Donatella Versace, please stop the madness

I’ve always sort of looked at the pictures of Donatella Versace slightly at an angle.  I couldn’t look straight at them, because I always found her distorted, surgically altered features were an assault upon mine eyes.  You know what I mean?  Then I found this picture.  Behold!  Young Donatella Versace.

Found at

Holy. Shit. She’s gorgeous.
Found at

This is the face she could have carried forward as she aged.  This was what she would have had to work with so that she could age gracefully.  If she still had this face she would be a beautiful older woman.

Instead, howevermany surgeries/injections/nips/tucks/peels later, this is the face she has (ironically) paid a lot of money for.  Presenting, haute couture’s reigning…


OK, seriously, she looks like a half-orc.

Half-orc. Photo taken from

Looks like meat’s back on the menu, boys.
Photo taken from
Quote taken from the orc Ugluk, in “Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers”

Ladies, please.  Please please please.  Stop the madness.  “But there’s so much pressure to look good!”, they say.  People.  Guess what?

YOU WON’T LOOK GOOD.  This doesn’t look good.  Do you want to look good?  Love yourself enough to take care of yourself and figure out what makes you happy and do it and for Chrissakes quit smoking (especially if you’re concerned about your skin!) and hydrate/moisturize/be careful in the sun.

Someone said to me a long time ago, “You earn the face you wear when you’re older.”  That idea stayed with me.  Donatella Versace (and so, so many other adherents to the elective-surgery-go-round) have earned these…bizarre…misshapen…stretched faces, from thinking they could beat the process.  How can you justify surgery that’s supposed to make you “look better” when life as an orc is the result?

Bad Fashion Ideas, Fall 2013: This Isn’t Funny Anymore, OK?


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!

What. Is. This. About.

What. Is. This. About.

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.

Not even copious amounts of rum could ease the pain this shirt brings.

Not even copious amounts of rum could ease the pain this shirt brings.

For those fancy days at the office...

For those fancy days at the office…


Ladies, repeat after me: NOBODY looks (or smells) good in unstructured 100% polyester.

And if a two-layered look isn’t good enough for you, then let me present you with a triple-layered shirt.  Because WTF.

Come on, seriously?

Three layers?  Seriously?

Worse: there are stacks and stacks of this crap.


They suck your life and energy right out from under you.

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.

Nobody feels great wearing any one of these tops. Not really.

Because nobody feels great wearing any one of these tops. Not really.

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.

It's a pity the actual prison matron costume has the most style.

It’s a pity the actual prison matron costume has the most zazz.

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.

Because ew, that's why.

Because ew, that’s why.

Exercise extreme prejudice when facing down a short-sleeved sweatshirt with a pearl-embellished closed placket.

Kill if you must.

Kill if you must.

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.

Poor confused shirt.

Plaid tie front and lace epaulets = a sad and lonely shirt.

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.

This is the newest uniform for greeters in Hell.

This is the newest uniform for greeters in Hell.

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 right there...looking at me...

It’s right there…looking at me…

It’s not…no…it couldn’t be, could it?

As a matter of fact…

...I think it could be...

…I think it could be…

That would explain so much.  I understand now!  Dark Lord Designs for the Fall 2013 win!

Check out that hoopty! Hoopskirt, that is.

Before I progress even one second into my blog I must issue a disclaimer: None of the people pictured in a hoopskirt?  Is me.


When we think of hoopskirts, we think of Scarlett O’Hara and Belle

so belle

And perhaps with slightly more cynicism, we think of bad ’80s prom dresses and nightmare bridesmaid’s gowns.

Every single one of these dresses?  Hell no. Bonus points to the guy in the candystriped tux.

Every single one of these dresses? Hell no. Two thumbs up to the guy in the candystriped tux.

What we don’t think of hoopskirts are, are as fashion options that existed for legitimate non-costumey and/or celebratory yet dreaded occasional wear any time more recently than during the Civil War era.

Apparently, we were wrong.

It seems that in 1938, LIFE magazine ran an article discussing an emerging renaissance for the hoopskirt, complete with cage crinolines and stacks and stacks of petticoats.  1938, people.  Hitler was busy seizing control of Germany and taking over the Sudetenland.  Teflon was invented.  Superman made his debut in Action Comics #1.  And the first functional television system was patented.

With the modern era closing in and obvious signs of war looming in Europe, you would think this would have been a year that would welcome streamlined, even almost military design.  This ought not to have been a year that welcomed the return to ladies wrapping their hips in a cage and yet?  According to a four-page spread in LIFE, September 5, 1938, that’s precisely what was on the fashion horizon.

It was a little tricky to cut and paste the images because Google Books didn’t make things easy on me, but I persevered.  Click on the images to make them bigger.

Pages 1-2

That’s a pretty saucy image of the lady in the black crinoline, no?

Here’s the detail of the smaller illustrations.

It's hard to argue with something that starts with Empress Josephine.

