Such person is usually - but not necessarily - upper-middle class.

I'm looking for a noun or a noun-phrase but the words I've found so far (unpolished, inelegant, gauche, etc.) are adjectives and/or don't fit what I'm looking for.


This noun or noun-phrase...

  • is more likely to be used by women when gossiping. ("Did you see that .... at the meeting yesterday? Yeah, I did. Some people just don't know how ridiculous they can get.)
  • isn't related to promiscuity or prostitution.

If the woman is a socialite, her picture will be displayed in newspapers and magazines and she will be a laughingstock..

  • 1
    One such person was Rebecca Mark, former division CEO of Enron, who showed up at a company function on a motorcyle in leather jackets and pants. I didn't know at the time that Enron was fraudulent, but I did avoid the stock because "this is the woman you don't want your son to date." – Tom Au Oct 6 '14 at 15:02
  • 2
    When you find the word for that, find the one for a man who .., as well. Otherwise no fair. – John Lawler Oct 6 '14 at 15:20
  • 1
    You might consider fashionista. wisegeek.com/what-is-a-fashionista.htm – 0.. Oct 6 '14 at 16:22
  • 4
    Just plain 'tacky'. – Mitch Oct 6 '14 at 18:23
  • 1
    I'd consider it to be an inflammatory and mildly offensive term on the same par as slut, trash, and tart. – Mari-Lou A Oct 7 '14 at 16:33

14 Answers 14


It's often been said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. What one person finds trashy, slutty, tarty, cheap or tacky-looking in a woman; another sees a woman who oozes self-confidence, style, glamour and sex-appeal.

A woman who has put on a gaudy outfit could be described as being dressed to the nines; gussied, fancied or dolled up; sassy; and looking to have fun. If she is dressed provocatively (gaudy outfits), wears expensive cosmetics (garish makeup), and prefers costume jewelry (excessive jewelry) to that of gold and platinum, she is said to be dressed to kill.

She can be called a man-eater; a seductress; a flirt; a femme fatale or just a socialite

She lives in a paradise of a mansion, usually in California, or a penthouse in Manhattan. You might find her hanging out at various social events, with a glass of champagne in her hand. Often she doesn't have a job, but sometimes she can be working in a high-end job, such as that of a celebrity publicist, which nets her a very high salary. (...) Can also be prone to Conspicuous Consumption, especially jewels, fancy dresses, and furs.

Alternatively, if she is young and has recently come into money she might be termed as

Nouveau Riche
The Nouveau Riche are characterized as rude and tasteless, and frequently contrasted with the refined manners of aristocratic Old Money characters. (...) If American, expect them to be Hollywood California people with bleach-blonde Valley Girl daughters, slovenly white trash who won either the lottery or a big-time settlement ... If black, expect a flashy character from a Glam Rap video. (...) Common accessories for this class include fur coats, gaudy jewelry, obnoxiously color-coordinated suits, and gold teeth.

Source: TV Tropes

  • Yes, this answer addresses everything! Do you think fashionista should be mentioned too? – 0.. Oct 7 '14 at 16:10
  • @ermanen well... that depends. Does she follow the latest trends in fashion? Is she obsessed with fashion accessories; handbags, sunglasses, shoes etc. The OP doesn't mention this. – Mari-Lou A Oct 7 '14 at 16:13
  • I wish you could join the two answers. – Centaurus Oct 7 '14 at 16:42
  • @user463240 I decided to give a different answer because so many American users were unfamiliar with mutton dressed as lamb and it is heavily connected to age, it would be a totally inappropriate term for a 20-year-old. – Mari-Lou A Oct 7 '14 at 16:52
  • 1

If the lady in question is well past her forties, and used to be a highly attractive and courted woman in the past, she might dress provocatively and wear heavy makeup in order to recapture her former glory. Such a woman is often derogatorily called mutton dressed (up) as lamb. in British English.

an offensive way of saying that a woman is dressed in a style that is more suitable for a much younger woman

  • 12
    As a native English speaker for 40+ years, I would have absolutely no clue what you meant if you said "mutton dressed as lamb." My impression would be that this was some obscure Britishism. – Calphool Oct 6 '14 at 15:24
  • 6
    @JoeRounceville I wasn't aware that it's exclusively a British English idiom but I can assure you it is very well-known. Nothing obscure about it in the slightest. phrases.org.uk/meanings/mutton-dressed-as-lamb.html – Mari-Lou A Oct 6 '14 at 15:26
  • 6
    mutton = old sheep. lamb = young sheep. Instant understanding despite having never heard the phrase before. – Joshua Oct 6 '14 at 16:24
  • 3
    Yes, but how many Americans know what (a) mutton is? Instant non-communication. – pazzo Oct 6 '14 at 16:45
  • 3
    @ChrisW there are far more offensive terms that I can think of to describe a woman who is trying "too hard", I'm sure you're well aware of them yourself. At least this expression is not vulgar or obscene. – Mari-Lou A Oct 6 '14 at 19:53

The noun show-off refers to a person who likes to show off. The adjective ostentatious means showing off your money or possessions to make others notice.

