I think it's important for a housewife to be well-dressed. If she is frumpy, not only she will project the bad image of her chosen occupation, but her self-esteem will suffer, too. For a woman to feel feminine, it's important to look well and to know it. Being well-groomed is a sign of class. This includes maintaining the healthy weight and taking good care of yourself. Why is it that every woman I know was glued to the telly when they were showing the wedding in the English Royal Family? It's not only because we women get sentimental if someone marries, or due to vulgar curiosity, but because of all those pretty dresses the ladies were wearing.
Of course, these dresses are rather costly and most people aren't rich upper class aristocrats and can't afford custom-made clothes, myself included. However, with years I have come to conclusion that while trying to save money ít's important not to fall into another extremity. namely buying cheap low quality stuff which falls apart after the first washing. It's generally a better idea to wait until the more expensive shops have big sales (they usually have them twice a year, in January and in the end of summer) and then search for bargains on brand name clothes. They normally fit better and wear longer. Personally I feel inspired when I see a lady making an effort to look well, which is possible at any age:
(This is a photo of the Swedish Queen taken last year in Paris).