It’s hard to argue with something that starts with Empress Josephine.

I can't stop laughing when I read the term "maximum tubular".

I can’t stop laughing when I read the term “maximum tubular”.

And here’s the text from this page.  My comments will appear in parentheses.

Hoopskirts may start new Fashion Cycle.


When the monkeyshines of the Labor Day weekend are over, one of the five largest industries in the U.S. settles down to the serious business of selling fall wearing apparel.  Torrid September weather may be driving frantic women to stores for more cool clothes, but they will find only shopworn leftovers.  (Seriously, why don’t we write like this anymore?)  Trade practice decrees that the first Tuesday after the first Monday in September marks the opening of the fall season (oh, how things have changed! They started selling fall clothes a month and a half ago. In June.  I was sticky just looking at the wool).  Women who recognize the advantage of shopping when size and color ranges are complete go out and buy.

This September they will find saleswomen swooning over romantic evening dresses (but what about the customers?).  It seems the western fashion world is emerging from the second tubular cycle, i.e., mostly straight lines, into a bell-shaped cycle, i.e., like a bell (duh).  Agnes Brooks Young has it all down with graphs and charts in a scholarly tome, Recurring Cycles of Fashion.  The sketches on this page show the rise and fall of the last bell-shaped cycle.  That took one hundred years.  Note how the slim Empire lines of Empress Josephine spread into the bell-like skirts of Queen Victoria and Empress Eugénie, then receded through bustles to the tubelike outline of the post-War (note the capital W-War; this was 1938, the world had only seen one World War and so, “The War” was all you needed to say) flapper.

This July buyers from all over the U.S., on their annual pilgrimage to New York showrooms, were amazed at the number of hoopskirts shown by Kallman & Morris, evening-dress specialists.  Here were aristocratic hoops for the masses.  Here was fashion repeating itself.

On the following pages is a brief survey of the new styles which women will find in apparel shops throughout the country this fall.  Among them are tubular dresses, bell-shaped dresses, back-fullness (bustles) and front-fullness (front ruffles, flounces, front peplums) dresses.  But that again is typical of the history of fashion.  All cycles overlap each other.  Each cycle has its distinguishing characteristics.  For a primer of what makes the 1938-39 clothes new, see the following pages.'s where it gets weird and snarky.

Annnd…here’s where it gets weird and snarky.

Detail of the illustrations:


I’m partial to the revolving door fiasco, myself, as it tells me I should “dash in recklessly”.  Mmmmkay.

And here’s the text:


When Empress Eugénie was the toast of Paris and Scarlett O’Hara was a Georgia belle (they did realize Scarlett is fictional, right?), hoopskirts were in fashion but only rich ladies wore them.  Now when hoopskirts suddenly reappear on the 1938-39 fashion horizon, every girl in the U.S. can, if she will, indulge in a hoopskirt (because the illustrations made them look so very appealing).  She may pay $18 or $300 for it.  In either case she will be helping to prove the theory that fashions follow long-range cycles, even as hog prices and car loadings (ummmm….qua?), and that the second bell-shaped era is upon us.

American women, notoriously hippy, are expected to pounce upon the bell-shaped silhouette.  (Let’s think about this for a moment: the word notorious, while not starting out with negative connotations, by 1938 had 300 years under its belt of being synonymous with “infamous” or “ill-famed”.  So their hips are as gangsters are unto the world.  Nice.  P.S. Somebody needs to start a chick-rock band named Notoriously Hippy.  Just saying, and you’re welcome.)  The nipped-in waist, the wide-spreading skirt are perfect camouflage for excess pounds below the waist (because “notoriously hippy” girls all yearn for a little extra girth).  Nettie Rosenstein, top-flight designer, obtains a modified bell outline by using stiff horsehair and taffeta petticoats under her wide skirts (the fashionable girl’s mortification will be complete with her very own hair shirt corset).  Kallman & Morris does it with hoops.

Girls with hoops will get into predicaments (I like the use of this word here; it’s all euphemism-y.   Makes them sound like they’re going to become unwed mothers).  Some of them, sketched on the page opposite, happened to the models posing for LIFE’s hoopskirt photographs at the Waldorf-Astoria (it’s owned by Hilton now…damn you, Conrad Hilton!).  Practical manufacturers foresaw the difficulties, solved them by sewing hoops onto detachable petticoats (perhaps the detachable petticoats can be factored into car loadings, since that’s a lot of extra fabric to haul around?).  The new evening dresses are so cut that although girls may be driven to parking their hoops, they will still look demurely romantic.


At least it ends well.  Even if you’re notoriously hippy.

And if you’re sitting there smug in your post-modern comfort:  a T-shirt and yoga pants, a light summer dress, just remember…Alexander McQueen showed several hoopskirts at their Paris Fashion Week Spring 2013 show.

Yes, way.

Yes, way.

