Many of us over 50 worry about looking "Mutton Dressed as Lamb" (MDAL). I thought it might be instructive to feature an adorable lamb. This girl was posted on The Sartorialist; I'm going to guess she is 18.
A cute tomboy with loads of accessories, her look reads young.

If you care about MDAL, I suggest that for about every decade, a woman
lose one accessory from the array worn in the shot, and revise the clothing after thirty.

20-30: huge scarf worn in July; swap for lighter
30-40: arm warmers and
high-top Converses
50-60: one of the two tote bags, fanny pack
60-up: pants (move to full-length or slightly cropped) and baggy top

Keep the big grin, the newsboy cap and the scarf for when it cools down!

Of course you could just fly your sheep flag, and wear it anyway, if Converses and fanny packs are your idea of sheec.


metscan said…
Certainly trying to avoid dressing MDAL like, but not like a grandma either. Your advice makes sense. Right now I´m enjoying comfortable wear. This means clothes and accessories of good quality, choosing classy pieces with a modern twist and last but not least, paying special attention on details. I definitely want to wear a piece or two of jewelry with character. And yes, I´ll have to remind myself of that smile!
Maggie said…
Who was it that said, before you leave the house, take off one accessory? For some reason I remember that one. Or as my mother always said, "Youth has it's own beauty." We could add here that youth also has the magical power to pull off a look like this. As to the MDAL, may I add hair length? Nothing worse than a woman of at least 50 thinking that long tresses will have everyone thinking she's in the class of 2009.
Duchesse said…
maggie: My mother said that too! Re hair,if long hair is cut in a style it can work, but it takes confidence and impeccable grooming. The weedy, I just-let-it-grow-since-the-'70s look is a bit sad.
Frugal Scholar said…
I think the 18 y.o. would look better minus most of the accessories too.
I strongly disagree about hair length. I have cut my hair somewhat of late (to a bob between chin and shoulder) but there is no way I'll feel obliged to settle for a desexualising mumsy cut.

Not that short hair is necessarily desexualising or mumsy - Duchesse and Une Femme both have smashing haircuts - but the obligation grates. Maggie's comment makes me want to grow it longer again - no sane woman middle-aged or over thinks having long hair will make her look 20. I know many women of 40, 50 or 60 with beautifully-groomed long hair.

I do agree with the paring down.
Imogen Lamport said…
I think whether long hair works or not is dependent on the texture of the hair - I've seen plenty of 20 year olds with fine hair that look straggly and unkempt when longer than shoulder length.

Hair needs to be well cut when long, and suit the hair type.

I think that really long hair is generally unflattering on so many women. After 45 or so I think hair generally (though not always) looks better shoulder length or shorter. Nobody says you ever have to get a mumsy (terrible description) cut - ever!

It was Chanel who said to take 1 thing off - but most people need to put 1 thing on as they don't accessorize at all!

She's cute, but the scarf overwhelms.
Duchesse said…
lagatta: I agree short, boring hair is just awful. I wonder whether
some older women wind up with it because they are no longer "seen' by their hairdresssers. Or have they retired to a part of their country where good hairdressers are scarce?
Gayle Ann said…
I wore the obligatory short hair style until I turned 50. Then, I chose to defy convention by growing it long. A few minutes each morning produces a fun variety of styles...a polished updo, twist, bun, crown, half-up, chopsticks. Several women in my neighborhood are from religions and cultures that forbid them to cut their hair. My point is that a woman's hair may be long for a number of reasons, and not to automatically assume she wants to look like a 2009 graduate. Regardless, why can't we simply respect each others' choices, rather than criticize?
Duchesse said…
Galyle Ann: Great! Regarding your question about 'respecting choices' instead of criticizing, I would like us to be careful of creating an either/or polarity. A friend recently told me my hair colour was too harsh. I suspected it, and I was so grateful for her feedback. That colour was not "my choice", it was the result of tring to save $ by letting students do it.

So it is not always a choice, sometimes s--- happens, or a hairdresser thinks, well, she is over 50, so too old for a stylish cut. (I've had them say this). Or they just chop away like the last one I had did, who knows why. Sorry to rant but sometimes it is not about "respecting a choice" and a little feedback is a good thing.
Gayle Ann said…
When I said "simply respect each other's choices", I was referring to HAIR LENGTH only. I apologize for not making my point clearer. My older sister and several friends have always donated their hair to a charity that make human hair wigs for hairless cancer patients. They grow it to the required length, donate the ponytail, and grow it again. An older woman's charity choice, religion or culture sometimes dictate their hair length. And their CHOICE to follow the rules of this charity, religion, culture(by having long hair) should be RESPECTED. They (and myself) are not trying to look like 2009 graduates.
Duchesse said…
Gayle Ann: Thanks! One of the young women I work with gave her hair and we all pledged money, so she donated hair and raised several thousand dollars to boot.
Anjela's Day said…
Your posting is so current to my in house conversation of today.
I live in an affluent town (saying so has a bearing on my comment-not that affluence means people are happier -not always but the expectation of seeing poverty say in India or a poor person in my store might have the expectation that warrants one or thenother to not so freely be able to conjure up a smile or a belly laugh)
However I can't stop thinking about my mum telling me not to make a certain face as a child "If you roll your eyes your face will stay that way darling" she would say. I, of course never believed it would happen.
Now I see it everywhere women and men all looking so discruntled- long faces- downturned mouths- dead eyes like a fish who missed being swept back to sea. How long does it take to etch those lines of pain and of disgust and horror. How long to be made sour.
I see it now all the time-if you look around.I wonder what kind of childhoods and teenage years laid the foundation of snarls- what sort of lost loves and cruel lives cemented each dowturn on the mouths- what disappointments created the glances filled with fear-
Yes please keep the smile. I looked at my face in the mirror and still thankfully have the smile. Thanks Mum! Thanks Duchesse.
I had a similar hairdresser experience: hadn't turned 50 yet, was in my mid-40s. The owner of the salon had always given me good cuts; he assured me that his female employee (a woman of about my age) would do just as good a job. She gave me a ghastly 1970s shag - now there is a truly ageing look on most women decades later - and said women our age shouldn't have long, flowing hair. As a result I grew it out for years, only trusting hairdressers to even the ends so it didn't look messy. I finally trusted a stylist to take a bit of a chop to it two years ago.

