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Does ‘Mutton dressed as Lamb’ still apply in 2023?

Woman trying on clothes

We’ve all heard of that infamous saying ‘mutton dressed as lamb’, simply explained in the Cambridge Dictionary as a way of describing an older woman who is dressed in a style that is more suitable for a younger woman. If there is one phrase I would like to exterminate forever along with wedge trainers, lace-up jeans, real fur and over-plucked eyebrows – it’s this one! There is nothing more insulting to a woman in 2023 who is trying to explore her creativity and personality by dressing for HERSELF and how she pleases, than this ‘ick’ phrase being whispered and mentioned. It implies that only young women are allowed to dress how they please – which of course, is ridiculous.

‘Mutton dressed as lamb’ is a derogatory term towards women and yet, it is rarely challenged. In fact, it’s a surefire way to knock every ounce of confidence in a woman who enjoys looking good and dressing for herself. It seems, women reach a certain pivotal age and all of a sudden, what they wear is questioned. There are certain so-called ‘rules’ that supposedly need to be adhered to. Is that hemline too short? Is there too much boob showing? Should I not be wearing low-rise jeans now? All of a sudden, questions come into play leaving women confused about what to wear and what not to wear at a time in their lives when things are falling out, drying up, dropping and thinning out – don’t we have enough to deal with?

Colleen Heidemann, a 73-year-old former flight attendant, who started her modelling career at the ripe old age of 69 and who has gained a following of almost 320,000 on TikTok, uses the platform to dismiss senior stereotypes by sharing videos of her stunning and racy outfits stating “wear what makes you beautiful”. She has defied those who tell her she dresses inappropriately for her age and is now encouraging others to just ”wear what makes you feel good”.

Carol Vorderman once exclaimed that at 39 years old (over 20 years ago), she was labelled ‘mutton dressed as lamb’ for wearing a blue dress to the BAFTA’s, which was above the knee. The press had a field day with it and it became a massive story. Could you imagine labelling a 39-year-old woman these days as ‘mutton dressed as lamb’ for wearing a hemline above the knee? Thankfully, it’s unlikely to happen. For example, women like JLo have done a lot to break the stereotypes of what 53 year old’s should dress like and attitudes have begun to shift.

Of course, short skirts, skimpy shorts, boob tubes and cropped tops are not everyone’s cup of tea and nor should they be. You don’t have to have a wardrobe of the latest ‘coolest’ trends to keep up with the fashion set, you don’t have to adopt a style that isn’t yours and you don’t have to wear anything that makes you uncomfortable. But you DO have to wear what you want each day, whatever brings you joy and expresses your individual personality without the fear of the ‘mutton dressed as lamb’ police showing up because there is no room for them in your life or in your wardrobe!


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