are fantastic for transforming a body shape and adding to an overall look of an outfit

Tips for choosing underwear and nightwear

  • Front closure bras can be significantly easier for older relatives, so they don't have to twist their arms in order to reach around their back
  • Dressing gowns that wrap to close in the back are great for people who may need help getting dressed and undressed

Tips for choosing shoes 

  • Shoes should have non-slip sloes to minimise the risk of falling. Look for easy-on, easy-off styles that are easy to remove. Velcro closures can also hold the feet securely.