OK, so, I just went to the mall to check out what was happening in the anchor stores, what’s being marketed to women, what is determined by corporate buyers as completely appropriate and (at least on some level, I would hope this was a goal) aesthetically pleasing for the American woman buying clothing today. And usually the clothes kind of suck but they’re also often a little funny and you know, even though you wouldn’t want to put this stuff on your body, maybe, at least you could kind of chuckle about it.
Today? Not chuckling. Not even a little.
It’s rare that I leave the mall pissed off…I mean, really, really pissed about what I’ve seen in shopping land, but this trip was like a blight unto mine eyes. For reals. I thought…whaaaaat…the fuuuuuuuuuck…are some of these midrange price point designers/buyers thinking? If you ever need convincing there’s a secret war on women then come see me ’cause baby, I got the proof.
Usual rules apply: no clearance, all multi-state and/or national (U.S.) chain stores, so the distribution for these beauties is wide-ranging and a recipe for despair.
Let’s just start with this. How did the conversation with the buyers go? ”Well, you know, that simple red sheath dress is so…sane, and practical. Have you got any spare material laying around? Because I’d really like to see this with enormously expansive side panels that add girth to the wearer, make no sense, and look like colorblocked bat wings. Hail Satan.”
Done and done!
Though I’ll grant this: at the very least, this dress is trying. It’s nightmarish in its efforts and the only message it would convey is that the wearer is either insane or on a mirror fast but, on some sad level, this dress attempts to define a person’s style. Sadly, this was not the case with much of the clothing I saw in the stores this season. There was an uncomfortable amount of pre-layered clothes, which are bad because you can never change the look of a shirt (ummmm…it’s better to let some faceless designer at a drafting table express yourself for you?) and the layers wear differently, so if one shitty, poorly constructed layer gets pilled/stained/stretched out of shape, the whole shirt becomes useless.
Though I would argue these shirts are pretty useless already.
And if a two-layered look isn’t good enough for you, then let me present you with a triple-layered shirt. Because WTF.
Worse: there are stacks and stacks of this crap.
Grim. Please, buy separate pieces, people. Because freedom, that’s why.
There was also a trend in “I Give Up” wear. A phrase I totally stole from a beloved TV show, I Give Up wear is clothing for people who know they must adorn their bodies with fabrics in order to not get arrested, but don’t care/don’t know how to dress themselves/don’t have faith in their appearance/think for some reason they don’t deserve to look good. Sad? Certainly.
And yet, I Give Up wear is alarmingly prevalent. There’s a study out there supporting the theory that zombie stories gain popularity during times of economic downturn. It speculates about the nature of mindless consumption. Is this a similar trend? The economy is bad, the news is grim, we seem to be mired in endless war…just gimme a frigging shirt and STFU or I will eat your entrails off a spike.
I know I’ve talked about this before, but I have a deep and abiding hatred for seasonal applique, which is total “I’ve Given Up” wear because people misguidedly think seasonal applique allows them to opt out of thinking about their clothes. Of course you’re appropriately dressed, right? It’s the end of August and your boxy, shape-free T-shirt has school buses and apples stitched onto it, so that must be right, right? Wrong. It’s not good or whimsical or fun; it’s a hollow bill of sale that makes the buyer think they’re “having fun” without actually…you know. Having any. If you see anything that looks like this (or jingle cows or halloween cats or soda-drinking polar bears)…
Try and avoid anything that makes you look like the prison matron from the movie Chicago, no matter how fierce Queen Latifah is in real life. Or anything that makes you look like you’re wearing one of those decidedly un-sexy retro gym suits that were mandatory in US high schools until the 1970s. Or something that is a combination thereof, as the poorly designed item in the center of the photo below demonstrates. Unless, of course, you have a prison-drab fetish and if so? Then you can pair this blight with the shapeless blue-grey cardigan on the right for a full-out visual declaration that you don’t like yourself even a little.
Here’s some quick rules by which you should abide when shopping this season. Or any season.
When buying skin-colored leggings (and this applies not just to the Caucasian variety, as the leggings depict but rather, any woman who buys leggings that are fairly close to her skin tone), be careful about the texture.
Exercise extreme prejudice when facing down a short-sleeved sweatshirt with a pearl-embellished closed placket.
I don’t mind plaid shirts. I don’t mind crocheted lace insets. I DO, however, mind when these elements are all part of one confused shirt, which tries and fails to be cowgirl-sexy.
Let’s not forget…
And then there’s…
I give up.
I mean, I really give up.
There’s no coming back from this. I’d like to present you with a few more things, just to drive the nail in the ol’ coffin of widely available women’s clothing this season. First, here is the ultimate “I give up” ensemble. Oatmeal-colored pants, washed out wallpaper-print pattern. I even found shoes to match. Please note: the shirt and pants were merchandised BY PROFESSIONALS as a potential outfit. SOMEONE THOUGHT THIS WAS A GOOD IDEA, AND PUT IT ON PROMINENT DISPLAY.
Seriously. I give up.
But it does make me wonder…these clothes are so, SO bad. How could this be? How could one season be so horrifically, pathetically ugly? I’d even say the clothes this season actively work to undermine women’s confidence and sense of well-being, they are that bad. How does that happen..?
I think it’s coming clear to me…
Do you see it?
It’s not…no…it couldn’t be, could it?
As a matter of fact…
That would explain so much. I understand now! Dark Lord Designs for the Fall 2013 win!