Not surprisingly, the Christmas season and its attendant need to shop has found me, once again, at the mall.
It pains me. Not the Christmas season, mind you. I live in Christmasland at home, and spend a full month making cookies and candies and watching Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and figuring out which family members I’m going to travel to see during the holidays. It is the mall that pains me. While I am admittedly not a tremendous fan of the mall after years of retail employment, it still isn’t the presence of the mall itself that causes me agony. It is the selection of “festive”, “holiday”, “seasonal” clothes presented to women as viable clothing choices.
In this edition I don’t even delve into things like shoes, as I was so preoccupied with the horror that is the clothes. They provide plenty of grist for this mill. As always, these are taken at major chains, and all the clothes are prominently displayed on feature tables or end caps and racks, not tucked onto some bar on a back wall, away from most prying eyes.
There seem to be a few unfortunately prevalent themes in this season’s clothing choices, including a weird reinterpretation of ’80s-style fashion, capturing some of the neon and none of the innovation that made ’80s clothing so noteworthy. I’ll ease you into things. We’ll start with this.
A grey cotton knit, scoop neck, V-back shirt with a neon yellow lace back insert would have been a mistake back then, and it’s a mistake now. Quick! Get me a functional neutral in a casual knit! And then pair it with an example of the most washed-out neon lace you can find! Because then you can have a double-win; world’s most unattractive color AND a shirt with a split personality, as it is now neither casual nor dressy. Excellent.
Speaking of split personalities, this two-tone sweater is one I’m having a hard time figuring out. I believe that it’s pigment-dyed,
Though considering how stiff and unyielding this material was, it could be shellacked.
Another ’80s trend that refuses to die is colorblocking. It’s something I always find vaguely problematic because for some sick, sick reason, designers cut the horizontal lines across the widest parts of clothing, so you look like you’ve got giant shoulders or hugely wide hips. Nice. Thanks. Like I don’t have enough issues. But this?
Seems like a recipe for social discomfort. Colorblocking that bisects your boobs is one (poorly executed) thing, but when that’s combined with material that doesn’t breathe and is guaranteed to make your pits extra-sweaty and laden with stench? Double trouble. In every sense of the term.
Layering was super-big in the ’80s (how many popped collar-Izods can you wear?). So were animal prints. So were zippers. If you had any sort of ’80s sensibility, you’d be able to put them together so that God willing you could look all cool and rock star-like, and end up looking like this.
NOT like this.
When you think of ’80s fashions, you think of the funky, layered, bangley-spangley, ripped and zippered and lace petticoated rock star clothes. But among the power elite (or those who fancied themselves as such, there was a suiting trend.
p.s. Check out the phone!
This sparked a trend for monochromatic dressing, and in the current flaccid resurgence of ’80s clothing, there has been a nod to the concept of the monochromatic.
Unfortunately, this monochromatic palette makes one look like a giant stalk of celery.
But not every article of unfortunate clothing was ’80s inspired. As it is cold out, vests are trending.
I just want to point this out: this is a hip-length sweater vest with a fur-trimmed scalloped edge. Oh. Holy. Crap. But it doesn’t quite match my favorite vest…
People, people, people. This looks like you’re wearing a prop of a zombie’s lunch from the set of The Walking Dead. While I’m all for celebrating your inner youness and am no stranger to perhaps ill-chosen fashion statements, I am at a loss to understand how looking like a happy meal for the undead is either attractive or boosts the self-esteem.
Since this is the holiday season, embellished clothing is all over the place. I know I’ve already railed about the misery that is appliqued clothing, but it keeps showing up and I feel bears repeating. Every. Time.
I mean yes, sure, cardinals are lovely. Hang a picture of them in your kitchen, get a decorative holiday plate. I have one. But for the love of all that is holy, you don’t see me strapping my decorative cardinal plate to my chest and wearing it outside, do you?
