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Elderly Mum who won't spend any money on clothes.

(53 Posts)
nansoval Wed 06-Jan-16 17:59:19

My mum is nearly 94 years old and lives independently. she is comfortably off financially, but refuses to buy any new/secondhand clothes.
Quite frankly I'm ashamed of the way she dresses but find it hard to tell her so - as does my sister.
She goes on and on about various items she needs, but there is never the right item anywhere.
She desperately needs a new wardrobe of clothes, but says she doesn't go anywhere to wear them and she won't get the wear out of them.
Shopping with her is diabolicle and ends in a shouting match.
anybody have any ideas on replacing her threadbare clothes ?

thatbags Thu 07-Jan-16 11:54:58

I also remember her telling me when she wasn't very old that she liked wearing the same old comfortable clothes all the time. Not that she didn't always look neat and smart, but she didn't feel the need for new and different when what she had was adequate. I guess being respectable was enough. Wise woman.

jinglbellsfrocks Thu 07-Jan-16 12:04:04

That's what I think Bags. The familiarity of old clothes must be comforting. And does it really matter if she's a little bit grubby? It's not going to hurt anyone.

Bijou Thu 07-Jan-16 12:09:04

I am 92 I still like wearing pretty dresses (hate trousers) and am always buying new ones. it is my DIL who wears drab old clothes. I wear make up and nail varnish even indoors.

nipsmum Thu 07-Jan-16 12:30:51

Your mum is 94. She cannot cope with change in anything. Old and familiar is important to her and it keeps her comfortable so at that age accept she has earned the right to argue with you and stop upsetting her.

Phoebes Thu 07-Jan-16 12:55:52

My Mum was nearly 85 when she died suddenly and was fit and on the ball right up until the end. She was extremely pretty and was always very smartly dressed and took a great interest in clothes. She was always happy at the thought of dressing up and looking smart and I hope I am following in her footsteps!

WilmaKnickersfit Thu 07-Jan-16 13:32:23

I feel a little bit sorry for the OP because she clearly says her Mum ... goes on and on about various items she needs, but there is never the right item anywhere..

All the OP asked is for ideas about solving the problem. We don't know if the lady keeps herself or her clothes clean or not. We do know she leaves the house though.

It does sound like the Mum has got into the habit of wearing the same clothes all the time (happens to us all) and some useful suggestions have been made. The phrase a new wardrobe of clothes can mean many things to many people, but I read it here to mean all her clothes are shabby. That's a bit different from the other examples where perfectly good clothes are going unworn.

I wonder who does the Mum's laundry? When my DH will not give up on an item of clothing that's comfortable but falling to bits (and I don't mean a bit shabby grin) , it surreptitiously finds its way to the bin.

Hopefully the OP will come back with more information. smile

rosesarered Thu 07-Jan-16 13:40:46

Not all ninety somethings are the same, as Bijou illustrates.
Perhaps you could look online with her at M&S or Debenhams, or Vyella etc?

rosesarered Thu 07-Jan-16 13:41:12

Better than trailing around the shops.

NanSue Thu 07-Jan-16 14:13:53

My 85 year old mum buys lots of clothes BUT she never wears them! She has stuff hanging in her wardrobe still with labels attached. However when we arrive to take her anywhere she always has the same old scruffy jumpers and trousers on that she has had for many years. If we comment and say something like "Oh Mum have you worn your new jumper/blouse etc.,She Just says "No" and that's the end of the conversation. I really don't get it confused

Teacher11 Thu 07-Jan-16 14:53:55

I always used to buy my mother clothes from M & S for her birthday and for Christmas. Recently at the age of 84 she has taken to saying she doesn't want anything new as she doesn't see the point of it. I feel it's very sad as it is giving up on life to a certain extent not to want to have nice things. I still bought her a new outfit for this Christmas, however, and she put it on after gracelessly saying, 'this is like the last one you bought me'. Well, it was a bit as she will only wear green or red and only the same style as she had before! Doh!

luluaugust Thu 07-Jan-16 15:01:45

My mum lived into her nineties, but for a few years before she died she couldn't face clothes shopping even if I got a wheelchair, so we sent off for lots of catalogues and had a bit of fun looking through them and sometimes she would choose something. She hated trousers so it was usually a jumper and skirt with a brooch or necklace. We always found underwear the really big problem, she was very amused when my eldest DD explained about thongs.

I am sure your mum likes the idea of an outing but the energy required for clothes shopping gets to some us much younger!

