Thursday, January 4, 2007

With a Little Mint Sauce

A reader writes:

"I recently bought a pair of gauchos (dark grey tweed) that I am crazy about. They are not swingy or flared. Fairly understated as far as gauchos go. I've worn them with t-strap wedges, light tights, a very feminine top and a kickass velvet jacket. The thing is, I'm worried that as a 41 year-old woman I shouldn't be wearing gauchos. I receive many
compliments when I wear them, but really, is it a case of mutton dressed as lamb?"

Well, how wonderful. How wonderful that someone is actually considering age-appropriateness in her clothing! This warms my cockles no end. We've heard plenty in the last few years about how 40 is the new 30, but walking around the mall it seems that 40 is the new 16. (And 13 is evidently the new 25-- my god, what are some of these children wearing? Please! Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be pole-dancers!)

Yes. The Mutton Dressed as Lamb Phenomenon has reached epidemic proportions. I suppose it's the logical extension of our cultural Peter Pan syndrome -- our obsession with youth, our panic at the signs of the natural aging process, our general refusal to grow up. (Did you know there is now diamond-encrusted "Hello, Kitty" jewelry, some pieces costing many thousands of dollars?

($4250 to look like a kindergardner with cleavage. Revolting.)

What's next, life-sized pink plastic convertibles with 8-cylinder engines and daisy-shaped stickers all over them?)

I'm the first to agree that 40 is definitely not what it was thirty or even twenty years ago. (I'm 41, in case you're wond
ering.) But just because you're a Yummy Mummy doesn't mean you get to throw all sense of propriety out the window. Like it or not, as we grow older (not old, just older) some things are no longer appropriate. Anything with writing across your ass, for example, no matter how Pilates-firm and self-tanned said ass might be. Anything so short you have to put down a towel in order to sit hygienically in public places. Anything that reveals to strangers your preference in undergarments.

(Pop-stardom is no excuse. Poor little dog...)

I don't want us all to become Grandma Moses the moment we turn 18,

(Would someone just buy these two a pony or something?)

and no one needs to carry around a sign saying, "Hi! I'm 41!" I don't want to define anyone merely by the number of years they've been walking the planet, there's much more to any of us than that. But. I also don't want you to make a fool of yourself. Let's just use this rule of thumb: If you're old enough to have a teenager (regardless of whether or not you do), you're too old to dress like one. That means stay out of the juniors department, no matter how fantastic your legs still are and no matter how hard the glittery letters on that t-shirt wink at you.

So. Back to the original impetus for this post: Christy, my guess is you're rocking those cropped pants in a way to make all of us 40-somethings proud, and the 20-somethings envious. That outfit sounds great -- youthful without being childish, hip, and stylish. Just about perfect.

Just don't put on any "Hello, Kitty" jewelry.

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Lucyshnoosy said...

LOL! I agree with you, and love the way you phrased this. (Especially the comment about "The Mutton Dressed as Lamb Phenomenon" - haven't heard that expression in a looong
Funny, and definitely on target.
Also: although I find "Hello Kitty" cute, it kind of creeps me out that so many women adore an icon with NO MOUTH.

boisdejasmin said...

I would love to find out why on earth these two girls always look so disheveled and unkempt. Even when they are dressed up for a photo shoot. After all, they are quite cute.

Great blog, A! I will be a frequent reader. :)

Sian said...

It's the long hair as well. With or without extensions. These women in their thirties and older with long princess hair, frequently blonde and teased a little, trying to pretend that they're still sixteen. It goes with the skinny jeans and T-shirt thing and