  • 4
    "Show-off" is a common name in US English for the OP's description. – Kristina Lopez Oct 6 '14 at 15:56
  • 5
    @Kristina Lopez, but a show-off does not necessarily have anything to do with the description of the OP. One can be a show-off without the gaudiness, garishness and excessiveness in appearance. – pazzo Oct 6 '14 at 16:54
  • 2
    @Kristina Lopez : Gaudiness in dress and appearance has no intrinsic relation to a show-off. A show-off could be all tarted up, but that is totally optional and has nothing to do with the definition of a show-off. – pazzo Oct 6 '14 at 17:38
  • 1
    @CarSmack, in my opinion, gaudiness in dress and appearance are one of many manifestations of a show-off and most certainly has an intrinsic relation to the definition...in this case, the dictionary link provided by Jasper: "a person who shows off (behaves in a way intended to attract attention that other people often find annoying)". – Kristina Lopez Oct 6 '14 at 18:19
  • 3
    @KristinaLopez I don't think CarSmack is trolling. He's trying to be precise. A SWR is inherently asking for neither a hyponym or hypernym but as close to a synonym as possible. That means it shouldn't include lots of other things. Show-off includes quite a few other things that have nothing at all to do with dress/makeup/jewelry. – Mitch Oct 7 '14 at 2:24

Probably flashy may fit your description: ( from TFD)

  • tastelessly showy.
  • ostentatious and tasteless.

also the expression bling-bling may fit the context:

  • (Noun) ostentatious jewellery.

  • Bling (or bling-bling) is a slang term popularized in hip hop culture, referring to flashy, ostentatious or elaborate jewelry and ornamented accessories that are carried, worn or installed, such as cell phones or tooth caps.

A woman wearing bling-bling jewelry.

  • As mentioned in the question, I'm looking for a noun or NP. – Centaurus Oct 6 '14 at 15:00
  • @user463240 'bling' isn't an NP? – Mitch Oct 6 '14 at 18:22

A woman all tarted up

... And yes it is a NP

  • I've been searching for a slangword that fits my definition and I've found your answer: "a tarted-up female". I've also found "classy-hoochie" (A classy hoochie is a high-class woman dressed up in a slutty way) Only I don't know whether anyone really uses that. Would you like to look it up and, if appropriate, include it? – Centaurus Oct 6 '14 at 23:00
  • "Hoochie," by itself is slang for prostitute or a loose woman. So is "tart." I think more people have heard of "tart," but "hoochie" is popular in "hoochie mama" and "hoochie coochie." While tarted up and classy-hoochie do not necessarily refer to a promiscuous woman, they are based on words that do, and that idea remains close if not implied. By your OP, I am not sure you want a word that has anything to do with promiscuity. As for classy-hoochie, it remains in the realm of slang and its usage is not widespread. – pazzo Oct 7 '14 at 14:53
  • No, the word I'm looking for has nothing to do with promiscuity. In my mother tongue we have a slang word for it and I am trying to find the English word that conveys exactly the same. It's not a word men would use. Women would use it when gossiping: "Did you see that ... at the meeting yesterday? Yes, some people just don't know how ridiculous they can look." – Centaurus Oct 7 '14 at 15:50
  • 1
    Did you see that floozy yesterday? This comes immediately to mind. But once again, floozy can heavily imply a loose woman. I wish you well on the search for an appropriate word. Is there not a bilingual dictionary you can consult? – pazzo Oct 7 '14 at 16:10
  • This is a good answer and I wish I could accept it too. – Centaurus Oct 7 '14 at 16:38

Merriam-Webster's Eleventh Collegiate Dictionary (2003) offers this note distinguishing among various similar adjectives that might be applicable:

GAUDY, TAWDRY, GARISH, FLASHY, MERETRICIOUS mean vulgarly or cheaply showy. GAUDY implies a tasteless use of overly bright, often clashing colors or excessive ornamentation {circus performers in gaudy costumes}. TAWDRY applies to what is at once gaudy and cheap and sleazy {tawdry saloons}. GARISH describes what is distressingly or offensively bright {garish neon signs}. FLASHY implies an effect of brilliance quickly and easily seen to be shallow or vulgar {a flashy nightclub act}. MERETRICIOUS stresses falsity and may describe a tawdry show that beckons with a false allure or promise {a meretricious wasteland of casinos and bars}.

