Why I Turned My Back On Fashion
Fashion has never been my friend. For a bit it was my enemy and now it’s like that annoying girl who I don’t like but still have to see at parties.
Fashion is about whatever makes the individual feel good and, as a teenager, it never made me feel good. Or pretty. Or like anything other than an awkward water buffalo who found a rag and tried to play dress up. As a result, I turned my back on fashion at an early age and I’ve been a proud wearer of vintage T shirts ever since. I’ve taken a stance against societies sartorial pressures. Girls, just because it’s in style doesn’t mean it’s inspired.
Sure I’ll dress up for events or parties with the help of every girlfriend I have (cut to me frantically sending pics of all my outﬁts and texting phrases like “AM I TOO OLD FOR A WHITE MINI SKIRT?”) – but even then I ﬁnd myself struggling with how to wear a lot of the clothes out there. What angers me is the societal pressure on women to be in shape, and even when we are, clothes still don’t ﬁt right.
It’s almost as if the designers create them in a vacuum and put them in stores with the mission statement of “this will ﬁt at least one model out there, if it’s not you, it’s not our problem.”
For me it all started around 14 with my chest. When you have DD boobs at 14, on a tiny body, it sort of turns all clothing into your enemy. 32DD at 14? It sounds like I’m bragging but I’m not. While all my girlfriends were buying adorable ﬂoral B cup bras at Victoria’s Secret, I had to make the cross town trip to this speciality lingerie store called “Olga’s Intimates” with my mother so an elderly Russian woman could ﬁsh me out a decent ﬁtting old lady bra from her Island of Misﬁt Undergarments. “Oh, the straps are 2 inches wide, there are 5 hooks in the back and it only comes in Grandma Beige? Awesome. No I don’t feel like a work mule being strapped into a harness for a day of plowing at all, this is great! I feel so pretty! Where’s my sugar cube!?”
You know what’s weird? Shopping at Fredericks of Hollywood at 16 in a desperate attempt to get a pretty bra because only women with giant fake boobs share your measurements. No girl should have to see crotchless panties on a mannequin before they’ve even taken a driving exam.
I know what you’re thinking “Still, you had boobs” true. BUT, if it makes you feel any better I also had grown woman thighs at 15. Super fun to get out of the pool and see your skin glistening in the sun and realize it’s not your skin, it’s your stretch marks.
When clothing didn’t ﬁt my chest, I found myself either going up a size, so my clothes were baggy or going down a size so they would ﬁt the rest of my body, resulting in me pretty much always looking like a Hooters waitress. I never looked quite put together and that was because fashion was, is and always will be made for 3 body types: S, M and L. Any part of your body that doesn’t ﬁt within the measurements of the pre-determined sizes and the whole outﬁt gets thrown out of whack. Yes, I’m talking to you blouse that ﬁts perfectly in the arms and waist but has that one middle button holding on for dear life right in the center of my chest. Good work soldier. I swear one time I looked closely at that button and saw it sweating.
Because nothing ever ﬁt right, right off the rack, I developed a bad attitude and started questioning everything we as women are meant to wear. There was a time from about 2003-2008 where the answer to everything was “just throw on a fun blazer” and I honestly can’t think of an article of clothing that makes a girl with big boobs or prominent shoulders feel more like a hulking 80’s mom than a blazer. Ugh.
Try on 10 tank tops and 9/10 times your bra is gonna show on the side. So, what’s the subtext here, American Apparel? James Perse? Are women supposed to, what? Not wear bras? Are our bras supposed to show? If so, why? So the two options left for girls are go braless or show us your underwear. A woman’s decision to look “available” or “sexy” should be wholly her own and not at the mercy of the constraints of her clothing.
I decide when my bra shows, you hear me American Apparel Tri-Blend Racerback Tank!? So here I am, in shape, not insecure about my body, but I can’t wear a tank top because some designer has decided that having breasts is something fashion wants to combat. Great. I’ll just stop trying to look cute, wait for my hump to grow in and move to the forrest.
