Clothing styles just one of the changes for an aging population

By Susan Anderson-Khleif

Daily Herald Correspondent

Recently a friend asked me: “Did you ever think you’d be wearing linen shirts and jeans?”

She meant every day, for almost every activity. So true. And in the winter flannel shirts (instead of linen) — just a small variation.

For some reason we were talking about the widespread move to casual clothing, for both women and men, for almost every occasion. It’s so true. People hardly “dress up” anymore, even for work. And even then, it’s pretty low key.

What is this all about? Well, it probably started more than 50 years ago, as the baby boomers started coming of age in the late 1960s. A lot of social customs and norms started changing. Clothing was certainly one of them.

I’m thinking the current super casual environment also has something to do with the baby boom. Not entirely, but partially. It’s probably also connected with changes in the stage of life, as the population ages, and with current social life in general. The post World War II baby boom is still moving along through life.



There was a time when people wore their “Sunday best” not only to church, but to meetings and all sorts of special occasions. There were lots of bridge club parties and home dinner parties where people came “dressed to the nines.” Especially in the 1950s and early 1960s.

Women wore lots of elaborate costume jewelry mixed in with the real gems, too. My own parents did those things and “dressed up” for parties. Now people are more likely to meet at a restaurant or party venue.

Then there was the 1980-2000 business scene for the next generation (mine). As a matter of fact, I still have a closet full of “business clothes” including dressy jackets and pants suits for work and business gatherings. Clothing morphed into “business casual” but still rather dressy. And expensive!

However, I don’t even wear those clothes anymore. Very rarely. My late husband Baheej also had a lot of academic suits and tweed jackets but eventually got very casual along with the rest of us.



The point is: Social life has indeed changed — and clothing along with it. Personally, I like the more casual look. It’s more comfortable, less expensive.

It’s better suited to our current lifestyle. And my kitties could not care less what I am wearing! As long as they get affection, a comfortable and safe home, and good meals — they are happy. Some things never change!

• Susan Anderson-Khleif of Sleepy Hollow has a doctorate in family sociology from Harvard, taught at Wellesley College and is a retired Motorola executive. Contact her at or see her blog See previous columns at


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