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Can we declare a ban on the term "Mutton Dressed as Lamb"?

(101 Posts)
Ujjayi Sat 08-Nov-14 16:18:49

In light of recent threads, I'd like to instigate a ban on this term. It implies that women have a "sell by date" and is just very derogatory.

theposterformallyknownas Sat 08-Nov-14 16:22:22

How do you work that out?
Nobody has a sell by date but as you age you can look ridiculous if you choose the wrong clothes in a bid to look younger and it fails.
Sometimes you can find clothes that make you look younger that don't make you look ridiculous.
It is a long standing saying that explains that point exactly.
I would sooner somebody tell me I look like mutton dressed as lamb than go out looking like that.

ApocalypseNowt Sat 08-Nov-14 16:26:05

I don't like it. It almost always refers to woman as well. Yuk.

ZaraW Sat 08-Nov-14 16:27:21

I'm only talking for myself here but clothes definitely have a sell by date. My life is totally different to what it was in my twenties so why should I wear what I did back then?

Ujjayi Sat 08-Nov-14 16:28:06

I think the key point is that "mutton" implies dried up, unattractive, deal with it - you can't be sexy anymore.

Being told that an item is more suited to a younger market is fine. I don't have a problem with that. It really is just that term.

HappyGirlNow Sat 08-Nov-14 16:29:22

It doesn't imply women have a sell by date, it's just an easy way of describing someone dressed in a way that seems too young for them! I'd say men can be this too..

Ujjayi Sat 08-Nov-14 16:30:27

ApocalypseNowt - exactly. Where is the male equivalent?

ZaraW I agree that of course there are a multitude of clothes and trends that I wore 20 years ago that I wouldn't dream of wearing now (and for that, DH is truly thankful grin ) but there is still no need to refer to a woman as "mutton".

Sicaq Sat 08-Nov-14 16:31:57

I haven't seen the threads in question, but I'd be inclined to agree. Wear what makes you happy.

Is the expression used to refer to a particular style of dress? I dress the same in my 40s as I did in my teens, but for me that means DMs, jeans and fitted tops.

ZaraW Sat 08-Nov-14 16:34:18

Mid life crisis would be the equivalent for a man?

Ujjayi Sat 08-Nov-14 16:39:29

Let me clarify that this is relatively light hearted in so far as I'm not actually suggesting that we campaign to ban the term. What I'm trying (and failing) to get across is that we should be more mindful of the words we use in these types of situations.

Raising two boys, I am very aware of how many negative words are used in relation to girls (not by them, I hasten to add but they talk to me frankly about what goes on in school etc). I just think it might be a good place to start if we, as adults, thought more about our choices of phrase.

theposterformallyknownas Sat 08-Nov-14 16:44:37

I was always led to believe it didn't mean past your sell by date at all and if you wore clothes that made you look good you wouldn't look like mutton dressed as lamb.
Not that at a certain age you were considered mutton.
There are some things I could wear at 20 I could still wear, for example basic clothes of jeans and tops. If I wore the puff ball skirts and pepsi and Shirley dresses besides being out of fashion I'd look like mutton dressed as lamb.
I am not mutton, I dress for my age or a bit younger and don't try to be a lamb.
I don't see the problem tbh.

Floisme Sat 08-Nov-14 16:47:10

Thank you for raising this Ujjayi Oh dear to some of these comments.

Of course different things suit you as you get older - that's because your body changes. But the notion that any one item of clothing is 'ridiculous' on everyone over 45 is pretty stupid - and offensive.

Take a look around and you might just notice that older women do not all look the same and that we therefore suit different things. Just like younger women in fact.

Ujjayi Sat 08-Nov-14 16:55:04

But are women wearing a particular item to look younger or actually just because they think it is pretty bloody fabulous?