SusieB50 Thu 07-Jan-16 15:01:55

My mum of 93 will wear the same thing day after day . She has a carer to help her wash and dress and the carer sneaks things off to wash them ! But she has this gilet that she wears all the time and my sister and I have searched everywhere for another similar ( it's made from sweat shirt type material with the essential pockets) It was from Damart but the only ones we can find are fleece material which she hates. Has anyone seen any anywhere ? I managed to wash it over the Christmas period but mum wasn't happy without it . It must be a typical age thing as mum loved new clothes when younger and she still has a wardrobe full of really lovely things .

Stansgran Thu 07-Jan-16 16:26:41

Oh dear,I can never find anything I like and I have to prise my gilet off my own back to wash it and if I like something I buy the same thing in each and every colour(I'm wearing East longish flared skirt in black,also have same in navy and brown,ribbed polo neck from M&S which I have in every colour made and Viyella shaded jumper which I have two of the same and a purple one) perhaps op should do the same for the mother and get exactly the same clothes but several of the one item. I'm like the mum really fussy. And Bijou you are my role model from now on. I'm going to paint my nails now.

Synonymous Thu 07-Jan-16 16:38:46

nansoval as I understand it both your sister and yourself are agreed about someone else's (your mother's) clothes but from what that you say you are both unable to tell her how you feel. That seems to indicate that there may be a lack of frank communication amongst you all or it may indicate that you are aware it could be construed as disrespectful to her.
In the same way that you are not telling her how you feel she has clearly not told you to back off entirely. You say she speaks of various items she needs so she is not closed to the idea of a new item.
It sounds to me that you are perhaps just trying to push her too far or at least further than she can manage or imagine. Why not accept the 'one item shopping trip' and go to somewhere like John Lewis, having made an appointment with a personal shopper, and just leave her to it, get yourself a coffee in the restaurant and wait for them to contact you for the fashion parade? You never know what a PS can do that you, as her 'young' daughter will never be able to do, the main thing being keeping it professional and also a respectful distance.
Best not to put yourself through angst none of you need or put your mother to the trouble of fighting you off.
She is an old lady and may not have the energy to do all the things you want her to do. She may not even have the energy to think about one item never mind a whole new wardrobe. A PS can have a real flair for showing how things look with other items 'just to demonstrate' to the client what she is attempting to convey and before you know it she may have more new things than she ever thought she could think about.
I know - I have been there! I never know when I may have sufficient energy to go out to do this kind of thing but when my DD is around she makes everything so easy and is entirely at my disposal and if just as we arrive I say that I just can't do this she will either take me home or to somewhere where I can rest comfortably and then try again. If she battled with me nothing would ever happen.
It is always worth thinking about the whole day and making it a treat with a nice lunch or afternoon tea but being flexible is the key and a stress free environment is crucial.
I confess that keeping what you have is easier. I know myself that both DH and myself are prone to keeping what is comfy to wear longer than perhaps we should and our DC and DDIL tease us about it in a very light-hearted manner. If they became more personal and did not show the proper respect they would get a metaphorical bucket of cold water over them. grin
This needs very careful thought and a delicate touch BUT it could be fun for all if you have a good plan!
If in doubt leave well alone, she has clearly reached a great age and managed it for herself. smile

janie53 Thu 07-Jan-16 17:31:16

I bought my mum a few items from the Classics range in M&S because she no longer gets out to shop. I chose things that I thought she would like and took them to her house to try on. Everything was wrong! Returned the lot. Luckily I had anticipated this, so did not feel in the slightest aggrieved. She says she has plenty of clothes (which, in fact, she does) but she has lost weight recently and many are now too big for her. But she prefers to wear her comfy old things rather than think about new ones. It is all too challenging for her.

WilmaKnickersfit Thu 07-Jan-16 18:54:32

I wrote a post earlier that seems to have disappeared? confused.

I feel a little bit sorry for the OP because she clearly says her Mum goes on and on about various items she needs, but there is never the right item anywhere. and yet some posters are taking her to task for forcing the Mum to change her clothing.

We don't know if her Mum keeps herself or her clothes clean. We do know she leaves the house though.

It's clear the Mum is comfortable wearing the same things all the time (been there) and some useful suggestions have already been made.

I wonder who does the Mum's laundry?

When my DH won't get rid of something he wears that is falling to bits (and I don't mean a bit shabby grin), some how it surreptitiously ends up in the bin. This only happens to clothes he doesn't wear out some where, but any visitors or the neighbours do see him in full scruff mode. Later on when he misses the garment in question, I tell him it gave up the ghost in the wash and he finds something else that will do - he's not short of potential scruffs. He knows what's happened and we laugh about it.

Maybe some careful planning along these lines could achieve some results?

