The Mutton Roundup

If this is mutton, sign me up.

Seems this is a hot topic these past few days.
Linda Grant at The Thoughtful Dresser says Fie! on the “Mutton Monitors” (and dons a lovely leather rocker jacket), and today argues in favor of dressing with attitude. Linda says,
“The point about these three was that they understood that the parade has most certainly not gone by. None of them looked ridiculous, they had elegance and distinction and above all, a strong sense of personal style. You understood at once that their clothes mattered to them, because they understood why clothes matter.
Look at me, they said. And I did.”
Materfamilias asks “Who wants to be a lamb anyway?” and makes a case for developing an individual style that incorporates both classical and whimsical elements.
Meg at Faking Good Breeding takes Patricia Fields to task for putting SJP in getups that look like “she fell into the dumpster behind Forever 21” and makes the point that just because one can wear something, doesn’t mean one should.

I’ve been reading “It’s So You: 35 Women Write about Personal Expression Through Fashion & Style”, edited by Michelle Tea, and Laura Fraser makes a great point about developing an individual style that is never “out” because it was never “in” in the first place. It seems to me that women who continue to look stylish as they age and don’t fade into the woodwork are the ones who have figured this out.
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  1. I’m a bit younger than une femme, but no jeune fille. In my 20s, I wore bright or patterned tights constantly. (I used to wear screaming pink ones with a black miniskirt with pinstripes–divine). It was something of a signature look. Now in my late 30s, I’ll wear bright tights (red, magenta) with an otherwise monochromatic outfit, usually chocolate or black. But it’s starting to feel a little girlish, a little wrong.

    Two queries: Anyone have an idea about making bright tights more grown-up?

    More interesting query: Any thoughts on the plight of one’s signature look feeling less appropriate with age?

  2. Ahhhhh — this personal style topic is one with which I’m developing a near obsession, at age 42. These are all good posts.

    I would wear colored tights with a monochromatic outfit as you said, and add boots, so less of the bright color is showing.

    My own personal “no-no” that I must be aware of is avoiding the catholic schoolgirl look. I naturally gravitate to those types of clothes – kilts and sweaters.

    I think it is all about the shoes.

  3. over the past year or more, it has been my feeling that there is no way a person can talk or think about this too much. it’s about more than clothing or style, it’s about visibility and relevance in a culture. french culture is supposedly more appreciative of a woman who has lived and developed and explored. i can’t really speak to that, though it sounds good. in the US, 18yo models are used to sell anti-wrinkle cream, so women aren’t only supposed to be ashamed of wrinkles and age, they’re supposed to be fairly stupid, believing that a cream will deliver the advertised results. it’s quite frustrating.
    at the moment i’m focusing on making the best sartorial choices for myself that i can, as a woman, a consumer, and a lover of fashion. as with all things, it’s an on-going process, but i whole-heartedly agree with what grant wrote in her blog, about dressing stronger, if anything, as we age. i’m glad this is being discussed so thoughtfully here as well.

  4. Re anon’s queries: Could the tights be slightly more muted, i.e. plum instead of purple; burgundy instead of red? And I like the boots concept. Or again, if the tights have to be bright, between boots and hems, maybe show less leg?

    And if your signature is a splash of bright color, maybe as age creeps up you could keep that in other element besides the legs, like in jewelry or scarves?

    It’s keeping the theme and altering the details, is what I’m taking a break from grant budgets (gah) to say.

    ps. TheCoveted had a lead on an amazing tights company that has something like 32 colors.

  5. Thanks, Femme, for doing this — useful to have all these links corralled!
    Anonymous, I wore red tights with my red flat loafers last week to spark up a black wool skirt and black sweater. I have a pair of leopard-print tights — for those I keep everything else black and the shoes are more deliberately sexy (pointy-toed, heeled). Not sure if the look’s always appropriate but I try to trust my judgement and acknowledge that taking risks sometimes means screwing up!

  6. This is a great topic. I too am beyond my 20s but I’ve never been seduced by the second-by-second trends in terms of what I buy. I can certainly admire them and I want to think about them on an aesthetic level and perhaps in terms of their cultural relevance but I think developing your signature style is much harder and something that is tweaked as your life is tweaked.

    People have so many components to their lives and their personalities and need to reach a place where they feel comfortable about their choices. That being said I think its easy to reason your way out of ignoring possibilities and just trying something new… but I love this thread…