Is 28 Too Old for Skimpy Outfits?

A 28-year-old mother of four has been banned from all three nightclubs in her hometown because she's "too old" for her skimpy outfits. But is she really?
-Mean Betty,


There is something to be said for growing old gracefully, is there not, kittens? Would that we could all grow up to be Helen Mirren! But while a good many embrace the "young at heart" philosophy that Dame Helen exemplifies, not everyone does. Indeed, some are even offended by it-even if the people in question are still actually young, and not just young at heart.

This was what Ms. Lisa Woodman, a petite blonde with an-ahem-impressive rack from Worcester, UK, found on New Year's Eve this year. Once a fortnight (that's once every two weeks for us Americans), Ms. Woodman and her sister Sarah like to go out on the town. One of their Let's Go Out nights corresponded with New Year's Eve, so naturally, they were looking forward to dancing the night away at one of the three clubs their town plays home to. But bizarrely, when they rolled up to one of the clubs, Mode, they were denied entry. "When I asked the bouncers why me and my sister weren't allowed in," Ms. Woodman told the Daily Mail, "they just said, 'You're too old to wear that get-up.'" Too old? Ms. Woodman is only 28! Since when has turning 28 launched a person over the proverbial hill?

Ms. Woodman is a mother of four. Her sister, who is 32, also has a child. After being told they were banned for life from Mode, as well as from the other two clubs in Worcester, they left the club in tears and returned home to relieve their babsitters for the evening. Outrageous? Meanie offers forth a resounding yes.

Of course, there is this: Perhaps the problem was not so much that the outfits or skimpy. Rather, it was that they are unfathomable tacky. Indeed, it is possible that Ms. Woodman would benefit from an intervention from What Not to Wear.

Lisa Woodman
Lisa Woodman

Ms. Woodman in one of her favorite "going out" getups.

It's also possible that perhaps she looks a little older than her 28 years; she has, after all, born four children, and after having split with her long-term partner and the father of those four kiddie-winks, she's been raising them on her own. That would wear anyone down. Maybe this is what prompted the bouncers to tell her that she was "too old" to be wearing the outfit she had picked?

(As an aside, however, Meanie would like to note that Ms. Woodman's body appears to be in incredible shape. While going through her break-up, she did two things for herself: She got a breast augmentation and she started hitting the gym. Say what you will about the boob job, kittens, but the working out can only be a good thing. There are much less constructive ways to deal with a devastating break-up than by getting in shape!)

But then again, perhaps it's simply a case of some incredibly mean bouncers picking on Ms. Woodman "just because." Meanie will feely admit that she has a little trouble understanding the point of bouncers. From a security standpoint, they make perfect sense: Checking IDs, gauging severe levels of intoxication, and spotting overly aggressive behavior ensures the smooth running of a club by keeping down illegal drinking and weeding out those likely to cause fights. However, bouncers have more one additional function: To identify and refuse entry to would-be patrons based on their level of attractiveness. And this, kittens, is where the argument for bouncers falls a little bit to pieces. Most clubs have dress codes, so on the one hand, yes, bouncers are useful for making sure that those who enter meet the standards (no shirt, no shoes, no service!); but on the other hand, this also gives them the ability to veto anyone at all for purely personal reasons. Whether it's because the club goer wasn't blessed with phenomenal genes or if it's because they wore a color the bouncer doesn't like, denying entry on these sorts of things looks suspiciously like discrimination. And yet very rarely is it complained about, and even more rarely is anything done about it. Why?

Ms. Woodman acknowledged that her outfits may be a little provocative, but she is also correct in saying that they more or less cover her up. She doesn't, for instance, appear to be in danger of having any Lindsay Lohan-esque wardrobe malfunctions. As she pointed out, she isn't hurting anyone, and furthermore, her behavior seems to have been exemplary-she says she remained polite to the bouncers even in the face of their mistreatment of her, and there don't seem to be any reports of violence breaking out. Also note that she only goes out once every two weeks, so it's not as if she is partying her hardest every single night. Indeed, the fact that she limits her nights out to one every two weeks speaks to the fact that she has her priorities straight: She takes care of her children and she works hard to do so. Ms. Woodman, by the way, is a medical secretary at a hospital hygiene company. So given that she was not overly intoxicated, was not unnecessarily aggressive, and was certainly of legal age, why was she turned away? Because the bouncers didn't like what she was wearing. Does that seem right to you kittens?

The flip side of the argument is that maybe Ms. Woodman's outfit was offensive because it was counter to the club's dress code. When the Daily Mail got in touch with Nexum Leisure, the company which runs all three of Worcester's clubs, director Dean Hill told them this: "We expect people to make an effort and we have a dress code of smart casual." "Smart casual" is by nature a little nebulous, but it's possible that the short skirts and sky-high boots Ms. Woodman favors didn't fit with the club's image. But Ms. Woodman also told the paper that during this particular incident, "One doorman even made me walk up and down and turn around in front of people laughing at what I was wearing. I was totally in shock and really humiliated." There are ways to gracefully handle denying people entry somewhere-but publically humiliating them is not one of them.

In the words of Mr. Hill, "At the end of the day, it's private premises and we reserve the right to refuse entry for anyone." This may be true. But at the end of the day, it's also a person's right to express themselves how they want, especially through their clothing. Yes, we can always tell Ms. Woodman simply not to give these sorts of places her business-they don't deserve her patronage and all that-but ultimately the club is the one who is losing. Congratulations! You've just lost a customer!

So go ahead, kittens. Wear what you like. Even if it's tacky. Meanie won't tell anyone how old you are. Shhhhhh!


Mean Betty

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