Thankfully, this is a look me and my hips can, according to the fashionistas, pull off.  Boo yah and fiddle dee dee, y’all!

Bonus point if you can identify which actor plays the Tarleton boy on the right side of the screen.

The Abercrombie & Fitch Guy

In case you haven’t heard because you have no TV, or no newsfeed to your smartphones, or you only ever log in to the interwebs in order to read my blog (thank you for that, BTW), Mike Jeffries, the CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch, is an asshole.

He’s apparently a really difficult diva-asshole, too, with a rigidly proscribed concept of beauty.  He requires his employees to be amongst The Beautiful People, and only ever markets his line or sells to The Beautiful People.  He admits his clothing line is exclusionary and he won’t stock women’s clothes in sizes larger than L/10.  And people are now in a fine lather about this, going so far as to start a petition that reads:

Mr. Jeffries owes young people an apology, because contrary to what he may believe, whether you can fit into Abercrombie or not, you are beautiful. It’s time Abercrombie & Fitch to embrace that beauty! Please join me in this fight by adding your name to this petition and asking Abercrombie and Fitch to embrace the beauty in all sizes by offering XL and XXL sizes for women and men!

In other words, they’re trying to demand that he not be an asshole.

But he is.

And he’s been one for 67 years.

I don’t think is going to stop that.

As someone who has struggled with body and image issues (because really, who hasn’t?) during the course of my life, I get that what he said is inherently offensive, and not just to the person who might be larger than an L/10.  It should be offensive to anyone who loves someone whose body falls into such an excluded zone, someone with empathy who hates to see another person made to senselessly feel negative about him or herself, or someone who hates that dicks like him make $47 million a year while hanging out in the Mean Boys Club.

I get that what he said is hurtful, especially to the insecure, body-conscious teenager/young adult who might not have much of a sense of self-esteem and is just trying to fit in to the predatory world that is high school.  And college, that can be tough too.

I get that there’s this really fucked-up value system that he’s promoting.  Proudly, happily.  Where the label on the back of your jeans helps legitimize your worth as a person.  Though to be fair, he’s only capitalizing on this system.  He didn’t invent it.

I wish I could feel more shock and horror over this, but I don’t.  I feel like I’ve always known this about this store.  I mean, the Salon article that he’s originally quoted in is from way back in 2006, so I don’t know what thrust it into the limelight now.  But even without the article, their stores emanate waves of exclusion.  Just like every other store that’s a self-designated status symbol.  Try walking around a Gucci store when you look like a working class kid from New Jersey; my bet is security will follow you around until you walk out the door.  (Trust me on this one.)  So again, what he’s saying or doing isn’t new.

Do I hate what he said?  Yes.  But I almost want to thank him for being honest.  At least you know who and what you’re dealing with.

Do I think a petition and self-righteous public outrage are going to change anything?  No.

The only thing that will change things is if people DON’T FUCKING SHOP THERE.

If you’re one of the anointed and can shop in A&F, but you have a friend or loved one who can’t, then stand in solidarity.  Feel free to send that card or email to their corporate offices to let them know why you’ll never shop there again.  But the important thing to do is vote with your wallet, not pointlessly froth about your outrage.  That’s sound and fury signifying nothing.  Do you think he’ll care if people complain on the internet about how he’s mean and hurt their feelings?  Not even a little.  But if sales drop and there’s evidence that he’s the reason?

That’ll get some attention.

If you decide that the logo on your shirt is more important than your BFF/sister/brother/neighbor/kid, then Mike Jeffries isn’t the problem, it’s you, and you need to figure out why you’re such a pretentious status whore.

Understanding that could do you a world of good, really.  And it would be good for the world.

So if you’re serious about putting the hate on A&F, then hit them in their accounting books.  Direct your money elsewhere.  There are plenty of other places that will happily sell you free-spirited, spending-the-day-on-a-boat-with-my-besties clothing.  To someone like Mike Jeffries, the only voices that matter are the ones coming out of your credit cards. Silence those voices, and then let’s see what happens.

Bad Fashion Ideas: Springtime of Psoriasis

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?

You are in the Matrix, in more ways than one.

You are in the Matrix, in more ways than one.

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.

Stop this.  Right now.

Stop this. Right now.

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:

Worst. Mannequin. Ever.

Worst. Mannequin. Ever.

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.

What the hell?

Sherbet-stained jeggings.  All-around design fail.

They could look like you put them on and rolled around in wet sidewalk chalk.


Jump through these and you can have a tea party with Mary Poppins.

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!

These would make even Kate Upton look frumpy.

These would make even Kate Upton look frumpy.

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:

Dear designer: why do you hate women so much?

Dear designer: why do you hate women so much?

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.

Aaaaaggggggghhhhh!  My eyes!  My eyes!

Aaaaaggggggghhhhh! My eyes! My eyes!

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.

Imagine your bank teller in this.

Imagine your bank teller in this.

