Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Cougar Fashion - what wearing shorts says about you

Every woman may think she has a style challenge on her hands when she looks in the wardrobe each morning, but believe me, the Cougar has twice the dilemma. Whereas most 40-somethings are simply working out how to hide various lumps and bumps and avoid looking like mutton dressed as lamb, the Cougar is also wondering how on earth one should dress when one IS a mutton but spends one’s life permanently surrounded by lambs. I frequently lose track of which field I am supposed to be grazing in, and either meet AdMan feeling as if I’m dressed like his mother, or head into work looking like I’ve had an unfortunate date with Paris Hilton’s stylist.
That said, I must admit, I have always wondered why, if your body is in relatively good nick, the older woman is suddenly supposed to abandon certain fashions in favour of the classic black trouser suit, and head for M&S rather than Top Shop. My passport might say I’m 40 plus, but my body is pretty much the same now as it was when I was twenty or thirty, so why, when there are high streets packed with overweight twenty-somethings, squeezed into items completely unsuitable for their body shape, should I feel that I can’t enjoy a fashion moment or two as much as they can? After all, I’ve never been someone to expose vast amounts of flesh, and bare legs and plunging necklines are just not my style, so is it that inappropriate for me to go for a bit of skinny jean street fashion or throw on a mini and opaques now and then?
Ad man of course, is very much in favour of the skinny jeans, or anything in fact which is tight and shows every curve. But then he’s male, and as such his tastes are shaped by what’s ‘sexy’  rather than what might be appropriate, so I don’t feel I can always rely on him as an acid test.
I decided instead to check out the pages of Grazia this week, to see what key looks might be Cougar friendly. Unfortunately the edition to hand was a little low on Cougar style (Elle, Madonna, Sadie and co were all obviously having a quiet week in the Bahamas) while all the females of  AdMan’s generation - Sienna, Fearne , Holly etc - were out in force as usual, variously featured in their ‘favourite skinnies’ or a short frock or two, but mostly in this season’s short shorts, black tights and boots.
“Well,” I mused, immediately losing focus on my original mission.. “There’s a look I can pull off.”  Of course I was basing this purely on the fact that it was a trend that I worked – and loved – way back in 1990. Admittedly, the look then was a bit more Yaz (ie ripped denim shorts, black tee, tights and DMs,) but with a bit of tweaking and the help of my daughter’s wardrobe, I knew I could give the 2010 version a go.
And so it was that I found myself in, broad daylight, dressed in tiny TopShop black shorts, laced up boots, and a checked shirt… Admittedly when I got outside and the cold air hit my thighs I did have a momentary sanity check, but undeterred, I headed out on my errands.  Less than an hour later and I’m asking the fashion gods why on earth they hadn’t reminded me that today was the day I had to drop the car at the garage…  Walking into a mechanic’s domain is always something of a challenge when you’re tall and blonde, but doing it in micro shorts is just bloody madness.. Do Fearne and Sienna get these problems? Of course not, they have someone else to do such menial tasks, leaving them to get papped simply clutching a latte and an oversized handbag and looking as cool as a well-iced gin and tonic.  Being a lesser mortal, all I could do was hug my short trench coat tightly around me and try to brave the quips and leers with as much dignity as possible.
Next stop, the library to return AdMan’s Sherlock Holmes’ collection.. That should be fine, I reassured myself, At least everyone has to be quiet in there. But even strolling down the high street towards the library, I was having my doubts. A van came up behind me and beeped appreciatively, but a nagging fear inside me was already imagining the occupants feeling completely conned, or worse, laughing their heads off, when they clocked the unexpected extra years on the face on the other side.
I began to wonder if that’s where I was going very wrong. Today your choice of clothes is all about sending a clear message to the world about what sort of person you are. What you don every morning is a way of letting everyone know what sort of people you hang out with, what music you like and maybe even what decade you were born in. And if that’s the case, was I sending out massively confused signals?  Did my shorts and boots combined with a 40-something face say, “Here’s an older woman who’s still in touch with what’s hot?”, “ Here’s a woman not afraid to wear what she wants?” Or simply, “Here’s an older woman who should know better”?
But of course, the Cougar is going to get a mixed bag of responses whatever she’s wearing. Whether in black trouser suit or micro mini, when I stand by my man, people will still do a double take, and will still judge. And for every person who says, “good for her, bagging a toyboy” there will be those who tut and disapprove.  Society doesn’t like people who challenge the usual way of doing things. The average person on the street wants us all to date someone of the same height, same colour and same background - and it rocks their suburban way of thinking when someone takes a different path. Well, to hell with them, I don’t want to be a sheep - whether I’m classified as mutton or lamb - I’m very happy to be a Cougar and, yes, I’m still quite liking the black shorts too…………….

Friday, 8 January 2010

Can a toyboy ever be too much of a boy for a Cougar?

So Cougar Sam Taylor Wood and her toy boy lover are now expecting a baby. Of course the fact that there’s 23 years between them (she’s 42, he’s 19) has obviously made the announcement all the more newsworthy…  so I’ve been considering where this Cougar should stand on the matter.

The idea of creating a little being that was part Cougar and part Ad Man has obviously come up from time to time – usually on the nights when a few bottles of red were also mixed with the odd margerita – but although the more romantic side of me was rather tempted at times, in the cold light of day we both would inevitably wake up, look at one another quizzically and then be hugely relieved when it was clear that neither of us really wanted to see it through. In fact, we’d rather stick needles in our eyes.

