Last night, or “Erev Mother’s Day” (the night before Mother’s Day), as my mother called it, we decided to go out to dinner at Scott’s Seafood Restaurant in Oakland, in order to avoid the crowds on the actual holiday. When I pulled my car into the line to valet park, my eyes were immediately drawn to the couple emerging from the car in front of me. The elderly husband was incongruously dressed in leather from head to toe, but even more jarring was the wife teetering on his arm, in thigh-high black platform boots, leggings, a leather jacket, and a beret…with a humongous brass knuckle type ring on her right hand, which clenched her husband’s arm in order to stay upright. My first thought was that Grandpa had bought himself a trophy wife, but when wifey turned around — or rather teetered off her platforms long enough for me to see her face, I was greeted by…Grandma.
Now maybe this shouldn’t bother me. After all, I recently wrote a post about purdah and came to the conclusion that it was important for me to support “my sisters” even if what they choose to wear made me uncomfortable, as long as they chose it for themselves. But this elderly lady looked so ridiculous in an outfit that a 21 year old super model could barely pull off, that it made me think of the saying, “Mutton dressed as lamb”. For those of you unfamiliar with this phrase, it is defined by the “urban dictionary” as “middle aged women dressing/acting/pretending like they’re much younger than they actually are”. I’m not sure what the heck this lady or her husband were acting/pretending, but it still gave me pause for thought.
I have always maintained that I want to age with dignity, and have feared being perceived as “mutton dressed as lamb”. I want to be healthy and sexy and in a great shape for my age, the words in italics being the most important. I don’t ever want someone to see me from behind, than go, “Aack!” as I turn around, as I once did when walking behind a women on Rodeo Drive who was dressed and coiffed like a tween from the back, but who, when she turned around, more closely resembled Bette Davis in, “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane.”
My desire here is not to tell people what they can or can not wear past a certain age, or to judge them for it (although I admit sometimes I just can’t help myself!) but for our youth oriented society to be taught to value its older members. That would in turn discourage older people from thinking they have to dress like they are young in order to have value or style. With age comes wisdom and beauty, if one has the eye and the taste to appreciate it. I have no desire to be in my twenties again. Those years contained lessons already learned and fashions already worn, and I am not interested in do-overs or regret about that the decades that have passed, nor am I interested in resurrecting my mini-skits, bell bottoms, midriff-baring tops, or platform weggies, except perhaps at Halloween.
However we choose to dress in middle-age and beyond, no one wants to be the mutton in the equation. Perhaps we should turn the expression on its head by using a different set of variables. My suggestion would be, “Grape dressed as wine.” There’s just one example of the many things that get better with age, and don’t have to be dressed in a younger package to be appreciated.