What is frumpy?

(50 Posts)
hiddenhome Sat 20-Jul-13 13:38:10

I often follow links on threads that lead to various types of clothing and then people will come on and say "oh, that's frumpy, I wouldn't wear that".

Some of the clothes on the links look okay and then I'm wondering what it is about them that means they're frumpy.

I understand that polyester granny blouses are universally frumpy, but can't really judge much else.

People say that Boden and Seasalt are frumpy, but to me, they look quite nice and the models are all young and they still look nice.

What do none frumpy people generally wear?

Can anyone elaborate?

I think frumpy is a state of mind


bleedingheart Sat 20-Jul-13 14:01:46

I think it's when someone dressed a certain way because they think they should be inconspicuous and plain. As though they hav forgotten or subsumed their real tastes and interests.
Dressing for comfort and ease with no thought to style, pairing inappropriate items e.g: fleece jacket, blouse, jeans, trainers and ladylike handbag. Dressing with very little consideration for how it looks!

bleedingheart Sat 20-Jul-13 14:02:15

Apologies for typos.

Suzieismyname Sat 20-Jul-13 14:06:49

Frumpy is not wearing the latest fashion. I'm a frump and I couldn't care less. I don't have the time, money, body or inclination to change!

Somethingyesterday Sat 20-Jul-13 14:36:35

It's a really interesting question OP. And there are a million different answers - partly because we all see things so differently but more importantly we all wear our clothes in conjunction with our own attitudes.

Take your example. On someone of any age who has absolutely no interest in clothing or "style"; who doesn't (for whatever reason) "take care of themselves" or see dressing as part of communication, that polyester granny blouse might be hideous. On another person, of any age, who knows exactly what they want to convey - even if only to themselves in the mirror, the same item could turn any street into a catwalk. It really isn't about the things themselves but why they were chosen and how they are worn.

If someone says to me that they buy most of their clothes at Boden - I would tend to feel that we probably won't have many interesting conversations about clothes. But I'm perfectly aware that the most stylish person in a room full of style might well be wearing one or two Boden items.

I do think one element of non-frumpiness is the willingness to (horrible phrase) move out of one's comfort zone. Literally and metaphorically.

dexter73 Sat 20-Jul-13 15:09:04

Frumpy is not wearing the latest fashion
I disagree. On me a pleated midi skirt could definitely look frumpy but on someone else could look amazing. It doesn't even have to be a young person, just someone for whom that look is right.

Leverette Sat 20-Jul-13 15:36:36
Fairyliz Sat 20-Jul-13 16:04:09

I think of frumpy if you are wearing something that would normally be worn by someone 20 years older than you and mutton if you are wearing something worn usually by people 20 years younger.

hermioneweasley Sat 20-Jul-13 16:26:07

Leverette, that link is vile. Taking the piss out of people for needing mobility aids, WTF?

I am frumpy - dress for comfort, size 14 pear shape, wash & wear hair (brown). Couldn't care less.

alemci Sat 20-Jul-13 16:36:01

Hayley Cropper look?

alemci Sat 20-Jul-13 16:36:47

quite like the Wolf Jackets.

missbopeep Sat 20-Jul-13 16:55:24

Frumpy imo is when you stop feeling like a sexual person and wear nothing that accentuates your assets- in other words you hide under clothes instead of them being your friend. I don't mean you get your tits out or wear minis. I just mean you take a long hard look at yourself, consider what is 'fashionable' at the moment and make some small adjustments to you look the best you can, rather than just throwing on something to cover up your nakedness!

My examples of frumpy include : ( here we go smile )
-women over 50 -ish and older who have very mannish hair cuts - short and almost shaved up the back.
- fleeces worn almost all the time eg in the supermarket.
- jeans that don't really fit but are a daily 'uniform'- often worn with a baggy jumper and a fleece.
- no effort at all to use a bit of make up, have a good hair cut and generally bother with some grooming.
- calf length skirts which aren't long enough to be maxis - on middle aged women.
- what I can only describe as 'droopy dresses'- no waist, no shape, long length, usually a floral pattern.

Suzieismyname Sat 20-Jul-13 17:12:08

I think it's all subjective... I am frumpy but would never wear a wolf fleece, that's hideous!

