What was it like to be an older woman in the 1960s? This was the decade of the “youth quake,” when Diana Vreeland of Vogue killed off Mrs. Exeter, the magazine’s model of how to be stylish and old at the same time. Magazine editors and fashion ads made the adjective “old” synonymous with “out of date.” While advertisers like the venerable shoe company Enna Jettick recognized that there was an older market to be tapped, they appealed to grandmothers by making them look young.
“Some of the youngest women we know are grandmothers,” this 1967 ad states. However, the shock comes because the woman depicted looks not at all like grandmothers of old. Here the alleged grandmother (almost certainly a much younger model) is a sexy woman, displaying her very attractive legs up to her thigh and wearing an eccentric hat. Her dangle earrings also mark her youthful style. What did the average older woman—most likely not slim and unwilling to show her thighs in public—make of this ad? Was it really an effective way to sell shoes?