S.I. Hayakawa, Choose the Right Word (1968) offers this discussion of the same five-word family:

These words refer to tasteless displays of overdone finery or decoration, or to brazen, flaunting behavior. Of these words, gaudy is the least negative in tone, but still points to excessive use of decoration or to any sort of vividness that approaches vulgarity: ... Flashy is an informal substitute for gaudy, referring to anything deliberately chosen out of exuberantly vulgar ostentation: ...

With garish, the emphasis is wholly on extremely distasteful ostentation and more especially of phony or trashy gimmicks: ...

Meretricious and tawdry both emphasize decoration that is made of cheap or worthless materials.. With meretricious, the stress is on overuse, especially of phony or trashy gimmicks: ... Tawdry may, more simply, suggest cheapness combined with showiness in taste: ...

Of these options, gaudy and flashy seem the most applicable to the particular situation you describe.

One (gender-neutral) noun form that might fit the situation is vulgarian. MW's Eleventh Collegiate Dictionary offers this definition:

vulgarian a vulgar person

where vulgar may be understood to mean "lacking in cultivation, perception, or taste: COARSE" or "ostentatious or excessive in expenditure or display: PRETENTIOUS."


You might find Jezebel useful. From the Mac OS X dictionary:

Jezebel |ˈdʒɛzəbɛl|
( fl. 9th century bc ), a Phoenician princess, traditionally the great-aunt of Dido and in the Bible the wife of Ahab king of Israel. She was denounced by Elijah for introducing the worship of Baal into Israel (1 Kings 16:31, 21:5–15, 2 Kings 9:30–7). Her use of make-up was especially condemned by Puritan England.
• (as noun a Jezebel) a shameless or immoral woman.

The mention of make-up puts it in the right ballpark — though it might be a little OTT.


If this person's gaudy outfits, garish make-up, and excessive jewellery are indicative of lower social class than the setting then they may be a "parvenue", a "social climber", or possibly one of the "nouveau riche".

If they are just naturally ostentatious or vainglorious, regardless of social class, then they may be a "peacock" or "clotheshorse".

Being more offensive, they may be "mutton dressed as lamb" (as others have said), or "a duck out of water", both of which are ageist in addition to being personally offensive.


The noun "gimcrack" might fit.


(noun) ornamental objects of no great value (adj) tastelessly showy

  • 1
    I doubt anyone would know what was meant. – pazzo Oct 6 '14 at 16:46

Some more formal semi-synonyms are braggart and grandstander.



I'd probably use the word 'meretricious'.

  1. apparently attractive but having no real value:

"meretricious souvenirs for the tourist trade"

synonyms: flashy, pretentious, gaudy, tawdry, trashy, garish, chintzy, Brummagem, loud, tinselly, cheap, tasteless, kitschy; More

  1. archaic: relating to or characteristic of a prostitute.

Based on your description, she sounds like a real Dolly Varden, a character from Barnaby Rudge (Charles Dickins).


American or British?

Apparently, in the States "upper-middle class" is based on income (and education), and in the UK it's based on birth (and education).

I don't see your description ("gaudy outfits, garish make-up, and excessive jewelry", and "unpolished, inelegant, gauche") as upper-middle class, so I'd suggest (derogatively) "a prole", more formally "a parvenue" ... or "a foreigner" (perhaps "an American").

She might be upper-class though (because, she can wear whatever she likes): in which case, "dame", or "her ladyship", or whatever her name is (e.g. "Antonia").

But you wanted something derogatory, so "snob".


I'd go for: Insipid

Wiktionary says:

insipid (Flat; lacking character or definition.)

Example: "Oh my God, what an insipid WOMAN!!!"

See link: http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/insipid

  • What about: insipid ? i.e: "What an insipid WOMAN!!!" – ErickBest Oct 7 '14 at 9:30
  • Absolutely not. And insipid is an adjective, we talk about food being insipid when it is bland and without flavour. An insipid person is someone who is dull, plain and very drab. – Mari-Lou A Oct 7 '14 at 9:32
  • Exactly: consider these lines...; Word or phrase for a woman who shows up at events in gaudy outfits, garish make-up, and excessive jewelry? --and-- Such person is usually - but not necessarily - upper-middle class --in line with you comment:-- is bland and without flavour. An insipid person is someone who is dull, plain and very drab , so, Next time she comes, the OP should Scream; "Oh my God, what an insipid WOMAN!!!" – ErickBest Oct 7 '14 at 9:47
  • 1
    Garish is nigh on the diametric opposite of bland - I don't see how "insipid" would be appropriate. – DeveloperInDevelopment Oct 7 '14 at 23:34

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.