Why do I write about fashion when I don't even know how to comb my hair?
I am - and always have been - "fashion-impaired". This is not false modesty, nor is it just my opinion, since - on more than one occasion in my life - a kindly friend has gently prompted me to update my wardrobe or do something with my hair. Usually my efforts produce acceptable, though lackluster, results.
My fashion impairment doesn't stem from a deficit of awareness or inspiration. I enjoy following fashion and appreciate its importance to the human community. It provides a visual medium of proof as to where one falls between the ever-shifting dividing lines of society.
For example, one's chosen attire can help identify one as:
- Classic or Trendy;
- Deep or Superficial;
- Wealthy, poor, or middle/working class;
- Socially conscious, or Republican;
- Sighted or blind.
Without a word spoken.
I am writing about fashion today because I am about to embark on an extended journey, and am doing some research on what clothes I should bring. Being that I only travel with a 20" suitcase, it is - necessarily - a short list.
Fortunately my friend, Chris, regularly sends me printed evidence about what is going on - fashionwise - in New York, because I refuse to accept what I see on the streets of Chicago. And, bless her heart, she has just sent me a well-annotated copy of the September issue of the Wall Street Journal's Women's Style magazine, knowing all-too-well that I would be way over-stimulated by a copy of September Vogue.
This is what I learned:
- Dior is coming out with some very silly shoes;
- Patti Smith lives. In a good way;
- The ad campaign, "Enduring style 10 years with Kate Moss" should have been read out loud (by Kate Moss) before being adopted;
- Classic Coach is back, which is encouraging because I've managed to score some second-hand;
- People without eyebrows are disturbing;
- Pastels frighten me;
- Shoes now come in two styles: "Sister Mary Arnoldine" and "Criminal Conversation";
- Interior design is every bit as terrifying as fashion;
- There must be a link between Photoshop and depression;
- Grey cats are the latest thing in accessories. I'm putting mine up for sale.
Oh, and one more thing: the latest rage in denim is "mom jeans".
Yes, you read that right. The single-most-reviled style in denim history has become de rigueur for anyone who doesn't want to look like they're shopping Norm Thompson mail order.
What could account for this stunning reversal? For years - if not decades - the words "mom jeans" were synonymous with "antediluvian", only to emerge this season as the hottest ticket in town. The Internet and fashion magazines are bombarding us with sylph-like creatures looking downright fierce in their mom jeans.
Of course, this has inspired millions of us moms to head straight to our closets and pull out the precious pair of mom jeans that we have hoarded for years and kept out of sight, except on days when we are inspired to clean out our basements. Splashed by paint, clawed by cats, baggy and faded at the knees, we are now in possession of one truly fashionable item.
And do they make us look fierce? No. They make us look like moms. At least moms without gym memberships, hair colorists, and Botox providers. Because the secret, which we already know, is that sylph-like creatures look fierce no matter what they wear. Hell, I could sew together some pillowcases and put them on a sylph-like creature and come up with "fierce".
Which is just as well, because last summer I finally laid out a substantial amount of cash for some quality skinny jeans. Which are cute, comfortable, and perfect for travel. So that's what I'm packing.
The other news in fashion is that people are dressing "up" again. The word on the street is "ladylike", a word of which I have always been fond because it implies that the state of being a lady can be emulated without going the whole nine yards.
How lovely would it be if - in keeping with dressing up and being ladylike - good manners came back into vogue? I offer the following scenario, played out the other day at my place of underemployment, with myself the victim of a spectacular display of bad manners by some Euro-trash son-of-a-bitch determined to impress me with a demonstration of his superior sophistication.
Some background: my workplace is dominated overwhelmingly by persons of the male variety and, as a consequence, there exists a wall-size flat screen television that stares at my desk from across the hall because modern men cannot survive without this touchstone of the outside world. I am treated to its offerings all day long, which means that I know more than I want to about:
- The stock market;
- World news;
- Hunting and fishing (seriously, these guys dress up like they're doing ground duty in Afghanistan just to shoot a poor, dumb turkey);
Anyway. This guy comes up to my desk and says, "You have the best seat in the house."
To which I reply, "Yeah, I'm a lucky girl."
"Well...if that's what you want to call yourself..."
Or what, you bovine-brained bastard? Maybe I should have said:
- "Yeah, I'm a lucky fossil";
- "Yeah, I'm a lucky old heifer";
- "Yeah, I'm a lucky femme d'un certain age".
Or maybe I should have slapped him.
Or, maybe, and more in keeping with the "mom" theme, I should have hit him with my classic Coach purse.
Now there's a trend I'd like to start.