The MDAL (Mutton Dressed as Lamb) debate

April 5, 2018
lamb, sheep, mutton dressed as lamb, mdal

lamb, sheep, mutton dressed as lamb, mdal

This post is part of the Gorgeous 50’s series inspired by a book given to me by one of my sisters on my 50th birthday – ‘Grown up and Gorgeous in your 50’s’ by Pamela Robson.  I will be sharing some of Pamela’s words and my own thoughts along the way.  To see all posts published as part of this series, go here.

Pamela says:

MDAL:  It’s the Mutton Dressed as Lamb debate.  How often have you asked when trying something on: ‘But do I look like mutton dressed as lamb?’  By the time they’ve hit 50, many women have given up the battle and retreated into fashion frumpiness.  But are your old faithfuls really working for you?  Or do they just serve to date you, like rings on a tree, back to the decade from which they sprang?

mutton dressed as lamb, fashion, wardrobe, style, fifty plus

Pamela goes on to say: 

At the very heart of the MDAL debate is the question of how much to reveal.  If you are the kind of girl who harbours an inner lap dancer  – don’t let her out.  Or at least indulge your fantasies in the privacy of your own home.  There are a couple of rules:

  • Only reveal one bit of flesh at a time. Decide which bits of you look good and make the most of them.  If you have a lovely long neck and good shoulders – go strapless.  If you have great breasts show a little cleavage.  But you should wear neither of these with a short skirt or severely split skirt.  If you have great legs ear a short skirt and follow-me-home stiletto heels – but cover up the rest.  There is a fine line between flirty and tarty.
  • Never wear too tight with too tight – if your skirt or pants are tight, wear a flowing top.  If you are wearing a figure-hugging top, wear a more floaty skirt or wide-leg trousers.

Deal-breakers:  bare bits & tight bits

Uh-oh.  Are you …

Wearing the same clothes as your partner?
Probably the most extreme reaction to the Mutton Dressed as Lamb debate is the wife-dressed-as-husband response. You know if this is you: polo shirts and khaki shorts in the summer; jeans and baggy jumpers in the winter.  If this is your wardrobe you probably look like you’re  about to set off on a campervan holiday.  You need expert help.

Dressing like your mother?
If you find yourself wandering into any of those shops that specialise in those mother-of-the-bride pastel, synthetic frocks and two pieces, run for your life.  This is no way for a 50-year-old to behave.   They’ll make you look huge.  They’ll make you look 80.  Again, expert help is needed.

sheep, lamb, mdal, mutton dressed as lamb, wardrobe, style, fashion, over fifty

My thoughts:

  • Hmmm well I do dress differently to when I was a teen or in my 20’s for sure!  I might dress a little differently to when I was in my 30’s too but much of the reason for that could be put down to changes in fashion and changes to my shape!  I’m afraid I don’t totally agree with Pamela on everything for this one.
  • I do agree that some women give up on fashion and opt for comfort to the degree of sometimes looking a little frumpy.  You can be both fashionable and comfortable!
  • I don’t agree with the list of six fashion no-no’s Pamela has listed to avoid MDAL.  Yes, most definitely for some people.  Not necessarily a no-no for others.  It depends on the body shape and the personality of the person.  If you have good legs, even in your 50’s you might be able to pull off a short skirt or hot pants.  If you have good arms, shoulders and boobs you may look mighty fine in a boob tube.  What’s wrong with wearing a tie-dyed t-shirt and ripped jeans are all the rage lately so if that’s your thing and it looks ok on you why not?  And if you want to wear an ankle bracelet – I say go for it!  I think it’s all a matter of understanding what does you justice and what doesn’t.  It’s also about wearing what makes you feel happy and confident!  Unfortunately there are some women who may end up looking like MDAL because they don’t understand what is flattering for them and what is not. But if they feel good and are happy, does it really matter? Isn’t the most important thing ourselves? Feeling confident and happy! Who cares what other’s think!
  • I do tend to agree with Pamela’s points on only revealing one area of flesh at a time.  Also to reveal what is your good point and cover the rest.  Best to keep it classy!
  • I do agree to not wear tight with tight … or flowy with flowy for that matter.  Flowy pants with a tight fitted top or tight/fitted pants and a flowy top.  Works a treat.
  • Not sure what to say about the women who are apparently dressing like their husbands!  Really?  There are women out there that do this?
  • As for dressing like your mother … I know what Pamela means but in my case that wouldn’t be a bad thing. My mother dresses very well and in clothes that I like!

Do you worry about MDAL?  What are your thoughts on Pamela’s advice?  I’d love to hear!

