Bad Fashion Ideas: Peebles. All of it.

Normally, when I do these Bad Fashion posts I don’t focus on one store. Largely because I start in the mall and work my way around, but also because the concentration of terrible clothing per one store simply isn’t that great. Usually. Sure, there’s plenty of “Oh, hell no!” fashion, and even more “Bwa ha ha ha no” choices, out there. But to find shirt after shirt, terror after terror, in one place? It doesn’t happen that often.

Until last night.

George and I decided we needed a quiet, uneventful evening out, so we went to a local Italian place for some dinner and afterwards, stopped at this…store. Peebles. Yes, Peebles. Just like the pet store in Magilla Gorilla. It’s apparently in 40 states and has something like 900 stores, so this store is out there, quietly exuding its fashion menace upon an unsuspecting populace. The store near us has been open for about a year now and I hadn’t ever managed to make it in, until a heavy Italian dinner made me want to sort of putter around and walk a little of it off.

It must have been instinct that kept me out of there. Because once I walked in…oh, the horror, the horror…

OH MY GOD MY EYES! IT BURNS, IT BURNS..!!!

OH MY GOD MY EYES! IT BURNS, IT BURNS..!!!

As many of you are well aware, I have a particular disdain for embellished sweatshirts. I don’t like ones that have seasonal, “charming” decals because these shirts make a sad, tired statement about the wearer. If you’re wearing a poorly designed sweater with school houses or snowmen appliqued on it, you’re telling the world that you’re willing to look unattractive so long as you can project a dash of whimsy. Why do that to yourself?

Oooh, seasonal applique AND an attached double-collar? Quelle tragique!

Oooh, depressing seasonal applique AND an attached double-collar? Quelle tragique!

Please note: this little beauty is a heavy-knit cardigan, in dull winter sky gray. Festooned with…what I first thought were quilted Stars of David but au contraire! They are little ersatz snowflakes. On a gunmetal grey sweatshirt cardigan. With a dusty plum double-layered crew collar. Nothing says Seasonal Affective Disorder” like a shirt that emulates that depressive syndrome. Kill me now.

Though I suppose you could try and cheer yourself up with a shirt that looks like it was ripped from the reject pile at Thomas Kinkade, Painter of Light’s failed projects studio.

Ahh, so serene. Who doesn't want a carriage riding across her belly?

Ahh, so serene. Who doesn’t want a sleigh riding across her belly?

Shapeless? Check. Weirdly designed? Check. Touch of the ever-present whimsy? Check. This shirt has everything that I can’t stand. However, I must reiterate (largely because they had an enormous collection of bizarrely bedazzled wear)…I haaaaaate sweatshirts that are spangled. Why? Because it’s a goddamned sweatshirt. For sweating in. Sparkles, on the other hand, were not made for sweat. They’re present in our lives to add a little glitz, a little glamour. Bespangling a sweatshirt, well…

Who's a fancy lady at the gym?

Who’s a fancy lady at the gym?

It’s kind of like gilding the turd, isn’t it? And at $44, it’s not like it’s a cheap turd either.

The common theme that ran through most of the Peebles clothing was “boxy”. Everything was shaped like a box, like a square, without a curve in sight. It was kind of like shopping for a Volvo.

crazy-people-volvo

From the movie “Crazy People”. The fake ads were the best part of this movie. Image from blogcabins.blogspot.com

I mean, come on. I could chart Cartesian coordinates on these clothes.

Data points, anyone?

Data points, anyone?

How about a snappy vest? A well-tailored vest can keep everything nicely contained, provide a finishing statement to a casual outfit, and maybe even accentuate a lady’s waist.

Unless, of course, you’re this corduroy monstrosity, whose side pockets are designed to draw your eyes laterally. Who wants to look wider? No curves here, please.

I could have forgiven the corduroy if the cut was more flattering. Alas...

I could have forgiven the corduroy if the cut was more flattering. Alas…

And then there’s…well…let the picture speak for itself (at first)…

*yawn*

*yawn*

I don’t have a problem with a basic cable knit sweater, though I’ve seen them cut to look ever-so-slightly less like a shipping box and more like an actual article of clothing. I do object to this dull clay color (bad on almost everyone) and…if you only take one piece of advice from this blog, take this one…

…repeat after me…

FRONT PATCH POCKETS ARE ALWAYS WRONG. Always. But they’re particularly extra-wrong on knits, where they easily get stretched and misshapen. So, not only do you look wider than you might want, thanks to this sweater’s overall shapelessness, but it won’t take long before you’ll be irreversibly lumpy in the front from the stretched out pockets. If you need to tote things with you at all times, then 1) wear bottoms with side pockets or 2) carry a purse. There are solutions, people. Patch pockets are not a good one.