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.

Let me count the ways.

Let me count the ways.

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.
They do?
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.
What’s that?
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.


It’s as though this shirt has a beautiful infestation of spangled tapeworm.

And here, in colorblocked blue.

And make that horizontal line go straight across the waist, so it looks nice and wide.

And make that horizontal line go straight across the waist, so it looks nice and wide.

Or…oh good God…

Now this is just being mean.

Now this is just being mean.

Prints were also kind of a mess, from the joyless…

It is so glum it even swallows the glitter from the studs embellishing the neckline.

It is so glum it even swallows the glitter from the studs embellishing the neckline.

To the garish

Do you have something that would make me look like a youth pastor for matadors?

Do you have something that would make me look like a youth pastor for matadors?

To the poorly executed.

Can you make those yellow remembrance ribbons loop right over my nipples, please?

Can you make those yellow remembrance ribbons loop right over my nipples, please?

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.

I just want to give it a hug.

Thanks for noticing me.

And normally, I love everything about Paris.  Except this.

*find a happy place, find a happy place*

*find a happy place, find a happy place*

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.

Note the scaly mosaic and the "dirty" look.

Note the scaly mosaic and the “dirty” look.

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.

The resemblance between this shirt and a leper's skin is pretty alarming.

The resemblance between this shirt and a leper’s skin is pretty alarming.

Of course, if you prefer to not resemble something contagious, you could always choose to look like you’ve been in a fire.

Only you can prevent this look from going public.

Only you can prevent this look from going public.

And of course, there is the shirt that for all the world emulates the lumpy plaques that are the heartbreak of psoriasis.

People.  No.

People. Stop the madness.

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.

...Be the grumpy cat...

…Be the Grumpy Cat…

It’s a tough world out there.  Let’s dress it up in style.

Happy shopping!

Bad Fashion Idea: Groan for the Holidays

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.

Grumpy Cat offers his opinion of women's clothing this season.Photo from

Grumpy Cat offers his opinion of women’s clothing this season.
Photo from

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.

80s revisited poorly

This is not how you show you {{{heart}}} the ’80s.

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,


There was a matching neon-yellow sweater folded next to this one, but the color didn’t come across on camera quite as well. It was even more hideous. You’re welcome.

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?


Let me count the ways in which this colorblocking is a mistake.

Let me count the ways in which this colorblocking is a mistake.

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.

Cyndi Lauper, showing us what ’80s trends were all about. Photo from

NOT like this.



Neither bad-ass nor fashionably tasty. Poor misguided shirt!

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.

The ’80s power suit. One color, EVERYWHERE. Picture from

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.

The opposite of power suiting.

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.


Mini-giraffe print microfleece. It doesn’t matter to which ethnicity you belong; wearing this will always make you look like you’ve got some kind of skin disease.

Geometric microfleece.  Feels as bad as it looks.

Geometric microfleece. Feels as bad as it looks.


Wait…what the…?

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…

Shiny! Pink! Quilted!  What could be so bad, right..?

Shiny! Pink! Quilted! What could be so bad, right..?

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.


Please. Explain.

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?




Glum paisley.

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.


This is what the greeters wear at the Christmas store in Hell.

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.

What is it with the attached clothing?  Can't people be trusted to layer for themselves?

What is it with the attached clothing? Can’t people be trusted to layer for themselves?


Meet the pink shirt’s even more bland yet weirdly offensive cousin.

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.




Hmmmm….not quite.



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?

Ooh, just like an angel.

Ooh, just like an angel.

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.

Black lace over a nude liner.  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!

Bad Fashion Idea: Summer of Why

I went to the movies the other night and ended up getting to the theater a little earlier (OK, way earlier) than necessary.  During the 45 minutes of pre-movie downtime, we wandered over to the adjacent mall to do a little window shopping and maybe get a snack.  Instead…

Oh.  Migawd.  Why?  Why?  Why?

If you ever doubted there was a war on women, just go have a look at what they’re showing in the stores that offer moderate price points to the average woman.  Unattractive.  Poorly cut.  Terrible material.  Overpriced!  I feel like these clothes are designed to make you feel as bad about yourself as possible while simultaneously creating an unappealing silhouette.   It doesn’t help that the trimmers creating the wall and mannequin displays are clearly in need of more training, but there is only so much gilding the turd one can do.

All pictures were taken in the span of about forty minutes, in two different mall anchor stores, in the misses’ sportswear departments, in their on-season, non-clearance sections.  You people are making this blog thing way too easy on me.  Not that I’m complaining, mind you.  Just stating a fact.

And so, with no further ado I give you…the Summer of Why.

If you MUST wear this (though I can’t imagine why), don’t tuck in your shirt. It abbreviates the flow of the outfit and makes you look short-waisted. And not a little dumpy.

Here’s a better idea: Just don’t wear this, because it opens so many pathways to wrong.

Oh, Liz. I expected better of you.

