I have to admit, I was surprised when I was at the mall the other day. The women’s clothing had…well, I can’t quite say there was a dearth of ugly clothes, but…a relative dearth of ugly clothes…for sale. Shock me shock me shock me! Though you can rest assured, dear reader, that there were indeed unattractive and unflattering items out there aplenty. Imagine if you had a hundred things, and five were great and five were OK and the other ninety things were crap. That’s how it normally is out there in anchor store mall land. This weekend, it was more like, if you had a hundred things, five of these things were great and TEN were OK, and the other eighty-five things were crap. A slight change for the better. Slight. I will consider it a blip.
As always, these pictures were taken at anchor stores, all chains, most of them national. Despite my normal, self-imposed “no clearance” rule, I have included one clearance item in this selection, but only because it was too ugly not to immortalize. In fact, before we even get involved in this season’s fashion miseries I’ll post the clearance, just to get it out of the way. Though, maybe I’m being too hard on the clothing. I mean, what girl wouldn’t want to look like she’s wearing a shirt flashing code from The Matrix?
Thankfully, this was on the $2 clearance rack, so there’s some hope for humanity.
Now. Let’s get down to business.
First up: pants!
I know shopping for jeans can be a brutal process. It can be frustrating, even devastating, if you feel like you can’t find pants that fit well and look nice. But for the love of all that is holy, WHYYYYY am I seeing a preponderance…a disturbing amount…of elastic-waist jeans.
They won’t fit correctly. They won’t make your ass look fantastic. They will make you look like you’ve stepped into a Hefty bag, cinched it at your waist and cut in some leg holes. These are “I’ve given up” pants, the kind you wear because you know you must drape something over your body to avoid arrest. Don’t give up! You’re better than that. And frankly, I’ll have to look at you wearing them, and you’ll look like this:
Yes, those really are elastic-waist pants on display. The unfortunate taper in the legs led me to believe so on sight, but then? I checked. Display people, please! Get off the crack, and stop prominently displaying ugly clothing! It leads the underinformed shopper to think this sort of thing is acceptable.
Patterned jeans are coming back into fashion. I remember them from about a thousand years ago, and they can be fun. Or, they can look like you sat in sherbet.
They could look like you put them on and rolled around in wet sidewalk chalk.
Or, you can get one confused print that would look more at home on wallpaper in two–count ’em, TWO!–pant lengths. Way to use that overpurchased lot of material, Gloria Vanderbilt!
I can’t even express how deeply, how profoundly I believe that Gloria Vanderbilt needs to be stopped. More on that soon.
Of course, if you go to a store and select this:
Behold! A double-knit, shrimp-pink, cropped, elastic waist, cargo pant. Never in my life have I seen so much wrong in one item of clothing. If you go to the store and deem this acceptable? Hopefully, your family is reading this and contacts me so we can stage an intervention. Help is out there, family! Be strong.
So, back to Gloria Vanderbilt. The only thing that gives me any sort of comfort regarding her current line is that it’s been sold to a design group and GV herself isn’t responsible for what they produce. Because I cringe–cringe, I say!–at the thought that the mother of a gay man would reintroduce the velour sweat suit to the world.
Whoever did this should be pilloried in the town square. Stop it. You’re hurting people.
And so. On to shirts.
Shirts, this season, seem to suffer from design mashup. Perhaps there’s a glut of newbies in the design departments. Perhaps an order came down from Upstairs that said they have to find ways to use up all the bits of odds and ends floating around the design shop. Perhaps the hat department is getting a little too free with their mercury. Whatever the reason, shirts are a discombobulated mess.
For example, Judas Priest-esque studs do not belong on a career separate button down rayon blouse.
There is, apparently, a picture of Alexa Chung wearing a remarkably similar shirt to a NYC screening of Inglourious Basterds in 2009. Even fashion icons can have an off moment. It was a bad idea four years ago; it’s a bad idea today.
Nor do studs belong on a…well, have a look for yourself.
I imagine the conversation about the design of this shirt went something like this:
Can you give me a sweatshirt cut, and make sure we use a gray knit emulate that classic sweatshirt look?
Great. Let’s leave the seams unfinished on the upper.
Hey, don’t we have an assload of mini gold studs?
Let’s stick ’em on the shoulders. Ladies like glittery shoulders.
Yeah! Of course they do! Great big glittery shoulders, like they have hollowed out disco balls over their arms.
Oh. OK. [a minute later] Hey, boss. We have a problem.
We don’t have enough gray knit material here to make a full order of shirts. We only have the rayon left over from those studded white button-down shirts that didn’t sell.
What should we do?
[thinks for a minute] [snaps fingers] I know! Keep the upper sweatshirt-and-studs design! Then block it, and make the bottom half rayon.
What do we do when we get to the bottom of the shirt?
Use as much of the leftover material as you can. They say “boxy”, we say “flowing”.
But it will be so ugly!
Ummmm. OK. What price point should we set it at?
Hmmm….twenty bucks will make it seem chintzy. It will be tough to get people to pay eighty bucks for a sweat shirt. Split the difference! Fifty bucks!
Forty-nine, sir. This way the customer won’t feel like they’re spending fifty bucks on a shirt.
Yes, yes. Excellent. Use psychology against them. I like it. You’ll go far in this business, young grasshopper.
Because really. What other explanation can there be?
This fancified sweat shirt theme was prevalent in the stores; you can see it here in washed-out orange.
And here, in colorblocked blue.
Or…oh good God…
Prints were also kind of a mess, from the joyless…
To the garish
To the poorly executed.
And then there’s this. If Eeyore were magically turned into a peach and gray, paisley print, jersey knit, zip-up cardigan, he would look like this.
And normally, I love everything about Paris. Except this.
But the look I saw in clothing this season that shocked me the most? There are far, far too many clothes made from material with such unfortunate texture that they would make the wearer look like she was suffering from some kind of skin disease. There’s fish scale disease.
This unfortunate crepe shirt bears a striking resemblance to the full-blown effects of leprosy. I’ll let you Google full-color photos for yourself, if you want to be completely freaked out.
Of course, if you prefer to not resemble something contagious, you could always choose to look like you’ve been in a fire.
And of course, there is the shirt that for all the world emulates the lumpy plaques that are the heartbreak of psoriasis.
All I ask is that you think before you buy. There are other shirts out there, you don’t need the psoriasis shirt. Or the Eeyore cardigan. Or dismal Paris.
And I swear on my grandmother’s grave…You.Do.Not.Need…or want…elastic waist jeans. Exercise your freedom of choice! Don’t settle for ugly! Don’t let them tell you something is fashionable when you know it isn’t. When you shop, imagine you have a little Grumpy Cat on your shoulder.
It’s a tough world out there. Let’s dress it up in style.