Reminds me of when I used to watch the Apprentice and they were on one of the shopping channels. They completely misunderstood the audience and were anazed that the wolf fleeces sold kike hotcakes!

WipsGlitter Sat 20-Jul-13 17:19:38

I agree frumpy is partly a state of mind. And the inappropriately paired clothes.

I know someone who's really sweetn great figure but just looks frumpy - dodgy (old lady) hairdo, pop socks, polyester trousers. It's hard to put your figure on it. She just seems to get it "wrong".

missbopeep Sat 20-Jul-13 17:26:49

figure ( finger?)- typo or freudian slip - but grin whichever!

missbopeep Sat 20-Jul-13 17:28:52

Young and pretty women can wear anything and look lovely ( as in models in Boden catalogue.)

But put the garments on your average size 16 45+ woman ( Boden demography I suspect) then it's a different look.

Nothing against Boden, size 16 or women ages 45+ ( I tick 2 of those boxes!) but you get the idea.

invicta Sat 20-Jul-13 17:32:20

Frumpy is wearing clothes with no style, or are too big or baggy, or lack colour.

Its also wearing clothes that are wrong for your shape. What suits one person doesn't suit another.

hiddenhome Sat 20-Jul-13 18:39:29

Thanks for these insights. I kind of get what people mean.

missbopeep Sat 20-Jul-13 18:44:39

One yardstick for me is ' would my mum and her friends wear it?' if the answer is yes, then I swerve. The rules out most of Per Una as my mum is 86.

Wishihadabs Sat 20-Jul-13 18:45:13

I think I look frumpy at work , safe, sensible, below the knee and flat shoes.

Wishihadabs Sat 20-Jul-13 18:46:40

Outside of work I am a minx I tells ya. Definitely veer towards the mutton (I am 37).

Corygal Sat 20-Jul-13 18:49:49

Frumpy isn't bad style - it's no style.

You're looking for unflattering clothes with their evil twin, not caring.

Arisbottle Sat 20-Jul-13 18:51:07

A word used to belittle other women , strangely often used by other women.

ouryve Sat 20-Jul-13 18:59:28

I have no objection to being frumpy, since I'm one of those people who hit middle age before I started primary school, but I rock the short, mannish hair and fleece thing - only my hair is very well cut and flattering to my angular features and my fleeces are usually purple and fitted and I usually dress like I'm going walking (even though that walk is most usually from one end of the village to the other with the kids)

internationallove985 Sat 20-Jul-13 21:55:58

I think it laymans (hope I've spelled that correct) it means when a person has no pride in their dress sense or appearance. x

moonshine Sat 20-Jul-13 22:29:42

Short hair on older women is not necessarily frumpy! (eg see Helen Mirren, Judy Dench, Edie Falco, Halle Berry, Jamie Lee Curtis, Sharon Stone etc etc and all the other uncelebrated non-celebrities).

And there are plenty of young frumps with long and short hair - it's not one thing in particular. I agree that what looks frumpy on one person can look edgy-ish on another.

gindrinker Sun 21-Jul-13 07:54:42

To me frumpy is dressing older than your years.
So 25 year old wearing bootleg jeans, ankle boots with a sensible heel a 'safe' top (no hint of cleavage or shoulders)

Nothing wrong with it, but just very safe and dull.

"Frumpy" is exclusively applies to women isn't it? men don't get called frumpy.

I think that's why I don't like the word personally

Roshbegosh Sun 21-Jul-13 08:01:16

I think it means dull, older than you are, like you haven't tried.
The wolf fleece link is vile, it is taking the piss out of poor people, no one with money dresses like that even frumpy people with money. Shame on you leverette

gindrinker Sun 21-Jul-13 08:20:59

NC - clothing for 16 yr old boys and 50 men is essentially the same though.
They don't have as much variety to choose from and their body shapes are much more similar so a tee-shirt on man 1 will look the same on man 2.

Roshbegosh Sun 21-Jul-13 09:00:30

What about the neck? The belly? They may think they look the same but no.

