Because you can't have depths without surfaces.
Linda Grant, thinking about clothes, books and other matters.

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

The mutton question

Reading Sarah Mower's informative piece in the Telegraph last week on grown-up dressing, I was nonetheless, taken aback by the following statement:

Everyone past the age of 40 needs a "mutton monitor". I belong to a telephonic kaffee klatch that does the job without the slightest risk of false flattery.

In the case of black leather biker jackets – this winter's high street sell-out – there wouldn't be the minutest margin of a doubt. Should one of our number be tempted to revert to Suzy Quatro mode, she'd just have to be stopped.

The rock chick mantle must always be passed to those in their twenties, fact. That means it's the property of the likes of Amy Winehouse. Even Kate Moss, moving up into her mid-thirties, will be pushing the mutton-button with that one any minute now.



Erm, I just bought a leather jacket. I had been looking for a leather jacket of this length and shape for four years.


Now Sarah Mower has enveloped it in slight doubt.


The mutton question is relative, like whether one can wear a short skirt after the age of forty. In my case, with my knees, I shouldn't have been wearing a mini-skirt at sixteen - it's the legs that matter, not the age.

What are often hauled out in fashion magazines as styles suitable for the over fifties, labelled 'classic', make me look like a frump, particularly as they are recommended in those shades known as neutrals, first developed in England amongst the country house set, so as not to frighten the grouse, then taken up by Donna Karan and transferred to New York.

Classic neutrals turn me into the invisible woman. They make me feel depressed. I am not myself. Working out what suits you is a fine art, and the younger you begin your training the better for you will need it in later life. By all means wear what everyone else is wearing at fifteen, even if it is one of those midriff-baring tops, revealing a bluish slab of wobbling goose-pimpled flesh. Adolescent bad fashion, like drugs and bad sex,* are part of the rites of passage we need to go through to weather us for the storms ahead. Then the real work begins.

A while back I had lunch in my neighbourhood with an American artist who had just turned sixty. She was wearing paint splattered jeans with the bottoms rolled up, Converse All Stars and a sweater. Her hair was what's known in the US as a Jewfro - a mass of wild reddish curls with streaks of grey. She looked just fabulous. You're not supposed to dress like that at sixty, I said. Whose law? she asked.

Jeans and a leather jacket at sixty are a wonderful look, I contend, combined with fantastic hairdressing,** which from the age of forty-five should be a woman's single largest personal investment. A subject to which I shall no doubt return.

* Though just say no, is good too
** Thank you, Mario and Roger

11 comments:

materfamilias said...

I could not agree more -- the "mutton" issue is so offensive with its inherent reference to butcher-shop windows -- mutton dressed as lamb indeed, horrid! And that women have adopted this expression to police our own appearance seems doubly offensive to me. I have the legs for short skirts and altho' I certainly don't do mini any more, I will wear an above-the-knee denim skirt with a black leather jacket (btw, is someone going to tell Joan Jett she's gotta stop with the leather already, grandma! And then there's Yoko!). I bet you'll look fabulous in your new jacket -- we can show 'em that although we might wear lambskin, we're not trying to be lambs, just our fabulous older selves!

Linda Grant said...

I think mid thigh over 50 is not a good look but the couple of inches above the kneecap looks fantastic if you have the legs to show off.

Myself, I have a waist, hence this jacket is very good for me, it's the shape and bum covering, that I like. The leather blazer which I like on others, is slightly too boxy for me. Work with the shape, I say.

twollin said...

I take offence because it smacks of "once you are over 30 (or 40 or 50), you are supposed to disappear into the woodwork."
I'm going to be 56 and do NOT intend to disappear. As a matter of fact this morning, I had the uncanny feeling that what I should really do is shave my head.
Mutton, indeed. This is just more of the same business that being female, young, and thin is very ok - being female, not so young and not so thin -- not so much.

Linda Grant said...

I think I might need a second post on this subject. I find I have further thoughts. . .

materfamilias said...

And you've inspired me to post briefly on my own blog, although I'm going to have to think through and post again later. If you have a
minute, I'm at http://materfamiliasknits.blogspot.com/

Dana said...

Get the jacket---it's fantastic.

bonnie-ann black said...

i agree with twollin: it's just another example of the way women are manipulated, put down and even isolated from each other... our whole fashion and beauty industry is based on guilt, shame and viciousness. buy that leather jacket -- and get the whip that goes with it so you can beat any sanctimonious naysayer who says you shouldn't (aren't entitled to) wear it!

Linda Grant said...

Don't worry, I've got that jacket

Deja Pseu said...

Linda, first let me say how much I've been enjoying your blog.

Ah the Mutton Conundrum, many of us are on about this topic this week. Personally, I think a short leather jacket is a fabulous look that transcends age. I have two, one black, one brown.

Our youth-worshipping culture either wants us botoxed or invisible. To hell with that, I say!

Gina said...

"What are often hauled out in fashion magazines as styles suitable for the over fifties, labelled 'classic', make me look like a frump, particularly as they are recommended in those shades known as neutrals, first developed in England amongst the country house set, so as not to frighten the grouse, then taken up by Donna Karan and transferred to New York."
I nearly passed out with laughter. It is a sad state of affairs when it comes to shopping at most malls in the US -- there's precious little between the extremes of Homely Housefrau Frump and Teenaged Hooker. Where are those clothes with attitude??

Anonymous said...

i believe women can whatever they want at whatever age. i have a problem with leather though. and the thought that an animal has suffered brutally just so someone could feel fashionable