And in keeping in a similar vein…

I don’t get why shapeless shirts with visually widened shoulders have become all the rage.

But here’s another one.

Tasty.  Casual wear, or scrubs?

There were an abundance of shirts that were universally unflattering.

Ladies, you owe it to yourselves to not view this shirt as acceptable. Just because it’s in a store doesn’t make it OK.


True story: my boyfriend just turned to me and asked, “Wait…that ISN’T sleepwear?”  Ladies, he thinks it would be OK for me to have a nightly drool in these shirts.  Put the hanger down and back away.

I kept on encountering more and more bad patterns and design everywhere I turned.

For comparison, you can find a melting movie reel here.

This shirt is just unpleasant.

Ladies, don’t buy clothing that looks like facial hair.

On further consideration, “Don’t buy clothing that looks like facial hair” holds true for you menfolk, too.

The following shirt/sweater combo is a great example of why things don’t have to match but rather, they have to go.

See? The colors technically match but the overall execution and design, when seen together? Dreadful. There oughtta be a law.

How about you just feast your eyes on this little beauty?

This shirt actually–legitimately–hurts my eyes.

Lord knows I am not a fan of tie-dye, but Jones New York should relinquish any claim they hold to tie-dyed fashions.  Stop it.  Right now.

Collars have become over-embellished to the point of ridiculousness.

This collar is far too weighty for the apparent lightness of the shirt.

It’s like they’re not even trying with this one.

Words fail me.

Dresses and long skirt/shirt combos offer little in the way of put together, easy dressing.

This one nearly works. Except the flowy dress and top sweater make it look matronly, like Maude.

Who is Maude, you say?  Bea Arthur, TV show, mid-to-late ’70s.  Look here and here for further information.  I have vague memories of liking the show and can still sing snippets of the theme song, but was really struck by Maude’s sense of…style.  This would have totally gone in her closet.

Maude certainly would have eschewed this little number, however…

And this…

This one almost works. Almost. Except it doesn’t, because of the weird juxtaposition of incompatible textures.

Through all this, I kept coming across one particular design trend.  The stores are currently flooded with ill-conceived southwestern-inspired prints; so much so that I fear it could drive a settler to jump from the nearest butte.

The one on the left is great for when you want to sport that faux-poncho look.

By now some of you are thinking, surely she just hates a southwestern print.  I understand your skepticism, but it’s unfounded.  Please see here for an item that is southwestern, well-shaped, vibrant, and adorable.  Too bad I didn’t actually see it for myself in a store.  Instead I saw…

Don’t buy something that’s drooping off the hanger, as the above shirt seems eager to do.  For future reference: don’t confuse drape with droop.  Drape is the arrangement of an article of clothing so that it hangs correctly off the body.  Droop is what you get when the material is fatigued and and can’t retain its intended shape.

I would advocate killing this jacket with fire, but I’m more concerned with the toxins this could release into the atmosphere.

We co-opted the sacred symbols of the indigenous people of the American southwest for this?  We should be ashamed.

Ladies, take back your rights, stand firm, and no matter what, don’t buy ugly clothes.  Life is too short to wear scrublike blouses and drooping shirts and frumpy oatmeal cardigans!  Go for the fabulous…in everything you do.  You deserve it.


Writer’s Block Tuesday: Russian Style

I spent most of yesterday ineffectually poking at my computer.  Writer’s block–arrggh!  There’s nothing worse than the realization that the words you want to make diligent use of, just aren’t coming.  Your fingers twitch and then lie still.  You become intensely interested in the way the stitching looks on the back of your chair.  This, of course, forced me to spend the day running the gamut of emotions from peevish indifference (“No, that’s OK, I don’t want to get paid.”) to self-loathing (I’m pretty sure “drooling idiot” is the most family-friendly term I called myself).

The upside?  I’m still pretty good at balancing a pen under my nose.  So that’s something.

When left to my own devices…

Anyway.  In the course of my complaining and life-hating and waaaahmbulance calling, my boyfriend said, “You know, the thing you have to do is just write.  Something.  Anything.”  Which, yes, is entirely true but somewhat akin to telling the drowning man, “The thing you have to do is find an air pocket.”  Got it.  OK.

