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Abstract:
This study explored the perceptions of young U.S. designers regarding apparel color choices for the elderly women and compared it with established research findings regarding color perceptions of the older eye. By 2030, there will be approximately 71 million Americans over age of 65. With aging, the crystalline lens of the eye ages as well, which in turn effects color perception. Research on the ability of the aging eye to perceive color demonstrates that the yellowing of lens in the older adult creates problems with discriminating short wavelength colors (blue and violet) as well as seeing colors in low saturation such as pastels. This study assessed design students regarding their perceptions of which likely colors they felt elderly women would chose for themselves. One hundred and thirty-eight student volunteers from textile classes offered in a large university were surveyed about their perceptions of various colors and saturations. In one part of the survey, students were asked to rank the likelihood that elderly women would choose specific colors or palettes for their apparel. Colors described as “soft/calming”, “soothing”, and “pastel” were selected as the most likely for elderly women to choose for themselves for apparel. Further, colors described as “brilliant”, “bright” and “vivid” were selected as among the least likely for elderly women to choose for themselves for apparel. When shown palettes of colors, the participants rated the bright palette as the worst choice for the elderly and the low saturation palette as the best choice. The results suggest that young designers are unaware that products they design in low saturation colors are more likely to be perceived by the elderly consumer as shades of gray. Education of young designers should include a discussion of the importance of considering the aging eye when designing for the elderly.

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