Floisme Sat 08-Nov-14 16:59:51

Exactly. And older women are as entitled to wear fabulous clothes as anyone else. And even if they don't look as good in them as a younger women might, so what?

noddyholder Sat 08-Nov-14 17:02:07

Yes definitely I never hear any of my RL mates say it so am quite shocked to hear it so much here

noddyholder Sat 08-Nov-14 17:04:16

Who decided what is ridiculous though? I see some outrageous older women here in Brighton and I am inspired to be just like them. I am 50 next year and wear what I want not what outmoded rules tell us.

nooka Sat 08-Nov-14 17:04:48

I have never ever heard this term applied to a man. There is an implication almost of fraud to it - pretending that you are something you are not (ie desirable any more).

Older man are still considered attractive as they age, women should just disappear (ie like in Hollywood).

theposterformallyknownas Sat 08-Nov-14 17:12:00

I think some people are confusing the real meaning of the phrase to be honest.
I have grown up with the saying and it has always been used in a derogatory way. To mean somebody really doesn't look good in the particular clothes they are wearing.
I dress how I like and some of the clothes are really fashionable and outrageous, but sometimes something really doesn't look right because I am older, if I then bought and wore it I think I'd deserve the title mutton dressed as lamb.
I think if it is part of your vocabulary you are more used to not being offended by it, for example both me and my friend would tell each other. We have a laugh in changing rooms and often use the term to describe each other in certain looks.
Its better than buying it, thinking you look good and everyone sniggering behind your back.

noddyholder Sat 08-Nov-14 17:16:02

The people who snigger are probably not having as much fun as the wearer who doesn't give a sh*t though.

Viviennemary Sat 08-Nov-14 17:16:54

I agree it's not a very nice expression. But everyone knows what it means. I wouldn't support a ban.

Fabulassie Sat 08-Nov-14 17:36:33

I had a thread called "hot, juicy mutton" recently - I like to dress sexy. I have legs and I like to show them. However, I know that my legs look better with tights on them. I also know to skim over/camouflage my middle.

If the term applies to women past 40 who want to look "hot" then I say "poo!" to that! If it means trying to dress like a 20-year-old out on the pull with no self-awareness in terms of flaunting what they no longer have, then I think it could be appropriate.

One rule I have is: "If you wore it the first time it was trendy, you can't wear it again." So, I don't wear 80's stuff, etc. I do think that will look silly on me. The truth is, most of it looked silly when I wore it in 1992 or whenever, but I got away with it then.

I don't try to be "trendy." Being my age means that I can't pull of something like boyfriend jeans just because I'm no longer so nympnlike and delectable that I can still look good in a sack. I have to wear things that suit my figure. That may mean I will wear leggings or skinny jeans or whatever even if they're no longer "in."

A woman looks a bit silly if she's wearing things for trends with no regard to her actual figure. This goes for all ages, but is especially harsh on older women because we can't get away with it solely on the strength of our youth.

theposterformallyknownas Sat 08-Nov-14 17:39:44


Yeh, I do agree with that, the people that snigger are probably very poe faced.
I think I would still rather be told though. However, I'm not suggesting that certain clothes shouldn't be worn just because somebody is of a more mature age. Nor that we should all have blue rinses at 50 grin

That does remind me though, the fashion for going out in your curlers and the grey/blue rinse that I see the stunning girls walking around town in, would be a prime example of what I mean.
They look great, I'd look like an old hag. grin

nooka Sat 08-Nov-14 17:46:59

Don't they look fantastic despite the weird fashion trend not because of it though? Surely the rollers etc look ridiculous regardless of age?

Nothing wrong with friends telling each other that potential looks/clothes don't suit them, and if they all like to indulge in rude banter nothing wrong with that either (I know I do).

My objection is more to the DM type of snigger, which is generally not friendly at all.

BackforGood Sat 08-Nov-14 17:52:45

I agree with theposterformallyknownas in the first reply.

What makes MN so lively, and so popular is that it doesn't censor threads to the nth degree.
Personally, I think swearing is much more offensive than this, but I accept it's an open forum and some people use language I wouldn't. I think the same applies - it mightn't be a phrase you like, but it's not a phrase that needs to be banned.

I'm with Noddy. I don't wear clothes to try to look younger, I wear something because I like it.

I'm 44 and went out last night in a denim mini skirt (properly mini too, not Boden-mini). And I looked nice too - so there! wink

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