It is wonderful that women donate their hair. There was a drive here; several media personalities were shorn for a cancer charity; of course only some had hair suitable for donation towards wigs and hairpieces.

Anjela, I wonder if - in countries where most people do have enough to eat and at least some form of housing - a certain glumness and sneer are more typical of the more affluent areas? Perhaps not so accentuated here in Québec (we aren't a big enough society) but friends and I have certainly noticed that during stays in Paris. People are much friendlier in the east end than in les beaux quartiers (not meaning they are necessarily nicer or kinder to others). In posh areas many cultivate an air of deep ennui.

There are still many frightening strictures about what older people, especially older women are entitled to do - starting about midway through current women's life expectancy, if not earlier. Fortunately that is changing. Elegance is refusal of unquestioned strictures as well as of too many accessories.
Anjela's Day said… true.I just had this photograph taken by my son in a slum in India- and the people were so happy looking. What's their problem ? hah hah
I even have to ask when people look so happy- who smile- "Are you from some strange planet-are you visiting- are you from out of town"
I've noticed the same thing in Haiti and the very poor countries of Central America - didn't mention it in my post as I'd never want to make light of their plight. Also among Subsaharan African delegates to Social Forums and similar schools and events. Perhaps survival is a victory in the poorest countries?

I approach that on tiptoes as I really don't want to get into the idealisation of any kind of poverty, which is deeply damaging in many ways.
materfamilias said…
Am I right, Duchesse, in thinking that it's time to wish you a Happy Birthday?! Or at least, to hope that you had one today!
Duchesse said…
materfamilias: Yes, Sunday... thank you! The family goes out tonight to celebrate the boys' (july 9) and my birthday at the same rooftop spot we visted together. 61 is feeling good so far, but my verification word is "oldcati"
diverchic said…
Beautifully cut and coloured long hair looks great on some older women. When I see straggly grey long hair on some, I think they haven't noticed that fashion has moved on as has their hair.

I have had curly hair for years and when my hairdresser died, no one else could do the perms right, so I had to get it cut Short. I told the hairdresser not to give me a "small town cut" and insisted that they keep the bits behind the ears fringe helps too. I have fine hair and there is lots of it so I have to use a lot of product to get any volume People say the short cut makes me look years younger. When I look back at old pictures, I wince and wonder how I could have been so blind and out of date. Now I know to demand that the behind the ear bits stay long.
Duchesse said…
diverchic: I think this cut is even better than the last ones James gave you! A style that leaves the ears extremely exposed from all angles is not very flattering past teen years. But a "garconne" cut such as yours is very chic.
Maggie said…
Sorry I hit a raw nerve with the long hair comment. I come from a long line of hairdressers and this was always their pet peeve. And perhaps long and short need to be qualified as it became open to interpretation . I would not consider a shoulder length bob long. I was reffering to the hanging down your back type of long hair. As to short hair, I would call chin length short. Where is this "mumsy" idea coming from? And what is it exactly? My comment was based on a lively discussion of hair length at the last get together of my friends. All over 50 and concerned with good appearances, the concensus seemed to that be between shoulder and chin was the best length. Medium length? I'm chuckling about the emotion poured out in some of the posts. Evidently, hair length is an emotional issue for women.
Duchesse said…
Maggie: Hair, as I've said on today's post, is a very deep matter to women. For some, a great deal of their beauty rests on their hair, and if you feel it's one of your best features, you get really upset when you hear that you should cut it off because you are no longer young.

Also hair is a sexual characteristic, so I think some women associate cutting their hair with losing sexual attractiveness.

I have another (personal)theory. When you have long hair (as I recall) you spend a lot more time grooming it than with short. Just like a person you spend a lot of time with, it occupies more of your life, and you get more dismayed at the suggestion of parting.
Maggie said…
Duchesse, Thanks for your response and thoughtful insight. I guess the hairdresser gene in me takes a more business attitude towards hair. We're the Stacey Londons of the hair world. I do have several friends that would do well with a couple of inches off...whoa, there I go again, sorry.

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