I’m not one to listen to much style advice, whether it is for clothing, makeup or accessories. I’m a relatively conservative dresser, although I can’t resist a sequin from time to time and have a deep, unchanging love of leopard print. I consider it a neutral.
I’ve often heard that people consider leopard print too “old” (which I don’t even get) or too “tacky” to be worn. Frankly, I aim to embrace the tacky and the tacky fab, and have even converted my younger sister to “cheetah girl” prints.
I wonder where this idea of leopard print being tacky, trashy and cheap came about. Characters on tv shows that are often seen wearing leopard print are usually represented as brash, over the top and loud women. Think Peggy Bundy, Fran Fine, Dolly Parton – huge hair, heaps of makeup and stiletto heels … But I don’t see a problem with having any of those character traits or looking anything like any of those three women. I kind of aspire to be like that. It’s vastly different from the anxiety-ridden, shy person I am.
Why is this look seen as “cheap” when another look isn’t? When in reality, as the divine Ms Parton has said:
It costs a lot of money to look this cheap.
I don’t think that when women turn a certain age, they should immediately only wear dark colours, slimming outfits and cut their hair short. Sensible shoes, a string of pearls? Hey, if that’s the look you like, then go for it. But I don’t believe that once you hit some magic number, every previous style of clothing you loved has to be thrown out or given to Lifeline and you have to go out and buy an entirely different, “suitable” wardrobe.
“Mutton dressed as lamb” is a horrible, sexist statement. It invokes a desperate older woman trying frantically to hold onto her youth. Is there even a male equivalent? Maybe the old Lothario in the sports car with the chest hair and fake tan. But these men are seen with a least a degree of affection, the women are viewed with scorn and pity.
Why do we have to tone it down? Who says? Growing up is not the same as growing old. Some of my favourite style icons are/were older, louder women. Anna Piaggi. Isabella Blow. Every person on Advanced Style. I wish I could be that don’t-give-a-fuck right now. I hope by the time I’m the age of most of these women, I will be.