The unsexy box look wasn’t confined to tops, either. It made its presence known in dresses. I walked through row after row of shapeless dresses, sweater dresses that looked like a designer simply elongated the cable knit above (I thought sweater dresses were, by definition, supposed to be kind of slinky?) and evoked from me, at best, a disdainful curled lip. Nearly all of the dresses were terrible. Here are my two favorites.

First, this little maroon number was made of a super-thick, cottony, knitty, quilty fabric. It struck me as less of a dress and more like a moving pad you can get from U-Haul, to protect furniture from banging together in the back of a moving van.

I don't know whether to wear this or wrap a lamp in it.

I don’t know whether to wear this or wrap a lamp in it.

And then there’s…oh, dear God. What.

So this blue dress. This. This blue dress. Sometimes, we come across clothes that are perfectly adequate for covering our nakedness, keeping us warm in the winter, and keeping us out of jail due to indecent exposure. They also say unto the world that the wearer has nothing left to live for, except sucking oxygen and converting food to fertilizer. This blue dress? Is one of those items.

I can't go on, I'll go on.

I can’t go on, I’ll go on.

Do note: the shift dress part of the dress is attached, so it looks like a two-piece and yet is only one. It is as shapeless as it gets. This is an article of clothing designed to keep us out of jail and still gainfully employed, and entirely forgettable. If you’re looking for a promotion? Increased responsibility on the job? Any semblance of joy? Then avoid this outfit at all costs.

It’s not just the embellished sweatshirts or the boxy knits where Peebles design fails. It’s also in their more “fun” clothing.

This is all one shirt. ONE.

This is all one shirt. ONE.

They don’t even provide a fake collar at the top to complete the layered look. Guys, come on. Who gave this the green light?

Or this one, that looks like the worst of Mrs. Roper‘s wardrobe mated with a lace factory to create this lacy, yet shapeless, overdone…here, see for yourselves.

mrs roper

No.

For those of us who didn’t have to endure the era of Three’s Company, here is Mrs. Roper, for visual reference.

Hot cha cha! Image from merciblahblah.com

Hot cha cha! Image from merciblahblah.com

There was one shirt there I actually kind of liked. An open-weave sweater with a cowl neck and short sleeves, designed to be layered with a long-sleeved tee or some kind of camisole. It had the potential to be super-cute, and if the wall trimmers had done their job correctly, there would have been an entire, layered, salable outfit on the wall that customers could look at and think, “That. I want that.” Instead, they put it on a mannequin, unlayered. So what the customer gets is a bit of an artificial peep show.

Nice nipples.

Nice would-be nipples.

Seriously, people? The objective is to display things as they’d be worn, and unless you’re selling exclusively to the Sweater-Wearing Nipple Club, this is a lost opportunity. People like things staged for them. They like houses they’re checking out to look like someone lives there, they like to buy art in frames, and they like to be told what shirt can be layered with what other shirt. Because it’s easier that way. People have lives and kids and work and spouses that make them think. Buying clothes? Retailer, please. Put together that attractive package for the customer and send them on their happily coordinated way. Don’t make them think about what they’ll need to make their wardrobe nip-free.

But you know, I really should consider the store about which I was talking. Because oh, the horror, the horror (part 2). Front and center, right along the main aisle, right in the middle of everything, stood…

You sick bastards.

You sick bastards.

The polyester velour track suit. While I think the purple one with the cascading pearls is special indeed, I am overwhelmed by the ruched red number on the left. Part window drapery, part Sgt. Pepper’s, this beast is the sort of thing that haunts my retro nightmares. Peebles buyers, you should be ashamed of yourselves.

I need to go lie down now.

Remember: Just because it’s in a store, doesn’t mean you have to buy it. Just because someone designed it, doesn’t mean they know better. Define your own style, don’t let style (negatively, in most of these examples) define you. I’m just here to help.

XOXO

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

Omigod.

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…

100_7952-001

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.

Grim.

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)…

...RUN...

…RUN…

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…

ruffles-001

*sigh*

And then there’s…

OH COME ON.

OH COME ON.

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..?

Wait…

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!

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.

100_7688

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?
Check!
Great.  Let’s leave the seams unfinished on the upper.
OK!
Hey, don’t we have an assload of mini gold studs?
Yeah.
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.
Uh…

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!
So?
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.

100_7666

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 funnyjunk.com

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

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,

20121206_141158-001

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 weheartit.com

NOT like this.

 

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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 http://victoriablack4.wordpress.com

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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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SQUIRRELS?

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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.

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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?

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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.

And...GO!

And…GO!

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Hmmmm….not quite.

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Bingo!

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.

Check!

Check!

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?

What-huh?

What-huh?

Unless, of course, you’re planning to wear it with these leggings.

Black lace over a nude liner.  Leggings.

*headdesk*

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!

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