Saturday, July 14, 2007

kiss my capris

deposing the rules of fashion

When Tim Gunn was a guest on the "Oprah" show, he provided six fashion rules for "mature" women (mature = over-40). Older women should never wear:
  1. Pleated pants
  2. Low-rise jeans
  3. Horizontal stripes
  4. Jackets that hit at mid-thigh
  5. Double-breasted blazers
  6. Capri-length pants
I call bullshit.

First of all, since when did being old start at 40? Jeez! This puts some women who are having their first child into the same age category as great grandmothers. This isn't the 1950s. Age groupings for women have changed considerably. Women are very active -- working, athletic, travelling -- well into their seventies today. In some fields women are just getting their careers going in their 40s.

I confess that I have always hated any sort of these lists of rules. Dos and don'ts. Like most of these kinds of dictates I have an innate tendency to see them primarily as there to be broken. They are a mainstay for hack copy in fashion magazines but there is nothing original or fresh about them.

These specific six rules are about what is flattering to body shape as well as what is in fashion at present. Pleated pants and double breasted blazers are not overly youthful. They are just not especially flattering or currently fashionable. Horizontal stripes are widening. Based on the assumption that no woman under age 40 buys clothes from Liz Claiborne, I will use summer fashions from Tim's new employer to demonstrate the problems with these rules.

1. Pleated pants - no one should wear these. Ever.

2. Low-rise jeans : women under 22 shouldn't wear these--and not very many of them can get away with it either. I'm not convinced that they are a particularly attractive look for even the best of figures. It is just a cut that can't quite get away from the idea of "cheap and slutty":

On the other hand, Liz Claiborne is well known for perpetrating the style crime of mom jeans and those are just as bad.

3. Horizontal stripes -- This rule is ridiculous. The principle is one based on body shape not age.
Here is the thing with fashion rules: even the people who make them don't follow them. Tim's very own Oprah makeover selected a dress with a horizontal stripe pattern for a woman who had just given birth to twins:
And a striped top can look fine on a larger body:

Omygod! Is she wearing capri length pants?!

In fact, it would seem that this season's Liz Claiborne plus size collection breaks every one of Tim Gunn's rules.

4. Jackets that hit at mid-thigh : Frankly I don't even understand what this rule is about. The look would depend on the particular outfit and the cut of the jacket:

Here is an example from LC's plus size collection:
This is a fine casual or light exercise outfit but the problem I see with the LC collection is that it is dowdy and it hides women's curves rather than highlights them.

It will be interesting to see how Gunn will approach this area at Liz Claiborne given Tim's well-known "issues" with the bodies of zaftig women (i.e., any woman over a size 4 and/or any woman with fleshy curves).

And that place needs some help. After a while the LC collection started to really depress me. The idea that they wanted women to dress this way. I think they got some of their fabric ideas from somebody's great grandmother's old davenport:

Yes, it's metallic too!

If you must have a rule how about this one: don't wear fabric that might be used to upholster furniture at a funeral home. But I digress . . .

5. Double-breasted blazers: these aren't in fashion now. Just as with pleated pants, the "rules" don't have to do with age. There is nothing overly youthful about a double-breasted blazer, mid-thigh jackets or horizontal stripes. They have to do with style, cut, and shape and what is in fashion.

6. Capri-length pants : This is the one that really gets me. I thought about naming this post: "kiss my capri wearing ass." Sure capris are not the best for short legs. But capris are a fashion staple -- there's no getting away from them either at the gym or in the summer (especially at the beach). Even with short legs capri-length works especially if you are wearing the same color on the top. So shoot me.

Here are LC's cropped pants selections.

I don't care what age you are.
These pants are fugly!

On the other hand, here are Eileen Fisher's:
To die for... and they come in petite.

Eileen Fisher targets the same age group as LC and is similar in price range (slightly higher but not by much). Nonetheless, Eileen Fisher has a much more youthful and fashionable and versatile look.

It is one that is not beset by the kind of mindset that has fashion "rules" about what you can and can't wear at a certain age. In fact the company is based on thinking about women and fashion in a manner that is opposed to these kinds of restrictions.

Frankly, if Tim Gunn really wants to reinvigorate LC he is going to have to change the way that he thinks about fashion... and women.

two posts from 02.05.07:

Friday, July 13, 2007

fashion rules that never change

"Boys don't make passes at girls who wear glasses!"

From Tim Gunn's makeover sessions on Oprah:

What makes this particularly pathetic is that
Liz Claiborne has its own line of eyewear:

Tim Gunn, the great shillmeister, missed a perfect
chance to promote a product from his new employer!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

how many rock stars does it take to change a light bulb?

"Like most Americans I like to help people while being on tv."
- Maria Bamford

Here's the thing about Live Earth:

I just don't need household tips on cutting down on my use of resources from people who live far more lavish lives than I could ever imagine, thank you very much.

Here are a few things that ordinary people who are living within a budget do not need to learn from movie and rock stars:
Turn off the light. Put on a sweater if you are cold. You don't need that. You can use that again. Make it yourself. Give it to someone who needs it. Leave a place as clean as you found it.

Photograph by Russell Lee | Library of Congress : American Memory
Some people do this because they are worried about being able to afford to pay the bills rather than because they want to save the environment.

Hollywood telling ordinary Americans how to conserve resources is outrageous.

Americans telling this to people in Brazil is offensive.

Okay. It's fine if Hollywood and rock stars want to support environmental causes and use their celebrity to draw people to events. This is part of the fundraising world.

However, the various forms of hypocrisy do get a little hard to swallow: did Sheryl Crow sing her SUV-promoting song "Every Day is a Winding Road?" Seriously: when you are making fistfuls of money off of promoting SUVs can you really call yourself an environmentalist?

I know I'm being cynical. And I'm not the target for Live Earth. I was more the Live Aid generation. I do realize that telling people to use energy-saving light bulbs is a way of making people feel like they are helping and that is important. Even more important is spreading awareness of the larger political issues that have to do with oil companies, car companies, governments, the Kyoto accord, the world bank, rain forests, global poverty, etc.

The biggest problem with Americans on an individual level is our use of gas guzzling cars. Changing that has to do with developing and improving mass transportation systems and smaller cars. And then getting Americans to change their habits and start using them. I'm not holding my breath. Maybe this generation will change. It is a little hard to believe they will when the icons that are preaching to them are also flying private jets and promoting SUVs.

We need a government that is far more committed to providing people with what they need in order to conserve whether it be recycling programs or investment in making alternative energy resources not just feasible but cheap. (By the way, do all of the performers at Live Earth -- the people who can afford to do this -- have homes that run on alternative energy?) I don't need tips on how to conserve energy. I know how to do this. Here is what I do need: affordable solar energy. I would like to be able to afford to install solar panels. Ahem, Governor Schwarzenegger (link: why is arnold at live earth?).