What not to wear this year
Some people look good in white cowboy boots with fringe—Chloe Sevigny and the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, perhaps. Some people pluck their eyebrows to a thin wisp and resemble Carole Lombard—Drew Barrymore on a good day. Some people even look all right in beige leather pants—Giselle Bundchen, and only her. But these people are the lucky exceptions.
Fashion don’ts exist to protect us from ourselves. They help to stop a trend before it becomes a fashion virus or to officially bury a look that has exhausted its charms. Women ought to consider themselves lucky. We are no longer obliged to wear step-in corsets, rock-hard beehives and pencil skirts to the office. Clothes don’t limit our movement or mold our bodies in the way that they used to, but there are certain standards of modern elegance that are in timely need of question.
My don’t list is not proscriptive, it’s provocative. Just imagine a week without blow-drying your hair or donning a thong. Sweet liberty! Picture yourself finally disposing of the hipster pants that made your bottom look like a squashed doughnut. Sweet Lord! Trends have become so prevalent and so well promoted that women forget to question them or even consider what suits them anymore.
I’ve known since I was 13 that I look hideous in jeans. Resistant to peer pressure, I’ve never bought a pair. Pear-shaped women need A-line skirts and that is just one of the reasons that one lady’s classic look is another’s fashion fiasco. Look at your body, look at the list and then just say no to the clothes and beauty trends that are making you look fatter, older or just plain sillier than you need to.
TEN WHOPPING GREAT FASHION DON’TS:
1. Killer shoes: Sarah Jessica Parker swears by her Monolo Blahniks. The Sex and the City shoe is a pointy sling-back with a thin, shaft-like heel that now punctures every sidewalk on the country. Trouble is, these are spring shoes. Wear them with a cocktail dress in May. Forget them in the snow, in the rain and in the office. This spring the flat is back and thank goodness. Only Barbie has an in-step arch that high.
2. Tortured blow-outs: Super flat, poker-straight hair looks aging on anyone over 23. It’s “wedding hair” and a ‘do that looks “done”, especially on girls who are naturally curly. The damage of drying hair at high heat daily or literally ironing it out with chemical straighteners and weird salon processes isn’t worth the dollars. Try something looser, wavier and altogether more natural. Straight hair is so darn serious!
3. Lab coat whites: The white knee-length overcoat needs to go back to Mary Tyler Moore’s closet. Prissy, starchy and almost impossible to match, this Princess piece has been popular with movie stars on the red carpet. From a distance they look like bathrobes. Wedding day only!
4. Sticky pouts: If small insects get stuck on your lip gloss, it’s time to lighten up. Pop stars with gooey gobs have given the gloss trend a bad name. Blend a lighter beeswax-based Chapstick with your favorite lipstick for sheer color coverage that is sensuous but not sleazy.
5. Plucked-bare brows: Skinny eyebrows were huge in the early ’90s. Linda Evangelista had curving arches higher than Ronald McDonald’s but she had expert makeup artists filling in the gaps between lid and brow bone. Last year the skinny brow returned with a 1930s twist. Teamed with Marcel waves and cherry-red lipstick, the new naked brow had gangster moll charm.
Worn by Maggie Gyllenhaal and other ingenues the no-brow looks winsome. On the rest of us thirty-something mortals—under office light, or with a hangover, or a tight pony tail and a light frown—well, it’s just much less pretty. Be wise, go bright-eyed and bushy browed.
6. Frumpy cardigan jackets: Who came up with those long sweater jackets with hoods that sag down over the knees and belt at the waist with a long strip of woven wooly fabric? I want to slap them. This is maternity wear, or ski-bunny wear or something to run naked to the bathroom in the middle of the night in. But it’s not one bit flattering!
7. Skirts with pants: One barely needs to explain the sin here. Californian art teachers, models without bottoms and Bjork are permitted this combo, but only them. If your legs are cold, crochet some leg warmers and wear them over a sexy high-heeled boot. Deliberately crafty looking clothes look best on tall wafty blondes, everyone else should approach with caution.
8. Pants with heels: Let the fashion editors of Manhattan take me out and shoot me, but I am done with the ‘trouser leg sprouting a towering spiky heel at its cuff’ phenomenon. What is the point of wearing $700 Jimmy Choo or Gucci boots and concealing them beneath your jeans or tweed pants? Conversely, what is the logic of wearing pants for comfort and killer heels for glamour (and pain)? Something’s gotta give. Try cowboy boots or T-bar Mary Janes instead.
9. The wrong thong: G-string underwear used to be the provenance of strippers, gymnasts and Italian movie stars. Now your daughter and your Mom are wearing them. This is lingerie guilty of too much information. Peeking over trouser waistbands they look trampy. Visible under a tight skirt they look too skimpy. Great-grandma had a better idea: If you want to avoid visible panty line, try a silk camisole or simply opt for looser clothing altogether. Anything that’s tight enough or sheer enough to show the elastic of your knickers isn’t really fashion. It’s cruelty.
10. Blonde highlights: When spring comes a million heads across the country bob up adorned with silver foils. The cost of being artificially sun-kissed is high and the results are not always that divine. If you want to look like a TV anchor woman…go blonde. But if you want to really stand out, try a richer variation of your natural shade. Blondes don’t always have more fun.