- The elderly population in our society is increasing both in number
and proportion, with the life expectancy of women increasing more than
men. Their needs have been given increased attention in recent years.
Many studies have been done on clothing for older women, but few have
dealt with the older woman's clothing practices for specific occasions
and whether these practices have changed since she was middle-aged.
The major purposes of this study were to determine the types of clothing
women 65-74, 75-84, and 85 and over wear for specific occasions compared
to the types of clothing they wore when they were in their 40's; and to
investigate the relationship of the older woman's present clothing
behavior to: perception of self as young, middle-aged or elderly;
occupation prior to retirement; marital status; education; degree of
social participation; and sex-role concept. In addition, the investigator
was interested in finding out if the elderly woman was wearing
bifurcated garments, and whether certain physical characteristics were
affecting her clothing choices.
The sample was randomly selected from Benton County voter
registration files and included a total of 102 women age 65-74, 75-84,
and 85 and over. Information gathered from interviewing the subjects in
their homes was recorded on data collection sheets, scored, coded, and
then keypunched on cards to facilitate statistical analysis. The
McNemar test for the significance of change was used to determine if
there was a significant change in the clothing behavior of women 65-74,
75-84, and 85 and over. A chi-square test was used to investigate
relationships between the present clothing behavior of women 65 and over
and perception of self, occupation when 55-64, marital status, education,
degree of social participation, and sex-role concept. A chisquare
test was also used to compare education and sex-role concept.
A significance level of .05 was selected for all statistical tests.
The proportion of older women in Benton County represented in this
study was 65-74 (3%), 75-84 (5%), and 85 and over (16%). The majority
of the women perceived themselves as middle-aged, lived in a city
(25,000-99,000), were widowed, and had a higher education level than
the average in Oregon. It was found that 80.4% of the sample wear
bifurcated garments. For each age group, the percentage wearing them
was 94.1% (age 66-74), 88.2% (age 75-84), and 58.8% (age 85+). In
addition, arthritis was the most frequently mentioned physical problem,
and the preferred clothing characteristic for those who have physical
problems is a garment with a front opening.
There were many significant changes in the clothing behavior of
older women from when they were in their 40's to the present. There
were 30 significant changes for women 65-74, 22 for women 75-84, and
16 for women 85 and over. A total of 68 significant changes was found
in 240 statistical tests, which was high considering that statistical
tests were run for every occasion and category of dress even though some
categories of dress did not fit the occasion (e.g., bathrobe for
church). Inmost instances of significant change, women decreased the
frequency with which they were wearing dresses or suits, and increased
their frequency of wearing bifurcated garments.
There was little relationship found between the present clothing
behavior of women 65 and over and: perception of self as young, middleaged,
or elderly; occupation at age 55-64; marital status; educational
level; level of social participation; and sex-role concept.