YoniTime Sun 21-Jul-13 09:08:42

There is a lot of differences between men too. There are young men, old men, skinny ones, fat ones, men with pot bellies, muscular men, etc.
When I look outside in the heat not many seem to given thought to what suits their bodies. Of course, their choice is also limited.

rosesandpirates Sun 21-Jul-13 09:09:29

Anything from joules or boden (preparing to be shot down).

GettingVerySleepy Sun 21-Jul-13 09:16:38

Theres a societal expectation that we women are expected to care about fashion, clothes, shopping etc and if we choose to use our brains and limited time on other things instead we get insulted, i.e called a frump - unless we err on the side of being too revealing and get called a slapper. Following fashion is time consuming, expensive and wasteful but avoid doing so at your peril if you want to fit in and be taken seriously at work, in your community, etc. Fashion does help the economy, I suppose, but at the expense of women and workers in the third world primarily.

justgivemeareason Sun 21-Jul-13 09:25:00

I think frumpy is down to the cut/shape/length of clothes. I look really frumpy if I wear loose clothes or a mid-calf skirt or a high neck or clumpy shoes. But if I wear something fitted suited to my shape, I look slimmer and more up-to-date.

Knowing what suits you and sourcing the right clothes also stops you being frumpy. I am not a huge fan of Boden but wore a really flattering dress I bought in the sale to two nights out recently and I had more compliments than I have had in ages.

bleedingheart Sun 21-Jul-13 09:50:31

It's the mis- matching I think.
Fleece jackets with walking or exercise gear are entirely suitable and practical. Fleece jackets with a summer dress or a blazer with a track suit jars.

It's hard to look frumpy if you choose clothes that fit and coordinate. It's not hard but also if it's not important to someone then they shouldn't be judged for it. I've never known someone who dresses like this who didn't deep down want to look better. Not saying they don't exist though!

LadyMilfordHaven Sun 21-Jul-13 15:43:08

i dont get the irre at the wolf thing

I love pleated skirts - but making them non-frumpy is about getting the top and shoes right. With Converse and a denim jacket in summer, or heels and a biker jacket in Autumn they can look great. If I wore them with a fleece and Footglove shoes, on the other hand, that would be frumpy.

The wrath at the wolf fleece link is ridiculous. She was just saying that a wolf fleece is frumpy, in her opinion, not mocking poor people or people with mobility problems fgs.

missbopeep Sun 21-Jul-13 17:04:14

Gettingverysleepy It's is quite possible you know to use your brain for 'higher things' and look fashionable. Academia, career success or whatever you were on about and looking good are not mutually exclusive.

GettingVerySleepy Sun 21-Jul-13 17:16:02

Of course it is missbo and I never said otherwise. I am quite successful myself and I also look I think reasonably fashionable. In fact i would argue that in a lot of careers at least, its more dificult for women who dont have good dress sense and dont want to spend time on such things to get ahead. All I'm saying is that sometimes I resent the time, money and effort I spend trying to look presentable, yet I know there would be repercussions on my own career if I didn't do it.

missbopeep Sun 21-Jul-13 17:17:43

I agree smile

GettingVerySleepy Sun 21-Jul-13 17:18:47

grin thanks missbo

missbopeep Sun 21-Jul-13 17:21:52

It's funny actually- someone in my family was commenting yesterday that certain bright women at a well known company who won't stand for anyone who doesn't shape up- do not seem to know how to dress- actually erring on the side of being too 'tarty' - and they have been passed over for promotion.

Viviennemary Sun 21-Jul-13 17:22:46

Frumpy is a fawn baggy cardigan. And also M & S classic collection. Even I wouldn't be seen in them. Usually.

GettingVerySleepy Sun 21-Jul-13 17:29:47

Have you seen this, missbo? Kinda says it all, really.


monkeynuts123 Sun 21-Jul-13 17:58:32

Pearly pink nail varnish on log toenails clinging over the edge of black platformish foamy flip-flops worn with calf length white linen trousers with elasticated waist on show...specific and bleugh.

monkeynuts123 Sun 21-Jul-13 17:58:50

long toenails not log!

alemci Sun 21-Jul-13 18:10:57

what about Maxi dresses in response to the picture of skirt lengths.

sometimes i love a longer skirt especially if my legs need defuzzing etc.

Well, grunge is going to be 'in' come Autumn, so you'll be 'bang on trend' in a maxi! smile

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