Ciao for now,

Link up here at WOTM or with another of us in the Lovin’ Life Linky team:

Leanne of Deep Fried Fruit
of Seize the Day Project
of 50 Shades of Age
of Debbish
and Jo of The Hungry Writer – Joanne Tracey

It doesn’t matter where you link up as it will magically appear on all six blogs.

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  • Reply Natalie April 5, 2018 at 6:39 am

    Hi Min – I like simple, clean lines, and unique accessories. I’ve never been interested in wearing the six items on the list, even in my younger years.

    • Reply Min April 5, 2018 at 7:38 am

      I like simple clean lines too Natalie. They work well with my vertically challenged frame but I like a pattern now and then. As for the six items on the list, I think I’ve worn them all at some stage during my life (except the ripped jeans) but none of them now – though I’d still wear a tie-dyed t-shirt!

  • Reply Joanne Tracey April 5, 2018 at 7:16 am

    Ummm I have to confess to liking a touch of tie-dye – it appeals to my inner hippie. I’ve never been into mini skirts & boob tubes etc & totally agree with you re the tight-ish & flowing combo. Having said all that, my mother has never been an old or frumpy dresser – even at 76.

    • Reply Min April 5, 2018 at 7:40 am

      I like a touch of tie-dye too Jo cos I have an inner hippie also! I used to wear mini skirts, boob tubes and hot pants in my younger days. Never really worn ripped jeans come to think of it and never really been into ankle bracelets. BTW – our mother’s are the same age and both snappy dressers by the sound of it!

  • Reply Lydia C. Lee April 5, 2018 at 8:40 am

    I vascillate on this. I like to think whatever you like but I do have involuntary judgey moments in my head when I see someone and think ‘you look ridiculous, what were you thinking?’ and then correct myself and try to think ‘go you! own it!’. For me, I am getting too old for a lot of my clothes cos I’m getting fatter and saggier…arms in particular 🙁

    • Reply Min April 5, 2018 at 1:35 pm

      LOL – I’m a little like you with the vascillating at times too Lydia! 🙂

  • Reply Raych Case April 5, 2018 at 8:53 am

    I’m pretty sure my mother, who is about to turn 70 still wears all of the avoidables and some.

    • Reply Min April 5, 2018 at 1:36 pm

      Good for your mother! I believe we should wear whatever makes us feel good! 🙂

  • Reply Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond April 5, 2018 at 9:10 am

    I like simple, classic lines Min and I do admit I would like to shake up my wardrobe a bit. I’ve let myself fall into the trap of maybe starting to think about ‘mutton dressed as lamb’ instead of knowing what looks good on me and feeling good about it. Thanks for another interesting insight into being Over 50 and I’m really enjoying your series. Don’t forget to link up at Midlife Share the Love Party each Wednesday to Friday. Your posts are what we are looking for. xx

    • Reply Min April 5, 2018 at 1:39 pm

      Oh Sue – you look fantastic! You’re slim, trim and terrific and always look amazing in any photo of you I’ve seen – and yes even the sweaty ones after a run! I don’t think you need to worry about MDAL at all! Thank you – I’m so glad you’re enjoying the series and yes I’ve been linking up with #MLSTL but generally with previously published posts as I’m struggling to write the two posts per week I already do at the moment. xo

  • Reply Natalie @ Be Kind 2 You April 5, 2018 at 11:43 am

    I dress differently from my 20’s but i still dress funky and in the latest fashion. I have pink hair, wear mini skirts (not too short) but with a flowy top, I wear hot pants, ripped jeans, NO boob tubes or tie dyed and if I had a cool anklet I would wear it. Just dress how you feel I say.

    • Reply Min April 5, 2018 at 1:40 pm

      Go you! I totally agree – dress in whatever way makes you feel good! 🙂

  • Reply Sydney Shop Girl April 5, 2018 at 12:24 pm

    Thanks for touching on this and also giving me some pointers on how to deal with. I do dress differently from my 20s. Ironically more youthfully but paying attention to the way my body has changed and also my lifestyle as a mum trying to juggle it all.

    SSG xxx

    • Reply Min April 5, 2018 at 1:42 pm

      Isn’t that funny that you dress more youthfully now than you did in your 20’s. You know what – in some ways I think I do too because some of the fashions in the 80’s and 90’s were so awfully frumpy!! (shoulder pads anyone?) xo

  • Reply jodie filogomo April 5, 2018 at 1:24 pm

    I had to laugh a little because I was just featured in a Chico’s video wearing a miniskirt. But everything else was covered, and there was little flesh showing since I was wearing OTK boots!! Yet style and fashion have become more individualistic in the modern time, instead of a one size fits all approach. Those rules? Sure, they can work, but the best part of life, is breaking them, right?