Lack of energy or apathy could easily be part of the problem. The Mum might not like looking at herself any more. Are her clothes hiding a frail body she's self conscious of these days? Maybe things are never right because she's not the size she used to be or thinks she is - lots of questions really.

Maybe the OP will be back soon with more information. smile

Lona Thu 07-Jan-16 19:07:24

Wilma Your post was at 13.32 wink

etheltbags1 Thu 07-Jan-16 19:44:03

my mother is exactly the same, I have been asking her for weeks to buy a new coat yet she insists that she like her old fleece jacket which is not warm enough for the winter, she has winter wool coats but says they are too heavy for her now as she has joint problems. I have nagged her for weeks. Today I bought her a padded coat expecting her to hate it yet she tried it on and likes it, (phew), shes is going to wear it the next time she goes out, now I have to get her to wear some sensible shoes......

granjura Thu 07-Jan-16 21:08:02

A difficult balance to strike- but in a way I feel we do not have the right to impose our way of thinking and doing things on our very elderly parents. I see it all the time here- and I find it sad. Indeed ensure tactfully that the person has clean clothes - but I feel sad that you are ashamed of your mother. As others said, perhaps tactfully bring good clean second-hand stuff with an attached story/history- saying it would be a shame to go to waste, etc.

WilmaKnickersfit Thu 07-Jan-16 22:01:11

Lona believe it or not I looked on my tablet and laptop and still couldn't see it. blush

It hasn't been mentioned, but perhaps the OP and her sister are concerned about someone reporting their Mum to Social Services if it looks like she's not taking enough care of herself.

Wendysue Fri 08-Jan-16 06:26:50

Actually, rereading the OP, I see she said "threadbare clothes." So I guess that means the clothes are really worn out. Sorry, nansoval, that I didn't pick that up before.

Still, I don't know if there's much you can do. If she's of sound mind, there might not be. She's an adult and has a right to make her own decisions.

Gifts are probably the best solution, IMO, if you know her sizes, and so forth. There's no guarantee she'll wear the new clothed, but at least, she'll have them, in case you're worried about social services, as Wilma suggests.

Was she always like this about clothes? Maybe she grew up poor and is used to being exceedingly frugal? Even though she can afford new clothes, if she has a "poor person's mentality," she may still be very cautious about spending.

Or is this a recent thing? If her clothes are so shabby, how is she in other areas of caring for herself? Is it time, maybe, for some extra help, like a hired carer?

One other thought... if this attitude is fairly new... could she have become depressed? Has she had an overall checkup, lately? You probably can't force her to seek help, anymore than you can get her to buy new clothes, I know. It's just a thought.

WilmaKnickersfit Fri 08-Jan-16 06:34:40

I know this is neither here nor there, but I must admit I am shocked to hear that if you are in a care home, you might be dressed in someone else's clothes. That is just plain wrong in my mind. Also, at 55 I just can't imagine being 94.

SheenaF Fri 08-Jan-16 08:33:46

I wonder whether you're a little concerned that other people will look at your mother's appearance, feel the same as you do, and think that she isn't cared for by her family. If she is as independent as you say I very much doubt that this is the case. If this is her choice then let it be.

trisher Fri 08-Jan-16 11:25:28

My mum is the same age and we have given up going shopping-she hates it. She is still captivated by anything she regards as a 'bargain' so I buy things for her in M&S when they are reduced. I wonder how your mum is at getting dressed? We have had to make allowances for age in many ways-trousers are now elasticated waist without zips (she can do them but it is another hassle she doesn't need. We also buy things for birthdays and Christmas, some she wears some she doesn't. it's all a bit hit and miss. Good luck!

granjura Fri 08-Jan-16 11:27:38

OH was only left money by a patient once- and a special mention in his will. His family wanted to put him in a care home- but he really wanted to stay in his bungalow. It was a tip, but a tip that he liked and felt comfortable in. The mess didn't bother HIM, at all. But the more his children pushed, the more he became 'rebelious' - and he was so grateful that OH talked to the family and insisted that as he was compus mentis- it was his choice, and his choice alone, and that their rôle and his, was to support him in his decisions as long as he wanted that. He felt respected and listened to, and that he still had some control over his life.

Perhaps your mother is becoming rebelious in order to show that she is in charge of her life and decisions, and won't be pushed into what she doesn't want. It maybe 'childish' ... but for that person, it is perhaps the only way they have to make the point 'I may be old but don't tell me what to do, thank you'. Not easy for you (been there myself)- but you can gently persuade, by clever and discreet gifts, etc, - but she may still decide that she prefer the familiarity of her old own clothes.