I was falling into a fairly dysfunctional depressive funk and then I put down my Kleenex and platter of Ho-Hos and thought, wait one miserable, despair-ridden second here.  If I’m going to be depressed AND still want to produce something?  Look to Mother Russia for inspiration!  I was a Russian major in college, and one of the things I realized in the course of my studies is that not only is Russia big, but Russians do things big.  They don’t just depose the tsar, they kill his entire family and usher in a relentless totalitarian regime.  They don’t just go toe-to-toe with the US, building missiles in an arms race, they bankrupt themselves doing so.  They don’t just elect a former KGB officer to the presidency; they re-elect him.  Twice.  It was with this view of Russian woe that I made my way to my bookcases.  I still have tons and tons of books…history…poli sci…  But some of the most depressing stuff is purely literary and so, off to the literature section I went.  Tolstoy?  Nah, too epic for my needs.  Dostoevsky?  Too easy.  Agggh, don’t look at Gladkov’s Cement, because not even I can successfully make fun of that ode to the Soviet worker.  Bulgakov?  Mmm…close, but his moments of quirky humor aren’t right today.  No, wait…I know…


Nikolai frickin’ Gogol.  For those who don’t know, Gogol was a Russian author who at one point in his career was hailed as one of the great masters of literary prose.  However, as is all too common for Russian creative types, his cheese slid off his cracker (full credit for that phrase goes to The Oatmeal, but I will now use it forever and ever) and he came to an untimely end.  Actually, Gogol’s end was particularly grim.  One of his masterworks, Dead Souls, was planned as a trilogy updating Dante’s Divine Comedy.  So far so good, yes?  So.  His creative prowess went into decline, which I’m fairly certain was largely due to his growing religious mania.  This?  Not so good.  While that was happening, he reconnected with a “spiritual elder”-slash-religious nutjob he’d known for several years.  Worse.  He became convinced that God no longer wanted to speak through him, burned the back end of the second part of Dead Souls and took to his bed, where he committed suicide by starvation.  Think about that for a moment.  Suicide by starvation.  He refused all food.  It took him nine days to die.

With that in mind–because how can you have more self-loathing than that guy?–I went to Dead Souls, randomly opened it to whichever page I opened it to, and let my eyes wander through the teensy-weensy font (I mean, seriously, an “a” was the size of a single grain of couscous, and not that big ol’ Israeli couscous either but rather the traditional North African type) until they rested on this sentence:

And so this thirty-three-year-old young man spent his time, all alone in the whole world, sitting indoors in a dressing gown and without a cravat.   –Nikolai Gogol, Dead Souls, p. 265, Penguin Classics.

No cravat?  Good God, man!  That is loneliness indeed!

For those of you unfamiliar with this particular flavor of outmoded men’s wear, a cravat is an ancestor of the modern necktie, a rectangular piece of cloth that gets arranged in a variety of fussy ways, often involving starched collars.  And, apparently, it has the ability to control a man’s moods like the moon controls the tides.  Gentlemen take note: an ascot is technically a type of cravat, it is not something entirely different.  Know all those chandelier-and-cleavage movies (think Jane Austen) in which the male characters all look like their necks are gift wrapped?  Cravats.

Stable, happy men in their fashionable cravats.

But what happens when you’re simply in a robe (a/k/a, one’s “dressing gown”)?

Melancholy plagues the cravatless man.

Little did I expect to find such real-world applications regarding my foray into the world of a gloomy Russian.  At least I have a skill, as evidenced by my picture at the top of the page.  But to face a future full of loneliness, without even a snazzy neckwrap?  Torture.

And so I feel better about things.  I’m going to get back to work now.  But first, I’ll have a sandwich.

Bad Fashion Idea: Springtime of Despair

Went to the mall for a little while tonight.  Went to the mall and HOLY HELL, what in the name of mercy is going on with women’s clothing this season?  I wasn’t shopping for anything in particular; I just wanted to walk around a bit after a big dinner.  And thank God for that because ladies, this season…

We have been punk’d.

Let me make it clear that all of these pictures were not taken at stores called Grim Fashion or Soul Suckers.  No, they were all taken in the anchor stores at my local mall (you know who you are), the smallest of which only has locations in five states, and two of them are in all fifty.  And they were all taken in the general, Misses’ Sportswear section.  No Junior, no Women’s, no “This is that weird corner where I shop for my Grandma” sections.  Straight-up, on-trend, non-clearance, Misses’ sections.  And a significant portion of the pictures were taken of clothing placed prominently, on high-traffic corner mannequins or 6-foot feature tables that faced a main walkway or were front-facing on tall center racks.  It started here, and I don’t usually take offense to embellished shells, but this one seemed confused.  Take a look again at that detailing…

It's a sweater! It's a shell! It's got horizontal stripes! With a Cleopatra collar!

Let’s get a better look at that embellishment, shall we?

It's island-happy! It's work appropriate!

Ladies, repeat after me: No one shirt can do all things.  But in all seriousness, even though I think the shirt sucks, it isn’t THAT bad. Then I looked around.

Feel free to click on all of the photos for enlargements, so you can get the full grasp of the shopping horror.  It will enhance your viewing experience like no other thing.  And I digress.

Oh, good. Khaki and dusty coral; perhaps the only way in the world an orange tone can be made lethally dull.

Holy crap. I’ve always looked forward to spring fashions; they’re generally light and cheery, and remind us that we’re moving away from heavy clothes and won’t have to wear shirts that remind us of gloomy days or drudgery.  But not this season.  Horizontal stripes, flaccid colors and poorly-planned and/or executed design surrounded me, as far as the eye could see. If you need proof that there is a war against women, you could start right in the stores.