    • Reply Min April 5, 2018 at 1:44 pm

      I bet you rocked that Chico video wearing your miniskirt Jodie! I’m not much for fashion rules. I don’t mind some guidance but not rules. There’s so many different body shapes and personality types and I think that as individuals we should wear whatever makes us feel happy and gives us confidence! 🙂 xo

  • Reply Kathy Marrris April 5, 2018 at 1:41 pm

    Yes I do sometimes think a dress or a pair of shorts are too short on me. However living in heat and humidity, it’s not practical to cover up too much, so I do tend to wear shorter items of clothing. I think we should dress to suit our shape and to suit our best attributes. I must admit that I no longer show cleavage or midriff – that is too ugly, wrinkly and flabby to reveal! My biggest hate is women of my age dressing too frumpily. I feel as though they need someone to go shopping with them to help them select more fashionable clothing.

    • Reply Min April 6, 2018 at 10:25 pm

      I know what you mean about living in the Queensland heat. I sometimes have to wear what is not the most flattering on me in order to survive the humidity! I agree that we should be free to dress to suit our body shapes and personality and climate – it’s a matter of getting the balance between what we like and what actually suits us! There are some women who dress quite frumpily and don’t need to. I tend to think they’ve gone for comfort over style not realising you can have both OR they just don’t give a toss really. As long as they’re happy I guess! 🙂

  • Reply Leanne April 5, 2018 at 2:11 pm

    My mum dresses really well too Min – I ‘m a bit annoyed we’re not the same size because I’d be borrowing clothes off her all the time if we were (or taking her discards!) I do think it’s important to find clothes that suit your age and figure – I find that I need a bit of colour – but not so much that it swamps me – and I need to watch what sits over my “mummy tummy” so my little pot gets disguised. I’m not out to compete with the young things with lithe figures and big budgets, but I’m not about to fade to grey either!

    Leanne |
    E for Enjoy Life Today

    • Reply Min April 6, 2018 at 1:25 pm

      There’s lots of Mum’s clothes that I’d wear if I could too! She dresses a lot more fashionably and up with the times than say her mother’s (my grandmother) generation did. My problem area is my mummy tummy too Leanne and I don’t show my midrift anymore either. You’ve got the advantage of being tall! As a shortie I’ve got to avoid loads of fabric and busy patterns as every effort needs to go towards giving the illusion of height as it’s so easy to look swamped and dumpy!

      • Reply Leanne June 13, 2018 at 1:16 pm

        Hi Min – such a fun post to re-visit and it’s nice to know that my tummy pooch is understood and sympathized with! No matter how I try to get rid of it, it still chooses to hang around *sigh*

        Thanks for linking up with us at #MLSTL and I’ve shared this on my SM xx
        Leanne |

        • Reply Min June 13, 2018 at 3:45 pm

          Hi Leanne – you’re most certainly not alone with the tummy pooch issue. It’s the bane of my life but alas I am stuck with it now and yes like you – nothing I do will get rid of it! xo

  • Reply Jan Wild April 5, 2018 at 2:55 pm

    I worry less about MDAL and more about wearing what suits me. And I agree with you that some of those ‘rules’ are way too prescriptive. Shorts yes please although not short shorts for me, but if you can rock them then wear them. I think some middle aged women do look frumpy, but maybe they always did. Great post.

    • Reply Min April 6, 2018 at 1:33 pm

      I don’t worry about MDAL at all either Jan. I think it’s just common sense. I wear whatever makes me feel good and that I’m comfortable in. Some women my age can wear things I can’t and I can wear some things other women cant. For instance I would never wear a midrift top anymore but others can and do … but I do still wear short shorts because as I’m a small (short) frame they suit me better (make my legs seem longer) than long shorts (make my legs disappear) whereas many 50+ women don’t suit short shorts and prefer the longer length shorts. So many different shapes and sizes and personalities. One thing that annoys me about being short is that the fashion industry does not support us enough – eg maxi dresses – I can’t ever buy one beacuse I would have to chop most of it off and refuse to pay money for something I have to chop! There’s a huge gap in the market that I can see!

  • Reply Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond June 13, 2018 at 8:14 am

    Hi Min! I love the image of the lamb just gorgeous. I agree with some of Pamela’s points but I think that you should wear a style that reflects your personality. I want to feel comfortable in what I wear – not the ‘daggy’ comfortable but the comfort of knowing that what you are wearing looks and feels good. That really helps my confidence. I have tried to keep my figure in shape so therefore I don’t have a problem in what styles to wear. However, I am conscious of perhaps not showing too much skin and also I prefer the classic designs which really can be worn at any age. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us at #MLSTL and have a great week!

