Outlines and Outliers: A mix-method study of garment silhouette and the ageing body shape

Minzhi Zhang, Simeon Gill, Sonja Andrew

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


Changes to the female body through ageing can often be characterised as ‘thickened waist’, ‘protruding abdomen’, and ‘flattened buttocks’, though how these manifest in clothing choices is rarely explored. This raises difficulties of finding well-fitting clothing for older women. This paper investigates the relationship between older women’s body shapes and their preferences for garment silhouettes. In order to access the elders’ experience on garment silhouette and discover their ideation for ‘fitted’ garments, mixed methodologies were used by exploring ‘what people say’, ‘what people do’, and ‘what people make’. The data was collected through interviews, wardrobe studies, and co-sketching with 27 Chinese ageing women (aged 55-70), anthropometric data of the bust circumference, waist circumference, and hip circumference were captured to allow shape to be described. There are three key findings from the research: (1) drop values (hip-to-bust, bust-to-waist, and hip-to-waist) significantly influenced the choice of garment silhouette for older women, rather than absolute values of body measurements; (2) older women’s preferences on garment silhouette are determined based on the visualisation of their individual body shape, which suggests fashion brands can optimize their product structure according to anthropometric data; and (3) both preference consistencies and divergences of view were found between the three methodologies, which indicates that mixed methods approaches are the most valid method to understand the complex interaction between body shape and clothing choices.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication91st Textile Institute World Conference 2018
Subtitle of host publicationIntegrating Design with Sustainable Technology
PublisherCurran Associates, Inc
Number of pages13
ISBN (Print)9781713834441
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2021
Event91st Textile Institute World Conference: Integrating Design with Sustainability - University of Leeds, Leeds, United Kingdom
Duration: 23 Jul 201826 Jul 2018
Conference number: 91
http://www.tiworldconference.org/ (Link to Conference Website)


Conference91st Textile Institute World Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


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