As someone profoundly interested in the state of paisley, I have to say…this is the grimmest, saddest paisley ever. As the bib. On some sort of weird, ersatz Germanic-looking puffed shirt in the thirty-year-old color palette in dusty rose and sage. My bedroom was these colors about 900 years ago. I changed that color scheme for a reason.
They. Are. Puffy. I know I’ve returned to the cardinal theme again but here’s the deal. The embellishment? Is done in puffy paint. PUFFY PAINT. So they’re slightly tacky and smell a little funny. There’s no saving the idea of this image; it is entirely unattractive. If it were on a decorative plate, I would break it.
Whosoever may be designing shirts festooned with seasonal fancies of this ilk, heed my words: you are hurting America. Nobody feels great/sexy/confident in clothes that look like this. This is “I give up” clothing for women who have lost their sense of selves and are aching for some miniscule level of self-expression, even though these shirts give tacit approval to mom jeans and white sneakers. Please stop. If you can’t do it for yourself, then do it for your country.
And finally, you can’t have the holidays without a little luxe, a little ruffle, a little sparkle, a little shine.
It’s not just that I dislike attached clothing (because I really DO dislike attached clothing), but from a practical standpoint, bear this in mind: these clothes are made from mixed-weight materials, which will wash differently, wear differently and eventually lose shape, differently. It’s just a matter of time before one part of this shirt poops out on you and you have to throw the whole thing away. If you had two separate pieces, you could care for them as their material requires. They’d last longer, stay in shape better, and waste you less money in the process. Just sayin’.
There also seemed to be a common idea amongst designers as a whole that it would be in the public interests to present goods that were puffy and orangey, as though they thought to incorporate the following design ideas into an article of clothing, with a little sparkle for some zazz.
I adore Gossamer the Monster. But! I’ve never wanted to look like him. Or like a tricked-out car. Or like a set of louvers. Think before you buy.
Remember the Seinfeld “puffy shirt” episode? (Full disclosure: I’ve never seen a full episode of Seinfeld, but he so permeated the culture that even I know of “puffy shirt” and “soup Nazi” and “the bet”. And I digress.)
There’s a very good reason to not want to look like a pirate. How about…like a shimmery pirate?
I was hoping to find a shirt that will make me look billowy. I long to billow. The only way this shirt is an appropriate clothing option is if you’re posing as lead angel for next year’s Christmas cards. Puffy shirts–and more importantly, peasant shirts like this one, when you look at the cut and the rope collar tie–are supposed to be simple. Of the people. Peasant-ish, if you will. It’s not that you can’t reinterpret a shirt, but sparkled and faux-glammed like this? Just doesn’t make sense.
I was also hoping to find a turquoise microfiber jacket with faux snakeskin trim.
I honestly don’t think I need to say anything more about this.
So, when putting together your look to wear to the holidays, when everyone is tarted up and you spend time with friends and family you haven’t seen all year, may I recommend NOT wearing a heavy-weight cardigan that’s been dipped in a Hefty bag?
Unless, of course, you’re planning to wear it with these leggings.
Because this brings the sexy.
I looked up figures and they vary wildly, but the one that was somewhat in the middle-ish said that American women spend $118 per month on clothing. Times twelve months, is $1,416 per year, and times 65 (I figure an woman who lives to 80 starts buying–or at least directing the purchase of–her own clothes when she’s 15 or so) means she spends $92,040 on clothing alone, never mind other methods of beautification, like makeup. Ladies, please. Times are tough, money is tight. Spend your money thoughtfully, and remember these things: ’80s fashion went out of fashion for a reason. Vests can be difficult to wear, so consider them carefully, especially if they look like intestines. Cardinals are lovely, but not necessarily on your shirt (St. Louis baseball fans exempted from this, particularly during sporting events). And all that glitters is not gold, and is not guaranteed to make you look like a million bucks. Try things on first! That should eliminate 90% of most purchasing mistakes.
I could go on; I will, eventually. But for now I say, caveat emptor! And, happy mindful shopping!