ATLANTA — Perhaps more than any other age group, Baby Boomers know what they want.

Personal style is hugely important to women ages 40 to 60 years old. They don’t feel old and adamantly refuse to look matronly, dowdy or any other negative style point formerly associated with middle age. In fact, most would rather be accused of dressing too young than too old.

Boomers see the apparel they wear as an important form of individual expression, as opposed to staying on top of trends.

They are rarely brand-loyal, but they will stick with stores that offer fit, quality, convenience and service, according to more than a dozen Boomers interviewed by WWD in the Atlanta area. If the experience is positive, shopping can be a major self-esteem booster.

When asked in the first and second quarters how much they’d spent on apparel in the past month, women ages 37 to 57 told the Cotton Inc. Lifestyle Monitor that they expended $80.17 on average “in the past month,” or 9 percent less than the $88.28 spent by females ages 13 to 36 and 58 to 70.

Here, Boomers speak out — putting concepts of middle age through an extreme makeover.

Debra Davenport, 50
I.T. Project Manager, Bellsouth

“I shop because it makes me feel good, and what I buy reflects on my self-esteem. I don’t read fashion magazines, and I don’t care what’s in style. I’m not concerned with ‘looking my age’ — I’d wear low-rise jeans and a belly-button ring if it looked good on me. That’s the key — what looks good on me.

“The Saturday before my 50th birthday, I spent $1,300 at Chico’s on clothing, belts, accessories. I like the positive experience of shopping at Chico’s, and I like the comfort, easy-care fabrics and style. Sometimes I think Chico’s fit is too dowdy, and I wish they offered more tailored clothing, but still, I’m really into it.

“I used to wear Jones New York and Liz Claiborne, but they’re so boring. The workplace is more casual now, and more things are acceptable.

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