We’ve already done more than enough for the next generation. Like Sam Taylor Wood, I have two children, and Ad Man has a son.. and both of us can still remember so clearly the sleepless nights, endless crying, and sheer hard work that our bundles of joy brought us that we really don’t fancy going through that bit all over again.  Call us selfish, but we love the fact that we can spend as long as we like in bed and don’t get woken up in the night by anything other than each other.

If this was a planned event for Sam TW, I take my hat off to her bravery. She is a very beautiful woman, no doubt about it, but I challenge any Cougar to feel sexy and desirable when you’ve had two hours sleep, your breasts are engorged and you haven’t had a minute to leap in the shower. And, bearing in mind that she’s only been seeing her Toyboy for a matter of months, I’d imagine that they are still at that point in the relationship when she is throwing every ounce of energy she has into looking good and fantastic sex..  I hate to be the one to knock another Cougar/Toyboy relationship in any way, but will a 19-year-old really be happy to hang around once that chapter of fun comes to a close and he has to play second fiddle to 8lbs of noise and spittle?

One of the wonderful things about the relationship I have with Ad Man is that he was just celebrating his 30th birthday when I met him. By the time you’ve hit 30, you’ve seen a few things, got a few serious relationships under your belt and (in Ad Man’s case) even had a child of his own - all of which puts you on a much more level playing field with the 40-something Cougar.  And all of which also seems to be leading me to the point where I have to concede that even I might have a cut-off point in terms of what might make a successful Cougar/ToyBoy coupling.  Or, in other words, if what you want from your relationship is some depth and longevity, there's little point hanging around with someone fresh out of college, who still has a lot more to learn about life, love and women.

 Sorry Sam, but unless your 19-year- old is remarkably worldly wise and mature for his years, I just don’t see it working.. Factoring in that he’s also an actor (not the most selfless of people at the best of times) and if I’d been you, I’d have given it another 10 years at least - but that’s rather a long time to cross your legs now.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Cougar Christmas with the toyboy - and his family

So, Christmas with my toyboy, Ad Man, has come and gone, in a flurry of snow, champagne, pressies – and a sprinkling of awkward moments..
While the Cougar spent much of the build up to the festive season rushing to meet work deadlines, buying presents, cleaning the house and dealing ineffectively with my builders who were attempting to beat the world record for the slowest bathroom makeover in history, Ad Man’s hectic work schedule seemed to consist entirely of perusing Ebay for guitar accessories or going to the pub with various work colleagues for some Christmas cheer.
And so it came to pass that, when we finally turned up on his parents' doorstep somewhere on the edge of Wales, I was no doubt looking more old and haggard than they were even expecting, while Ad Man was in exuberant form.
As a teenager I was never much good at staying at boyfriends’ parents houses. Said boyfriend would inevitably have high expectations of the fact that we were finally spending a night together under the same roof, even if the only thing separating us from his parents and various siblings was a few millimitres of plasterboard with as much sound proofing as a negligee. I on the other hand, would have absolutely no intention of doing anything that would make me unable to look his mother in the eye as I passed her the toast the following morning.
And, so within minutes of crossing the threshold of Ad Man’s family home, all the same insecurities and questions unexpectedly flooded back once again. Where would I be sleeping? Where would he be sleeping? And would he be expecting me to cross the landing quietly in the middle of the night for an illicit, whispering fumble under his Arsenal duvet cover? I didn’t have to wait long for the answer. As we headed inside, he only had to run a finger suggestively down the length of my spine for me to get the message loud and clear.
But it soon also became clear that his very Christian parents had been anxiously pondering exactly the same points. And, even more interestingly, I suddenly realised that, of course, for them, it was an even more awkward scenario. Whereas, when dealing with a couple of teenagers, they would have been well within their right to lay down the law and read the riot act (or any other such clichĂ©s of parental behaviour) if they suspected anything they might not approve of was happening under their own roof – when faced with a ‘girlfriend’ who was not only in her 40s, but only 14 years younger than them, it was a whole other conundrum.
Ad Man’s parents had clearly surmised that the best approach was to put us in single beds (a double would have obviously been sending completely the wrong message) but single beds in the same room, thus eliminating any awkward night-time encounters in the corridor. And so it was that we were shown into the primrose twin room, with its towels laid out neatly on both beds, and tea-making facilities in the corner. But, just in case Ad Man and I still harboured intentions of sharing anything more than a cup of Earl Grey, his father felt the need to take me to one side.
“The walls in these houses are very thin, you know” he proffered. I laughed, and tried not to squirm too visibly. Ok, I thought, point made. But still he kept going.. “They’re only plasterboard, the sound goes right through them,” he emphasised once more, in case I hadn’t quite grasped it the first time. I smiled yet again and tried to shape an expression that said, “Yes, I understand what you’re saying, but of course that sort of funny business was never on the cards anyway as far as I’m concerned..” I’m not sure I succeeded.
Meanwhile, downstairs, presents were already being distributed and Ad Man was whooping as he unveiled a new amp for his bass guitar. Within minutes he and his brother were happily jamming together in the front room, recalling all their old favourites from the Police to Led Zep, while I, the parents, and even Grandma tapped our feet appreciatively. All was very festive and cheery, then his brother began the opening chords of a familiar tune.. ‘Here’s one for Emma,” he smiled. “Ah, what is it?” asked Grandma.
But I didn’t wait to hear the answer, I already knew. I’d reached the stairs before I heard them launch into the chorus. “Here’s to you Mrs Robinson…“ Excellent. Time for a cup of Earl Grey, I thought. Upstairs. By myself. His parents would have nothing to worry about tonight.