Thursday, September 28, 2006

Raise a fist for boot-cuts!

Today over her roast-beef sandwich at Ruby's--because some days, the Key kitchen is just too much--Heather brought up a point that I thought pretty much summed up the cultural consciousness of 2006.

"Can't we just have some new fashions?" she asked. "Please?"

We were staring semi-unabashedly at a woman waiting in line. She was wearing tight, dark-wash legging-jeans and little black ankle boots, and pretty much looked like Vogue had planted her there just to prove to the skeptical masses that yes, actual people do wear skinny jeans. And the masses, they are skeptical. There are three groups of people who are in favor of the skinny jeans, as far as I can tell: the fashion-magazine industry, who ought to know better; the under-eighteen set, who weren't alive the last time we went through this, and therefore aren't responsible for their actions; and Gap, Inc., who were smart enough to capitalize on the ignorant folly of the youth market. Everyone else? Horrified.

Obviously, fashion cycles aren't new. Clothes come in and out all the time. I know this. What boggles the mind about the return of skinny jeans--and 80s redux in general--is that they're so recent and so universally despised, and yet somebody made the decision to bring them back. The 80s aren't vintage; they're not old enough, and certainly not flattering enough, to merit going back to now. Nobody looks in the mirror and says, "I really loved the way my hips looked in those stirrup pants from 1988. Man, we looked cute. Those were the days." People make fashion references to the 80s because they're funny. It's a comment on the ridiculousness of people and the total lack of common sense that goes into fashion. The problem is that someone with way too much influence failed to get the joke, and now here we are, Molly Ringwald-ing it up. Either that, or that person's sitting in a Fifth Avenue office, cracking his or her classy, boot-cut-wearing self up at our expense.

There's nothing like an ugly fashion trend to make a person feel helpless. It's like a tidal wave of bad clothing--you can see it coming from miles away, but you're powerless to stop it. At first, I thought the skinny jeans might be a high-fashion flash in the pan, like ponchos: we'd see them in magazines, a few fashion-forward adolescents would buy them, the rest would end up on the big clearance rack in the sky, and we'd all go on our boot-cut way. I still think it's the pre-driving set who are mostly wearing them (tucked into their Uggs, of course), but I'm beginning to see the inevitability of a tapered future. Slowly, flared jeans will disappear from stores, until only Land's End sells them, and we'll begin to second-guess ourselves. Stacy and Clinton will mock us in the 360-degree mirror, and we'll be ashamed. We'll wonder vaguely why our bodies used to look so balanced and attractive, but we won't be able to place the reason. It's what happens. We get swept up. All we can hope for is an even faster "retro" cycle to take over.

For now, I'm staging my own little resistance movement. I bought a couple of pairs of flared jeans recently, and I wear them with an air of rebellion, I think (also with Converse sneakers). I thought of starting a rallying place on the decided it was a bit of a one-note tune. Eventually, maybe the horror will fade, but for now I'm just trying to be a one-woman army for cute pants. So remember: friends don't let friends wear skinny jeans.


Sarita said...

hehehe. Go flared jeans with converse shoes! I wear this every day!
And yeah, WTF is up with skinny jeans? Also, with people wearing boots OVER skinny jeans? Why? If you MUST wear skinny jeans, at least go like, the British drug addict look and wear some good tennis shoes with them. (sidenote: British men are the only people who get away with wearing skin tight jeans and white shoes. I'm talking Ewan McGregor in Trainspotting. Why? I don't know. I don't make the rules. But it's true.)
But it's true - this horrid fashion is once again sweeping the nation. Even Lauren Graham appeared on one of the talk shoes recently with the skinny jean/boot combo. Why, Lauren? Why?

Christine O said...

I'm gonna have to start point people to your blog as I say, "Yeah...what *she* said." You're so much more eloquent than I can ever hope to be.

Down with skinny jeans!! Bleh!

Liz said...

Sarah, you are wise in many ways.

The boots-over-jeans thing is mysterious to me, too. I can almost deal with skinny jeans as a summer thing, when it's with flip-flops and a tank top, or whatever, but what are we going to do when it's all Uggs, all the time? Ugg.

You're so right about British men and their tight jeans and white shoes. Why does this work for them? The world may never know. But it's true. It's an eighties "Full Monty"/industrial culture look that no one else in the world can pull off. And yet.

Lauren Graham is generally so well-dressed! I wonder what happened? Even worse: will we see the skinny jeans on Gilmore Girls? That would be tragic for everyone (not to be mean, but Alexis Bledel can't pull them off. Girl's got hips.).

Heather D said...

I know fashion goes around, comes around; I just wish it didn't. Or not quite so much. I mean, 20th century clothes were pretty different from previous centuries. Is that all the originality there is? 8 or so different looks? Do we all need to wear corsets again (hello brief 90's trend) or look like depressed futuristic people? I say no!

Also, can I just mention purses in this context? I've been reduced to buying my purses at *Borders* because everyone else's look like little post-nuclear-explosions.

Liz said...

And this is why you should start a magazine. So that you can convince the population at large that you don't have to wear what the Gap says you do (says the girl who wears all Gap, all the time).

I'm unclear on the "purses as post-nuclear explosions" image. Really?

Heather D said...

Oh, well, they just have so many tucks and buckles and general fussiness, and they're usually made out of pink or gold metallic leather. It kind of brings to mind a little nuclear explosion with some radioactive waste. Um, to me anyway. Not that I'd object to a purse *actually* shaped like a nuclear explosion - that'd be pretty awesome. Especially the cool stop motion pictures I have of the clouds. But then I'm pretty 50s when it comes to purses.

E Kizzle said...

Personally, I am holding onto the belief that what fits and flatters is what looks and feels best, and clothes that meet those criteria will stand the test of time. Although, having recently witnessed a pair of ZIPPERED skinny jeans hanging in a store, like, FOR SALE, I do, like you, fear the denim apocalypse. Why can't we celebrate the female body (a la 1940s/50s) rather than punishing it? Why can't we lovingly drape our bodies, rather than trying to force them into unnaturally shaped garments? It's like trying to put toothpaste back into the tube - it just ain't right! (And it always makes a mess.) The 80s were truly a fashion abomination, but the sad fact is much of the styles were rehashings of those that came before. Let's face it, we have two arms, two legs, and a torso. There's only so much designers can do within those perameters. My personal theory about the 80s reflux (as in acid, as in the involuntary bile rising in my throat) is that it's about being cutely ironic, or ironically edgy, or something retardedly hipsterish that has since been co-opted by the Mary-Kate-and-Ashley set.

gail s said...

I'm so very happy to hear your angst against the fashion industry. NOW you know WHY we older women are smiling and chuckling as we see these ridiculous fashions in the stores AGAIN! Why in the world did WE think they were so cute when we were teens & twenties 30 years ago?
And, why in the world, are they being brought back? No one really knows. I ask you, though, how many of your moms are buying and wearing any of these retro fashions? Not many. There's a reason for that!