The Fall/Winter Simplicity pattern book from 1967 contains a ten page spread of fashion advice for older women from the photographer Frances McLaughlin-Gill. I had never heard the name, but she was well known at the time for her fashion journalism. She later went to write books and make documentaries.
As a woman of a certain age (48 at the time), she gives her ideas about the new styles of the sixties that proved a challenge for some older women. “The current young spirit of fashion definitely has a place in the mature woman’s wardrobe, but each person must tone it and adapt it to her individual type and needs. A long skirt dates you. I love the short skirt, wear mine about 1” or so above my knee. The length is becoming and marvelously comfortable.”
A series of small photographs document the essay, showing McLaughlin-Gill as trim and fit. That made it easy for her to fit into regular clothing sizes. She recommends a number of Simplicity patterns for women of her age, only one which went up to a size 20 (bust size 40 inches). On her list were knit dresses, culottes, and a pantsuit. “The story of Mrs. McLaughlin-Gill and the pantsuit typifies her fashion outlook. ‘I wouldn’t wear it while it was a novelty,’ she says, ‘but now it is apart of the times and I love it. Same with all my clothes. Fashion is young now, and I want my clothes to be every inch today.’”(94)
A section of the magazine shows patterns offered in larger “woman” sizes and half sizes. In contradiction to the fashion spread, only dresses were available. Simplicity didn’t offer larger women the option of a pantsuit.