Because nothing says "women's fashion" so much as a shirt that helps you fade into the twilight, topped with the open-knit sweater vest of a twelve-year-old.

I’ve taken the liberty of adding commentary directly to some photos, as I saw fit…

It’s only marginally less unappealing in fuchsia.

But still, ultimately, poorly designed and executed.

In keeping with the “shapeless” trend, I give you the following:

Ersatz tiger print? Check! Voluminous tunic? Check! How can we make this little beauty even less appealing..?

Check. In fact, check AND mate.

While we’re looking at ill-conceived sweaters, let me direct you to Freddy Krueger’s sweater, reimagined as a deconstructed cardigan.

You doubted me, didn't you?

 And a plethora of stripes, stripes, stripes.

Garbage bag, muffin top, however you choose to describe it, it will poof out in all the unsexy places.  Once you move past lilac/buff/taupe/peach/and what I can only describe as “burnt magenta”, please feast your eyes on the woeful return of the parachute material.

This shirt also signals the start of an unfortunate run of pale-yellow-and-white stripes, which perhaps more than any other -and-white combo just looks like it’s trying so damn hard to be interesting, but fails miserably.

This just gives me a sad.

As though slapping the necklace on the mannequin on the left can add any sort of spark of life or interest.

At least they don't even try and pretend to zazz these li'l numbers up.

Wide cut shirts + dusty colors all over make for a dirty-looking, dismal display. Leopards are begging for their print to be returned to them.

Seriously, I dare you to find all the things that are wrong with the above set of shirts.

This is probably my favorite of the “horrific horizontal stripe” set, though there are so many legitimate and qualified contenders.

I’ll reserve my ultimate favorites for later.  Now, we move on to shoes.  Because it seems that for all the melancholy that has been sewn into women’s attire, they’ve gone batshit crazy with shoes, especially if they’re some kind of flat.

Khaki and dusty coral = no more appealing when done in patent leather. And the red patent/snakeskin treatment is just giving me the finger.

Here’s more wrong things to do with snakeskin on a ballerina flat:

And this shoe looks like it’s been used by tree frogs as a repository for their egg sacs.

Don’t believe me?

Told you.

But my favorites for this season, the clothes that I think bear the most impact, are the ones that help the potential buyer lose all sense of hope or joy, the ones that push the light right out of their eyes.

Like a central-main-entrance display comprised entirely of "I give up" clothing.

If these mannequins were people, they would be standing in the “greeter” position in the store, handing out complimentary copies of No Exit and  mimeographed rules for Russian roulette.  These aren’t clothes that make you think, ooh, I want to shop here!  These are clothes that make you think, well…wearing this beats getting arrested.

My boyfriend says, in his eternal quest to try and understand the ugliness that inhabits the world, that maybe–just maybe–shirts like this are showing this season because more and more people are in the medical field, and they’ve gotten used to wearing scrubs.  And I say that if that is the case, if we can’t break people from the habit of wearing things that people bleed and explosively poo and boogie all over, then it is certain that all hope is lost.

By the looks of things, I’m fairly sure that if one of us is right, it’s me.

We can witness the debilitating effects that occur when you combine shapelessness and colorblocking in the next dress:

I actually think to fully grasp the misery woven into the very fibers of this dress, you need to see it from a slightly different angle:

Pasty color, designed to pooch out right over a notorious trouble spot for ladies.

Because I, for one, can’t wait to appear in public looking like a refugee from a prison gym class, with a torso covered in putty.

For all its magnificent anguish, however, this dress still doesn’t win my award for most dismal piece of attire I managed to come across in one infernal evening.  That award, without reservation or hesitation, rests firmly in the patent-lined collar of this next pair of shoes.

Multitudes of wrong. Discuss.

Now, this shoe.  I’m not sure if it’s the (ONCE AGAIN!) combination of khaki + dusty coral, or if it’s because the designer tried to lighten the mood by the hot pink toecap and blue-and-green heel cap.  But.  This is bad.  This is what clown shoes would look like if a clown had to stop clowning and get office work.  These aren’t vibrant.  These aren’t energizing.  These are the shoes of a sad, lost clown, with a bad haircut and a big flowery brooch that doesn’t shoot a single drop of water.

Wanna know what’s creepy?  These shoes?  Go with that dress.

Maybe the Mayans were right.

Bad Fashion Idea: Halloween Edition

People, repeat after me:

Just because Macy’s sells it doesn’t make it a good idea.  Just because Macy’s sells it doesn’t make it a good idea.  Just because Macy’s sells it…what happens?

It’s not always a good idea.

Take, for example, these:

Applique kitty-and-collar T's: wrong on so, so many levels.

Quelle horreur! Applique pumpkin's candy brains are spilling out all over the place!

