Neither Mutton Nor Lamb

Three weeks til B-day (I’m not rounding up, I’m not rounding up). An amazing and wonderful and thoughtful friend has taken it upon herself to organise a night out of fabulousness – food, cocktails, dancing – and I’m actually getting excited. A select group of friends who know how to party hard but classily have been invited – all said they were on board in a heartbeat – and my sister (who is yet to reply). Blood may be thicker than water, but water can be turned into wine (or something).

But anyway, the essence is, it’s going to be a great night. And technically I shall still be 30-something, so will hopefully feel less old.

The only question is: WHAT TO WEAR???

Because, the thing is, nightlife isn’t really targeted at those of us who have reached the apex of our personal hills and who are now taking a leisurely meander down the other side. We’re meant to be eating in fancy pants restaurants – from the size of my backside I’m clearly on board with this as a leisure pursuit – but cocktails and dancing? Isn’t that for the young/skinny/beautiful people? No one wants to be the woman the ‘kids’ look at with pity as she shakes her muttony thang on the dancefloor.


And actually, getting busy on a dancefloor is fantastic! And there shouldn’t be an age limit on it. But, don’t tell me you can look at this picture of Goldie Hawn and not judge just a little bit:


The Daily Mail certainly did! Although, in fairness, it was the Daily Mail – they judge everything. But still, there are a lot of people out there who are like walking Daily Mails, ready to rain on your parade for not fitting in.


To add to the pressure my celebrations aren’t going to be happening in our little two-bar town where it’s easier to be a saddo amongst a group of saddos. No we’re off to the giddy heights of Cambridge! (Ok, so it’s better known for its universities and all things esteemed and learned, but if there’s one thing students know how to do its party!)

So there we’ll be, supping our Manhattans, surrounded by the young, the skinny and the beautiful (and brainy and probably rich and entitled, dammit). No one wants to be Samantha in East Anglia’s answer to Sex and the City. Or worse, the woman at the bar wearing a scrunchie!


Because dreadful though the thought of being mutton-dressed-as-lamb is, being mutton-dressed-as-mutton is almost as bad. Dump the frump – my invited friends are all, without exception, beautiful creatures. I don’t want to be the old one wistfully staring into my vodka cocktail creating ever-deeper frown lines about having frown lines.

I thought my dilemma would be easy though. I Googled ‘what to wear at 40th birthday’ and checked Pinterest out for the same. Now, either these women are ageing incredibly well or they’re not actually anywhere near 30, never mind 40.





Or worse, it seemed I’m meant to be in fancy dress.


Just no!

So instead I turned to the world of celebrity. Ok, my own version would be closer to Primark than Armani, but there have surely been enough famous people who’ve passed their own landmark birthday and are still deemed young and beautiful enough to party.

Queen of Partying, Kate Moss turned 40 last year for a start. I seem to remember it being typically epic, so how did she do it?

Apparently she went to Necker Island and presumably wore not-very-much. Not really an option when facing January winds blowing across the Fens. For her birthday lunch she opted for black with leopard print.


Except formative-years TV has a big impact on the psyche and I know I’d feel I’d be channelling Bet Lynch in leopard.


Again, no.

A red ball gown like Princess Letizia (whoever she is) might be a bit much.


Ditto Sarah Jessica Parker’s frock:


Well, thanks for nothing you two.

Gywneth Paltrow looked rather fabulous and not-at-all mutton in a black and white strapless jumpsuit for hers.


And Posh Spice went for black and strappy at her bash.


But then neither of them had to end the night waiting for a train. Or have bingo wings. Even a micro macrobiotic diet won’t bust those babies for me in three weeks. I’m definitely going to need more upper body coverage.

So black, warm and body-friendly. Maybe I should wear a burka!

But then – thankfully – I discovered that The Guardian’s style columnist Jess Cartner-Morley is 41 and always looks fabulous and therefore I can trust her over and above Pinning 20-somethings and celebs with far more niche celebrations/far more toned bodies than me. Plus she wrote in favour of sequins for New Year wearing a very covetable skirt.


I looked for it on It’s in their sale! Yay! Sadly it’s out of stock in anything but XS – but at least it’s a starting point!

Bring on the party! But first let the shopping commence!


3 thoughts on “Neither Mutton Nor Lamb”

    1. It’s hard isn’t it? We just don’t seem to fit into a demographic for nights out. It was far easier when I used to hang out with octogenarians at tea dances! Sad but true.

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