    • Reply Min June 13, 2018 at 3:40 pm

      Hi Sue! I was a bit stumped on what image to use for this post but when I saw these ‘lamb’ stock images, I knew I’d found my answer! lol I agree that we should wear what suits our personality and what makes us feel happy and confident, all whilst considering what is and is not flattering on us of course! 😉 x

  • Reply Jo June 13, 2018 at 10:45 am

    Hi Min, Like Sue I loved the image of the lamb you chose – really captured my attention. I also agree with some of Pamela’s points, but I’m also always encouraging women to dress in what makes them feel and look great. I think when we get to around mid-life we do intuitively know what suits us, but sometimes we can’t be bothered to dress up and just fling on old frumpy things because they’re easy and comfortable. I think shops are actually beginning to cater more for our age group, offering ranges of classy, stylish clothes which give a nod to fashion, but also keep a handle on comfort and wearability. When I was in my 20’s I would feel happy wearing all manner of uncomfortable clothes, but these days never! (On a different note, did I email you and invite you to collaborate in my Women Over 50 who Blog series? I think I did, but I’m on the road at the moment on a charity drive and things are slipping a bit. Please email me 🙂 xx

    • Reply Min June 13, 2018 at 3:43 pm

      Hi Jo – those lamb pictures capture my attention too which is why I decided to use them. I had been a bit stumped on what image to use until I saw them! I think we instinctively know what clothes suit us. For some of us it might take a while to work it out though! lol On another topic – no I don’t think I got an email from you. I’ll send you an email. I’ve seen some things on FB about the charity bike ride your hubby is riding in. What a fabulous thing to do. I hope the weather has improved? xo

  • Reply Denyse June 13, 2018 at 3:53 pm

    Great to revisit this post and I see I did not comment last time. Sorry! I have had to really become much more confident to wear the clothes I do now and to let some of my ‘lumps and bumps’ show because then I am keeping it real. My late mother was very stylish and I never could compete. However, I did get my love for colour and accessories from here so that is a good thing!

    Denyse #MLSTL

    • Reply Min June 14, 2018 at 6:22 am

      You are looking fabulous in your everyday fashion photos Denyse! xo

  • Reply Molly June 13, 2018 at 11:18 pm

    I can honestly say I have NEVER heard this term before but I like it 🙂

    I think one of my greatest fears (or fashion fears anyway) was to be the kind of older woman who wore old-fashioned moo–moo dresses all day. I have successfully avoided that fashion faux pas.

    But my style is classic – jeans and t-shirts in the summer; jeans and turtlenecks in the winter. And for that reason, I still wear clothes I purchased nearly a decade ago. Perhaps I should treat myself to a shopping spree and update the wardrobe just a bit?

    Pinning to my #MLSTL board for future reference!

    • Reply Min June 14, 2018 at 6:26 am

      Wow that’s amazing you haven’t heard that term before Molly! I like the classic style too – it’s simple, elegant, stylish and classy. It’s always good to check in with what the current classic styles are though so we keep looking fresh and current. Any excuse for a shopping spree, right?! 🙂

  • Reply Victoria June 14, 2018 at 12:22 am

    I have never been into showing a lot of skin though I have great cleavage and shoulders so I do accent those. I do have to make myself be non-judgemental when I see 60+ women in mini skirts, hot pants and ripped jeans. This is just my opinion but I think sometimes women think because they are thin that they look good in everything and that is not, in my opinion, the case.

    • Reply Min June 14, 2018 at 6:33 am

      You’re right Victoria – being skinny certainly doesn’t mean that you then look good in absolutely everything. There are some clothes that suit a curvy figure better and there are so many other factors to consider when deciding on what suits a person or not. And let’s face it, there are some things that just look wrong once you get past a certain age, no matter how great you’re looking.

  • Reply Chris June 15, 2018 at 4:22 pm

    I have to say, Min, I reckon Pam was pretty spot on! Sure there’ll be some exceptions out there, but generally speaking I’m pretty much in agreement. – and I think there’s a touch of tongue in cheek in there. I’m okay with short skirts above the knees, but if you define ‘mini skirts’ as almost up to your butt, I’d be thinking leave that to the young’uns. As for tie-dyes – that’s one of those things you either do or you don’t. Good on the ones that do.

    • Reply Min June 16, 2018 at 4:51 pm

      Hi Chris, I agree she’s pretty on the mark but I do think there’s so many different body shapes and personality types out there that there’s room for some flexibility there. Skirts above the knee are fine but you’re right – no matter what your body shape or personality I think those short skirts up around the butt are best left with the young ones! lol I have no problem with tie-dyes! 🙂 x

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