'Cougar' women enter the fashion war

Style experts are predicting that 2010 will become the year of the 40-something woman, as the "Cougar Phenomenon" (older women seeking younger men) already sweeping America, comes to the UK, with Courtney Cox's TV show Cougar Town hitting our small screens.

A survey by Meadowhall shopping centre, near Sheffield, has found that, over the past six months, there has been a marked increase in the spending of 40-something women on clothes, shoes and make-up, as they wage war on the fashionable 20-somethings.

Meadowhall's research shows that the spending power between the two is wider than ever, with 40-somethings investing in their appearance by up to 26 per cent more than their younger counterparts. Style expert Bethanie Lunn says: "For too long, society has dictated that women lose their good looks with age, whereas men become 'distinguished',but 2010 is the year to finally put that myth to bed.

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"A cougar is so much more than a woman who dates younger men – it describes a generation of women who work hard to remain in vogue and, owing to their glamorous image and self-assured nature, happen to appeal to younger men."

The survey also reveals a 12 per cent rise in women dating younger men compared with 2005, with 56 per cent of men admitting they are looking for an older woman to date – and 19 per cent would quite happily date a woman up to 15 years their senior.

"Cougar fashion is very much about class and glamour," Bethanie says.

"Cougars have the financial advantage over their 20-something counterparts, meaning they can afford the very best."