Does My Bum Look Mutton In This?
i have a confession to make. In my past life, before I retreated to the welly clad countryside, I was something of a fashionista. When I worked in Soho I was young, with a fairly disposable income, and I absolutely adored clothes and shoes. The joy of being in your twenties, of course, is that you can get away with fairly outrageous garments and, as I was working in television, such outrageousness was regarded positively.
Of course, all that was a while ago; I’m now in my late (sob!) thirties, working mainly from home and living with my fiancée, stepdaughter and two very demanding cats. The problem is that I haven’t really paid a lot of attention to the years creeping past when it comes to my wardrobe and, by extension, my attitude to life. When I am out with my stepdaughter (aged four and a half), I spend a lot of time convinced that some authority figure is going to come up and ask if I’m old enough and responsible enough to be left in charge of a small child. This, my friends, is clearly denial.
Lately, I’ve begun to worry that this denial is spreading to my wardrobe. Without wishing to make myself sound horribly smug, I’ve been very lucky with my genes and can still fit into clothes I bought when I was fifteen… but whether I should be wearing these out in public is another matter entirely. I’m quite strict with my wardrobe and have regular ‘culls’ of clothes that haven’t been worn for over a year, along with any ridiculous high-heeled shoes left over from the aforementioned ‘Soho’ days. (Reading that back suggests that my career in London was more ‘lady of the night’ than I meant it to sound… I can assure you that these were merely normal heels!)
Even with regular culls, though, some items have remained in there that might be considered ‘questionable’ for anyone out of their teenage years to be seen dead in. Just because I can physically get away with a short skirt or little skimpy shorts doesn’t necessarily mean that I should wear said item. Nowadays, my second reaction upon opening my wardrobe doors (the first is an involuntary shudder as I remember how much money I spent on clothes in my twenties and how much of the gas bill that could have paid) is to ask myself the title question.
The coming of Spring (which as I write this, still seems to have forgotten it’s meant to arrive) heralds the start of ‘Mutton’ worries for many women. Winter is a forgiving time, clothes-wise, with most of us wrapped up in so many layers against the cold that it’s often difficult to ascertain that we’re even female, let alone our age or shape. But the coming of the warmer months offers little defence. Fewer clothes mean fewer places to hide.
I’m not a fan of subscribing to the idea that you ‘can’t’ wear certain styles because of your age. I think it’s often just a question of toning things down a notch and being confident in your choice of outfit. Ultimately, whether you look good in something often comes down to the confidence with which you carry it off. But surely one of the benefits of getting older is knowing what suits you – and this, I think, is the ultimate secret to avoiding the mutton trap.
The problem, you see, is attempting to keep up with fashion trends too slavishly. There’s nothing wrong with trying things when you’re a teenager but surely the majority of us have realised, by the time we reach our thirties, that most so-called ‘trends’ should be taken with a pinch of salt. Half of them are recycled from a previous decade anyway. Those of us old enough to remember batwing tops the first time round surely have the common sense to avoid them second time round?
I still love my wardrobe and I still love a lot of my ‘out there’ clothing. But I also relish the chance to wear what I damn well please, without any fears of whether I’m fashionable or not. As long as I feel good, I’m happy. Avoiding the mutton trap must surely be as simple as that… although, to be fair, top-to-toe leopard skin print is still mutton, whoever you are…