You may think, oh, she’s being so hard on the cutie-patooties, and they’re just fun shirts.  WRONG!  Your clothes are an outward expression of you, of your personality.  Your clothing speaks to the people around you and triggers mental associations regarding lifestyle and held values.  Don’t believe me?  When you see someone in tie-dye, do you think “hippie”, or “banker”?  Mmm hmmm.  Thought so.

I admittedly hold a pretty low regard for thematic applique and if applique is to be used, it should be used judiciously.  It’s a golden opportunity for the craptastic to take control, since people seem to misguidedly think just one more sequin–one more section of gold embroidery–one more sparkly lollipop will turbo-boost the beauty of the shirt from meh to dear baby Jesus if I can just touch it my life will be complete.  And these shirts, pictured above?  Are craptastic, though I worry that their availability in Macy’s elevates some sense of street-cred.  People, I am here to tell you, it does not.  Take, for example, the shirt with the kitties.  Aww, elegant kitties with diamond collars and nosies, what could be more precious?  You may think it’s a sweet shirt, you may think it’s Halloween-y without being creepy, but what that shirt actually tells people is that the wearer is a cat person who may have crossed the line to crazy cat lady.  Everyone who sees this will, instinctively, suspect that your home smells vaguely of salmon and pee.  Don’t do that to yourself.  And even if you ARE a cat person, do you want to tell the whole world that your house smells and your best friend is Mr. Snugglenut McPurrston?  Put the cat shirt down, and walk away.

As for the pumpkin shirt…harmless?  Not.  We seem to think that smaller appliques are more tasteful, and not as much a blight on society as the much-beleaguered Christmas sweater.

Judging by how excitedly proud she looks, my guess is she made this sweater herself.

While this is clearly a travesty, the pumpkin shirt is not far behind it as a carrier of social pox.  Yes, pumpkins are cute and yes, pumpkins are delicious, but I resist every urge–no matter how keen–to bedazzle them and wear them as clothing, with or without candy spilling out of them.  So why are they OK to wear when they’re 2-D and sparkly?

In his book Class: A Guide Through the American Status System, author and unapologetic crank Paul Fussell discusses “legible clothing” and the psychological impulse behind wearing them.  He calls legible clothing “totemistic” and says, “By donning legible clothing you fuse your private identity with external commercial success, redeeming your insignificance and becoming, for the moment, somebody.”  He also talks about items printed with images of Mozart or the logo of The New York Review of Books which say, “I am civilized” and “I read hard books”.  The pumpkin–probably about the size of a fist, sparkly and bright orange and front and center on the shirt, laughing as candy corn and lollipops spill out of its severed lid–wants to say “I am fun”.  Instead what it says is, “My identity is a gaping hole.  I am desperate to be seen as whimsical, yet refined.  Please notice me.”  It is only slightly less sad a plea for notice and identity than this, found on Etsy, blasted hellscape of poorly-imagined DIY clothing ideas:

Behold the monogram-in-the-candy-corn shirt!

Which of course does not say to the world, “Happy Halloween”.  Instead it says, “My initials are A-G-D, and I will tell you my entire name and everything else you want to know if only you’d ask, please ask, please?”  Monograms sort of freak me out in their attempt to solidify an identity–do you really need to make a distinction in the home as to which towel is yours?  Which tie clip?  Which pair of undershorts?

(Side note: but be sure to check out Regretsy, which highlights the worst of Etsy.  Hilariously.)

Maybe you are, indeed, a whimsical, elfin sort of person and so, for you, sparkling pumpkins on your shirt would be appropriate.  But the rest of us have to bear in mind that communication is something like 55% visual and 7% actual words coming out of your mouth (the remaining 38% is your vocal tone and inflection and volume and such), so if you choose to have legible clothing, make sure it sends the message you want it to send.  If I were to buy a shirt for Halloween this year, it would be this one:

Can you play "find the hidden messages" in this shirt?

Which says, “Smartass, aware of political culture, horror movie fan who doesn’t want you to get too close.  Notice me but stay away.”

All clothing is a statement about who we are and what we are about.  All legible clothing has an element of “notice me” built in as we become walking billboards for companies and our own insecurities, and I have shirts with phrases and shirts with images and bags with logos like any of us do.  We all understand things being appropriate (or not) for places; we know not to wear super-short skirts to work (or ever if you’re out of your twenties) and that a tux is out of place at a baseball game, unless you’re getting married at one.  We understand that people make value judgments about what you wear (“Those shoes are falling apart, why doesn’t s/he buy new ones?  Must be a miser, or super-lazy.”).  So we owe it to ourselves to think about what we project when we put on clothes.  Do you want to project self-confidence, or do you want to project that you’re an insecure attention hound?  Remember, Macy’s (and any store that sells such clothing) doesn’t love you and only wants to separate you from your money.  If it has to exploit your insecurities to do so, that’s fine with them.  Is it fine with you?

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