At 77, veteran ‘fashion concierge’ looks to keep elderly women stylish



Reaching retirement age is no reason for relinquishing one’s sense of style, a Tokyo-based fashion expert advises her older female clients.

“Women have beautiful features even when they get old, but most lose confidence as they age,” Sachiko Kawabe said. “I want them to have the courage to enjoy their lives.”

Since last November, Kawabe, 77, has offered wardrobe advice, including on undergarments, to women in their 60s to 70s at Tokyo department stores in collaboration with Wacoal Corp., a major Japanese maker of women’s underwear.

“The first rule is to maintain good posture and live a healthy life,” she said. Kawabe herself has swum for 38 years to keep herself in good shape.

As they get old, women are often troubled by such physical changes as sagging breasts, lower hip lines and bending torsos, and many lose interest in fashion, Kawabe said.

She particularly cautions women against caring little about their underwear and prioritizing only comfort.

“Don’t say ‘Anything is fine,’ ” she said. “The point is to pick items that make your silhouette look beautiful.”

“Underwear may be something you wouldn’t show to other people, but favorite underwear should offer you a sense of spiritual well-being,” she said. “For instance, you may wear red underwear.”

A native of Tokyo, Kawabe worked for half a century as a hair and makeup artist at fashion shows around the world for high-end brands, including Issey Miyake and Yves Saint Laurent.

She currently runs a beauty salon called Kawabe Lab in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward and advises elderly women on the mental and physical challenges that arise with aging.

Choosing to wear short skirts at an age when many would shy away from such designs, Kawabe said, “Although this may not suit my age, I would rather value individuality.

“My wish is to continue to be a ‘fashion concierge’ who can discover positive qualities in elderly women and pay a compliment to them,” she said.