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Monday, February 6, 2012

3 Fashion Fatalities

It feels like a long time since THREE THINGS weighed in on the fashionably hopeless.  Once a staple of this weekly rantasm, the wardrobe-impaired have been getting a free ride for the better part of a year.  Part of me wants to believe that everyone had collectively obtained some combination of self-awareness, personal shame and regular access to mirrors - but after a good look around, it turns out I just wasn’t paying attention.  There is some measure of tragedy when it comes to the poorly-dressed, only because (a) it seems so easily prevented and (b) when it goes wrong it’s just so bad.  What we wear is the most important communication tool we have aside from our voices, and there is no shortage of heady advice available.  But all of this notwithstanding, bad fashion appears to be harder to kill than zombies, cockroaches and Kim Kardashian’s career combined.  Mind you, I’m not some E! network junkie waxing on the audacity of wearing “last season’s” fall collection.  I’m talking about things that I thought were killed off years ago and were long since left for dead.  But as has often been said, only the good die young, and this badness seems all but immortal.  And so, as a hopeful epitaph for these criminally ill-advised ways to dress, here are 3 fashion trends that need to go ahead and DIE already:

1. Public Screening.  I had a long and satisfying relationship with t-shirts with cheeky sayings printed on them.  And like any relationship, it went through stages.  At first, there was a doe-eyed wonder - when I realized that t-shirts could send a message other than “My mom dressed me” or “this was expensive.”  Then my collection became expansive and more brazen.  From cute sayings, I had moved on to shirts with ever-increasing shock value, confident that my irreverence translated into pure bad-assery in the eyes of anyone passing by.  It even got to the point where I was making my own shirts - feeling that the highest form of wearing one’s sense of humor across their chest could only be realized by sporting one-of-a-kind pieces.  Then I looked around at all these assholes wearing snarky t-shirts and realized - I am one of these assholes.   Turns out that it’s hard to be ironic when you’re doing what everyone else is doing.  It’s like trying to call a genre of music “Alternative” when you’re outselling the “Mainstream.”   Guess what?  You’re the new mainstream.  I then abandoned pointed t-shirts for “retro” fair, and slowly realized that while I was trying to represent a generation, I was unwittingly allowing my generation’s coolness to be hijacked by a generation (or two) that haven’t been able to generate any of their own.  And finally, I dumped screen prints altogether - relegating them to gym wear, and opting for plain shirts that I previously considered not-fancy-enough.  It turns out that if you’ve got something to say, you’re much better off using your mouth, and not the real estate on your chest - because if you need to use your t-shirt to be funny/interesting/outspoken, you should probably keep your mouth shut anyways.

2. Skinnin‘ Ain’t Winnin’.  There is perhaps no greater American fashion institution than denim.  It is, at once, our quintessential casual cool and a testament to our rugged western heritage.  And for the most part, the evolution of denim has left the very worst of it behind us.  Though they survived for a decade, bell-bottomed jeans were finally abandoned.  It took some time to realize that it was really never ok to use the fabric to make jackets - but we finally got there.  And thankfully, I haven’t had to endure excessive back pocket embroidery in quite some time.  But for some reason, the skinny jean endures.  First off, if you believe that this is acceptable clothing for men - please stop reading immediately, go to the garage and step on your rake.  I can only hope that sharp blow the head will knock the stupid off of you.  But while I previously opined that these were, under certain circumstances, acceptable for women - I’m here to say that I was wrong.  I’m not sure who invested you ladies with the idea that these are in any way flattering - but they were lying to you.  And you can’t possibly be wearing them for comfort - I’ve seen cozier police restraint systems.  The simple fact of the matter is that the basic effect of this clothing is look like your legs - just fatter (which makes the name even more baffling).  I can count on one hand the number of women I’ve seen look good in these pants - and they had the kind of "heroin-chic" legs that you’ve been campaigning against ever since Kate Moss had a modeling career.  Please ladies, please - if you take nothing else away from this, take these two words: boot cut.

3. Sweatin’ To The Oldies.  There is a great deal of women’s fashion devoted to hiding butt size.  Of course, they don’t call it this, they have plenty of glamourous euphemisms: “flattering your figure”, “accentuating your curves”, etc.  But no matter what you call it, the business of optical illusion in fashion has been around since we starting cinching our togas at the waist.  Of course, the man version of this is wearing t-shirts a size too small to make our torsos look bigger, but this couldn’t be any more transparent than if we just stenciled a notice of our own low self-esteem on our chests.  But women have turned this into fashion, and for the most part, made it look good.  Black stretchy pants, vertical stripes, A-lines and the list goes on.  But there is one that just needs go away.  Look, if you’re at the gym, there’s really no shame in not looking like you’re in tremendous shape - after all, at least you’re doing something about it, and that puts you ahead of about 95% of the rest of the fat bastards in this country.  Of course, I know that there are some physically intimidating people lurking around these sweat factories, but that’s motivation, not a reason to be the kid at summer camp that swims in his t-shirt.  So, with that said, stop it with the sweatshirt/jacket tied around your waist.  Seriously, no one harbors the illusion that you’re hiding a fantastic butt underneath that thing, and what possible reason could you have to have your jacket at the ready while you’re inside?!  You can’t hang it on the treadmill you’re running on?  Afraid that even with dozens of TV to watch, their own music to listen to, or iPhones to peruse, that everyone behind you will be looking at your backside if you don’t cover it up?  If you’re that self-conscious, wear baggier pants, work out at home, or just give up altogether - because the only person you’re fooling with that ridiculousness around your waist is you

* * *

Sure, it’s a free country and you’re allowed to wear whatever you want - but with all that power comes some responsibility, or at least some accountability.  Because just like you’re free to express yourself however you’d like, I’m free to express how much I hate it, and how stupid you look wearing it.  There are a lot of great reasons not to judge people: their race, their class, their silly-sounding names.  But there are few better reasons to judge someone than what they’re wearing - especially when it’s something that looks expensive.  After all, we are all dressing ourselves these days, right?  I mean, we are all forgiven our fashion mistakes, provided that we recognize and learn from them - but when someone becomes petulant, stubborn or just plain ignorant about what they’ve got on, we’ve all earned the right to laugh at them.  I’m all for not following the pack when it comes to dressing yourself, but when it comes to the message you’re sending with what you’re wearing, it’s best to make sure it’s not an invitation for the pack to follow you - to someplace they can slap the stupid off of you.  


SavageLettuce said...

Literally LOL @ "go to the garage and step on your rake." I love this so much I am tempted to turn it into a pithy t-shirt! ;)

Keep fighting the good fight, sir.

Jen and Tonic said...

I hate skinny jeans. They DO NOT look good on anyone despite what Cosmopolitan tells these women.

I must say I am REALLY guilty of #1! I would say I'll try harder not to be an asshat, but we both know that isn't happening.

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