A bra showing is a very particular choice. You have to show a precise amount, a deliberate amount. Straps, as long as they are thin and colored can be deemed punky and artsy, sort of an homage to the late 90s Gwen Stefani. But if you’re in a nude bra and your straps are showing, it just looks like you… Have no idea your bra is showing.
A tenth of the population is able to wear tank tops properly and yet, designers continue to cut the arm holes just a centimeter too wide to conceal a bra. Millions of women are walking around with their underwear exposed. Maybe that’s what the fashion industry wanted all along… Maybe it’s all a conspiracy to objectify women… Maybe I’ve had too much coffee…
It doesn’t end with bras. A “tunic” for example is a horrible enigma of a garment. Tunic or not tunic? That is the question. If you’re a size 0 then you wear it as a dress and if you’re above a size 6 the sales girl will just tell you to “wear it with leggings” (right, I’m sure that’s what the French designers had in mind when they created this garment… leggings) Yes because what woman doesn’t love to see outline of the waistband of her leggings under her shirt. Classy. You can always wear it as a dress but don’t bend over or sit. Or run. Or walk. You can be a shirt, you can be a dress, tunic, but you can’t be both. Ah the tunic, offering all the coverage of a hospital gown with the comfort of a deﬂated parachute.
Those are just two examples of two garments that don’t ﬁt my body. But all women, no matter their sizes have complaints. Go ask your tallest friend about her woes when it comes to ﬁnding pants that are long enough. Odd since, doesn’t every fashion magazine shows us we should have long giraffes legs. Articles gives tips on how to lengthen your leg. You never see Cosmo writing articles like “Stumpy Stems: Make your thighs look squatty in just 3 easy steps!” And yet, our giraffe-y friends can never ﬁnd pants. You’re supposed to have long legs, no waist and huge breasts, like Barbie, isn’t every woman supposed to look like a Barbie? Thing about Barbie was all of her clothes were custom designed and if she wasn’t in her custom clothes, she was naked. Interesting.
Women’s fashion magazines try to make all women feel beautiful (lies!) by offering different fashion suggestions for different body types. My favorite is when that magazine says something cloyingly noxious like “Got some extra sassy curves? Try a tankini!” Then they show a model who’s 5’9, 105 in said tankini. Oh totally, I totally get how that would look on me or anyone who didn’t have the weigh in stats of a Russian gymnast. Basically the fashion industry wants you to know that if you’re body deviates, in any way, from what they’ve decided your measurements should be — if you’re thin with a big chest, thicker with bird legs, broad shouldered with a tiny mouse waist, whatever — then none of it’s for you and you have to spend your adolescence feeling weird and your adult life in arrested fashion development. OR you can buy the garment and have it custom tailored… But that involves, ugh, driving there. Bet Barbie wouldn’t have so many custom clothes if she had to drive to the West side to get them up.
We grow up feeling weird about our bodies and, as adults, dress to compensate for that. That’s why we have 40-year-old women running around in faux vintage Care Bear t shirts, corduroys and converse, because nice clothes are intimidating and those clothes are comfortable. It’s the only reason shows like “What Not to Wear” exist. But all those shows do is trade one bad fashion decision for another. So what if you’re a 36 year old computer programmer who likes to wear overalls? Who are you hurting? Guess what, TLC, not everyone wants to wear a sensible blouse tucked into a pencil skirt and a chunky necklace all jammed in under a BLAZER. In the ’60s we burned our bras…I say in 2014 we burn our blazers.
As a result of my traumatic sartorial experience in my teens, now, anytime I put on an ill-ﬁtting item, it puts me right back at 15 crying in an Express dressing room in 1998. I’m working through my issues. I now own 2 silk blouses that sit in my closet with the price tags still on them. I have no idea what to wear with them. I’ll probably never know.
You were bitten by the fashion bug? Well I had an allergic reaction to it. And you know what the great thing about t shirts is? I never have to worry about my bra showing.